The First Jersey

My first ever football jersey was gifted to me by a friend when we were leaving Secondary School. It was a Newcastle jersey. The one with white and black stripes, bishop collar and Brown Ale as sponsors designed by Adidas. There was no inscription behind. Whenever I wore that jersey I always imagined I was Alan Shearer (a Newcastle Legend) but I have this big bro that I call the spoiler. I was feeling fly in this jersey one day I went to visit him in Unilag and what he said made me not even have an iota of respect for Shearer anymore. He said a half legged Jurgen Klinsmann was way better than Alan Shearer. I mean Shearer who went on to set a Premiership record in terms of goals scored and someone just reduced him to nothing. It was the last time I wore that jersey.

I still keenly follow Newcastle United though like I follow Aston Villa, Juventus, Real Madrid, Aberdeen and Kano Pillars. I am beginning to fancy Mountain of Fire Football Club.

However, my first real football jersey was bought for me by my darling mum (rest on mum). I got a call from her that very day in September, 2003. She was in the UK and she asked red or white? I didn’t have to ask her what she was talking about, I knew it was a MANCHESTER UNITED jersey. I said red and she was like what should be inscribed behind it. That was where I had a problem. I was torn between writing Nistelrooy (my favourite Man U player at the time) or the new summer signing C. Ronaldo. I decided to get greedy and ask for two jerseys, she almost went livid. I told her C.Ronaldo only for me to call her 5 minutes later that she should ask them to write something else. I wanted to settle for something that would last a very long time.

I asked her to tell the guys at the store to have “FAN 4 LIFE” written behind the kit.

The 2nd jersey with “FAN 4 LIFE” inscribed behind

 

I got a hold of my precious jersey on the 21st of September, 2003 the day Manchester United played out a goalless draw with Arsenal. It was the season the Gunners went unbeaten in the league. If only Ruud Van Nistelrooy had scored the penalty Man U had in that game, the story would have been different.

14 years on and I can boast to have had 22 Manchester United jerseys though a large number gifts from very special people (12 of them). Every 29th of December you will always see spotting a Manchester United jersey, it became a tradition since December 29, 2004. So if you want to make my year just present me with a Manchester United jersey.

 

Now you know!

2010 Christmas In ABZ

The bro and his wife were going to London for Christmas and I didn’t even ask if I could tag along because I wanted to experience what Christmas felt like in ABZ. Pardon me, we call Aberdeen (Scotland) ABZ or pronounced as Abs. The couple left on the morning of the 24th of December and I decided to go cut my hair after they left and strangely a lady cut my hair for me for the first time (a great day loomed).

Hair cut out of the way, had my bath and headed out to hang out with my reading buddy so we could at least work on our course works for a bit before having fun later. I went with a bottle of Jack Daniels (JD). Bro called me that they had touched down London safely and advised I bought whatever I needed before Christmas day. I took the advice with a pinch of salt not knowing I would regret it (I am generally not stubborn and my brothers and friends can attest to this, lol).

After working on the course work for a couple of hours, Mo made dinner for us and boy she can cook, as a matter of fact she loved cooking. We had eba and ewedu and afterwards FO, Pete and I started drinking the JD mixing it with Sprite. We tried to read some more but hey who were we fooling? We slept off in turns whilst gisting to wrap up the day. When we all woke up at about past 10pm, we decided to take a walk to get more drinks as Christmas day drew closer. It dawned on us that no Tesco, Sainsbury or ASDA opened on the day. We were hopeful and kept walking on when two white men approached us, though we were shocked until we heard their accent and found out they were Canadians. They apparently came to work on an oil rig but got stuck in Aberdeen due to bad weather. So they asked us where the action was and that they were looking for where to get booze.

 

BL, yours truly, FO and JM

Alas we found like minded people. We told them it was exactly the same thing we were hunting for and all 5 of us continued the search. We walked into small stores to find out if they had booze or knew where we could get but the response we got was same; no place would be opened till after the holidays. We were still very hopeful and we kept walking until we met an old man in a Mini Mart and engaged him in conversation asking him if he could just tell us where to get drinks. His response brightened our day when he said we should walk to the end of Market Street which was about 2 kilometers away from where we were and that we would find a Polish Pub there.

