Abel Rodriguez, a cleaner from Los Angeles and a lifelong Madrid fan, accompanied the squad to Old Trafford and met a whole host of heroes – all at the Portuguese coach’s expense
Jose Mourinho may have his sights set on the Decima dream with Real Madrid, but he has already fulfilled the wildest ambitions of one lifelong fan of the club.
Abel Rodriguez, a cleaner from Los Angeles who frequently scheduled summer holidays in order to assist at los Blancos‘ training camps, was named as a kitman for the team’s visit to Old Trafford in the Champions League at the beginning of last month – and all at Mourinho’s expense.
Rodriguez had travelled to the training ground in the capital in a bid to see the Clasico on March 2, despite not having a ticket for the game, and was promptly turned away by security despite hopes that the club’s staff might recognise him from his summer work for the Liga holders.
Upon leaving the Valdebebas training base, Mourinho spotted the fan sitting by the roadside and, after hearing his story, promptly arranged a hotel and tickets for Rodriguez before inviting him to training the following day.
And as if that was not enough, Mourinho then informed the Mexican that he would accompany the squad for their last 16 second-leg clash with Manchester United as a kitman, where he met the likes of Diego Maradona, Sir Alex Ferguson and several Red Devils’ players, before being handed a signed shirt by compatriot Chicharito after the match.
According to his story in Sports Illustrated, an emotional Rodriguez offered to pay his way for the trip, but was promptly turned down by Mourinho, who said: “When you’re in Europe with me, you don’t pay for s**t.”
Rodriguez opted to release his story with the publication as a way of thanking the Portuguese coach, since he did not have any contact details to do so in person after the events in March.
Whether or not Madrid are able to seal an historic 10th European crown this season remains to be seen, but Jose has at least earned the admiration of a whole host of supporters for his generosity – and Extra Time thinks that’s just as important.