9th January, 2007
“No, you can’t play anymore,” The doctor’s gruff voice startled me. Was there a tinge of irritation in his voice? Maybe, for he was answering the same old question for the umpteenth time. The fall had been a bad one and the X-ray reports were too damn conclusive. In short, my tendons were too far damaged for me to ever have playing capabilities again. As I lay on the stretcher, I thought,” What the hell! I ‘ve got to play the next week.” So I kept asking the same question again and again, “Can I play next week?” Finally the Doc got pissed off. He lost his cool and literally shouted into my ear. “You want to play, you fool? That ain’t happening. I want to end my marriage. That ain’t happening too. Go find yourself a job”.
“A job? Are you f***in’ kidding me?” I howled. “Football is my job, my life. I can’t even imagine sitting in front of a desk for 8 hours. A job, huh!” He fell silent. I paid the fees and hobbled off to my home, too devastated to even bother about a wheelchair. I cannot play anymore! What am I going to do?
Sure I had an engineering degree but still, a job?
A few months later,
The faces were impassive. It seemed we had reached an impasse. They couldn’t decide whether to hire me or not. On one hand I had demonstrated an amazing grasp of programming fundamentals. On the other hand, I had no prior experience. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, one of them spoke, “Mr. Dasgupta, we are going to take a risk. We are going to offer you a position in this company. However, we would like you to put in an effort to set a very high standard for yourself and others. “”Job it is then for me”, I sighed. They looked at me quizzically.
I had almost given up after the accident. I wanted to play so so much. Oh! How it hurt to know I couldn’t do so anymore. But I needed to look after myself, my mother reasoned. Finally, after days of deliberation, I took out my engineering degree from the shelf. Years of accumulated dust and negligence had taken its toll. The certificates looked a tad worn out. Anyhow, I started applying for a job. With no experience and 5 years of gap between my degree and my present condition, all but one of my applications was rejected. I got one call and well yeah, as I said they took me in as a risk.
Two months into the job,
I hated it. I hated my job, and I hated myself for accepting the offer. I hated my tendons and I hated the people in the office who always gave me a patronizing look (the news of my accident had spread thick and fast already). I simply sat at my desk for the stipulated time, and at the end of each day trudged home after a stern warning from my manager to improve my performance. I wanted to leave. I wanted to play again. Could I ever play again?
30th January, 2008
Tactics, positions, training. Badelj or Cleverley? It was already 2:00 am and yet I couldn’t take my eyes off my laptop. Football Manager 2008 had worked its charm on me. I wondered how I hadn’t noticed this game earlier. I had just walked into a game shop in the evening in search of a game to spend my lonely time at home (No, I didn’t know any chick and I didn’t have the money to party) and I chanced upon this game. Intrigued, I bought it and took it home. And before I knew, I was enamoured. It was brilliant! It was virtual world and yet the experience was so real! I could literally picture myself standing on the sidelines bawling instructions at my players in a Champions League final and then finally getting to heave the coveted trophy up in the air, the moment of ultimate triumph. It was Magical!
And then suddenly in a flash, I knew I had found my manna, my escape from this stupid vegetable of a life. I couldn’t play anymore. So what? I could yet go to a stadium with the boys, revel in victory from the touchline. That’s it; I had to be a manager.
26th May, 2012
After four years of hard work, I finally got my UEFA coaching license. I had resigned from my job within a few weeks of my realization and the company felt quite happy to let me go. Their risk had been a disaster. I applied for a coaching license and for that I had to go to a school where they taught the basics of coaching a team. I was eager to learn and my footballing days helped me with the tactical nous and mental aspects of the game. The four years were grinding and yet satisfying. I was where I wanted to be. I permitted myself a high five. I was happy.
2nd December, 2012(Today)
The whole world is standing still. The stadium looks magnificent. The fans are screaming but all I can hear is silence. My team is standing with me, waving to the stands. I am ready for my first match as a manager. XYZ FC isn’t a club as big as Manchester United, but still it has its own team and I have my first job with them. I had wanted to play, but I found my true calling due to a freak accident and now thanks to FM 2008, I am living my dream. The aim is to win the UCL one day with Manchester United. I know it’s tough,in fact its probably nigh impossible but like all those years when I was down,I still have an ace up my sleeve; a tiny yet gargantuan word called Hope.
HOPE….ETERNAL FLAMES OF HOPE
….The referee has blown the whistle. The ball bounces wildly in the air. The fans are still screaming. I can hear them now.