The legacy of Carlos Matallanas
Grandfather Matallanas was a club man. An Atletico Madrid man, to be precise. One of those tireless scouts who scour the city's pitches, parks and beyond. Thanks to him the rumour there was a lad called Juanito Gómez doing amazing things in Fuengirola reached Atleti. To his great delight, he had two footballing grandchildren: our Javier, who stopped after playing in the youth set up at Atleti, and his brother Carlos, who enjoyed a long career, mostly in the the Tercera and Segunda B in Madrid, before heading to Andalusia. ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neurone disease) took him by surprise while he was at Portuense.
This cruel disease ravaged his body, but not his spirit. The disease was in an advanced stage when he wrote this article for El País. He discussed someone in his situation who had said they only wanted to die, to avoid so much suffering. He understood and respected the point of view, but explained his decision was different: to carry on. He had things to enjoy, above all his family and his football. And things to explain. he wrote about football in El Confidencial and As. And he formed part of the technical teams at football clubs Fuenlabrada and then Alcorcón, where he drew up reports.
Lying in bed, utterly immobile, he watched games and wrote - by fixing the pupils of his eyes on each letter - his reports and his articles, deeply thorough, painstaking and conscientious. And he did so till the end. There was never a Panini card for him, but he leaves a grander legacy: he showed that football itself is a way of life. He placed in doubt the idea that football is only the 'most important of the less important things'. His latest book came out recently: 'Life is a game', dedicated to his niece and nephew, who are starting out in life. A work that explains with simple clarity the ways in which football is a school of life. It's a book written to read and think, read and think...
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