There was a loud, metallic noise and for a moment, everything went black. When the young Real Madrid goalkeeper came round, he remembers seeing the lights of the car still on, smoke rising, and hearing the sound of people in pain around him. They took him to hospital, where doctors said he probably wouldn't walk again. He did, but it took him a year and a half and his football career was over.
It was the day before his 20th birthday, in 1963, and he often wondered what might have been; he could have formed part of the team that won the European Cup in 1966. Pirri, Pedro De Felipe, Amancio: they were all friends of his.
When he was in hospital, a nurse called Eladio gave him an old guitar, suggesting it might help to exercise his fingers. He hadn't played before but he learned how. During his long convalescence, he wrote a song. Among the lyrics is the line "there is always something to fight for, something to live for."
The song was called "La Vida Sigue Igual" ("Life Stays The Same") and in 1968, he took it to the Benidorm song festival and won. The man was Julio Iglesias, and he signed his first record deal soon after.
When "La Vida Sigue Igual" was released in 1969, the cover showed him leaning against the goalpost at the Santiago Bernabeu. You can see it in the wonderful collection of singles built up by Pascal Claude.
There's music in football and football in music. Disclaimer here: for two years, music and football came together on Tócala Otra Vez on the Carrusel Deportivo radio show in Spain, with Filippo Ricci, a show where tracks got mixed in with goals and team news. And some of it is genuinely good. So, with the Clasico coming, it's time to stick a bit of Barcelona and Madrid in your ears, starting with the Barca anthem to which the teams will come out on Wednesday night.
As for Madrid, Placido Domingo has given way for the players singing (well, miming, in some cases) that it's Madrid and "nothing else." (Yes, that is a little poke at Barcelona's "more than a club" mantra.)
Wait, it gets better. You want the Dream Team rapping? Of course you do!
And Royston Drenthe rapping too? Quite a lot better. Here you go:
There's Dani Alves with Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Pinto ...
... and Hugo Sanchez, running after the ball in 1980 ...
... while Cristiano Ronaldo took his turn at crooning too:
(And yes: "Amor Mio" is a Julio Iglesias song.)
Speaking of which, another Madrid player who didn't quite make it, suffered injury and went into music instead is Alvaro Benito. Here's his group Pignoise with
Those aren't the only players to release songs -- many others have "sung" -- and nor are they the only tunes around this rivalry. There are also those about the two clubs, rather than from them. (Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi, by the way, is a whole different matter, and the collection there contains songs of wildly varying quality, usually ranging from bad to very, very bad). Barcelona are more than a club, they say, and they're right: they are. So are Real Madrid. All football clubs are, really, and that's reflected in music, although it is true that of these two giants, the production quality has probably been greater in Barcelona. Here's just a small selection.
Catalan comedy music trio La Trinca reflected a shift in society and Barcelona's success after the arrival of Johan Cruyff in 1973 with the enjoyably silly "Botifarra de pages," which also shows that commercialism isn't new. The song insists that "one hundred million [pesetas] are nothing, because we've got money / we'll bring to Barcelona the best legs around" and jokes about how "true Barcelona fans" spend their cash on "records, dolls, pictures and pants."
It begins with the end of a 14-year wait for a league title in 1974 and revels in one particular victory: Barcelona's 5-0 win over Madrid.
"Five bells toll / At the Puerta del Sol / Five times Cibeles cried / Madrid was in mourning / And on the streets they said: / 'The sun has set on Flanders'," the lyrics run. Flanders is a reference to Spain's imperial power, the heart of empire and Botifarra de pages closes on an even more overtly political note -- even if the "Long live a free Catalonia!" is bleeped out, both a nod and a middle finger to the censor -- "We are and we will be Barcelona people, whether they like it or not!"
Before that came Serrat. "Temps era Temps" ("Once upon a time") was his most famous track, a nostalgic song written in 1980 about a bygone age, in which he reels off Barcelona's "five cups" forward line, the team of his childhood: Estanislau Basora, Cesar, Laszlo Kubala, Moreno and Eduardo Manchon, men that represented that Barca side in the collective conscience. He also wrote a homage to Kubala: "Pele was Pele, there was only one Maradona and Di Stéfano was a fount of cunning," he sings, "but none were like Kubala."
Speaking of nostalgia, Estupida Erika's 2010 track tells the story of an old couple, growing up together and connected by Barcelona.
"The best thing about being a Barcelona fan is having you by my side," it says, summing up football and life rather nicely. The song is called "Iturralde Gonzalez," after the former referee, which is as baffling as it is brilliant. There is no mention of him in it, but he did take charge of his fair share of Clasicos. (Iturralde, by the way, plays in a band of his own, with a harder, rockier style.)
Yes, football gets everywhere, a way of making sense of everything. And you know you're doing something right when Faithless use you as a measure of excellence, an expression of cool control. That's the man who will lead Madrid into the Camp Nou on Wednesday night. "Balance yourself, bring out the Zinedine Zidane in you," runs the line in "The Man In You."
That's not Zidane's only track either. If that's cool, this is silly and very, very fun. It's also the perfect way to end this column: it'll be going around your head all day now. Sorry about that, but here's Vaudeville Smash featuring the late commentator Les Murray and their track "Zinedine Zidane."