EFEToril, Spain

Real Madrid’s players returned to the newly-renovated Santiago Bernabeu last week for the first time in over a year and a half and they will get to know every inch of the brand new pitch in the games to come, but perhaps not as well as María Cremades, who cultivated the turf on her farm over a hundred miles away.

Real Madrid’s new stage, star-studded by the likes of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior, began its life on a patch of land in the western Spanish region of Extremadura, an area better known for its prized Iberico ham than for its football pitches.

“To be able to install the pitch at the Bernabeu is the prize of our career,” Cremades, owner of Tapiz Verde, a company she took over from her father that specializes in the cultivation of turf for sporting venues, tells Efe.

“But it’s not the only one,” she continues. “It can be said that 80% of the football grounds in Spain’s first and second divisions use turf that was born on this farm, as well as stadiums in Portugal, France and Belgium.”

Tapiz Verde was launched in 1989 by Cremades’s father Juan Miguel, a forest engineer who is now retired.