There can be only one - 06 June 2004

Football 2004 End of season party. Another evening with a trophy to remember my fellow teammates of the 1990 team


It's been a long journey, which was probably supposed to end last year, with the winner medal on my neck and few phone calls to tell the world that finally, after 16 years of trying, I've done it what I always wanted to: winning a championship with my football team.
It may sound stupid, it may sound corny, but that was on thing I've dreamt of so many times.
You know, I'm a rather good player (or at least I'm so arrogant that I think I am), but to win a medal, to end the season at the top of the league after 8-9 months of battles, it may be not enough.

You need a team. You need 10 other player (and even more, sometimes) to help you when you're playing shit, to cheer'em up when they play shit. You need balance on the pitch. You need sacrifice. You need strength of will. For so many games. Last year, it did happen and we won the league, got promoted and I realized one of my hundreds of dreams.
Yeah, sometimes when I'm writing about the glory of the game or I try to explain what is great about it, I can clearly read in many eyes the sentence "Man, you're quite delusional". But I don't give a shit, and I keep talking about it. Even now, even one year later.

We didn't win the championship, this season. Ok, we were playing in a better league and probably having survived it was quite an achievement. But for so long we've been fighting for the third promotion in third years. It didn't happen, though. We were missing something.
Fortunately we found a reason to celebrate, like every other year: a nice end of season party in our favorite London Pub, the Golden Lion, with alcohol and prizes.
It happens that, for the second year in a row, I won, quite surprisingly, the "Chairman's Player of the Year" Award. And this was quite nice. I know that in a team sport like football, single achievements mean nothing, but, for once, it meant a lot.
I got the trophy, and the only words I could say, off mic, were "I love you guys". Just like Coach Norman Dale in Hoosiers. My teammates didn't know that, but those words were directed not just to my current English (plus one American) mates, but they were addressed to my old great team.

I'm the last one. I'm collecting the trophy for you all. I'm still here, I'm still playing, and I'm playing for you all.
It seems more that a decade ago, and it is. Since then, 14 years passed by.
Back in 1990, when Schillaci was just a young player playing for Juventus and not the hero of the Italy 90 World cup and Gazza was still known for his skills and not for his tears, I was 13. I was playing for the small local team, the OSL Canegrate, and my world was my team. My friends: at school, and at the training ground. Girls? Not interested. Work? What's that? It's for old people and for my parents. I'm going to be a footballer. And I was.
For once, we battled to win the local league. And, for once, we almost did. We finished second. And we promised to look for revenge in the next years. It never happened.

Girls stole players away. Work stole time. Life stole will.
Year after year, I've seen them falling, leaving, forgetting. I didn't. I managed in some way to have a life, girls and jobs without losing my will to get a revenge. And Oh my God I did it. And, last year, in my highest moment of personal glory, I was alone. New mates, different language, different ages, unknown childhood. And yet, my thoughts flew, with an email, to them.

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was thirteen, and, by the way, does anyone?