Friday, June 11, 2010

A letter to Diego and the players

Dear players; dearest Diego:

I am feeling better from my flu (thanks for asking) and the day of the big debut against Nigeria has come.

Like me, millions of Argentines and fans of the Albicelestes from abroad (oh, boy! You gotta believe me there are plenty out there. I know you know it!), have been waiting for this day for four years.

I am about to live my 7th World Cup as a fan. I guess if you do the maths, you will realise which one was my first. I'm older than that, but the first I can clearly remember is that one I'm referring to. Many of you, our current players, weren't even born back then.

This one, though, it's different than all the others and I wanted to write to you just so you understand how big this is for me.

I'm opening my heart here, amigos.

It's 1 AM here in cold Buenos Aires and I've been up since 9 this morning to watch how a giant beetle was treating an enormous Jabulani like if it was a big ball of excrement. Then I thought to myself..."Oh dear! This surely can't be a good omen for the kind of football we are going to witness in this World Cup!"

Then I watched France v. Uruguay until my eyes hurt and my mind flew back to that immense insect and I silently cursed him.

But all the while I've been thinking of you. Of each and every one of the 23 in the squad and of the man/legend that will guide you from the sidelines in this new adventure that it's just beginning.

You know what's on the other side of that 7-match-long tunnel? Don't you? It's a place called IMMORTALITY.

This used to be a great, wealthy, prosperous country, you know? It ranked right up there with all the major powers in the mid 20th century, before it all went bananas for us. Like you, I never lived in that powerful Argentina of the 1950s. I was only told. I was only able to see some of the remains and to (unfortunately) meet some people who are still thinking we are living in a place situated some 60 years ago.

I was born when the brutal dictators were in charge of our nation and were killing our own people. I know I'm not telling you anything that you don't know. Of course I know that. I mean...I told you some of you are younger than me, but then again, there are a couple among you that are a little older than I am.

I grew up in a decadent, impoverished and punished country that, fortunately, still kept a lot of beautiful traditions and was still inhabited by many brilliant and heart-warming human beings. All of us were hit by inflation, governmental corruption and all sorts of bad news East and West.

It was precisely in the middle of all that mess that you, Diego, you took on a mission and you took us all the way back to the top of the World.

It was through football that we always felt like we never left that elite group of super-powerful nations. It is when the World Cup comes that we couldn't care less if other countries are wealthier or bigger or happier than we are during the previous and the following 3 years and 364 days. At the World Cup, we are up there with the best of them. And the last time we looked down on everybody else, it was mainly because of you, Diego.

My eyes were just 9 years-old and they still did the trick. They left those images imprinted on my brain and they are just there for me to see them again and again and again whenever I close my eyes. Though it wouldn't be bad to add some more images in HD or maybe even on 3D!

Will I ever be able to thank you enough for that, Diego? I think I won't. So I'm thanking you again here.

Unfortunately, just like our country did after that Golden Age of the 1950s, Diego. You too have collapsed after 1986. And man that was some rough landing! The eyes of the world were upon you. Nobody will ever be able to count just how many fingers pointed out at you. How many languages have been used to call you bad names. How many spits you've gotten when you were down and out.

You fought your demons and you made it back. And for that alone, you deserve maybe more credit than for winning the World Cup almost single-handedly. I mean, after all, football was easy for you. It always has been. Life, on the other hand...

And here you are, Diego. With your inexperience as a manager alarming millions (including me), but with that special fire you have inside that burns the most whenever your name and the World Cup are written in the same sentence. And I know you have it, Diego. I see it in your eyes whenever you are on TV. You believe, Diego.

Now you are going to have to learn on the fly how to pass that fire along to your players, Diego.

Those players you finally got to gather and take to South Africa well in advance so you could build up that much-needed team spirit. Because we know they can play football. They just needed to be together, right? They just needed to believe in their strength as a squad and there will be no hurdle high enough to make them fail and fall. Right?

For now, I'm going to leave all the negatives aside. We all know there are some negative aspects, but this is not why I'm here to write this letter to all of you.

I'm here because I can't sleep and because I needed to get this off my chest before it all begins in about 9 hours from now.

I think this is working. I think I feel better now, though I know the pressure will be much bigger when I wake up and I pretend that I'm interested in watching what South Korea and Greece will be doing in Saturday's first match.

Diego, just like your grandson Benjamin (son of Kun), this will be the first World Cup for my 3-month old son Felipe. I know he won't remember a thing about this, but do what you can so his father can tell him he lives in a country that has nothing to envy to those so-called powers!

And finally, this goes just to the players: You know what's the funniest bit of it all? There will be a man waiting for you on the other side of that tunnel I told you about at the beginning of this letter. A rather short man sporting a beard. You will be surprised when you get close to him and you see him wearing the same colours you are wearing.
Something deep inside you will tell you to turn your heads back for a moment to see the face of the man who brought you to South Africa. It will be then that you will realise he is the same one who was also waiting for you in that sacred place. He is already immortal. Are you going to let him down?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether we'll win or lose but I know that this team will fight till the very end!

