It was April 2nd, 1986. Real Madrid had just lost the first leg of the semifinals of the UEFA Cup of the 1985-86 season against Inter Milan by a result of 2-0. The local fans were euphoric as they achieved a good result trying to defeat the current tournament champion in the second leg. Juan Gómez “Juanito”, player and emblem of Real Madrid, addressed several players of the Italian team with the phrase “90 minuti en el Bernabeu son molto longos” (it could be translated into English as “90 minutes in Santiago Bernabeu Stadium are very long”). He was referring to the fact that Inter had not yet won the semifinals, only the first leg. There was still the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium so that Inter could defeat the current champion … or not. In the 2nd leg match, played on April 16th, 1986, Madrid tied the result of the first leg, forcing extra time in which they finally beat the Italian team by a result of 5 to 1. Apart from qualifying for the final, it was born at that time a mythical phrase from one of the icons of Real Madrid, Juanito, who – 28 years after his tragic death in a car accident – continues to be remembered by the fans in the 7th minute of each game (7 was his usual number).
And I have to tell you that this phrase has impacted me since then. I was not yet 12 years old and I remember perfectly when I heard it for the first time more than 34 years ago. I found it very interesting and I remember it frequently. It serves me a lot both in my personal and professional challenges.
- On one hand, it helps me have feelings of caution when things are going well. When you are winning a game, when things are going well for you on a professional level when you have many clients, you make a good living … I remember perfectly Juanito’s famous phrase. And it makes me think that it won’t always be this way. That you have to be careful because one day, the game will not go so well, our life will not be so positive. Sometimes, in moments of success, we get carried away by the enthusiasm and make mistakes that can have a negative impact in the future. I like to balance the moments of euphoria by being very realistic. We have to value success in its fair measure because, as they say, “success weakens” and can harm you very negatively.
- Remembering Juanito’s quote also helps me when things go wrong. It helps me bear in mind that the game I’m playing is going to be longlasting. That I am going to have the possibility to overcome it or to play new games. That life will allow me to recover, to try it again. Nothing is forever and “there is no harm that lasts one hundred years.” So when something is complicated I start to think about the second leg. What do I have to do to be able to overcome the score, to be able to turn around the negative situation that I am experiencing.
In short, a very simple quote, but one that has become an icon and that has accompanied me in the last 34 years. Remembering that matches are longlasting helps me to be cautious when everything is going well … and also helps me to have hope when everything goes wrong. Life tends to give us new chances in the games we are playing and keep trying (see my post from a while ago “Persevere … or not”). Because as Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts”.