“The top scorer is always the best poet of the year”, between football and literature

One thinks he is facing a booklet on football and instead he comes overwhelmed by the literary games that flow quickly on the page, like a ball that goes into the net. Ultimately here is the strength of this book that Alessandro Gnocchi, editor-in-chief of the third page of “Il Giornale”, wrote for Baldini + Castoldi. “The top scorer is always the best poet of the year” – this is the title of the volume that has recently come out – it condenses in fact the great love that the author has towards football and literature: this is also why anyone who is fasting football – and in Italy, like the writer, there are – can only be amazed at the erudition that Gnocchi displays in this book with the same grace that a football champion uses to score goals.

What do you discover by reading this book? A lot of things. For example, “Heidegger was a decent left winger, Camus a good goalkeeper, Derrida center forward, Soriano scored thirty goals in the lower categories of the Argentine championship before breaking a knee … The literature on football, then, is full of examples, from Saba to Sereni, from Arpino to Cancogni and many others ». But even those who claim to know certain authors are surprised – like a goalkeeper stolen by a left-handed shot – that even Antonio Delfini, one of the most irregular writers of the twentieth century, had even dedicated poems to football.

Divided into chapters – even punctuated by a filmology and a series of songs about the world of football – Gnocchi also focuses effectively on how cheering has gradually changed over time to become what it is today.. Gnocchi’s thesis remains suggestive: «What I like about football is its freedom, so similar to that of great poetry. The latter has its own rules: metrics, prosody, rhyme. The poet knows them well, always, even and above all when he decides to ignore them. An example for all. Leopardi plays with the sonnet, and here is the infinite, to like (and transgress). The great champion is similar to the poet. Invent the unique play, a moment of absolute beauty, which escapes all norms. You know Maradona who dribbles half of England and scores his most famous goal? Sport is art. Creativity and technique. Heart and brain. In particular, football is an expression of maximum freedom, guaranteed by the separation of powers ». And away with all the writers and artists who took to the field (epic is the description that Gnocchi makes of the match in Bologna between the cast of the film of Salò di Pasolini, great player, and that of Novecento directed by Bertolucci), but also with books that have made a narrative pivot of the ball. One above all: “The final” written by the Florentine Leonardo Gori. At the end of reading this book – where Gnocchi enjoys whipping even certain football expressions, in vogue among some sports journalists – you have the feeling of loving this sport even more. Or to start loving him. Although the author is a loyal fan of Cremona, one would want to say.

12 October 2021 | 15:22

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