231 pages, published 2003
We won the games three goals to nothing [...] I did not disgrace Estevan's shirt. My father lost ten dollars, and joined in the applause as I walked off the pitch. But my father's pride was no longer enough. I needed the respect of someone much harder to please. Someone who wanted something from me; someone who was waiting. Waiting with the kind of patience that only the dead have, because they have so much time. (p. 117-118)
The man who would grow up to be 'El Gato', the world's best goalkeeper, grew up in a small logging village in the middle of the South American jungle. Like all the boys in his village he played in the afternoon soccor games ... unlike the others however, he was no good. He was tall, and skinny, "the stork".
Expelled from the town games, Gato escaped into the wilds of the jungle, a place with even more stories than dangers. His mother fears for his safety, as does his grandmother, but it is his uncle who understands him best and tells him of the true inhabitants of the jungle: the spirits who are trapped, unable to move on until they find the one thing needed to validify their souls.
It is in the jungle, and with the help of one of these 'lost souls' that the stork become El Gato, "the cat". The Keeper teaches him, training him brutally every day to become the world's best goalkeeper ... and the one thing he and the others need to move on. 3/5