Argentinians in Chiswick celebrate a nailbiting World Cup final

Image above: Mel Altomano (front centre) with crowd watching the World Cup final

Argentinian World Cup victory over France 4-2 on penalties, “amazing” and “incredible” but “so stressful”

“I have this ball in my chest that is still there 24 hours later” says Mel Altomano, Argentianian in London, living in Chiswick.

“I am over the moon. Beyond over the moon, I am so happy. It was amazing, but it was so stressful – the anxiety. I really suffered during the penalties.”

She is one of 100 or so people who watched the World Cup final on big TV screens at the Vauxhall Beer Garden.

“There were mainly Argentinians but also a lot of English people, probably with Argentinian partners, and lots of Latin Americans – from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela.

“It was so good. We were singing all the way through and there were the big drums and flags. We are very passionate about football.

“We were leading 2-0 in the first half and feeling pretty good. Then in the second half France scored one goal and then instantly another. Just silly, stupid goals. I felt I was going to have a heart attack.

“We scored our third and we were like ‘we’ve got it!’ but then they scored again. I felt this ball form in the middle of my chest of anxiety. It was so stressful.”

Images above: Argentinians watching the match at Tiger Tiger nightclub, organised by Argentinos en Inglaterra

Scenes of wild rejoicing

Argentina’s victory against France on Sunday is being described as perhaps the best World Cup final ever. Argentina is in the middle of an economic crisis with high unemployment and rampant inflation, but the World Cup has united the country. Tuesday will be a day of celebration as the team arrives home from Qatar.

“It’s crazy how many people were on the streets” Mel told The Chiswick Calendar. “Argentina is so divided by politics but football has this ability to mix people of different backgrounds, ages and points of view. This is like a breath of happiness.”

The scenes in Buenos Aires were replicated in Trafalgar Square as many of London’s 5,000 strong Argentinian population celebrated there. Juan Pilgrem, manager of the Buenos Aires steakhouse in Turnham Green Terrace, saw the match at the Tiger Tiger nightclub in the Haymarket with about 1,500 others and headed to Trafalgar Square afterwards.

Video above: Celebrations at Tiger Tiger, organised by ARgentinos en INglaterra:

 “?????? Estuviste viendo la final en Tiger Tiger ??????
Vamos Argentina!!! 1650 argentinos distribuidos en 3 pisos disfrutaron, celebraron…”

A night to be with other Argentinians

Juan has lived in London for 20 years, but Sunday night was a night to be with other Argentinians.

“It was nice to be with Argentinians, to share the passion. It brought back so many memories. I had about five heart attacks during the match. I think it was the support of the people that saw them through. Our team had the most fans in Qatar.”

The celebrations in Trafalgar Square were wild, despite the icy rain:

“Everyone went to Trafalgar Square and we were singing but then a Murga band [football / carnival / percussion band] turned up and they’d brought fireworks and it really got going.”

The celebrations continued at the restaurant on Monday night, albeit in a more muted fashion. They were busier than usual and had to open both floors to cope with the demand, Juan told us, as Argentinian regulars who live locally came in to eat and share in the victory.

Image above: Buenos Aires Argentine steakhouse, 32 Turnham Green Terrace

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