A Messi, Maradona song that bounced through Brazil seven summers ago
As Argentina players bounced by the touchline, as a blue flag with Diego Maradona’s face sketched on the bottom right corner fleetingly occupied the television screen, a song—taunt really—would have played in the minds of all those who spent a month and more in Brazil seven summers ago. Not unlike the buzz of a chorus of vuvuzelas from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
“Brasil, decime que se siente/Tener en casa a tu papa,” one of the lines went. “Brazil, tell me how it feels to be bossed around in your own home?” would be a rough translation. It bounced off the walls of the General Osorio metro station in Rio’s Ipanema on the day Argentina began the 2014 World Cup against Bosnia and Herzegovina; the overwhelmingly male crowd in team shirts hotfooting to the train that would take them to Maracana. You could hear it on the Copacabana, inside the packed Garota de Ipanema—where else in the world would you find a restaurant named after a bossa nova love ditty?—and at Garota de Flamengo, an eatery in a neighbourhood made famous by a football club.
And you could hear it in Brasilia, a restaurateur humouring a large Argentine clientele that was more than a few beers down. They banged tables, thumped chairs and sang a song that would have been downright rude if football was taken out of the context. This was on a night Argentina had made their first World Cup semi-final since 1990, the hoodoo broken by the swinging right foot of Gonzalo Higuain against Belgium in a stadium named after Garrincha not far from the tiny eatery.
“Te juro que aunque pasen los anos/Nuaca nos vamos a olvidar/Que el Diego los gambeteo/ Que El Cani los vacuno,” they sang. “Through the years/we will never forget/that Diego move/And that you were surprised by Cani (Claudio Caniggia).” The reference was to the Maradona pass that nutmegged a Brazilian and found Caniggia for the only goal of the 1990 World Cup’s round-of-16 game.
“A Messi los vas a ver/La Copa nos va a traer/Maradona es mas grande que Pele (You will see what Messi is all about/ The World Cup will be ours/Maradona is better than Pele.” Set loosely to the tune of “Bad Moon Rising” by the American band CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival), the song became the unofficial anthem of the World Cup, the frequency and volume rising as Argentina, who share a nearly 800km border with Brazil, went deeper in the competition. After Brazil’s 7-1 defeat in the semi-final, it wasn’t unusual to find German fans mouthing those lines and Argentines showing seven fingers as they sang their song.
With four Man-of-the-Match awards and the Golden Ball, picked up when he looked the saddest he would on that evening of the World Cup final, Messi couldn’t win the “copa” at Maracana then. He did on Saturday (Sunday morning in India) showing Copa America and the world en route what he is all about. Again.