How Muchachos became Argentina’s unofficial World Cup 2022 anthem

Lyrics make reference to Maradona, Messi, World Cup heartbreaks, Copa American triumph, and hopes of a third World Cup.

Doha, Qatar – It has been Argentina’s unofficial anthem during World Cup 2022: “Muchachos, Ahora Nos Volvimos a Ilusionar” (Boys, we have our hopes up again) has been sung with much fervor inside the stadiums, at Doha’s labyrinthine Souq Waqif and by players in Argentina’s dressing room.

The song tells a story.

The lyrics make reference to Argentina’s football legend, the late Diego Maradona, to the team’s current superstar Lionel Messi, to previous heart-breaking losses at the World Cup, to last year’s Copa American triumph, and the hopes now pinned on winning a third World Cup trophy in Qatar.

The song’s popularity surged on social media last year after Argentina defeated Brazil 1-0 in the Copa America final. Earlier this year, Messi said that it was his favourite football chant and a video of him singing some of the words went viral online.

But what the fans and players are singing is an adapted version of the 2003 tune Muchachos by the Buenos Aires punk band La Mosca.

The lyrics have been rewritten by Argentina supporter Fernando Ramos. Translated into English, the song goes something like this:

I was born in Argentina
land of Diego and Lionel,
of the kids of Malvinas,
that I will never forget.
I can’t explain it to you
because you won’t understand
the finals we lost,
How many years have I mourned them

But that’s over
because in the Maracana,
the final with the brazucas,
dad beat them again.
Boys, now we got excited again,
I want to win the third
I want to be world champion
and Diego, in the sky we can see him,
with Don Diego and with la Tota,
encouraging Lionel. 

Buenos Aires resident Martin Montalto told Al Jazeera that every Argentine recognises the song.

“It makes me so emotional when I hear it, I get goosebumps,” the 23-year-old said. “The energy in the stadium just reaches a crazy level when people start singing Muchachos. You almost feel like crying… but with happy tears.”

Juan, another Argentina fan, said the song gave him “chills” every time he heard it. The reference to the Malvinas was “specially moving”, he said, explaining that it is an ode to the Argentinian soldiers who fought against British forces in 1982 in what is commonly referred to as the Falklands war – the name the United Kingdom gave the islands located some 480km (300 miles) off the southern tip of South America.

“The memories are still fresh for many people back home. Those who died are like heroes we can never forget,” said Juan, a 46-year-old from Buenos Aires who now lives in New York.

The song of the World Cup’

Football writer Karan Tejwani believes Argentina’s Muchachos anthem is “the song of the World Cup” – and not just for Spanish speakers.

“I don’t speak Spanish, neither do many people I know, but we know the words. That’s how popular it’s become,” the UK-based sports writer told Al Jazeera. “I think of it as one of my favourite chants.”

Tejwani, author Glorious Reinvention: The Rebirth of Ajax Amsterdam, said the lyrics also encapsulate the ups and downs of Messi’s international career.

“It mentions how the fans grew to love him and it seems as though after years of criticism, they finally hold him in the same regard as Maradona,” he said. “For Argentina, this World Cup, the context and the Messi factor, the song is brilliant and it goes beyond just football.”

Argentina fans shout in celebration towards their players after Argentina scored their third goal of the match.
Argentina fans shout in celebration towards their players during their match against Croatia at Lusail Stadium [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

The World Cup in Qatar is Messi’s last and the final shot at global supremacy, lifting the trophy that has eluded him during his illustrious career. The Albiceleste last won the World Cup in 1986, when Maradona led the team to victory.

Argentina play reigning champions France in the World Cup final on Sunday and the sound of thousands of Argentinian fans signing Muchachos is certain to reverberate throughout Lusail Stadium.

These are the lyrics to the song in Spanish:

En Argentina nacíTierra del Diego y LionelDe los pibes de MalvinasQue jamás olvidaréNo te lo puedo explicarPorque no vas a entenderLas finales que perdimosCuantos años la lloréPero eso se terminóPorque en el MaracanáLa final con los brazucasLa volvió a ganar papáMuchachosAhora nos volvimos a ilusionarQuiero ganar la terceraQuiero ser campeón mundialY al DiegoDesde el cielo lo podemos verCon Don Diego y La TotaAlentándolo a LionelMuchachosAhora nos volvimos a ilusionarQuiero ganar la terceraQuiero ser campeón mundialY al DiegoDesde el cielo lo podemos verCon Don Diego y La TotaAlentándolo a Lionel, y ser campeones otra vez, y ser campeones otra vez

Source: Al Jazeera