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2018-07-19T22:39:23.999Z
0
{"feed":"The-Players-Tribune","feedTitle":"The Players Tribune","feedLink":"/feed/The-Players-Tribune","catTitle":"Sports","catLink":"/cat/sports"}
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What’s up, Memphis? I wanted to introduce myself to y’all, but I didn’t really know how to start this letter. Anybody who knows me knows that talking about myself isn’t really in my comfort zone. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So I’m gonna tell you about a treadmill. It might not make sense right away but hopefully by the end of this letter it will, and maybe you’ll know a little bit more about me. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I spent four years at West Virginia, playing for Bob Huggins. It’s no secret that Coach Huggins runs a tight ship. And when I say runs, I mean </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">runs.</span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The secret was treadmills. We learned to be afraid of them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">See, it was like this at West Virginia: The only thing that mattered to Coach was that we played harder, every single play, than the other team. </span></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139245" data-caption="" data-credits="Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139245" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/739d776e-usatsi_10441235.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And the treadmill was our punishment if we made a mistake in practice. If your guy was able to dribble to the middle of the court while you were guarding him, you had to get off the court and get on the treadmill and run 18 mph for 45 seconds. Right on the side of the court. Allow an offensive rebound … you’re on the treadmill. Let your guy drive past you. Treadmill. Turn the ball over. Allow an uncontested layup, miss a box...
<p><em>The Players’ Tribune </em>took to the Los Angeles Hills last night for its annual Players’ Night Out summer celebration. An exclusive list of athletes and entertainers attended, including Derek Jeter, Carmelo Anthony, Vince Staples, Kevin Love, Russell Wilson, Isaiah Thomas, Blake Griffin and Keegan-Michael Key. The evening was highlighted by Pusha T, who made an appearance on the mic. Take a look at Players’ Night Out — from the inside.</p> <p><em>Photos by Taylor Baucom and Guillermo Hernandez-Martinez/The Players Tribune</em></p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139313" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139313" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/5d61f2ff-t0a5855.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139314" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139314" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/d003d7df-t0a6026.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139317" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139317" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/e4db767e-t0a6179.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139316" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139316" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/03b61c9f-t0a6162.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139315" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139315" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/e5ad2a9c-t0a6096.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139320" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139320" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/7505ab5d-180717tb_playersniteout_p1562_0076.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139361" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139361" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/40fcd268-untitled-5.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139373" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139373" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/b321e2ea-775186616_lb_0156_cec657ec0c417887d0d03592d3cb469d.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139380" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="3264" data-image-id="139380" data-image-width="4896" height="3264" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/977ab17b-775186616_lb_0327_05302118fdac657c359647dc98662fa1.jpg" width="4896"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139365" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139365" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/1feec8fe-180717tb_playersniteout_p1562_0462.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139368" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139368" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/3ec54dfc-180717gh_playersniteout_p1561_0020.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139343"...
<p class="Normal1">… And I’m really, really excited!</p> <p class="Normal1">But before I get into all the reasons why, I want to try to clarify a few things.</p> <p class="Normal1">First off, I didn’t agree to do this right away. Let me just say that up front. This wasn’t an automatic yes for me. I had to really think it through and come at it from all angles.</p> <p class="Normal1">When the opportunity first arose to play in this week’s PGA Tour event in Kentucky, most of my thoughts were about how much fun it would be. And how playing in a men’s tournament might help me improve by picking up a few pointers or seeing firsthand how PGA players attack a tough course. But I’d be lying if I tried to tell you I didn’t also think a lot about how this whole thing might backfire or cause some people to lash out toward me.</p> <p class="Normal1">At one point, while weighing the pros and cons, I even sort of flashed back to high school, and how competing in tournaments with guys had caused a different set of problems for me back then.</p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image custom-size alignright wp-image-139009" data-caption="" data-credits="Courtesy of the Lincicome Family" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="139009" data-image-width="1024" height="550" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/c0b7774a-image001.jpg" width="440"></p> <p class="Normal1">There wasn’t a girls’ golf team at my school, so I played on the boys’ team for four years. My teammates loved me, but a lot of the guys on the other teams didn’t seem to feel the same way. They weren’t anywhere near as nasty as...
