...And I am shattered.
You see, Brazil did not WIN. Do I repeat myself? Not quite… as there is a not-so-subtle difference between winning and getting a trophy.
Not very understandable for most but a difference nonetheless!
For example, every World Cup between 1974 to 1986, Brazil won handsomely – but never got the trophy. They presented a breath-taking ballet of piercing passes, deft dribbles and incredible step-overs & body feints.
But sooner or later, personal genius, ruthless gamesmanship or plain bad luck took it all away. But, the important thing was they won!
And from Sao Paulo to Santragachhi, a generation grew up with more heroes than walls had space for posters!
Zico. Socrates. Falcao. Junior. Careca.
They were all heroes in the truest sense of the word. And they were quite irreplaceable in the epic of world football.
It was only natural that the epic needed a hero. More than a victor, it needed a giant who lost – but fought the way wars were supposed to be fought. Like Achilles from Greece and Karna closer home, Brazil won without getting the trophy.
The mad Italian in ‘82, the sticky-fingered frog in ‘86 took it all away.
As I was drum-beating Brazilian victories this time, it was feeling a bit strange because this was not the Brazil I had grown to love and worship.
Ronaldinho was the best striker of the game… but he claimed to have sacrificed his natural game for the team. But why?
Ronaldo was… ahem… tiring easily but why were they not bringing on Robinho, whose exciting runs down the left flank brought back really happy memories?
There were attempts to play safe. To borrow a cliché, they were trying to win matches instead of hearts.
How the hell did Australia come close to scoring?
And Croatia walk away with the laurels?
How come that 24-pass jewel of a goal was scored by the Argentinians?
Instead, Zidane became a Brazilian. He went up and down both the flanks… he tapped the ball over Ronaldo’s head, around Juan’s outstretched legs and what not? His skill and charisma was as if he walked straight out of the ’82 Brazil team…
And at the end of it, Brazil neither got the trophy. Nor did it win.
So, is this end of the world as we know it? Well, not quite…
Look four years ahead…
Zidane and Figo would have retired. Henry & Christiano Ronaldo would have grown a beard waiting to be fed.
Ballack & Klose would be huffing their way to retirement.
Cambiasso, Riquelme and Crespo would be 30+ dinosaurs. Lionel Messi would be the highest paid club footballer. Also the most overpaid.
Beckham would have starred in a movie. Rooney would be in jail for murder in a bar brawl.
But Brazil’s Magic Quartet would still be there… but the names would have changed. The bench would have become the starting line-up… and there would Kaka-Robinho-Adriano teaming up with Ronaldinho, who would have returned to make amends.
And that is beauty of Brazil.
As the French tri-colour unfurled in Frankfurt on Saturday, there are millions of 19-year olds weeping on the streets of Rio. Four years later, they will be on the bench waiting for revenge.
And there will be stuff movies are made of.
Sorcerers in gold-and-green will pit their skills against the walls put up by European football machines.
Skilful gymnasts will weave past the hacking boots of the Africans.
Smiling assassins will pump in dozens of goals against the hapless Asians.
Don’t know about the trophy. But Brazil will win again.
Hold your breath… Only four years to go.