He looked at the beautiful expanse of greenery in front of him, that beautiful green beast never failed to instill that old excitement in him but it also brought about a certain disappointment but he cared no more. He was happy to accept his life now. He accepted the mediocrity and has learned to live with it. But that didnât stop him from remembering those beautiful moments he lived, âtreasures of memoryâ as he called it. In the beautiful green lawn in front of him he saw people running with the excitement of a two year old toddler and the determination of a lion which made him want to dive into those âtreasures of memoryâ again.
It was the first day of the academy. There were hyper excited teenagers running all around and their dreamy eyed parents were watching them with pride. Stars of tomorrowâs football the local newspaper proclaimed. One particular kid was the center of attention. Short in stature yet well build for his age, he had the pace of a cheetah and the eye for goal. The coaches were impressed and there was a talk among the coaching staff that they had found the new Robbie âGodâ Fowler. Excitement grew around this teenager. An article dedicated to this young boy came in the local newspaper and he was determined to make it to the national dailies. The thirst for success drove him everyday, every dribble he made past a defender instilled confidence in him. âI would play with the best and be the bestâ he thought every morning he woke up. The coaches were impressed with the kids work ethic and told The Boss he was destined for success.
It was the day of the first match of the academy season. And it was against a tough opposition. He was in the substitutes bench though he was a little disappointed, he was determined not to drop his shoulders and grab the chance when given the opportunity. The match started badly for the team, they conceded two goals in the matter of few minutes in the first half. The turning point of the match came when the captain of the team got a red card just before the half time. The coach was annoyed with his stupidity and had to do a massive rethink of tactics and strategy. He had two choices, that is to go defensive or surprise the opposition with all out offensive. Normal people would go for defensive but eccentricity is part of the game he thought. Anyway they had nothing to lose as a loss by 2 goals wouldnât be so different from a loss by 4 or 5 goals, a defeat is a defeat he reminded himself. Then he turned to look at the young prodigy who had impressed him over the last few days in the training sessions. He pointed at him and asked him to warm up. He just thought itâs just a routine warm up but he had his dream come true at the 55th minute. He jumped on to the pitch, full of excitement and concentration. He has to impress he reminded himself.
He watched the huge burly defender run towards him, he could see a wee bit of confusion in his eyes as he was wondering what to do next. Though the defender didnât know what had to be done, he never expected what happened next.
After seeing a moment of confusion in the defenderâs eyes he knew what exactly he had to do. He ran with his lightning pace and slid in for the ball, he literally went between the defenderâs legs and ran with the ball. He saw another defender running towards him but his small stature which normally most people would regard as a weak aspect was a blessing in disguise as it helped him master the art of trickery. He ran into the defender who was running towards. âTiming is an important aspect, it will help you win or lose matchesâ his coach had said, those words ringed in his mind when he made the turned with utmost precision. Then he cut past a clueless defender and took a shot from 25 yards! When the ball hit the back of the net, it stunned the crowd as well as the opposition. Not many had expected him to score and even lesser thought he could actually score from that angle. The team ran towards him and the crowd cheered his name. A feeling that he never experienced had crept over him and he liked it. But he was determined not to get carried away. And he turned his focus back into the match. Now with confidence oozing out of him, he dribbled past 4 defenders and scored the equalizer. The crowd and his team went crazy. No one had expected such a comeback but they had done the impossible!! And it was the magic of this young prodigy which had helped them win that match.
Next day the newspapers screamed the arrival of the next star player in England and immediately there was comparisons with players like Zidane, Ronaldo, Messi, Fowler etc. He was taken aback with the comparisons but he never complained and it filled his heart with pride and ambition but he had an uneasy feeling which he didnât understand at that moment. The comparisons had brought about a weight of expectations on him but he tried to ignore them though it never really got out of him as it hid in the deep corner of his mind waiting for the right moment patiently to free itself.
