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A country that has managed to rise despite the latest dramatic terrorist attacks. A year ago I wrote about footballers and their connection with the city, a year later they are in the quarterfinals of the world championship.
A year ago the fear of terrorism was also growing in Belgium. The Abdelslam brothers set fire to the news with their acts of terrorism. For the first time the world was aware of a reality hidden for too many years: Brussels has also become the capital of the world. Those men, who grew up in the multicentric reality of the Belgian capital, shared supermarkets, bars and squares with some of the most representative players of the Red Devils. Players like Marouane Fellaini, Ferreira Carrasco and Vincent Kompany, absolute stars of a country that makes unity between peoples its strength. Only a year ago, however, the quiet everyday life of the Belgian capital was disturbed. At 8:00 am the first bomb exploded at the airport. At 9:11 am the last one exploded in Molembeek station, one of the beating hearts and absolute symbol of integration of the company.
The press is delirious, everyone wants to discover what turns out to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Europe, the ugly part of Tangier exported to the old continent.
The Moroccan, Marouane Fellaini
Meanwhile, miles away, someone who grew up nearby is starting to worry. His family still lives there, in Etterbek, a few metro stops from Molembeek. Marouane is afraid, her Moroccan origins don’t help. He is afraid that the police will target his friends only for their origins, for their culture. For always being associated with men who muddy the honor of calling themselves Moroccans. Fellaini knows it, but he cannot explain it. He locks himself in the house and spends the whole day on the phone. He wants to stay updated, he wants to be ready to help anyone who needs it.
Meanwhile, the Maghreb community is upset, everyone is starting to doubt each other. There is no more peace in the neighborhoods of the capital. A manhunt continues, with no one guilty and too many innocents. Too much popular anxiety, too much to lose because of those few who have betrayed the dream of many. Meanwhile, the Belgian footballers pick up the phone and start writing to each other, trying to make each other strength, to delete this monster that you want to introduce into the minds of the country. Who wants to destroy the good things done by their fathers, a dream called hope.
The Albanian, Adnan Januzaj
On the red bank of Manchester Marouane is not the only one to worry about his loved ones. There is perhaps one player who is suffering most of all, his name is Adnan, he is 21 years old and comes from Moleembek. The fear in this case is more immediate than that of the colleague, stronger and unstoppable. He lived in those places, played and made himself great. He knew that meter that was detonated as his pockets. It was the one she took to go home after the first good nights on the streets of Brussels. The 2 Abdelslam brothers had probably also seen them on the streets of his neighborhood. 2 normal guys who maybe even asked him for a cigarette. The fatalities of life.
Meanwhile, anxiety grows, the number of victims rises. The 2 fellow villagers get together and also call the companions of the opposite side of Manchester: De Bruyne and Kompany.
The captain, Vincent Kompany
If Kevin’s presence is strong, Vincent’s presence is stronger. He is the captain of Belgium, the national team that perhaps most of all relies on different peoples to win. He first feels involved in the facts, he is from Uccle, a few kilometers from the now well-known hamlet of Brussels. He must show everyone which side he is on, who is also the owner of a club on the outskirts of the capital. It is he who must carry the hard task of showing the world which side the Red Devils are on. Then he activates himself, takes the PC and starts writing, without fear. He is the captain, the pride of his people, the pride of those who, starting from the bottom, managed to touch the stars.
Vincent remembers when his father raised him and his 2 siblings alone, with no one lifting a finger to help him, even with his tongue as an obstacle, but with the dream of giving this country to his children. He also remembers the effort to grow with the duty to take what he wanted, because nobody would have given it to him. Of having to give up his dreams for a job that brought food to his family. But he also remembers the possibilities that this country has given to him, his companions and the 2 Abdelslam brothers. Traitors in his eyes of the most beautiful gift one could receive: a flag. A flag that binds you to the body, light as the air and at the same time intense as the embrace of a lover. Something you would never want to part with, something you are afraid of losing.
Nobody who has a little humanity will forget that March 22nd. None of those players will ever be the same. However, we must remember, to allow others to understand, to make them understand what it means to be afraid for your origins, for your city, for your flag. In a country that welcomes and that in these days will celebrate the commemorations of those dramatic events.
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