Anonymous said...

WOW !!! this is one of the finest articles on this blog... hand up to u Sebastian !!! today i want to ask u something. whats the position of Argentina currently. i mean who is the strongest south american country economically?? is it Argentina or brazil? and how is the political situation also? can some one say me that because i want to know it badly

Anonymous said...

Brought a tear to my eyes. I know you heard this many times Seba, but I must say it again. You truly truly rock.

Vamos Argentina!

Barrak said...

Sebastian!!! this is the best thing i can read before the game.
I am not argentinian but argentina mean the whole world to me and i really thing they should read your words.
I can really see argentina going back home with the cup.
No matter how much Maradonna is criticized for this and that i still believe his is the best thing that happened to football.
Thank you again for the nice words Sebastian and Vamos argentina

pablo.d said...

well done and thank you seba and i know how you feel,
my 1st world cup was 1978 and i was young but just remember it at 5am here with my perants as i was just 7.
i am always an argentine even tho i live far away in new zealand now.
i hope diego who was my hero can do what he did as a player, do the same as a coach.
some of my argentine heros are maradona, ardiles, batistuta, crespo, roa, kempas, villa, valdano, pasarella, di stefano and the great che guevara.
vamos vamos argentina always !!!

Lopez,India said...

touching

Rune said...

Seba:
Incredibly touching. To repeat what I have been saying so many times: it's such a joy to read you.

andaman said...

ฺำThank you for sharing your feelings with us Seba. Nice thing to read before this game tonight. It will be 9 pm here when I sit glue in front of the TV cheering on Diego & Co.

VAMOS ARGENTINA!!!

Happer said...

I'm wondering if this letter by some way reach the team... :-)

Dave P said...

Seba great writing very interesting and touching.

I will be watching the first 2 group stage matches from Japan and am excited as ever to watch the first match. Today I was in Harajuku, Japan and surprisingly ran into some Nigerians who spotted me in my Argentina jersey and they made it a point to call me out and say that they will beat us tonight 2-0. Very friendly guys but like us we take our football seriously and I could see the passion in their eyes and how much they wanted to win as badly was we want to win.

Ciao for now. VAMOS Argentina

Vishnu said...

will u believe me if i tell you something???

Really, 1/2 teardropes came out of my eyes(or from my heart?)...4 the second time after cambiasso missed the penalty...
1 for a personal reason, and this is the 2nd...

people say, we can will becoz of both sadness and joy....but take it from me my brothers and sisters, tear will come out of your eyes for each and every feeling if it is deep..even 4 those which u cannot name!!!

Vamos Argentinaaa!!!!

Martín said...

Hola,

I'm a young man from Belgium, and I want you to know that I'm with Argentina for this worldcup. Not because our sad little Belgian team didn't make it to the tournament, but because I've always been with Argentina in my heart. From when I was really young, I can remember watching international football and being impressed and touched by the Argentinian crowd always yelling and screaming ARGENTINA! ARGENTINA! ...

When I was older I travelled through your country and I started loving it. Your people, your national parks, mate, the crazy football...

I am with you, as are many others outside of Argentina (you're right). I even bought a television to be able to watch the team from my student home. Only a couple of ours left...

Although I'm not Argentine, I've never felt so passionate about a football team, so I feel like I can shout with you:

VAMOS ARGENTINA!

Mucha suerte,
Martín

Anirudh said...

fabulous..

Vaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmooooooooooooooosssssssssssssssssssss Argeeeeeennnnttttttiiiiiiinnnnnnnaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!

rey said...

when we bleed, we will bleed white and blue!!!!

Anonymous said...

VAMOS ARGENTINA, VAMOS A GANAR

Anonymous said...

Dan said,
Your comments bring tears to my eyes. Beautifully written. I still think 3-0 we will win.

BY THE WAY...EUROPEAN TEAMS SUCK. If it wasnt for international players their leagues would suck also. Look at the results thus far. France can't beat Uruguay, the 5th place team in CONMEBOL and Greece is getting dominated by Korea. Brazil and Argentina are going to go through the European teams like a lawnmower.

Akash said...

VAMOS ARGENTINA VAMOS ARGENTINA ARGENTINA ARGENTINA ARGENTINA ARGENTINA VAMOOSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

messidona19 said...

One more hour till our match!

Anonymous said...

Dan said,
Just for those keeping count, in another comment I stated Alexi Lalas of ESPN said Greece was a "dark horse" to win it all. It just goes to prove how absolutely terrible ESPN is when it comes to understanding the game, and the ignorant morons they hire to inform us. I know it's a double negative, but Greece is down 2-0 and should be down 4-0.
Vamos Argentina.

Anonymous said...

Hello All Arg Fans,

I am Asian Fan from Singapore !!!!

Every World Cup I come looking for all of you !!!!!

Good that we win over Nigeria.

I don't know how far we go but I wish them all the best.

Internet is great !!!!

Vedran Agovic said...

That was very touching Sebastian. Straight from the heart and the soul, much credit for telling your story. Even though I am not Argentinian, this brought tears to my eyes. All the love for the people of Argentina.