‘Some You Win………….’
Paris: France March 1999
“I’m going; just you try and stop me. There is no way I
am going to pass up an opportunity like this. You only get one chance of
a lifetime, this is mine.”
“But what about me and the children, what’s going to
happen to us? Don’t you ever think of anyone but yourself? You have been
like that ever since I first met you three years ago; it’s got even
“You can come over with me of course; we can raise the
children in Scotland. That’s if you want to of course, if you
don’t want to well……..”
“Yeah I see, if I don’t want to, tough luck, that’s it.
Isn’t it? Isn’t it?”
“There was no reply from Claude; the look on his face,
the tone of his voice said it all. Dana had seen the look, heard the
tone many times before.”
Claude reached for the rapidly emptying large glass of
brandy beside him. He reflected on the events of the previous two days.
The offer from Rangers had arrived unexpectedly; he had no idea that
scouts from the most famous team in Scotland had been watching him. He
had scored twenty-eight goals this season, his second season as a
professional and there was two months of the season still to go.
He and Dani lived in this largely working-class district
of Paris for two years now since he has signed for Pigalle in the second
division. They were far from being well off financially but they
“got by” as they say. Now here he was, beyond his wildest expectations
being offered the chance to sign for one of the biggest clubs in Europe
while getting paid thousands of pounds a week. Any momentary doubts, any
guilt he felt about uprooting Dani and the young twins from their
homeland evaporated when he thought of the lifestyle that awaited him in
Dani had returned to the room. There were tears in the
corners of her eyes.
“Claude you know I have always stood by you, even when I
have not been in agreement with you but I don’t want to leave here
for a freezing cold country like that I like it here, you know that, I
was born here and have lived here all of my life.”
“I like it here too Dani, but it will only be for one
“What do you mean?”
“What I mean is that the club will do everything
for us, set us up with a new home, and attend to our every need. They
have offered me a four-year contract but what are contracts these days?
They are pieces of paper, bits of information with signatures on
them that nobody pays attention to anymore.”
“So?” Enquired Dani?
“So, so, after a while, after I have scored plenty goals
and my market value increases I ask for a transfer. By that time I will
have the top clubs in England chasing me, the likes of Manchester
United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool even. There is big money
to be made at these places..”
“And what after that?”
“Well, I may have to stay in England a bit longer than in
Scotland but well after at most two seasons I will have the likes of the
Milan clubs, Juventus and Barcelona coming in for my signature, perhaps
too St Germaine back here. We’ll be millionaires Dani and we will still
A bemused look spanned Dani’s face.
“The money is certainly appealing but what about this
first move to Rangers?” She said, moving to sit alongside him and taking
a sip from the glass of Martini she had just poured.
“How do you know it will work out for you and how do you
know you will get a transfer after a year?”
“S’long as I keep scoring goals I cannot go wrong. The
big clubs from England will be in for me, you’ll see.”
“If you score so many goals they might not give you a
transfer, you thought of that?
Easy, if that happens, well I just stir up a bit of
unrest in the dressing room, demand outrageous bonuses, things like
that, its been done before, a few players at Celtic in Glasgow did these
things a few years back. They will be only too glad to get rid of me
Claude took the last swallow from his Brandy, quickly and
liberally refilling the glass.
Once more Dani spoke.
“Call me naïve if you like but isn’t all of this a little
bit underhand? Don’t you feel anything at all for the club you
are signing for? And those fans, those fans who will worship you if you
score all these goals you say you are going to. Is it all about
money?” Dani had a concerned look on her face.
“Of course it is why do you think I want to go there in
the first place? Do you think that I actually feel any loyalty to this
club? I have never even been in Scotland. When I sign on Friday it will
be the first time that I have ever set foot in the place.”
Dani was silent, pondering the words of her boyfriend.
Claude was in full flow now, he poured himself another
“Oh of course I ‘ll have to go through the old
routine, I’ll stand in front of the television cameras, beside the
manager wearing a Rangers scarf. The television crews will be
there and I’ll say things like “this is the only team I have ever wanted
to play for, and when I was a youngster Rangers were my favourite team
and to this day I still look out for their results”. It’s all total
nonsense of course but well that’s just the way things are these days.
