The town of Vila-real embraces its heroes

It was his moment. And so they proclaimed it before traveling to Gdansk (Poland) for their first European final. “This is our moment,” proclaimed the bus in which the Villarreal players celebrated their Europa League triumph with their fans on Thursday. “Europe is ours,” they cried. And the team showed that, champion, it is still the same as always: a team dedicated to its fans. And this responded by staining yellow to the last centimeter of the Europa League winners’ journey through the town that gives the team its name. Because those from Vila-real do not mind being told that they are from the village. In fact, never before has such a small municipality (50,000 inhabitants) reached a European title and they are proud of it.

Villarreal has never stopped having a hobby that has made the field, in which almost half of its inhabitants fit, remain small. This time it was time to reap the fruit of hardship, nerves, days of less glory and the illusion “of an entire industrial and farming people”, as the hymn says. “This is history,” many said. “We deserved it. It was already playing ”, agreed the majority.

The people, many young people, children, entire families, took to the streets, just as they did on Wednesday night after the victory. He applauded, cheered, complimented the players, who passed the glass from the top of an open-top bus. At the shout of “champions” they waved flags and waved their scarves. The length of the route helped to barely produce crowds, which did occur in some attack of excessive passion and by the initiative of some to see their idols pass in several sections. Whoever did not go down to the street, did so from the balconies.

The security device barely had to increase the number of personnel in a normal shift by 20%. At night, after the celebrations, only two complaints were filed: one for a place open beyond curfew and another for the driver of a vehicle that was also circulating after one in the morning. “Sant Pasqual (the patron of the municipality) has done something but so have we,” said the older ones, who also experienced the celebration.

In the morning, four players, Sergio Asenjo, Mario Gaspar, Manu Trigueros and the youth squad Pau Torres, the same one who scored the tenth goal and who cried as a child when Riquelme missed the penalty against Arsenal in the semifinals of the Champions, walked with the medal of champions through the streets as a token of appreciation to the fans. They posed, signed autographs, endured handshakes and back butts. And the stories of those who could not bear to see the penalty shoot-out or those who endured until the end to hug their neighbors, or those who went out into the street and joy prevented them from sleeping through the night.

Vila-real is a town without prejudices. Its economic potential was always orange until a historic snowfall, in the middle of the 20th century, forced it to reconvert and change one land for another. Then the first tile factories arose, a sector that today is one of the most important centers of the ceramic sector in Spain, although some maintain citrus activity.

The rivalry of the town was never with the neighboring one. If anyone has been looked at, in those typical hostilities between neighborhoods, it has been the capital of the province, Castellón, whose team has just been demoted. This time there were still some who remembered him, but the least. The quarrels were much greater when the groguets They began their climb, more than 20 years ago, and it was not understood in the capital’s whitewash families that tradition was betrayed.

Vila-real celebrated a triumph in “the most important thing of the least important things”, which was paraphrased by the president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, to congratulate the team, highlighting humility. Nobody in Vila-real stopped being happy for the Villlarreal.

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