How to Deliver A World Cup Champion
It was the 113th minute of the 2014 World Cup — only seven minutes left in extra time before the 0–0 game would be determined by a penalty shootout — when Mario Götze capitalized on a cross from André Schürrle to put Germany ahead of Argentina.
I had been rigidly perched on the edge of my coffee table since the start of the game — in my oversized Germany #8 Özil jersey — more stressed (excited?) than I had been in recent memory. When the ball hit the back of the net, I unclenched, jumped up, and had three thoughts in quick succession: 1) Yesssssssss! We scored! 2) Oh God, please don’t let Argentina equalize. 3) If this game hasn’t yet sent me into early labor, I guess nothing will.
At 37 weeks pregnant, my dog was my sole companion while my husband was nearly a day’s worth of travel away, experiencing this moment live at the Maracaña stadium in Rio de Janeiro. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Aside from the U.S. (dare to dream), Germany is my favorite men’s soccer team. And their midfielder, Mesut Özil, is my favorite international player and has been since the 2010 World Cup, which took place during our honeymoon. (Watching two games a day before hitting the beach and the rum punch is something I highly recommend!)
For those of you who didn’t obsessively follow the last World Cup, the host country of Brazil was a favorite to make it to the Final and likely win the entire tournament. Unfortunately for them, they met Germany (another top contender) in the semifinal and were resoundingly dismissed with a 7–1 loss. My husband’s boss bought tickets to the final hoping to see Brazil play (and win). When they were eliminated, he called my husband — a German-born soccer (neé fußball) fan whose passion rivals mine — and offered him the tickets. He called me at work to tell me “we” had tickets to the Final. “Hilarious,” I said. “I can’t travel. But you’re going.”
But lest you think I am one of those understanding wives who puts her husband’s happiness before her own, let me quickly admit to a hefty dose of selfish motivation in this plan. We had yet to pick a name for our soon-to-be firstborn. We wanted something meaningful, but not a family name. Something unique, but not weird. We had a long list, but we couldn’t agree. I had been lobbying for Özil as the middle name. Meaningful. Unique. Umlaut! My husband wasn’t as convinced. But this trip presented new opportunities to secure the name.
My husband conceded: If Özil scores the winning goal in the Final, we can use that name.
I bargained: If this trip causes my husband to miss the birth of our kid, I get full naming rights.
In the end, everything worked out perfectly. Germany won. My husband made it back in time. And we agreed on a name (Özil remained a runner-up).
So what is more momentous — winning the World Cup or having a kid? Both are expensive, filled with tears of pain and joy, and impossible to predict. Both are moments you’ll never forget. More thrilling still? When your kid wins the World Cup. So, watch out for a half-German to make his World Cup debut in 2030!
Laura Schooling is the founder of Project 307, a marketing consultancy, and Managing Director of the production company JumpLine Group. She is also a lifelong sports nerd and a proud contributor to The Relish. If this post speaks to you — sign up for The Relish newsletter. And if you want to join us as a writer — reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.