A Lap and a Goal: Ayrton Senna Drives Again and Sanfilippo Scores

You would be hard pressed to find something more beautiful than a shared memory that paves its way to a heart, all in the most unexpected of ways. When a friend came to visit, I had all but forgotten the fact that years before, when she was in the hospital, she was in need of blood. I immediately volunteered because honestly, it was no skin off my nose. She, however, saw it differently.

“We’re practically sisters, you know. I have your blood running through me,” she said with a smile. I had no idea that she was that grateful and it nearly brought tears to my eyes.

And one of my favorite authors, Eduardo Galeano, put it eloquently in a short story from his book “Soccer In Sun and Shadow”, in a story called “Goal by Sanfilippo” (I adjusted the translation a tad…sorry…).

A young Jose Sanfilippo

A young Jose Sanfilippo

Dear Eduardo,

The other day I went to the Carrefour supermarket, the one built where San Lorenzo used to play. I was with my childhood hero Jose Sanfilippo, who was San Lorenzo’s leading scorer four years in a row. There we were, walking among shopping carts, surrounded by pots and pans and cheeses and links of sausages. All of a sudden, as we head for the check-out, Sanfilippo opens his arms and says: “To think that it was right here where I rammed it in on Roma with a half-volley in that match against Boca.” He walks in front of a housewife pushing a cart filled to the brim with cans, steaks and vegetables, and says: “It was the fastest goal in history.”

He concentrates, as if he was waiting for a corner kick, and says to me: “I told the midfielder, a young guy, ‘As soon as the game begins, send the ball to the box. Take it easy. I won’t make you look bad.’ I was older and this kid, Capdevilla was his name, was scared, thinking, ‘What if I screw up?’” And then Sanfilippo points to a tower of mayonnaise jars and shouts: “He put it right there!” People are looking at us as if we were nuts. “The ball dropped over the middies, I stumbled but it rolled a bit back to there, where the rice is, see?” He points to the bottom shelf, and all of a sudden he starts running like a rabbit, in spite of his blue suit and shiny shoes. “I let it bounce and boom!” He swings his left leg in a tremendous kick. We all spun around to look at the check-out counter, where the goal posts sat some thirty-odd years ago, and it’s as if we all see the ball hit the net up high, right by the batteries and the razor blades. Sanfilippo raises his arms to celebrate. The shoppers and the check-out girls pound their hands in applause. I’m practically in tears. “El Nene” Sanfilippo scored that goal from 1962 all over again, just so I could see it.

Osvaldo Soriano

I also admire Ayrton Senna and hold the deepest regard for him and his F1 prowess. So when Honda decided to set up the Suzuka Circuit to recreate Senna’s lap, the fastest lap, for the F1 Japanese Grand Prix Qualifier in 1989, they used that lap’s telemetry and with speakers and LED track lights, the sound of Senna’s McLaren engine roared through the circuit, just as it did 24 years ago.

And just like Sanfilippo, you see a glimpse of the love and respect needed to put you in that very glorious moment when that ball flies across the pitch and right into the top corner.

I wasn’t a fan of Senna’s when he passed. I couldn’t have even cared about race car driving and hadn’t even the slightest clue to who he was until recently. But to “hear” a person live and to bring him back, doing what he loved best, in one of the moments he would be remembered for, with all the passion and the artistry that made him so great, I felt honored just to have seen the video and to know that some time during my life, there was a man who felt so passionate about what he did that he did not fear the one thing that would stop him from ever racing again.

(Turn on the Closed Captions, if you speak English.)

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