When I heard ‘you are the idol of my idol’ from my son’s mouth, I felt like the proudest father in the world and lucky to have played for Atletico Madrid.
The idol of my son is a genius of music and a true Colchonero. Today is his birthday and I would like to remember this wonderful story.
After my debut with Sporting CP’s first team, I was happy to have fulfilled my greatest dream as a child. Next to the door where the players came out, there were dozens of fans waiting for their idols. I was 16, I was a stranger and I felt a real shock when a girl approached with a paper and a pen: “Could you give me an autograph?,” she asked me.
Two hours earlier I was anonymous again and suddenly a person I had never seen in my life, wanted my signature. I was completely paralyzed and, as I had any autograph already prepared, I signed as I did in school, with my full name: Paulo Jorge dos Santos Futre.
After a few days, during a one hour journey by boat between my town and Lisbon, I chose the one I would always use.
For every boy of 16, 17 or 18 years old, the first autograph is like Russian roulette: the great majority is going to change their personality, feeling like the owners of the world, and the first word that disappears from their vocabulary is humility.
When you pass the ball, you are alone in front of the danger; no one can help or advise you, because teachers and psychologists do not give autographs. Nobody can prepare you to be famous from one hour to the next. This is perhaps the main reason why many who had all the virtues to succeed at the highest level go on to disappear from the map in a short space of time.
Five years later I was European champion, Ballon d’Or Silver Ball winner, and in the Calderon I daily received dozens of letters from the whole planet asking for an autographed photo.
My father’s entertainment was to prepare the envelopes with addresses and names. On my free day, for hours, I signed them all.
In the almost 20 years that have passed since I retired, I felt great pride when I heard ‘you were my idol and the day I received your signed photo, I was crazy’.
One’s ego increases, especially if you listen to that phrase from someone who succeeds in their profession too: Mariza, the best singer of Fado and a star in Portugal. She left me with my mouth opened when she said that she was a fan and that she wrote to me asking for a photo, but with no hope of response.
However, she was 12 and when she opened the envelope and saw it, she was the happiest girl… so she has followed my example, responding to all.
I remember all these stories because one of the happiest days of my life has also been about autographs. But not about my signature.
I have two children and Fabio always loved football, so he asked for autographs and shirts, even from the great Eric Cantona.
Instead, Paulo’s world was music.
In 2003, he was 14 and while playing bass guitar, he timidly told me: “I never ask for anything, but I’ve read an interview of the only person on this planet that I would love to have an autograph from, and I think you can easily get it. You are the idol of my idol.”
Shortly after, I met him and had his autograph. Both the sympathy and values of the person that is my son’s idol struck me in such a way that I began to listen to ‘La madre de Jose’, and two years later he was with my son jumping in the Calderon, at the concert of ‘El Canto del Loco y Hombres G’. Because the giant in question is Dani Martin.
On Tuesday we had dinner, we talked about our Atleti and we both believe and dream that we will be stand together in the final in Cardiff.
Today is February 19 and it is the birthday of this Rojiblanco genius. Have a great day, Dani. Happy birthday, friend!
*Written by: Paulo Futre