An Argentine fan / EFE

Crying over the World Cup

IVÁN GELIBTER

Gonzalo Montiel scored his penalty without the slightest hesitation and I couldn’t even cheer. The uncontrolled roaring after the three goals - which contrasted with the heartbreaking anguish of the two equalisers - had disappeared completely to give way to weeping. They say that when you are about to die you see your life flash before you in an instant, and something like that must have happened, because in a short space of time I recalled the 2-3 against Romania in 94; the 1-2 against Holland in 98; Cambiasso’s penalty in 2006; y Maradona’s disaster in 2010. Fortunately I have nothing to remember from 2002 as I was at school.

I grew up in a family of football enthusiasts who had seen their country win two World Cups. Back then I didn’t feel like I was from here, proudly defending that we - as opposed to they - were champions. Kids’ silliness.

But then came Iniesta’s goal and my life continued with envy, knowing that we were still the best, but that I, unlike my friends, had never seen my country win a World Cup.

One of the good things of gaining maturity is that you realise the stupidity of differentiating between “them” and “us” based on eleven blokes running around after a ball.

I don’t know when I reached the conclusion that living in Spain is the best thing to have happened in my life, and that that doesn’t mean I can’t sing the Argentinian anthem and feel disappointed every four years when my country doesn’t lift the cup.

Perhaps it was when my grandfather, the person who taught me to love football (real football, healthy football), left us too soon to be able to celebrate such a great triumph as this together.

That’s why I cried when Montiel put the ball in the back of the net. Because, even though he’s no longer here, what we had always been longing for, had finally come true.