Loyalty? Don’t make me laugh. Just think Dani I will be on the sports
pages of newspapers all over the world, on the television screens too”
“Unknown French striker signs for Glasgow Rangers”. I will soon be
recognised everywhere I go.”
Dani had remained mostly silent as he detailed his plans
to her, only interrupting his flow when she thought it necessary. As she
went to put the twins to rest for the night she looked out of the
west-facing window. The sun was setting, it had been an unusually warm
day for early March, the clear skies though beckoned a frosty night.
Claude reflected, he knew Dani well enough to realise
that in spite of her silence and her doubts that she was coming round to
his way of thinking. It was the money thing of course, all doubts, all
misgivings became secondary in the light of wealth, the opportunity for
that was there, he for one was not going to let it slip past. He
realised that if she had continued to protest and had stood her ground
it would not have dissuaded him, he would have upped and left without a
second thought, without a shadow of regret. Taking a large sip from his
glass he told himself that it did not bother him in the slightest.
He was by now more than slightly drunk. Dani had
again returned to the room. He had watched here entering the room, her
silky black hair flowing down her sides, the outline of her shapely
breasts stark against her tight fitting yellow top. Sitting down beside
him once more she looked at him straight in the face. The sad expression
on her face gradually gave way to a smile “Ok I’ll come with you Claude”
she said quietly.
“Let’s celebrate Dani, here, let me pour you another
Martini.” He swayed as he approached the small table in the middle of
the room, the brandy bottle now more than half empty as he replenished
the the amber liquid while pouring a Martini for his lover.
“Its All there for me Bill, I’ll be a millionaire in no
time, no time at all. I can retire at thirty, maybe even earlier.”
“Claude, you have lost your love for the game itself, is
money all that matters to you? If you’re lucky to stay clear of serious
injury you could play on until your mid thirties, a lot of people do
these days you know.”
The words were those of Bill, Claude’s close friend. Bill
was close on sixty now. In his day he had played for Dundee FC in
Scotland and had in the 1960s played for the Scottish national team. He
had been a one –club man, remaining loyal to and playing for his boyhood
heroes for over twenty years. Bill had lived in France for over a decade
now, moving from Scotland when his son, William Junior had been handed a
dream ticket, a move from DundeeFC where for the most part he was a
reserve team player to the Paris Club St Germaine.
They were sitting at a table in the Bar De Biarritz, a
favourite haunt of Claude’s and close to his home. It was Thursday
evening, the next day he would be off to Glasgow to sign for Rangers. He
would return to France later that same day, then on the Monday he would
begin training with his new club. Dani and the twins would follow him
within a few weeks after the club had arranged accommodation for all
four of them. Until then he would stay in s city-centre hotel.
“Yes I love the game Bill said Claude answering his
friend’s semi-rhetorical question. It’s just that I love the money more.
By the time I am thirty I’ll be past my peak anyway, so why play on?
Surely it’s best to quit when you’re on top. I know I can be the best
there is Bill I know I have what it takes and then some. I know
that at my best no-one, no-one comes a close second to me.”
“In my playing days Claude there was nothing like the
same opportunities that the top players have these days but most of us
were only too glad to play on for as long as we could. I know it sounds
corny but it was down to this love of the game thing. I know that
most of my generation had this love of the game, it was a passion inside
of us. We played for the jersey; it was an honour just to simply put on
that jersey, just to pull it over your head. Yes, in those days there
was loyalty, its all gone now of course. It’s all money these days.”
Claude pondered on the words of his friend for a
moment or so as the Scotsman went to the toilet.
Loyalty what the hell do I care about loyalty? He thought
as he watched Bill ordering their drinks at the bar a beer from himself,
a brandy for Claude.
“Loyalty Bill what is all this bloody loyalty when
you’re paid a pittance. You can stay with the one club for twenty years
and what do you get? What did you get Bill? What the hell did you get?
Tell me what the bloody hell did you get? Come on
Bill, tell me I’m waiting.”
