…the last show, the final curtain.
After the English party at Deutz I was worn out, exhausted, tired and not fully awake. However when the three Swiss guys who had just rented the room next to me arrived at midnight I couldn´t help but accept their invitation for drinks. If there´s anything I´ve learnt during my time in Köln it´s never to refuse an invitation, as you might regret it later. Several glasses of Havana Club rum later, and I´d found out that two of the Swiss men were bankers. I can only presume that the other had an occupation that involved either putting the holes in cheese or herding mountain goats around. Who knows. We sauntered around town doing nothing in particular, mostly drinking, mostly saying "Hopp Schwiez", or however they tend to spell it. It´s worth noting that in my time here I´ve managed to understand a lot of conversational German, but I can safely say I did not pick up one word from their own conversations.
I woke up yesterday with what I can only assume was a concrete block tied to my head and hanging out of the window, and had presumably eaten nothing but cotton wool the night before. I managed to scrape my sheets off my body and in a semi-conscious state made my way with Björn (my host), and his friend, to Gelsenkirchen for the Portugal versus Mexico group decider. For the two, this was exciting as they had never been inside the Arena Auf Schalke before, and Björn hadn´t seen a World Cup match live thus far. So it was a trifle disappointment for me to read in the paper on the train that Portugal would be resting players, among them Cristiano Ronaldo and Deco. Expletives followed. "Perhaps if they are losing they will come on?" asked Björn. This hope was short-lived as I read a quote from Luiz Felipe Scolari. "They will not play one minute even if Mexico are winning 30-0".
Despite this disappointment, the atmosphere was the best of all the matches I had seen so far, and to my surprise, the crowd seemed to have more Mexicans than Portuguese. The game itself was decent enough. An early goal, a converted penalty, a crossbar hit, a headed corner, a red card, a skied penalty, but alas no equaliser from the Mexicans. After the game I asked my companions what they thought. "It had everything" they said, quoting all the above events, "except the equaliser".
My reply was short, sweet, and summed up everything I´ve come to know ever since I kicked a football.
"So ist Fußball".