<p>Over the last four weeks, the extraordinary talents of football’s best players and teams have been on display in Russia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.</p> <p>From Day One to the final, here are our favorite photos.</p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138319 size-full" data-caption="" data-credits="Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images" data-image-height="2021" data-image-id="138319" data-image-width="3031" height="2021" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/1ba8d54a-wire_gettyimages-975523940.jpg" width="3031"></p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-139127 size-full" data-caption="" data-credits="Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images" data-image-height="2594" data-image-id="139127" data-image-width="3890" height="2594" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/d4159bdc-tgettyimages-996452154.jpg" width="3890"></p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138323 size-full" data-caption="" data-credits="Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images" data-image-height="3205" data-image-id="138323" data-image-width="4808" height="3205" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/0c74b757-gettyimages-977910378.jpg" width="4808"></p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138331 size-full" data-caption="" data-credits="Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images" data-image-height="1895" data-image-id="138331" data-image-width="2842" height="1895" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/89011f84-gettyimages-985484788.jpg" width="2842"></p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-139128 size-full" data-caption="" data-credits="Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images" data-image-height="1474" data-image-id="139128" data-image-width="2212" height="1474" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/ff1efb58-twire_gettyimages-988127508.jpg" width="2212"></p> <hr...
<p>#ICanHelp is more than a hashtag to Aaron Judge. It’s a movement to create a new norm for how we treat others on the internet.</p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <script type='text/javascript' src='http://content.jwplatform.com/libraries/j2R8uxba.js'></script> <div id='jwplayer_uGL8nZUf_j2R8uxba_div'></div> <script type='text/javascript'> if(typeof(jQuery)=="function"){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)}; jQuery(document).ready(function($){setTimeout(function(){if ("undefined" !== typeof jwplayer) {jwplayer('jwplayer_uGL8nZUf_j2R8uxba_div').setup( {"playlist":"http:\/\/content.jwplatform.com\/feeds\/uGL8nZUf.json","ph":2,"width":"100%","aspectratio":"16:9"});}}, 1000);}); </script>
<p>To mark the end of a memorable 2018 FIFA World Cup, The Players’ Tribune will be giving away five posters from the selection below. To enter:</p> <ol> <li>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/tpt_global">@TPT_Global</a> on Twitter.</li> <li>Retweet this <a href="https://twitter.com/TPT_Global/status/1017856275785355264">message</a>.</li> </ol> <p>The contest will run from Friday, July 13 at 3:30 PM EST to Tuesday, July 17 at 9:00 AM EST.</p> <p>The winners will be notified during the week of Monday, July 16. To read more about the personal stories, on and off the pitch, of the footballers competing in the FIFA World Cup, <a href="https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/collections/wc32">click here.</a></p> <h6>Design by <a href="https://www.instagram.com/mh_design91/?hl=en">Matt Houston</a>.</h6> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139066" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="648" data-image-id="139066" data-image-width="1152" height="648" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/2478cb97-2group-1.jpg" width="1152"> <img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-medium wp-image-139079" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1500" data-image-id="139079" data-image-width="1200" height="300" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/5023a9a2-mh_tpt_wc_uruguay.png" width="240"><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-medium wp-image-139068" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="648" data-image-id="139068" data-image-width="1152" height="169" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/50bd1fe4-3group-1.jpg" width="300"><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-medium wp-image-139070" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="648" data-image-id="139070" data-image-width="1152" height="169" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/b40ee8f4-3group-3.jpg" width="300"><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-medium wp-image-139071" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="648" data-image-id="139071" data-image-width="1152" height="169" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/44876a71-4group-1.jpg" width="300"><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-medium wp-image-139072" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="648" data-image-id="139072" data-image-width="1152" height="169" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/413f6a90-4group-2.jpg" width="300"> <img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-medium wp-image-139078" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1500" data-image-id="139078" data-image-width="1200" height="300" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/5808fa04-mh_tpt_wc_portugal.png" width="240"><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-medium