A World Cup to remember

The World Cup is over, but for one month it united the entire world in a festival of sport that has no parallel


Taha Anis July 16, 2018
This picture taken from the terrace of the Publicis drugstore on July 15, 2018 shows a portrait of French forward Kylian Mbappe projected on Paris' landmark Arc de Triomphe as people gather to celebrate France's victory in the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia, on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: It is strange how fate sometimes deals us hands that are so agonisingly similar yet so maddeningly different. For the last few months I had been fantasising about writing Andres Iniesta's farewell in the morrow after the World Cup final. A big grin on my face as I continuously replay the image of him lifting the hallowed trophy a second time.

Instead I am sitting here writing about a man similar to Iniesta in size, in stature, in composure, in grace, in beauty, in his love for Barcelona and even in his very personality. Instead I am trying to get over the image of Luka Modric crying stonefaced as he slowly let go of an unrealistic fantasy that had for a beautiful, fleeting moment seemed within touching distance.

France down Croatia in World Cup thriller

The Real man found refuge in football when his innocence and his beloved grandfather were taken away from him at such a young age, victims of the bloody war that raged in the Balkans. Today, football too forsake him. And there was no refuge in the cruel Russian rain.

The golden ball — which crowned him as the best player of the World Cup, at the Luka Modric World Cup — must have felt so pale, so unimportant and so so meaningless. In its reflection, he must have seen a man broken by his own dream.

There was to be no victory for romanticism. Logic — cold, hard logic — won in the end like it almost always does.

There will be no Iniesta at the World Cup ever again. Nor will there be Modric. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, David Silva, Sergio Ramos, Luis Suarez, Mesut Ozil, Sergio Aguero, Manuel Neuer and Mats Hummels may also have played their last at the greatest stage of them all. An entire army of modern day greats gone from the biggest stage of the sport in the blink of an eye. A frightening thought, especially for a generation that had grown up staring at the exploits of these men with wide-eyed wonder, forever transfixed by their genius, screaming and shouting and crying with them through their triumphs and their defeats.

In the end, the best team won. It was a fair result, even if it was not the romantic one. New heroes were made as football found the men who will carry her forward in the years to come. The kings of old have left behind an entire army of princes ready to fight for the throne.

There was Antoine Griezmann, crying alone in a corner while the rest celebrated; there was Raphael Varane, standing head in hands, unable to comprehend how he had suddenly become immortal; there was N’Golo Kante, who made the game look so beautifully simple; there was Paul Pogba, always so flashy and so inconsistent but silencing his critics with one beautiful swing of his left leg that won the World Cup; there was Kylian Mbappe, a teenager who is either the next Thierry Henry or the next Ronaldo or the next Pele, depending on who you ask; there were Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez, the men who provided France with all the width they needed to conquer the world.

France, Croatia: on threshold of glory

The curtain has fallen. The World Cup is over, but for one beautiful month it united the entire world in a festival of sport that has no parallel. Along the way, new memories were created; good and bad alike.

Now, in four years’ time, Qatar awaits. Till then, Didier Deschamps and his men — the second youngest squad in the entire tournament — will proudly roam the planet; champions of the world.

COMMENTS (1)

Pardeep | 4 years ago | Reply We must also acknowledge Russia for organizing the game though initially were many doubts over its capability.
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