Like father, like son

Football has always occupied a very important place in the Miranda household. “We’re always talking about the game,” said Jose Miranda, a 61-year-old physical education teacher, ex-midfielder and former director of football at Deportes Concepcion, the latter spell occurring during the Chilean club’s most glorious era. Seated by his side is his son Mauricio, 36, who also played the game – as a striker – but was forced to retire early because of injury and now works as a reporter for the same club. Two lives linked to football and which have traced similar paths.

“We’ve led very similar lives,” commented Mauricio, as part of their chat with, “first as players, then in working at the same club, and now because we’ve both worked at World Cups.”

Just as his father did at the FIFA World Youth Championship Chile 1987, so Mauricio is doing at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015, helping to organise the competition, albeit occupying a different position.

“I’m the communications officer for the Local Organising Committee here in Concepcion, while my father also worked here, but in the ticketing department,” explained Miranda Jr.

Head of the family When talk turns to their abilities on the pitch, there is no doubt as to who was the better player. “I was a striker and I had some good games and some not-so-good games,” said a chuckling Mauricio.

“Not many goals,” chipped in Jose, with a glint in his eye. “I was a fighter, though,” retorted Mauricio. “That was my main attribute.”

The younger of the Mirandas had no hesitation in recognising his father as the family’s star act, however: “My dad was the better player. There’s no doubt about that. My professional career was a lot shorter, while he played at the top level for a long time, with different teams and achieving a lot.”

Reflecting on their work with Deportes Concepcion, Jose’s only regret is that the university club’s glory days in the early 1990s, when they rubbed shoulders with South America’s finest in the Copa Libertadores, are now but a memory and that Mauricio is not enjoying the same highs that he once did.

“It was a wonderful experience,” he recalled. “The team doesn’t deserve to be where it is at the moment (in the Chilean second division) and we hope they can find their way back to the top soon.

“I remember those days as a fan,” said Mauricio. “My brother and I used to go to the stadium really early, and thanks to my dad we were able to meet the players and go down to the dressing room. Unfortunately, times are tougher for the club right now, but I hope they can get back into the first division and give the fans something to cheer about.”

The World Cup experiences enjoyed by father and son some 28 years apart are also different, as Jose explained: “You can’t compare one World Cup to another. Look at the stadium for a start. It’s the same one, but it’s been completely refurbished.

“And then there’s the whole development in communications. Everything’s done with computers these days and you’ve also got the social networks. It’s totally different, but I was invited to watch the games and I have to say that it brought back a lot of memories and emotions from the World Cup in '87.”

Expressing his pride at seeing Mauricio following the path he took, Jose said: “It makes me very happy to see a son fulfil his dreams, as he has, in taking part in a World Cup. It’s a priceless experience.”

Talking it over Voicing his agreement, Mauricio commented: “On a personal level, the thing I value most is the chance to take part in such a big event and, for example, meet people working for other international media outlets, all which helps me with my professional development.”

Have their parallel paths ever crossed? “Yes,” revealed Mauricio. “We worked together for five years organising school competitions. It was good, though we had the odd difference of opinion, what with being at home together and at work.

“We always worked things out, though,” explained Jose with a smile. “We just think in different ways, that’s all. He’s more modern, whereas I’m old school.”

With all the hustle and bustle of a World Cup, father and son have yet to sit down and share their tournament experiences, though they both intend to have that chat soon. “As soon as we get a bit more time, I’m sure we’ll talk at length about both World Cups and compare the two,” said Miranda Sr.

When they do, it will be the latest in a long line of football-related conversations the Miranda family has enjoyed over the years.