A trip away from Spain prevented me from being at the presentation of a very special book yesterday, one I would highly recommend reading. It's by football writer and commentator José Antonio Martín, known as Petón, who, as was said about Fraga (one of the Fathers of the Spanish Constitution) and his knowledge of the Spanish state, has everything there is to know about football in his head. The origin, the inspiration, was in a long conversation between Fernando Torres and Carlos Matallanas, which was broadcast by Canal+. A chat between two footballers from south Madrid: one, a World Cup winner, the other, a modest player, now trapped by ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), who is an inspiration to others in the way he is facing his illness. He remains active, as a reporter, author and journalist, writing with his eyes.
Torres and Matallanas: families and friends
Two lads from the south of Madrid, sons of families who became friends over the years of taking their children to football pitches: a friendship that has endured. Torres played with Gonzalo, Carlos's younger brother. The eldest brother is our colleague at AS, Javier, who also played football and is now an activist for Fundela raising money to combat the disease that is devouring his brother. It is worth looking for Carlos' articles in El Confidencial, and buying a copy of his previous book, 'Mi batalla contra la ELA' (My battle against ALS) which he wrote when he still had control of his fingers. All proceeds from the sales of this first book go into the research.
Football and life entwined
The book that was presented yesterday at the Association of Spanish Footballers (done well by Luis Rubiales, who is transforming from a fierce union member into a possible president of Spanish football) is not so much a book about ALS (though it is about that too) but about football. About this sport, to which Fernando Torres, Carlos Matallanas (these days by means of his eyes) and so many, many others have dedicated their lives. Petón has produced a work of art, worthy of the importance that football, in itself, has, and equal to the latent emotion contained in these two very different biographies. All of it is incredible, but the last chapter blew my mind. A great book about football and life: which are one and the same.