Eliana Pantano had had enough. She had already touched the sky with her artisan hands once, a few years ago, when Diego Armando Maradona hugged her after receiving her gift. Life is rarely so generous that certain top-of-the-range emotions happen twice. And yet it happened.
And she saw it right away from the armchair in her house and shuddered. In full celebration for the conquest of the World Cup, on the shoulders of her brother the Kun, Messi gave the planet of sport an eternal moment, so expected for so long, with the golden cup in his hands. But it wasn’t just any drink. Nobody knew. The Argentine captain believed that he was carrying the FIFA original in his hands as the King of Soccer. They all thought the same. Less Eliana.
“As soon as I saw it, I told my husband: that is the cup I made, I’m sure”. With his trained eye, Pantano immediately saw that the trophy that the Argentine captain held up and displayed in front of one of the Lusail stands and would later kiss his wife Antonella and his children, had come from his small workshop in Llavallol, in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. south. Eliana touched the sky with her hands again.
“I knew that there were two people who had taken my glasses to Qatar, so I was sure, although It seemed very crazy to me that they would have allowed replicas to enter the field of play”, says Eliana, still in shock, hours after the story of a family from La Plata was revealed that the cup they took to Qatar had fallen into the hands of Paredes -in principle for him to sign- and ended up in the of Messi.
Where did this family from La Plata get that well-designed World Cup, so similar to the original? From Eliana Pantano’s workshop. The 38-year-old woman, a Boca fan at unsuspected levels, mother of two children, made two to order for Qatar. The cup that stars in the series of 10 most liked photos in the history of Instagram, with 74.6 million “likes”, the one with Messi holding it from the base and the head, was one. The other was taken by a well-known man, who had already bought others: “He is the one who took my glass to Maradona’s coffin at the Casa Rosada wake.”
That man sent her a WhatsApp from Qatar during the World Cup and told her that it was full of replicas of the World Cup but that he hadn’t seen any like the one Eliana makes, so similar to the original. That explains why not even Messi has noticed. Because in addition to the precision for the design details, the Pantano cup weighs just over 5 kilos, just below the weight of the original, of about 6.14 kilos.
The road to Eliana’s cup was long. According to the version of the family from La Plata, the order was made in the middle of the year. According to what Pantano recounts, she received the order in October from a merchant from Moreno who told her it was for a family traveling to Doha.
“He asked me to do everything possible, I was quite behind, with a lot of work, I told him I was going to try and he told me that this family was traveling on November 16, I screwed up and on the 8th we delivered it to them,” says Eliana. .
He did not know anything more about the cup or the buyers until the Scaloneta reached glory. “I recognized her because she has some details. I doubted when Messi was raised and went to celebrate. But at one point I looked at the back and saw that it had a little touch in which the enamel on the base had chipped. And then I confirmed it when they filmed Messi very closely and with images of Antonella”, he says and confesses what he thought at that moment: “It can’t be that this is happening, with such certainty, how did they let in a replica glass? ”.
Her husband did not believe her and she told him “I understand you, but believe me”. And he provides more details of his confirmation while the international signal gave away images of the celebrations of the players on the field of play after the award ceremony: “There I was able to verify why it is painted by hand and I recognize my way of painting, I work with a chisel and the hanging lathe and sometimes it leaves certain marks that I can distinguish”, he explains and also confesses that he was able to recognize it by mistake: “And it has a small hole in one of the continents that shouldn’t be, a mistake of mine that I missed”.
Eliana started designing trophies more than 20 years ago. She inherited her parents’ talents. Her father, a chemical technician, made and designed fishing rods, motor homes, figures and even carnival floats with polyester resin. And her mother was the one who gave it the artistic touch with designs and paint.
Its first creation was in 2003. Fana de Boca, replicated the Copa Libertadores and put it on her bedside table. but on the way The manager of the Museum of Boca saw her. “And he told me it was in the Museum,” she laughs. That gave him contacts with soccer players and journalists. And from there she did not stop receiving orders. With River, with Students, with Independent. All the teams began to commission replicas of the Libertadores. A glass collector asked him for the Jules Rimet. And a few years ago, the directors of Rojo de Avellaneda asked him for a world cup to honor Maradona and Bochini at the Libertadores de America stadium.
His fame in the world of soccer expanded, so much so that in 2016 Conmebol itself (which would later file a lawsuit against him for plagiarism of his trophies) asked him to make an urgent reply to deliver in the final between Atlético Nacional de Medellín and Independiente del Valley because the original had broken.
That fame, of course, reached Diego Maradona, well before the episode with Bochini in Avellaneda. The journalist Martín Arévalo called her one day in 2013 and told her that the 1986 world champion wanted to have “a good drink”.
Diego lived in Dubai but was scheduled to visit the country. “He was very crazy: I was making a drink for a journalist who had asked me for two. If they ask you for two, you have to do three or four in case he turns out the way you don’t want and he calls me Martín and he tells me that Diego was coming and he wanted to have a quality drink. So he asked my permission to contact him. It arrived the other day, so I had to hurry. I dried them with a hair dryer (I work with ovens) and they contacted me on behalf of Diego, a person named Sergio, he asked me for a photo of the glass and five minutes later he returned an audio saying that he liked it and in the background Diego’s voice appears, saying that he loved it”, she says excitedly.
They quoted her in Nordelta. She went with her husband, who was turning 40 that day and has a Maradona tattoo, and her brothers. All fans of Boca. She did not tell them where they were going. It was a surprise.
“When we arrived Diego was like a baby waiting for the giftand I didn’t even have a case, I had it in a cardboard box, and while he was opening it he looked at the box and said ‘I want to touch her’ and I tell him ‘it has a gold plating and it’s made for you, in the hands of the true champion’ and he says ‘oh what a beauty I have it in my hands again’, and he picked her up like in 86 and kissed her and didn’t let go of her anymore”, remembers to tears Eliana, who had brought him two glasses just in case, with the idea of giving him both, but when Diego saw the other one, he said, to his surprise: “Do you want me to sign that one for you?” Pantano hadn’t thought about it but he said yes, of course, and he took her to her house forever.
How can you imagine that almost 10 years after that unforgettable encounter with Maradona, one of his cups would end up not only in the hands of Messi, but also in the most important moment in the life of one of the two best players of all time? Impossible.
For now, several players have already ordered or took one of their replicas to their respective homes. One of them was Alexis MacAllister. “She already has it in England,” says Eliana. Of the champions of other stars, Ruggeri, Bochini, Borghi, Batista and Bilardo are some of the owners. Claudio Tapia, the president of AFA, too. Members of the technical and medical staff of the 2022 champion also called her, she prefers to keep her names reserved. And of course, one is missing.
“Number 1 is missing”Eliana laughs. “Hopefully if Messi knows the story he can get a drink to him”Imagine Pantano, although you couldn’t ask for more. “It was a dream, incredible, it is hard for me to fall. What happened is very crazy, ”he closes. Before, he kisses the cup. She is also a world champion.
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She is an artisan and the cup she made with her hands ended up in the most famous photo of Messi by mistake