Football and constancy: a tale.

The waves rose and settled. The sweet scent of air, accompanied by the vibrant, setting sun– it seemed like a scintillating shot from of a movie. As the little kids continued talking about how they wanted to be butterflies when they grew up, the wise, old man looked up at the unwavering sky. The things he thought of in that particular moment, unfathomable. The good old days, as they always say, were well behind him, thought he. And as he looked towards the progressive clouds, he could see all sorts of shapes: spheres, frustums and asbtract images; reminiscent of his own genius. Andrés Iniesta and the clouds, two things in complete symphony with one another.

The captain of the team and a favourite of the fans, the optimistic lad was always aiming for the stars. Having had an excellent career with his club, so far, he was offered a move to a giant: FC Barcelona. Without any hesitation whatsoever, Paco Alcacer signed the contract that would land him at the dream destination of every footballer out there, the Camp Nou. Training alongside Lionel Messi, having some burgers with Luis Suárez, it all seemed well and good for him.

“Are you left-footed or right-footed?”, asked a particular journalist. The 17 y/o French “wunderkid” replied, “I don’t know.”

And so broke on to the scene, Ousmane Dembélé. A quirky young man with immense pace and skill. Emerging from the French club Rennes, Dembélé was already making popularity strides in his country. Following the fame from a French song after being wowed by his talent, “Crochet, crochet, crochet, Ousmane Dembélé!” were the words in the mouth of every French teenager. After a terrific season with Rennes, Dembélé moved to the German club Borussia Dortmund, where he truly cemented his place in world football as the best youngster.

Quantum phenomena often don’t occur the way they seem to. When being lectured about the double-slit experiment in his physics class, a certain American had an interesting question for his Professor.

“What if there were three slits?”
“Well, obviously, the amplitudes of the waves passing through all the three slits would be added up to give us the location of the particles. It’s the same as two slits!”, replied the Professor.

“But what if you had four slits? What about five? Six?”
“Just add the amplitudes of four, five, six slits, et cetera.”, replied the Professor agitatedly.

“So, what if you added infinite slits, and then added a second screen with infinite slits?”, asked the cocky student.

And so, he established the basis for his famous path integral formulation.

Following FC Barcelona’s shock defeat to As Roma in the Champions League, Andrés Iniesta gave an interview that shall be ingrained in the minds of culers for a long time. Admitting how it was probably his last game for the club, a sorrowful baldie was seen sitting on the bench in utter disbelief. Later that season, Andrés confirmed in an interview that he’d be leaving FC Barcelona.

“This is my last season here. I have thought my decision through for a long time. For me, Barca is the best club in the world – this club has given me everything.

It’s a very difficult day for me, to be here saying goodbye when I’ve spent my whole life here at Barcelona. A great deal of who I am, is down to Barca and La Masia – I am very thankful to them.

I wanted to be honest with myself. I’ve been here since I was 12 years old. If I couldn’t contribute everything I was capable, then it was time to say goodbye. I don’t want to make anybody uncomfortable.”

And in his last match at the Camp Nou, everything ought to have dawned before a culer’s eyes. In the blink of an eye, it was all over. And here was Iniesta, sitting in the middle of the pitch, glaring into the green with immense serenity. Even in his final match, he showed such simplicity, it’s mesmerising. The crowd chanting: Andrés, Andrés; Iniesta, Iniesta: eternal words.

In truth, it was more ephemeral, than it was epiphanic. Perhaps because all of us were still in disbelief. It actually happened. We were finally awake, out of the magical dream that Iniesta had put us in, week-in, week-out. At the twilight of his career, he’s probably wondering about all the beautiful times he spent with the club. About how he never thought it would end this way, through simplicity, much like himself.

The mesmerising performance against Arsenal in his first Champions League final, the iconic goal of Stamford Bridge. The times he’d spent with Xavi, Messi and Busquets. His best mates and colleagues, those that made his life beautiful; those that allowed him to showcase his true genius. It all flashed bright in his mind.

Barça’s tough run of games had just begun for the 17/18 season, as Barça saw themselves going against Sevilla FC. When the lineup came out, everyone was surprised by the addition of Paco Alcacer in the front three alongside Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi. And as the anecdotal nature of this scenario suggests, it was him that decided the match and gave Barça all three points. Scoring twice: once before the half-time and again, on the other side of the interval. On a pitch which fielded both Messi and Suárez, Paco turned out to be the star performer on that special, rainy night.

“I’m happy to be here at such a big club. I am here to provide hard work, humility and professionalism. Forwards live for goals and I hope I’m lucky in that respect. I want to offer my grain of sand by doing good things at Barça.”

Over the course of the next few weeks, it seemed as though culers started to gain admiration for the clinical man. Banners were put up outside the Camp Nou demanding Alcacer’s stay at the club. At a time when Luis Suárez was in a horrific form and Paco making the most of his opportunities, manager Ernesto Valverde continued to field the out-of-form Suárez. It certainly is difficult to imagine what it ought to have felt like, to be Alcacer.

