34 isn’t old age for a normal man. For him life starts by then. But you aren’t a normal man. Your career ends at 30s. Then your life goes through motions. The torn ligaments, broken bones and hamstring catch up with you. You’re put on medication. The drugs, drinks, divorce and the paparazzi follow the prescribed circle.
You were peacefully living the transition. A land where football holds no relation to foot, might have been the best place for you usher in a new settled life. You still walk out there and slots in goals. The only job you are good at. Moreover, there is no frenzy, adrenaline rushes or even YouTube videos.
Then one day the white haired one comes back to you. The first time, you needed him. Your fame, money and awards, you owe it all to him. He made you the legend you are. But legends don’t fight endlessly. They have to walk away into the glorious twilight and end up in folklore. You believed your time had gone and there is nothing much in you.
But the white haired one needs you again. The people you loved needs you and so does the young group of prodigy you left behind. The voice from deep down tells you, you will not have to do it again. Not so long ago, you gave them sweat and blood. You’re no longer young. Your body can’t stand the strain; your bones can’t take the blows, your feet no longer as fast as a deer. You will never be the king you once were. Still a question lingers on ‘Why Not?’ It grows heavier everyday and soon you can no longer ignore it. You wear the red and white colours again. You walk into the armoury once again.
The whole stadium erupts into frenzy when they see you. The expectation is weighing heavily on you. You who walked away in glory may be crowned a joker today. The head is turning dizzy. The game is moving on fast. Your contemporaries are watching you from the gallery. Do you see a tinge of sympathy in them? Or is it a smirk?
The opponent sends in their guards. They are fast, agile and will not allow you in so easily. Moreover they have the attitude. Once you sowed fear in the hearts. You were too fast and crafty to beat. How much of the pace is left in you? Are you willy enough to outplay the new generation?
The seconds drag on. You feel the muscles strain and the lungs heaving for air. Do you suspect a smirk in the opponent guards? The people in the gallery still hope for a miracle from you. You vainly hope someone slots in the winner and finishes the game. Out of nowhere Song volleys a cross. The huge clock moves back and forth. Years ago Viera used to set you up for the winners. No one has a clue where Viera has ended up. The clocks moves ahead, you move forward to collect the ball. The guards are fooled. You feel the old days returning. With a deft touch you caresses the ball.
The stadium lets out a collective gasp. You look across the line. The flag still stays down. You have only a choice left- glory or doom! You glance at the position. Once this was your favorite angle. But it seems that you went in too close. You open your body. The clock stops moving. The stadium comes to a still. The guardian opens his body for the most perfect star shape he can muster. Then your magical foot touches the ball.
You are not sure which came first- was it the roar from the crowd or the ball caressing the nets! Anyway you realize you are still….