 

We got to the Pub and guess what? They were still open, it looked like their day had just started. I was like thank GOD, we finally found one. We had booze and snacked on chicken wings while at it. We didn’t head home till about 2.30am.

 

It was a Christmas to remember. I made new friends, walked a distance for booze and got my hair cut by a lady.

 

5 of the BEST: The Coaches

 

Before the end of the 2012/13 European soccer season,  I had known only one football manager all my life and he never did wrong (so I will like to think), even when he admitted he regretted selling Jaap Stam I still didn’t see it as a wrong move. You still don’t know who I am talking about? Its definitely Sir Alex Ferguson now. Who else could it have been? No disrespect to the other coaches that were around when Fergie was the head honcho at Manchester United. He was just too perfect for the team and a look at the trophy cabinet will only buttress the point of how good he was.

Post Fergie Era

There are a whole lot of coaches or managers out there today but there are only 5 I would pick from the pool if I was asked for  my favourites.  Find below my five best football coaches/managers:

Antonio Conte

  1. Antonio Conte: the very first time I heard this name was during the Euro 2000 tournament jointly hosted by Netherlands and Belgium. I could remember vividly that day in June, on the 11th to be precise which was my cousin’s birthday. I went out with the big boys that night and when the game came on I could just see the passion all over Conte’s ball play on the day. He didn’t disappoint me on this day and he even scored Italy’s first goal in the Azzuri’s 2-1 victory over Turkey. The moment he was announced the coach of my favourite Italian team and the 4th best team in the world, Juventus I was so happy for him (yes he doesn’t know me). He won the Serie A for 3 straight seasons and also bagged the Serie A manager of the year 3 years in a row. He stepped down as Juventus’ manager in July of 2014 after winning the Serie A with a record 102 points to take over the reins of the Italian National team. He led Italy to the quarter finals of Euro 2016 losing to Germany 6-5 on penalties after playing out a 1-1 draw in regulation time. He agreed to sign for Chelsea before the Euro 2016 tournament and he’s my favourite coach at the moment though he’s in charge of a rival team. Conte’s passion for the game is the reason I admire him a whole lot. If I had my way I would have preferred him to be the coach of my beloved Manchester United.

    Allegri, Ancelotti, Mourinho and Zidane

  2. Jose Mourinho: the self-acclaimed Special One is what the football world needs. Someone who will always have something to say about anything #SomeSortOfEntertainment. I had known there was something really special about him when he was in charge at Porto. In the 2003 UEFA Cup Final (now Europa League) he beat Celtic 3-2 in the final to claim the trophy and in 2004 he beat my beloved Man United in the 2nd round of the Champions League. Yes beating Man United has to be special. Mourinho went on to win the Champions League of that year causing Chelsea to snap him up in the summer. Mourinho was an instant hit when he signed for the Blues winning the Premiership and League Cup in his first season. His first spell with Chelsea brought about 6 trophies (2 Premiership titles, 2 League Cups, 1 FA Cup and 1 Charity Shield). Mourinho signed for Inter in 2008 and with them he won the Champions League, the Italian Serie A (twice), Supercoppa Italiana and the Coppa Italia. He also won the Spanish La Liga with Real Madrid, the Copa Del Rey and the Supercoppa de Espana in a 3 year stint before a return to Chelsea in 2013 where he won the league one more time (2015). He’s currently at the helm of affairs for Manchester United.
  3. Zinedine Zidane: I am sure you are shocked to find this young man on the list. For me it is not too early to add Zidane into the frame. He won the Champions League for Real Madrid within 6 months of handling the team. If he didn’t win the Champions League people will say it was because he wasn’t experienced. 15 months into the job and it’s looking like he could win the league though he faces serious competition from Barcelona and maybe Sevilla and Atletico Madrid. At some point he was my best footballer (between 2000 and 2004). His playing days was trophy laden-ed. He was named FIFA Player of the Year 3 times (1998, 2000 and 2003),he also won the World Cup (1998) and Euro 2000 with France. He won the Champions League as a player with Real Madrid and as assistant to my next favourite coach on the list. Zizou as Zinedine Zidane is popularly called has a very impressive resume. Shine on Zizou.
  4. Carlo Ancellotti: I didn’t use to like Italian coaches to be honest. I saw Arrigo Sacchi’s men beat the Super Eagles at the 1994 World Cup. I believed Sacchi set his team up to hurt and get the key players of the Nigerian team out of the game. That was my take and that I will stick with till my dying day. There’s something special about Carlo though. He has this calm demeanour which I really like. He has been to different places like mazes as a Manager coaching Chelsea, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain not forgetting the club he played for A.C Milan. He is presently in charge of Bayern Munich. Not much to say about the gentleman but what is there not to like about him? I digress.
  5. Massimiliano Allegri: even if you don’t like the guy I am sure you love the name *winks*. The former A.C Milan coach is now the boss at Juventus (the fourth best club in the world). He has not let the big foot Antonio Conte left behind deter him. He’s on track to winning his 3rd Serie A title, he has also won the Coppa Italia twice and the Supercoppa Italiana once. He led Juventus to the final of the 2015 Champions League final which held in Berlin,Germany losing to Barcelona 3-1.

