There are stories that seem like fairy tales.

The ones in which the seesaw of life can make you hit rock bottom (and maybe even start digging as the great Freak Antoni used to say) and immediately afterwards project you into Paradise, a place you perhaps thought existed only for the rich, the beautiful and the truly lucky.

The story of Pablo ‘El flaco’ Vicò is one of these.

Pablo lives in the small town of Adrogué, just over 20 km south of Buenos Aires.

A few hundred houses surround a station stop in this small town in the Greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area.

Pablo, since the age of reason, has had one great passion; Brown, or rather Club Atletico Brown.

The team of his city.

This small and proud club that in its 70 years of history (the foundation dates back to March 1945) has spent more than half of them in Primera C (the fourth series of Argentine football) with brief and fleeting appearances in the higher category.

Pablo also played there in his youth for his beloved Brown. He is a good ‘9’, the kind who fights on all the balls, who runs like crazy all over the attacking front and who, when he manages to get free on the shot, can also do badly.

Once this period is over, he becomes one of the few hundred loyal and passionate fans who follow this team everywhere, and everyone knows this mustachioed, almost skin-and-bones man with the ever-present cigarette between his lips.

When the chance to lend a hand with the club’s youth sector arrives, for Pablo it really does seem like heaven.

But life begins to present him with the bill, something that will happen to him again and again, shooting him down in this crazy rollercoaster that seems to want to give this good and kind man no respite.

Pablo loses his job and with the job the possibility of paying a rent.

For him and his family a future in misery lies ahead, something not alien in the small barrio.

‘His’ club remembers him.

They offer him the chance to be a caretaker at the club. He opens the doors for players and officials, keeps the clubhouse clean, looks after the playing field and the stadium, even the adjacent tennis courts.

They even find him two rooms inside the Club to live in.

Years of unconditional love for Brown have not gone unnoticed.

To Pablo, it already seems like the ultimate. He lives ‘inside’ the Club he loves.

He certainly doesn’t sail in gold, but he has a roof over his head, some food on his plate and … he can see his Brown for free!

But the best is yet to come.

As mentioned, he helps out in the youth ranks and sometimes even joins the first team staff.

Pablo understands football. He loves Marcelo Bielsa and Angel Cappa.

As in ‘the ones who make their teams play football’.

Brown continues to flounder in the Argentine C series, but in 2009 the possibility of relegation to the Primera C (which had not happened since 1996) is clear.

And then someone in the club gets an idea: ‘Excuse me, but who is it that really knows this club, the players, the management and every turf of the cancha and every piece of concrete in the bleachers? This man is Pablo Vicó and he’s the only one who can really straighten this place out’.

It sounds like madness.

But sometimes madness happens.

Pablo is entrusted with the first team.

With him on the staff are his lifelong friends.

The impact is immediate. Not only as ‘coach’ does he have clear ideas (we play the ball on the ground, no pelotazos and whoever can jump over the man on the dribble … is free to do so!

The players love him, they give their souls for him in camp.

And he pampers them or scolds them like a father would scold his children.

‘We coaches can correct the details in a footballer, but it is the value of the man that also makes the difference on the pitch’. This he says and this is what ‘El Flaco’ believes in.

Building a team is not something you do in a few months.

It takes patience, dedication, observation and listening.

And in June 2013 Pablo Vicó and his Brown rewrote the history of this small club.

Brown reached the final of the play-offs for promotion to the Primera B Nacional, the Argentine B series.

It comes down to penalties against Almagro.

Brown wins.

Pablo is carried off in triumph like a hero, like a star or rock icon.

By now everyone calls him ‘Don Ramon’.

Then the next day you can find him helping to put the club’s tennis court back in place.

But ‘El trico’ (that’s how the Club is called) is certainly not sailing in gold, the Argentinian Serie B is tough.

Everything that can go wrong does. Injuries, posts and crossbars, even the odd refereeing decision … the fact is that Brown returns, not even a year later, to the Argentine C league.

In practically every latitude relegation means one thing; the sacking of the coach.

In Club Atletico Brown it doesn’t work like that.

Pablo Vicó remains untouchable on his bench.

They all know very well, fans, managers and players alike, that a coach and, above all, a MAN like that, is a true luxury for such a club.

And Pablo doesn’t even consider leaving, despite the fact that some other Primera B Nacional club has its eye on this mustachioed wanker.

He lives ‘of’ and ‘for’ Brown.

And so begins a new season.

It’s February 2015

There is a gang of thugs who have been putting the barrio and its immediate surroundings to the sword for some time. They rob small shops and businesses, but above all they specialise in car theft.

It is 1.30 p.m. on 5 February.

The gang in question has just stolen a VW Golf, but this time the police are nearby.

A furious chase through the streets of Adroguè begins.

The criminals lose control of the vehicle, which crashes into a small white van.

The driver is a 40-year-old man on his way to work.

He is Cristian Gabriel Vicó, Pablo’s son.

After four days of agony Cristian dies.

Pablo and his family are devastated.

Even football, his beloved Brown, seems unable to close this wound.

The people of Adroguè rally around him.

The messages of affection, the visits to the club even if only to pat Pablo on the back or give him a few words of comfort are multiplying.

He is always there anyway. He still lives in the rooms the Club has made available to him, inside the stadium. For almost 15 years.

Pablo slowly recovers. His Brown continues to play good football and the victories begin to come in series.

It comes down to the last game of the championship. Brown arrived there as 2nd in the standings, one point behind the leader, Estudiantes de Buenos Aires.

Brown plays away from home, against Deportivo Moron.

The result is 1:1. Not enough to return to the Primera B Nacional, also because Estudiantes are drawing their match.

The match is winding down. The 4th and final minute of added time has started.

There is a corner for Brown. The ball splashes wildly towards the goal area.

It looks like a harmless ball but at the second post Juan Manuel Garcia, a defender, arrives like a fury.

He is in the right place at the right time. Just like the heroes of fairy tales.

His goal put Brown Adroguè back in the Serie B.

The images at the end of the match are here to follow.

No comment is needed. Pablo Vicó only asks to extricate himself for a moment from that bedlam.

He turns to the sky and then kneels down. Cristian Gabriel from up there, he is sure, gave him a hand.

The Brown returns to Primera B Nacional. Pablo Vicó and his feat are all over the Argentine media.

Everyone learns about his incredible and moving story.

And once again it is Paradise, although some scars may never close.

It’s 15 December 2016.

My little tribute to ‘Flaco’ is already practically ready.

But the crazy rollercoaster that is this man’s life decides to take another turn.

Pablo falls ill. A strong pain in his chest.

He is rushed to hospital. It is a heart attack.

The latest reports speak of a stable condition and the doctors are optimistic.

‘Evoluciona favorablemente’ they say over there.

Surgery is not yet averted.

An entire barrio is with bated breath.

Come on Pablo … there are still many laps to go on the crazy rollercoaster that is your life.

And so it will be.

Pablo Vicó made a full recovery and to this day continues to lead his beloved Club Atletico Brown for the ninth consecutive season, with results that get better and better every year, so much so that he is now an established presence in the Primera B Nacional, the ‘B’ series of Argentine football.

And it will be like that for who knows how many more years, the fans of ‘El Trico’ from Adroguè hope.

Fans who know that after every goal Pablo’s second glance will always be towards them … but the first will always be towards the sky, towards his beloved Cristian.

… it’s really nice when fairy tales don’t want to know how to end …

This is one of the 21 stories told in ‘