If there is anyone who can boast of the deepest knowledge about football and its history, that is none other than Luciano Wernicke. This Argentine journalist and teacher born in Buenos Aires in 1969 It is a living encyclopedia on the beautiful sport as it has been reflected in not a few books.
His are the titles Soccer Curiosities (1996), Football curiosities 2 (1997), Amazing soccer (2001), New soccer curiosities (2008), Unusual stories from the World Cup (2010, Unusual stories from the Olympic Games (2012) o Unusual soccer stories (2013), his most recent publication in which he honors the 150 years of the beautiful sport and where he reviews more than 500 unmissable stories for a good football fan:
Question: According to your resume, You must spend many hours watching and researching football. Are you sick of the beautiful game?, a madman or a scholar?
Reply: I opt for the third option. My love affair with soccer started as a hobby and, with time and the output of several books, in a beautiful profession. I must tell you that I really like reading about football, especially books on the history of this sport. Every time I travel abroad I buy books on the subject, and I am also a fervent Amazon follower, that allows me to acquire copies from all over the world.
P: You had a more than remarkable success with Unusual Stories of the Soccer World Cups. Do you follow the same line Unusual Soccer Stories?
R: Should i say no. The book on the World Cups reviews each edition from the sporting point of view (best teams, featured players, etc.) Y, especially, through the most curious and fun events that happened on the pitch, on the benches, in the stands or anywhere, always in the context of the tournament. "Unusual soccer stories" (soon to have one or two additional copies) account rare cases of professional or amateur football, from any country in the world, according to a common theme: expulsions, celebrations, champions or strange descents, rout, criminal, sex, meteorology, etc. For the second edition I will narrate cases related to reprimands, penalty shootouts, food and drink, cases with dogs, etc.
P: Where do you get so much incredible history?
R: I gather them from newspapers, magazines or news agencies for 20 years. I have also read over a hundred books from England, Spain, France, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, U.S, Italy ... and I have spent many hours in newspaper archives checking newspapers and magazines from all over the world, to return to the sources and avoid falling into what in many places is known as "googling".
P: In his new publication he talks about the same player who scored four goals in a 2-2, of a goal scored by a dog, another for a seagull. If I had to choose a story to stick with, Which one would you choose?
R: The case of the player who scored all four goals in a completed match 2-2 (Chris Nicholl, by Aston Villa, in 1976) synthesizes the essence of my work: I enjoy telling stories of unforeseen events, surprising, impossible to foresee. "Unusual soccer stories" (that in Spain can be purchased through the digital pages of Fnac, House of the Book or Amazon) includes more than 500 cases of that tenor with a single objective: amuse the reader. You have to read the case of a game suspended by an iceberg, or a tournament that was lost because a player took off his shirt. ¡Notables!
P: A football lover is in a shopping center and in front of him is a pile of football books. Why would I recommend that you take yours and not another? What does Luciano Wernicke contribute that others do not?
R: I think all of us who write about football have a common goal: make the reader have a fun time, nice, far from the controversy and tension that a match or result can generate. I feel very happy every time a reader writes me an email or a tweet to tell me that he laughed a lot with my book. To make my books, I am the one who laughs first every time he comes across one of the wonderful stories that this magnificent sport offers us.
P: You have developed your professional career in Argentina and that is where you have the most followers. But nevertheless, also enjoys a legion of admirers in South America and Spain. Where can a Spanish or South American reader get their Unusual Soccer Stories book?
R: In Latin America there are editions in Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay. From these countries they arrive in Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay and Bolivia. I know that Planeta España studied my book "Unusual Histories of the Soccer World Cups". I don't know why he didn't throw it there. Anyway, as i wrote in another answer, today they are easily available in Europe in e-book version. On "paper" too, via Fnac, Amazon or House of the Book. Maybe some editor of a Spanish publishing house reads this interview and we skip the "puddle" ... ha!
P: I imagine your eyes have seen hundreds of matches and read even more. What do you consider to have been the meeting that most impacted you? It doesn't have to be the best.
R: As a fan of Chacarita, I remember an exciting meeting with River, who planned to become champion that day. They won 4-2 and Chacarita tied in the last two or three minutes. It was very exciting. So much, I was hoarse for a week to shout the goals. In the field “professional”, more than a one-off match, I treasure very special moments: having seen football in famous arenas like Old Trafford, San Siro or the Olympic stadium in Rome. Meeting them was very exciting. As well, having lived a River-Boca or a Flamengo-Fluminense. They are very special derbies.
