The World Cup Trophy and I
I'm a pretty low-key guy by nature.
Ask my co-workers. They'll tell you that I keep my head down at the office, barely saying a word during the course of the day and rarely looking up from computer screen.
I'm all business and don't show much emotion, to the point that I've been accused of being a snob.
But on Wednesday I was a like a little kid on Christmas Day, bouncing around the CBC Building as though I'd just ripped the wrapping off a pile of presents.
What could possibly cause me to come out of my shell with such reckless fervour? It could only be the arrival in Canada of the greatest prize in all sports turned me into a raging adolescent.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy touched down on Canadian soil for the very first time on Wednesday and spent the day on public display at the CBC Building in downtown Toronto. Judging by the number of people who showed up, you'd have thought the Stanley Cup was here.
Approximately 3,000 soccer fans come down to the building to catch a glimpse of the famous trophy that has been held aloft by some of the greatest players in history. Each of one of them waited in line to have their photo taken with the trophy, including yours truly.
No, I wasn't able to touch it - that privilege is reserved for heads of state and players who have actually won the World Cup, and sadly, I don't make the cut on both counts.
Still, standing next to the trophy while it was encased in glass while having my photo taken was a thrill of a lifetime.
After the photo-op, I rushed back to my desk and quickly downloaded the pics from my digital camera. The photos were quickly posted on m Twitter page, phone calls were made to friends and family, and one photo became the new background on my computer.
For the next hour, I kept calling over a string of people (colleagues, my bosses, even strangers) to look at the photo and verify that it wasn't a dream. Thankfully, I hadn't imagined it. I really was that close to the World Cup Trophy, and here's the evidence.
It was a great day, because the experience also brought back a flood of memories, as I recalled the countless World Cup games and memorable moments I've witnessed over the past 28 years.
Foremost among them being Dino Zoff holding the Cup in the air after Italy defeated Germany in the 1982 final in Madrid. The time Maradona slalomed through the entire England defence and scored the Goal of the Century in 1986. Watching Paul Gascoigne reduced to tears in the 1990 semifinal.
And, most recently, watching Fabio Grosso convert from the penalty spot in Berlin to give Italy its fourth title.
The World Cup Trophy is the ultimate symbol of sporting excellence, representative of the biggest sports event on the planet - yes, the World Cup is even bigger than the hallowed Olympics.
That's not to take away anything from hockey, baseball, basketball or football. These are all fine sports that I watch and enjoy. But soccer is the best sport in the world, the World Cup the greatest sports event on the planet.
And the fact that I was lucky enough to be so close to the World Cup Trophy, even for the briefest of moments, was something that I will never forget.
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About the Author
John F. Molinaro is a reporter for CBCSports.ca whose chief love is soccer.
John served as senior editor of CBC's 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup website and was the driving force behind our coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. His work on CBC Sports Online's Euro 2004 site earned him a CBC.ca Award of Excellence.
He holds an honours BA in sociology from York University and a print journalism diploma from Sheridan College.