Claudio Villa - Getty Images
Inter 1 - Roma 3
I don't care about you. I really don't.
I don't care about your rationality, your logic, your objective eye. I don't care about your patience, your pragmatism, your emotional equilibrium. I don't care what the calendar says. I don't care what the table says. I don't care what he says. Hell, I don't even care what she says. I don't care about any of it. Not today, not tomorrow, not this year. I don't, and I won't.
This year will be full of hyperbole. It will be full of unapologetic knee-jerk reactions. It will be full of glasses tinted part yellow, part red, never taken off. It will be full of emotional swings, of mindless opinions with no hurried backpedaling days later, and of things one doesn't want stored deep within the catacombs of the internet stored deep within the catacombs of the internet. There may be tears, and there will certainly be yelling, but there will be no apologies, because he offers none. Neither will we.
This year belongs to a man whose working philosophy centers upon placing one hand on the heart and one hand on the balls, with nothing left to cradle the mind. That's fine. Then we will too.
What we're witnessing is not football; it's the ultimate concretisation of one man's reflection in a cracked mirror which has formed his life's work, forged his identity. It is the embodiment, the totality, of his gifts to a sport, but it is not Zemanlandia, no. Zemanlandia is not some place, some abstraction, some state of being. It is a torch - a nigh magical torch. A torch which spawned of a tuft of smoke lit from the end of a ashed cigarette years long ago and has, with patience, maniacal scheming and loads of not giving a damn what anybody else thinks, bellowed into a roaring flame, part yellow, part red, all Roman. All who bear this torch then assume it as their identity. He is not Zemanlandia; they are Zemanlandia. All it serves to do is maximize the attributes, the characteristics within and exploit them for the sake of the masses.
And they're just messing around better than anyone else right now, because what we witnessed was not some endpoint; it was the beginning stages of twenty-plus men, many of them boys, eyes gazing toward the heavens, palms pushing high, dancing en pointe, leaping with all their might in an attempt to find their ceiling. This, this match against Inter at the San Siro, was one of those leaps in their quest to touch, to feel, to grasp that ceiling.
And they haven't. Not yet. That paean of magnificence they called football was not their ceiling. The search has only just begun.
It is now the third of September. Start watching the table, because in ninety minutes, they offered a city the chance to dream a dream no one dared in the morning: they just might win this thing.
And I really don't give a damn what you think, because neither does he, and neither do they.