Juan Cueto I always had the glasses of the future.
When he hired me to take the sports of Canal +, the first thing he did was take me the next day to Paris, where Canal + was already a successful and refreshing formula. Never before had we spoken, except for an occasional greeting in the EL PAÍS newsroom. Of course, I knew his multifaceted work, from his adventure as manager from Gitano Giménez, European boxing champion, to his weekly articles The dinosaur cave, his television criticism in The weekly country.
That trip was a discovery for me. He did not care about the past, only what was to come. He made me considerations about what awaited us in the future (some referred to football and sports, others to this group of companies), which were literally fulfilled at ten or twenty years.
His project was to renew, vanguard. Cinema, football and communication, the three discoveries of the 20th century, he was passionate, and he was happy to unite them in a new project, guided by his hand and by collaborators who only asked us to innovate.
When we talked about possible signings, I insisted:
-Better strangers, people who have not done anything on any TV before. New figures
So we were recruiting Carlos Martinez, Ignacio Lewin, Jorge Valdano, Michael Robinson… This fascinated him, for his self-confidence, as he had fascinated Valdano for his culture, then a transgression in the world of football. And for the mischievous idea of contravening the initial instruction with which he was urged to use only "Castilian of Valladolid" in Canal +.
The latest in cameras, the latest in ideas. Everything that occurred to us was welcome in exchange for the least possible resemblance to the previous. No experiment was stopped and everyone had their breath.
His obsession with football, of which he was a devotee (he was also a director of Sporting de Gijón for a while), was to give him a cultural avant-garde tone, take away that kind of military dandruff that he still had. It came to us that the first season of Canal + Spain coincided with the appearance of the Cruyff Dream Team, with its bold, well-crafted football, and those Cruyff and Carles Rexach enjoying it from the bench, with their trench coats and their lollipops. That coincided exactly with our aspirations.
And the integral vision. Soccer is everything, from the dribble to the father who loses the son in the stands (The day after), chess (that Atocha de Robin), or controversy, but always from the perspective of dignity.
And not only football. We gave many other sports, but always starting with the best. If it was rugby, the Five Nations (today there are six). Yes tennis, Wimbledon. Yes, boxing, Tyson and successors. If athletics, the Golden League. If basketball, the NBA or the March Fever … always with the same concern: the sport is cutting edge, it explains where the society is going, it should be treated with respect, from the silence when the hymns sounded in the Five Nations, to the quality of the boxing commentators, Garci and Julio César Iglesias.
That started in 1990. Indeed, today's sport is something else, I would almost say that it is exactly the thing he told me he would become. What he saw then that distant day, when we traveled to Paris and spoke to me with his glasses of the future.