ON THIS DAY IN FOOTBALL... 9 MAY

The "Bernabéu Mad Man" shows remorse (2001)

Un aficionado salta al campo para pegar al árbitro durante el Real Madrid - Bayern Munich de Copa de Europa.
Diario AS

It was one of the best-kept secrets in football for many years. Who was the 'Bernabéu Mad Man'? (El Loco del Bernabéu) - the anonymous figure who lept onto the pitch and punched the referee during the European Cup semi-final meeting between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in 1975-1976. The match official in question was Austrian Erich Linemayer. The aggressor was captured by Bayern keeper Sepp Maier, who dived onto him of him rendering him unable to move until he was escorted off the field by police officers; before being ejected from the stadium, he managed to escape - by pretending that he has lost a shoe in the ruckus. Either that or the policemen where just as diehard madridistas as him and allowed him to give them the slip. When he returned to his seat, some sections of the crowd started chanting: "Hooray for your big balls!" (¡Olé tus huevos!), while others gave him a ticking off. But he somehow managed to blend in with the crowd and spent the rest of the game unnoticed.

It was 31 March 1976. Later that night and for the rest of the week, radio stations were inundated with calls claiming to be the aggrieved fan who smacked the ref. The match ended 1-1 and Madrid ended being eliminated after losing the return leg 2-0. Amancio was sent off that day, in what turned out to be his final European game. There were also repercussions from UEFA who imposed a stadium ban - the following season they were forced to play the first two rounds at neutral grounds: they met Stal Mielec at the Luis Casanova (Mestalla) then Club Brugge at La Rosaleda (Málaga). They were eliminated in the second tie. And after that, barriers were fitted to the Bernabéu to stop the public from getting onto the pitch much to the shame of the man who the stadium was named after, Santiago Bernabéu.

Just over 25 years later, the person who became known as  'The Bernabéu Mad Man', confessed all to Diario AS. It turned out he was just an average fan, who went to the game with his wife who was six months pregnant. He related that he was sat in the second tier, and after being left fuming for a penalty on Santillana which wasn't given, turned to his wife and said he was going to the toilet, an excuse to make his way down to pitch level, jump over the advertising hoardings and lamp the ref. The photograph shows a young man wearing a wool Madrid hat laying into the match official. Linemayer took the punch full in the face, despite Uli Hoeness' attempts to protect him. Maier is close by, but didn't arrive in time to stop it. It was the keeper who detained the aggressor, hauling him to the ground and sitting on him until security arrived.

"What I did was crazy, madness", he confessed to this newspaper 25 years later. He preferred to remain anonymous, allowing us to use his initials but would only be photographed from the back. "My Dad, an old-school season ticket holder, refused to talk to me for two years after that", he lamented. He had also received an offer to write a book about it but refused out of shame. His confession to AS was merely to show remorse and explain that he had made a mistake. It was a mistake for which his club had to pay the price - and serves as an example for others to show that this is not the thing to do - however passionate you may be about your team.