When the soccer team wins, so does the country.

I don’t particularly enjoy watching sports unless I personally know someone playing – and I don’t have favorite teams.  But while in Europe during the biggest game of a country’s history, you watch regardless, right?

My mom and I were in Lagos, Portugal, last year during the final game of the EuroCup, France vs. Portugal.  A few days prior, Portugal beat Wales, 2-0, and had advanced to the final round.  This was a huge deal for the country.  France had previously won the EuroCup twice and, overall, was thought to be the stronger team.

Our hotel was hosting a special screening in the lobby bar with refreshments and snacks, and although neither my mom nor I are soccer fans, we decided to go – when in Rome Lagos… Without thinking much about it, we pledged allegiance to Team Portugal.

Tourists from all around the world gathered around the big screen TV, bringing their passion and excitement for their beloved team.  Most of the room was rooting for Portugal, while some outsiders supported the competition. Throughout the game, the divided crowd bantered with each other, exchanging competitive insults and loud cheers/boos.  Around minute 8, Portugal’s star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, got injured.  He played on to minute 23, until the pain was too great for him to continue.  Winning was not in Portugal’s favor.  As we approached the last few minutes of the game, the score remained a steady 0-0.  The suspense in the room heightened tremendously, and everybody sat on the edge of their seats…waiting for someone to score.

5…

4…

3…

2…

1…

When the soccer team wins, so does the country.

 

And the game officially ended without either team scoring a goal.  Overtime started and, miraculously, Portugal’s substitute, Eder, scored a goal.

Portugal won.

We high-fived our neighbors, said goodnight, and went to bed.

The following morning, we caught the bus to the capital and paid no mind to the win.  We were looking forward to sightseeing and exploring Lisbon.  However, upon bringing our luggage to our hotel room, the bellboy called us over to our room’s window overlooking the main boulevard.  He pointed towards the statue and told us that in a couple of hours, the Portuguese soccer team was going to be passing by on this street for a parade.  He couldn’t make it because he’d be working, but asked us to go in his place.  So, we went…

The road was lined with thousands of people, covered from head-to-toe in green and red, for as far as the eye could see.  They were proudly waving the Portuguese flag while chanting enthusiastically.  People were jumping on each other’s shoulders and filtering through to the front of the crowds in preparation of having the best view.

About 15 minutes later, the music and cheers got louder, as the police vans led the team’s bus through the commotion.  The players were standing on top for everyone to see, waving to the people below and leading the chants.  The team’s pride was contagious. The support from the crowd was unmatched.  Before even realizing, my mom and I were in the front row jumping up to wave at the players.

When the soccer team wins, so does the country.

Upon passing, the crowd continued to follow the bus.  We stayed behind, taking in what we just experienced.  Patriotism, pride, and history in the making.  Portugal just won their first EuroCup, and we had the chance to celebrate with the country.

Viva Portugal!