Mamés de Caesarea was a martyr thrown to the lions of the Roman circus, which did not attack him. One of them stayed with him as a partner. That tells the tradition, of course, which is usually far from reality. However, the legend crossed the ages and was established in a chapel just in front of San Mamés. From there he took Tomás Isasi, a journalist from the Bilbao newspaper, in 1923 The Liberal, and that he signed his chronicles as Rolando, the nickname of the Athletic players. And in the centennial history of the Bilbao club, the one who most identified with the king of the jungle was Piru Gainza. His feline gaze, his graceful movements, his slicked-back hair, and even his snub nose gave him the look of a lion.
Now, on the occasion of the Cup final, the merchants in the center of Bilbao have inaugurated an exhibition in which a chapel with the image of San Mamés stands out, with the lion at his feet, and the most iconic photograph of Agustín Gainza, uploaded on the shoulders of Eneko Arieta, lifting the 1956 Cup, won at the Bernabéu against Atlético de Madrid (2-1), with Arteche holding the base and Daucik, with his hat, grabbing the captain’s left leg, as if it were the shot ground lightning falling through the trophy. An altar with the symbols of Athletic.
The most significant part of the assembly is the kneeler, next to the candles, to pray for victory in the final on Saturday against Real Sociedad. “We create and generate atmosphere before a historic opportunity to win a title again. Athletic gives a lot to the city and its commercial area and all efforts revolve around creating an atmosphere to cheer on the team ”, assures the manager of Bilbao Centro. Praying is a plus, according to traders.