Twenty one and a half years ago at the Estadio Azteca, as all Argentina fans, England fans, and football fans in general will remember, Diego Maradona scored two goals – one a slight of hand, the other pure magic – to knock England out of the World Cup on his way to lifting the trophy. Despite all the great things he did during his career, it’s probably those two goals that will be his most-remembered. On Sunday, I was sat in the same stadium.
And it’s fucking huge. It’s the fourth largest stadium in the world (behind one in North Korea, and two in India), with a capacity of over 114,000 – more than the entire population of my hometown. I was there to see Club América‘s home match against Puebla; but really I was there to see the stadium, and to – rather dorkily – see the pitch where Maradona did what he did.
We didn’t have tickets before the game, and once we got there, the queue for the ticket booth(s) was enormous. You’ve gotta be looking at a couple of thousand people snaking around the merchandise and food stalls outside the stadium. So we bought tickets off a tout for 100 pesos: double the face value, but still only about five of the Queen’s pounds sterling.
The game itself wasn’t spectacular; it ended 0-0. América were fortunate that Puebla couldn’t put away any of the many chances they had. Still, dull game or not, that’s not why I was there: I was there simply to see what it’s like to be at a non-European football game.
It was fun, and – for an English chap who’s last time inside a football stadium was in December, freezing my nuts off watching Lincoln City and Darlington hoof it around for 90 minutes – it was magnificent to see the hardcore América fans waving flags, banging drums, singing, and jumping up and down from start to finish.
But, I still have the task of choosing a Mexican team to nominally support. América were, well, okay; most of the people I’ve met here are Pumas fans; but I’m tempted by Cruz Azul, simply because I’m a fruity aesthete, and I like their shirt the most.