The worth of a smile in Spain

In Spain, the referee blows the final whistle at the Reale Arena and the Real Mallorca players gather in a huddle to decide penalty matters: who will take them, what is the order, if anyone does not feel well enough to take one. And for the goalkeeper to receive information about the opponents’ penalty takers, the hugs and words of support from their teammates are meant to increase the goalkeeper’s confidence or dispel the fears of the others. Or, perhaps, it is something related to superstition that combines the two concepts into one.

Suddenly, Javier Aguirre, the coach of Real Mallorca, appeared and with a huge smile, he delivered one of those witty remarks that distinguish him in his press conferences. It might have been something like Johan’s memorable “go out and enjoy” before the 1992 Wembley final. I don’t know what the Mallorca coach said to them, but the group reacted with laughter and huddled closer, becoming stronger, more united.

As the story ended with Mallorca qualifying for the Copa del Rey final, that image reflected the good relationship between the coach and his team, serving as an example often used to translate from the world of football, sports in general, to the business world. With the motto that a smile is necessary even in the tensest moments, providing light, warmth, and defusing tension to instill confidence. In other words, it would be ideal to print on thousands of red-and-black jerseys and to be the “official” attire of the Mallorca fans in the final in Seville. As long as the phrase is printable, considering Aguirre’s vocabulary skills and expressions.

It may have also crossed your mind, dear reader, that if the penalty shootout had ended with the Real Sociedad side embracing and celebrating with their fans the qualification, we would loop back to the image of Aguirre and his team laughing as an example of lack of focus, not understanding the importance of the moment, trivializing the passion of the Mallorca fans. Essentially, not taking it seriously. Trust me, if the Wembley situation had ended badly for Barcelona, we wouldn’t have enjoyed it on the field or off. And millions today would argue that instead of talking about enjoyment, we should focus on football, tactics, serious matters.

Just as seriously as the Spanish women’s national football team took the game, requesting the ball for themselves at the start of the La Cartuja match and only returning it when exchanged for the Nations League trophy, proving how teamwork, positioning, ball speed remain excellent tools to play, win, enjoy, smile, score, celebrate on the field, and hug with two substitute players, Oihane and Eva Navarro, who had not made the starting lineup, like Aitana. It’s the little details.

As I walk towards San Mamés, amid the cold and rain, as it should be, thinking, perhaps reflectively, perhaps superstitiously, about the positive stimuli necessary to face these decisive moments and the difference between magical divinatory readings before those conclusive and definitive ones that occur when we already know the final result and read the match backwards.

If you need an example, that worldwide conclusion (and therefore ours as well) that the Spanish women’s national team is the best in the world. Since we have experience with this in the men’s side and know how quickly happiness can travel, it wouldn’t hurt to enjoy the moment and be happy with them.

They deserve it, they have earned it.

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