Diego Armando Maradona receives the ball, looks sideways and passes it to a team mate. "At that moment I felt like I was doing a little table with God," said shirt 10, after Argentina beat Belgium by 1986 World Cup semifinal.
The deity to whom Maradona mentioned at that time is Ricardo Bochini, then 32, the greatest player in the history of Independiente and main inspiration in the football of the former shirt 10 of the Argentine selection.
The great Argentine idol and his hero only played together for five minutes, just the final moments of the Argentine victory over the Belgians in the World of Mexico. Enough for Maradona to realize the dream of acting alongside the one who most admired football.
Refined midfielder Ricardo Bochini, one of the characters from the second episode of the podcast Lead ball, by Folha, was also a shirt 10 capable of stirring the imagination of all the fans of Argentina. Or almost all, because the rivalry with Racing barely allows for mutual admiration.
But there is a case in the history of these two clubs that shows how the player's talent managed to break through the barrier of fanaticism and made a Racing fan admire him forever.
Independent and Talleres decided the Argentine Championship of 1977. In the outgoing game in Avellaneda, held only on January 21, 1978, the teams were tied 1-1.
Four days later, in the duel back in Cordoba, Talleres just needed a simple win to win an unprecedented title. And it was a chance to win him over a giant like the Independiente, by that time already six-time champion of Libertadores and owner of ten Argentine titles.
The possibility of the cup met not only Talleres's obvious interest, but also one particular figure: Luciano Benjamín Menéndez, commander of the Argentine Army's 3rd Corps and illustrious supporter of the club.
For Menendez, a conquest of the Talleres would mean a triumph for the province of Cordoba and the consequent increase in its popularity, which could lead him, as he wished, to the presidency of Argentina, which since 1976 lived under military regime.
In the book "El Partido Rojo" (The Red Game in Spanish), journalist Cláudio Gómez describes how the Cordoba military tried to influence the outcome of that final.
"There are testimonies indicating that before the match, Menéndez entered the referees' locker room. The referee was Roberto Barreiro. It is not known what they talked about, but during the game there were many irregularities. the referee, "says Gomez to Folha.
Independiente even managed to open the scoring at La Boutique stadium, with a goal from Norberto Outes in the first half. However, the Talleres would come to a head in two controversial moves.
In the final stage, Ricardo Cherini converted doubtful penalty scored by referee Barreiro and left everything the same. Then Angel Bocanelli turned to the owners of the house.
Bocanelli's goal revolted the Independiente athletes. They complained that the rival used his hand to score and set off on the judge. By complaint, Barreiro expelled three players from Avellaneda's team: Enzo Trossero, Rubén Galván and Omar Larrosa.
"The arbitration was not bad, it was terrible," recalls Bochini, now 65, in an interview with Folha. "He scored a penalty for them that was not, a goal with the hand that clearly saw that the player touches the hand. And then sent us three players out. More than that, a referee can't do it."
With eight on the field, coach Jose Pastoriza's team had only 20 minutes to try to draw the title. It faced, in addition to rigorous arbitration, to say the least, the pressure of the 25,000 Talleres fans that filled the stands. Fortunately for Independiente, among the eight remaining players was Ricardo Bochini.
Following a table with Daniel Bertoni and Mariano Biondi, "El Bocha", as he was also known, kicked from the edge of the area to tie the duel 2-2, a result that confirmed the 11th Argentine Cup to Independiente.
"The mindset was very winning, it was a very strong team, with players with a lot of personality. I scored goals against Juventus (ITA) (at the 1973 World Cup), against River Plate in a National final, several important goals. it was one of them, "says Bochini.
A few kilometers from the La Boutique stadium, stage of that final, lawyer Carlos Hairabedian knew that Independiente and Talleres decided the championship. Not because I was watching on television or listening to the radio, but because the guards of the detention center where he had been imprisoned since March 1976 did not hide the euphoria that the Cordoba club could be champions.
Racing supporter, he was captured by the regime for alleged involvement with the Montoneros, an armed leftist group. Hairabedian listened to the soldiers' shouts during the match, but had no clear idea of what was going on.
Only the silence of the penitentiary was able to confirm what a soldier had told him: Independiente had won the championship. And Hairabedian, even as a Racing fan, celebrated.
"That day I must have made the biggest betrayal for a Racing fan. I became an Independiente fan because I understood that a Talleres triumph would be bad luck for us. It would be the triumph of the 3rd Corps," said the lawyer. 83 years old.
"The enemy for him was not the Independent, the enemy for him was the military. And he tells me a very beautiful phrase: 'For me, Bochini is my secret hero,'" says Claudio Gómez, who interviewed Hairabedian for his book.
Carlos Hairabedian was released from the detention center only in 1979. He supports Racing to this day.
"Independiente was the claim to all our dreams, all our aspirations as prisoners. My condition as a prisoner was better than that of a football fan," adds Hairabedian.
If for the lawyer the conquest of the rival represented a political victory, for Luciano Benjamín Menéndez the defeat of the Talleres curbed his aspirations to reach the presidency of the country. Months later, Argentina would conquer the World Cup at homewith the president Jorge Rafael Videla delivering the trophy to captain Daniel Passarella.
Administrator of the clandestine detention center La Perla in Cordoba, and responsible for some 3,000 cases of kidnapping, torture and murder, Menéndez died in February 2018 at the age of 80 and with 13 life sentences for crimes against humanity, having never shown regret for its performance during the military regime.
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