The dark knight rises

The dark knight rises is the quote of the week.
Yes, because with his mask Fernando Torres really seems a knight or, as Istangram teaches, Fernando Torres without the mask is a cat; but now he is a lion.
He went to score two goals in the Europa League against Rubin Kazan.
The match ended for 3 to 1 for the Blues ( the other goal for Chelsea was by Moses; for Rubin Kazan by penalty after John Terry’s handball).
In the last three weeks something chanced in him.
He was more confident during training sessions, maybe because with the most of his team mates away with nationals team he was the point of reference.
But also when he wasn’t the footballer but only the boy he was more happy.
In the last weeks he stops to look gloomy ( as I told him the morning before the match against Bucarest).
After months his eyes are sparkling.
And finally, for once, he doesn’t care about what newspapers say about him.
Yes, because every day, Fernando Torres captures the headlines.
If he is in Milan, it is because next year he could move to AC Milan… No, it is only because is the best place for this kind of mask to protect the fractured nose.
If his hairstylist writes on Twitter ” I’m sorry but I have to cut off this colour from Fernando hair” , in few minutes the news is around the world and the most important thing is no more the next match but what will be the new Torres’ hair colour.
Unfortunately was only a twit posted after the Adidas campaign: ” It’s Blue, what else matters?” about the Chelsea Kit for the next season.
For this campaign some footballlers as Ba, Oscar, David Luiz, Eden Hazard, John Terry, Juan Mata and precisely Fernando Torres were immersed in tanks of blue paint.
“In football it is usual that people criticize you only for your looks. Then they start to say, ‘Look at him, he only cares about his hair’.This is unfair.” … It was 2004 but some things never change.
Difficult to say whether the presence of Fernando Torres and the absence of Frank Lampard in the photo shoot for the upcoming season can be a subliminal message from Abramovich.
What I know for sure is that Fernando Torres wants to stay at Chelsea because, even after several showers, even though to the naked eye that blue is no longer visible, it is soaked in his own skin.
And I don’t know if the Niño of Spain, who captivated thousands of football fans in the world, could come back again.
But what I know is that, as himself once said, “You know, there’s one thing I’ve never done in my life. And I swear that I have no intention to do now: giving up.”
What continues to amaze me? The unconditional love that people continue to demonstrate towards the star that didn’t meet their expectations.
What amaze me most? The children love.
Every time they wait outside the stadium or the training ground and they are really upset if he doesn’t stop or if he doesn’t show up.
I started talking about “The dark knight rises” and I would like say goodbye with a quote from this movie.
” We were in this together, then you were gone.”
“The Batman wasn’t needed anymore. We won.”
“And now there’s evil rising from where we tried to bury it. The Batman has to come back.”
“What if he doesn’t exist anymore?”
“He must… He must…He must exist somewhere and he must come back…”



Holly and Benji are Blues

Anyone who has had the good fortune to be born in the 80’s grew up with the myth of Japanese animated cartoon “Holly and Benji”.

The goalkeeper and the number 10, every afternoon, with their football prowess, were the dream of hundreds of children.

Never mind that the playing field was along hundreds of yards, that matches would last for hours and that players jumped on posts and crossbars to score.

They took away the breath of every child.

But today’s children who live in London, are even more lucky because they have a chance to dream with those two stars every week.

Yes, because Juan Mata and Petr Cech are the embodiment of those two animated characters of the 80’s.

Two stars that, even this Sunday, have helped to make the difference on the pitch.

But who are really Petr Cech and Juan Mata?

What characterizes the number 1 is definitely a protective helmet with which he is forced to play by the terrible accidentseven years ago during the match against Reading.

He came out from the posts to catch the ball and the opponent striker Hunt failing to avoid the kneed very violent, causing a fracture to his skull.

He was taken to hospital where the doctors have applied a steel plate in his skull and was saved by a miracle.

It seems that this object, as well as Superman’s cape, has given to him special powers.

Since then Cech has become one of the best goalkeepers in the world and, this year, if Chelsea can fight for the Champions League places in the table, they must surely it to the magical performance of their number 1.

But, just like Superman, Petr Cech has an extraordinary acute hearing to make it almost invincible.

That is his secret.

The special protection in fact has the power to merge the sounds and amplify them so, as he explained during an interview a few years ago to Chelsea TV, “…every match I can hear the cheering of the fans as if they were right there on the field together with me. Charging who can give you such a thing is indescribable. Course, the first few times it was all so strange, but now that I’m used to, I could not playwithout it.”

To date, however, no striker is still able to find “kryptonite” to weaken Petr Cech.

And what can be said of the number 10 which yesterday turned a quarter of a century?

He has no Superhero’s powers and he doesn’t feel himself as Hulk like his mate Eden Hazard, nor as an Elf like Marko Marin, or Robin as Paolo Ferreira or Zorro like Oscar … simply Juan Mata.