wp-image-139067" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="648" data-image-id="139067" data-image-width="1152" height="169" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/92f3bcb1-2group-2.jpg" width="300"><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-139077" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="1500" data-image-id="139077" data-image-width="1200" height="1500" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/ca846d24-mh_tpt_wc_croatia.png" width="1200"><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-medium wp-image-139073" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="648" data-image-id="139073" data-image-width="1152" height="169" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/83c23d5c-4group-3.jpg" width="300"><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-medium wp-image-139069" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="648" data-image-id="139069" data-image-width="1152" height="169" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/c4b093dc-3group-2.jpg" width="300"><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-medium wp-image-139074" data-caption="" data-credits="" data-image-height="648" data-image-id="139074" data-image-width="1152" height="169" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/7e7dd511-4group-4.jpg" width="300"></p> <p>By entering...
<span class="tpt-drop-cap">A</span> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">m I having a breakdown?</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It was morning in Mississauga, maybe 10 a.m., when it hit me. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I was in the backyard by the pool with my fiancée, Aryne. The whole morning, I’d been out there, just wandering around, in this cloud of my own thoughts — almost like a nervous kid backstage before a school play, trying to keep track of his lines. Just pacing and thinking, pacing and thinking, for hours. Going over everything … again and again.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And then suddenly I lost it. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I’m not trying to sound dramatic — that’s just actually what happened. I just sort of …. lost it, you know? I collapsed onto the couch that we have out near the pool. And I just started lying there, becoming more and more overwhelmed. Not even thinking, really, but more like … whatever comes after thinking. I was panicked. I felt frozen.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Because it was at that moment, I think, that it finally just hit me. It finally just hit me that I’d taken all the meetings. I’d weighed out all the pros and cons. I’d had all of the conversations with family and friends. It hit me that I’d slept on it … showered on it … eaten on it … flown across the country on it … and now I’d paced around the pool on it more times than I could count. It...
<p class="normal"><span lang="EN">When you’re the only woman playing on a men’s pro soccer team, and you also happen to be a goalkeeper, here’s how things go down:</span></p> <p class="normal"><span lang="EN">If you’re really, really lucky, your coach isn’t going to care if you’re from Venus or Mars. He’s not going to worry about things like if you prefer pink, blue, or yellow, or whether or not you pee standing up.</span></p> <p class="normal"><span lang="EN">But he <i>will </i>expect you to prove you’re just as talented as the male keepers on the team. And for you to finish every single rep —  probably more reps than you’ve ever done in any training session throughout your entire career.</span></p> <p class="normal"><span lang="EN">Somehow, you gotta keep up.</span></p> <p class="normal"><span lang="EN">It’ll be dive. Catch. Sprint. Dive. Miss. Sprint. Dive. Catch. Sprint. Again and again and again until your quads are begging for mercy. </span></p> <p class="normal"><span lang="EN">You’ll constantly feel like you’ve reached your limit. </span></p> <p class="normal"><span lang="EN">And, well … that’s what you asked for, right? To be pushed like the rest of the guys?</span></p> <p class="normal"><span lang="EN">You’ve asked to face harder shots. You’ve expected a faster pace of play. You look forward to battling for loose balls in the box, going shoulder to shoulder with men who are much bigger than you.</span></p> <p class="normal"><span lang="EN">Because you know this is how you get better.</span></p> <p class="normal"><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-138670" data-caption="" data-credits="Brad Smith/ISIPHOTOS.COM" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="138670" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/4d633c16-nwslbs051416105.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p class="normal"><span lang="EN">In March I tried out for the Calgary Foothills in the Premier Development League — a...
<p>Thirty-two teams came to Russia with dreams of being world champions.</p> <p>Take a look at a few of this year’s World Cup heroes in a gallery of <em>The Players’ Tribune’s</em> best pictures.