The Eternal Promise that was never fulfilled?
Even among the brightest of stars, he shone with his own brilliance.
May be… no, definitely. Definitely, God exists. I saw the Lord that day. He was cloaked in white like an angel. He looked divine. His hair… so silky… so bright. The radiance it exuded was blinding, but that is not what blinded the opponents that day.
On a field of green moved bodies wrapped in white and sky blue. It felt as though the blue sky, accompanied by the dancing white clouds, was taking over the green mat. There was a ball somewhere in the background and it flew in from the right.
It ricocheted to a mortal wearing the sky blue. He kicked it away. You see, the first objective is to not allow that ball to hit the inside of the net you are defending – there is one at each end of the field – and, hence, that mortal was desperate to get it away from his side.
However, he could only kick the ball as far as, well, an angel with silky golden hair that shined like the stars on a moonless night. In front of him stood six bodies draped in sky-blue – his opponents – and three in white shirts, his teammates.
Had the ball fallen at the feet of a mere mortal, he would have released it towards the wings. But the angel had already seen something that nobody else had even noticed. Without even looking up, the headbanded heartthrob flicked the ball between three opponents with the heel of his left boot.
The ball cut straight through them like a Samurai sword through butter and found its way to another maestro who looked stunned as he hadn't expected that pass. And he caressed the ball above the final hurdle in front of the goal – the goalkeeper – and put it into the net.
That day… that day, He was there. And I saw Him. Everybody saw Him. He was wearing white with the number 14 on his back. The name above it read ‘Guti’. And the scoreboard now read: Real Madrid 3-1 Sevilla.
He was back at it again. There is something about Him and His left foot. It never ceases to amaze. It is almost as though his heel was the brush with which the universe was painted. This time, it was at the Riazor where he orchestrated a universe that exuded pure magnificence.
Madrid were on the counter as Kaka slid the ball through two defenders and into the path of Guti. The magician had only the goalkeeper to beat, but, nah, shooting would be too easy, too mainstream. Everyone would have done that.
Everyone, but not Guti – he isn’t your average player. He simply caressed the ball with his toe and then suddenly back-heeled it towards the onrushing Benzema. Everyone, including the Frenchman, was shocked. What they witnessed at that moment was something they were never going to see again.
Benzema was so sure that Guti would shoot that he had actually stopped running. When he saw the pass though, he instantly awoke from the slumber and blasted the ball into an empty net.
The Bernabeu was on its feet. Why wouldn’t it be? Vicente del Bosque called it the “backheel of God." The media wanted Guti back in the Spanish team and the world wanted to just sit back and watch the blonde-haired Omniscient One intertwine magical worlds with his passes.
Guti: The God with flaws
But Guti is Guti, a God with flaws. He never shared a great relationship with any of his coaches, except for Jorge Valdano – the man who gave him his chance in the first team – and Vicente del Bosque.
His relationship with the rest of his bosses, though, wasn't all too convincing. There is an infamous incident that still does the rounds in Spain about how Guti told then-manager Manuel Pellegrini to “f**k off” after the coach insisted that he wasn’t putting in enough effort and should be replaced at half-time, in that infamous Cup game against Alcorcon.
The entire blame, however, can’t lie on his shoulders. Madrid back then were interested in making their grass green by replacing their own with the outlandish crops purchased from abroad – and Guti was one of the biggest victims of that policy.
"All the doors are closing on me. I was improving as a midfielder and Zidane arrived. I was improving as a forward and Ronaldo arrived. I'm now in the national team as a midfielder and Beckham comes," a very frustrated Guti said in 2003 following the arrival of David Beckham.
It perfectly demonstrated the role he had at the club – always the first substitute and never the first man in the starting XI. But on his day, he was the greatest passer the game ever witnessed. He could make passes that even Zidane was envious of.
His volatile nature might have made him look like a fool, but his passing intelligence was light-years ahead of his peers. Those taconazos to the two Frenchmen were mere illustrations of the bigger picture that Guti could paint. As Ramon Calderon once said, Guti was the "eternal promise" - sadly, a promise that was never fulfilled.
In a green-lit sky, there was a star that glowed with effulgence and basked the world with radiance. When it appeared, the nightingales sang and the chakora birds drank the nectar from its rays. The world on which it bestowed its vivacity was always in joie de vivre and there was never any darkness. Never.
Oh, Guti. Oh, you golden-haired flawed-God. What did we do to deserve you? What did we do to lose you? You came, you saw, you conquered, but you faded too soon with only a momentary glow – but in that moment, we were never alone… your light, it kept us going. It… it showed us the way.
The way of God.