Although fat and stooped, his broad shoulders and his six-foot height warn that this old man with curly hair and a calm gaze once stood at attention under the three sticks. It is the presentation of “In your hands I entrust myself”, two hundred pages of nostalgia for lonely people who play football with gloves and there is, silent, the man I grew up despising without knowing.
His name is Manuel Uribe and he is, according to the press, my parents and all those who lived through that tie as if their lives were at stake, the culprit that we did not go to the World Cup in Germany. He is the man who failed the sad afternoon in Montevideo. The doubtful goalkeeper who did not go out to hunt a ball that seemed easy. The forced substitute for Ballesteros. The 23-year-old who saw his career die in that loss. That he ended up becoming a policeman. José Carlos Yrigoyen used to say that becoming a bad memory is worse than being forgotten. That silent man whom he hated without knowing was Chicho Uribe. The scapegoat for one of our many football misfortunes.
Part of the wonderful thing about football is its irrationality. We love excessively, we hate without remedy. The grays do not exist in the world of the ball. Or maybe they are scarce. In a month, when Qatar opens its doors to the world, others will be the recipients of our resentment. We will remember Redmayne again, the most hated clown in these lands. There will be no shortage of those who curse Valera, still do not forgive Advíncula and give Gareca an insult. We will look at the half-filled Panini again with sadness. Because it will be difficult, very difficult. Although we did it for 36 years, enduring this World Cup without Peru is going to be difficult.
Like other times, we will have to cheer for Brazil despite Neymar, pray that history sends Messi off well, look enviously at Ecuador -and Brian Castillo-, try to vibrate with a gallop from Mbappé and Cristiano’s latest tantrums. Therefore, we will have to retrace everything we thought we had advanced and return to what was our habit for decades: being part of a party that we did not even go to through the window.
We will do it while Carrillo’s cathartic shoe that shattered our pride so much is repeated in our heads. Or how our eyes watered after Paolo’s goal, the ideal ending for an epic much more perfect than that grotesque thing called “Contigo Capitán”. Or Aquino’s missile that almost broke the Lloris arch. Or the Cueva prison, the party in Yekaterinburg, the “Contigo Peru” sung until almost dying.
It will be difficult to see this World Cup without Peru. Our hearts will be crushed.
I, Ronald Payne, am a journalist and author who dedicated his life to telling the stories that need to be said. I have over 7 years of experience as a reporter and editor, covering everything from politics to business to crime.