A big part of being a football fan is talking about the past. What’s better than sitting down with a pint as you recall historic moments, players and teams with your mates? These memories bring us feelings of euphoria, nostalgia and even heartbreak. But what if we could see into the future of football? In Fast-Forward Football we bring you exactly that; the most iconic stories yet to come.
It’s December 18th, 2022 in Qatar. Fans are flooding into the Lusail Iconic Stadium to witness the first ever winter World Cup Final. It’s Belgium versus Argentina. Lukaku versus Dybala.
Messi refused to play for Argentina again after losing another final during the 2019 Copa America. This time he meant it. The exclusion of Little Lionel didn’t phase Javier Zanetti’s men. Zanetti took the job shortly after Messi left the team, actually. His team has played incredible football up until this point.
Belgium has been playing some equally impressive football. The team, now managed by Thierry Henry, is soring off the back of a UEFA Euro 2020 win. After realizing the Frenchman was doing all the work anyway, the Belgian FA fired Martinez and promptly promoted Henry.
Shortly after the last fan takes their seat, the players emerge from their dressing rooms. As the referees lead the teams onto the field, the World Cup anthem plays. It’s Noel Gallagher’s newest song called, “Shut Up ‘cause its Footy Time.”
Zanetti and Henry share a ceremonial handshake before the game. Both managers squeeze their equal’s hand, smile at the camera and mutter obscenities under their breath to one another. After a few minutes of back and forth verbal abuse, the referee splits the two up. The game begins and the referee’s whistle is met with a roar of explosion from fans.
On the 15th minute mark, Lukaku holds the ball up nicely after Fellaini toe punts the ball at his chest. Big Rom lays the ball off to De Bruyne who finds Eden Hazard charging behind the Argentinian defense. He needs two touches. One to control the ball and one to smash it past Geronimo Rulli.
As the crowd stands in applause, a cameraman focuses on Diego Maradona’s box seat. He immediately stands up and chucks a beer can as far as he can into the Belgian crowd. Messi, who is sharing the box with Maradona, sinks deeper and deeper into his seat, wishing he stayed at home instead. Dybala looks up from the field, hoping to god his future takes a different path.
The scoreline stayed 1-0 until halftime. Belgium and Argentina disappear into the tunnel and Noel Gallagher is welcomed onto the field for a short halftime concert. The sound of “Live Forever” echoes throughout the otherwise silent hallways outside the dressing rooms.
Back on the field, an inebriated Noel is hastily ushered off stage by bodyguards. Midway through his set, the Manchester singer took the piss out of the Qatar government by downing a pint at the halfway line. Qatar police attempt to seize him but are too slow. The self-proclaimed genius is dragged off by security. A tirade of boos fills the stadium to which Noel responds with a two-fingered salute.
The teams, who at this point have been patiently waiting on the sideline for five minutes, make their way back onto the field. Zanetti boldly states his attacking intentions by replacing Marcos Rojo with Mauro Icardi.
Before the game, Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois spoke about Icardi in a press conference, stating, “[Mauro] is small and useless. If Argentina put me as striker I would score more goals than him.”
Icardi has the last laugh however and chips the cocky keeper in the 67th minute to level the game. Belgium is now on their heels, fending off an onslaught of Argentine offense. It doesn’t take long for Zanetti’s team to break through a second time as, eight minutes later, Icardi slips a ball through the Belgium defense before Dybala passes the ball through Courtois legs. Argentina 2, Belgium 1.
With nine minutes left on the clock, Henry substitutes himself into the game in a last ditched effort. Nobody had the balls to tell him he can’t technically do that, but it makes no difference. In the seventh minute of stoppage time, Dybala scores his second goal of the match when the Belgian goalkeeper makes his way up for a corner.
The referee blows the finals whistle and the Argentines drop to their knees in relief. Many of them looking up and praising a god, however, a coked-up Maradona assumes the prayers are for him. Diego stands with his arms in the air, soaking up the atmosphere, while Messi sits in awe. He can’t believe they won it without him. It doesn’t make sense to him, but he made his bed.
The Belgian players, nearly in tears, accept their silver medals and walk off the pitch with sadness in their hearts. Yet again, it wasn’t their year. Lukaku and co make their way into the dressing room to find a handcuffed Noel Gallagher waiting for them. He looks at them and says, “Lads, don’t look back in anger.” They couldn’t believe it. Their day just got even worse.