¡Hala Madrid! Say what?!

“¡Hala Madrid!” Real Madrid Club de Fútbol is one of three founding members of La Liga, the Spanish Football League. Since its inception in 1929, they have never been relegated from the top division (along with Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona). The club holds many long-standing rivalries, most notably El Clásico with Barcelona and El Derbi with Atlético Madrid.

Real Madrid’s anthem — “¡Hala Madrid!” — can usually be heard every match day, reverberating throughout the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. It is used as a rallying cry for fans, a sign-off on Social Media, and it’s even the name of Real Madrid’s Club Magazine! But where does the phrase, and the anthem, come from?

What does “Hala Madrid” mean?

In this context, hala means, “Go”, “Forward” or “Come on!”

In general, hala is a Spanish colloquial term expressing surprise, admiration, encouragement, or to strengthen a command. For example:

  • Hala, ya lo has rotothere you go, you broke it
  • ¡Hala qué bonito! — Omg that’s beautiful!
  • Hala cállate — Ok, shut up

The linguistic origins are unclear, but it’s been suggested that it may derive from Arabic (as do many Spanish words), or possibly from the French equivalent, Allez!

However, some linguists claim it comes from Arabic Allah, meaning God. There are, of course, numerous instances of Arabic words being absorbed into/borrowed by Spanish. This is due to the Moroccan influence in Al Andalus (the province now known as Andalucia). For example ojalá, which originates from the Arabic insh-allah, meaning “if God wants”; or ¡olé! from walleh, meaning “for God”.

An alternative theory is that hala sounds like the Arabic word yallah – which means let’s go!, or forward! Furthermore, it can be repeated – Yallah Yallah – to mean “Faster Faster” or “Go! Go!” which is certainly appropriate for football!

Finally, others have proposed that hala comes from the Arabic word hayya. Which, although it’s hard to translate, kind of means “move forward” or “let’s move forward”. It’s possible that it began as halla in Spanish — which is the closest possible pronunciation to the Arabic word “haY-Ya”.

The Anthem

“Hala Madrid y nada más” (“Go Madrid and nothing more!” or, Go Madrid and that’s it!”) was composed by Moroccan-Swedish artist and producer RedOne. The lyrics were written by Manual Jabois, a well-known journalist and football aficionado.

In 2014, the song was released to mark La Decimal — Real Madrid’s 10th European Cup win.

Here is the official video, which includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Marcelo, plus historic clips of other Real Madrid greats.

The Lyrics

Hala Madrid y nada mas

Historia que tu hiciste
Historia por hacer
Porque nadie resiste
Tus ganas de vencer 

Ya salen las estrellas
Mi viejo Chamartin
De lejos y de cerca
Nos traes hasta aqui 

Llevo tu camiseta
Pegada al corazon
Los dias que tu juegas
Son todo lo que soy 

Ya corre la saeta
Ya ataca mi Madrid 

Soy lucha soy belleza
El grito que aprendi 

Madrid Madrid Madrid
¡Hala madrid!
Y nada mas
Y nada mas
¡Hala madrid!

Go Madrid and that’s it!

The history you’ve made
The history you’ll make!
Because no one can resist
Your willingness to win! 

The stars are now coming out!
My old Chamartin… 
From far away and from nearby
You gather us all here! 

I wear your shirt
Right next to my heart!
The days you play
Are everything I am! 

The Arrow is running!
The Arrow is running!
My Madrid is attacking! 

I am struggle! I am beauty!
The cry I learned: 

Madrid! Madrid! Madrid!
Hala Madrid!
And nothing more!
And nothing more!
Hala Madrid!

Of course, the football season starts tomorrow! But sadly, tomorrow there will be no fans singing in the stadiums. But we can still shout at the TV! And while we would like to say ¡Hala Madrid!… I’m afraid, as a proud, Barcelona-based company, we choose instead to yell… ¡Força Barça!