Laliga Live: Part One- At Last, “Mr. Nigeria” Arrives in Valencia, Villarreal

February 27, 2020
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I AM STARTING to write this Laliga travelogue at five minutes past midnight of Wednesday, 26 February, 2020, which means we’re already five minutes into a new day, Thursday, 27 February, 2020. I have not had a good sleep in the last three days, yet I dare not go to bed now without jotting this down. Complete Sports editor, Dare Esan, his website counterpart Nnamdi Ezekute and www.naijasuperfans.com content head, Kayode Ogundare, have been waiting to read this from me.

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I should have been on Air Maroc for a straightforward Lagos-Casablanca-Valencia trip, but when Air Maroc couldn’t find me a seat, my trip organizers switched to Air France for a longer Lagos-Paris-Valencia connection. Unfortunately, that flight itself was cancelled late, late on Monday night, 24 February due to “technical reasons” and about 200 of us passengers were bussed to various hotels in Lagos for the night.

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Mumini Alao at Villarreal CF training ground

With no assurance in sight still that Air France would pick us the following day, Tuesday, my determined trip organizers quickly rearranged a Lufthansa ticket for me to travel Lagos-Frankfurt-Valencia. Finally, I arrived in Valencia mid-day on Wednesday by which time I had missed the first full day of the Laliga media tour while the second day tour to Villarreal was also half-way gone. Now, that was painful.

I had been looking forward to meeting Nigeria’s wonderkid at Villarreal, Samuel Chukwueze. But, by the time I arrived the club’s ground, the team had completed their training for the day and left. However, I joined the media corps on a Laliga tour of Villarreal’s Stadium where I ran a “live commentary” at Chukwueze’s personal corner of the home team dressing room which drew a big applause from the other journalists on the tour. Click here to listen on www.completesports.com, or go to www.naijasuperfans.com to listen too.

Chukwueze’s corner at Villarreal dressing room.

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Mumini Alao at Chukwueze corner inside Villarreal dressing room of Estadio de la Ceramica

Mr. Nigeria and Mr. India.

Altogether, there are 12 of us journalists from different parts of the world on this tour. Diana Fernandez, a lively Spanish lady from the Laliga representatives who came to pick me at Valencia airport, had informed me that because of the difficulty in pronouncing each other’s names, the press corps had decided to identify each other by country. Already, there were Messers Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, United Kingdom, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, South Korea and South Africa on ground. When I showed up, everyone started calling me “Nigeria.”

I welcome readers to this first installment of my Laliga media tour travelogue that will culminate in the 244th El-Clasico on Sunday, 1st of March. I will be there to bring you a live report on the ambience, the atmosphere at the biggest club match in world football between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabue. I will also tell you about some interesting people that I have met and share with you in greater detail, my first hand experience at Villarreal and the other places we’re scheduled to visit, courtesy of Laliga.

In the meantime, I must catch some sleep now. Body no be wood. Nature calls…

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Mumini Alao at the Villarreal CF home ground, Estadio de la Ceramica

Mumini Alao at the Villareal CF conference room, with his Mr. Nigeria cap on the table

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Alao at the Villarreal CF shop

Inside the club shop

Footprints of Arsenal, Manchester United and other clubs when they visited to play Villareal CF.

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More pennants symbolising Villarreal CF opponents at the Estadio de la Ceramica

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