Veteran Copa América and Eurocup champions, Old Guard, Messi, Agüero, Bonucci | America’s Cup 2021

“The boys win games, the veterans title, chapter” … no one ever said … but he was never so right as now, when Argentina and Italy have lifted the trophies of the Copa América and Euro 2020.

Argentina has ended a very long wait of 28 years without continental titles and Italy has returned to celebrate after 53 years. And the coincidence is that in both cases it was thanks to the veterans, to those same who were at the center of criticism when the defeats came and who now appear on all the covers.

At 34, for Lionel Messi it was a pending issue to lift a trophy with the senior team, especially after two lost Copa América finals against Chile (2015 and 2016) and one in the World Cup against Germany (2014). And next to him, in those bitter drinks, were Agüero (33), Di María (33) and Otamendi (33). The man who scored the goal against Brazil in this Saturday’s cup final was just PSG’s, the one who missed the final in Brazil.

And every detail has a sweet aroma of revenge now that the Argentine 10 himself has shared the photo of the four survivors of those tough but successful campaigns: “the old guard,” he said. Now they are surrounded by boys, the De Pauls, the Montiel, the Lo Celso, the Martinez. But it was they who carried the pressure that they have now finally managed to release.

A similar reality was experienced this Sunday, at Wembley, where other veterans, Leonardo Bonucci (34 years) and Giorgio Chiellini (36), were the support of Mancini’s team to recover to an early goal from England in the final, draw and then take the key to penalties.

Bonucci not only scored the tying goal but was flawless when it came his turn to collect from 11 steps.

And they were both on the pitch in the painful 1-0 loss to Sweden that marked a milestone in European football: it was the first time a World Cup had been played without Italy since 1958.

Now they have at their side a young but reliable goalkeeper like Donnarumma, they rub shoulders with the Berardi, the Chiesa, the Barella and even Spinazzola, the best player in the Euro, who appeared on crutches in the celebration of the title after his serious injury. But it was they, the veterans, who put their hearts out when everything got tough.

The Argentine and Italian veterans today have a broad smile after having carried the heavy backpack of defeats. It is their moment to step forward not to charge but to celebrate that football, at least this time, seems to have been fair to them.




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