Probably, you have already read several times the story the Cinderella at the 2014 World Cup, but I am going to tell you my side of the story.
We have the secret of happiness hidden in every corner of the country.
I belong to an unhappy generation that could not be part of the most glorious moment in Costa Rican football history until now:
In 1990 – our parents, grandparents, as well as teachers everybody have told us the historical participation of “La Sele” in Italy over and over again and we do not have those memories.
After 1990, Costa Rica participated in two more World Cups: Korea/Japan in 2002 and Germany in 2006. Both cases eliminated in the group stage. The ghost of the second stage gotten in Italy grew every four years.
An important part of this story is that we are an army-free country. We have no armed forces since 1948 and we are very proud of it. We have since then, invested in education and environment and nature conservation. We have several blue-zones in our country and our life expectancy is 79 years. Thanks to all that, we are one of the happiest countries in the world and football is another of the reasons of that happiness.
That’s why we were incredible joyful when we reach the opportunity of participating in Brazil 2014. It was like a dream to us, after the unpleasant episode that left us out of South Africa 2010. And here is where begins the second chapter of the story.
Costa Rica is well known for its beaches, mountains, adventure activities, cozy hotels…this is a beautiful country to visit, but not a football power. And we had the good luck to be part of the Group D with Uruguay, Italy and England. Yes, the “Group of death” with three World champions and the Cinderella.
We doubt and we got a little bit scared. But you already know this part of the story: we beat Uruguay, Italy and tied with England. We classified to the second stage as first of the group. We reached again the second stage, and my whole generation was living it.
But that’s not the end yet. We faced Greece and won the game in shootouts. Yes, we classified to quarters, something we have never done before. We played against Netherlands and even when they won the game, we celebrate being one of the best eight teams of the world.
A crowd is waiting for the players in the streets of San José while I am writing this note. Now I have a beautiful story to tell. The story of a country that gave much more than anybody had expected.