The Night I Became My Father

“Stop watching this and come play with me”
My father: “I can’t right now, I am watching a match. Why don’t you watch it with me instead?”

Me(hesitantly): “Alright…”

I vividly remember this conversation with my father because we still talk about it until this day.

There were around 15 minutes until the final whistle and my father’s local team needed just one goal to win a trophy. His team played well but time was running out. In stoppage time, his team received a corner after an impressive save from the opposition’s keeper. He told me that it was the last chance they were going to get with a look of disappointment on his face. He paused for a second and I could see his left hand shake. He looked back at me and said: “So, this must be it”.

My father was right, pretty much like he often is.

His local team scored a header from this corner and for a second everything went silent. During this second there wasn’t a single sound being generated by my father. After that second was done with, I saw my father do things I had never seen him do before.

When Cavani scored I believed that the inevitable happened. I was disappointed but I knew that it was coming. PSG needed just one goal for ‘mission impossible’ to turn into ‘mission failed’. It’s true, you know. This is what the players felt too. They felt like everything they had done for the first three goals was now pointless. It truly takes a lot out of you.

Neymar’s free-kick put me back into the spectrum of belief and disappointment. For a second, I phased out. My eyes were on the television but my mind was thinking of much deeper issues. Can the world be this crazy? It truly is a fascinating sport with many surprises but for something like this to happen in such short time you need everything in the universe to suddenly be aligned in your favor. Time was running out and I heard one of my friends yell: “Penalty!”

Neymar scored. Can this be happening?
This match made my mind fluctuate between belief and disappointment too many times. I believed again. It was stoppage time and cules around the world were all fearing the horrors of a 5-1 scoreline. Men on the field, however, were more motivated by their fear than ever. Ter Stegen would have went to war if it meant somehow getting that last goal. Neymar was all over the place trying to create something against a PSG team that would’ve put all 11 players on the goal line if it meant somehow securing a 5-1 at this point.

More than ever, I remembered the look of disappointment on my father’s face. But, I also remember what he said next: “So, this must be it”.

Unlike my father, my hand wasn’t shaking. In fact, both my hands were almost trying to stop my head from exploding. I was the only Barcelona fan in the room that night. But the most beautiful thing about this night is that you could feel what every Barcelona fan around the world was doing. You could feel that in that specific moment, you were not alone. From the man who was up at 4 am in Tokyo jumping up and down to the woman in California who was streaming the match behind her boss’ back, cules around the world all became one.

Neymar went in for the final cross of the match. On the other end, Sergi Roberto and Pique were waiting for the ball. Yes, exactly, what? Pique and Roberto? Why?

No one truly understood and a second later they realized that they will never truly care.

 

Sergi’s ball went in and I felt the same silence I felt when I was with my father. Millions of cules around the world paused for one second after the goal was scored. In fact, if you watch any reaction video, you will see that there was a moment of pure disbelief. In such a moment your mind does not function after so many fluctuations. It shuts down. Your body freezes because it knows that it is about to generate enough adrenaline to help you walk or swim all the way to Catalunya.

The second was over and I heard loud footsteps. I just found out that my neighbor upstairs is also a Barcelona fan and his second of disbelief is just as over as mine.

You lose control of your entire body. You start to make to quickest physical decisions of your life.

Where do you run? Do you run backwards? Wait, was it offside? Be careful, there is a wall there. What do you do with your right hand? What about your left hand? No no no, go watch the celebration. LOOK AT THAT HERO TER STEGEN. You can feel the excitement through your teeth. You body struggles because you have a lot more running, yelling and acrobats to do before you are actually done with all of this accumulated energy. Suddenly, you’re a force of nature and you cannot be controlled. Suddenly, you’re on top of the world.

Luis Enrique said: “That last goal was scored by a fan who believed on the other side of the world”. Lucho, as always, had a pretty good point.

When the referee blew the final whistle millions around the world contemplated what had just happened. I was just one person among all of these millions. I stopped running and decided to sit down to drink some water.

I received a text message. Interestingly enough, it was from my father.

The message read: “Football is a beautiful game, son”.

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11 Comments

  1. March 10, 2017

    I loved this article, especially the ending.
    I had a guest staying in my small flat, because of which I controlled myselves for all our five goals, as I didnt want to disturb her sleep. But then as that ball went in, I paused a second to clear any doubt of off side and went on to shout aloud, feck, feck feck.. ha ha. I couldn’t control myself at all.
    Have already watched those last 10 minutes more than a dozen times and every time as Messi earns that free kick and TS starts running up, I still feel the tension!
    What a night!!!! .

  2. SoccerMom
    March 10, 2017

    Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
    Listen to the DON’TS
    Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
    The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT’S
    Listen to the NEVER HAVES
    Then listen close to me-
    Anything can happen, child,
    ANYTHING can be.
    –Shel Silverstein, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” (1974)

  3. Rami
    March 10, 2017

    It’s difficult for me to express my feelings, And say what what hasn’t already been said, By kevin, Barca chief, And all the other commentators.
    I am proud to be part of this club, Other teams read about their history, I witness mine.

    The psychological and mental impact of this match cannot be understated, It’s echoes will still propagate through this season and perhaps many seasons to come, Both to our players and our opponents.

    You can’t help but to feel our domestic CL opponents already doubting and uncertain of themselves, What will they do when they come head to head with a team that just achieved what was thought to be impossible, Just by sheer will power, How can they possibly be stopped.

    One year ago enrique was asked which team he’d want to avoid in Champions league and he replied:

    ‘The only team I don’t want to be drawn against are Barca’

    You’re goddamn right!