Two years from that day, he would play the first match for the senior team. He had excelled in the academy and fought his ways through the reserve team to get into the first team, the country eagerly waited to see this young prodigy play his first match. Again he started on the substitute bench and he hoped he could repeat his debut for the first team. But when he entered the stadium, he was in the state of awe. Never in his life had he seen such a big stadium filled with so many people. The noise was deafening, it could scare the life out of the opposition and was one of the most dreaded place to play a match. He had a feeling of fear creep over him, all his thirst for success and the pride he would look at himself in the mirror was vanishing. He was engulfed by a strange fear and was even considering running away from there if he was given an opportunity. But he couldnât do that, it was once in a lifetime opportunity he thought and he should grab it. The match had started well, they had scored a goal in the first half and their star player doubled the lead in the starting of the second. Now the crowd was waiting for the introduction of the much-hyped young prodigy. The crowd loved new players, they always wanted to see something new and the coach decided to give them what they want. The coach asked him to get into the field and do his best. Little did he know that it would be just the opposite.
Next day the national dailies as well as the local newspapers labeled the teamâs loss as his folly. It labeled him as a joker as it had set the infamous record of the fastest debut red card. Embarrassed and fearful he skipped the training session that week. When he returned for the next training session he was received with cold stares from his team mates as well as the coach. The coach was angry since he had made a mockery of the entire team.
âIâm patheticâ he thought. And he was disgusted on how he could mess up things to such a large extent. The thought never left him, how much ever he tried it would pop with more ferociousness. Two weeks went buy and he went into a mental depression. The training sessions were not fun anymore with the constant mockery he faced and the coach was still angry at him for letting him down. He felt pathetic. He didnât have the excitement or the commitment which had kept him going for the last two years. The only thing he could do was feel sorry for himself as he had lost the trust of his coach and his team. His training levels dipped and he was never himself. All his âtalentsâ were just hyped he thought. It was nothing but some sensational journalism in which media had reaped profits. Now he was forgotten for good or bad. The media had other stories about the record broken by some weightlifter and a 35 yard strike to the goal by Steven Gerrard in the Mersey side derby. It was as if he had just disappeared from planet Earth.
He wanted to get away from this life, he wanted a change. He hoped that he would hit his head somewhere and forget everything what happened. He wanted a new start to his life. But every time he tried the old thoughts would return to haunt him.
A week later, an acquaintance gave him a powder called Angel Dust. He said it will help you forget everything in a âheavenlyâ way. âYou wonât remember a thingâ he said. He didnât want to take it, but he wanted to forget and this was the only way he could.
He sat in his bedroom and he rolled the marijuana joint which contained the Angel Dust liquid which he had made by heating it. He took a deep drag and it actually did feel heavenly!! The world was spinning around him and the world looked like it was a big disco with flashing lights and its retro ambiance. He loved this trance! âIt was workingâ he thought. He was able to forget everything and got the energy and excitement which he didnât have all these days. He wanted to go on a drive now. He wanted to feel alive and the joint made him feel exactly that. He jumped on to his bike and started riding it as fast as he could. The wind brushed his face and it wouldnât allow him to ride but he battled his way through the wind. He felt like a warrior battling his way through a horde of orcs and he was feeling victorious as he increased his speed even more. He thought he was traveling at the speed of light and wondered if he would reach another planet if he jumped off a cliff. He loved this and wished it would never ever end. Suddenly he saw a bright light in front of him, he thought he must have reached the Sun. Excited, he went faster then he suddenly drifted through space. It was as if he was in the Matrix and he was a bullet controlled by Neo. And then there was a sudden excruciating pain, blackness followed it. All he could see was pitch blackness in front of him.
Suddenly someone was pulling him from the side. Then he heard someone shout âDAD! Stop dreaming! We have to go now!.â He was a bit confused. Then finally came back to reality. He turned to his son and said âSon, all these years I thought a red card had made my career and ironically it was what ruined it but now I believe it was justâŚâŚthat I lacked the mental strength to cope up with the pressures of expectationsâŚ..I hope you will succeed where I failedâ. His voice cracked while saying that. His son gave him a hug and moved his dadâs wheelchair as he went to the tunnel for his debut match.