Fierce soccer mom back in Spain near her beloved Real Madrid

MADRID (AP) – She’s been called soccer’s craziest mom. And now it’s back to where it all started.

After two decades in the United States building a family and a career, one of Real Madrid’s most die-hard fans has returned to Spain to be close to the club he loves.

María García-Mella Cid left Miami about two months ago and is finally enjoying her team up close.

Last weekend, 41-year-old García-Mella enjoyed a day she only dreamed of when she was in the United States. She had to drive a few kilometers from her home to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to meet other Madrid fans and take her son to a Spanish league match.

“Everything was perfect, absolutely perfect,” he said after Madrid’s 2-1 win over Real Betis on Saturday.

“It was great to see them win and for my son Alejandro to see them win,” she said, breaking down in tears as she hugged her 13-year-old son outside the Bernabéu.

García-Mella is the type of fan who used to sing the Madrid anthem to her children while she was pregnant. She said she watched every Madrid game at home the year they won their seventh Champions League title in 1998, shortly before leaving Spain.

He didn’t get many opportunities to watch Madrid play back in the United States, and at first he could only watch the team’s games through online radio stations. She made it to some of the friendlies the Spanish power played there, including the 2018 match in Miami, in which García-Mella and her family were invited to the stadium to meet the Madrid players.

He also saw Madrid win the 2017 and 2018 Champions League finals in Britain and Ukraine. Her trip to Kyiv — scheduled after the team made it past the round of 16 — was a “psychotic” odyssey that lasted 24 hours on the road and about 36 hours on the way back to the United States. She had to pass through Iceland the previous year on her way to Cardiff, Wales.

“I wake up thinking about Real Madrid and I sleep thinking about Real Madrid,” García-Mella said. “I cannot imagine my life without Real Madrid. It’s hard to explain. People think I’m crazy, especially my husband, but now coming back to Madrid he realizes that I’m not the only one, that there are other people who have this disease and I say it’s a blessed disease.”

Her husband, Arturo Cid, was on board when they decided to move to Madrid with Alejandro, their 15-year-old daughter Andrea and their dog Luna, a black giant schnauzer. With them came dozens of Real Madid shirts, books and magazines collected by García-Mella, many filled with autographs from club officials and players, including Iván Zamorano, David Beckham and Luka Modric, her favorite player Madrid now.

“She’s really introverted, but when it comes to Real Madrid, everything changes, it brings out that passion in her,” said Sid, an American who is not a soccer fan but quickly learned to understand what the team meant to his wife.

That means a lot.

“It wasn’t always easy, because if you don’t understand the passion, it’s hard to understand why I have insomnia and wake up at 4 in the morning because they played a semi-final,” García-Mella said. “His motto is ‘Happy woman, happy life’, so he’s praying for Real Madrid to win. Because then I’m happy and if I’m me, he’s happy.”

The move to Spain came as a welcome change of scenery for the family and was a great opportunity for García-Mella, whose love of Madrid had already turned into a combination of work and part-time hobby thanks to a Twitch channel that now has almost 2,000 followers and broadcast five days a week. Her follower count has already grown since her return and she expects it to grow even more.

Both Cid and García-Mella are psychotherapists and are able to work with their US patients remotely.

García-Mella was born in the Dominican Republic and came to Spain with her family when she was 8 years old. She moved to England to study and then went to Miami a few years later to get her master’s degree. There she met Sid and had her children.

He was a season ticket holder for Inter Miami and president of the Madrid fan group in South Florida.

It wasn’t long after arriving in Spain as a child that her love for Real Madrid blossomed. It all started when she was watching a match with her older brother in the living room of the most die-hard Madrid fans.

“My older brother, who is 9 years older than me, basically taught me to love football,” he said. “He took me to the Bernabéu for the first time when I was 8 years old and I saw the game over his shoulder. It was love at first sight. I never looked back and Real Madrid became my obsession and it still is today.”

Sitting there in the Bernabéu next to her son on Saturday, she couldn’t help but see herself in a 7-year-old boy next to her.

“I said to the boy, ‘Have you been here before?’ and he said “No, this is my first time.” And I said, “You’ll always remember this game, always.”

For García-Mella, being at the Bernabéu watching Real Madrid will no longer be an adventure. It can finally be part of her routine again.

“I’m literally living a dream,” he said. “I can’t ask for more. I am very happy.”

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