But, increasingly, his name is associated with the noun Magician.

Because since there is football, the number 10 is the creative playmaker, the illusionist who paints masterpieces, who take away the breath of children with its light and perfect touch and … with his magic.

Shy and reserved, sweet and helpful, Juan Mata is far from the prototype of the ignorant player.

In his days off he loves visiting London’s museums, in particularly the Tate Modern and the Natural Sciences Museum, but there is no museum in London that will not be visited at least once.

Cinema, theater and musicals occupy his free evenings, while the books by Haruki Murakami are his companions for the evenings in the training camp.

Like all boys, especially while traveling, his favorite companion is music.

In his playlist there are songs like Creep by Radiohead, Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, Do not look back in to the sun by The Libertines, …

When it’s time to leave is always the one with the suitcase less bulky but he and his bath clutch bag are inseparable.

After almost 3 years, the kitchen of his house is like new thanks to the supplies that arrived on time from home by his mum.

When these become scarce, however, he loves to discover the places with the best kitchens in London.

For us, guys who grew up in the 80s’, Holly and Benji have taught us to fight for our dreams while respecting important values such as loyalty, friendship and sportsmanship.

And these are the same values that these two simple starts, along with many others, are teaching to the new generation of children.


Peter Pan e me

C’è stato un momento, alcuni mesi fa, in cui per la prima volta mi sono sentita davvero vecchia.

Ero, come quasi ogni lunedì, in palestra ad allenarmi.

A un certo punto, sullo schermo televisivo, Sky News ha dato la notizia: “Michael Owen ha annunciato il suo ritiro a fine stagione.”

In un primo momento ho pensato che la stanchezza mi stesse giocando un brutto scherzo.

Sono scesa dall’attrezzo e mi sono avvicinata allo schermo per ascoltare le sue parole.

“Un pensiero che vive dentro di me è ‘ cosa sarebbe stato’ se un infortunio non mi avesse privato della mia velocità. I miei momenti migliori sono quelli di inizio carriera. Posso chiedermi cosa sarebbe stato se non avessi chiesto troppo al mio corpo, se non avessi chiesto tutta quella rapidità. Quello strappo a 19 anni nella gara in trasferta contro il Leeds ha compromesso la mia carriera da professionista per sempre. Sono orgoglioso di come, nonostante tutto, sono sempre riuscito a giocare ad alti livelli per club importanti. Sono sicuro che senza quell’infortunio avrei una bacheca piena di premi; ma non ho rimpianti.”

Era vero dunque. Il Bambino Prodigio stava dicendo addio al calcio.

Michael Owen era entrato nella mia vita nell’estate dei Mondiali di Francia del ’98.

La partita era Inghilterra-Argentina. Aveva segnato un goal sensazionale da fuori area dopo aver saltato Roberto Ayala e José Chamot.

Quell’estate la Francia aveva vinto i mondiali in finale contro il Brasile, Ronaldo aveva vinto il Pallone d’Oro, Fabien Barthez il premio come miglior portiere e Michael Owen quello come miglior giovane.

Da allora avevo seguito le sue imprese nel corso degli anni, il ragazzo di Liverpool occupava i miei sabati calcistici davanti alla Tv e presto, assieme alla nazionale Italiana, era quella Inglese che faceva gioire il mio cuore.

John Terry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard e Michael Owen… erano la squadra delle fiabe.

L’anno dopo i mondiali, però, Owen si infortunò nella partita contro il Leeds e fu costretto a 5 mesi di stop.

Al suo ritorno, qualcosa era cambiato.

Era ancora un buon giocatore ma aveva dovuto scendere dall’Olimpo degli Dei.

Aveva perso velocità e tocco magico.

Dopo 8 stagioni al Liverpool, una al Real Madrid, quattro al Newcastle e tre al Manchester United, alla fine, nel 2012 era approdato allo Stoke City.

Ma qualcosa da quel 1999 era andato perso.

Ho visto giocare Michael Owen dal vivo per la prima volta lo scorso anno allo Stamford Bridge.

Dopo la partita, all’uscita dello spogliatoio, abbiamo scambiato poche parole prima che salisse sul pullman.

Per un giorno ero tornata ad avere 13 anni.

Il viso era cambiato poco da allora, come se per lui il tempo si fosse fermato al ’98, come Peter Pan

L’emozione che avevo provato nel vederlo giocare e durante quella breve chiacchierata era fortissima.

La stessa forte emozione che stavo provando durante quel triste annuncio.

Tornata negli spogliatoi ho preso il cellulare dall’armadietto.

Lo schermo lampeggiava segnalando la presenza di un nuovo tweet.

Erano le sue parole.

Poche righe scritte prima di sedersi davanti alle telecamere per ringraziare chi lo aveva seguito negli anni e per chi non aveva mai smesso di credere in lui.

Quel giorno ho scritto su Facebook:”Michael Owen dà l’addio al calcio. Il mondo che ho conosciuto non esiste più.”

