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Is it really a miracle?
Birmingham - Crystal Palace 0-1
Crystal Palace - Arsenal 1-1
“You need a miracle.” That is what you told me. You were sure that it cannot be done in terms of football. You believed we needed some greater force. You are almost every person I met before our game against Arsenal last Saturday. Define a miracle, I say. Four minute mile, parking attendant thinking with common sense, every baby born, me eating three family pizzas in an hour... weirder things have happened than Crystal Palace competing well against the best teams in the world.
“Arsenal on Saturday, Man United away on Wednesday, Liverpool away on Saturday, Italy away on Wednesday and Newcastle home on Saturday, good luck” you ironically say, really only stating you are surprised if we are still alive after that. True, our calendar looks tough for these two weeks. In fourteen days we are facing the best in the business. They don’t need introduction or scouting. Everyone has seen them millions of times. I bet Henry has not scouted us that well. I don’t think most of them even know me, can’t really blame them for that though. So we have at least a surprise at our side.
“Does it scare you?” you are asking before our task. No. Spiders, dishes with celery and Hitchcock movies are scary, or not wanting to play against these teams would be scary. Yes, there is a chance of getting beaten. Yes, there is a small chance of getting trashed. However playing against these great teams and players is something I’ve waited and worked for 28 years. I feel this is the most defining moment in my life, when I can leave my mark and play my heart out in these occasions. It is dream coming true over and over again. It is like Christmas every third day. You might get the occasional disappointing soft packages, but still you’ll never get tired of opening the wrappings. Dear Santa, I wish I can have gifts like these again.
“What can possibly be your plan against these big ones?” you want to know. Fair enough, I think when you play against teams like Arsenal, they should give another ball to the game, so we could keep it for awhile as well. It sometimes felt that you were in the same line to a Ferrari with your Toyota. Both are good cars but the other one is just simply faster. However the good thing with reliable family cars is that they keep on going steadily and you can travel with your whole family in it. And if you don’t trust your car it won’t get you anywhere. In the end it wasn’t us who were running out of gasoline. Whatever you drive you got to be proud of it.
“So how did you manage to do it?” you ask now after a goal and a great point against Arsenal. I don’t know. We had an optimal preparation which is a must. Still you can’t change the law of physics in few days. Many times they are bit stronger and faster, often more skilful. So you need to find the margins to upset the obvious odds. Tactics play a role, togetherness play a role and your mental strength decides it. On Friday our management team took us to an extra fifteen minute meeting. We first thought this kind of extra attention before a big game was not necessary. We joked by singing David Bowies Under Pressure. However, the meeting was everything else than pushing the panic button.
We watched the biggest boxing upset of all time, Muhammed Ali beating George Foreman. It is a great and inspirational story. Ali shouldn’t have been able to do it. Everything was against him. He was in the ropes. But he won. There was no “impossible” in his vocabulary. And everyone was singing “Ali Bumayee!” The message was clear. From that moment on we were playing against George Foremans, the almighty opponent, who had fried everyone in his frying pan so far. Premiership has proved to be a jungle for us. But we surely have shown we are ready to rumble. We feel we are here to upset. I’m happy to be apart of it but don’t expect people starting to shout “Aki Bumayee!” For me the most important thing is that I, the man next to me or we don’t ever get knocked out. In our team I don’t think we ever can be, the next man would always be there to help you out. The tape we watched was called “When we were kings”. There are no kings in our Palace. We are all servant to each other. Sooner or later we will do what Ali did. That is why we can’t wait these big games coming.
“So have you done it now?” you want to know. No, it hasn’t changed anything. We are still the same, the underdogs. We are humble enough to admit this is just our chance to test us at the highest level. We are in that learning process of getting us established there. At least we are in the same scale now. You can’t really measure yourself before you’ve seen and played the best. The saga is not completed when you have actually had the opportunity to play them, you also need to compete, get something out of them. Only then you can say “been there, done that”. We got something out now but we are still in a hunt for the big one.
“Is this the best memory of your life?” you want to know about the successful game. Yes and no. It is a good memory but it also makes the other memories from last 28 years more meaningful. Of course when you are old and travel down the memory lane, you’ll remember the biggest tests and games and you’ll cherish them no matter what. It doesn’t impress your grandchildren if you tell them stories about games against Kidderminster and Croatia. “Who?” is not disrespectful but justified question about your career and you in that case. You need your stories from Old Trafford and duels against Viera, the absolute top from your era. Then your future generations can feel that you are a cool granddad.
You have asked and said a lot to us lately. You’ve been often doubtful; you’ve often given courage. There are lot of yous out there that have started to talk about us and acknowledge us. Thank you. But yous don’t change anything for us. We will still do the same things, believe in us and our cause and bring it on. I have just started to recover from Viera. You would think it is a relief. In three days I’m going to meet Roy Keane. It definitely doesn’t get easier. It gets better.
This time I recommend:
1. When we were kings -movie
- Don't believe in miracles, base your life on them -
2. Seinfeld boxsets
- It is genious to make entertainment about nothing really -
I do not recommend
1. Trying to eat three family pizzas in an hour
- It is not brave, it is stupid, my stomach and that evacuated toilet in pizzeria can witness this -
2. Using Kidderminster and Croatia in the same sentence
- Many croatians and kidderminsterians have complained to me about this -