</p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138713 size-full" data-caption="Paulinho, midfielder, Brazil." data-credits="Vanessa Montero/The Players' Tribune" data-image-height="1286" data-image-id="138713" data-image-width="2000" height="1286" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/188b1aba-001_180223vm_paulinho_p1320_0015.jpg" width="2000"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138721 size-full" data-caption="Aron Gunnarsson, midfielder, Iceland." data-credits="Sam Robles/The Players' Tribune" data-image-height="2320" data-image-id="138721" data-image-width="3481" height="2320" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/9e20517f-arongunnarssondiptych.jpg" width="3481"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138710 size-full" data-caption="Leon Balogun, defender, Nigeria." data-credits="Julie Glassberg/The Players' Tribune" data-image-height="1333" data-image-id="138710" data-image-width="2000" height="1333" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/7e57d51e-004_180314jg_leonbalogun_p1369_007.jpg" width="2000"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138722 size-full" data-caption="Benjamin Mendy, left-back, France. | Thomas Meunier, right-back, Belgium" data-credits="Dirk Bruniecki/The Players' Tribune | Julie Glassberg/The Players' Tribune" data-image-height="2320" data-image-id="138722" data-image-width="3481" height="2320" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/2813ca49-mendymeunier.jpg" width="3481"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138707 size-full" data-caption="Roberto Martínez, manager, Belgium." data-credits="Guillermo Hernandez Martinez/The Players' Tribune" data-image-height="1333" data-image-id="138707" data-image-width="2000" height="1333" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/6732122f-007_171208gh_rmartinezbelg_p1241_062.jpg" width="2000"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138706 size-full" data-caption="Andrés Guardado, midfielder, Mexico." data-credits="Gianfranco Tripodo/The Players' Tribune" data-image-height="1500" data-image-id="138706" data-image-width="2000" height="1500" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/3c4f1738-008_180222gt_aguardado_p1319_342.jpg" width="2000"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138723 size-full" data-caption="Xherdan Shaqiri, winger, Switzerland. | John Mikel Obi, midfielder, Nigeria." data-credits="Sam Robles/The Players' Tribune" data-image-height="2320" data-image-id="138723" data-image-width="3481" height="2320" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/78e0b755-shaqirimikeldiptych.jpg" width="3481"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138703 size-full" data-caption="Romelu Lukaku, forward, Belgium." data-credits="Sam Robles/The Players' Tribune" data-image-height="1333" data-image-id="138703" data-image-width="2000" height="1333" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/b6034072-011_180523sr_romelulukaku_p1473_0082.jpg" width="2000"></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138702 size-full" data-caption="Jonathan dos Santos, midfielder, Mexico." data-credits="Jed Jacobsohn/The Players' Tribune" data-image-height="1333" data-image-id="138702"...
<span class="tpt-drop-cap">I</span> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">t takes 35 steps to get from the home locker room of the ACC to the ice. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The doors open, and you can hear the rumble of the crowd — it’s still quiet. As you turn right, following the sound, it starts to build. You take a few more steps before you reach one of the quirks that makes the building unique to the NHL: the stairs to the ice. You have to go down five steps before you reach ice-level. Then you pass this little roped-off section of fans, and that’s when </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">it</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> — that particular feeling</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">— starts to hit your gut. By now, the noise is deafening. The building is rocking. You can barely hear the music beneath the roar of the crowd. You can see the blue lights bouncing off the stainless steel walls of the tunnel. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just a few more steps, and you’re out of the darkness, into the blue.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I was always the second guy out, after the goalie. I’d smack the pucks from our bench onto the ice for warmup. Then I’d hit that fresh sheet … and I would just kind of float. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That feeling … man, it’s pretty close to whatever perfect is. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I did that for nine years. </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Nine years. </span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Being a Maple Leaf is all I’ve ever known....
<span class="tpt-drop-cap">I</span> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">t was Monday, March 12, 2018. I was in a hotel in Dallas, lying in bed when my phone rang at exactly 8:23 AM. My agent was on the line, yelling before I could even say hello.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Damion, wake up man! I need you to get to Atlanta, son! You have your 10-day! They are arranging your flight right now!”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then he just hung up. But it didn’t matter. That’s all he had to say. He knew I’d been waiting for that exact call for almost two years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Right away, I wanted to call each of my family members and I wanted to thank them for their two years of support and believing in me when I told them this was only the beginning. I wanted to call Sydel, my fianc</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">é</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">e, and I just wanted to take a minute and think about the things that I’ve gone through on the basketball court — the injuries and unforeseen circumstances I’ve faced — that have shaped so much of my life off the court. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then my phone buzzed again. My agent sent me a screenshot of my itinerary. I had to be in Atlanta by six that night.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I had a game the next day. I’d have to do my reflecting on the drive to the airport.</span></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image alignnone size-full wp-image-138391" data-caption="" data-credits="Al Bello/Getty Images" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="138391" data-image-width="1920" height="1280"...
