Lazaj Marjus is Albanian and supports Real Madrid, but he wears a Milan sweatshirt: “It’s a friend’s, I have to get it signed for him.” He is sitting in the theater of Lorusso and Cutugno with his companions, about thirty men aged 20 to 50, with a criminal record stained for “common crimes” and all students, some of the junior high school and others of the electrician course. They “adopted” Franco Baresi, “the Milan leader of the immortals”, the “free man par excellence”, is how the educator Tommaso Picone presents him, with the enthusiasm, he yes, of a fan.
“I remember him as a child, I grew up with his figurine” says Francesco Tomaino, born in 1988, head tattooed and “same voice as Bobo Vieri: have anyone ever told you that he looks so much like us?”, Baresi tells him from the stage . Most of him remember his fame, more than the matches of him. He stopped playing when many of these students, mostly foreigners, were not yet old enough to take the wrong path.
The former player, silver ball in 1989, was behind bars for a day in this prison, one of the most talked about in Italy (1452 inmates and a recidivism rate of 70%) invited by the Book Fair for the project ” Adopt a writer ”, supported by the Association of Piedmont Banking Foundations and coordinated by Silvia Grivet, who has been teaching Italian and literacy here in these classrooms with colored walls and bars on the windows. They thought of him and his novel – “Free to dream” (Feltrinelli) – because he launches a simple, direct, affordable and motivating message, perfect for the Lorusso and Cutugno audience: “I wanted it to reach the 14-year-olds as well as the 60-year-olds : even when you think that everything is over, when you are overwhelmed by pain and difficulties, getting up is always possible, it takes determination, imagination, training, but it is possible ».
His experience makes him credible, his childhood in the countryside (“that freedom marked me”), the death of his parents at 14 (“I turned despair into strength”), accidents (“I found myself in the chair at wheels without knowing what illness I had “). The autobiography tells all this: “I decided to write it because everyone asked me how I managed to return to the field for the final after just 20 days from such a serious injury”. That same day, at the Pasadena stadium, Baresi missed a penalty from the spot that contributed to Italy’s debacle against Brazil.
So how important is the attitude in the face of defeats like those? asks Olgert Leka, Albanian, who does not have a favorite team and does not follow football “but I have read the book and I like Baresi for what he says”. The answer is unsettling, for those who thought that the final one had remained imprinted as a disgrace in the champion’s existence: “We are human, you don’t always win, but you can learn that finishing second is not so bad, that sometimes the opponent is better. I remember that match as the best of my career, not for the wrong penalty. My thoughts were on performance, on the team and when the fans understand that you have given everything they forgive you ». It is not from these details that he judges himself a player, De Gregori sang in 1982, the year of Baresi’s first world championship (even if he never entered the field).
Olgert has written all the questions in pen, on a squared paper, and there is only one left. She will do it for him at the next meeting (“Adopt a writer” has three). Simone Miele, on the other hand, gets up from the second row and goes to meet him: «I would like you to give me an autograph and I would also like to tell you that we, in here, are doing our best and this is only a provisional time». Best definition could not find it. A provisional time.
And then there are the questions about football and the Bar Sport dissertations by Nigerian Iseghese Muses (“Milanista since childhood”): what do you think of Italy outside the World Cup? “Sorry because it came out badly with a national team within our reach.” Who is the player who has put you in the most trouble? In order “Maradona, Careca, Batistuta, Baggio, Vialli and Mancini”. The myth of him? “Gigi Rivera”. The best defender? “Virgil van Dijk”. What could become a free man like you? “Nobody like me,” he jokes. Why didn’t he train? “I did it with the young people and I liked it, then I would have had to get back into the game and travel a lot, I chose to stay in Milan in my club and next to my family”.
Each answer, an applause, then Baresi dictates the tasks for the next meeting. “Ask yourself: who do I want to be? Where do I want to go? What do I want to have? Who do I want to become? ». Abo Ridial Sarr, for example, has an answer: “I want to be a footballer.” he arrived in Italy 16 years ago, he has been in prison for 6 months: «I used to play in Senegal and I play here too. I am free too ». Franco Baresi from Lorusso and Cutugno.