AP

Wild soccer mom back in Spain near her beloved Real Madrid

Sep 5, 2022, 2:58 PM | Updated: Sep 6, 2022, 3:03 am

Maria Garcia-Mella Cid and his son Alejandro inside the Santiago Bernabeu stadium after a Spanish L...

Maria Garcia-Mella Cid and his son Alejandro inside the Santiago Bernabeu stadium after a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Betis in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. "Everything was perfect, absolutely perfect," she said after Madrid's 2-1 win over Real Betis on Saturday. "It was awesome to see them win and for my son Alejandro to see them win," she said, breaking down in tears while giving her 13-year-old son a warm hug outside the Bernabeu. One of Real Madrid’s most hardcore fans, Garcia-Mella has returned to Spain to be near the club she adores after spending two decades in the United States building a family and a career. (AP Photo/Pablo Garcia, File)

(AP Photo/Pablo Garcia, File)

MADRID (AP) — They call her the wildest soccer mom. And now she’s back where it all began.

After two decades in the United States building a family and a career, one of Real Madrid’s most hardcore fans has returned to Spain to be near the club she adores.

María García-Mella Cid left Miami about two months ago and is finally getting to enjoy her team from up close.

This past weekend, the 41-year-old García-Mella enjoyed a day she could have only dreamed of while in the United States. She got to drive a few kilometers from her home to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium to meet other Madrid fans and take her son to a Spanish league match.

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

“It was awesome to see them win and for my son Alejandro to see them win,” she said, breaking down in tears while giving her 13-year-old son a warm hug outside the Bernabéu.

García-Mella is the type of fan who used to sing Madrid’s anthem to her kids while she was pregnant. She said she watched every Madrid game at home the year it won its seventh Champions League title in 1998, just before she left Spain.

She didn’t get many chances to watch Madrid play back in the United States, and at first could only follow the team’s matches through online radio stations. She made it to some of the friendly games the Spanish powerhouse played there, including the 2018 match in Miami in which García-Mella and her family were invited onto the field to meet the Madrid players.

She also got to see Madrid win the 2017 and 2018 Champions League finals in Britain and Ukraine. Her trip to Kyiv — planned after the team made it past the round of 16 — was a “psychotic” odyssey that took 24 hours on the way there and about 36 hours on the way back to the United States. She had to go through Iceland the year before on her way to Cardiff, Wales.

“I wake up and I think about Real Madrid and I go to sleep and I think about Real Madrid,” García-Mella said. “I can’t conceive my life without Real Madrid. It’s hard to explain. People think I’m crazy, especially my husband, but now being back in Madrid he realizes that I’m not the only one, that there are other people that have this disease, and I say that 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. Along with them came the dozens of Real Madid jerseys and books and magazines that García-Mella has collected, many filled with autographs by club officials and players, including Iván Zamorano, David Beckham and Luka Modric, her favorite Madrid player now.

“She is actually introverted, but when it comes to Real Madrid, everything changes, it brings out this passion in her,” said Cid, an American who is no soccer fan but learned quickly to understand what the team meant to his wife.

It means a lot.

“It hasn’t always been easy, because if you don’t understand the passion, it’s hard to understand why I have insomnia and I’m up at 4 a.m. because they played a semifinal,” García-Mella said. “His motto is ‘Happy wife, happy life,’ so he prays that Real Madrid wins. Because then I’m happy, and if I’m happy, he is happy.”

The move to Spain came as a good change of scenery for the family and was a great opportunity for García-Mella, whose love for Madrid had already turned into a part-time mix of job and hobby thanks to a Twitch channel that now has nearly 2,000 followers and is broadcast five days a week. Her number of followers has already increased since returning and she expects to grow even more.

Both Cid and García-Mella are psychotherapists and have been able to work with their patients from the U.S. remotely.

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

She was a season-ticket holder for Inter Miami and the president of Madrid’s fan group in South Florida.

It didn’t take long after she arrived in Spain as a kid for her love of Real Madrid to blossom. It was watching a game with her older brother in the seating section of Madrid’s most hardcore fans that it all started.

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

Sitting there in the Bernabéu stands by her son on Saturday, she couldn’t avoid seeing herself in a 7-year-old boy next to her.

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

For García-Mella, being at the Bernabéu watching Real Madrid won’t be an adventure anymore. It can finally be part of her routine again.

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

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

___

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Wild soccer mom back in Spain near her beloved Real Madrid