On Saturday, November 24, ten minutes before leaving home to the Monumental to witness the final of the Copa Libertadores, Fernando Cáceres (Buenos Aires, 1969) turned on the television to keep abreast of the last minute news. Then he found out that Boca's bus had been attacked with stones and that the longest Superclásico in the world was entering a waiting time that will end-or so it is supposed-this Sunday in Madrid. "I had tickets but I did not get out of the house. What happened was horrible, sad, there are people who go to the court to do evil, "says the ex-defense of Zaragoza, Valencia and Celta, one of the 100 players who played in River and Boca, and someone who, in an episode infinitely more serious, he embodied the violence of Argentina. In 2009, he received several bullet shots, one in the right eye, by some criminals who tried to steal the car. "The country led to what we are experiencing," reflects Cáceres, still in a wheelchair, but progressing without pause in his rehabilitation, nine years after being on the verge of death.
In his house in the western suburbs of Buenos Aires, his older brother invites them to enter in a hurry ("the thing is screwed, the Negro was stolen here a few years ago"), and Cáceres diagnoses: "In Argentina passion is confused with violence. I played at a time when there were problems, of course, but the passion was real. When we arrived in Zaragoza they told us that we should walk 150 meters from the concentration to the stadium. In Argentina I was used to having the bus leave us next to the locker room, between police and fences. But I started walking and a fan asked me 'How's life, Cáceres?', And we were embraced. There I realized how things should be. And from a visitor they asked us for autographs! What is here is crazy, it does not have to be that way ".
In his house there are four memories of his life as a footballer: two photos of his participation in the World 94 with the Argentine team and two in Zaragoza. The bigger picture shows him raising the Recopa of Europe of 1995, "The one that we beat Arsenal, in Paris, my best years in football". Cáceres was a defender who combined fierceness with the art of the brand, an original product of the Argentinos Juniors school, that of Diego Maradona, Fernando Redondo, Juan Román Riquelme and Claudio Borghi, but also made him want. He had already played 56 games at River between 1992 and 1993 when three years later he signed for Boca, on the return of Zaragoza, and yet no one criticized his previous step: he played 15 games and joined Óscar Ruggeri, Gabriel Batistuta and Claudio Caniggia in the hundred-year-old list of footballers who played in both lanes.
"In River, I discovered what was great: I came from Argentina and the jump was impressive", says El Negro, who was also part of the last title of the Argentine national team, the 1993 Copa América. "And in Boca I played with Maradona, Riquelme and Caniggia. It was not a direct step between one team and another, so nobody told me anything, but it was also another moment. I was never thrown stones during the trip to the stadium. Now there are fans who say 'we are going to kill them' and TV shows them. That is part of the problem, it generates violence. People interpret that they are not rivals but enemies. "
Young people without work
Cáceres is not worried about what happens between those swollen in Spain, but for the future of their compatriots. "Nothing bad will happen in Madrid. People will behave well, but there will be no final environment, I do not like that the Libertadores is defined there, "responds who in 2004 passed to Alfredo Di Stéfano as the Argentine with most games played in Spain (although he was later overtaken by Ariel Ibagaza and Messi), and who of all his visits to Santiago Bernabéu still remembers a triumph 1-2 with Celta in 1998. But when the ex-defense and current president of Fernando Cáceres Fútbol Club returns to refer to violence in Argentina, and not only football, its diagnosis is much less promising.
"No work is generated and young people have nothing to do, they are left without alternatives. It is very difficult for many people, "says Cáceres, also spokesman for a message of reconciliation with the criminals who shot his face in 2009, pierced the base of his skull and caused the loss of his right eye. "The boys were wrong, that's it. Something happened in their life that led them to steal and I came across them. I'm not the one to judge. I wanted to see them in jail to know what had happened to them, just ask them that, I did not want to have a violent reaction, but they did not give me permission, "he laments.
A few days ago, while the country was talking about the disaster of the Monumental party, Fernando Cáceres walked for the first time on his own in the last nine years. "It was very strong, some tears fell," he says next to an image of the Virgen del Pilar that he brought from Zaragoza.