viii, 228 pages ; 20 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages -218) and index.
In a sequence of elegiac and deliciously droll observations, the distinguished Latin American writer, Eduardo Galeano here reflects on mortality and immortality in the world's greatest game. Tragedy spins a continuous thread through these pages.
We learn of Abdon Porte of the Uruguayan club Nacional who, after a disastrous run of bad form, was found dead in the center circle of the club stadium, revolver in hand; of Andres Escobar, the Colombian defender, whose own goal lost his country a game in the 1994 World Cup and who was subsequently gunned down in Medellin; of the 1942 Dynamo Kiev team who were warned not to win a game against the occupying Nazis but who could not resist the urge to glory, trounced the German side, and were all eleven shot, still wearing their shirts, at the end of the game.
But where there is shadow there is also the bright sunlight of joy and beauty.
Here are stories of the Italian striker Guiseppe Meazza whose shorts, in the run up to a penalty kick during the 1938 World Cup, fell down around this knees - he pulled them back up and, with the stadium and goalkeeper in pleats of laughter, scored the goal that saw Italy into the final; of the ice-cool legend Lev Yashin who calmed his nerves before extraordinary performances in the Soviet goal with a smoke and a strong drink; of Ferenc Puskas who, having seen his goal from a beautifully executed free kick disallowed because the referee had not blown his whistle, picked up the ball, took it back to the same spot, and produced an identical shot which landed again in the upper left corner of the net.