I stuck to my decision and decided to sit in as near to the exact spot where I photographed Greece defeat hosts Portugal in the final of Euro 2004.
UEFA started issuing out the photographers passes just after 1400h for the 1945h kick off which gave us English photographers the chance to watch the Sky Bet Football League Championship Play Off Final between Derby County and QPR!
I missed the winning goal due to doing a job prior to the final involving documenting TV crews in and out of the stadium for an important client. I walked about 6 miles in doing so due to stewards not letting me run up and down a no-go stair case. Good for the exercise but it resulted in me having to do about four laps of the stadium.
Normally I would have been documenting fans and the big build up to the referee’s whistle to start the game but in these hard times, taking the money and running with commissions is a preferred option than taking nice pictures and hoping that one day they will be sold.
With Atletico Madrid attacking my end, Diego Costa head butted the ball in frustration and went off injured after only 9 minutes. He was talk of the journalists in the days running up to today, coach Simeone perhaps playing his bluff – whatever the truth, there was no way I was going to capture Sr Costa again this season.
Sitting in my lucky spot seemed to pay off.
Iker Casillas of Real Madrid failing to stop the ball from going over the line after a header from Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid made the score 0-1.
Rapid wiring (transmitting pictures) was the order for the day as soon as the ball hit the back of the net.
As my sneezing increased due to pitch side hay fever, the clock ticked and ticked and Atletico Madrid edged forward to winning the grand prize of European football.
Gareth Bale missed opportunities…
As did Ronaldo. Slowly I amassed a nice collection of Real Madrid dejection images in anticipation of Atletico Madrid winning.
Even the fans looked grumpy.
I had quite a nice set of pictures assuming that the score was going to stay at Real Madrid 0-1 Atletico Madrid.
But I have learnt never to assume anything but Real were dead and buried – the ref awarded five minutes added time.
Then boom!! It was 1-1.
Simeone running onto the pitch to confront the referee after his 5 minute calculation at the end of full-time. I think he felt his team’s chances had gone.
I felt I had to start again. I felt Atletico had had their chance. All my Real Madrid editorial dejection images would be fruitless. It would all mean nothing.
My Greek position luck continued though as the volume made by the Real fans got higher and higher. During the first 90 minutes they had been pretty quiet.
Bale scoring to make it 2-1 with a great header in the second half of extra time.
But for me, the football karma photography Gods were not shining down on me fully.
I captured all the goals OK but first Bale, Ramos and then Ronaldo all running the other side as the white half of Madrid celebrated as Real won 4-1 in extra time. I can take one or two celebrations going the other way, but five goals in a game?
Goals win football matches, not celebrations – as we all keep saying!
It was still very frustrating though.
The psychological abuse started when my colleagues started to analyse the fact that five goals had been scored and all five celebrations had been in the same corner.
Jealously resulted in bold statements in the direction certain colleagues who were lucky enough to be sitting in the lucky corner. Jokey claims that they had used up all of their lucky joker cards for the football photography FIFA World Cup poker game made the ones with no pictures feel a little bit better.
Although my haul of Real Madrid dejection images were now totally fruitless, I needed to make up with the end of game celebrations.
Whilst shouting to Gareth Bale to put his Welsh flag around him my attention was overtaken by stewards before me frog marching off some cheeky scousers on the pitch with home-made UEFA press passes around their necks!
Real celebrated their 10th title in true Spanish style.
My favourite images were of Sergio Ramos taking a matador cape and doing a matador rendition on the pitch to the applauding Spanish fans.
Walking around Lisbon at 2am looking for food, myself and a colleague kept commenting on if we would have found such lovely people waiting on us in wonderful restaurants in England at that hour when we ordered some mouth-watering Parma Ham and then Tagliatelle Bolognese. After a long day it tasted that bit more delicious.
I enjoyed the day and had a good one. It could had of been better, but equally a lot worse – I didn’t have time to reflect on my 19th Final. I so wanted to watch the game again on TV, particularly the extra time period, if only to see Simeone run onto the pitch. I went to sleep, it dawned on me how much work I have to do this next week before I depart for the World Cup.