We were happy and we knew it well. Happiness, absence of fear? Yes, because that evening, April 28, 2018, Gonzalo Higuain from Brest took fear and eradicated it from the hearts of all Juventus fans: free kick, beats Dybala, scrum, his head sticking out among the other heads, Handanovic motionless, for a moment San Siro falls silent – suspended – and the ball that settles in the opposite corner, a part of San Siro that explodes, the fear that dissolves and the happiness that manifests itself: it is a state of intoxication, uncontrolled , irrational and unexpected, but perhaps always desired. We were happy and we knew it well.
Gonzalo Higuain yesterday announced that he will stop playing football. And raise your hand who, with the mind, with the heart, with the memory, has not returned to that late spring evening in Milan. Scudetto goal par excellence. At the comeback. The averted danger that the Scudetto slipped out of hand to end up on the chest of the rival – for Gonzalo – more felt. But was it just that, Gonzalo Higuain? Of course not. Speaking of Naples, the Argentine was a choice made and defended: he, to leave a people who praised him, adored him as only those around Vesuvius know how to do. An inordinate passion that Higuain gave up. For Napoli a betrayal. For Juve a gesture of love. Not only that, of course: Higuain came to Turin to raise the level. To compete with more important goals. A wedding also of interest. But wanted and never denied. He was happy, Higuain, when smiling he held up his black and white 9. And he knew it well.
And almost as if he wanted to justify his choice, he always did wrong at Napoli, not apologizing. The more you insult me, the more I score. But no, it wasn’t just that, Gonzalo Higuain. He was the striker of one of the most beautiful Juve of the decade: that lasted from January 21 to June 2, 2017. But even before, when those on the bench struggled to see them all together on the pitch, Pipita never marked a visit: flashes of football omnipotence against Roma at home and in the derby in December 2016; or even earlier, those few seconds between his debut and his first goal with Juventus at Fiorentina: it was still August. Almost a year later, but always in the same season, in May: Louis II, Montecarlo, the last chisel on a sublime counter-attack. A sentence.
Without needing to explain why, the story of his first season can even end on that night. And start again with the San Siro brace against Milan, or from the nostalgic Lisbon, to save the result against Sporting. And continue in the night of Wembley: another comeback, but this time Higuain starts it, scoring the equalizer and bringing the ball immediately in the middle of the field. Three minutes later Paulo Dybala will score, accompanied, almost lulled, alone in front of Lloris, by an enchanting ball from Gonzalo himself. We were delighted and God, if we knew. From Argentine to Argentine, like in Milan a month and a half later.
Then every story, even the most beautiful, ends. Often because someone else arrives. And in our history the other is not just any one: it’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Higuain knows, Higuain understands: he has to make room for him. But some goodbyes, even if they are consumed, remain somehow conceptually wrong: the one between Higuain and Juve is all on the evening of 11 November at San Siro (again him!). A wrong penalty, a defeat, an expulsion, the anger, the delicacy of Blaise Matuidi. A punishment that Gonzalo did not deserve. So fate repays him with a Europa League won with Chelsea and with his future manager.
Yes, because the story between Higuain and Juventus was missing an ending. And it is another Scudetto, another goal against Napoli, another against Inter, a playstation against Udinese, a supporting role this time accepted. Before Covid called everything into question, even the priorities of a footballer who is first of all, and will remain, a sensitive man. A man who stirred emotions. And that the Juventus world has also followed from afar. A man – and a footballer – who today concludes a part of his story. It was nice to be part of it: because you made us happy, and aware of it.