Now, when I am writing this, you know nothing of what awaits you, nothing of the world in which you were born. You don’t know anything about football and the joy that invades our world today, when we begin the countdown to play a final in the World Cup. And I know almost nothing about you. So far I’m trying to figure out what you want to tell me when you cry or when you look at me or when you move your arms and head at the same time or when you smile without knowing yet that you’re laughing. There are four days left for the happiest day of our days and, whatever happens on Sunday, I believe that life, however long it lasts, is strong and unbreakable, that you will do well and that you will be a child who will be able to tell to all his friends who saw Argentina as a World Cup finalist and a country overflowing with happiness for a soccer team. What can you do by reading these letters? Since we found out about your arrival, Gino —and we planned the purchase of this giant television on which for almost a month we have only watched football—, the grandmother repeats that the best moment for a woman is pregnancy and I want to be honest with you: no I agree at all. Sometimes I think it’s because Grandma never played soccer. I think she fails to decode the emotions that a dribble like the one from Lionel Messi to Josko Gvardiol can generate. You didn’t see it, but rest assured that we have recorded it to pass it on to you over and over again: the resistance to the slaps so as not to lose the axis of the body, the waist break, the feint to one side to then go out to the other and the pass back, solidarity made play, for Julián Alvarez to score the goal. Obviously the grandmother does not know that, in this ball game that we are passionate about, you can feel electricity in your chest when you watch the masterful pass from Enzo Fernández to Julián Alvarez, a pasture connection between two youngsters, so that one, the striker, attacks , insist, do not lose the bow as a goal and also have the dose of luck to fill your mouth with “o”. The “o” in gooool, Gino, you’ll learn to sing, the only vowel in the monosyllable word that we stretch out and shout loudly, loudly, while you sleep in the living room at home.
And if you are dreaming of a world champion Messi? Damn, what a pity we can’t have a machine that allows us to investigate the origin of your sleeping child’s smile. Will this World Cup be the stimulus? Don’t listen to me, I don’t know if it was 3-0 or because this team went from less to more or because we are seeing the best Messi of all, anxiety wins me over and I want you to talk and kick, that’s how we play at being Lionel, the king of dribbling, in the gardens of a place. These are intense days, son, passionate, reflective, verbose. I take you in the stroller through the neighborhood and surely you hear that Dario, the storekeeper, a fan of Colón, asks me how I see the National Team. He is the one who now plays the bass drum on the corner, while the cars go by with their horns, while the buses are full of people dressed in light blue and white who sing and dance on public transport as if they were at a birthday party at 3 o’clock. in the morning. We’re going to hug Dario and Noelia, from the grocery store, who knows that we always carry a kilo of bananas with us, but also that you’re from Boca and she knows it even before you know it. Or with Diego Daniel, from the restaurant that sells the best milanesas in Buenos Aires, which is named after Maradona and Passarella —I’m going to tell you about that rare combination—, and who now also celebrates, like each of the people in this neighborhood, this country that surrounds you.
Let’s be clear, son, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy the pregnancy. But it is that football is so big. To give you an idea, I never forget the first time I cried over this game: I was 11 years old. Colombia had thrashed Argentina 5-0 on the way to the 1994 World Cup in the United States and left it on the verge of not being able to play that Cup. I was in a living room like this, turning the TV on and off, incredulous and with my anguish piggyback. I hit walls of anger and cried, cried, until Argentina played the playoffs with Australia and got into the tournament we like the most. And now, these tears of emotion.
To give you an idea, even Aunt Sol, who doesn’t know the rules of the game, is happy. He likes the sensitivity of this team, those expressions that show the players as sensitive people. She is moved by seeing Scaloni embracing his children, Messi celebrating goals with a clenched fist and looking at the box where his family is, De Paul saying on television cameras that he is in love with her. “Look at him,” she will tell me, “there is no drama in telling the world that he is in love and here you come across every fool who doesn’t say ‘I love you’ to you even if you pay them.”
I don’t want to forget to tell you that on this day, the day of the victory in the semifinals against Croatia, when the team demonstrated a soccer superiority that up to now it had not been able to capture, Laura, Mum’s friend who is a reporter, tried to get her boyfriend to promise to name Lionel a future son of both. These issues are discussed today, minutes from the end of the game. She recently sent the discussion they had and her partner’s conclusion to the WhatsApp group: “We cannot give him the first name Lionel,” she told him, “because all the children in the world will be called that. All the kids are going to turn around when they name it”.
Here, before the start of this World Cup, we chose to call you Gino. We did not want a denomination with a football charge and we fell into a tribute to the anarchists Gino Gatti and Gino Luchetti. He convinced us of the meaning of the name: Gino, the “glorious warrior”. You will question this and many other decisions.
But let me confess to you: there are moments these days when I feel sorry. It’s thousandths of seconds in which I think you can’t really live what this means. That you can’t keep in your memories right now this image of collective ecstasy, a country smiling for a new World Cup final. That’s why these letters, son. That’s why I’m happy to type, from now and forever, as our love for life, that I’m just a mom rocking her little son and telling him that Argentina is in the final of a World Cup. And it’s true, I still don’t know you completely, but now that I look at you I think I know what you want to tell me. And I agree, you are absolutely right in the world. Nobody can be so cruel to us, football cannot be so inhuman, so heartless, to leave Messi —to leave you— without a World Cup.
subscribe here to our special newsletter about the World Cup in Qatar
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits