The Bearded God from Rosario

Dear Leo,

I’m a simple football fan. I see an extraterrestrial do something unreal with the ball and I become a fanboy. I hate fanboys, thank you for making me a hypocrite. I rememeber the year 2010 when my friend installed this game “FIFA 07” on my PC and told me it’s a cool game. I told him that I didn’t know much about football. Back then I hardly followed the game. He started a new career with FC Barcelona. When I asked why that particular team, “It has 5 stars and it has this player Messi who will reach an overall of 99 in 3 seasons” he said. That was how you were introduced to me. Then I started following Barça as we dominated Europe in the following season. The first clasico that I watched was the one in which you scored THAT goal. You ran past the Madrid defense like it didn’t exist and scored. To be honest, I didn’t think it was a big deal at that time. I mean, I was introduced to football through FIFA and I’ve scored such goals many times. Is it actually a big deal to score them in real life? Later I realised that it actually was. But not for you. We eventually lifted the Champions League thanks to a near perfect show from you at Wembley.

I’m not a fan of dives. I loathe them. So much that I was initially opposed to the Neymar transfer. I thought he would destroy the sanctity of the club where players like you exist, who almost never go down. Such a selfish quality that is, you choose to hog the ball yourself rather than fall down and give your team a chance. I didn’t know that football, for you is not just about your career or team’s success. Sometimes I feel that dribbling the ball around is not a means to an end for you. You don’t see how the team can benefit with you going down. You just want the ball at your feet because you love playing. It’s that simple, but a selfish act at the same time.

We’ve faced a lot of downs too. When we were 2-0 down to Milan after the first leg, I had no hopes, as I’m more of a realist than an optimist. But I forgot that you have the power to convert a realist into an optimist as the person who didn’t believe that we could overturn a 2-0 defeat to Milan was actually hoping that we could overturn a 4-0 defeat against a much stronger opponent this year. That hope, is everything. I’m not gonna waste time talking about your laurels, it’s boring. You’re not just about your individual accolades or your part in the team trophies. You’re a symbol of hope and your videos have healing powers. I’m pretty sure that one of the cure for cancer is watching you chip Neuer on loop. I won’t lie, I sometimes watch compilation videos of you with Eminem music in background when I’m sick. Those are some of those moments that can bring a smile on anyone’s face in any situation. I mean, they can strip you off of your Balon d’ors, golden boots, best player awards and all that but you’ve immortalised yourself through some tremendous moments of shear pleasure that those objects will mean nothing at all.

How can I not mention how you almost made me crash my TV when Argentina lost the World cup when it isn’t even my country. I goddamn lost it that night just because some random midget couldn’t win a World Cup for a country I don’t even care about? It’s hard to tolerate people who think that you need a World Cup to “prove yourself”. Whereas, all it can do is extend your already unmatchable legacy. Another thing I want to thank you for is bringing the best out of this Portuguese legend who on his best day comes dangerously close to you. It’s your rivalry that has helped him attain this and for us fans, it’s just a treat to watch you both at it. I’d prefer to idolise him rather than you as you’re just unreal.

Having said all this, it pains me to even think that you’re entering your thirties. I honestly can’t imagine how different my life would have been without you. Or even, how it is gonna be once you bid adieu to the game. Its gonna be payback time for all my friends whom I made fun of for crying while watching a movie. But I guess that the tears are pointless now, we still have a lot of football to watch and you, the gift that keeps on giving won’t fail to deliver under any situation. I’m forever in your debt. I’ve never thanked two people for having sex but please carry forward my compliments to your parents who definitely had cheat codes in their genes to end up with a prodigy like you. Keep smiling Leo, we love it when you do.

Yours sincerely,

“Just another fanboi”


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