Without a dream, a man is nothing. It’s a life spent in a stroll. No hustle, no legacy to die with. Not implying that every life strikes gold, but what a waste it would be, to die without trying. Baggio The Divine Ponytail (Il Divin Codino) follows the real-life hustle of Italy’s most beloved player, Roberto Baggio. Like real life, his biographical film envelopes a lot of hits and misses, but in the end, it was a beautiful journey. Roberto started off with a dream, let’s see if he achieves it or not.
What was Roberto Baggio’s Dream?
Roberto always believed that his dream was to win the FIFA World Cup. It started with the 1970’s match when Italy played against Brazil and lost 4-1. A 3-year-old Roberto promised his father that one day he will win the world cup for Italy. It was his only pursuit, since the beginning.
Baggio’s relationship with his Father
Baggio’s father, Florindo had eight kids among which Roberto was one. At an early age, he shared the spotlight by becoming the highest-paid 18 years old. He wanted his father to weigh his worth but to him, he was like everyone else. That created a rift between the two. Roberto always hustled since then to be a center of attraction and it reflected in his game too, as he was accused of lacking team spirit.
The conflict that was established with his father became visible to anyone who tried to stop Baggio. His head coach at Brescia, Carlo Mazzone suggests in the film that most players see their coaches as a father. That is why he always had a problem with his coaches. He wanted the love all for himself.
Baggio The Divine Ponytail (Il Divin Codino) traces down Baggio’s relationship with his father that ultimately acts as the main plot of the film. The film begins with a grudge and ends in gratitude.
What was his Biggest Obstacle?
While playing for Fiorentina, Baggio suffered a leg injury that gave him 220 stitches. The doctor was skeptical about his playing again, but dedication brought him back. However, his injury kept coming back and in a few crucial games of his life, it hurdled his performance.
In the 1994 FIFA World Cup, during the semi-final match, he pulled his hamstring again making him unfit for Italy vs Brazil final. Yet, Baggio insisted on playing. Italy lost the match but Roberto still wanted to give it another try, the last try.
He signed with Brescia to play in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, but six months before the match, he incurred another leg injury. At age of 35, he was too old for another surgery. His manager insisted on playing and coach Giovanni Trapattoni promised to take him to the world cup, only if he will be fit enough to play. Roberto recovered in 3 months but controversially he was dropped out of the world cup squad.
Why did he sport a Ponytail?
His ultimate goal was to play football but after suffering a crucial leg injury, he gave up all hope to play again. In 1998, he met a record store owner, Maurizio Crosetti who introduced him to Buddhism and the teachings of Japanese Philosopher, Daisaku Ikeda. The Buddhist philosophy filled him with a new focus and energy which he diverted towards achieving his ultimate goal, winning the World Cup.
His ponytail, referred to as The Divine Ponytail in the film’s title is a reference to his Buddhist beliefs. He decorated his pony with beats (a divine symbol in the religion). The ponytail later became his signature and he was popularly recognized for it.
Has Roberto Baggio ever won a World Cup?
No, he never won a World Cup. In 2002, Brescia excluded him from the team, therefore, shattering his ultimate dream to ever win a World Cup. However, the film in the end establishes that it wasn’t Baggio’s dream after all.
A final conversation with his father near the river suggested that his father lied about his ultimate goal. His father told him that at the age of 3, he was asleep and too small to understand the game, and thus, he never actually promised to win a world cup against Brazil. It was a myth he told him after his injury so that Baggio doesn’t break down and focus on his journey.
Florindo knew from the start that Baggio had talent. However, rather than working on his game, he was looking out for validation. He didn’t want his son to waste his talent by moving away from his path. Therefore, he gave him a target to always focus on. The mythical dream not only saved Baggio from committing suicide after his injury but also helped him to keep moving forward. His goal filled him with the energy to hustle. The lie made him a legacy, a legend.
In the end, Roberto Baggio might not have won a World Cup, but he earned his father’s love, the love of all Italy, and legacy to live after he has gone. Like his friend, Vittorio Petrone said, “What’s more important is the journey. We discover real goals along the way.” Baggio had a mesmerizing journey, something aspiring footballers will look upon for ages.
Baggio The Divine Ponytail (Il Divin Codino) is an Italian biographical film based on the real-life of Italy’s most beloved player, Roberto Baggio. The film is written and directed by Letizia Lamartire.
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