1994, my first World Cup memory, the golden age of Roberto Baggio. Actually, I remember something even older… I have a mental picture of a set of keys in my grandmother’s front door with a keychain shape of Italy ’90. I was a year and a half old, it’s hard to say if it’s something that I have built a posteriori, a fictitious memory, or if it’s true reality but what might be true, can still be faked by our mind. In any case, a memory not lived, but nevertheless felt, has the same weight as a lived experience. If the magic nights of Italy ’90 are my first football memory, the second one is a toy, a mouse wearing Inter’s jersey on the shelf of Mario the barber: then, over the years, memories built up.
The poster of the UEFA Cup won by Inter in 1998: Ivan Zamorano, Luiz Rosario De Lima Ronaldo, Djorkaeff, a young Andrea Pirlo, sold too soon to the Rossoneri cousins; then France 1998, magazines that my parents bought me, the poster of the Azzurri, Del Piero, Vieri, Baggio, Pagliuca .. and the mockery of the penalties lost against France with Barthez, Zizou, Henry, Trezeguet. Euro 2000 and the magical evening of Toldo in the extraordinary match against Netherlands and Trezeguet’s golden goal.
Korea 2002, yes, everyone will think about the referee Byron Moreno, the anti-hero of the quarterfinal, but I remember the middle school exams, my father at work, the goal during a test, and us, Mom, Paola and Chicca in my room: turn on the TV! A bright 42-inch (when 42-inch was a big deal), Italy and Mexico, early afternoon, ending 1-1 and my sister screaming for a non goal. Above all, I remember the great Turkey of Okan, Hakan Sukur, Hasan as, Emre (the guy of the lob at the middle of the field during Lazio-Inter).
Germany, 2006: Calciopoli, the era of the big turbulence in the Italian soccer. We started off with just a little hope at the beginning of the competition and nothing more. These memories are legendary: I was a teenager, I had just met Gio and it was a period of epic evenings enjoyed with friends, the celebrations that never end (a time when celebrating was a moral duty that was more important than the game itself). At every turn we found new ways to celebrate: my scooter hosting unthinkable loads; underwear wore on top of pants (white, red and green underwear as shown in a picture that still runs on the web) and then, the greatest of all, the famous red Punto that kept accepting new passengers match after match. The flamboyant Punto, led by my father -a skillful boatman of fools, became the base from which we started our water guns war: our original idea was soon imitated by everybody. At the final against France, we were at Renato’s place: a nightmare atmosphere, the jump in the pool after Grosso scored the last penalty, then we ran riding our scooters and from there directly to attack Nettuno’s streets: shirtless, joyful, in 18 on 4 wheels endured by our ecstasy. And after few days, the capitulation: I crashed with my loved Majestic 125, a very bad joke played by two French people unable of reading the STOP sign.
Let’s face it: Italy in 2006 wasn’t good, we all knew it but nobody wanted to say it: we had won; in football this is enough. Then 2010, a bad year for the national team, but less bad for Inter supporters. We remember clearly the historical triplete and Mourinho’s hug to Marco Materazzi.
Euro 2012, the first competition lived out of my beloved Italy … base of operations: Harper’s Pub, a quiet place that during the magic nights of football turns into a mass of Italian immigrants guided by Mattias the ultras, a fascist from Ticino with Italian origins with whom we became friends. We reached the semifinal and won heroically our enemy of always. Luckily we celebrated dancing the qua qua dance at Saint François square in Lausanne. I finally discovered how a ball scored by Mario Balotelli can make you regress to a state of mind comparable to that in early childhood.
Brazil 2014: expectations…many, results…few. I did a tour de force between work starting early in the morning, Vo-Vietnam and matches; I was looking for the challenge that makes your hair straight, to add it to my football memories … I tried to watch almost all the matches to find something close to my mother’s stories about Bruno Conti’s raids, about Paolo Rossi, the hero of the Mundial, about Sandro Pertini that showed Italians how a president can support a team; to this I must add my father stories about Italy-Germany 4-3, the team that surrendered only in front of Brazil…Pelè’s Brazil.
Maybe it’s because at 25 years old what is epic ends and you start to look at football through the eyes of a man that is looking for something, but he still hasn’t found it: what I look for is the emotion, the passion, the fight. I look for Brazil who made the world dream, I look for the Messi of Barcelona, I look for Italy suffering but winning, I look for the show, I look for the competitive nastiness, I look for things to tell to my children and I find disillusionment, I find calculations, I find strategies, I find frightened men, I find the difficulty to know how to lose and how to win. I find the maturity of who knows how to observe and understand and who is now barely able to easily jump on the plane of the irrational emotions.