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Atleti's Irish connection: the Peña O'Donnell

We had a chat with our peña from Northern Ireland and we'd like to wish everyone a happy St. Patrick's Day.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a cultural celebration held on 17 March in numerous parts of the world, but most importantly in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In our history, Atlético de Madrid have never had an Irish player. However, our club still has connections with the Irish island: the Peña O’Donnell founded in 2005 in Derry, Northern Ireland by Michael Watters.

Watters’ first Atlético experience was back in 2003 in the Vicente Calderón against Málaga. Ever since then, he fell in love with our club.

“It was an absolutely brilliant experience,” Watters said to en.atleticodemadrid.com. “It was a great match and ever since then, I’ve thought ‘I’ve got to come back here.”

When coming up with a name for the peña, Watters played with a bit of Irish and Atlético history.

“I called the peña after Red Hugh O’Donnell. In the 1600’s, he had to flee Ireland,” Watters. “On the other hand, Atlético’s first stadium was in Calle O’Donnell and named ‘Campo O’Donnell’.”

The president of the Peña O’Donnell tries to make a pilgrimage to Madrid at least once a year.

“Atlético are like a family. The club has been more than welcoming [to me and the peña],” he continued. “Once you go see Atlético, you’re there for life.”

Watters has yet to experience a match in the Wanda Metropolitano, but he is anxiously waiting to visit our new stadium.

“I’m going in October,” he said. “Hopefully in Halloween.”

Although the Irish island and Atlético have little in common, Watters sees one thing that brings both together, especially on St. Patrick’s Day.

“There’s a comparison with Ireland in the fact that you never give up,” he said.