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">O que vem a seguir resume tudo o que você precisa saber sobre a minha família em uma única, e breve, história.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Copa do Mundo. 1998. Estou com cinco anos de idade. Meu irmão Muriel, 10. Nós estamos assistindo ao jogo da semifinal entre Brasil e Holanda na casa da minha tia, e é claro que há uma festa grande. Minha tia havia preparado toda aquela comida, e tinha bolo e tudo mais.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A partida vai para os pênaltis, e meu pai e meu tio vão à loucura. Eles não conseguem suportar a pressão. Eles mal dão conta de se sentar.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Quando o Taffarel defende o pênalti final, meu pai sai gritando pela sala e pela cozinha, e então ele jogou o bolo na cara.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ele corre de volta pra sala de estar com bolo espalhado no rosto inteiro, gritando, “Nós vamos pra final, nós vamos pra final”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Como criança, foi a coisa mais engraçada que eu já tinha visto.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meu pai era maluco, da melhor maneira possível.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vinte anos depois, o filho dele está indo pra Copa do Mundo.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">E, sendo honesto, sou muito mais parecido com ele do que gostaria de admitir.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Se você já me viu jogar pela Seleção Brasileira ou pela Roma, é possível que me veja com uma presença bastante calma. Mas eu nem sempre fui assim. Na verdade…se alguém mandasse um olheiro para fazer um relatório sobre mim quando criança, suspeito que...
<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>PARA LER EM PORTUGUÊS, <a href="https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/alisson-becker-esta-e-para-o-meu-irmao/_preview/137962/a4367d19bd">CLIQUE AQUI</a></strong></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This will tell you everything you need to know about my family in one quick story. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">World Cup. 1998. I’m 5 years old. My brother Muriel is 10. We’re watching the Brazil vs. Holland semifinal at my aunt’s house, and of course it’s a big party. My aunt had made all this food, and there was a big cake and everything. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The game goes to the penalties, and my father and my uncle are going crazy. They can’t take the pressure. They can’t even sit down. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When Taffarel saves the final penalty, my father runs from the living room to the kitchen screaming his head off, and then what does he do?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">… He smashes his face right into the cake. And then he runs back into the living room with icing all over his face, screaming, “We’re going to the Final! We’re going to the Final!” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As a little kid, it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">My dad was crazy, in the best way. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Twenty years later, his son is going to the World Cup. And, if I am being honest, I am probably more like him than I would like to admit! If you’ve seen me play for Brazil or Roma, you might see me as a fairly calming presence. But I haven’t always been like that. In fact, if you had...
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">梅西朝着我走过来。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">去年六月我们在澳大利亚和阿根廷踢了一场友谊赛。巴西队刚被判了一个任意球,我和威廉还有另外一个队友站在球边上。任意球并不是要由我来罚,我只是诱饵。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">在这个时候,梅西突然径直走过来看着我说:“怎么样,到底来不来巴萨?”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">就这样,毫无征兆蹦出的一句话,他说完转过身走开了。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我想都没想,就脱口而出:“如果你想要我,我就去!”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我很少会在比赛的时候分心,但是从梅西跟我说话到威廉罚出任意球那一刻,我满脑子都是 “他是认真的的吗?他为什么要那么说?天呐,到底发生了什么?”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">当时我正在为中超联赛的广州恒大队效力,没人相信巴萨会对我感兴趣。我觉得他在开玩笑,试着让我分心,但是那只是场友谊赛,至于么?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">比赛结束以后,我把自己的球衣递给安保让他交给梅西,他从阿根廷队的休息室出来,递给我梅西的球衣。</span></p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">等等,这是真的吗?</span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">但是当我们在澳大利亚的巡回比赛结束后,我返回到中国,完全没有听到任何转会的消息。整整一个月过去了,我把这事给忘了。我当时在中超享受着踢球的乐趣。从七月份开始,我们开始听到各种巴萨想要我的流言。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我打给我的经纪人:“老大,看在上帝的份上, 能不能告诉我这到底是不是真的?我快疯了!”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">他说:“嗯,这事有点复杂。有可能,也有可能不成。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我发短信问内马尔:“兄弟,这是真的吗?你有没有听说什么,我真的快急疯了。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">但是当时他自己也在转会的水深火热中,所以他也不确定。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">你们也知道现在的转会是怎么样的一个过程,完全不能相信任何东西。需要考虑的事情和因素有很多,说实话,我当时是真的很享受在中国的时光。我和我的妻子过着很舒适的生活,我在场上表现也很好。在巴萨转会传言开始之前,我一直很心满意足。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">球员转会期在八月就要结束了,我觉得没有什么希望了。那个周末恒大正要踢中超决赛,我家里还有从巴西来玩的朋友们。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">那个晚上,我的经纪人打电话给我:“合同敲定了,但是你得来巴塞罗那签字。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">说实话,我真的不敢相信:“真的?巴萨要付转会费吗?你没骗我吧?”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“没有骗你,是真的。但你明天一定要飞过来。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">哦对了,这是凌晨四点发生的事。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我说:“我明天到不了啊,我有朋友从巴西来。而且现在已经凌晨四点了。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“兄弟,咱们说的可是巴萨!让你的朋友们跟你一起来。就坐下一趟航班,赶紧的!”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">就这样,我打包了行李,去机场的路上我坐在车里望着窗外,脑海里想着… 梅西!</span></p> <p><strong>[VIDEO BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]</strong></p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">说真的,如果你觉得我的巴萨转会故事够疯狂,那你根本还不了解我。那只是我的人生中的第十章节,我的整个故事比这疯狂多了。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">其实,我在19岁的时候,完全放弃了足球。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">大概有一个月,我都在家里抑郁不安。