Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Glimpse Into Colombian Soccer Fever

I want to thank my Brother in-law, Daniel, for writing this awesome glimpse into the Fútbol Fever of Colombians. This is the real thing, and from the horse's mouth!

Fútbol es Pasión

I have always celebrated my country's accomplishments even when they seem small and no one else cares about them. I remember very vividly the day that the Colombian National Soccer team played its counterpart from West Germany in the Italy 1990 World Cup.

The Colombian team debuted with a great victory against the United Arab Emirates (2-0) but would fall short in their second game against Yugoslavia (1-0). The next game was against West Germany (the 1986 World Cup runner up), the favorite to win the cup.
Germany had already destroyed the other two team on their respective matches. (Ger 4 – Yug 1 and Ger 5 - UAE 1). So the group standings where:

1. Germany
2. Yugoslavia
3. Colombia
4. United Arab Emirates (Eliminated)

Colombia needed to at least tie the game in order to move on to the next round as one of the qualifiers.

The radio and our brand new Kendo Color TV (this TV has some history too) were ready. I was watching the game, with my parents, wrapped in the Colombian flag holding an ice cold Coca-Cola.

Colombia started strong with multiple opportunities to score but were denied by the defense and a competent goalkeeper. West Germany seemed disorganized they never got close. With the first half over, the game was tied and things were looking pretty good. Then, the unthinkable happened. In the 88th minute, the Colombian defense committed its one and only error, and allowed West Germany’s Pierre Littbarski to score.

I could not believe it. Colombia had been doing everything right, but now we were losing and about to be eliminated. My dad said that it was the end “they sent us packing”.

I, on the other hand, was hopeful and on my feet, my knees were shaking under me, and the flag was squeezed tight in both fists. I knew that as long as the clock kept running, there was a chance for something to happen. Colombia was playing the last minute of the game and the Germans had possession. A Colombian player recovered the ball, but was soon fouled very close to the 18.50m line. The Free Kick missed wide. Time was running out. The Germans were attacking, they were closing on the goal, Leonel Alvares recovered, he passed the ball to Bendito Fajardo. Fajardo ran to mid field. The Germans were pressing. Bendito passed to Pibe Valderrama and he passed to Rincon. Rincon passed back to Bendito, who passed to Pibe. Pibe passed back to Rincon, who was wide open! The German goalkeeper came out and Rincon shot. GOAL!! GOAL!! GOLASO!!

I was jumping and running all over the house screaming outloud. We went outside to celebrate with everyone, the whole country had gone crazy! I did not care who saw me, I was crying.

Thanks to YouTube you can see what I’m talking about.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Key64k43VnA&feature=related


I love soccer because of moments like this. Moments like when Colombia upset Argentina 5 – 0 for the 1994 world cup qualifiers. I remember going nuts and my brother, Moisés, though in huge pain from a surgery, was screaming the victory from his sick bed. Colombians simply do not let a little thing like surgery or illness stop them from enjoying a game. It is just who we are!

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