There you have it, my favourite coaches of the beautiful game (at the moment) and strangely they all have ties with the Italian Serie A. Notable mentions; Diego Simeone, Pep Guardiaola, Marcelo Bielsa, Guus Hiddink, Luciano Spalletti, Thomas Tuchel, Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Jorge Sampaoli and Claudio Ranieri to mention a few.

250 Goals

 

The departure of Ruud Van Nistelrooy from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2006 paved the way for me to love Wayne Rooney.  The longest I have loved a Manchester United player before now was for 5 years and it was David Beckham. 11 years on (2006 till date) and no one has toppled Wayne Wazza Rooney in my books. Cristiano Ronaldo came in at some point though but his reign at the top of my list was short like leprechauns (thank you Notorious B.I.G for that line, I have always wanted to use it). I was privileged to watch Rooney’s debut for the Red Devils against Fenerbache in 2004 where he bagged a hat-trick and an assist. I wasn’t surprised at his ability on his United debut night because I had been following his progress since his wonder goal for Everton against Arsenal in 2002.

My love for him has not been as a result of his goal scoring exploits but his commitment, desire and passion for both the Three Lions of England and Manchester United. Yes someone will say he tried to force a move out of Old Trafford twice because he wanted more money but that doesn’t make him less of a great player or better put a LEGEND.

Fast forward through 13 years and Wayne Rooney is Manchester United’s all-time top scorer snatching the crown from Sir Bobby Charlton. Rooney equaled Charlton’s record of 249 goals when the Red Devils triumphed 4- 0 over Reading in the FA Cup third round of games. 2 weeks after the Reading game Rooney came off the bench to salvage a draw for Man United with a brilliant free-kick to break Bobby Charlton’s record. Rooney has now scored 250 goals for Manchester United in 546 games and ranked 7th position behind the likes of Paul Scholes, Bill Foulkes, Ryan Giggs and Bobby Charlton in the all-time appearance list for the Red Devils.

Rooney peeling off in celebration as Ander shares his joy

Goal record broken, UEFA Champions League , 5 EPL titles, 3 EFL Cups and a host of other football trophies won, Wayne Rooney can quit Manchester United with a sense of accomplishment. He can head to China while I boast that Rooney’s feat happened in my time.

 

 

All hail the Manchester United King of Goals.

 

Pam and David…… Season Finale

“Hi Dave.” Femi greeted. Please free me.” David responded. “Guy relax now. I was going to tell you about it but didn’t know how to broach it with you.” Femi said. “Femi please GET LOST I don’t ever want to see your face again.” David threw back lividly, walking away. “Fine, I don’t know how shacking up with a girl in your compound is an offense but if you don’t want to listen to me all well and good. I am out.” Femi retorted at the top of his voice.

