I present to you, Santo De Souza
I got a call on the 25th of July, 2013 from Liusio Alamos who told me that Santo insisted I be there as quick as I could. Liusio was a brown, tall man who sounded gratingly harsh. This raucous voice of his painted his demand all the more alarming and I had to find my way to Madrid in a day. I landed at Barajas, as the Madrid airport is commonly known, and worked my way into the parking area and got into an Audi A8 after the driver took his time and tested my patience while going through my credentials. The streets brought back a few fond memories and with them, a gasp of amazement as the picture of Estadio Santiago Bernabeu materialized before my eyes.
I was revisiting my Mecca that blessed and nursed me for fifteen years. The place is now a modern marvel of architecture with extra stands that pull it closer to heaven and render its image into an inspiring and God-fearing one. Relishing and reliving every step, I went on to meet with Santo, who was training with the youth squad. Santo had been here for the past month and the President planned to sign him in a week’s time. On spotting me, he came to the cafeteria where I told him the very same story the pictures in the café told me decades ago – stories of perseverance, endurance and success. He could not restrain bursting into tears as I went on telling him about his mother and life back in India. I could not go further. We shared a coffee and some silence. Days went past with me telling him how big a club he would represent and how things could take a turn for the worse. He listened. Each day, he trained harder than the previous one. Then came the day the club President Mr. Danilo Mendes decided to bring Santo before the world. I spoke to Mendes the previous day and bargained for a word assuring he would take good care of Santo and continue to respect him, even after I’m gone. He gave me his word and I sold him my faith. That night, I and Santo sat in one of the stands and spoke a lot whilst staring at the vast expanse of green that lay in front of us.
Santo asked me “Father, the people here see a legend in you. What do I need to become one among the Real Madrid’s hall of fame?”
“Santo, always remember. There are certain gospels of the Real Madrid culture you need to maintain. If you respect them, they will earn you the faith of Real Madrid. Fame shall definitely follow. ”
I explained what they were and he greeted each one of them and swore to live by them in deed and spirit. We went back to our abode and took to bed as a glorious day waited for us.
It was a pleasant day in Madrid and I took Santo to the Church of San Gines to take blessings of the Lord whom I saw as someone who lifted my spirit when it fell flat and at the same time, threatened my desire when it shot far from ground. We went back to the press room within time while Mr. Mendes did the honors of addressing the media from various parts of Europe that had graced the occasion. Finally, he called out
“I present to you and the world of football, Santo De Souza.”
On that day, the 31st of July, 2013, amidst claps of joy, flashes of the cameras and questions posed by journalists, Santo accepted the all white jersey with him name printed in bold above the number 36 and kissed the symbol that held in it a glorious past, honored present and a bold future.