Luxury of freedom

When the World Cup brings up great memories

It’s not every day that you get to be mentioned in the editorial of a newspaper, especially if the newspaper is in the sports segment and the closest you get to be an athlete is when you walk your dog once per day and for half an hour!

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But two of our berries Ana and Mariliza were lucky enough to “find” a Slovenian sports journalist during the last Winter Olympic Games in PeyongChang and after that, besides establishing a great friendship, they seem not want to miss any kind of sports event and they like to make their comments on it. To make it short, they have been great also on finding a way to be connected to sports events somehow ? … and they did it once more, but this time during the Fifa World Cup.  

The full story on how this friendship started and how Brazil and Croatia were supposed to meet in the finals you can read below in the fun editorial by Andrej Miljković from Ekipa newspaper. 

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My two Korean foundlings want Brazil - Croatia

If I say that life is writing very interesting stories, that would be the most cliché-like beginning of a text and if I were a reader, I would have probably thrown it away. And if I add that the life of a sports journalist often stands out even more, it would look as if I already write badly and besides unnecessarily brag about it. But both are true and it’s the best possible beginning of this story, which, despite the seemingly miserable introduction, you simply need to give a chance.

The story originates from a high-speed train bound for Seoul - yes, you’ve read it right, Seoul - and from the day before the opening of this year's Winter Olympics. In it, in addition to the side role of Jakov Fak (but let's just leave that detail out), the protagonists are two young ladies from two countries I’d never place there on the first bet. Well, one of them maybe, even though it forgot about winter sports forever with the retirement of the Kostelić family. The other one, on the other hand, gets the closest to skiing when a tanned body slides through the sand while playing beach volleyball on Copacabana. But the thing gets even more interesting: they both work in a Slovenian company and live in Slovenia at the moment; and our encounter alongside some weird Korean salad at 300 kilometres per hour couldn’t be anything more than the craziest coincidence. I was often introduced by a Brazilian to someone new as "we found him on the train," as some kind of a starving cat, but if you ask me, I found them.

Our descriptions of events will differ slightly also if we start to explain whose idea was a heavenly kebab in the middle of the night in the middle of Korean mountains, made by two pure - who would have thought it - Turkish fans of Galatasaraya or Fenerbahce. The Croatian girl will say that it was her idea, but unlike her, I have the power to publish it in public, so I insist – it was mine. Besides, I paid. You may have noticed that I will not use their names – it’s better this way and I will also leave out the name of the company that so nicely equipped the Slovenian house in Pyongchang, and therefore brought their my two foundlings.

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Perhaps I would have met them at one of the receptions of our Olympians, maybe not, but the fact is that I found them, alongside with their Slovenian boss, on the train with the same ambitions - to visit the capital of South Korea the day before the games began. And we did. All of it. And we did it together, even though we only met an hour before. The two of them will say that I have come up as the biggest intruder of all time, I’ll answer that this is not my style. That they were the ones who were able to take advantage of my traditionally perfect preparation for visits of the foreign places. Either way, we spent a fantastic day and really bonded, and continued bonding through some great gatherings during the entire games. When we had time and when we had a convenient opportunity - the above-mentioned receptions in the house in the hills, but also through the legendary Korean grill and shockingly good Korean coffee at my home on the coast. My wife knows about it and she also knew at the time, no need to worry.

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It would be pathetic to argue that a friendship has been made, even though if you would see some unforgettable scenes at the presentation of the next Olympic Games in the Tokyo house, you would probably have named it just that. I don’t throw this word around just like that - our paths are too separated in Slovenia, and life as such as well. But surely something special was born, we kept in touch and we have agreed, some time ago, to get together at my place in the second half of the summer. My wife knows about that and she will be there, don’t worry.

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But now there is a big question about what kind of gathering this will be - the world championship could make it very hard. Joke on a side, but you probably know where I’m going. When the Brazilians here in Russia began to win, I naturally quickly thought of my Korean girl from Brazil. And because Facebook works wonders, of course, she quickly thought of me too. One message gave way to the other and now the tension is already rising. "Arriba", she wrote when they beat Mexico in the last 16 – but I did make her know that that I’d rather give the title to Thiago Silva than the rolling Neymar. Well, Croatian girl, of course, makes it clear to us, as always and as is typical for their inherent self-esteem, that they have different plans. "Ajmo," reads her exclamation, much cuter than the legendary exclamation of Zdravko Mamić. And besides that, her splendid prediction that the world champions will be them.

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They both logically predict that their national teams will be the ones playing in the big Moscow final, and I was the one (although they might have argued otherwise), which quickly calculated a special Korean equation. Namely, that this wish can come true for both of them at the same time, and that it would mean that their teams would fight each other for the title of the world champion on the 15th of June, at the Luzhniki stadium - when my two medals from Pyongchang – with no offense – would seem infinitely small compared to the success of their footballers. Football is football, and in this context the world championship is much more than anything else.

They wouldn’t tease me, their foundling from Korea, I know - after all, it does count for something to be here in my role. I would see their final live in the stadium, while they would follow their national teams from a very long distance, so we are somewhat equal in envy. I can still count on additional Slovenian participation - can you imagine that Damir Skomina would be the referee for the final match between Brazil and Croatia? Oh, it just occurred to me that in this case, I could find myself in some kind of trouble; It's good thing that we have a VAR that reduces this possibility.

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Enough of the fantasising, but I will certainly let you know how the Korean story will go on in Russia. For now: ladies, good luck - firstly in the quarterfinals. Arriba and Ajmo, if that means anything to you, but you need to know that I am totally neutral and that as a rigid professional I experience your opponents with the same emotions - tomorrow Russia and today Belgium. But let it be: good luck, Mariliza and Ana from Big Berry. Well, I changed my mind about mentioning their names, they’ll handle it. 

Read the Slovenian Version 

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