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Two kilometres from history


Porto scenes
Fellipe Miranda

It was 2015 and I was a little ball of depression living mostly in my bedroom in the less than glorious suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. Most of my days were spent blaming myself for problems completely outside of my control, which had taken me away from my life-long dream of studying at one of the country’s best universities. It was made harder by my failed attempts at contributing to the household, trying to find any kind of work that would help pay the bills. That was not easy in a depressed economy — that is still going under today.

Fortunately, I had (and still have) a great support network around me. A mother who has had to double as a father since 2007, doing her best to maintain a roof above our heads mostly all by herself. A brother who despite insecurities and immaturity, is loyal to the core. A group of friends from high school. A tortoiseshell cat that arrived at the same day I lost my scholarship to government spending cuts. And a bunch of mostly anonymous peple who spent hours of their days commenting about football and life in general in this very blog.

I was always a bit of a chatterbox, but my brand blabbering was often seen as different and unexpected. Most of my classmates did not expect the Black kid in class to have memorized all the capitals of the United States and Brazil, while having no difficulties in solving math problems that did not involve fractions. Once again, I blamed myself for veering off the expected path, unaware of how the issue was much bigger than me.

Luckily these characteristics also made me a great commenter for WAGNH and other SB Nation websites: 500-word comments on how the Colts needed to move on from Peyton Manning, or how Fernando Torres was doomed to fail from the moment he stepped in to Cobham, made for great entertainment for me, other commenters, and even the writers. I did step out of line a few times and collected some warnings in the process. But it was all a way to learn how to adjust to circumstances — and I almost always embarrass myself when taking the first steps, despite trying my hardest not to.

I did try to translate these skills into a blog of my own, and I did it for a few months before college forced me out of it. But the writing “bug” was always there, helping me with essays during graduation and failing me completely when trying to flirt on MSN Messenger. They were not my audience, yet.

Half-n-half scarf appropriate this time
Fellipe Miranda

Then, in 2015, there came up an opportunity to write for WAGNH. A blog-wide call was made — Dávid especially targeting the active members in the Daily Hilário who had forced him and other moderators to spend precious minutes and hours clamping down on awful jokes and innuendos.

There is a constant internal clash between recognising my own skills, and not giving in to narcissism or any similar feelings. The discomfort in opening up to these struggles, and not seeing that this not such a black and white issue, is still there — I can feel it as I write these words. But confronting them is the only way I know to find a solution to my problems.

The feeling was similar when I was questioning whether I should throw my hat into the ring of potential WAGNH writers. Any person who had the self-esteem beaten out of them by the systems governing their childhood, coupled with personal struggles, would find it hard to will themselves into said limelight.

Once again, I was in luck. New names and old, most of whom I have already forgotten and who are most likely already gone from comments (hopefully to make a positive impact in the world) were in support. It was the boost I needed to make my bid, highlighting my translation skills and my familiarity with the blog and the community after thousands of hours spent reading articles and comments over the previous five years or more.

Nearly six years on from e-mail, many things have changed. This blog has helped me pay the bills at home and finish my degree, taking me all the way from Brazil to Portugal to continue my academic pursuits. In an array of options, I chose Porto for several reasons, including its strong ties to football, and how familiar I was with living in a city that lives and breathes for the sport.

The choice was serendipitous indeed. Saturday’s Champions League final was taking place less than two kilometres from my home, between Manchester City and the club that changed my life for the better. I still feel a tiny bit of guilt for seeing my life improve during a deadly pandemic, whereas millions, if not billions have seen the exact opposite. But it is this bittersweetness that makes ignorance such a bliss.

At the same time, I have to learn how to enjoy moments like these as well. I could never imagine myself crying over the Champions League victory of an English club born 116 years ago, 9,200 kilometres away from the only place I ever knew for over 27 years of my life. And yet here I was overwhelmed by emotion, fully aware that this feeling would be no different had I stayed in Rio.

If this is not some kind of poetic justice, then I am just misusing yet another common phrase or expression – as usual. Nevertheless, I shall keep the blue flag flying high, no matter where fate takes me next. Here is hoping we can all do the same.

Long may we reign!

Manchester City v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou - Pool/Getty Images

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