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A symbolic farewell to “Tata” Brown

Football rules about ripped off shirts are quite strict nowadays:  No player is allowed to run into the pitch if his shirt has the slightest damage or worse, if it is soiled with blood. However, every rule has an exception. One of these rare exceptions has been recorded at the Primera Division Argentina match between Argentinos Juniors and Banfield a few days ago.

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The referee couldn’t be blamed of turning a blind eye. Miguel Angel Torren and Renato Civelli, both captains,  ripped off their shirts with their teeth (!)  in front of him to make a little hole at the front side, so that they could place their thumb into the hole and take a symbolic, yet emotional photo.

This was both teams’ last farewell to Jose Luis “Tata” Brown, an emblematic figure of the Argentinian football, who passed away in August 12th, 2019 at the age of 63. Brown, an international class center back at his playing age, was a key player in Argentina’s successful campaign at 1986 FIFA World Cup. He actually scored (by header) the first goal at the Final vs. West Germany, the one his team went on to win by 3-2. This goal was the only one he ever scored for Argentina, but he’s remembered for another, more passionate gesture later in the same match.

In the last minutes of the final the Germans, fully motivated for another comeback (they’ve equalized being two goals down early in the second half, yet they’ve conceded another one at 84 min.) swooped into the Argentinian box. The personal duels were more than harsh, during one of them “Tata” Brown fell in the grass and felt like he’s broken his arm.

Let him narrate the story: “The pain was terrible, I was rolling all over. Doctor came in and from the first moment realized what happened. He told me that I should go immediately to a hospital, he could call for a substitution. At this moment something rebelled inside me. I asked him “are you crazy? I’m not leaving the ground! All my life I dreamed of playing and winning a final, I won’t give up now.”

There are only some minutes till the end. He told me the injury was serious and he couldn’t fix an immediate bandage for my arm, I should be carried outside and leave the team with ten players in a crucial moment of the match. I told him “no, I’m not going out” and instantly ripped my shirt with my teeth. I put two fingers, the thumb and index finger, to the hole and stabilized my arm, so he pain was somewhat bearable when I ran. I almost forgot it at the last moments! At the final whistle I tried to lift my arms to the sky in celebration, and that’s when I remembered my injury”!

This unsuremantable act of football heroism, unthinkable in modern era, has stucked Tata Brown’s career. All Argentinians bowed to his will of serving his country, so he was considered something like a hero. As both captains told the press afterwards, the idea of ripping their shirts was instant and was well accepted by the referee. Most of the crowd burst into tears when applauding after the minute of silence… People come and go, moments are eternal…

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