A bond born from football comes full circle after three decades

  • Roberto ‘Beto’ Granados missed Mexico match in 1986 to attend the birth of his son

  • Next year he will get to experience the Opening Match of the World Cup 

  • Roberto and Beto sure to extend visit to Russia to see El Tri on the field

It was 15 June 1986, and Roberto ‘Beto’ Granados was on the verge of fulfilling a lifelong dream. Mexico were facing Bulgaria in the second round of the FIFA World Cup™, and he was all set to cheer his country on from the stands of the Azteca Stadium.

Yet fate had a different plan. “It was a really special day for us,” recalls Beto. “Mexico were playing for a place in the quarter-finals, and we were also celebrating Father’s Day, and then came the big twist in the story.

“At some point in the morning, when I was waiting for everyone to sing me ‘Las Mañanitas’, as is traditional on Father’s Day in Mexico, my wife told me that she wasn’t feeling great, and that something was up,” Beto said. “I noticed that my belly had got hard,” recalled his wife Leticia. “And from what I remembered of the birth of our first child, I knew that this meant I was having contractions. I didn’t want to spoil the day, but I had to let him know.”

Time seemed to slow down, and during this uncertain wait, Beto was caught in two minds. “When I found out I was going to miss the match and was told I had to stay where I was, I got upset to be honest,” he said. “At first, I just couldn’t get my head around it. I couldn’t believe that it was happening. ‘What about my present - it’s Father’s Day! Let me go to the game!’ I was saying to her. But as it turned out, I had more pressing matters to attend to - the birth of my son.”

It was just as hard for Leticia. “I wanted to say to him ‘Go to the game!’ and I made him feel that it would be OK to go, but he wasn’t having it,” she said. “‘Just go to the game!!’, I insisted. But he was adamant and said that he wasn’t going anywhere. We have a way of understanding each other and it was at this point he made me know how he felt. It was then I realised he wasn’t leaving my side.”

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Thirty-one years on from that day, the “Bring Someone Special” campaign was launched during the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017, and it was Beto’s son, Roberto, who shares both his father’s name and passion for football, who spotted the advert on TV and immediately thought of that ‘someone special’ person who deserved a place at the Opening Match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“I’ve always wanted to pay my dad back for everything he’s done for me and in particular fulfilling that dream he had to give up in a matter of seconds," he said. “By that I mean give him the chance to experience the World Cup, and I can’t think of anything better than doing it together. It’s a dream come true to be able to go to the FIFA World Cup in Russia.”

Over 13,000 fans encompassing more than 150 countries made their case to be chosen, but it was the Granados family who got lucky. “The FIFA World Cup is a magical event. Not only is it the ultimate celebration of football, but it goes way beyond the action on the pitch,” said Jean-Francois Pathy, FIFA’s Director of Marketing Services.

“Stories like this one, in which the FIFA World Cup and football are the core of an incredible family bond are the very essence of our game. We are very excited and proud to welcome Roberto and his father in Russia next year. And we are looking forward to sharing many more incredible stories in the future through the FIFA Bring Someone Special initiative.”

The two Robertos have forged a strong bond through an indescribable love for the beautiful game. Now they are just one step away from a happy ending to the drama of 1986.

“My dad is everything to me,” said Roberto Granados junior. “It’s thanks to him that I have become the person and football lover that I am. He’s taught me absolutely everything I know. He’s the embodiment of love, family values, bravery, wisdom and serenity. He’s my role model, my true role model. I’d go as far to say that he’s my hero.”