In the jubilant scenes that followed Argentina’s victory at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016, certain images stood out above all others. Among them was the sight of coach Diego Guistozzi being thrown into the air by his players, some of whom had been his team-mates only four years previously at Thailand 2012.
“Not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine experiencing something like this at 38 years of age, and after only three years as a coach,” admitted Guistozzi who, despite being soaked with water from the celebrations, still found a moment to speak with FIFA.com. “I’m over the moon! Not so long ago, this was unimaginable. But little by little, we brought in the right people, the right ideas… Then we arrived in Colombia, we grew in confidence, and now we’re on top of the world. It’s impossible to put such an achievement into words.”
Another enduring image was that of a bewildered looking Fernando Wilhelm, heading up to collect his trophy as winner of the adidas Golden Ball. This 34-year-old veteran of four World Cups was to rejoin his team-mates before climbing the podium once more and, as captain, enjoying the privilege of being the first to hold the World Cup trophy aloft.
“I still don’t believe it, it’s like I can’t put it into words,” confessed Wilhelm, still wearing the No6 shirt, to FIFA.com. “Beforehand I was asked how I would celebrate if we won, but I didn’t even want to think about that because it was going to be so difficult. That idea was so engrained in me that, when the time ran out, I didn’t know what to do. It’s so huge, I’m overcome by it all.”
A little further away, and also waiting to collect the winner’s trophy, Maximiliano Rescia was seated next to Russia’s Brazilian-born star Robinho. “He told me that we deserved the title,” Rescia confided to FIFA.com. “Why did we win? Because we added technique and, above all, tactical know-how to our courage and heart. The arrival of Giustozzi was crucial,” added the 28 year-old midfielder.
Reactions and conclusions
Giustozzi himself then took the time to analyse the victory over a Russian team who, when the match seemed lost to them, scored two goals in 45 seconds to put themselves only one down with 19 seconds to play. “They focused on the physical side and individual skill, but we won as a team. We had the game under control, until nerves came into play towards the end. The climax was just the result of our nerves.”
Compared with his coach, Rescia offered a more visceral account of those final few moments. “When they scored the fourth goal I looked at the scoreboard, and I saw that there were still 19 seconds to go, and it felt like the ground was being pulled from beneath my feet. But then I focused again, because I knew that it was all that stood between me and glory.”
Wilhelm, meanwhile, saw things from a more rational perspective: “It just goes to show that, in this sport, anything can happen until the time runs out. In fact, if the last rebound had gone in rather than staying out, we may have been back at square one again. You could say we were a bit lucky, but any luck we did get we worked really hard for.”
So what now? “I just spoke about it with [Pablo] Taborda and [Leandro] Cuzzolino - we’ve been slugging away for 10 years now, so we could retire in peace! But over the coming days we’ll take stock of it all, and no doubt we’ll set new goals and targets moving ahead.”
Wilhelm was aware that any triumphalism could be dangerous. “In sport, you become a slave to results. Personally, I didn’t need this title to be proud of this team, I’ve been proud of it since we arrived in Colombia. More generally, I hope that futsal in Argentina benefits from this across the board. Now is the time to grow the sport.”
And although such a significant success was so fresh in the memory, Giustozzi could also still see the bigger picture. “The impact for us is big, but it’s a lot bigger for those in futsal who have it tougher than we do. There are a lot of people here - people who are not professionals, who don’t get seen - who were waiting for this message to prove that we could do it. And quite simply, we could.”