August 28, 2007

Antonio Puerta 1984-2007 - Personal reflections

This morning, Antonio Puerta, left mid for Sevilla FC passed away as a result of the two heart attacks he suffered on Saturday.

I, like everyone else, figured that he would be fine after I saw him walk off the field during the match against Getafe. But after hearing exactly what happened, I was far more concerned.

You just don't expect something like this to happen to a player of a team you support.

I had never decided on a team to root for in La Liga, but when I moved to Spain, my best friend was a Sevilla supporter. Juan Manuel was from a town east of Sevilla, and all his friends were Real Betis fans, but he couldn't do it. I remember him telling me, "Before you leave, you're going to be a Sevilla fan."

It didn't take his influence to convince me. I watched as Sevilla crept closer and closer to the top of La Liga (they'd eventually finish 5th, just behind Osasuna).

But the real drama came in the UEFA Cup. As they kept winning and advancing, it became clear that they were one of the teams to beat. We were growing anxious as Juan Manuel told me, "They haven't won anything in 70 years. Not a league, not a King's Cup. Nothing."

Then came the semifinals. Sevilla dug out a 0-0 draw at Schalke, but faced the same stalemate in the return leg at the Sanchez Pizjuan. It went into extra time scoreless, through the first period.

Then came THE GOAL.

Sevilla held on to win 1-0, and they'd eventually thrash Middlesbrough in the final 4-0. The goal is what Puerta will best be remembered for, and rightly so. It's only fitting to remember a player in his most glorious moment, when he put joy into the hearts of every Sevilla supporter worldwide.


bdr said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Cool post.