I sat Tuesday with my head in my hands for a few minutes, this was after standing up for 30 minutes of extra time. This is an entirely normal sight to behold on during a Milan match at my house or even my parents. What was different this time was that people from work came to enjoy the match with me, guys that I play five aside with. My wife was polite and most likely embarrassed, "this is what he does" & "he was a Coach, he was always pacing." Truth be told this loss Italy hit me almost as hard as the 1994 Final.
The reason, I think, that this one got under my skin is two fold. As a Milan fan I have been extremely fortunate, even the darkest days have lightened again. From the doldrums of 1997 and 1998 came a Scudetto in 1999 and my favorite Milan squad on record in 2003-2005. I am lucky because I support a winner, a proven winner, each and every year. Yes there are bumps in the road but the reality is we don't support a relegation team. In the same vain I support the Italian National Team, and in my formative years they were succesful. A great run in 1990, a trip the final in 1994, a Euro final in 2000 and the top of the World in 2006. You can't ask for anything more, few get the joy of experiencing what I have, and once you have cheered at the highest levels you can't achieve anything more, something changes.
I watched with my friends in 2002 when they lost in the quarterfinals to Germany but I was a college, to cool to care, worrying more about my college soccer career than the fate of my Country. It started in 2010 with the United States Men's National Team. While Italy was stinking up the joint, the US was clawing their way to knockout roads in the most exciting of fashion. The loss to Ghana was heartbreaking but the groundwork was being laid for 2014. The last gasp goal against Ghana, the heartbreak against Portugal, the fight against Germany. This World Cup had everything. Then came Belgium where Tim Howard put the weight of the nation on his shoulders and for two days my friends and colleagues discussed things like Wondo's miss, Klinsmann choice to introduce Green, the removal of Zusi. Football, or Soccer as well call it, was on everyone's mind. While the loss stung the victory is all around us.
I have a ton of notes on the tactics of this match, and I may get them down into a post, but as the Milan season draws near and the World Cup winds down the excitement and memories will fade and the nerves of the season will begin. In the meantime let's mourn the loss and enjoy what it brings.