Not every soccer stadium is beautiful but many are and if they’re not they’re all unique carrying with them the history of every game ever played, the sweat and blood of every player and the applause and roar of every fan.
Wembley, Maracana, Old Trafford – they are the great temples of the game.
But even the smallest and oldest stadiums have their place in the hearts of us all.
As Duncan Adams says of the old stadiums: “These were the type of football grounds that were tucked away in a forest of chimneys, making for a delightful approach through cobbled streets on a rain swept afternoon, evoking an adrenaline surge when spotting the floodlights and sheer ecstasy on entering for the first time.”
The beautiful, simple, diverse, adaptable game of soccer:
You can play it on grass.
Or on plastic.
You can play it on wood.
Or on rubber.
You can play it on dirt.
Or on pavement.
You can play it on concrete.
Or on sand.
You can play it on a field.
Or on the street.
You can play it on the beach.
Or in a gym.
You can play it in an alley.
Or in the house.
You can play it in the kitchen.
Or on a table.
You can play it in the hallway.
Or in the basement.
You can play it in your back yard.
Or in your front yard.
You can play it on your balcony.
Or even play it on a rooftop.
You can play it anywhere.
That’s why it’s such a beautiful game.
They say that it is perhaps the best and most beautiful team to ever have played the game.
Félix, Brito, Carlos Alberto, Wilson Piazza, Everaldo, Clodoaldo, Jairzinho, Gérson, Tostão, Pelé and Rivelino were the eleven players who took to the Stadio Azteca pitch on June 21, 1970 to face Italy.
Brazil won the match 4-1 on goals from Pele, Gerson, Jarzinho and Alberto.
Alberto’s goal, which involved an elaborate passing sequence involving almost every Brazilian player on the pitch is “considered one of the greatest goals ever scored in the history of the tournament” (Wikipedia).
She wakes you in the morning, makes your breakfast, packs your lunch, fills your water bottle, drives you to practices, drives you to games, cheers you on, makes you dinner, gets you ice packs and bandages, helps you solve your problems, talks to you about your day, makes you go to bed early…
She does all that and more – with endless love.
Every day should be Mother’s Day.
You arrive at the pitch ready to train or play a match and you breathe it in: fresh-cut grass.
It doesn’t happen every day – unless maybe you train and play with a pro team – so you breathe it in for as long as you can.
It is a beautiful reminder that while soccer is a game between opposing sides concerned with scoring goals and winning, it is also a contest much more enhanced by the elements of nature.
People dream of scoring goals and seeing the ball enter the net but you really have the beautiful game in your soul if you understand how equally satisfying it is to make a great pass.
For this skill you need to have vision, patience and precision. And when you have that ball in your possession and see your teammate open and decided to make that pass – and it arrives on his foot, you know you have done something of great difficulty.
All the experts will tell you that a great pass is a true thing of beauty essential to winning soccer.
“Boots” or soccer shoes have changed a lot over the years but the beautiful feeling of getting a pair has not.
The feeling is quite powerful.
And yet it’s really quite hard to describe why that is, actually.
After all the game is about the ball isn’t it? Why should it matter what you have on your feet? And what difference is there if your boots are new or old, colourful or plain, cheap or expensive, bought for you or bought by you?
They’re just boots, right?
So why do you insist on wearing them around the house, staring at them lovingly, taking pictures of them, taking them to bed with you and polishing them after every game or practice?