Fifty-five goals and 12 assists in 105 appearances. Two Serie A titles. Two Coppa Italia titles.
Two brilliant seasons in the No. 9 shirt.
After a controversial transfer from Napoli, two action-packed seasons for Juventus, and a blockbuster summer 2018 transfer window, Gonzalo Gerardo Higuaín has left Juventus in a manner that is almost too quiet for my liking. It’s certainly too quiet when you look at the aforementioned statistics that he conjured during his time at Juventus. Perhaps the monumental arrival of a certain Portuguese chap made Higuaín’s departure somewhat of a sorry afterthought.
Such an afterthought is wholly undeserving to a player that gave such soul, such emotion, and such energy to the Juventus cause for two wonderful seasons.
As a result, I felt compelled to write some words of gratitude in the form of a letter to the departing striker. This is not a melodramatic eulogy, merely a sign of thanks to a man I greatly respect and felt an odd, yet surprisingly strong sense of affection for.
The last three years have been quite something for you, haven’t they? From the high of smashing a historic Serie A scoring record, to the low of the horrific hatred you experienced from Napoli fans due to your controversial transfer to Juventus, to then twice suffering heartbreak in the Champions League against your former employers Real Madrid. As a result, the circumstances of your departure feel strangely anticlimactic. Little fanfare, little debate, little controversy.
You’re just ... gone.
Such are the unceremonious ways of life, I suppose. The club needed money due to the crazy summer transfer window so, just like that, you became a dispensable cog in the merciless machine. It’s the unfortunate reality of life and I’m genuinely sorry to see it happen this way.
I felt compelled to write this letter because, quite frankly, I always really liked you. I feel terrible that so few are giving you the recognition and gratitude that you deserve after two fantastic seasons at Juventus. You deserve far better than that.
What was it about you that made me feel this way, you ask? I think there was something about the look in your eyes when you scored (important) goals for Juve that really resonated with me emotionally. I don’t know you, I’ve never met you, and I doubt that I ever will, but that look made me think that you are a man fighting your inner demons, just like so many of us do every single day. It made me see and relate to you not as a football player, but as a human being.
A few months ago I wrote about how you reminded me of that brilliant kid at school who, despite his talents, never quite believed in himself. The kid who never thought he was good enough and, despite how much he tried and hard he worked, rarely received the recognition and appreciation he deserved.
Or should I say, you reminded me of myself.
There was something about you that gave me the impression that no matter how many goals you scored or how much proof there was of your abilities, you still felt like you weren’t good enough. Although I’ve accomplished nowhere near the extraordinary feats that you have in your career, I too have often felt this way. It’s very painful to feel like you’re not good enough despite how hard you work and how much you genuinely care about your cause, especially for someone as accomplished as you are. Realizing that I shared such a vulnerable and humane trait with you — this superstar football player — was probably why I felt such an emotional resonance with you. Again though, I’ve never met you so I might very well be speaking wildly out of turn.
Unlike my many confused attempts to stumble past my own insecurities, though, you always soldiered on. You just kept going and going; scoring and scoring. There was never any doubt about your commitment to the cause as you constantly sacrificed yourself for the collective. Not only do I have extraordinary admiration for your efforts, I’m also immensely grateful for them.
“Taciturn, silent, insensible to the new breath of vitality that was shaking the house, Colonel Aureliano Buendía could understand only that the secret of a good old age is simply an honorable pact with solitude.”
From Page 199 of the book “One Hundred Years of Solitude”
I truly did gain a deep sense of affection for you as a player and person thanks to your two seasons as a Juventino. That must sound like the strangest thing ever, right? I mean, I don’t even know you as a person! But you really seemed to care about Juventus. You gave it your all when you wore that magical shirt. And how could I not be drawn to and emotionally resonate with a player that always has that fierce look of defiance in his eyes?
Unfortunately, though, you now find yourself to be the unlucky victim of shifted priorities within the club. It’s a merciless affair, this thing called life, and I genuinely feel bad about the unglamorous way in which your departure has happened. I feel terrible about it. I really do. But as you’ve always done in your career, you’re soldiering on without making a fuss or stirring the pot. And you know what? I know that you’re going to kick ass yet again for your new club. That kid in high school I mentioned earlier? He’s definitely going to conquer his demons. He’s gonna be ok.
For what it’s worth, and coming from some guy that you never met, rest assured that I will always be your fan. I will celebrate every goal you score, admire every brilliant cross-field switch-of-play you make, and cheer every impassioned goal celebration you perform.
Your countryman César Luis Menotti once so beautifully said that “to be a footballer means being a privileged interpreter of the feelings and dreams of thousands of people.”
I always liked the way in which you interpreted my feelings and dreams on the pitch.
And I’ll miss you for that.
“Look at my eyes, Faye. One of them is a fake because I lost it in an accident. Since then, I’ve been seeing the past in one eye and the present in the other. So, I thought I could only see patches of reality, never the whole picture.”
Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop