The Argentinian film El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes), which won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010, features a superb description of just how deeply football allegiances can run: “A guy can change anything he wants: his face, his house, his family, his girlfriend, his religion. But there’s one thing he can’t change and that’s who he supports.”
In Uruguay, however, there is one man who has challenged that particular viewpoint. Justo Sanchez, a diehard fan of Cerro since his childhood days, has been supporting their arch rivals Rampla Juniors with a passion for the last three years. “Cerro will be in my blood until the day I die but my heart will always belong to Rampla,” he said.
There is a very good reason for his decision and it is all to do with his son Nicolas, who grew up a passionate Rampla Juniors fan, despite his father taking him to watch Cerro when he was a boy. Tragically, Nicolas died in a car accident in 2016, when he was returning home from watching his beloved team in action.
When he learned of the news, Justo went up to Nicolas’ room, intent on burning the Rampla flag hanging on the wall. It dawned on him, however, that the club was not to blame for his son’s death, and it was at that moment that he found a way to maintain his connection with Nicolas.
“My son was no longer around and I thought that if I became a Rampla fan, then I’d be representing him,” said Julio, on putting his undying devotion to Cerro to one side.
Nicolas’ ashes were scattered in the stands at the Estadio Olimpico, where he used to cheer his team on. His parents now occupy the space he once did, hanging up a red and green banner emblazoned with the words “Nico, siempre presente” (“Nico, forever present”) and clutching the shirt their son wore every matchday. Now they are the ones cheering Rampla’s goals. They have not missed any of the club’s games, and nor will they.
“The love a father has for his son is the most beautiful thing there is, the deepest thing,” said Justo, who is living proof that a parent’s eternal love for their child is the most unconditional form of passion there is.
If you believe that he deserves to win the 2019 FIFA Fan Award, then vote for him now.
Football fans from around the world can now vote for their winner of the 2019 FIFA Fan Award.
The three finalists are all unique and hugely inspirational in their own ways. Discover their stories, sign in to the FIFA.com Club and make your choice. Voting is open now and will close during The Best FIFA Football Awards show in Milan on 23 September.