Only Barcelona and Atlético can match Eibar’s results over the last three months as another unlikely run at Europe continues
Iván Ramis took off his shirt and put his hat on, a flat red porkpie perched on his head as he stood in the corner of Butarque where a couple of dozen Eibar fans down from the Ego valley were going wild in wigs: some red, some blue and some Scottish, ginger locks tumbling from tam o’ shanters. As he had flung his top high into the air before running towards them shouting, they had thrown the hat on the pitch; so he wore it, along with a smile that even the referee trotting over with a yellow card couldn’t wipe from his face. “I don’t know why he took his shirt off but what am I going to say?” his manager José Luis Mendílibar shrugged .
How about something in German, French or Italian? “Entschuldigung, wo ist das Fußballstadion?” might be handy. Or: “Bonjour, bonjour, nous sommes les garçons Eibar!” Better still: “Ciao, siamo l’Eibar, magari non avete sentito parlare de noi ma siamo fotutamente bravi.” Either way, it may be time to get practising and Mendilíbar knew why Ramis had taken off his shirt, alright: the same reason he was struggling to be heard, sitting there under the stand. Eibar’s fans had gone, a four-hour drive home ahead of them, but beyond the wall, down the corridor to the right, their players were shouting and chanting. It was Saturday night and they’d beaten Leganés 1-0 – but it wasn’t only that; it was how it happened and what it meant.