那是2008年的夏天,梅西正在帮助巴萨赢得那个赛季的三冠王,而我正在家里的沙发上发愁我这辈子能干什么。当时我刚从立陶宛还有波兰踢完球回到圣保罗家里,但那是个让我很受伤的经历。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我刚到立陶宛的时候还比较顺利。我在维尔纽斯踢球,那是一个像在电影里面出现的中世纪小镇,和在巴西完全不同,虽然语言不通,但是那个小镇非常的宁静。直到有一天,我正在镇上和另外一个巴西队友罗德尼走着,突然间有一群人走过来对我们挑衅,然后… </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">说实话,直到今天说起这件事,我还是非常的气愤:他们开始冲着我们模仿猴子的动作。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我们当时没有碍着任何人的事,只是想要去面包店而已。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">那是我人生中第一次经历那样的种族歧视,而不幸的事,那并不是唯一的一次。有时在大街上,有人会故意碰瓷挑衅,他们会叫我们各种不好听的名字。在比赛的时候,对方球队的球迷会发出猴子的声音而且向我们扔硬币。那是一种令人噁心的感觉,难受极了。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我知道我们在异乡生活,所以我们尝试着去接受,继续生活下去。但是没有人应该被这样对待。那个赛季之后,我离开立陶宛去了波兰,但是那段经历已经对我伤害很深,我也感到很孤独。我为了能给我的家人一个更好的生活在17岁的时候离开了家,但是两年后回到家的时候,我却对足球感到失望至极。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">于是我对我的父母,前妻,和经纪人说:我不踢了。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我的前妻应该算是拯救了我的足球生涯,你知道她当时跟我说什么吗?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">她说:“放弃踢球?那你还会干什么?你连换电灯泡都不会!”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“我可以学啊,能有多难?”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“但是你对得起你的父母吗?对得起他们为你做的一切吗?”</span></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image aligncenter size-full wp-image-138358" data-caption="" data-credits="Vanessa Montero/The Players’ Tribune" data-image-height="1708" data-image-id="138358" data-image-width="2657" height="1708" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/4abfe57f-6d75bf7f-c4fd-494e-bc39-e929ed8e0c4e.jpeg" width="2657"></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">她说的对。从我五岁开始就在Zona Norte的街上踢着球,我的母亲从那时开始就一直陪着我。我小的时候,我喜欢踢球喜欢得晚上都睡不着觉,我会盯着墙想,</span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">天呐,我已经等不及到早晨了,就又可以踢球了。</span></i></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">自从欧洲回来,我就失去了对足球的兴趣和热爱。但是我也知道,如果我放弃足球,会让我的父母非常伤心,所以我想再试一个赛季。我真的是从最底层重新开始,在巴西的第四级别的联赛的Pao De Acucar 队踢球,这么说吧,那和欧冠稍微有点差别。我们时常坐八个小时的大巴,在40度的高温下比赛。那个时候我对自己说:你根本没希望了,应该去学学怎么盖楼房之类的,因为足球根本不是你的路。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">但是慢慢的,随着每天的训练和比赛,我的消极思想渐渐消失了,找回了乐趣。我从第四联赛踢到乙级联赛,然后到甲级联赛的科林蒂安队。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">也是在那里,我遇到了一个改变我一生的人,一个像父亲一样的人 : 教授蒂特。(巴西队队员们都管蒂特叫“教授”)每次说起他我都很激动,因为我和他之间的心灵相通到远远不止于足球。他能看着我的眼睛,就知道我好还是不好,无需言语。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">有一个不为人知的故事,可以让你们知道我和教授之间的关系。科林蒂安2011赛季成绩很好,我们赢了巴西联赛以后,球员们开始收到一些合约,国际米兰想要签下我。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">而且令人抓狂的是,经纪人说我得在15分钟内答复国际米兰!当时我们正要训练,我冲进教练的办公室说:“教授,我不知道该怎么办,这可是国米,世界上最好的俱乐部之一。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">蒂特说:“听着,这是你自己的决定。当然我想要你留下来,但这是你自己的选择。你去休息室想好后出来训练。如果你要留下,就比一个拇指向上的手势,如果你要离开,就比拇指向下。这样我就知道了。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">稍后,我打电话给经纪人告诉他我的决定,他不停的问:你确定吗?</span></p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">是的,我确定。</span></i></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image aligncenter size-full wp-image-138285" data-caption="" data-credits="Lintao Zhang/Getty Images" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="138285" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/c258fa28-gettyimages-158206951.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我走出休息室去训练,蒂特看见了我,我故意等了几秒钟,想增加一点戏剧化,然后我比了一个拇指向上的手势,告诉他我要留下。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">他长吁一口气说:“我还以为你要离开呢!”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我在那里为蒂特效力了四年,那是我生活和职业生涯的黄金年代。后来当我在托特那姆热刺的第二赛季遇到低谷期的时候,很多人都对我失去了信心,只有蒂特一直相信我。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">对了, 我要为我在热刺队那段时期说几句。我真的对球队,教练团队还有球队老板没有任何不满。那确实是我职业生涯期间很困难的一段时期,有些时候我甚至不想离开伦敦的公寓,无法上场踢球让我感到非常的焦虑。对于一个足球运动员来讲,无法上场比赛,如鱼离水,无法呼吸。不知道为什么,我就是没能成为波切蒂诺战术中的一部分。我想我可能不太符合他的战术哲学,但是我们并没有任何的争吵。于是有一天,我见了球队老板并且告诉他,如果他们接到一个和他们当初引进我的时候花的差不多的报价,那我想要离开。他们对此非常的理解。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">那个夏天,热刺收到广州恒大的报价,于是我想:为什么不呢?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我的朋友们都觉得我疯了。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">他们给我发信息:“中国?你要在中超踢球?”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我回复道:“是的,中国! 为什么不!”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">丹尼·阿尔维斯有句话帮我度过了低谷。他说:“我们只是在雨中踢球的孩子。如果碰到不顺的时候,又能怎样呢?是世界末日吗?不是的。那我们就去别的地方踢球好了。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我在世界各个地方踢了一辈子球,如果说我学到了什么,那么就是要学会享受。真正的享受你做的事情,是你在晚上睡不着的时候会盯着墙想,</span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">天呐,我已经等不及到早晨了,就又可以踢球了。</span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">当你真正享受踢球的乐趣的时候,才会发挥的好。如果你每天都很低落沮丧,就算是在世界上最好的俱乐部踢球,又有什么意义?人们说在我转会到恒大的时候,我的职业生涯就此结束了。但是你想想,曾几何时,当我在巴西坐着长途大巴在第四联赛踢球的时候,根本没人知道我是谁。我感觉这世界上根本没有我的一席之地,无人知晓。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">所以说,我要去中国为斯科拉里效力,有什么不好吗?我是真的很兴奋,真的。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">当然,那个时候,我对能再次征战世界杯没有报任何希望,我也完全没有想到有朝一日能加盟巴萨。我能想的,就只是每一天都好好踢球。2016年当蒂特被任命为巴西国家队主教练的时候,我是真的很为他高兴,因为他确实值得得到那个职位。当我们还在科林蒂安的时候,我经常跟他说,“教授,你总是谈论哪个球员有多么当之无愧。其实,我知道如果哪天你被任命国家队主教练,你才是真正的当之无愧。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">但是说真的,我并没想到他会召我入队。</span></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image aligncenter size-full wp-image-138288" data-caption="" data-credits="Alex Livesey/FIFA/Getty Images" data-image-height="1280" data-image-id="138288" data-image-width="1920" height="1280" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/383b5249-gettyimages-171545792.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">有一天,蒂特派他的儿子马特乌斯到中国来看我踢球,恒大当时成绩很好,赢得了很多冠军,我觉得他们就是对我在中国的生活很感兴趣,想知道 “保利尼奥在中国到底怎么样?” 这件事情又是一出有意思的故事,当马特乌斯抵达的时候,我告诉我的妻子 “芭芭拉,你一定,一定要确保他能按时到赛场看球。因为有的时候很堵车,而且去球场的路线也比较复杂,但是我一定得让他看到我比赛。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">越怕什么来什么,那天怎么都打不到车,他们后来竟然打了一辆摩的到的球场,想起来就觉得可笑。那天比赛,我没有想要使劲表现。就像平常一样踢球,因为我知道,“他们是懂我的。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">那场比赛以后我等了又等,没有抱太多期望。几个星期以后,我被召集到国家队备战世界杯预选赛训练营。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">所有媒体都在说:“蒂特为什么会召唤保利尼奥? 他只是在中超踢球!”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">蒂特给了我一个能向全世界展现我自己的机会,我不再是那个无人知晓的保利尼奥。我认为我在预选赛期间多次证明了自己的价值所在。足球比赛,每一秒都有可能发生很多事情。