The 2014 World Cup starts today. I’m pretty sure many Americans I know couldn’t care less. But this American is pumped! Let’s get it starrrrrrrrrrted!
Quick confession: I don’t even like soccer that much. I’m a Hoosier, you see, and in the Hoosier state, basketball is king. Still, the longer I stay in Spain, the more I get into it. I even care about La Liga (Spain’s national league) a little bit now! I got excited when Real Madrid won this year’s Champion’s League cup. Nonetheless, my favorite team will always be La Roja, the Spanish national team.
I first came to Spain in 2008. That year, the Spaniards won the Eurocup (kind of like the World Cup, but only for European countries). I actually didn’t even notice. But in 2010, when the South African World Cup rolled around, I was dating a Spaniard … and my dad bought us jerseys!
Mario returned to Spain, but I stayed home a bit longer, enjoying my family and summer in the U.S. But I kept up with the games! The day of the final, I had a baby shower to attend. But I kept going upstairs to refresh the Internet. (This was before I had a smart phone!) Frustratingly, the baby shower ended, and I had to drive home, and it was still a tie!
As I drove home, I searched frantically for a radio station that would tell me what was going on. Even my mom was watching the game, texting me updates. 0-0. No goals. Nothing. What was happening?!? It’s not good to feel so nervous and shaky while you’re driving two and a half hours home. I wondered what Mario was doing …
Mario was actually in Scotland, on vacation with his brother. They had found a “Spanish” bar to watch the game. “Spanish” because, obviously, it wasn’t Spanish, but it was supporting Spain. So here we were, one of us driving nervously through southern Indiana, one of us watching in a bar in Scotland, surrounded by Spaniards and Spanish supporters.
Finally, finally, finally something happened: In the 116th minute, Andrés Iniesta (“Iniesta de mi vida“) scored, giving Spain the 1-0 lead and, eventually, the title of World Champions. (I think I screamed!) It was a moment I’ll never forget; certainly it’s a moment the Spanish will never forget, having gone so long without a single World Cup title. I’m sure lots of happy tears were shed that day, lots of babies born named Andrés.
This year I’m not sure what will happen. A lot of Spaniards who I know are not optimistic. It’s going to be tough this year, they say. Brazil will be strong, as they’re playing at home. Germany looks good. It won’t be easy! Of course not. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be exciting. I’m looking forward to rooting for my two teams this year.