Hotel Barcelona, one would assume, in a football-mad town like Chefchaouen, might have some football connection. It does.
Mohammed, the hotel manager loves his football. His eyes lit up when he saw The Ball.
“You must be a Barcelona fan,” I suggested, looking at the poster of FC Barcelona on the wall.
“No. No. No,” came the reply. And promptly off came his djelleba to reveal a Real Madrid sweater. “I am Real Madrid.”
“How can you work at Hotel Barcelona?”
“My dream is to work at Hotel Madrid,” he smiled.
“Barca is not just a club, it is more than a club”, remarked our guide. His mother is Barca. His father is Barca. He is Barca. He has the honour and pleasure of being able to work for this great club. He is proud to be Barca.
The Camp Nou is not just any stadium, with a capacity of 98,000 it is Europe’s biggest. Fans flock from everywhere to pay their entrance fees and have their photos taken from the stands but very, very few are allowed to set foot on the field of play. At 10am a call was made to the press liason officer of FC Barcelona. The Ball wanted to visit the Camp Nou. Was it possible?
We turned up at 4pm at Barca TV. Minutes later we were out in the middle, next to the hallowed turf. Memories of the final minutes of the European Cup final in 1999 came flooding back — when Manchester United, in one of the all time great climaxes of the Champions League, defeated Bayern Munich with two extra time goals.
As we drive away from Barcelona, Christian smiles: “We are in Spain. We just walked out onto the turf at the Nou Camp.” Not everyone gets to step out onto the hallowed Camp Nou turf. Thanks to The Ball and the generosity of FC Barcelona, we were able to.