我也许并不是最具技术型的球员,但是我总是能在至关重要的关头发挥作用。你必须要有随机应变的能力,你要全身心在其中,抓住每一个机会。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">蒂特在训练的时候经常说的一个笑话,他会看着这些出色的球员,比如内马尔,库蒂尼奥,赫苏斯,马塞洛,说:“在进攻的时候你们还是要时刻准备好,虽然我们知道每一次反弹球都会飞到保利尼奥那里。”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">他们总是说球像是被施了魔法一样找到我。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我反驳道:“ 不是这样的,教授!你不是总说要当之无愧么,那就是时刻准备着要进球得分!”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">我入选国家队世界杯大名单的时候,那是一个不仅仅对我个人,更是对我的家人来讲的激动时刻。</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">但是我想分享一个不为人知的事情。很多局外人会说:“哇,你从中超踢到了巴萨,真是个令人难以置信,奇迹般的故事。”</span></p> <p><img alt="" class="article-image aligncenter size-full wp-image-138286" data-caption="" data-credits="Quality Sport Images/Getty Images" data-image-height="1305" data-image-id="138286" data-image-width="1920" height="1305" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/ede18f29-gettyimages-985667154.jpg" width="1920"></p> <p><span style="font-weight:...
<p dir="ltr"> <span class="tpt-drop-cap">M</span> essi veio andando em minha direção. <b></b>Nós estávamos jogando um amistoso contra a Argentina na Austrália. O juiz tinha acabado de marcar uma falta pra gente, e eu estava parado em cima da bola junto com o William e outro jogador. Eu encostei na bola, mas eu nem ia bater a falta.<b></b></p> <p dir="ltr">De repente, Messi vem ao meu encontro, olha direto nos meus olhos e diz: “Então…nós vamos para o Barcelona ou não?”</p> <p dir="ltr">Foi assim. Sem explicação, nem nada. Ele virou de costas e foi embora.</p> <p dir="ltr">Eu não tive nem tempo de pensar. Eu apenas disse, “se você quiser me levar, eu vou”.</p> <p>É preciso de muita coisa para tirar meu foco do jogo de futebol, mas entre o momento em que o Messi disse essas palavras e o William cobrou a falta, tudo o que eu pude pensar foi, “Isso é pra valer? Por que ele disse isso? Meu Deus, o que está acontecendo?”</p> <p>Naquela época, eu estava jogando na Liga Chinesa pelo Guangzhou Evergrande, e ninguém iria acreditar que o Barcelona tinha interesse em mim. Achei que o Messi estava de brincadeira, como se ele quisesse mexer com minha cabeça ou algo do tipo. Mas nós estávamos jogando um amistoso… então, talvez não?</p> <p>Depois do jogo, dei minha camisa ao segurança e pedi que ele entregasse ao Messi. Ele voltou do vestiário da Argentina com uma camisa do Messi para mim.</p> <p>Então, eu pensei....
<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>PARA LEER EN ESPAÑOL, HAZ <a href="https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/paulinho-brazil-eu-estava-no-tumulo/_preview/136181/54c6926e7d">CLICK AQUÍ</a></strong></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"> <span class="tpt-drop-cap">M</span> essi came walking up towards me. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">It was last June, and we were playing Argentina in a friendly in Australia. We had just won a free kick, and I was standing over the ball with Willian and another player. I wasn’t going to take it. I was just the decoy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">All of a sudden, Messi walks straight up to me, looks me in the eye, and says, “So … are we going to Barcelona or not?”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That was it. No explanation, nothing. He turned around and walked away. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I didn’t even have time to think. I just said, “If you want to take me, I’ll go!”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It takes a lot for me to lose my focus in a football match, but from the time Messi said those words to the time Willian kicked the ball, all I could think about was, </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Is he serious? Why did he say that? Oh God, what is going on? </span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I was playing in the Chinese Super League for Guangzhou Evergrande at the time, and nobody would believe that Barcelona were interested in me. I thought maybe he was joking, like he was trying to mess with my head or something. But we were just playing a friendly … so maybe not? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After the match,...
<p>The group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup has come and gone, but it will live long in the memory. The first round seemed to have everything: last-minute goals, hat tricks, free kicks, bloodied faces, upsets — and yet another reigning champion bowing out before the round of 16.</p> <p><em>The Players’ Tribune</em> has been curating the best photos from each day of the tournament so far, capturing the jubilation, heartbreak and spectacle of the last two weeks.</p> <p>Check out some of our favorites.</p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138309 size-full" data-caption="" data-credits="Clive Rose/Getty Images, Martin Meissner/AP Photo" data-image-height="2924" data-image-id="138309" data-image-width="4386" height="2924" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/46c781d7-firstphoto.jpg" width="4386"></p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138319 size-full" data-caption="" data-credits="Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images" data-image-height="2021" data-image-id="138319" data-image-width="3031" height="2021" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/1ba8d54a-wire_gettyimages-975523940.jpg" width="3031"></p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138320 size-full" data-caption="" data-credits="David Ramos/FIFA via Getty Images" data-image-height="2538" data-image-id="138320" data-image-width="3807" height="2538" src="https://storage.googleapis.com/www-theplayerstribune-com/uploads/67bd0933-wire_gettyimages-977033164.jpg" width="3807"></p> <hr class="tpt-apostrophe-divider"> </hr> <p><img alt="" class="article-image fullbleed aligncenter wp-image-138321 size-full" data-caption="" data-credits="Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images" data-image-height="3250" data-image-id="138321" data-image-width="4876" height="3250"...
O

