And We Still Can't Believe.

Have you heard of sagas, sagas that cease to ever end?
Days on end, they lurk on; days on end, until we deem them abysmal.
I have one such saga for you, but I am not entirely convinced that you might have ever heard a saga so magnanimous.
One so reeking of benignity.

Well; I have one such saga for you.

Fall 1997.
A drawing class of 24,
Yet one young man standing out.
Of freckles and pale skin made of, yet without a trace of tout.
Pulled out from the crowd, with sudden surprise,
Put on a flight far east.
Only later would they come to realize,
That it was but a metaphor for his life.

Summer 2000.
All of nineteen, this young man,
Had now blossomed into a person bigger than that.
Never rail-thin and never tall, he now stood taut,
Guarding the goal with enormous aplomb.
And as the night ended in what they called La Octa,
None did stand as high as him.

Summer 2002.
Older, but not better,
Or so would the moustached man in the dugout think.
Far from a blossoming calendula.
How could anyone ever turn into a dead link?
You would tell me off; you would tell me in sure words,
“This is not a saga.”
And I would presumptuously ask you to let me finish.
Because for a man so inherently strong, but anything could fail to prove a death rattle.
And so on he came, with a stroke of luck;
Or should I say, one of destiny.
And proved why, in the dying minutes, that he was going to let the future know that he had been there.
They remember it as The Night of the Zidane Volley.
But I call it The Night of Redemption.

Fall 2003.
It was a night at the mighty Santiago Bernabeu,
Pitted against the equally mighty Athletic from Bilbao.
Filled with supporters and whistlers galore,
All settled in for a treat of a night.
And against the outfit he graced the field against for the first time,
Boy, did he show up at office that day.
For I know of people who still shed a tear when they recall that day,
That day that earned him the perennial title of The Saint.

Fall 2009.
Plagued by the dire need to win and the ironic failure to do so,
Marched on the Whites onto the field, to meet their familiar foe.
To reclaim their long lost bid to the top
Much to their disdain, a certain Diego Perotti thought otherwise.
Interspersed by defenders who easily let pass,
A depleted team devoid of hope, he willed to score against at last.
But he was to be denied by the strongest of them all,
By now, a captain without an armband.
He was there, not once but twice.
To deny his beloved inevitable misery, for the nth time.
Many call it the greatest save in eternity, and thus marvel at his flexibility.
“It was a matter of believing.” He proclaimed.
We couldn’t.

Summer 2010.
Now the strongest of them all,
Had reached his equivalent in international competition.
Rolled out had been, the red carpet for the greatest night of them all,
And boy, did he walk the line with aplomb.
Pacy skin-headed forwards and tall ones with brain, he shoved aside with equal grit,
All attesting to the universal fact that on that Glove of Gold, his name was already writ.
But exceeding the joy of accepting the same, was holding aloft the statute of gold that declared La Roja impenetrable.
For now, the Captain had got his armband.

Fall 2012.
They still christened him the strongest of them all, they really believed he was.
But so didn’t the man who mattered,
He thought the boy was done.
He thought the boy was a boy no more, and not just that.
He thought the boy was nothing but a mole, a rat whose status now threatened him.
So the glory of the bench was warmed by the Saint,
And helped it was not by a prolonged bout of hurt.
Many thought it was the end of it all,
No more glory left to befall.
“It was a matter of believing.”
We still couldn’t.

Summer 2014.
The man was now gone, the boy still here.
Yet many doubts to answer with his characteristic flair.
And so did he, on nights in the Bernabeu and away alike.
Yet not entrusted with full responsibility,
He touched upon his legacy in moments of impenetrability
And come the May of the fourteenth year of the new millennium,
He stood atop the capital of the world’s most beautiful country.
Hugging the Cibeles was her favorite son,
We were not to know for the last time.
100 million pounds was the most used refrain that fortnight.
And surrounded by them, what resounded were the words of childlike pleading,
“Do not call me a Galactico, I am from Mostoles.”
As the eternal trophy was lifted by the eternal Captain.
Some of us still couldn’t believe.

Summer 2015.
Microphones and cameras in place, and a bevy of journalists holding their breath.
To watch end, one of the greatest fairy tales the beautiful game had ever witnessed.
Solemn words did come, but not before two minutes' worth of literal bawling,
Perhaps not realizing that his wasn’t the only heart that broke, as the shattering of millions across screens around the world echoed.
All stories did come to an end,
And the most beautiful ones of them all never had fairytale endings.
The boy, now at the ripe age of 34.
Heading the gathering, all alone.
Ever so symbolic of his last few years at his beloved home.
Only later would they come to realize,
That it was but a metaphor for his life.

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