“It was my dream to play for Arsenal”
Moonlight streamed through the partially open curtains and illuminated the yellow painted walls covered in pennants, flaglets and posters. Red and white seemed to drip down the maize walls like water droplets on a pane of glass.
A dark haired boy slept peacefully in his bed, sweetly dreaming. He was not unfamiliar with this dream, after all he had been having it almost nightly for as long as he could remember. It was a wonderful dream full of people cheering his name, a perfect green pitch as majestic as a perfectly polished ballroom floor, and he would glide across this pitch as dancers glide across the dance-floor.
He was surrounded by his once-heroes, now team-mates and friends and partnered by his idol, the one he most wished to emulate. He could feel the passion of the crowd as emotion emanated through the ground. This was it, this was home. A football at his feet, a crowd of adoring fans – it couldn’t get any better.
His dream played out like it always did, with an interchanging of fast and accurate passes, pulchritude oozing from the feet of his team-mates and him, ending with a perfect goal from a perfect assist from his perfect idol – and of course, with him stepping up to the podium, as captain, to lift the trophy in front of the ecstatic and weeping fans.
He woke smiling but soon felt the damp feeling of deflation. He always felt like this after such dreams, the weight of reality pulling him down, for it was just a dream and they never lasted long enough. Just to play there, for them, with him, would be a dream come true. He sighed, “It’s just a dream, it’ll never come true – dreams don’t come true” he said out loud and set about his day. How wrong he was.
Years later as he sat in the dressing room watching his team-mates celebrate, laughing, cheering, joking, drinking, he smiled as he thought about those dreams. It has been a while, he thought, but we did it. We did it and we did it our way. He couldn’t express how amazing it felt to be a winner but to be a winner with these guys was just incredible. It was no more than they deserved and knowing what they had gifted to the supporters, the achievement they had made – it was almost too much to absorb.
It was a sensational season he thought, a hard season but a great one. It was hard competing with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City with their bottomless pockets, even the mighty Manchester United had struggled to achieve the heights of before now they found out the harsh truth about fighting for titles when you’re short on quality but you can’t attract it because of your oil-rich rivals.
He sympathised with them, but only for a second for why should he feel sorry for those that spent years laughing at the situation his club were in? Change can be good in many ways but huge change is often fraught with difficulty. Changing manager after 27 years of almost constant success is hard and brings with it many difficulties not dissimilar to those of a club changing stadium after almost a hundred years.
United has suffered their worst season in almost 30 years but these things happen and it’s how you react to them that defines you. Arsenal had reacted well he thought. They had suffered hardship, if you call it that, and yes, some of it was self-imposed but now it was clear to see there was always a plan.
This plan had paid off. It was hard getting here, he knew that, but it was worth it in the end. He looked at the trophy in front of him, champagne soaked and finger-marked but still gleaming, still beautiful.
He closed his eyes and tried to replay the match in his head. He wanted to remember this match forever. He could hear the commentator in his head, he didn’t know why, you can’t hear commentators on the pitch but he didn’t care – it added to the majesty of the memory.
“And Mertesacker steals another ball from the striker, he has been impassable today. His partnership with Laurent Koscielny has been an absolute revelation this season. He passes to Sagna who has been so influential down the right flank, especially with Theo injured but today could be the day they seal up the title not just for Theo but the entire club and the fans who have waited so patiently for this day to come.
Sagna is blocked on the right and passes it back in-field to Ramsey, my God has that boy been in form this season. 16 Premier League goals from midfield and the goal that booked them into the FA Cup final in a fortnight. Could they complete yet another double? Well they have to win here first.
Less than a minute to go here and Arsenal need to score if they want to win the title. Nothing less than a win will do. Manchester City won the league with the final kick two season ago, can Arsenal follow suit and snatch the title from City who will finish 1 point behind if Arsenal can score.
Norwich have been dogged today – it’s been all Arsenal and despite a few close shaves and some excellent goalkeeping, the Canaries have managed to keep Arsenal at bay. It’s been 10 minutes of pure Arsenal pressure, will something tell? Will Arsenal manage to win their first league title in 10 years?
Ramsey and Arteta and have moved the ball around well today but it’s all just a little sideways at the moment. Steve Bould and Arsène Wenger are on the touch line screaming at the players to get forward. 30 seconds left at Carrow Road.
Arteta brushes off a challenge and releases Podolski down the left. The German international sprints towards the box and unleashes a thunderous shot towards goal. It rattles the crossbar with the keeper beaten and drops to Santi Cazorla on the right. He dances into the box and cuts it back to Ramsey who has ghosted into the box. He dummies the defender, drags the ball to his left and smashes the ball against the post. What is going on here? Arsenal are throwing everything at it but are being denied by millimetres. The referee looks at his watch. He is surely going to blow any second now and Arsenal who have come so close will have to wait another year for a league title.
What’s this? Koscielny has steamed into the midfield and stolen the ball. He passes it to Özil and continues his run, Arsenal have 5 players in the box now. The 42 million pound man, a shock signing last summer and enjoying an incredible first season in England is driving towards the box. He is holding off two men and dinks the ball into the box… where is it going? Where is it going? OH MY WORD!!! WHAT A VOLLEY, ROBIN VAN PERSIE WITH AN UNBELIEVABLE VOLLEY FROM THE TIGHTEST OF ANGLES. AND ARSENAL HAVE WON THE TITLE. ARSENAL HAVE WON THE TITLE. ROBIN VAN PERSIE – THE CAPTAIN OF THE TEAM. JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS ALL OVER HE STEPS UP AND FIRES ARSENAL TO THEIR FIRST TITLE IN A DECADE WITH A TRULY MAGNIFICENT GOAL – A CAPTAINS GOAL…….
Robin jolted awake and looked out of his living room window. It was raining again – it always rains in Manchester. It was just a dream he told himself. Just a dream and dreams never come true. He turn off the TV he had fallen asleep watching – it was 1am in the morning and Sky Sports News still had the yellow ticker running “Arsenal Win The Title”.
He heaved himself out of his chair and made his way up to his bedroom. He opened his bedroom door and stood in the doorway like a framed silhouette and stared at his bed. It was covered in old photographs and magazines from his Arsenal days that he had been sobbing over earlier. The duvet was bare and the mattress was not covered properly by the sheet. Robin sighed and said to himself “I made this bed…. I guess I better lie in it”.
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