The Stade de Bordeaux left an immediate impression as it hosted its first ever game on Saturday, with an electric atmosphere and all-star cast making for a memorable day.
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Five UEFA EURO 2016 matches – including a quarter-final – will be played at the new Stade of Bordeaux. On Saturday, as FC Girondins de Bordeaux beat Montpellier Hérault SC 2-1 in the arena's opening fixture, we were given a taste of what to expect.
The party was impressive. It started in the early hours of the afternoon, before a light-and-sound show which retraced the club's history closed the festivities in style. The stars of the evening proved to be Diego Rolán, who scored the first goal ever in the stadium – after netting the last at the Stade Chaban-Delmas – and Zinedine Zidane, who received a standing ovation when presented to the crowd.
After the official inauguration on Monday, this was the first time that fans got to experience just what the stadium would be like when full. The high stands provide incredible acoustics, and the noisy atmosphere impressed players and supporters alike. "We needed to have this proximity with the supporters. We can feel their strength," said Bordeaux forward Henri Saivet, clearly won over.
Most supporters arrived early at the stadium, with the immense approach including a fan zone where the first visitors could enjoy the atmosphere and relax before kick-off. After 26 months of work at a total cost of €183m, the stadium eventually came to life. "It's a dream," commented one fan who has been attending games since the 1970s.
The 42,115 seats were filled well before the first whistle, including that of 94-year-old Irène, the club's oldest season-ticket holder. Meanwhile, 200 former players from every generation attended, including Fernando Menegazzo – at the club from 2005 to 2011 – who made a special trip from his native Brazil.
But the last word rightly belonged to Marc Planus, who played his 300th and final Ligue 1 match with the club yesterday. "Bordeaux deserve to have such a beautiful stadium," said the popular defender. "It was a wonderful opening."