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Am I not a pretty sight in my Replica Shirt?
My shiny, pricey, gaudy, tacky Casacca?
Purchased a year or so ago from the Club Store.
Knocked out in some stifling Far Eastern death-trap sweatshop.
(Or perhaps closer to home, in Prato or Naples).
But let us not get sidetracked.
Fair trade practices and workers’ rights are not on my agenda today.
Just now my mind is in thrall to one idée fixe.
I am about to set off for Marassi to get my fix.
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But do you really need to kit yourself out in that Replica?
Would not a simple scarf suffice to announce your allegiance?
No, I’m afraid not.
The article of clothing in question is necessary.
Permit me to explain why.
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Two and two make four. We won the War.
You get three points for a win, but just one for a draw.
Such truths are eternal, beyond dispute.
Apart from that, uncertainty reigns.
Man’s meddling has sent the climate mad.
The darling buds of May succumb to frostbite.
November fields are seared by scorching sun.
And age-old oaks are ripped and tossed by gales,
While swollen rivers down our High Streets run.
In the pages of the posh papers debates rage:
Who can state the value of an A-grade at A-Level?
Can anyone define what is English? British?
(In Italy the same song is sung:
Che cosa significa essere italiani?)
New, mysterious variants of the human species are emerging:
Tweenagers, ladettes, adultescents, metrosexuals.
Fings, decidedly, ain’t wot they used to be.
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Hence, the Shirt. Don’t you see?
Look at it: half Red, half Blue.
On the chest the Club Crest.
(And Sponsor, Costa).
On the back, in bold white letters, the name of my Hero: Milito.
Diego Alberto Milito, The Prince of Buenos Aires.
Below, the Number Nine.
Get what the Shirt confers on me?
Certainty. Identity. Belonging.
I don the Shirt. I am no longer poor, mixed up me. I am Milito!
It is not really a Shirt at all. It is a tortoise-shell. Breastplate. Flak-jacket.
I am a seven-stone weakling no more. I walk tall. I show no fear.
Invaders from Mars scatter before me.
Not that I am the sole owner of such a garment.
They sold like hot cakes. So I am one of a legion of Militos.
I am he, and they are he, and we are he, and we are all together.
Oh blessed firm identity!
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One slight problem. Milito is no longer on our books.
We have been cast down into Hell, to Serie C, for our sins.
We bought last Season’s final match, because we were not sure we’d win.
Diego Alberto has been snapped up by Saragossa.
Gone the way of Pruzzo, Fontolan, Eranio.
Milito, our golden-booted Prince!
No more upon our green pitch shall he prowl.
Prince, you will never know how much you meant.
You will never…
Cut this sentimental tosh! L’argent c’est tout, what counts is dosh.
Did you really think he would stay? Did you?
I suppose not.
But, Serie A or B or C, they are all the same to me.
Seek me on a Sunday, at the Stadium I shall be.
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So, what I really require now is a new Casacca.
‘Cos I suspect I look a bit of a Charlie with Milito on my back.
The only trouble is, I’m somewhat strapped for cash.
For I must pay some hefty bills for water, ‘lecky, gas.
But I need that new Shirt!
I will take a hammer to my Piggy Bank.
And filch a note or two from my wife’s handbag.
Then I won’t be Milito any more.
I will be someone else. Because I want to be someone else.
I will be Rossi, Tedesco, Caccia.
Anyone, oh ANYone, just ANYONE, but not D. J.