Why do Atletico Madrid celebrate their titles at Neptuno?

during Celebracion decimo titulo de liga bbva Atletico de Madrid. at Madrid Spain on May 18 2014, plaza Neptuno

Though impossible this year due to COVID-19 health restrictions, celebrating trophy wins and important victories at Neptuno fountain in central Madrid has become a tradition since the early 90’s 

When Neptuno Fountain was constructed in the centre of Madrid in 1786, nobody knew that a couple of centuries later it would become the meeting point for Atletico Madrid fans after every trophy win. Today when Atletico Madrid secure a major title, fans gather at the fountain to see players wrap a club scarf or flag around the neck of the god of the sea. 

Club Atletico de Madrid players celebrating with the fans after winning the football spanish league title at Neptuno Square. El Atletico de Madrid celebra junto a su aficcion el haber ganado la Liga Española de futbol, en la plaza de Neptuno donde el equipo celebra sus triunfos tradicionalmente en Madrid. 18.05.14. Madrid. Club Atletico de Madrid players celebrating with the fans after winning the football spanish league title at Neptuno Square.

Due to the unique circumstances of the coronavirus crisis, such a gathering hasn’t been possible when Atletico Madrid secured their 11th LaLiga title. 

But all Los Colchoneros other titles since the early-1990s have been toasted with a party in front of the Greek god. But it wasn’t always like that in the past, and this is a curious story not very popular. Before then, small groups of both Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid fans had visited the Plaza de Cibeles on occasion to celebrate major successes, in all likeliness due simply to its central location. In fact, hard as it is to believe today, it’s widely believed that the first instance of such a celebration came after Atleti won the 1961/62 European Cup Winners’ Cup final against Fiorentina, before fans of both capital city clubs and of the Spanish national team gathered at the fountain for other important victories over the following years. 

17 May 2014, Madrid, Spain — Madrid, Spain. 17th May 2014 — Atletico Madrid supporters celebrate at Neptuno square, in Madrid. A genaral view of the square. — Thousand of Atletico Madrid supporters gathered at Neptuno square, in Madrid, to celebrate the 2014 Spanish Liga Primera Division Championship win. — Image by © Luca Piergiovanni/Demotix/Corbis

However, it was during the 1980s, and the era of dominance for Real Madrid’s so-called Quinta del Buitre team that celebrating at Cibeles cemented itself as a distinctly Real Madrid tradition. They certainly celebrated their a lot, winning five LaLiga Santander titles in a row between 1985 and 1990.   

Atleti’s trophy drought in the 1980s and Real Madrid’s trophy ‘addiction’ made the goddess Cibeles a Madridista for life. By the time Atleti started winning again with a pair of Copa del Rey triumphs in 1991 and 1992, their fans had decided to move their celebrations 500 metres down the Paseo del Prado to Neptuno, ‘Neptune’s Fountain.’ They left Cibeles exclusively for Los Blancos.  

during Celebracion decimo titulo de liga bbva Atletico de Madrid. at Madrid Spain on May 18 2014, plaza Neptuno

When Atletico Madrid do celebrate in Neptuno, it’s the captains who have the honour of dressing the god up in club colours after a big win. And curiously Koke, although he had already won seven titles as Rojiblanco previously, had not yet visited Neptuno as first captain.  

In the last celebrations there, after winning LaLiga Santander in 2014 and the Europa League in 2018, Gabi and Simeone left some memorable speeches that the Colchoneros fans have never forgotten. For example, it was when the Argentine coach pronounced his now famous slogan: “If you believe and work, you can!”. Now it will be Koke’s turn, either on Neptune or where, for sanitary reasons, it is possible. 

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