After a 30 hour bus ride from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Lima, Peru – I got to meet a legendary Peruvian soccer player: German Leguia. German was kind enough to tell me stories about the world cups he had participate back in 1978 and 1982 with the Peruvian National Team. He also talked about the conditions under which they played as kids in Peru and his loved for Club Universitario de Deportes!
“Let’s be honest, the soccer fields were terrible. They were dusty and with little grass. The soccer balls were huge and heavy, same as the soccer shoes, extremely heavy. We had no brand shoes under the military government. Imports were prohibited, so, we used shoes made here that weighted over 2 kilos. It was even funny to play like that, we learned to play the hard way but once we played in nice fields it was easier to adapt.
I had a lot of offers from many teams but I stayed in Universitario because of the emotional attachment to the team. Nowadays, players kiss the team’s jersey and the next session they are on another team ending up in an average of 10 different teams. That emotional attachment to a team is gone. I tell kids to keep the love, to love soccer and that will lead your path to the national team.
World Cups are unbelievable and the organization of such event. In moments you are playing with teams like Argentina in 1978 who had major stars. Or, seeing players like Zico or Pelé at the event and the opportunity to play with the best of the world. These are players that I saw on TV, and now asking myself: “Would I be there as well next to them?”.
It’s like a national holiday back home when we represent Peru in the World Cup. I always said, not even the man who step on the moon will feel what I felt by being in a World Cup! To dress the National Team’s jersey, in my case the Peruvian jersey, is the biggest honor! it doesn’t have a price tag!”