Day six and this is a post that could be construed as a blatant cheat, or otherwise as my own creative twist in addition to the stated twist.
Anyway, seeing as I haven’t met anyone new this year, I’m going to do a quick post on the return of an old friend who is basically a new acquaintance – the World Cup.
But how is the World Cup a new acquaintance when it’s held every four years? Well, it’s always in a different country, so that’s new. And, in any given four year span you’re basically a new person too – all that, you never step in the same river twice stuff – so yeah basically, you know, here’s three of my most memorable world cup moments ever (in no real order and in no way a definitive list)
Jamaica’s first world cup goal.
To try and explain the magnitude of this would take a whole side bar on football history and seeing as I’m not in a fit state for that -owing to a few drinks, hence the rather sloppy attempt at adhering perfectly to this challenge – I’ll just include this little paragraph from Wikipedia -
In 1994, Brazilian manager René Simões was hired, along with National coach Carl Brown, with the goal of qualifying for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Simões searched for players – discovering some working at hotels, British players of Jamaican descent, and Jamaicans who played in English clubs – and funding. The Jamaican team became a “Powerhouse” in the Caribbean region and received “Best Mover” award by FIFA in 1996. Jamaica made history in 1997 becoming the first English-speaking Caribbean country to qualify for a World Cup.
Anyway, in 1998 I was a football mad 11 year old who had spent a significant amount of time being raised by my Italian grandmother and, more pertinent to this memory, Jamaican grandfather. So there we are, watching their first ever world cup game when BOOM (about 5 minutes in) -
Italy conquering the world.
Up until 2006, my most enduring memory of world cup football was this -
I didn’t even watch the above video because of the memories. I’ve had my heart broken by girls, gone through some difficult shit in life and endured intense physical pain from tumbles and falls – that penalty miss is right up there.
In 2006, all those ghosts were put to rest as not only did Italy win the world cup, they did it on penalties, scoring every single kick in the shoot out no less (Let it be noted that, along with England, Italy have the worst record in penalty shoot outs). Not only that, but we did it against France, the team that had previously broken my heart in 2000 when they beat us in the European final with a golden goal in extra time. The wankers.
I also have to include the goals from the semi final too because that was seriously immense -
Equal with sex that video is.
To say I was/am in love with this man would be an understatement. I’ll let the video speak for itself with one addition: In my final portfolio for poetry I included a poem about Ronaldo as an extra piece at the end that wasn’t part of the main submission because it didn’t fit the theme. My teacher said it was one of the best ones I did across the time he’d taught me. Typical eh, but I guess the poem came easy because of the emotional connection.
What are you doing here?
Sauntering around a patch of grass that,
As a child seemed as big as the stadiums
You used to rampage through.
Eindhoven, Barcelona, Milan, Madrid.
Never London, mores the shame.
Now our little pitch seems tiny.
But look, look how the blocks of flats overlook us,
8 tier stands packed to the rafters with spectators.
‘Watch the windows!’
I fell in love with you in 1996, as you ransacked Spain.
Who could forget that glorious goal, you know the one,
The one that made Sir Bobby put his hands on his head and turn
To the crowd in sheer disbelief at what we’d all just witnessed.
My heart still flutters.
Then you pillaged Italy in a rambunctious flurry
Of hypnotic wonder.
I wonder, do you remember the Lazio fan
Who prematurely got your name on her replica shirt
Before you chose Inter as your destination? Of course you do.
And it wasn’t premature.
If I could have afforded a Spurs replica shirt,
It would have been your name on the back.
We’ll gloss over France ’98, because your time came.
I felt your pain when you suffered the first of those
Serious injuries, I really did. Everyone did!
Not seeing that bundle of pure precociousness plundering
Goals for so many months left us all thirsty for more.
You returned. But only for seven minutes before it happened again.
My heart sinks now to think of it.
Horrible, horrible empty months, a year, nearly two,
Where colour ran away and the joy of football stopped.
People doubted if you’d ever come back and I admit,
I was scared. What if you were a shadow of your former self?
What if the burst of pace had gone, the trickery, the eye for goal?
What if all I was left with was a pale imitation and never fulfilled
Dreams of what your career was meant to be?
I’d already opened my heart and mind and yearned to fill it
With memories of you.
But you did come back.
And of course you didn’t disappoint.
Who else could jump across the great chasm of the Milan giants,
Or swap Catalonia for Madrid, yet still be loved universally?
Where Figo was greeted with a pigs head, you were welcomed with ovations,
And broken shirt sales records.
I too am a broken record.
Ask any of my friends about whom I would write
So lovingly about, and they would say your name.
France 98 and Japan/Korea 2002.
Two world cups that perfectly bookended my school career
And provided your redemption and crowning glory.
Two goals in the final.
I suppose it makes sense that I would find you here, of all places,
And that you would be in that iconic yellow jersey and blue shorts,
that goofy smile plastered across your face.
A decade between us in age, and more than a decade since I played here.
If I try hard enough I bet I can summon the whole group back
For one more game. And there they are.
You’re up front, obviously. I’ll be the number ten.
You’re my hero!
I actually love you.
Welcome back World Cup – my old/new/always best friend.