The Beatles' Yellow Submarine launched from Liverpool in 1966 and within a year it had found its way to an industrial town just north of Valencia. So how did the Spanish side get the nautical nickname?
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Villarreal have navigated their way through to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, battening down the hatches to weather the occasional storm and sinking all before them so far in the 2021/22 season. But why are they known as the Yellow Submarine?
For starters, Villarreal isn't actually on the coast. The small industrial town an hour's drive north-east of Valencia is a few kilometres inland on the Mijares River. Secondly, submarines aren't their thing; Villarreal is famous for manufacturing ceramics – Spain's Stoke City, if you like. It's why they play at the Estadio de la Cerámica.
So not on the coast and no submarines, but they do play in yellow (more on that to come) and, according to the club's website, that was inspiration enough for their adoption of The Beatles' song. The moniker dates back to 1967/68, when Villarreal were vying for promotion to Spain's third division (they did not grace the top flight until 1998/99).
In one match a group of supporters behind one of the goals started playing The Beatles' song on a record player and, looking out at their team's yellow shirts, started chanting to the tune of the song "Amarillo es el Villarreal/amarillo es/amarillo es" (Villarreal are yellow, they are yellow).
That the nickname came about by accident seems appropriate for a club whose distinctive shirt colour also owes much to happenstance. Back in 1947, with the new season fast approaching, the son of the Villarreal president was dispatched to Valencia to purchase replacements for the club's white shirts.
The shop did not have them in stock. In fact, there was just one available colour for the number of shirts required: yellow. The choice made waves but the players soon got on board with it.
The other semi-finalists' nicknames
Liverpool – Reds
The Reds were actually the blue and whites until adopting the colours of their home city in 1894. The decision to add red shorts and socks came in 1964, manager Bill Shankly feeling an all-red outfit was more imposing for opponents, red symbolising danger.
Manchester City – Citizens, The Sky Blues
Citizens is an extension of City (club members are now called Cityzens); Sky Blues obviously owes to the colour of their home shirts.
Real Madrid – Merengues
A Spanish radio commentator started it when he likened their white shirts to meringues. A writer for British newspaper The Times is credited for a less common moniker, Vikingos, after comparing Madrid's 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 European Cup final in Glasgow to the Viking invasion of Europe.