“You turn at the corner of the service station, the only one in town, and there you do a block. You turn left and you will see the yellow house ”. In the towns, it is known, all the streets have names, but nobody names them. Milton alvez He waits at the door of his house, very close to the entrance to the Statement: gray T-shirt, blue shorts, slippers and a smile that will rarely leave him. His almost meter ninety are not intimidating. On the contrary, they invite you to get close and follow him to the privacy of his home. When you walk through the door, everything appears in a single environment: the living room, the dining room and the kitchen. A plastic garden table with a tablecloth and four white chairs are the only furniture and decorate together with the Led TV that hangs on the sand-colored wall. On the side, a photo frame for three photos that for now only shows one with the image of his daughters. A small corridor leads to the bathroom and bedrooms of the house of the least expected hero …
At age 7, in Gobernador Virasoro, Corrientes, when the boys played ball, Milton went out to work. His father was not there, the money was not enough, and there was no one to take the mango home. “Stop the pot”, became his mantra. In the Belgrano neighborhood, very close to National Route 14, he looked at the square where Toto, Chelo, Ñaco and Gato played while he “Put the back” as a tarefero. In Corrientes, a good part of the country’s yerba mate is grown, and the harvest lasts from April to September. Men, women and boys in the form of a gang are the last link in the production chain; the tareferos. Black employment, precarious houses and lack of basic services define the daily life of artisan harvesters, with scissors in hand. In that task, Milton’s dream of being a footballer stopped. There was no time for dreamers in Virasoro. No one, not even the most optimistic, could afford such a luxury. For him and his family, the plan from early on was to raise money to survive. Or rather, resist. There was no room for school or friends. At that age, she not only carried the branches to produce grass, but also the burden of being a family breadwinner.
But not only was Milton tarefero. It went from “changa in changa “: little tap from the Cachito kiosk, grass cutter and pruner, also went through a sawmill and wired long stretches of field. Work, some excesses and bad company (several friends are in prison and others are dead) kept him from the ball.
Everything seemed written until at age 14, and after a long night, his old DT as a child found him, Fluff Coimbra, which encouraged him to return to playing football. In those days faith in God also appeared. Milton is an Evangelical Christian and a practitioner to this day. Fluff He took him to Taragüi, the Las Marías yerba mate club. Coimbra, in addition to being the man who rescued him, was responsible for removing him from his forward position to transform him into a fierce defender. Like Juan Bautista Pitilanga, that portentous but erratic fictional striker turned defender, protagonist of Papers in the wind, the novel by Eduardo Sacheri.
Something saw Coimbra to think of such a drastic positional change. And in his evolution he also taught him to head. No one imagined that many years later Milton would break the arch with a header from none other than Franco Armani, River’s goalkeeper, in a goal that must have remained in the memory of Entre Ríos. But it was canceled. A goal destined to be written in the history books of Depro (the club never scored a goal for the 32nd Copa Argentina). A canceled scream that ended up giving the defender an unexpected recognition.
Milton with River and his club jerseys.
At 32, the defender, who has been on the Entre Ríos team for 5 years, feels that all the effort was worth it. “When I was 16 I had to sell my bicycle to travel from Corrientes to Buenos Aires to test myself. The representative who had obtained the test for me took care of the accommodation and food, but I had to pay for the passage. The only thing of value he had was the bicycle. I remember that I sold it for $ 50 and with that I paid the ticket “.
The details are etched in his memory. “When I got to Retiro, Cristian Santana was waiting for me, who had gotten the test in Ferro and as soon as I got off the bus he told me: ´Look up there. There are the windows of the bus companies. If you’re going to start crying after two days, I’ll buy you a ticket back to Corrientes so we don’t waste time. Luckily I stayed at Ferro, and while we were doing the preseason at Caballito he told me that Independiente was looking for a center-back, and there we went. When I arrived, the Coordinator told me that they had tested 49 players in my position and there were none left. I was number 50. I walked well and stayed in Avellaneda. Seven players lived on the top floor of a house that the club rented us and we ate at the boarding house. My coach in the 5th division was Enrique Borrelli, but since I didn’t get much, Pancho Sa, who was in the 4th division, would go up the division and play often “. He stayed all year, until in December 2006 he was released. He went to Chacarita where “The trip from Bernal to Villa Martelli seemed eternal” , and in 2007 the possibility of joining the project led by journalist Enrique Saco at Sportivo Barracas arose. There, in Bolívar, he met his wife, Lucia Uceda.
In 2008 he went to Mar del Plata to play in Aldosivi. After a year and a half, and when he was about to sign the contract because he was going to turn 21 “The sponsor that the club had fell, the leaders resigned, Tito Rebottaro who was the DT and they set us all free”. With Lucía they decided to return to Bolivar and there, again, he put on the Sportivo Barracas shirt. “Then I did Argentino B with Colegiales de Concordia, from 2010 to 2012, and Rosamonte de Apóstoles, in 2012 and 2013. Sportivo Patria de Formosa (Argentino B, in 2014) and from there until 2016 I was at Atlético Paraná, where I achieved promotion to Nacional B. And then, since January 2016, in Depro “.
