The real-life tales of a football writer
Greeting from the press box, high above the Camp Nou. It’s half time between Barca and Villarreal in the quarterfinals of the Spanish Cup and the place uncharacteristically buzzing after a Thierry Henry goal. I’m scheduled to interview Lionel Messi for FourFourTwo tomorrow and I want to catch some of his teammates after the game, which finishes at ten to midnight. Them and Giuseppe Rossi of Villarreal, who is excelling in Spain.
It’s been an unusual day. This morning, I received a call asking if I’m interested in signing a 34-year-old Nigerian right back called Prince Osito who “was on the books at Real Betis”. I initially thought it was Phone Jacker informing me that I had a pigeon in my bank account, but it was true. I’m not sure why he wants to play for an amateur team where players pay to play, but he does. Maybe he’s heard about our game against the Norwegians. “He’s keen to play,” said the caller. “Have a look at him on You Tube.” I did. The Prince was there in action, forcing his torso under a pole during a limbo competition in a Barcelona nightclub rather than on a football field. He’s coming training on Tuesday…
Later, another caller asked if I knew of any “established high profile players who would be interested in playing in the Chinese first division for €300,000 a year. The ideal player will be aged 28-32 and willing to move to China.” Unconvinced that I was the right man to help - and with The Prince just missing out on age grounds - I pointed him in the direction of an agent.
That was after lunch with Mr Pink, Mr Yellow and Mr Red. They all work in football: Mr Yellow is an agent to several international players, Mr Pink is on the business side and Mr Red is a journalist who knows the Spanish scene inside out. If Deportivo’s left back pulls up in training then Mr Red will hear about it. All three raved about Cristiano Ronaldo and after a heated discussion about Manchester United’s ticket pricing policy, Mr Yellow stated that it had been a quiet January transfer wise. He’s gearing up for a busy summer. I see bad agents who fulfil every negative stereotype, and some decent ones like Mr Yellow, football fans who take care of their players, be it dealing with unrelenting calls from bored twenty something’s in European hotel rooms or going on the fan message board of Premier League club in defence of one of his players. The chief executive of the club rumbled him on that one…
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