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Argentina’s first time summit victory immortalised by the ’Embrace of the Soul’

As the final whistle blew to declare Argentina’s home-turf triumph over the Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup final of 1978; a certain Victor Dell’Aquila jumped the fence, evaded the police, rushed onto the field and hugged his heroes Alberto Tarantini and Ubaldo Fillol, who were kneeling on the field embracing each other. But what made that moment at Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires immortal was the fact that Dell’Aquila, the ‘fan’, was a double amputee who had no arms to hug his heroes.

Victor Dell’Aquila just before the Embrace
Embrace of the Soul

“When I hugged Tarantini, I felt that someone touched his back. That someone was Dell’Aquila,” Ubaldo Fillol recalled later. A photographer captured the moment that travelled throughout the world to become immortalised as ‘El abrazo del alma’ (Embrace of the soul). “It’s a picture that stays with you… it’s really magical.” Alberto Tarantini said. To this day, it is considered as one of the most iconic photos in Football history.

Dell’Aquile lost his upper limbs to an accident when he was 12 years old. After the tragedy, he started considering himself worthless with questions on his existence. But Football brought him back to life and motivated him to look at things positively. A die-hard Boca Juniors fan, Dell’Aquile travelled to Buenos Aires only to see Argentina win against the Dutch.

According to Dell’Aquille “I had been in the Centenario stand, behind the goals. When the match finished, I doubted whether to jump or not. And I said to myself: ‘It is in God’s hands. I can’t miss this.’” Victor had his eyes on Tarantini who played in his favourite Boca Juniors. As he approached Tarantini who was on the ground in the process of praying, Fillol arrived. And then came that precious moment when Victor Dell’Aquile gave an armless hug to both the players.

Recreation of the iconic moment after 36 years
Victor Dell’Aquile

36 years later, Dell’Aquila was reunited with both Tarantini and Fillol in 2014 by Coca-Cola during a FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour stop in Mar del Plata. In a film, Dell’Aquila was seen playing football with his friends when a red Coca-Cola van pulled up. His two heroes emerged, with huge smiles and accompanied by the World Cup Trophy.

“We wanted to give Victor back the hug he gave us in that FIFA World Cup final,” Tarantini said. It was a happy reunion that culminated in a recreation of that wonderful 1978 ‘Embrace of the Soul.  

About Poulomi Kundu

PoulomiKundu started her career in 2000 as a freelance journalist in Hindustan Times. Soon after she was selected an intern in Zee News, Kolkata. After her post- graduation in English, Poulomi joined the leading television production house of eastern India, Rainbow Productions. She was a journalist in Khas Khobor, a Bengali news magazine programme in Doordarshan and also headed the post production department of another programme, Khas Kolkata. In 2004, Poulomi moved to Delhi as a creative writer in an advertising agency, Brand Stewards Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, she again shifted her base for a better opportunity and that in Mumbai. There she got the job in Raa Media Pvt Ltd. as an associate director of two programmes for Doordarshan-Yuva and Paisa Vasool. In the meantime, she also wrote features in DNA as a freelancer. Poulomi directs promotional videos, develops scripts for films for Corporate and NGOs. But an ardent sports lover, Poulomi always had an urge to contribute somewhere in the field of sports. Her love for sports started from an early age when she played gully cricket and football for local teams. Academics and professional hazards sometimes took her away from her passion, but it never died in her. She always nurtured the never-ending dream. So she materialized her dream in the form of ‘SPORTSAVOUR’. It is an online sports portal that serves sports with the tagline ‘For the indigenous, unconventional, unknown’.

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