P: You are very active in your Twitter account where you leave us incredible data but that most mortals suppose to stay a continuous lesson. What is your opinion of social networks and more specifically Twitter in the world of football?
R: Twitter is a fantastic medium, that almost equals the power of print newspapers. Who we are for “communicators”, also implies a responsibility. Can't post anything. I'm not talking about mistakes, that anyone can commit. I mean to provide a serious job, study, research, check the information and give an opinion with respect.
P: Let's talk about the present, or rather in the immediate future. This coming June we have World Cup. Do you dare to give a favorite?
R: Clear: Brazil. But I do not rule out Germany or Spain.
P: Argentina has not won a World Cup since 1986 And he doesn't even know what it's like to reach a semifinal since 1990. But nevertheless, this time he comes with an accessible a priori draw and a cast of spectacular players, especially in attack with Messi and Agüero as the most visible heads.What can we expect from the albiceleste in Brazil?
R: Argentina is a team Messi-dependent, as it was in 1986 Maradona. History shows that Carlos Bilardo knew how to form a team around Diego. No one has yet achieved the same with Lionel.
P: If Argentina is not performing well lately in the World Cup events, the other side is Spain. World champion in 2010 and double champion of Europe, goes to Brazil with the intention of achieving a fourth consecutive international title. Really, sees her more or less strong than other times?
R: I don't know if Spain was “tan” strong in south africa. Lost on debut, won four games 1-0 and could lose to Paraguay. “So strong” was Brazil in 1970, Argentina in 1986, France 1998. Anyway, the red team maintains a high level. Perhaps his performance depends on the hunger his men have for more glory.
P: Finally Diego Costa will play with La Roja. It will in addition to a hostile environment, in your own country and almost certainly with the public against. Do you remember any case similar to that of the Athletic player?
R: Maradona had a very bad time in Italy, when he should have played in Milan, Turin and Rome. With the exception of Naples (where Diego played at that time), the Argentine team had to endure a very hostile environment. Nor was it easy for Italy to win in France 1938, nor for Germany to act in France or England.
R: Switzerland 1954 had the record of goals and a surprise final: Hungary won 2-0 and ended up falling 3-2 Germany. Mexico, in its two editions, enjoyed with formidable teams. And the Italian burst in the second stage of Spain 1982 it was masterful. Perhaps these have been the best editions in terms of colorful football.
P: Good players who have played World Cups there have been many. Skin, Maradona, Ronaldo, Cruyff. Who has been for you the best footballer in the history of the World Cup??
R: I must say Diego Maradona. It was essential for Argentina to reach two World Cup finals. In Argentina, Diego is a terrible burden on Messi's shoulders, who is required to perform similarly. Cruyff was not a champion and Pelé was a great player surrounded by great footballers.
P: Like players, there have also been outstanding teams. Who does not remember Brazil champion of the 70, the Spain that was crowned in 2010 or even to the Holland of 74 o Hungary from 54 that they could not be champions? In his opinion, Which team has been the strongest in history?
R: How difficult it is to compare one team with another throughout history! I stay with two undefeated champions: Brazil 1970 and Argentina in 1986.
To finish I would like you to answer the following ten questions very briefly:
1.The best match you remember: In World, for emotion, Argentina 1-Brazil 0, in Italy 1990.
2.Revelation team in Brazil 2014: Belgium has a lot of potential. Attention with Portugal.
3. Selection that will fail in Brazil: I don't mean one with a light blue and white shirt.
4.First goalkeeper to wear gloves: It is said that it was Lev Yashin, perhaps because of the harsh Russian climate.
5.Stadium that impresses you the most: Maracana and Old Trafford.
6.Best player in the world today: Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi.
7. Favorite for the Champions: Bayern Munich.
8. A coach who would sign if he were president of a team: Guardiola. Conjugate three factors: football knowledge, psychology and teaching.
9. Will Argentina host the World Cup 2030? Should, next to Uruguay. The Centennial must be celebrated in the Río de La Plata and, today, Uruguay alone could not offer the necessary infrastructure.
10. Will his Chacarita ever win the league? He did it in 1969. I doubt that I see it. Maybe it's my son's turn (have 3 years) or my grandchildren.
Thank you very much Luciano Wernicke for giving us your time and we hope that he will continue to publish such interesting books as Unusual Soccer Stories.