10. LOOKING FOR MASKS: Marco boots

The football of my childhood is the football of the 1980s. In the Santa Eulalia neighborhood of Murcia, the children played kickabouts in the La Condomina stadium car park. There, on a surface full of pebbles, which broke pants like paper, we played until the owner of the ball or the sunlight left. The world was reduced to the neighborhood and a few more streets. England was the Moon, Madrid was in Greenland and Alicante was on the other side of the Pyrenees. I bought my first football boots, of an unrecognizable brand, at the only sports store in my world, which was Deportes Reina. It’s possible that the first night I slept clinging to my new boots, with that narcotic scent mixed with new plastic and cheap leather. I thought they were pretty, but it was something else when I put them on. Today’s football boots adapt to your foot like a glove. In the 80s, it was your foot that adapted to the boot. Your foot was gradually deforming, sores appeared that you covered with plasters, but the boot remained structurally undaunted. Later, I convinced my parents to buy Marco boots, the most expensive boots in the store in my world, and boots that brought you respect on the pitch. My Marco boots looked shiny and new because I remember rubbing them with horse fat. I was happy wearing my Marco boots. But the day came when I was no longer top dog with my boots as guys started to wear Patrick or Adidas World Cup boots. Boots that in my world were not available to buy.

Something similar is happening to me these days with masks. The other day, at the greengrocer, while I was covering my mouth and nose with one of those neck warmers that we wear in winter, I saw a guy wearing a mask with a front valve, double stitching on the edges, and beautiful black rubber. Where do they get the masks? They don’t sell them in the chemists in my neighborhood. 30 years on, due to the lockdown, my world has shrunk again to my neighbourhood —now Barcelona’s Poblenou—.