Qualcuno, maliziosamente, ha criticato la scelta dei calciatori per cui provare ammirazione senza capire che è una questione di emozioni, non di bravura.

Alessandro Del Piero e Michael Owen avevano accompagnato la mia adolescenza e i miei primi passi nel mondo dello sport più bello del mondo.

Ora che uno era stato costretto all’esilio e l’altro era pronto a dire addio al suo ruolo di calciatore ero costretta a fare i conti con il tempo che scorre, come Wendy ero costretta a rendermi conto che il tempo stava passando anche per come per loro.

Tornata a casa, quella mattina, ho trovato un bambino di 10 anni che sta crescendo con il mito di Lionel Messi e gli ho detto:”Lo sai che Michael Owen a fine stagione si ritira?”

“Era ora, è vecchio ed è proprio una schiappa.”

Ho sorriso perché è esattamente quello che pensavo alla sua età delle vecchie guardie.

“Vieni che ti mostro una cosa.”

Abbiamo guardato assieme un video di quel magico 1998.

“Mamma mia, era un fenomeno.”

E nei suoi occhi ho visto la stessa emozione che c’era nei miei 15 anni fa vedendo Owen giocare.

Grazie di tutto, Michael.


Peter Pan and me

There was a moment,few months ago, when for the first time I felt really old.

It was a Monday and I was like many others to the gym to train.

Suddenly on the screen Sky News gave the news: “Michael Owen announces his retirement at the end of the season.”

At first I thought that fatigue was doing tricks.

I got off the treadmill and I approached the screen to listen to his words.

“An emotion that lives with me is a sense of ‘what might have been’ had injuries not robbed me of my most lethal weapon – speed,” he said.

“Many of my highlights were early on in my career and I can only wonder what more I would have achieved had my body been able to withstand the demands that I was making of it. I was almost too quick.

“My hamstring gave way in an away game at Leeds at the tender age of 19 and from that moment on my career as a professional footballer was compromised.

“I actually take great pride in the fact that, even when not fully fit, I still competed at the very highest level playing for some of the biggest clubs in the world. I have no doubt that had I not suffered those ‘pace depriving’ injuries, I would be sat here now with a sack full of awards and a long list records. However, how can I really have any regrets!”

So it was true. The Prodigy Child  was saying goodbye to football.

Michael Owen had come into my life in the summer of the World Cup France ‘98.

The match was England – Argentina where he scored a sensational individual goal after beating defenders Roberto Ayala and José Chamot before striking the ball just outside the penalty box.

That summer,  France won the World Cup in the final against Brazil, Ronaldo won the Golden Ball Adidas, Fabien Barthez won the award for best goalkeeper, and Michael Owen won the award for best young player.

Since then I would follow his exploits over the years, the boy from Liverpool filled my Saturday football in front of the television, and soon after Italy, it was the English national team the one for which I was rooting with all my heart.

John Terry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen … were the team of fairy tales.

The year after the World Cup in France, however, Owen was injured in the match against Leeds and he was forced to 5 months out.

Upon his return, something had changed.

It was still a great player but it was to come down from Olympus.

He had lost speed and magic touch.

After 8 seasons at Liverpool there was a season at Real Madrid, four at Newcastle, three at  Manchester United and at the end, in 2012, he landed at Stoke City.

But something from that 1999 had by now been lost.

I saw Michael Owen to play live for the first time last year at Stamford Bridge and after the game I was able to exchange  few quick words before he got on the coach.

For a day I was back to that summer, I was back to my 13 years old.

His face had changed very little since then, seemed to never aged as Peter Pan

The emotion that I had felt to see him play was strong.

The same strong emotion that I felt at  the announcement of his retirement.

Back in the locker room with a deep sense of melancholy I took my cell phone.

The screen flashed, indicating the presence of a new tweet.

On it there were his words.

A few lines to break the news before his announcement to Sky.

Few lines to thank those who had followed him all those years.

That day I wrote on Facebook: “Michael Owen says goodbye to football. The football world that I knew doesn’t exist anymore.”

Someone maliciously commented on the criteria for selection of players to follow without understanding that this is a matter of feelings.

Alessandro Del Piero and Michael Owen have accompanied me in my teens making me dream along with the best sport in the world.

Now one has been forced “exile” in Australia and the other is ready to leave his role as a player.

I was forced to feel like Wendy, forced to realize that time was passing for me, as for them.

Back home, I found a 10-years-old child who lives with the myth of Lionel Messi and told him: “You know that Michael Owen will retire at the end of the season?”

“It was time. He is old and he is just a duffer.”

I smiled because it was exactly what I thought at his age of the “old guard”.

“Come and I’ll show you something.”

We watched together a video of that magical 1998.

“Oh my God, he was a phenomenon.”

And in his eyes I saw the same emotions that I had felt 15 years ago.

Thank you, Michael.