“It's the happiest moment I've ever had.”

“It's the happiest moment I've ever had.”

“You need a blacksmith, and a wooden knife,” says photographer Santiago Garcés (Mexico City, 1975), smiling. This is the image of Leo Messi summarizing the 6-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, which is considered one of the best images in the history of the sport, but he doesn't have it at home. It doesn't matter: I can blindly “explain all image coordinates.” It's the cover photo on their website: “There is and never will be a better cover letter than this.” The image returns to him from time to time, and not the other way around, and he admits that it “makes me happy.”

He did not see Sergi Roberto's goal because his eyes were on the camera lens. But he heard him. “For me, it was a very loud moment. It was a brutal defeat. An unambiguous goal: a goal. The best goal that many people have ever celebrated. I think there was a little jolt at Camp Nou. I would say it was scored.” It was amazing,” he nodded.

The whole team ran towards the corner behind Sergi Roberto. The whole team? No: Messi was missing. “It was Messi's moment of escape. Where did he go? Where is he? With 90,000 mobile phones, so many cameras and so many top photojournalists, that moment will escape everyone.” But Garces found Wally and took the photo, an image of a comeback and something more: “The next day, Messi’s agent and his father called me and said: ‘Santi, you have outlined Leo’s career in a photo,’” he recalls.

He refers to “the happiness that Messi shared” and what he represents, beyond the economic aspect: “In the spiritual aspect, in the emotional aspect, in the symbolic aspect, in the metaphysical aspect. In everything.” He explains that he was told in some conversations that the photo was arranged with Messi. He answers that it was impossible to think about her in the study without leaving out some details and that she was “so perfect, so powerful, that it communicated so much.” In the picture, the Argentine “has a divine point,” as if he does not know whether he is rising from the grass or descending from the sky.

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Garces, pinned to the ground in front of Messi, like a painter in front of a canvas, panned the camera 50 times, without looking through the viewfinder. He couldn't: all his efforts were focused on holding his position by crossing his legs just like at a concert and raising the camera high by crossing his arms, surrounded by people jumping and crying. “I had a guy hanging around my neck and kept kissing me,” the photographer says.

Seconds later, when the euphoria had faded, he reviewed the photos and saw the image as “unusual.” He raised his fist, like Messi in the picture, as if he was celebrating his goal: the image of his life. At his home, in a small town in Alte Empordà, he keeps a scarf from the coping and a piece of grass.

He catches his breath and continues: “I remember the situation getting out of control. Exhausted security guards. Some photographers were completely lost not knowing what to photograph because there was so much to photograph.” “It's one of the moments I photographed with the utmost happiness,” he admits. “It's hard to explain. I was taking pictures and I felt like I was floating.”

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“It's the happiest moment I've ever lived and will ever live. I don't think I'll ever be in a stadium again, or in a nightclub or anywhere where a situation like this could happen, because of the emotion and concentration.” Celebrating. Today at every concert you go to there are 500 people in front of you with their cell phones recording everything, and then you wonder what the hell they are doing with all this material. People don't live in moments. They “record it to store it, but they rarely live it. This was a moment that people lived for. The climax was so good, so unexpected and so loud that people forgot their phones.”

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Garcés speaks of an “amazing” night and “amazing literature.” One of the best of his life. “Amazing achievement,” “Epic moment,” “Total ecstasy,” and “Absolute madness.” “It was a night full of happiness and joy, and there are still a few more words to say,” he enthusiastically admits.

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