Monday, July 10, 2006

Team I loved you.

a just red card

by Ryland Walker Knight

Please tell me it was more than mere trash talking. Please tell me he insulted your mother, your Algerian heritage, your bald spot, your four sons, your wife, your recent limp club play, your slowing skills--all of that, all at once--mixed in with some combination of the devil, rape, AIDS, necrophilia, self-inflation, cancer and bukkake. Tell me it shattered your world. Because futball fans the world over are trying to piece theirs together.

You were primed to surpass Pélé. You were already a legend. You did what so many returning older stars could not: Beckham, Nedved, Ronaldo, etc. Your dominance against Brazil was unreal, a performance for all time. You had already delivered a brilliant PK goal off the underside of the crossbar most players would boot over the net. And if not for your astronomically enormous ego, you could have burried another not only to help your team but your failing nation. Or did that North African ire thicken your blood past boiling so all your love of Liberté, Fraternité et Egalité evaporated?

You were a god. You were loved by an entire continent, nigh near the globe. Now? You are a selfish jerk.

How can you explain this to your children? Will you ever live it down? I worry we will never forget. Frank Ribery will not replace you, no matter what the French press may print. And there's hardly a player in the world ready to fill your enormous shoes. That's a heavy burden for a mere mortal to carry, and we're all allowed lapses of judgement, yet on such a stage as the World Cup Final Match, that was inexcusable. You may have been provoked but you owed it to yourself, too, to be a man and let whatever those pretty boys said all game to glance off you.

You must be having a shit day but one more question: how could you not rejoin your teammates, your friends, your brothers on the field? They cried alone while you snuck out the backdoor. Awful.

"We were waxing lyrical about him--rightly so--before the game, during the game, about his career, about his performance tonight..."

On the other hand: bravissimo, Azzurri. I hate your fucking guts.


  1. Okay, this was a little over the top. He already has been forgiven by his country, and will most likely be forgiven by the rest of the world. He just will not be able to reach the celebrated heights of Pélé or Maradona. Still, it was stupid. And I think he could have probably made another run at the timid Italians in the waning minutes; if not, he could have done his part on those stupid PKs.