THE FIFTH COLUMN
Hello friends! This is note from Igor, your goalie. I’m just writing to say hi, we haven’t spoken for maybe forever.
How is it going on other side of field? Wait, no, I have answer for that. It’s going great! We are attacking, attacking, attacking. Keep going!
Me? I am doing okay. Resting a lot. Thinking. Bit sad, really. Missing all of you. But I must be strong. We are strong team. Attack-minded.
I must also be honest with you. I am lonely here. If you look back you will see. It is just me. I have water bottle, yes, but, of course, water bottle doesn’t talk. The net doesn’t talk. The people they just shout and scream, no talk.
So I was thinking, Merka, my friend, what if you hanged back? Keep me company? What do you think? We have good relationship, no? It will be fun. I can walk out of my box, no problem. I will bring water, we can get ball, kick it around.
But, if you’re busy, Merka, I will understand. Everybody is busy. The life of a professional soccer player, very busy. Off the pitch I am also very busy. A real “busy body”, as they say.
This morning, while you were signing autographs with the team, I was already busy packing. I have a lot of clothes to pack, Merka, more than you. I have long shirt, long pants, underpants, shoes, socks and also gloves.
It is true, the kids don’t want my autograph. They say I am like drummer of team they don’t care, but I don’t care too. The drummer sometimes the most important part of the band, the loudest. Without drummer, who will be at the back?
I know what you’re thinking and, yes, you’re right. To be alone with self is important. Introspection, important. But also important to remember no man can be island. I say that, but it’s not entirely true. I am an island, Merka. I am being honest again. I am feeling lonely even here in a stadium of 80 000 people. Why? I don’t know why. Very hard to explain.
I come from good home, good school, good village. Before goalie, I play golf. Before golf, I hit tennis ball against wall. Do you see a pattern? I have been to doctor, psychologist (he tell me to take up team sport, football) and priest — no one can help. I am still single, Merka! Thirty-two and still single. I bring shame to my family. I bring shame to the team. I am no good.
I’m thinking coach might take me off, tell me to “hit the showers”. I will probably cry in shower, I am so sad right now. New low.
What is all this cheering now? Crowd is restless. It is counterattack! I am going to end note now, must make defence. Merka! Are you waving? Yes, you are! Run to me, Merka! My old friend! We will make defence together.