Bill realised that Claude was by now quite drunk and
becoming a little aggressive. In the two years that he had known him he
had seen him in this mood before, though never quite as bad as this. He
was unsure how many drinks Claude had consumed before he met up with him
this evening but he thought it must have been quite a few.
“I got enjoyment from the game Claude, that’s what I got,
the enjoyment from the game that never diminished in all of the twenty
years or so that I played football. That enjoyment compensated for the
low pay. I think, in fact I know that players today do not get
the same enjoyment from the game that my generation did.”
Bill took a huge swallow from his tumbler of beer, he
wanted to make a quick getaway, Claude was not good company when he was
like this. Even when sober though Bill knew he had that arrogant streak
about him, it was only when he became drunk though that he could turn
“I’m off mate, I have to meet Maureen, we are going to
the theatre this evening. The best of luck in Glasgow see you the next
time you are back in France. Oh by the way, one big bit of advice, don’t
bless yourself in front of the television cameras in Glasgow, in fact
don’t bless yourself anywhere in Glasgow.”
“Don’t what?” said the drunken voice.
“Don’t bless yourself in front of the television
“Well you see there is this…………….ach don’t worry you will
Bill waved goodbye to his friend and walked smartly on to
the by now darkening streets of Paris.
The hangover from the previous evening was clearing,
albeit a little slower than the previous morning and he was feeling
better by the moment as he drove along the motorway at high speed in his
rented car going towards Orly Airport. His disposition in fact mirrored
the weather, the early mist was clearing, somewhat slower than it had on
Thursday morning but now the sun was breaking through, another fine
early Spring day beckoned.
His thoughts returned to Thursday evening. He had met
Bill at a football dinner dance and since that time they had become
close, the older man often taking him under his wing and giving him
advice as well as the benefit of his vast experience as a footballer.
Sometimes though thought Claude, Bill could be a right old pain with his
preaching about what it was like in the “good old days” as he saw them.
He found himself shouting out loud to himself as the car
went even faster. “What the hell did you get out of it Bill? What the
hell did you get out of it? Don’t give me that enjoyment crap. Twenty
years at the one f*****g club and then what? A letter of thanks, a few
best wishes and that was you, looking for a f*****g job that would keep
you going till you were sixty bloody five, another thirty years, if you
were lucky that is”.
He felt no guilt at all in labelling Bill a mug, a bloody
No, all this loyalty crap is not for me, I will
take all I can get and stuff everybody else. Rangers even paid for this
The speed of the car increased yet again.
He looked around the hospital ward. He had been slowly
becoming accustomed to the bright lights of the hospital ward since he
had regained consciousness some two hours previously. He was in the
casualty ward, in the next bed he noticed that the patient had had his
right leg amputated. Across the ward another patient screamed in agony
from some unknown (To Claude) injuries.
He reflected on his situation. He thought of how people
would read about the crash in the newspapers. They would say things like
“what a shame, he is so young, what a tragedy, driving to the airport to
catch a plane, to sign for one of the top teams in Europe and this
happens. He could have risen to the very top in football, and now they
tell him that he will never walk again, both legs mangled, twisted
beyond repair, just like his career in fact.”
He lay in his bed reflecting this. More cries of pain,
even louder than the last time he thought emanated from the bed
“Yes of course they would think that, of course they
would. But what the bloody hell do they know anyway. I will never play
football again, I will never walk again but what do they know.
Wankers, the whole lot of them. Mugs they are, mugs. Score a few
goals and you’re a god to these people, a saviour. Yeah, a bloody
saviour. That is until the next guy comes along and then they forget all
about you just as quick, and you are yesterday’s man. The suckers have
found a new hero, a new god. Saviour? I know better. What do I care
about them? Nothing, that’s what I care about them, nothing, nothing at
all. It’s all about money, all else is pure fiction, utopia. Screw the
lot of the gullible suckers.
Now I will never have that opportunity I have always
dreamt of and that only yesterday was within my grasp. But them out
there? Screw the lot of them. I have still got Dani and the twins. Dani
will look after me yes she will. Yes she will. ©