For so many people, sports are just a hobby, an occasion to gather with friends on a weekend, even if only to sit around the television and have fun cheering for their favorite team. Tony loved how his family had that special way of getting together on a Sunday, the day where soccer is a guest of honor in nearly every Italian household. Dad, Mom, big brother, little sister, everybody wanted to be a part of that electrifying atmosphere, and even if they know that their chants and exultations would not get out of the living room, they still loved to pretend that their passion would reach the stadium on the other side of town, right deep into the souls of their favorite athletes.
It was all of this for so many people, but this was even more for Tony. Since he was a little kid he always knew he wanted to be a part of it, not only because of the incredible effect soccer has on people, but also because of the way the sport itself captivated him so completely. Perhaps one of the reasons why soccer culture was so deep within Tony’s being, dreams and desires might be that he grew up in Naples, one of the most notorious cities of southern Italy. Among other things such as the incredible local cuisine and the controversial ways of the locals, the city is known for a love of Soccer that is like no other in the country, perhaps like no other place in the whole of Europe. Since the olden days, the glory seasons of Maradona, Neapolitans had a way to raise the local football team on a pedestal, turning it into a quasi-religious icon. Now that I think about it, when I say “quasi-religious”, I might be wrong, because deep within the historical city center, fans can make their way to the sanctuary of the “Holy Church Of Diego Armando Maradona”. The place is object of pilgrimage from all over the world, and People actually do visit the sanctuary and perform prayers in front of it. The whole thing is nothing more than a plaque on the wall on the side of a building with a dedication to the legendary football player, a photograph portraying him at the time when he was enlisted in the Neapolitan team…and even a lock of his own hair! Even then, it’s more than enough to spark the enthusiasm of millions of fans.
Tony was not really among those who claim that Maradona was the Messiah reincarnated, but he did truly love the legendary athlete, taking inspiration from his glory days and being moved by his dramatic story of rise and fall. Like many Italian children, he started collecting “figurine Panini”, (a famous series of collectable stickers portraying the main football teams and players), and when he grew a little older and technology could allow it, table football was replaced by videogames, getting more and more realistic.
Playing was just a way for Tony to stay in touch with this world he deeply loved, despite the pressures and frustrations of his life as a law school student, a discipline that offered good professional opportunities in the long run, but that was not exactly a dream setting. The years went by, and Tony started to feel more and more restless: He was almost angry that he didn’t try harder to get a shot at being involved in the world of soccer, so one day, he just decided that it couldn’t hurt to try to combine his love for soccer with his proficiency and background in law studies and issues. After many months of stressful exams, phone calls and hopes, Tony finally did it! He was now an official FIFA agent! This means that he could finally become a part of that world he’d always been dreaming about. Maybe he was not going to be a hero wearing the colors of his favorite team, maybe kids would not collect his sticker like he used to do with his idol…perhaps this was not exactly how he imagined it, but it was close enough.