Today, the greatest event in the world of football (or, as you might say, soccer) begins: the World Championship.
I was blessed with two victories of Italy in my lifetime, and solemnly promised to the Lord in 1982 I would never ask for another grace like this if he gave me that one. Which he did, and Marco Tardelli’s goal (with the spontaneous eruption of joy that became famous, and which in general makes us Italians so beloved everywhere… 😉 ) is etched in my mind as in the mind of countless Italians.
To have your Country winning the World Championship in your early Twenties is simply astonishing. I knew it would be sheer haughtiness to ask for more.
But I prayed during the penalties in the final of 1994, in the USA, against Brazil. To my defence, I must say I accepted the verdict with Christian resignation. But I prayed nevertheless. We are all spoiled children, never happy with what is given to us.
I prayed again during the penalties in 2006. This time, I prayed like a condemned man in front of the execution squad. The thought of losing two World Championships at the penalties was simply too much to bear.
Once again, I asked knowing I had perfectly no right to.
God was good to us, again.
Seriously, I will not ask this time. I know I truly have no right.
No, I won’t.
I mean, not even if the occasion arises.
At least I will try…
Because I am a spoiled child, never happy with what is given to me…
And so the Football World Championship is in full swing. One of the things I never fail to notice is the different approach of players from Catholic countries. You see a fair deal of crossing oneself and kissing and looking heavenward.
Yesterday, a very impressive one: the Italian player De Rossi scores the equalizer against Paraguay and the cameras catch him whilst he makes the sign of the cross, kisses his hand and looks heavenward. This was the first game of the defending World Champions and the audience must have been on a planetary scale.
A beautiful gesture. Let us hope to see many others during the Championship.