n the afternoon of February 26, 2018, I got three phone calls.

The first was from Jason Botterill, the GM of the Buffalo Sabres. He told me he was trading me. I was going to be a San Jose Shark. The second was from my agent. He confirmed that I was, indeed, going to be a San Jose Shark.

And then the third call was from Joe Thornton.

“You’re going to be a Shaaaaaaaark!”

Have you ever heard Jumbo excited? It was glorious. He told me he had been working with Doug Wilson, the Sharks GM, to try and get me out to San Jose. To hear that Jumbo had actually gone to the GM and advocated trading for me … I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough.

On my way to the airport that night the texts and calls kept rolling in. Pavs, Cooch and Burnzie all hit me up to tell me about the city and the Sharks. They each mentioned different things. A lot of what they said was about the team, Coach DeBoer and the organization from top to bottom. But, I think it was Burnzie who told me about the fans.

“It’s the best hockey town you’ll play in.”

I mean, I wasn’t going to tell him I thought he was lying, but … San Jose? Really? I grew up...

D

ear nine-year-old Edinson,

I am writing this to the kid that everybody in the neighborhood calls “Pelado.”

Baldy.

When you were a baby, you didn’t have much hair. It grew in slow. What a shit deal! Nothing you could do about it. So, thanks to the creativity of your family, you were always Pelado.

Well, I am happy to tell you that over the next 20 years, football is going to change your life in many ways. Some good, some not so good. Football will even help you get rid of that nickname. You see, there’s a guy named Gabriel Batistuta. You don’t know him yet, because the only program you have the patience to sit down and watch is Tom and Jerry. Your older brother Nando will be the first one to be inspired by Batistuta. He’ll start refusing to go to the barber. He’ll start using your mum’s conditioner. And eventually, he’ll start looking exactly like the magnificent Batigol. When he’s running on a football pitch, with his long hair held back with a shoelace, it will be the coolest thing you have ever seen.

Eventually, you’ll work up the courage to tell your mother, “No more haircuts.”

You live your life outside, with a ball at your feet. This is the way in South America. You don’t know anything...

Q

uerido Edinson de nueve años,

Le escribo estas líneas al chico que en el barrio todos llaman “Pelado”.

Cuando eras un bebé no tenías demasiado pelo. Y te fue creciendo muy de a poco. Una cagada, pero no había demasiado que pudieras hacer al respecto. Así que, gracias a la creatividad de tu familia, siempre fuiste “Pelado”.

Bueno, me alegra mucho contarte que en los siguientes 20 años, el fútbol va a cambiar tu vida en muchos sentidos. Algunos muy buenos, otros no tanto. Pero el fútbol te va a ayudar a deshacerte de ese sobrenombre tedioso.

Hay un jugador que se llama Gabriel Batistuta. Todavía no lo conoces, porque el único programa que tienes paciencia para sentarte y mirar en la tele se llama Tom & Jerry. Tu hermano mayor, Nando, será el primero en dejarse inspirar por Batistuta. Empezará a negarse a ir a la peluquería. Y a usar el acondicionador para el pelo de tu mamá. Y de a poco, empezará a parecerse cada vez al magnífico Batigol. Cuando esté corriendo en un campo de juego, con su pelo largo tirado hacia atrás y sujetado por una gomita, será lo mejor que hayas visto.  

Llegará el momento en que serás tú el que le dirá a tu madre: “No más cortes de pelo”.

Vives tu vida afuera, con una pelota en los pies. A la manera...