“I don’t know why it is what I want you are eyeing.” David said. Huh, what did you just say? Femi remarked walking towards David. “You heard me right.” David barked. “I am sure you are the reason Pam doesn’t want to be with me. David added.”

“What the F*** is wrong with you David?” Femi asked. “You want Pam, you want Shola too? You are sick.” Femi chipped in. “Your Pam has been acting all mean and inconsiderate so I decided why not fall back to Shola who genuinely loves me only for her to be sleeping with you.” David calmly explained. “You see David the world doesn’t revolve around you. You cannot eat your cake and have it and I think you are being selfish. So because you could not score with Pam you want to now fall back to Shola? Then you must be a joker.” Femi narrated.

“Thank you.” David said walking away.

*

Femi returns to the Office Cafeteria and still meets Pam there. He explains what happened between himself and David to her.

“So he was pissed that you were hooking up with his neighbor? That is childish though. I don’t want to be with someone like that.” Pam said. “I tire for the guy o.” Femi added. “He should just please do my work or else I will take a memo to the MD and trust me he doesn’t want me to do that.” Pam rambled. “But wait a minute, did you just consider dating David?” Femi asked. “Come off it Femi, he’s cute to be honest but he just lost some points with that childish behavior.” Pam alleged.

“Sexy Pam, I think you like this guy. Just give him a chance.” Femi urged. “Get out.” Pam said jokingly. “You are saying this because of the Shola girl right? To get David off your back on the matter.” Pam added. “It’s not that jor, I just think if you like him give him a chance. I can vouch that he’s a good lad, he’s just shy.” Femi stated. “Okay you know what? Tell him we could hang out later tonight for the TGIF (Thank GOD it’s Friday) on the condition that he starts my work first.” Pam said. “Easy Peasy.” Femi responded. “He would do that in no time, he’s that good.” Femi bragged. “Cool, so we can say we have a deal.” Pam added.

 

Femi goes to David’s desk but doesn’t meet him on seat. He drops a note which read, Pam has agreed to hang out with you during TGIF on the condition you start her work ASAP.

 

*Announcement: This is Chidinma Ihenacho from the MD’s office. All Staff are supposed to leave the office by 5pm for the TGIF holding at the Valley in Yaba.

“Hi David.” Pam greeted. “Hey Pam, I am so sorry about earlier. I was really in a bad mood.” David explained. “It is fine and I think you have Femi to thank for my letting go of the past.” Pam said.  “I don’t know why he likes you so much or worries about you. He even said nice things about you which I would be hoping to find out myself.” Pam added. “So so so you mean we can hang out later tonight?” David stuttered. “No I only said I want to find out if the nice things Femi said about you are true.” Pam responded. “But gosh you are too gentle a man. Of course we can hang out and chat during the TGIF.” Pam added. “What about your boyfriend?” David asked. “We could discuss him too if you so please.” Pam jested. “Oh no I wouldn’t want that.” David motioned. “See you later then.” Pam said walking away. “Take care dear.” David muttered.

Jumping up for joy, David screamed yes she’s agreed to speak with me forgetting he was in a corporate environment. He bumps into the MD who had never seen him so happy and loud.

“What is wrong with you?” The MD asked. “I am so sorry sir.” David responded. “No seriously what happened? Never seen you in a joyous mood and I can’t remember you getting a promotion though you came in highly recommended for one.” The MD said. “It is nothing really sir.” David said. “Ok then.” The MD responded. “Hope you have finished your slides for the presentation on Monday?” The MD probed. “I am wrapping it up already sir and I would give to Rachael for review before the day runs out.” Good then the MD said. “Speaking of Rachael, I will advise you don’t let her down because she so much believes in you.” The MD added walking away.

This has to be the best week of my life. First it was my hang out with Pam and now Rachael happens to be a good boss. David mumbled to himself as he went to his office.

