34 years have passed since Jorge Araujo Sánchez took the youngest of his four children by the hand to ‘Lolo’ Fernández as a birthday present to see academic. Eight years have passed since he published a skinny 56-page book without the backing of any publisher or the echo of the big press. And almost a week has passed since ‘Coco’, the protagonist of his work, became the coach of the team for which his family, and a large part of the country, go out of their way.
Time is a hurricane outlived by memories. And the most significant in the life of Jorge Araujo Sanchez they carry a vowel and are painted in a single color.
It is the morning of the last Friday, and Jorge receives us at his house in Los Olivos, with a coffee and a historic shirt:. Once a collector offered him a thousand soles for it, and he responded with a sigh.
At 77 years old, what interests this bony man with a white mustache the most is leaving more than a trace on the sand of his passage through the world. A promoter of cycling, gymnastics, volleyball and historical monuments, Jorge spends his days painting landscapes on tiles, and writing short chronicles that he religiously sends to his school class (José Carlos Mariátegui, 1962) via WhatsApp, that application that not only It is used for voice messages that could be a call.
On Monday night, when the departure of the Uruguayan Álvaro Gutiérrez had already been made official, Marthita, the partner with whom he celebrated 50 years of marriage on April 15, received a call. It was ‘Coco’ who, sparingly, told him that the directors of the ‘U’ had appointed him as the interim coach of the club. What about your Reserve boys? Mom asked. “I feel sorry for them, but I’m going to take on the challenge,” he says he replied.
Jorge, who usually talks often with ‘Coco’, kept his distance. “I preferred to wait a bit. I think it’s the most prudent thing to do,” he says. Since he is the coach of the ‘U’, his biggest fan has preferred to save his congratulations until after the first game, this afternoon against Sport Boys at the Monumental.
He more than anyone knows that his path in football has been a mountain whose only harness has been the trust of his family. ‘Coco’ was not born with the talent to return walls, introduce the ball between the legs of his rival or shade the goalkeepers. In his first test to enter the University they did not choose him. And more than one impertinent predicted a future far away from football. But the technicians changed their minds as the center-back grew in stature (and in conviction).
“’Coco’ has always been a starter. It’s incredible, a player with so many technical flaws. Also, he had a low profile which didn’t help him. But he never stopped trying, and look how far he’s come”, says George. His story is a lesson in discipline, a less attractive word than talent, but perhaps more valuable.
In 2014, after feeling that he was dying from various health problems, he fulfilled his greatest wish as a self-taught writer: “The Triumph of Perseverance” (it was to be called “No hay nada imposible”). He spent less than 500 soles. Two cream fans like him helped him: the owner of a printing press in Jirón Caylloma and his designer. He had no more pretensions than to hold it in his hands, caress it, and give it to ‘Coco’.
But in 2017, following a publication in a local newspaper, the Odriozola Band, a community of ‘U’ fans, discovered the book. They met with him, expressed their admiration for him, and took him to ‘Lolo’ Fernández to present him. Sold 50 copies. In these eight years, Jorge Araujo has given away around five hundred books. She has another five hundred left at his house.
There he narrates how Víctor ‘Pichicho’ Benavides, a former ‘U’ and Sport Boys player, gave him a second chance at ‘U’, at the age of nine. The first games of ‘Coco’ as a substitute in the B team of the minors. The time he burst into tears after playing a minute and not touching the ball. The bronchitis for which a doctor advised him to give up soccer, and which his father opposed, with a concoction of garlic, ginger and onion that he gave her for four years. His debut in the First Division in 1998, at the age of 18. And until the glorious three-time championship in 2001, teaming up with Edson ‘Cheta’ Domínguez, another exemplary soldier.
From time to time, Jorge Araujo logs on to Facebook and starts reading the comments that the book arouses, with a handkerchief in his hand: “How I would like to have a father like the father of ‘Coco’”, “If I have a child I will do the same”, “The ‘Coco’ always fagged. This story made me cry.” are some of them.
“My life has been like that too. It has cost me a lot to achieve something,” says Jorge, who has been from an electrical material salesman to a door-to-door seller of Christmas items. His boy has achieved it: he is the new coach of Universitario. Let it last as long as it has to last. They have already succeeded.