Millions of football fans around the world tune in to watch every Clásico and that includes those who are most devoted to the two teams involved. Barcelona and Real Madrid have two of the largest fanbases in the world and they each enjoy the support of several superfans, supporters who go to extreme lengths to follow and to back their team.
There are no restrictions on who can or can’t become a superfan. It doesn’t matter if the fan lives minutes away from the stadium or on a different continent. All that’s needed is a relentless devotion and there are a handful of fans who fit the bill.
One of them is Ferran Iglesias Caner. He lives in the city of Barcelona and is a superfan of Barça. His dedication to the Blaugrana colours became clear over the course of the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons when he made a promise on his Twitter account that he would post a photo of Antoine Griezmann every day until he signed for the Catalan club.
“Everything started on the 25th of September in 2017, and I never imagined it could finish like that. Many people commented that I would never finish with this and that I should quit,” he explains. Yet he didn’t quit, not even when the French player stated in a documentary in the summer of 2018 that he was staying at Atlético Madrid for the time being. As Ferran says: “When he decided to stay there it was a major blow, but not for one moment did I think about abandoning this thread. Something inside me told me that there would be another chance the following year and that was the case.”
Griezmann did move to the Camp Nou in the summer of 2019 and Ferran’s thread of daily tweets went viral, with Barcelona’s official account and Griezmann’s official account both mentioning Ferran’s fandom. 655 consecutive pictures well deserved that. “Griezmann mentioned me in his first tweet as Blaugrana. I was in shock then, the pictures game went too far. 10.000 people started following my profile (@ryghtan) in just a few hours. It was crazy. I was also invited to the Griezmann first visit the Camp Nou megastore. It was an unforgettable experience”, says.
Ferran’s story is an incredible one, but it’s also possible to express similar dedication without being in the same city as the team. That’s the case with Gabriel Martínez, a Real Madrid superfan from Mexico City. His collection of Real Madrid shirts rivals that of the actual Real Madrid kitman, with Gabriel currently boasting over 200 jerseys. Speaking about this, he says: “The last time I counted them there were 198, but I’ve added more since then so now it’s over 200, although I don’t know the exact number!”
It takes a lot of effort and devotion to be a superfan, but both Ferran and Gabriel wouldn’t have it any other way. “Being a Barça fan is one of the best things that has happened to me in my life,” adds Ferran. “I reached the point of fandom where I became a member of an official fangroup and now I’m part of that group and I couldn’t be happier.”
Gabriel is also a member of a fan group, one based in Mexico City. Describing this family of Real Madrid fans, Gabriel says: “We get together every weekend to watch the matches. With the fan group, I’ve enjoyed some impressive moments. You even feel like you’re in the Bernabéu as everyone is supporting the team as if there’s no tomorrow.”
For superfans like Gabriel who are based in another country, it requires a different kind of dedication, but it is becoming easier and easier in the year 2020 to follow the day to day developments of their club. As Gabriel explains: “Thanks to the technology of today you can follow Real Madrid through apps, like the Real Madrid app or the LaLiga app. There’s also all the other pages and there’s Facebook pages.”
For Ferran, Twitter is an excellent medium for following a club and for keeping up to date with all the latest happenings. “I find out about everything through the various journalists and sports accounts that I follow,” he says.
The excitement for El Clásico
Of course, El Clásico is the fixture that all Barcelona and Real Madrid fans have marked in red on the calendar. For Ferran and for Gabriel, this is a very special fixture. There are happy memories and there are sad memories when it comes to this rivalry.
“Out of the good memories from recent years, the Copa del Rey final of 2011 stands out,” Gabriel reveals. “That was when we won with Cristiano Ronaldo’s header. I think that the greatest joy I’ve had with respect to El Clásico, along with the goal Gareth Bale scored when he went down the left wing and past Marc Bartra in the 2014 Copa del Rey final.”
For Ferran, the 6-2 win at the Bernabéu in 2009 stands out. “The exhibition put on by Leo Messi in this match was something from another planet,” he recalls. “I also remember the 5-0 at the Camp Nou very well, with David Villa having a great game. That day was glorious, with the intensity of the entire team for the entire match and with Gerard Piqué’s ‘manita’.”
On Sunday, March 1st, new Clásico memories will be created as Barcelona and Real Madrid take each other on at 21:00 CET. Ferran and Gabriel will both be watching, even if from other sides of the Atlantic, and millions of other fans will be following every kick, header, run and save as well. For the superfans of El Clásico, this is what it’s all about.