 

*At the Valley

“Hey bro.” David greeted Femi. “Hi Dave.” Femi responded. “I am so sorry about earlier bro. I didn’t mean to spaz out like that.” David said. “It is fine bro. I am also sorry I didn’t mention Shola to you though she told me she had feelings for you but I knew you had eyes for Pam.” Femi narrated. “You slimy son of a gun.” David said jokingly. “But seriously how could you pass on an offer to date Shola?” Femi asked. “That girl is fine and has got brains as in brilliant.” Femi added. “Yea she is a nice girl as a matter of fact very decent and friendly but you know how we (men) can be now.” David said. “So we cool?” Femi asked stretching his hands for a brotherly hug. “We sure are.” David said hugging Femi back.

“Sorry to break the bromance.” Pam said from behind David. “Sexy Pam what’s up now?” Femi greeted. “Hey Pam, you look so good.” David hailed. “Did you go home to change or something?” David chipped in. “I have told you to stop calling me that.” Pam said facing Femi. “Hello Dave.”  Pam greeted David. “And yes I went home to change because I am going out with my boyfriend from here.” She added sarcastically. “Hahahahahaha.” Femi laughed. “Let me free you guys, Shola is almost here.” He added. “Ok Mr. Lover boy.” Pam said. “David.” Pam called snapping David back to life. “I was just joking about the boyfriend gist o.” Pam said. “You got me there.” David slurred.

Pam and David got talking and she explains why she was being so hard on him. She also told him she was single and she lied to him the other day about her having a boyfriend because she really liked him and was willing to find out if he would still push for a hang out.

“So you seem to be a gentleman just as I was told by Femi.” Pam said. “I am?” David responded smiling sheepishly. “Yea.” Pam answered. “Will you please be my girlfriend Pam?” David asked. “Come on things don’t work that way. You have not even known me, you have not even taken me out for lunch or taken me shopping and do all the fun things aspiring boyfriends do for girls they like.” Pam yakked. “Oops, I am sorry I was moving too fast. You are simply irresistible Pam.” David said. “Besides I don’t earn that much to do all these you have listed.” David added. “Oh really but you want to quickly have girlfriend abi? No wonder you are still single.” Pam responded. “I am sorry Pam, I guess I am not the right man for you.” David stated. “Awww you sound cute David. I just love messing with you. We would make a lovely couple.” Pam said. “Can I assume you are agreeing to date me Pamela?” David asked. “Hell No.” Pam responded. “I can consider you though because you called my name right unlike some Yoruba people.” She said chuckling. Yes David I will date you.

 

The End.

Pam and David……………… Episode 4

*Staff of the First Floor’s Lunch Time Out with the Boss

“Why are you always keeping to yourself?” The Managing Director (MD) asked David. “I have never seen you hold a conversation with anyone outside your floor.” The MD added. “Huh?” David muttered pointing at himself. “Yes you.” The MD retorted.

“It is not only about work, you should at least socialize once in a while with your colleagues. That was the same thing you did during the UK trip too, you were always indoors.” Added the MD. “I am sorry sir.” David responded. “You don’t need to be sorry, it is for your own good.” The MD said.

“Any impediment to discharging your daily duties?” The MD asked all in attendance. An unrehearsed no was the response he got. “Good.” The MD said. “Is there anyone who would love to swap Units or Departments?” The MD asked.

At first the room was quiet. The MD then asked all heads of Unit/Department to leave to ensure that their subordinates were comfortable with the question. The MD now asked again, who would want to change Units/Departments?

David slowly raising his right hand stated he would like to change his Unit.

“David is there a particular reason why you want to change your Unit? I thought you were doing what you loved doing as the Contents person? Are there any issues?” The MD presenting David with a flurry of questions. “Erm I think I will stay put where I am sir.” Thank you. David said. “What is wrong with this boy?” The MD asked jokingly. “Is there anything else?” The MD asked further. “The team chorused No.”

The MD asked that the Heads of Units/Departments to come back in to finish their lunch and asked all to return to their desks afterwards.

