As great as it is, so many things are said about soccer as so many remain to be said. And so many other ways to live it exist. It does not matter whether it is in the stadium, in a bar or at home. Each team has a place of worship in their own city, just as each fan has their own stage of worship, perhaps private altars where they passionately venerate their idols.
That passion is what has led to Mariano Rupérez and Chemy Díaz, two young people from Gran Canaria, to have to empty their respective closets in order to collect all the registered soccer jerseys, each one with a beautiful story behind it, in its vast collections. “Currently I have 219 and 86 teams and 114 players take place in them”, confesses Rupérez, professor of Literature and culé confessed. Díaz, for his part, feels UD Las Palmas with infinite passion, so many as to accumulate 146 only from his favorite team. And adds: “Of Canarian footballers who have played all over the world I have 87. In addition, there is another closet of different teams and players, who have changed and have given me, and they add 38”.
The passion that football arouses sprouted in them through their clothes. It all started with nostalgia and passion as the main motives. “The shirts, with their shields, their designs, the names of the players … transport you to specific moments and emotions that, suddenly, become tangible, and that is extremely addictive,” confesses Mariano. Among those “moments” he highlighted one day, in his own mind, Rivaldo’s rides down the left wing of the Camp Nou with a very special Barça shirt. Thus began his unbridled passion: “As a child I had many soccer jerseys, Barça especially, but when I grew up my mother gave them away. One day I remembered, for example, that Kappa brand T-shirt with Rivaldo’s 11 on the back, and it felt like a lost treasure, like a piece of my childhood that I no longer had. In the beginning I set out to simply get back the shirts I had when I was a kid. What happens is that afterwards things got out of hand … ”. And so much that he left. Especially with Barça: “I have 88 Barça shirts, and the player I have the most is, of course, Leo Messi: a total of 12 (10 from Barça and 2 from the Argentine National Team)”.
It also happens that not only the t-shirts unite Chemy and Mariano, that had they not mediated a pandemic they would have been able to see their faces in the classroom where the second teaches the son of the first, born 16 years ago. And it is precisely in 2005 where Díaz began to weave his own collection. “My first shirt was requested from Alberto Hernández on the day of my son’s christening in 2005”, remember. In his case, everything went haywire three years later: “I started the collection more seriously from 2008. I started it because since I was little I always liked the shirts and I couldn’t access them, but I saw the opportunity with the Canarian players of the UD. From there, and thanks to them, I started”. Mariano’s began “about 10 years ago.”
Of as many as he has, Rupérez does not “exactly” remember which was the first of such a distinguished collection. On the other hand, he is clear about the one that lit the fuse of the more than 200 that he already has gathered. Barça, 14 years later, reigned again in Europe. “The one that definitely unleashed me collecting was the 2005/2006 Barça home shirt”, remember. That garment was surrounded by an unforgettable “mystique” for all pro culé: “It was a gift that made me very excited. Not only does it seem to me to be one of the most beautiful first kits that Barça has had, but it also has the mystique that with it they won the Paris Champions League against Arsenal ”.
In every self-respecting collection there is always objects for which their owner has a great predilection. In the case of Díaz has to do with Valerón, legend among legends of Canarian football, talented icon of national football at the dawn of this century. His last day as a footballer has a privileged place in the home of one of our protagonists. “The one I value the most with the last one Valerón played, a match against Athletic at the Gran Canaria Stadium on the day of his farewell. It was the one from the first part, because the one from the second was taken by Nauzet Alemán ”, unveils.
If by stars it were, Mariano has his own constellation. “I think of the ones I have signed by Canarian legends such as Valerón, Silva or Jonathan Viera, the one I have from the Dream Team signed by the great Eusebio Sacristán …”, reminisce. Although perhaps, due to the fact that perhaps he was one of the least expected, his particular hero is another. “As the most significant, I also think of a very special one for me: Javi García from Manchester City 2013/14”, account. Loudly, as a good fan, he got one of his most precious jewels: “That season I was fortunate to go to see a Champions League game at the Etihad Stadium and, at the end of the match, when the players were heading to the changing rooms, I yelled for the shirt from Javi García. He listened to me, turned to me, took it off and gave it to me. It was an unforgettable moment ”.
“My list is huge,” says Rupérez. In any case, you are clear about your preferences: “The special shirt with which Barça played the Gamper 2009 and the shirt with which UD Las Palmas commemorated the Centennial of Galdós”. For his part, Chemy thinks of two trunks from Gran Canaria. “I would like to have one from Pedri del Barca or David Silva from the national team”, insists.
During the season recently ended, it was time to increase the list and open the cabinets more. “I have welcomed 18 new jerseys, some from teams that I did not have yet, such as St. Pauli or Mallorca,” our teacher lists. “And others of mythical players that had to be in my collection such as Fran, from Depor, or other commemorative ones like those used by Barça to say goodbye to Xavi first and Iniesta later”, added. Meanwhile, Díaz took over the UD trilogy last year. “This season I have achieved all three player game models. I am missing the goalkeeper this year ”, assures.
Of which none is missing is his “great friend” Vicente Gómez, ex from Las Palmas, nor does it lack dozens of belongings and garments used by footballers, friends or not: “I have 27 pairs of boots, meibas, sweatshirts …”. Between its four walls there is so much that it seems impossible to count.
Similarly, the expansionist ambition of Mariano it goes far beyond t-shirts. “Collecting, I only collect t-shirts”, warns. But being that of Barça and a lost traveler, they bring him certain extra expenses. “Now, I keep any object that has to do with Barça and, when I travel, I also like to buy scarves from the teams in the cities where I go”, he also intervened. His passion, of course, has already been inherited by his little girl.
Much of the time of Mariano Rupérez and Chemy Díaz transits between seams. The hangers come and go the understanding of their respective families is appreciated, accomplices sometimes their respective partners; any day they appear with a T-shirt under their arms or a scarf tied around their necks. Also, why not, with some pants or wearing the latest model boots. Their paths predestined to cross, they never know where the next prey might be. Dreamcatchers, victims of their own contagious emotion. It will be true that soccer also nests far from the stadiums, much more than 22 people chasing a leather ball.