UEFA Supercup 2017 - When Skopje bеcame football center of the World
08.08.2017 will be remembered among the citizens of Skopje and Macedonia in general as the date when we became the football center of the World. UEFA Supercup 2017 was held in Skopje. So far the biggest football event in Macedonia and in the region. Real Madrid and Manchester United played the Supercup final here in Skopje at the Phillip II Stadium, my "home venue" where I watched my first football match live and where I spent the most of my regular season duties as a professional sports photographer. Stars as Ronaldo, Ramos, lukaku, Pogba, De Gea, Isco, Marcelo, Herrera etc. played atomic football in front of our eyes and in front of our lenses. I was down there on the pitch photographing the history!
The activities started the day before the match. First I picked up the accreditation from the accreditation center, then the official training sessions of the two clubs. First Manchester United trained, then Real Madrid. There were a lot of photographers, like never before on our stadium, we were all "fighting" for a space to take photos from the players and the two legendary coaches Mourinho and Zidane. There was a joke among the local photographers, we were questioning each other - are we on our stadium? Full galleries of the training sessions you can find here from MANCHESTER UNITED and here from REAL MADRID.
On the match day Skopje was full of Real Madrid and Manchester United supporters. Most numerous were the fans from England, but there was a lot of local and regional support for the clubs. I entered the stadium five hours before the kick-off to get to photo bib, to chose a photo position and to attend the photographers briefing. The stadium area was surrounded by fans and after finishing the activities in the media zone I went outside to take photos from the atmosphere. Even that it was a really hot day, the people were having fun, drinking beer and all the activities that accompanies a football match. Full gallery of the fans before match HERE.
One hour before the kick-off the teams were warming up and the stadium was full. The arena cheered-up to the stars on the pitch. They went to the dressing rooms for the final preparation and it was time for the opening ceremony. Including a performance of traditional Macedonian dances by dancers from local folklore groups, and two giant banners featuring the Real Madrid and Manchester United logos were presented on the pitch by youngsters from FK Vardar and local volunteers and a group of 19 hearing-impaired youngsters from the local state school for education and rehabilitation DUCOR Partenija Zografski, performed a Coldplay song, A Sky Full of Stars, in sign language and the match was opened.
Then the kick-off – and the match started. There is no such thing as a bad position for taking photos of Real Madrid and Manchester United because all of the players on the teams are stars. They played open football. Three goals were scored, but the one near me was scored by Isco. He shot the ball, scored a goal a ran at five meter distance in front of me so I have a photos of scoring and celebrating crystal clear. In 83 min of the game Ronaldo entered the game because he was not in the starting line-up and the crowd went crazy. The match finished 2-1 for Real Madrid (Casemiro 24' and Isco 52' scored for Real Madrid and Lukaku 62' scored for Manchester Utd.)
After the Supercup 2017 final, the awarding ceremony was taking place on the pitch. First Manchester United players went to the stage to take the silver medals. Coach José Mourinho give the medal to one of the Man Utd fans. Than Real Madrid showed on the stage lead by the coach Zidane. After receiving the medal, the captain Sergio Ramos lifted the trophy and they strike a pose for a group photo toward us. After that the captain went in front of the Peña Madridista de Macedonia (Official Real Madrid supporters from Macedonia) and showed them the trophy. Several Real Madrid players were posing one-by-one with the trophy including Zidane.