June 21, 2020 / 11:53 AM / 21 days ago

Even via video call, fan's flower tradition brings Atletico luck

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Atletico Madrid v Real Valladolid - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - June 20, 2020 Atletico Madrid's Vitolo celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS/Sergio Perez

MADRID (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid captain Koke called up one of the club’s most celebrated fans before Saturday’s match against Real Valladolid to continue her long tradition of laying flowers on the pitch before each home game — and the act proved a good luck charm.

Margarita Luengo, 73, has placed a bouquet of flowers at a corner flag before every home game since 1996 but was unable to go to Saturday’s match due to Spain’s ban on fans entering stadiums to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.

But Koke ensured the tradition was preserved, speaking to Luengo via video call ahead of the La Liga fixture as he placed the flowers at her chosen corner of the pitch at the Wanda Metropolitano, facing the goal as she requested.

“I’ll leave them here and let’s hope they bring us luck and we win and score a goal from a corner,” said the midfielder to Luengo in a video the club published on their official website.

Koke’s words rang true and he took the corner from which Vitolo headed in the only goal of the game in the 81st minute to give Atletico a victory which took them up to third in the standings.

Luengo first placed a bouquet of flowers at the corner flag of Atletico’s old stadium the Vicente Calderon before a 1996 match with Athletic Bilbao to show her admiration for Serbian midfielder Milinko Pantic and his talent for taking set pieces.

“I placed four flowers for him by the corner flag and when people asked me why I said they will be the four goals we will score,” she recalled in a 2017 interview with Cadena Ser.

Atletico won 4-1 with two assists and a goal from Pantic, so Luengo, who travels 150 kilometres to each home game, kept up the tradition even after Pantic left and continued to do so when the club departed the Calderon for the Metropolitano in 2017.

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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