Louis Scattergood isn’t a native of Vila-real, but our Champions Journalist fan reporter still delights in the shared passion of club and community
Vila-real isn’t the most acclaimed city in Spain, never mind Europe, but somehow the team that represents it is in the quarter-finals of the most recognisable club football competition on the planet. However, when I visited the city as a schoolboy, the element that really resonated with me was the extremely tight community of the place, as well as what projected that spirit to the wider world: the local football team.
The most impressive part of the tour was getting an insight into the scale of what this club is achieving. We walked along the corridors of the stadium, looking out towards the town, and all we could see was a sea of houses, as the ground is in the middle of the neighbourhood. A few minutes later we saw jerseys, framed photos, match balls and other memorabilia, all sourced from big games that the team have been involved in throughout its history. The club and the people of the town will forever be grateful for what they’ve been able to achieve – and there’s not much to suggest that they will be slowing down any time soon.
The Estadio de la Cerámica (formerly El Madrigal) is a very English-style stadium in comparison to its modern counterparts. Each section of the ground is its own standalone section that runs along the side of the pitch, rather than the typical ‘bowl’ style that we see in stadiums nowadays. The noise made by the passionate fanbase is admirable and it adds to an exciting spectator experience – not least because the music that greets the scoring of a goal is Highway to Hell by AC/DC.
The town and the club communicate with each other through everything – and I can assure you that Villarreal wouldn’t be where they are today without the support of their people. Whatever the result may be against Bayern, the entirety of Vila-real will be proud.