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The Special Ones: José Mourinho and Abel Rodríguez

Friday, 12 April, 2013

And then there were four: In today’s Champions League semi-final draw we have Barcelona, Bayern München, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. Will it be Bundesliga vs. Bundesliga and Primera División vs. Primera División with the best of both meeting in Wembley Stadium on 25 May? Exciting.

While we’re counting down to the draw, let’s read about Abel Rodríguez from Mexico, who waxes floors for a living in Los Angeles and takes two weeks holiday every year to work for free for Real Madrid when the club does its summer training in Los Angeles. He had always dreamed of seeing Real playing their great rivals Barca in Madrid in El Clásico, as fans call the contest, so his family urged him to go. And he went. Without a match ticket or a hotel reservation. He arrived in the Spanish capital and sat outside the club’s training grounds for hours until manager José Mourinho spotted him as he was leaving. “Stop! It’s the guy from Los Angeles.” And that’s how the magical journey of Abel Rodríguez began. It’s documented beautifully by Grant Wahl in Sports Illustrated. Snippet:

“Mourinho called an assistant and arranged for Rodríguez to have his own room at the fancy hotel where Real Madrid was staying before the Barcelona game. Mourinho instructed him to get some rest at the hotel and meet him at the training site the next morning. That evening, the night before El Clásico, the two men caught up for 90 minutes together before sharing dinner with the Real Madrid coaching staff.”

It’s only a game, some say.

UPDATE: Bayern München vs. Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid. The semi-final first legs will be on 23 and 24 April and the return legs on 30 April and 1 May.


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