The Best FIFA Football Awards
- Andrea Bocelli gives his opinion on the best player in the world.
- The tenor remembers the Italian coronations in Spain 1982 and Germany 2006
- He talks about his performance in Leicester City stadium and You’ll never walk alone.
Luciano Pavarotti accepted death in the soul to give up a potential career in the cages to pursue another in the lyric song. And become one of the greatest tenors in history. Like her idol, Andrea Bocelli grew up loving the football and music. At the age of five months, she was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma. And at 12, he lost his sight permanently after catching a ball in the eye while playing in the net.
That didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most record-selling musical artists in history. His duet with British soprano Sarah Brightman, Time to Say Goodbye (I will leave with you), is one of the best-selling singles of all time. That didn’t stop him from continuing his love affair with the football, either.
Ahead of The Best FIFA Football Awards ™, which you can follow live on FIFA.com on December 17th at 7:00 p.m. CET, Bocelli talks about all things football.
Andrea, you have been an Inter Milan supporter since you were a teenager in the 1960s. Who were your idols and what sparked your passion for this club?
I have loved football since I was a child. At that time, at the boarding school, I was listening All football minute by minute (All the football minute by minute) on a radio station at the boarding school. It is the great passion of all Italians. We never get rid of it. It’s a way to prolong childhood, even at my age. When I became a staunch Inter supporter, there was a big team, which won everything. We had a fantastic squad that I remember perfectly, like any self-respecting Inter fan: Sarti, Burgnich, Facchetti, Bedin, Guarneri, Picchi, Jair, Mazzola, Domenghini, Suarez, Corso.
Do you share this passion for Inter with your family?
I’ve passed this on to my two sons, Amos and Matteo, and I admit that I try to do the same with my eight-year-old daughter, Virginia, even though she doesn’t seem particularly interested. It has been very trying to be an Inter supporter in recent years because they are a team that always hurts. There are some great players that I really admire in the current squad: Romelu Lukaku, for example, because he always puts his heart into what he does on the pitch, and Alessandro Bastoni, who is also a friend, Stefan de Vrij, and the new recruit, Achraf Hakimi.
How would you describe the atmosphere in a football stadium compared to that of concert halls? Does it arouse different emotions in you?
The weight of responsibilities is very different. In a stadium, even if there is a lot of passion, I am a simple supporter, while in concert, it is I who have to put the ball to the bottom each time, without making any mistakes. Apart from that, football can arouse the same feelings that come over you in an opera, in some ways. In its sense of ritual, its ability to generate healthy fanaticism and exaggerated tribalism, football is a reflection of life in the form of a game. It evokes the challenges of death, outbursts of generosity and heroism, of fatal mishaps and magnificent victories. Either way, it’s a game, but a game that is taken very seriously. A game that fascinates and moves, which unites and divides. The stage of an opera, like a football field, is an arena populated by heroes. The actors of the dream that we choose to live, tightrope walkers who run, mimic battles, deliver virtuoso performances, love and hate, fall and rise, are exposed to the judgment of the stands, all in precarious balance between glory and defeat .
Who do you think is the best player in the world right now?
I would say it’s a subtle mix between Ronaldo and Messi. Maybe Messi is the best technically, while Ronaldo is superior athletically.
What is your first memory of the World Cup?
My first precise memory dates back to 1970, when Italy reached the final in Mexico, beating West Germany 4-3 in a legendary game that is still dubbed “The Game of the Century”. Unfortunately, we lost in the final against Brazil’s Pelé.
What do you think of Italy’s chances for the next UEFA EURO and the next World Cup?
These are two very important events in international football. Hopefully we can experience them safely, having the pleasure of being able to kiss and exult together in the stadiums again. I will not venture to make predictions, but being of an optimistic and patriotic nature, I am convinced that I will have excellent results to celebrate.
Between that of Spain 1982 and that of Germany 2006, which of these two world crownings of Italy made you vibrate the most?
Both made me vibrate. In 1982 the victory was clearer, of course. In Spain, we fully deserved to win and we imposed ourselves largely against a large West Germany. In 2006, I followed the World Cup with my sons and it was very emotional. But we won on penalties, in extremis, on a penalty from Fabio Grosso. Two very great moments to experience, but two very different moments.
You sang in Leicester City stadium after the club’s Premier League coronation under Claudio Ranieri. Where did the idea for this service come from?
It was a unique and very pleasant moment to experience, straddling football and my sense of patriotism. I was really blown away by Leicester’s course. They lived an authentic fairy tale thanks to their talent and their collective. It is a lesson in life. This reminds us of a great truth: with the will, anything is possible. And it is a compatriot, Claudio Ranieri, who was at the head of this adventure. So I asked my friend Javier Zanetti for his number. And I called him directly to tell him how much I admired him and to offer him to sing for his team. We set a date and luckily it coincided with a sensational day of celebrations: their first Sunday as Premier League winners, at King Power Stadium.
One of the tracks from your new album, Believe, is the famous You’ll Never Walk Alone. Why did you choose it?
It is one of the most moving and loved songs in football history, but I chose it because of the deep spirituality it expresses. It’s a song that brings people together, that warms the hearts of crowds. And it is a kind of declaration of love, of collective solidarity, of unity during dark times. She seemed perfect for Believe, an album that was born during a difficult year, with the idea of creating a series of tracks that would soothe souls. Varied titles, without constraints of style or period, but each, in its own way, able to offer those who listen to it the motivation to find their own spiritual dimension, to listen to their reasoning.
You had a friendship bond with Luciano Pavarotti. In 1990, No Dorma became the musical identity of the World Cup in Italy. What work do you think conveys, through its words, the dramatic side of football?
You could almost say that No Dorma is the signature of Luciano Pavarotti. In addition to being the hymn of victory for all tenors, its aria, with this’I will win‘(I will win) passionate, repeated three times, summed up both Maestro Pavarotti’s radiant personality and his existence. The decision to make this Puccini aria the official musical theme of the World Cup was an extraordinary idea in terms of its power and efficiency, an idea that I fully approved. I remember myself, a football fan and a young opera singer trying to make a name for myself, literally glued to television. I was struck by the fact that this experience, this brilliant and judicious decision, in its simplicity, touches people, returns the opera to its audience, restores an image of a young opera singer, or rather of a tenor, which had gradually been lost over time.
All winners, including those of the FIFA Fan Award and the FIFA Fair Play Award, will be crowned on December 17, 2020 in a live television broadcast that begins at 7 p.m. (CET).
Join the discussion on this year’s award winners using the hashtag #TheBest.