Milton knows himself and feels like a player. No matter how much I do other things for a living. Since December, the car that he could buy with his savings serves as a remis to transport passengers to Concepción del Uruguay, Villa Elisa and San José. “Two days after the game against River, I had a trip and, logically, there was no talk of anything other than the game during the entire journey. People know me and write to me when they need to travel. Since we train in the afternoon, I take trips in the morning or at night after training. It is a way to add something more to the house “.
He pauses, looks at the floor, looks up, and his eyes are on the television. As if he were watching the game against River and his team were thrown on the attack, he says. “What I experienced against River paid for all the effort I did over the years. For one day I felt that I had reached the place I dreamed of so much. I felt like a First Class player “. The furrows on his face seem to expand. At least for an instant, Milton speaks as if he is what he always wanted to be: a player who lives off football and not that man who fought and who will continue to fight as long as his legs allow him.
Although it is mid-morning on a weekday, peace is not disturbed in the town of 3,000 inhabitants that experienced a real shock when their club faced Marcelo Gallardo’s Millionaire. In Pronunciamiento, most of the streets are unpaved, and in any section a gaucho on horseback, a truck, a car or a bicycle can cross. Located in the Uruguay department of Entre Ríos, on provincial route 23, and 40 km from Concepción del Uruguay, its economy depends on livestock and poultry production, agriculture and the timber industry; the slaughterhouses have landed in a recent industrial park.
The tranquility of the house is suddenly broken when his wife Lucía enters along with Areli, 6, the oldest daughter. Muscular white, blue shorts and barefoot, she runs to hug her dad, who takes the opportunity to get some air. The long curls cannot hide the black eyes of the little girl who, in confidence, reveals to have cried when she observed on television that her father was annulled the goal that would have scored Depro’s temporary draw against River.
The most important goal of the 48 years of life of Defensores de Pronunciamiento. The center came from the left into the large area and Milton Alvez won the mark of Paulo Díaz and Enzo Pérez. With his right parietal he drove the ball over Franco Armani. The goal was badly disallowed by referee Germán Delfino.
A goal, the most important in the history of the people, the club and the footballer, which should have been and was not. Milton shows a WhatsApp message that his brother Javier had sent him days before the game. “You know I’m a River fan and I watch every game. When you go to the opposite area, go in with everything. Armani does not appear in the centers, they are a flan. Go with faith and confidence that you will win from above ”, he wrote almost as a premonition.
“In this type of game and against such a rival, the minimum possibility must be taken advantage of and that is what we did. We had diagrammed it, we had worked it out. The DT had emphasized being aggressive to attack “. Think for a second, like someone who remembers. “Everything went perfectly as planned, and the goal was canceled due to a referee error. It gives anger, a bit of frustration because it meant much more than a goal. The defenders held hands and wouldn’t let you pass, so it was impossible for him to be ahead. We made the move to confuse River and we ended up confusing the line ”. Milton smiles again. Almost the same smile that two-year-old Sarai gives away, while playing with the white poodle. Milton’s two daughters were born in Entre Ríos. “People here are very grateful. Many were surprised to see how they fired us and welcomed us, as if we had beaten River, but here people always support ”, and he assumes that he had a recognition that was not expected. “If they had hit the goal, I don’t know if people would keep talking to me like they do until today. I think it will be remembered forever. I am not to score many goals. I have 6 in almost 300 games, and it has been more than a year and a half that I did not get one. Everyone talks to me about the goal, our effort and injustice became the skin on the people ”.
He says that people from River that he doesn’t even know write to him to share the anger. “One even told me that he had shouted it more than Pity Martínez in Madrid. What happened was very strong. At night I locked myself in my room and started to cry. The effort made over the years was passing me by: the endurance of my family, my in-laws, my wife. Everything goes through your head … ”. Despite everything, he repeats convinced that the effort was worth it. “Note that no one tells me about the penalty that Armani and Delfino charged me, and then he went back for the linesman. I had ever kicked a penalty in my life. But I don’t know why I felt so confident and faithful that I went and grabbed the ball with all the conviction in the world. And not even then could I score a goal, haha ”.
Milton sits in the doorway of his house and carefully holds the River shirt he exchanged with Paraguayan Robert Rojas. Despite all that it means, that shirt will not stay in your house. He has a special recipient, his brother. “He is a fan of the Millionaire and was never able to see a game on the court, nor know the Monumental. That’s why I promised to get him the shirt. God prepared me so that I can give back to him some of what he did for me “he says, and for a moment the smile disappears.