Street football, Havana: photo by AL/EX, 7 April 2007
"The penalty kick I blocked is going down in the history of Leticia," a young Argentine wrote in a letter from Colombia. His name was Ernesto Guevara and he was not yet "Che". In 1958 he was bumming around Latin America. On the banks of the Amazon, in Leticia, he coached a soccer team. Guevara called his travelling buddy "Pedernerita". He had no better way of praising him.
Adolfo Pedernera had been the fulcrum of River's "Machine". This one-man orchestra played every position, from one end of the front line to the other. From the back he would create plays, thread the ball through the eye of a needle, change the pace, launch surprise breakaways; in front he would blow goal keepers away.
The urge to play tickled him all over. He never wanted matches to end. When night fell, stadium employees would try in vain to stop him from practicing. They wanted to pull him away from football but they couldn't, because the game wouldn't let him go.
Eduardo Galeano: from El fútbol a sol y sombra (Football in Sun and Shadow), 1995, English translation by Mark Fried, 1998
Havana 2: photo by AL/EX, 2 March 2007
Che monument, Santa Clara: photo by AL/EX, 2 March 2007