Jamaicans in Barcelona: UEFA Champions League

Some days the football gods smile down on us; on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 could have been once such day. At 8:30 morning training was called a hour earlier for 2 reasons:

  1. The 16 newer players on trial plus 3 players who did not participate in yesterday’s game against Espanyol were to have their assigned Coaches from Sweden and Canada see them in a full team scrimmage to allocate positions and tactics
  2. The entire group was set to leave at 2 to go shopping in Barcelona then watch the UEFA Champions League return games at the Camp Nou with FC Barcelona against Olympique Lyonnaise.

UEFA Champions League:
FC Barcelona vs Olympique Lyonnaise

The first match encounter in Lyon ended 0-0, so Barca was expected to come out in full strength.They did, with Lionel Messi was up on the score sheet from the penalty spot after 14 minutes, with a delicate chip. Coutinho followed up with the tap in after the defensive line was cut to shreds as halftime reflected a safe 2-0 advantage.

Lyon showed polish and positively responded to reduce the score with a sharp strike in the second half but it only seemed to have irritated the men from Catalonia.Messi sprang to life again to notch a second then set up another for Pique and substitute Dembele closed the show as the 80,000-strong stadia rocked with cheers, chants and songs as the 6 goal treat was a football lesson to behold.

Our group was dispatched all around the stadium, as it was impossible to get seated together for such a large group on late notice. Lank FC got heavily reduced prices at 60 Euros, while many of the actual ticket prices displayed from 105-190 Euros each. Hearing the game-long series of cheers, most persons dressed in their branded Barca replica shirts, scarfs, and outwardly supporting the club was an experience all in itself. Avid Barca supporters and “Messi worshippers” traded tickets for those closer to the field, hoping to get a chance to see their favorite player up close.

The game ended and the stadium drained its occupants quickly. The group moved out soon after with our bus in front, but as we reached the main road security stopped the bus on turning, as a throng of photographers, fans and admirers clogged our bus to see in a car.

Celebrity Sightings: Messi & Rakitic

The driver of a white Audi SUV, white hat, and white and black shirt was the man himself, Lionel Messi! He drove by as a few players spotted him. Our player Jabari Howell gave out the cry “Messi, mi Football God, you clean breda!” as he asked the driver to let him out to go and hail his idol at the stoplight. The once-injured Jamaican Goalkeeper, Tafari Chambers rushed forward with Shadane Lopez were now first in the line as the ‘Trini Posse’ rushed to the the front of the bus along with the rest of the players. Crazy became frenzy as a black Audi sedan cruised by the side of the bus, Ivan Rakitic at the wheels as Jesse the Trinidadian centrehalf exclaimed, “Rakitic, mi luv you bwoy” as he drove away from the screaming youngsters banging the bus windows.

Lionel Messi
Ivan Rakitic

The sightings completed, and hearts went back to normal beatings as the bus fell quietly to sleep as the hour and a half journey home to Salou unfolded at 1pm in the early morning. The night belonged to the “Sighting of Messi and Rakitic” and today we all lived our dream a little more. A good night was had by all, 2 trial games at 11am and 6pm are the next challenges.