*

“What is wrong with you?” Femi asked David. “I am sorry I don’t follow bro?” David responded with a puzzled look. “You wanted to speak about something that was bothering you when the MD asked us who would love to switch Units. You just froze and changed your mind.” Femi retorted. “Well I just thought about what I was going to say and I didn’t want to put Rachael in trouble.” David responded. “Trouble? How?” Femi asked. “I clearly don’t get along with her and you know this but I will rather weather the storm than get her into trouble with the MD.” David said. “David you are missing something, you don’t have to be friends with Rachael. I believe she’s hard on you because she sees you have the potential to be the best in your field. So man up and stop being a sissy.” Femi said tapping David on the shoulder. “Okay, thanks Femi.” David responded. “I am sure the MD will still call you to find out if you really had anything to say back there. He worries about everybody so brace yourself up and prepare to tell him something good.” Femi quipped. “Yea I will.” David responded.

“Bad guy!!! How did it go with Pam yesterday?” Femi asked. “Please let’s not talk about her Femi.” David said. “What happened bro? Talk to me.” Femi pushed for an answer. “Femi drop it.” David raised his voice slightly. “Okay if you say so.” Femi said walking away. “I am sorry I snapped.” David said catching up with him. “She has a boyfriend and I expected you of all people to have told me she was a no go area.” David added. “Boyfriend?” Femi asked. “Yes she mentioned him when I asked her out on a date yesterday after the voluntary discussion session with the MD.”

Hmmm was all Femi could chip in.

“Is there something you think I should have known?” David asked. “No.” Femi answered.

*

David walked into the compound and it felt strange not seeing Shola anywhere around. He had lost out on the chance of dating Pam, could he score with Shola? These were the thoughts he had in his head. He proceeded to going to her flat to check up on her.

David knocked.

“Hi Shola.” David said. “Hello David.” Shola responded tying her wrapper properly. “I didn’t see you when I walked into the compound which was unusual so I decided to stop by and say hello before going to my flat.” David explained. “Oh thanks David.” Shola responded.

“Who is that Shola?” A male voice said from inside. “I am so sorry I didn’t know you had company.” David jealously said. “It’s my neighbor.” Shola responded looking inwards the apartment.

Shola’s male companion came out and saw David about walking away. He froze.

“Femi what are you doing here and how come you got here (from the office) before me?” David asked gnashing his teeth.

Shola steps in. “You guys should get a grip. David please leave, I would see you later.” Shola motioned to David. “Sorry bro.” Femi hollered.

David kept his cool and walked away.

*

“Hey David.” Pam said as she walked to David’s desk. “Hello Pam.” David responded. “Please I need a favour from you David.” Pam beckoned. “What can I do you for?” David asked. “I want Shile in I.T to help design a website for a client and would like you to help come up with contents for the website.” Pam said. “That will cost you N20, 000 (Twenty Thousand Naira).” David said without looking up.  “Haba David I asked for a favour.” Pam responded. “Well we all have targets and I have defaulted for the past 5 months so maybe it is time I started earning some business development points.” David sauntered.

“You seem to be in a bad mood.” Rachael said and walked away.

Abeg make everybody free me. David said in a low tone.

*

“What is wrong with your friend?” Pam asked Femi as she took her seat next to him at the staff cafeteria. “Please just let him be for now Pam. I think the game you are playing with him is getting to him.” Femi offered. “I don’t think so, I went to meet him for work not leisure and his response was cold.” Pam said. “Well I don’t know then.” Femi responded. “That’s strange, did you two have a fight?” Pam asked. “No, why?” Femi said. “Never mind.” Pam said.

David walks into the Cafeteria and on seeing Pam and Femi, he walked right out.

“And you say you two ain’t fighting?” Pam asked Femi again. “Well I can bet David left because he saw you.” Femi said looking at Pam. “David.” Femi called. “Get LOST.” David responded.

Hahahaha…………… Pam laughed and said to Femi, got ya. You better go and settle the beef with your friend so he can do my work. She chipped in laughing.

Read Episode 3

Read Episode 2

Read Episode 1