“From Paris with love” is the quote that destroyed a thousand hearts on the Valentine’s day. For them Paris was never the same again. The night for them was like a page, straight from the book of Stephen King that can give you thousand sleepless nights. As the clock struck three in the morning and the final whistle was blown, shattered souls stood in the middle of the field in bluish green stripes as a certain Luis Enrique looked on from the touchline. Eyes said it all. Tears stopped in their tracks as he looked on with a blank face but it said a thousand words. For the captain the night was like a nightmare. He couldn’t just believe what he saw for 90 odd minutes. ” If we play one more game like this, we don’t deserve to wear the Blaugrana colours” said the captain after the game. Fire crackers from Paris burnt down the soul of the Blaugranas. “Fall of Barcelona have started”, “Glory days of Barcelona are over”, “Barcelona is finished”. Every pundit wrote off FC Barcelona. Every news paper struck off FC Barcelona. UEFA predicted 0% chance for FC Barcelona to qualify. It was as if world suddenly came crumbling for the team who was dominating the decade. Chaos had engulfed the team but then again lotuses are born in mud, aren’t they?
Every eye was on 8th of March 2017.
“1% chance, 99% faith”- Neymar on Instagram
“If they can score four against us, we can score six against them”- Luis Enrique
The broken souls starts to dream. A dream to touch the sky. With every passing day the dream became more clear and visible. With every passing second the failure seemed to be knocking at the door but the sight of goal was clearer than ever. The determination was more solid than it has ever been. The thirst was as if there is no tomorrow. It was now or never for the blue and claret striped men.
They take on the field in their blue and red stripes and the gaffer takes control of the touchline. It began. The very first minute witnessed the start of a fairy tale. There was no turning back now. The thirst was seen in their eyes, ravaging towards the opponents goal, they marched on. Each touch was greeted with the cheers of 90,000 at Camp Nou. In the 40th minute Iniesta’s undying attitude made way for the second as Kurzawa taps one in his own net. The massive lead of 4-0 was cut down to half before the half time. A penalty at the 50th minute saw us going 3-0 up and just 1 goal was required to equalize the mammoth lead but the twist was hard to take.
“It’s Cavani and the PSG fans must ne feeling a whole lot better about themselves”
A flaming spear was put right through the hearts of Cules all over the world. Suddenly the Blaugranas needed minimum of three goals instead of one to even have a hope for qualifying. Suddenly the whole Camp Nou fell silent. The dream which, just a second ago looked within grasp suddenly felt as if it was never there to begin with. But, it was the night of the impossible. It was the night of a fairytale.
If it was not for that night, Al Pacino’s ” We can climb out of hell, one inch at a time” or Sylvester Stallone’s “It ain’t about how hard you are hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”, for me, would have only fitted in the hollywood movies and not in real life.
The then number 11 of Barcelona never stopped dreaming. He never gave up. At the 88th minute a free kick from Neymar left Trapp unmoved between the posts as it went in the back of the net. The clock strikes 90 as Neymar steps up to take the controversial penalty for FC Barcelona. Every football followers heart that was beating, paced up. A breath-taking silence at the Camp Nou as the 90,000 pair of eyes is glued on Neymar. Neymar takes the run up, stops, runs and shoots the ball past Trapp.
Five minutes added on. It was a race against time. Every Football fans eyes glued on their television screen. Cheers and claps reverberated all over Camp Nou. It doesn’t matter for them right now. They have seen the undying fight from their beloved team. It was for them a matter of pride to live through the 90 minutes hell-ride of emotions. Amidst all this, the clock is ticking close to 94th minute. The Blaugrana goalkeeper is fouled just at the edge of the opponets half. Neymar, the man making it all happen steps forward to take the free kick. Neymar floats one in but it is cleared by the PSG defender. It comes to him again. He tricks one defender and then floats it in the opponent penalty box once again… The clock strikes 94:39.
“GOL GOL GOL GOL GOL GOL GOL!!! CHO GOL! CHO GOL! CHO GOL!” Gerard Romero(Spanish commentator of FC BARCELONA) erupts with a cocktail of emotions as adrenaline rushes through his veins.
Camp Nou erupts in joy as the world of football witness a miracle staged in front of their very own eyes.
“Oh my Goodness! It’s in!! My goodness me!!! I have never seen anything like this before! Pinch Yourself, that really happened”- English Commentators of UCL.
It was the local hero Sergi Roberto who writes his name in the history books of the Camp Nou and world football as he puts the ball in the back of the net at 94:39 with his outstretched leg.
From Gary Linekar, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand going bonkers in the UCL studio to minor seismic activity being recorded at FC Barcelona due to celebrations, the night gave something extraordinary to the world of football. Irrespective of the team one supports, the night of 8th March gave everyone one more reason to say “FOOTBALL… BLOODY HELL!!!”.
It was the most poetic of nights. It was a night as soothing as the smile of Monalisa, a night as melodious as the tunes of Mozart, a night straight from the Arabian nights and above all a night more romantic than verses of Keats and Shelley.
It has been a year since then, a year since the personification of the phrase “never say die”. A year since the most romantic night in the history of football and it feels like I lived the night yesterday.
Thank You FC Barcelona for teaching the cules how to dream and glory to football for making such night exist in the daily mundane of us weary souls.