It is difficult to assess precisely what percentage of our emotional formation as footballers we owe to the spherical thing. Since the first idol – we were fascinated by Lineker, imagine if the 80s were sordid – we have established more and more complex relationships with the world, with people, with our team and, of course, with our idols.
There is a lot of talk, and quite often, about the supposed trauma of the fact that the Barça footballers are a day younger than you. But the question is absurd: football is the ground of childhood and it is scientifically impossible, no matter how precocious the cracks, that there is anyone on the pitch who is not the age of Superman, of Achilles, of Aragorn.
For some of us, what has hit us harder and thrown us into the stark mirror of aging itself and life’s ultimate truths is the realization that we idolize players who, we know as well as we know things the insane, they are tremendously unsympathetic. And of course, let’s remove the pecuniary issue from this debate: footballers make a very good living because they are Darwinian prodigies, statistical miracles who are dedicated to the most universal sport on the planet. We don’t care if they’re rich: children don’t understand that either.
The truth is that there is a day when you understand that Koeman, eternal idol – bed made at home for himself one night, who knows…–, already seemed like a real slacker in his time as a player; needless to say how upset we were when we started hearing him twice a week in a press conference. What do they say about Rivaldo? We could forgive him all that melancholy, we could forgive him that tortured silence. But now he is a ferocious Bolsonarian with a microphone, a real public danger.
We continue to go through the gallery of idols who we would never invite to the birthday party. What do they tell me, Valdés or Puyol? One has tried to explain football based on chess; they said of him that if goalkeepers in general are strange people, he was a real collector’s item. The other had a peak of popularity on Instagram the day he crossed the glass of a padel court, out of pure competitiveness. Can they imagine discussing the last croquette?
Added to this distance is the intuition that the animosity would quickly become mutual. They are well-traveled people, used to being the center of attention, to endorphin rushes that maybe those of us vibrating with the mortgage update don’t share. It is obvious that we would bore them; the best thing for our relationship is that we never meet.
And now, Piqué, who has made us so many and so big, that it must have been in 2014 that we already suspected him, that in 2016 we couldn’t even see him, is leaving us. And our hearts shrink, and we feel sorry that we didn’t match for All Saints. And yes, let’s take the mirror back and understand that we are getting older, because it doesn’t matter to us if we didn’t like that gentleman: he was central to our team and made us immensely happy.