In an International friendly between France and England in 2016, the world saw Ousmane Dembélé get international praise and attention. Dembélé took the game by its neck and was influential right from the start. Scoring the deciding goal and being highly involved in the other two, Ousmane was in the eyes of a large portion of football analysts as well as enthusiasts.

A little while after this game, Dortmund faced Real Madrid in a Champions League tie. Despite not getting on the scoresheet, Ousmane had a tremendous impact on the game. The story of a 19 y/o going against the Champions League winners and playing his heart out, it certainly was a story to beat.

And in little to no time, Dembélé’s dream club, FC Barcelona came looking for him. There was absolutely no way he was not going to grab this opportunity with complete vigour.

“I remember watching FC Barcelona as a kid. Iniesta’s goal the Stamford bridge and Messi’s poker agaisnt Arsenal are some of the most memorable moments I have witnessed with this wonderful club.”

Alas, the happiness and delight did not last much long. Having played a few matches, and just when it seemed as though he was settling into the team, he picked up a serious injury in a match against Getafe. This saw Dembélé sit out for a majority of the season.

While Feynman was thinking about a way of formulating his path integral idea, he received a phone call from John Wheeler. According to Feynman, this is how the story goes:

“I received a telephone call one day at the graduate college at Princeton from Professor Wheeler, in which he said, “Feynman, I know why all electrons have the same charge and the same mass” “Why?” “Because, they are all the same electron!”

As interesting as the proposed idea seemed to be, it was falsified.

The idea is based on the world lines traced out across spacetime by every electron. Rather than have myriad such lines, Wheeler suggested that they could all be parts of one single line like a huge tangled knot, traced out by the one electron. Any given moment in time is represented by a slice across spacetime, and would meet the knotted line a great many times. Each such meeting point represents a real electron at that moment.

At those points, half the lines will be directed forward in time and half will have looped round and be directed backwards. Wheeler suggested that these backwards sections appeared as the antiparticle to the electron, the positron.

Many more electrons have been observed than positrons, and electrons are thought to comfortably outnumber them. According to Feynman he raised this issue with Wheeler, who speculated that the missing positrons might be hidden within protons.

Feynman was struck by Wheeler’s insight that antiparticles could be represented by reversed world lines, and credits this to Wheeler, saying in his Nobel speech:

“ I did not take the idea that all the electrons were the same one from [Wheeler] as seriously as I took the observation that positrons could simply be represented as electrons going from the future to the past in a back section of their world lines. That, I stole! ”

In his recent interview with FC Barcelona, having moved to club Vissel Kobe in Japan, Iniesta talked about his life and family.

“There are days when I watch clips of things like the last league game or some event… What happened to me over those days was something magical that I’ll never forget”

After 21 years of service to Barça, Andrés Iniesta is now prepared for life at a new club with new challenges. Getting familiar with the people and culture, Andrés was geared up for new challenges and experiences. He also spoke about the J-League and the target his team had set for themselves, to qualify for the Asian Champions League.

Seeing Iniesta don any shirt other than the colours of the Blaugrana is unusual in itself, and yet, here was the man talking about his life separate from Barcelona.

Being loaned out to Borussia Dortmund after a rather poor season at FC Barcelona as a backup striker, Alcacer struck gold in his first 90 minutes, having scored 6 goals for the club. Coming on as a substitute in each game and having a great influence on the result, he’s managed to keep Dortmund at the top of the table in the Bundesliga.

Subsequently, he was called up for a spot in the Spain NT and made wonderful use of his opportunity by scoring a brace in the same game.

Coming into the 18/19 season having won a World Cup with France, Ousmane Dembélé has gotten off to a tremendous start for FC Barcelona. The youngster that was set to be sold away in the summer transfer window scored a late winner in the Supercopa de Espanya. Later on, Dembélé scored a scintillating solo goal in the first Champions League fixture of the season, as Barça capped off a comfortable win against PSV.

Through Wheeler’s idea, Feynman was effectively able to come up with his famous diagrams which could show innumerable, unaccounted interactions of particles. Through these diagrams, quantum phenomena could be understood through mathematical equations which erased the aspect of causality.

Two electrons moving forward in time and interacting with one another through photons could be understood as an electron moving forward and a positron moving backward in time, annihilating to form a photon, which again gave an electron-positron pair.

These two phenomena, although seem vastly different, are represented in the same way, mathematically. In analytical terms, both the interactions carry the same meaning.

“It was all the same thing, it was all the same dream. A dream that you had in a locked room.”

As irrelevant and non-linear everything in one’s own life may seem, it’s not as different from anything one sees and experiences every single day. Be it an elegant man well into his thirties, a fine man nearing his prime, a young lad emerging into the world, or an old scientist with a good sense of humour. It’s always the same.

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