The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

In the eighth grade, we decided to participate in an inter-class soccer tournament. To prepare, we first arranged to have team t-shirts. For some reason, the colours we ended up were orange with white sleeves. Sanjeev immediately demanded that he get the number 10 jersey. "Zico!" he said. "Maradona!" Other boys laid claims to other numbers.

I wanted the number 8. "Burgsmüller!" I said.

Everyone looked at me blankly.

Today even my German colleagues scarcely remember this stellar midfielder from Borussia Dortmund, in his bright yellow jersey with UHU emblazoned across his chest. He played for them over eight seasons, and scored at least fifteen goals in each. Towards the end of his career he moved to Werder Bremen, and scored 34 goals for them. My classmates raved about national players; few watched club football. Those that did only recognised the English premier league and possibly the occasional Italian team. But every time I turned on the TV to watch some sport (rarely, I should point out), Borussia would be playing. And there would be Manfred Burgsmüller nipping deftly in and out and around his opponents, scoring now and again.

In the first match we played, we were thumped by the seventh grade boys. Despite having the cutest girls in school baying for us from the sidelines (they were our classmates), we were comprehensively outplayed. The seventh graders put in three goals before Ahmed got one back for us. Then after half-time, they put in one more goal. Just because they could.

In the next match, against the ninth grade, we played much better. We lost by a small margin. 2-0, was it?

Against the tenth grade, Zoltan was at his magical best. He curved around one player, then another, and sped away towards the other goal. The rest of the team was caught off-guard, and - because nobody said I couldn't - I rushed off after him. In seconds I had caught up. He dodged a defender. The goalie came out to intercept. "Here!" I yelled. He passed. The goal was open before me. I tried to stop the ball to kick it stylishly into the net. It bounced off my knee and rolled over the line.

"Go-o-o-al!" shouted my team. For the first time in the tournament, we were ahead. The girls screamed and waved. After much back-thumping and mutual congratulations, we got back to our side of the field for the kickoff.

We lost 4-1, but by then I didn't care.


Guru said...

Brings back memories of school - as the only serd out there I was always scared the ball might unravel my hair!
Good reading although the last line seems somewhat of an anti-climax after your triumphant goal and lead.

Fëanor said...

Well, what can I say? We weren't the greatest team, despite our t-shirts.

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