  4. olbucky
    March 10, 2017

    Anybody have any insights on how to pre register to get advance tickets for el clasico in Miami?

  5. Tata2
    March 11, 2017

    due to certain reasons I was unable to watch but some weeks ago, I mentioned here that I had a strong gut feeling that we would qualify. I have never gambled in my life but this was one game I was ready to bet on just to affirm my faith in the team. the odds were even very high.

    I was following the game with goal.com live alerts so my phone would beep each time a goal was scored. barely 5mins my phone beeped and I was surprised to see that we scored already. I believed all the more and when the second came in I was more optimistic but still nervous.

    shortly after half time, my phone beeped again and by this time I was beginning to develop a subconscious belief that whenever the phone beeped, it would be a Barca goal. however the 4th beeped disagreed with me. instead of 4-0 it was 3-1 and I was left shattered. how could we score 3 goals in less than 30mins against a team like PSG? it wasn’t possible. I still had little hope left that if we could grab one in the next 10mins, we could force things between 80-90+added time. this hope too was dashed as we couldn’t score even up to the 87min. at this point my mind wasn’t on the game again, I was regretting the fact that we couldn’t get atleast one away goal and we would be eliminated cos of that.

    suddenly out of nowhere, my phone beeped again and I feared the worse, I panicked as I check my phone expecting to see a heartbreaking 3-2, but I saw 4-1 instead, it was on the 88min too so it made no difference. shortly after my phone beeped again. I checked only to see 5-1 on 91st mins. surprisingly this scoreline left me devasted. it would be more painful to go out with a 5-1 score than a 4-1 knowing you came close but it wasn’t enough.

    this made me put off my internet as I didn’t want to experience the heart break first hand. I just said a little prayer, “Lord I know this is just a football game but this guys have given their, all please reward their efforts”.

    I didnt even know 5mins were added so I put on my internet after 4mins and with the way goal alerts work, you get a beep at full time, so when I got just one beep, I assumed that it was full time and refused to check. I was already hurting deep inside, I became very moody and depression was setting in. oh if only we had gotten that away goal.
    while I was at it I logged in to WhatsApp and saw a message from a friend, -Barca 6-1 you guys are lucky”, I was shell shocked, checked my goal alerts and it was true. I broke down into tears, I couldn’t even scream, it was just tears.

    how can a group of people I have never met in person make me cry like this? we did the impossible and for once this is the one match I have never bothered to check for tactical analysis or whatever.
    I have criticized Enrique for some weeks now but I give him kudos for this win. for instilling this belief into the team. after this game I thought to myself,(pep wouldn’t have been able to pull this off cos he doesn’t have that mental strength).

    kxevin and Barca chiefs thanks for the beautiful write ups.

    does anyone have a link to the full 2nd half? I would like to download it

  6. Davour
    March 11, 2017

    When I hear all the talk now of a third triple, I think: can’t we just savour the moment? For me, I rather feel that it will be hard to even match this comeback – a CL-win will surely not even be as sweet as the feeling, the absolute joy and almost shock it put me in. This is sport at its greatest, and to my mind this has made my season, regardless of what happens next.

    The triple will be a third, but this comeback was a first. Unique and incredible, real drama and emotion – the unexpected from a team, burdened by so many expectations, and therefore all the sweeter. Thanks again.

    • March 11, 2017

      Davour, its normal that the team and the fans think about the treble. The team must have got an enormous kind of confidence and momentum from this single match.
      Remember, last season how Real went on a spree after defeating us in the classico. and we went kind of downhill from there.
      I think, it will be reversed from here.
      Even if we dont win anything, fans like us will consider this game as the biggest trophy. But deep in my heart I can feel a treble!As long as the team dont get over confident, there is nothing wrong in hoping.

      • Davour
        March 11, 2017

        Oh, I don’t mean we should not hope or believe! I’m just not ready to move one from this. Want to live in the present a wee moment longer, before thoughts of future salvation takes over. But then again, I’m not a religious man…

    • georgjorge
      March 11, 2017

      I agree. If Barca don’t win anything this season, not even the Copa, it will still be up there with the treble seasons for me only because of that game. I even thought briefly what the point was of watching any more football, because it surely wouldn’t get better than this single game…

      • Davour
        March 11, 2017

        Exactly. What I felt seeing Roberto’s goal and then hearing the final whistle was not even match by a CL final win, treble or quadruple or whatever. It was the intensity; pure joy.

  7. georgjorge
    March 11, 2017

    On an older entry, before the game, Peter cited a Dylan Thomas poem to emphasize his determination to support Barca. A user called Problem replied that he had said those exact lines at his television when Neymar scored from the freekick. And everything fell into place for me.

    “Do not go gently into that good night
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light”

    I had never understood when people said that football mirrored life. Football is great, very enjoyable, but life is not as simple as eleven people passing a ball around. But that quote above, and the game itself, gave it a new meaning.

    PSG were afraid, and their fears came to pass. The Barca players must have felt some despair, some doubt, but they put it all away and did their job as if it were everything in life. They only let their emotions free after the last goal, when they went crazy.

    It is true that a political election will usually do more to change lives than any game of football, even the most exciting, will. Which club wins which trophy is soon forgotten. But the experience of the game itself – the fight, the beauty, or the fear – is a microcosm of all the human emotions that make life worth living.

    Barca raged against the dying of the light, and prevailed. Some day – maybe not too far away – they will not prevail, just like everyone else. But in the here and now, we couldn’t ask for more.

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