Federico Chiesa scores Italy’s first goal against Austria in the round of 16 of the European Championship.DPA via Europa Press / Europa Press

Progress usually goes through neighborhoods and almost always counts the last one who arrives. The writer Ana Iris Simón told Pedro Sánchez that she was envious of how her parents lived and the comfort with which they were able to project their thermomix and townhouse dreams. It is like this in almost everything in the retromaniac world we live in: the past was always more ravishing. The frontier on which that sometimes abstract idea about the economy and human evolution is deciphered, however, becomes more blurred in football, a universe that allows children to look down on their parents: so they win and because of the power they have. But also, in many cases, because of how they took advantage of their opportunities.

Federico Chiesa (23 years old), a boy with the face of not having broken a plate and the features of a milling machine from the Genoese periphery, took the field on Saturday in the 84th minute, when the match between Italy and Austria was already heading into extra time. The Juventus winger (on loan from Fiorentina with an obligation to buy) needed just five minutes of added time to control a pass from the fabulous Spinazzola with his head, cut with his right and hit the long stick with his left to get the ball back on track. match that placed the Nazionale in the quarterfinals. He was the hero that an Italy that was beginning to look too much like Italy needed. “Bisogna avere Fede” [hay que tener fe], Title La Repubblica playing with his first name and with the suffering until the last minute of typhoseria. He celebrated by running to the band, just like his father did 25 years and 12 days before, in a Euro England match against the Czech Republic at Anfield. It was the first time that a father and son scored in this championship.

Mancini waited until the last minute on Saturday to put Chiesa on as RAI commentators grew impatient to see him hit the grass. The same thing that happened to him during the 1996 Eurocup with his father when the current coach commented on the broadcast. “You have to get him in now,” said the Mancini of the past. The goal at Anfield that Enrico Chiesa scored as soon as he entered, a Genoese seasoned in Florentina, Parma and triumphant Sampdoria in which Mancini and half of his current technical team (Vialli, Lombardo, Evani or Battara) dazzled, did not work then to avoid defeat and ridicule in the group stage. Everybody says now that Federico is the good guy.

In this European Championship we have also seen Kasper Schmeichel, son of the legendary Manchester United goalkeeper and one of the architects of the historic Leicester league. No one will seem better than his father under the sticks of Denmark, but he has had a great career. The reverse theory of Ana Iris Simón can also be applied to other players such as Thiago Alcántara, able to look his father, Mazinho, in the eyes after passing through Barça, Bayern and Liverpool. Carles Busquets, goalkeeper in long pants and silk foot for Cruyff’s Barça, never played a European Championship or a World Cup as his son, the Barça midfielder, has given back the personality to Spain when a PCR allowed it. And it is probable that no one imagined that he would live better than his father. In every sense.

Soccer is one of the few professions where, in addition, employees have prospered financially more than their predecessors. If progress was going through neighborhoods, all you have to do is go around the one you chose when you arrived in Milan and where Luis Suárez, Ballon d’Or in 1960, continues to live. Almost none of the stars of yesterday could afford the lives of those of today . And it’s not about inflation. This sport had a turnover in 2020 twice that of the second (American football) and most clubs allocate around 70% of that mountain of money to pay the salaries of their main employees: the players. Perhaps this section of progress was the problem.

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