Vinícius kickstarts Bernabéu party and comes of age as Real Madrid hero | Sid Lowe

Real returned home after 560 days away and the fans’ embrace of the once mocked Brazilian shows how far he has come

In the end, the police had to pull him out of there. There was a party back at his place and Vinícius Júnior was enjoying this more than the last time he was there and probably more than he should have been, but he didn’t care and you couldn’t really blame him: this had been a long time coming and when at last it did, boy was it good. Boy was he. After 560 days, football finally returned to the Santiago Bernabéu and, having conceded inside 200 seconds, twice trailed and been reacquainted with whistles, the Brazilian put Real Madrid into the lead and on course for a 5-2 win over Celta de Vigo that made a celebration of their homecoming.

As the ball hit the net, Vinícius turned east, ran to the touchline, leapt the barrier and disappeared into the crowd, reunited at last and closer than ever before. There in the third row Agustín Caro, a season ticket holder of 50 years and member No. 6,006, caught him before he fell. Others dashed across, bundling into a mass embrace and not keen to let go – things getting a little messy and not a great look in a pandemic – until the police officers pulled him back to the pitch. “I told him I loved him,” Caro told reporter Edu Aguirre and he wasn’t alone. As Vinícius returned, supporters stood. Some bowed before him. “Vini! Vini! Vini!” they chanted.

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