10 Feb, 2023 @ 17:15
1 min read

Forget the Camino de Santiago: Spanish cousins go on 2,500km pilgrimage to DERBY to watch football team they fell in love with playing FIFA

Derby 1

A football-mad Spanish family went on a bonkers 2,500km voyage to watch a football club from a provincial English town after falling in love with them in a video game.

Fernando Batallon and his six cousins set out on the journey from Lugo in northern Spain to finally see their beloved football team, Derby County, in the flesh.

The love affair had begun after they randomly chose the League One club while playing FIFA together because they liked the ram on the club’s badge.

“It all started on FIFA Career Mode,” law firm worker Fernando, 25, told Derby County podcast ‘Steve Bloomer’s Washing’. 

Derby 2
Fernando and his cousins received an incredible reception from the stunned Derby County fans Credit: Fernando Batallon

“We wanted to play as a new team, but didn’t know which one to pick. 

“So, we decided to choose the team with the badge that we liked the most. And that, of course, was the charming Ram crest of Derby County.”

The Spanish fans had been following the team since 2019 and were thrilled when they finally got to see their heroes, who had previously just been graphics on a TV screen, in action. 

And they were in luck as the Rams, notorious for posting the worst ever points total for a season in the Premier League, romped to a 5-0 victory over Morecambe.

Fernando and his cousins were welcomed with open arms by the friendly fans of Derby – who were stunned at their story – and even got to take a picture next to the Pride Park pitch. 

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After the game the cousins managed to get pitchside for a photo. Credit: Fernando Batallon

The group had planned their trip for years, but due to the COVID pandemic, had to delay it until now. 

“It was the best weekend of our lives,” Fernando gushed.

After the game, the Spanish family headed to London for some sightseeing before returning home to Lugo on Sunday night. 

And they’re already planning their next trip to see the Rams play, with an invitation extended to Derby fans to come and watch CD Lugo in Galicia.

“We had such a great time,” Fernando said. “Everyone was so nice to us, and we can’t wait to come back!” 

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Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? [email protected]
@waltfinc

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