Cover of the book The Club of the Forgotten, by Joel Sierra.
At the funeral of Altair Gomes de Figueiredo —Brazilian footballer, the fourth who has played the most games with Fluminense , world champion in 1962— attended, in addition to fifteen friends and relatives, an amateur. Only one. It was 2019. His partner Jair Mariño also attended who, five years before the funeral and before the severe Alzheimer's that Gomes suffered, declared in an interview: "It is not Altair who really suffers from memory problems."
The careers of elite athletes they are usually short. They coincide with physical fullness and capture an attention that tends to disappear once they leave. They can continue to be linked to sport as coaches or as commentators in the media, but the vast majority become part of everyday life. They open a business – a bar, a sports store – and blend in with the people who once admired them from the stands. They continue to be a benchmark for their contemporaries, but only those who really made a difference will transcend.
There is, however, a lineage whose story deserves to be told and, for different reasons, has remained in oblivion. In E l club of the forgotten (Samarkand) the journalist Joel Sierra makes an exercise of memory and selection of small great stories of footballers whose names may not ring a bell for the general public, but whose human trajectories, personalities and achievements complete sports talent. Like that of John Robertson, who came from Scotland to Nottingham Forest as a transfer of balance and ended up promoting the team to the highest category and lifting the European Cup. Or that of Jean-Pierre Adams, the footballer born in Dakar and raised in France. He reached the elite at 22 and retired at 32. On March 17, 1982, he entered for a knee operation. Mismanagement of the anesthesia led to a series of accidents that led him into a coma. 39 years later, he has not awakened again.