I am not sure if I can say that I have some hero in my life, probably not, probably just one, just for short time. However I had an enemy. Yes, I had. His name was Paolo Rossi, and he did the worst thing an enemy can do, he won my hero, and his victory was final and decisive. My hero could not try to win another battle; my enemy had won the war.
I can remember with details the armor of my enemy. He wore white shorts and a blue t-shirt with the number 20 in his back. In his chest the tricolor badge of the Italian national soccer team.
I also can remember perfectly my hero. It was not one person; it was a team, the brightest soccer team I have ever seen playing in all my life, the Brazilian national soccer team of world cup of 1982. The canary selection, as people used to call it, in that world cup was playing a magic and enchanting soccer. Until today that team is known as the legend of 1982, the most artful soccer team of history.
However, in July 5th, in Barcelona, Spain, at the Sarria Stadium, this wonderful team met its archrival. Until that day, the Brazilian team had played four matches, won all of them, scored thirteen goals, and enchanted the entire world. On the other hand, the Italian team had four tie games, scored just twice. The number 20, my enemy, had not scored until that day. He and his team were playing such mediocre soccer, and nobody had any doubt that Brazil would win easily that other game, with other soccer show, maybe a soccer’s class for the lovers of the Briton sport.
I was in my house with my siblings waiting the beginning of the game. My mom, who is the granddaughter of Italians started to joke with us saying that day we would lose. Yes, we, the Brazilian national team during the world cup is “we” in Brazil. For sure we did not care about what she was saying; she did not know anything about soccer.
The game started and my mom served an Italian pasta to us, just to try provoking, but we just laugh; moreover, if the game finished tie Brazil would be classified and Italy would go back home. Nobody could believe in a different end for that match, Brazil going to the finals, and Italy going back home.
But, as I said, the game started and we had not tried my mom’s pasta yet when Paolo Rossi scored the first goal. That was not so bad; after all it was just the beginning. At twelve minutes, Brazil tied the match. Everything was fine again. However that day despite playing well, the Brazilian team was not scoring as habitual. In an incautious pass of ball between Brazilian players, again Paolo Rossi took the ball, and scored a second time. It was unbelievable. However, again, we knew we had enough time to tie and win that game. But during all rest of the first half Brazil tried, but could not score again, and the first half of the match finished with Italy wining by 2 x 1, with two goals of him, Paolo Rossi.
The second time started and the tension in my home just grew. My mother sometimes passed by the room, looked at the TV set, and said, “Come on, I’m just seeing blue t-shirts in this field. Where are the yellow ones?” In the first times she said this we laughed, but with the time passing we were becoming more nervous and we stopped to answer her provocations.
At twenty-two minutes of the second half a relief came to us. In a beautiful shot, Brazil tied again. It was not perfect, but enough to classify. Yet do not forget what I said, my enemy was terrible. Six minutes later and he did the most unbelievable act we could imagine, he scored for the third time. For the first and only time in history one player scored thrice in just one game against Brazilian national team.
We know there were more twenty-three minutes, but they were the fastest twenty-three minutes I have ever lived in all my life. Our players did everything they could. Twice the ball provocatively hit the bars, and in the last minute, one of our players head the ball, but the Italian goalkeeper made the most miraculous defense I have ever seen. All tries, all possible pressure was made but the ball could not go to the goal. Worse than this, I had the sensation that if Brazil tied, Paolo Rossi would score again.
The match finished, Brazil lost, and Paolo Rossi made history as the cruelest villain in my life. He was as strong as David against Goliath. As the young future king of Israel, he used three stones to kill his strongest enemy, our national team. Together with his adversary, my hero, he killed our dream, our magic soccer.
I can’t remember any word between us when the match finished. Usually when our team loses some game we use to complain or to look for some justification or explanation, but in that day was different, we were really defeated; it was only the silence and the acceptance of the enemy’s victory. If I close my eyes, I can remember perfectly the smile in the face of the “bambino d’oro”, the golden boy, as the Italians started to call him.
Today I can see in his joy some unbelief in front of what he was doing and the pleasure for being able to do it and see his adversary falling definitively. However, in that day, I just could have one understanding for that smile, he was looking at me through the TV screen and laughing of my pain.
In that day, I learnt that sometimes the force and objectivity can win the art and the beauty. For the soccer’s lover our team was unforgettable; but for history Paolo Rossi was a hero and Italy was champion; for me, my enemy killed me arguably and taught me sometimes we will have to lose silently.