A Look at Natural Diamonds Athletes
The FIFA World Cup 2022 tournament kicked off yesterday in Qatar. Great news for my detractors, I have yet again failed to qualify for the USA Men’s National Team, which is playing its first game of the tournament against Wales today. Too bad, because my participation in the team would have been an underdog story for the ages.
The Beautiful Game, AKA soccer is the world’s favorite game. Its biggest stars carry the hopes of millions on their shoulders and millions of dollars worth of natural diamond jewelry on their necks, wrists and fingers. When I started at the ripe old age of five, I remember feeling like a knight riding into battle, risking bloody knees and bruised shins for the glory of bringing home that little championship trophy in plastic. I haven’t gotten too far (more details to follow) but I imagine that as you progress the little plastic trophy doesn’t quite have the same effect. And boy, you should see some of the stuff these guys are lining up on.
In third grade, my friend John and I were co-goalkeepers during recess while munching on snacks we smuggled out of the lunch room. We would gybe before sinking into an unnecessary panic if Mikey was on the other team that day and rushed towards us. Mikey, you see, knew how to do a rainbow kick where you run over the ball and somehow do it on your heel and pass it over your head. He could also do a bicycle kick, which is when you leap into the sky and do a half backflip while throwing the ball in the air. We were ten years old for God’s sake! I just wanted to eat my fruit snacks.
A few years later, I auditioned for the travel soccer team, because that’s exactly what you were doing back then. I had recently started wearing glasses and during the trial when the ball flew towards me I had the brilliant idea of doing what real footballers do: Look at me coach, I’ll show you a head ! What really happened: I mistimed my jump and the ball hit me right in the face. I collapsed to the floor in shock, my glasses askew and my nose was bleeding from both the bridge and the nostril. Needless to say I was not part of the team.
A few years later, I was working at a local seafood restaurant (thanks to the Bridgwaye in Humarock, MA) where almost all of the kitchen staff were Brazilian. They taught me a few swear words that I can still say, but not how to spell, and they also asked me one night if I wanted to join them for their Sunday morning soccer game. Sounds fun, I’m in! Reader: I was a disaster. They were calling plays, they were crafty dribblers, sharp passers and sharp shooters – even guys well past their prime. I was not only outclassed in all facets of the game, but I was a liability for my team. But yeah, it was fun.
I tell you this because I believe that the football escapades of my childhood are emblematic of the general attitude of Americans towards what the rest of the world calls football. I turned to baseball and American football. The kid who was good at it seemed like he was born with that ability; I was not. Guys from other countries embarrassed me in The Beautiful Game. And rather than participate, I was content to sit idly by with my buddy John making jokes, eating chicken nuggets, and being ill-prepared to participate.
Since those heady days, I have become an international man. I happened to be on my honeymoon in Rome when the Italy team was blazing in the European Cup. My wife and I were eating in a restaurant in the middle of a square surrounded by residences when Italy faced Belgium in the quarter-finals. The lights in every window flashed in sync, the TVs tuned to the same channel, the oohs and ahhs, curses and cheers rang out from all around us as the game raged. And for those ninety minutes, I was a hot-blooded Team Italia fan.
I watched with excitement the last two World Cup tournaments, and soon after, my interest in football dropped to zero. I don’t have a deep enough understanding of the game to appreciate its nuances in a vacuum – I need the jingo hysteria to really draw me in. But I don’t know – you watch enough of it and start wondering. This Italian town square vibrated far more intensely than any Super Bowl party I have ever attended. A sixty-minute American football game lasts an average of three and a half hours, with the ball only being in play for eleven minutes in total. Across the country, the most talked about parts of the Big Game are the commercials and the halftime show. A football match is made up of two forty-five minute halves that go on without a break, followed by a few extra minutes and possibly one or two extra periods. It’s much more hypnotic if you can just put your phone down and grab it. And while I may not understand all the nuances, I know what I learned playing with Mikey in third year: giving the ball to the guy who is best at putting it in the net. Maybe this time around I’ll break free from my all-American roots and fall deeper in love with the global obsession.
If you don’t usually pay attention to the world of football, then you might have no idea just how shockingly famous these guys are, and just how much the various clubs – with their absurdly deep pockets – are willing to shell out. to get the best stars on their team. So! Here are some of the game’s brightest stars to watch in this World Cup, as well as some of the bright trappings they’re investing their winnings in:
Christian Pulisic is the best player the United States has produced in recent history. Team USA is definitely an underdog in this tournament, but if they try to win the title, it will surely involve this man’s feet. Here, he’s rocking a CP pendant iced with white and black diamonds:
Harry Kane is the stable and extremely productive captain of the Three Lions of England. It’s not too flashy, but it still gets the job done. You won’t often see him dressed too flashy, but he gave his high school sweetheart Kate that big rock when he asked her to marry him in 2017.
Quick reminder: I’m 32 now. Almost all the players in the tournament are younger than me. Kane is 29 and Pulisic 24, but they look older than me. Maybe it’s because I guess they can beat me. In any event:
Kylian Mbappé is the Parisian born superstar of the France team. Four years ago, at the ripe old age of 19, he became the second player in history to score a goal in a World Cup final as a teenager. Despite inking a massive contract with Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe has managed to maintain the aura of a happy kid playing the game he loves.
He has started his own collection of stylish watches, apparently a rite of passage for professional football, but appears to be putting off over-the-top purchases at least until he finds out if he will transfer clubs next year. If such a thing happened, it would cost the club that wants it $300 million. When he’s not wearing a silver bear pendant, Kylian wears a diamond-set KM dog tag.
Neymar Jr., you might know him as the most dramatic flop artist the game has ever seen (for the uninitiated, a part of the game that many if not all fans wish they could remove from a way or another is that players fake injuries to block play). But that aside, he’s also an incredibly talented striker for the Brazil squad (where the players are only known by one name).
Neymar is not afraid to roll himself on the pitch, and he is not afraid to roll himself in jewels.
Argentina superstar Lionel Messi will make what is most likely his last World Cup appearance in this tournament, as he is 35! Lionel has an extensive collection of watches, the crown jewel of which is pictured here: a white gold Rolex Submariner with blue baguette sapphires and baguette diamonds on the hour markers, and more diamonds on the lugs and crown guard . You don’t have to be the highest paid athlete in the world to afford one – just make sure you have $92,000 in petty cash.
The global icon and Portugal star is also making his final World Cup appearance. Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s amazing how far you can go when you’re an incredibly handsome, once-in-a-generation athletic talent.
I wonder what it’s like to wear over $750,000 worth of wrist and finger jewelry just outside. Not something you borrowed – something you bought with your money, earned, because you’re better than everyone else at football. Is it heavy? I think it must be. If Ronaldo lost his Rolex covered in 30 carats of diamonds and Mbappé lost his little silver bear pendant, who do you think would be the most distraught? Honestly, I do not know.
To each his own! Hope you enjoy all the matches. Go team!