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2.1.2005
Different stories I'm not going to tell you this year

I must look like right jackass running through the night. Who does it on Christmas day! Itís dark and streets are like Cartmanís head in South Park: empty but still not quiet. I can hear sounds and laughter of families eating their Christmas meals and celebrating with their dear ones. Not me, Iím the weirdo running by myself in the cold. This is what I want. This is my life, my choice, my dream. If I could wish for and have only one Christmas present all my life, I would want this Ė playing in the Premiership. The Office Christmas special Ėdvd would probably be number two in my list. My turkeys and family Christmases will belong to the time after I finish playing. And you never know when that comes, everything can change so quickly. I donít want to tell you about this story though so Iím going to finish it here.

I was told about a glamorous life style. All the parties, women and champagne were supposed to fall on my lap. I never asked for it and thank God it never happened. Who is the sad man that spends New Year alone, sober, watching telly and going to sleep way before midnight? A footballer. It is just another Friday except you have to put your mobile off early to prevent disturbances from the festive people. I decided 2005 would be my year and I dreamed about showing fire works at the New Years day game. Instead we got defeated by Fulham. Not exactly a good start for my plan of the World Domination. My mobile informed twenty seven messages and nine missed calls from the night before, mostly friends and random people asking where Iíve been hiding for the last year. Not all people understand my life and choices. They say Iíve changed so quickly, Iíve become a social bore. Living detailed professional life can be very unrewarding at times. This story didnít feel appropriate to tell you though so Iím going to bin it here.

At game days I was normally having a weak coffee at Family stand, block H, row 23. Then over a night manager and everything changed. I and the team got a new start. Inspired by being playing again and the enthusiasm around, I made my New Years resolutions and set myself goals. My life changed quickly, nightmare year 2003 turned into my best ever year in 2004. It was like being entertained by Seinfeld straight after watching old replays of Murder she wrote. And I didnít want to change back to old programs ever again. I believe in goal setting and New Years resolutions. I know to achieve my and our goals for 2005, everything has to be planned, done and go even better. This story didnít feel appropriate to tell you though so Iím going to leave it here.

I wanted also to write about other footballers whose careers and seasons have changed suddenly. I could have told you about how some of their lives have changed from being the most promising goal scorers in the game to being full time patients with a career threatening injuries. I could have told you about all the players that were day before a game called in to a managerís office. It is never going to be good, he isnít going to ask what you had for dinner last night or have you seen any good films lately. I could have told you also about many other sudden changes in football, about rains followed by sunshine and clear skies followed by darkness. Football is like English weather. It can change quickly and you canít predict it. Who knows from where the wind is going to blow tomorrow.

Nature, though, can be much crueller than English weather or football. I binned all my stories because I donít feel they are appropriate at the moment. A footballerís Christmas, New Year, social life or anything about football are not stories comparable to the real things and issues in the world. Surely football can be passionate and important to people, especially because things in football can change quickly and be dramatic. But so can lives and the whole world. It did last week. The disaster in Asia is real, heartbreaking and terrifying. And not just the life there, individual tragedies, but the whole world changed over a night. The massive destruction is not understandable, it is unbearable. It is not just a game of football with small worries and stories; that grief and pain there is real and deep. So is the need. What are we going to do? A minute silence before a game feels very little. It is very little. We surely can do better. Maybe everyone could put their hand in their wallet or at least find words like caring and helping from their dictionaries again. And follow it by action, whatever you feel appropriate, Iím sure your heart will lead you to right answers to you. That would be a start, a good New Years resolution. It wonít heal the wounds of the tragedy. Nothing will. But it might help building this world again. And it would show there is still some humanity left in us. Because it could have happened to any of us. It did happen to many of us. In so many ways happened to all of us. God bless us all.

Aki


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