Gianluca Lapadula | Exclusively: a preview of Gianluca Lapadula’s book and unpublished childhood photos of him | peruvian national team | ec stories | ARE

I know very well that, during my first approach to the Peruvian national team, when I was at Pescara and shortly after moving to Milan, I received a lot of criticism for having missed the opportunity. I reaffirm that the situation I was living in made it seem forced to me. I understand that for a fan my reasons may be difficult to understand; however, for me they were not. It was going through a physical and even cultural sports issue. To cite another reality again, there is something that Italians have in common: their unwillingness to leave the country. For an Italian footballer, personal fulfillment can be at home. It is not necessary to leave the country to build a professional career; By entering Serie “A” with Juventus, Milan, Inter, Napoli, Roma or Fiorentina, it is possible to reach the pinnacle of the world and be taken for granted.

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And my world at that time was Italy. I had no other. Even anywhere in Europe – a relatively small continent – was pretty close to the reality in which I grew up. It would not have been fair to choose a team from which he only had references in search of a professional opportunity. I prefer to be honest and express it with these words. Life takes so many turns that you can change your mind. You can change beliefs, religion, diet, climate. You can abandon peace and join a revolution or you can be an intense character and stop to live calmly. The best human condition is precisely the one that allows us to adapt to change.

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from left From left to right: the day of his baptism, in the arms of his mother, Blanca Vargas. Behind him, his father, Gianfranco Lapadula.

On this particular issue, I believe that there is a common point between Italians and Peruvians: the difficulty of uprooting from their customs. Especially the warmth of the treatment and the food. There are elements in Italy that cannot be easily replicated in another latitude, thanks to its enormous cultural weight that is still present in everyday life. It is also an ancient culture and the seat of an empire whose lights continue to shine despite the dust that covers the past. Our language, the festivities, the beliefs; There is almost no common root of our thought that has not started from this space to countless places.

Even myself, in my eagerness not to lose the promotion in the professional career that I had set for myself, I went to Slovenia, which is a country bordering Italy, and not as far away as France, Spain or Germany. That allowed me to be close to home.

At the Juventus training center, Turin.
At the Juventus training center, Turin.

When finally deciding to represent the white and red, I knew that for my decision to be real and tangible I had to inoculate Peru in my veins. soak me in it But how to do it? How to become a patriot of a nation that, physically, I had not stepped foot on? How to take root, take root, plant myself in the ground? Eating a dish from the well-known Peruvian gastronomy, wearing a chullo for a photograph, singing a song or looking at landscapes do not make you a Peruvian. A citizen is much more than that, I believe. This is my opinion, and it is strictly personal.

To go according to those convictions, I made several decisions. Although I started studying Spanish together with Alessia when Professor Gareca visited me for the first time in Pescara, he had abandoned him. So I decided to take it up again and, at the same time, start studying the history of Peru. I believed that it was an important step to consolidate my beliefs and it would help a lot in my future arrival. I wouldn’t be able to integrate myself into a game and thinking system if I didn’t have a clear idea of ​​where I would be involved. It seemed to me the most appropriate for Peru and for me.

On his birthday with friends.
On his birthday with friends.

I started history classes with a professor who showed me the nation’s development process from its earliest stage. Simultaneously, I entered a new language school to perfect my Spanish. Now I can communicate normally in that language. One thing complemented the other. I learned about the life and betrayal of the Inca Atahualpa and I find him with the Castilian Francisco Pizarro and, right now, I find myself reading a version of the biography of Túpac Amaru II. I continue to admire his enormous sacrifice for freedom and the impossible suffering of his execution and that of his relatives.

Upstairs, in the middle, at school.
Upstairs, in the middle, at school.
On the lap of his father Gianfranco, on the right.
On the lap of his father Gianfranco, on the right.

I read with sincere appreciation about the contribution of the Italians to Peru. For example, about Claudio Rebagliati, a conductor born in the Liguria region, to whom we owe the final version of the National Anthem —which I think is quite important—, since the original composition was arranged by him in 1869, by request of the author himself, the teacher José Bernardo Alcedo.

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There is another character linked to Peru who should not be forgotten: Giuseppe Garibaldi, the hero of two worlds. This gentleman is, for an average Italian, an essential individual, since he is called the “Father of the Nation”, because he was one of the main promoters of the process of unification of the country achieved in 1870. There is a detail not less than Garibaldi. He lived for a time in Peru, exactly on the corner of Jirón de la Unión and Alameda Chabuca Granda (which used to be Polvos Azules street); almost opposite the side gates of the Government Palace. That house, called “Malagrida” in memory of its original owner, served for the hero to stay for a few years between his raids. Despite arriving in Peru under the pseudonym Giuseppe Pane, he was famous and did not go unnoticed. He toured the islands of Chincha and the coasts of Pisco, Ica and Palpa, places where the Italian population —fundamentally from Liguria— received him with appreciation. And finally the best. Several verified versions state that Garibaldi, in order to obtain a ship’s captain’s license, became a Peruvian national. If so, we would have that the unifier of what is today’s Italy was, outright, an Italian-Peruvian. I cannot fail to note that there is something curious and charming in the parallels.

Gianluca at 6 years old.
Gianluca at 6 years old.

It was in those lessons that I discovered the sacrifice of Colonel Francisco Bolognesi and became a great admirer of his. Like me, Bolognesi was the son of an Italian with a Peruvian lady. I reviewed his life, I was very impressed by the testimony of his limitless value. Several times I read his telegraphic communications, where he expressed his resolute decisions. He would give his life if necessary. It was exactly the example I needed to follow to continue. Anyone, in his place, would have abandoned the task of defending the hill of Arica and, despite the enormous disadvantage facing him and his men, he decided to resist. I thought about his attitude and the emblematic phrase that makes him unmistakable and I have made mine: We stay here until we die to defend our land! Until the last cartridge is burned!

Enjoying a day at the beach.
Enjoying a day at the beach.

I verified the similarity that unites us: a courageous tendency when we have to defend something that is ours, and that I think allows us to get something from inside that we don’t know either.

Entering puberty.
Entering puberty.

That way I was “injecting” Peru. That is why, when I finally set foot in our country, a part of that spirit had begun to flame, like a flame that little by little is lit up. Only then, I understand, is a commitment made. Through knowledge the best love is born. My mother told me that she would make me fall in love. Wow that was true. But it was more than that. I have become passionate. Every time I have a worthwhile friend I send them a t-shirt with a signature on it. It is not any garment. Behind the strip there are tens of thousands of cries of hope. There are stories to tell, tears to dry, glories and defeats. The white and red sums up what it means to be a Peruvian: passion, courage, resistance, perseverance, warmth. How not to fall in love with all this? //

Also

“Lapadula, my story, my goals, my blood”

The autobiography of the Italian-Peruvian soccer player traces his beginnings in this sport, from the age of 15, when he was trained in the Juventus Football Club divisions. Likewise, his decisive approach to Peru, his mother’s land, through the study of his roots, his history and his language.

The 190-page book (Aguilar imprint, from Penguin Random House) will enter bookstores starting July 19.

Price: 59 soles

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