Sunday. 10am. December 18th, 2022. Sewickley, PA.
Settled down to watch the World Cup Final (with my boys, 17 and 19 years old, joined by my neighbor Ajei G.).
The opening (penalty) goal by Messi felt illegitimate (we called it Di Maria dive 😏), but the Argentines redeemed themselves by scoring their second goal (in the first half itself) through an elegant set of passes. Until the 80th minute, the French team looked lack-luster, and as I was resigning to an unmemorable World Cup Final, it happened! Penalty – and Mbappe delivered. Then, just 90 seconds later, Mbappe scored a magnificent second one! Game on! In Extra Time, Messi scored, followed by Mbappe (a hat trick!). Penalty kicks. Mbappe scores. Messi responds. But then, the French miss two. Argentine shooters were flawless. It ended up being a great game to watch, eventually. Indeed, this was one of the most enjoyable World Cup tournaments that I remember watching.
Since when have I been following soccer?
The first time I watched a FIFA World Cup game (on Television) was in 1982, the year I joined IIT-Madras. (Paolo Rossi scores for Italy! I was 16 years old.😳) Then, in 1986 – Maradona’s controversial “Hand of God” episode 😏 – was the year I arrived to the US, to Cornell. (Top Gun!) The Germans were impressive in 1990, the year I graduated from Cornell with my PhD. I loved Miller’s Crossing, one of the last movies I recall seeing at the Indie Theater in Ithaca Commons.
In 1994, I saw Sweden play Switzerland, live in person, in Washington DC. (Brazil was the winner. So different in playing style from Germany.) It was the year of Pulp Fiction. It was also the year I was introduced to Private Jets! 😊 I was in Istanbul (having arrived from Israel) in 1998 to see France win its first World Cup (led by Zinadine Zidane), the year I was made a Full Professor. It was also the year with:
Shakespeare in Love is a 1998 romantic period comedy-drama. It stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck and Judi Dench. Shakespeare in Love received acclaim from critics and was a box office success, grossing $289.3 million worldwide (on a budget of $25 million). The film received numerous accolades, including seven Oscars at the 71st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
In 2002, Brazil won again. I was the CEO at SmartOps, having founded it in 2000, and signed one of our largest and most helpful customers, Deere. (We published three papers on our OM successes at Deere.) As a teenager in India, Robert Ludlum was among my favorite fiction writers, and it was great to see The Bourne Identity (with Matt Damon) this year, inaugurating:
The Bourne franchise consists of action-thriller installments based on the character Jason Bourne, created by author Robert Ludlum. The Bourne series has received generally positive critical reception and grossed over US$1.6 billion.
In 2006, I was in Berlin (on the flight over, Spike Lee was sitting in the row ahead of me👍) during the World Cup, as we were SAP partners (had dinner at an Italian restaurant, saw Pele there with his family, at the next table). I went to see The Audience (with Helen Mirren, many years later, on Broadway) because of:
The Queen is a 2006 British biographical drama film that depicts the events following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. The Queen garnered general critical and popular acclaim for Mirren playing the title role, which earned her numerous awards, including the Academy Award. Mirren was praised by the Queen herself and was invited to dinner at Buckingham Palace. However, Mirren could not attend due to filming commitments in Hollywood.
In 2010, I found out that I was the first person to purchase a 3D Television in Northeastern US; the glasses are inconvenient, yes, but to watch World Cup Soccer in 3D, at home, in Weston, was worth it. It was the year I decided to become an Executive Producer of a Documentary Film. One of the closest Indie Theaters is West Newton Cinema, where, in addition to A Separation (a year later), I saw:
Winter’s Bone is a 2010 American coming-of-age mystery drama film directed by Debra Granik. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence as a poverty-stricken teenage girl named Ree Dolly. The film won several awards, including the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Film at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It also received four Oscar nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Supporting Actor.
Germans demolishing Brazil 7-1 in 2014 was shocking. We were in Tenerife (staying at Abama Ritz Carlton, where Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz were also staying, having breakfast at the next table!) and Madrid during this World Cup. By then, SAP had acquired SmartOps, and I had founded OrganJet. (The Atlantic Profile on OrganJet. And, NEJM perspective too, the same year! ☺️) The movie that attracted most attention was:
American Sniper is a 2014 American biographical war drama film directed by Clint Eastwood. At the 87th Academy Awards, American Sniper received six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor for Bradley Cooper, ultimately winning one award for Best Sound Editing. It grossed over $547 million on a budget of $59 million.
France – with Mbappe in his first World Cup at 19 – won in 2018; I was into Quantum by then, with The Craft of Creativity highlighting IPA and OrganJet (along with JK Rowling). It was great to see Bohemian Rhapsody ($910 million gross on $55 million budget), as Queen (with Freddie Mercury) was one of my favorite music bands as a teenager (along with Pink Floyd, Eagles and such). Coming into 2022, in spite of several pre-arrival injuries, France looked strong, and delivered. But Argentina came to these games with a mission. It was Messi’s last chance to win the most coveted trophy in the sport in which he is among the greatest to have ever played. (In a great year for me – Annus Mirabilis – with many things to be happy about, two things stand out: Irma Vep and DARPA grant!).
The next World Cup will be played in North America. I will be 60 years old. I wonder what I will be thinking of then.