|MAGIC MOMENT: Liverpool players mob goalkeeper Alisson Becker after his last-minute winner against West Brom. AFP Photo|
There’s a great line in the movie Moneyball when Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, and his assistant general manager, Peter Brand portrayed by actor Jonah Hill, are talking about their love of baseball.
They had just watched a clip of a player hitting a home run but he didn’t realise he had done so. Pitt’s character asks after watching the footage: “How can you not be romantic about baseball?”
From a personal perspective, sorry, but I’m not. Being born in the UK rather than the US means it’s football I’m romantic about and not baseball. But I totally get the point.
For me, that point was absolutely hammered home this week with two major incidents that left me asking myself: “How can you not be romantic about football?”
The first was the FA Cup final when Leicester beat Chelsea by a goal to nil. It wasn’t the best game, finals with so much at stake often disappoint.
But after their first FA Cup victory, seeing the Leicester players celebrate on the pitch with their chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha certainly gave me the chills.
Supporters won’t need reminding of the tragedy that fell on the Srivaddhanaprabha family in October 2018 when Aiyawatt’s father, Vichai, was killed in a helicopter crash near Leicester’s stadium.
Football club owners, many of whom have come under deserved criticism of late in connection with the doomed European Super League, often take a back seat on such occasions.
So it was refreshing, and of course romantic, to see Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel insist Aiyawatt join the team on the pitch for their post-match celebrations. It was a pleasure to watch.
The following day and more chills. This time watching Liverpool play West Brom in a must-win match for the away team.
One goal apiece, time virtually over, and Liverpool get a corner. Up comes Reds’ keeper Alisson Becker for an absolute final throw of the dice.
We all know what happened next. Becker scored a stunning header to give Liverpool the much-needed three points.
If the goal wasn’t romantic enough, listening to his post-match interview had me fighting back the tears.
Alisson dedicated the winner to his father, Jose Agostinho Becker, who drowned in Brazil at the age of 57 in February.
Pandemic restrictions prevented Alisson from going home for the funeral, and I can’t imagine what he must have been going through at the time.
I’ve no doubt fans of football teams around England, particularly those fighting Liverpool for a place in the Champions League next season, would have been pretty devastated to see their rivals rescue a victory in such dramatic, and let’s face it, lucky circumstances.
But if anyone wasn’t moved listening to Alisson’s comments after the game, well they must have hearts made of stone.
As the season draws to a close, it is also nice to see fans, albeit a reduced amount, back in stadiums. Hopefully, by the time next season gets underway, the world will be in a better place and grounds will be full.
Because then, and only then, can we really start feeling romantic again. And there really is no better feeling in the world. VNS
A scene from the movie Moneyball talking about romance in baseball.