The Baller Owl

This Owl has been a soccer fan since he was a child and I am no stranger to World Cup fever, despite all the bans in Qatar. Seeing the Brazil of Neymar, Richarlison, Lucas Paquetá and Raphinha is a spectacle. But anything can happen in a World Cup. Sometimes the best teams don’t win. For now I prefer to enter the tunnel of time.

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The images of great matches for my team are like movies in my mind, even beating Scratch at their own home. One that I will never forget was the clash against Scotland in Argentina 1978. The Europeans started winning, but the ‘Poet’ César Cueto appeared there to tie the game.

Then came two of the most important and beautiful Peruvian goals of all time. Those of Teófilo Cubillas. Both with the right leg and with the outer part of the foot, with an extraordinary technique. There are goals that, due to their importance and beauty, will remain etched in the collective memory of the fans. Those from Cubillas made an owl who was crazy delirious. In the mythical Mirones Neighborhood Unit there was a neighbor who was a merchant marine and had smuggled in a color television.

In the country they did not sell these devices -the fever would only arrive for the World Cup in Spain 82-, but in that year 1978 we were amazed because the neighbor, good people, opened his windows and let a stain of ‘lizards’ see that transcendental game outside, despite the fact that we made a tremendous scandal. What amazed us the most was that the referee’s shirt was not black, but red!!, precisely for the color transmissions. Precisely looking at Brazil, this columnist must pay tribute to a historic team: Enrique ‘Loco’ Casaretto, who died two years ago.

Dozens of players have scored goals with the red and white

But there are not many whose goals will transcend throughout history, such as those of ‘Cachito’ Ramírez against Argentina in 1969, those of Cubillas against Bulgaria and Scotland, that of Sotil against Colombia in the Copa América final, the from Uribe to Uruguay in the Centenary or that of ‘Foquita’ Farfan to New Zealand, which opened our way to the World Cup in Russia. And, of course, Casaretto’s two goals against Brazil in the semifinals of the 1975 Copa América, at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte.

Brazil had among its stars the world champion Wilson Piazza, Nelinho, Zé Carlos, Palinha, Roberto ‘Dinamita’, the late Roberto Batata and Reinaldo, among other stars. Peru, on the contrary, did not have a key player, Percy ‘Trucha’ Rojas, goalscorer for Independiente de Avellaneda, fundamental in the first round matches against Chile. The Argentine leaders did not give it up to play the semifinal. Coach Marcos Calderón desperately turned to a player like ‘Loco’, let’s call him ‘veteran’, although he was thirty years old but with receding baldness.

In Brazil he scored the first goal after a pass from Cubillas and the third after a pivot from ‘Cachito’ Ramírez. But what made him a legend in that match, apart from the goals and the great away win, was his ‘jump’ in celebrating the third goal. One of the reasons for ‘Bear’ Marcos to call him up was that Casaretto had already faced Pelé’s Brazil with Peru in 1969, the night of the ‘quarrel’ at the Maracana. On that occasion, ‘Loco’, as always, did one of his own to the Brazilian journalists who went to receive the team at the airport.

When the reporters approached him to ask him who the “star” of the Peruvian team was, he very seriously told them: “Just as their star is ‘Tostao’, our star is better, the famous ‘Quemao’…” and called Pedro ‘Perico ‘León, the dark-haired striker who didn’t understand why they were taking so many pictures of him. The next day, the Rio de Janeiro newspapers announced that Peru was arriving with its top star, ‘Quemao’ León, with tremendous photos of ‘Perico’. Today they must be together ‘hesitating’ to San Pedro. I turn off the TV.

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