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The Return of the Fallen Soldier

Eredivisie Re-Vita-lisation: A Vitesse Arnhem Story.
Started on 9 November 2013 by Lylinho25
Latest Reply on 14 November 2013 by Lylinho25
  • POSTS20
  • VIEWS10764

Every boy born in Arnhem dreams of wearing the yellow and black shirt. Some even make that dream come true. Even fewer go on to wearing the Oranje jersey of the national team. Before my 20th birthday, I had a achieved all these things. before my 20th birthday they were all snatched away.

I won my first cap on the 4th of June 2005. I came on in 85th minute to replace Rafael van der Vaart. As he shook my hand on the touchline he shouted above the din of the crowd "Good luck kid, you can do it!". Dirk Kuyt and Arjen Robben had already ensured that we would defeat Romania, but the 6 odd minutes I spent on the pitch were unforgettable. 4 days later, during our final practice session in Helsinki, Mr van Basten took me aside and told me that I would be starting the match against Finland! I could hardly believe it! This was it! This is what I had been working towards all my life! The chance to prove myself alongside legends like Cocu and Gio van Bronckhorst! I don't remeber much of what happened the rest of that day. All I know is, in the 26th minute, I was sprinting down the right wing with the ball, I knew that Ruud would want me to loft it into the box in between the two central defenders. And then, nothing.

I have flashes of Mario Melchiot running on, the physio at my side, a severe pain in my right leg. No! Nobody tackled me! Nobody could get close to me! The doctors said that it was a muscle infraction in my right thigh. A sort of heart attack in the muscle. I would need a cane and rehab. An 18 year old who had to trade a career that was just starting for a cane and medication. I had played a total of 32 minutes for the national team in 2 matches. That is all that mattered to me. I would get back there. One way or another.

I should have thrown this newspaper away long ago...

Walking into Merab Jordania's office on the 8th of July, I was reflecting on the past 8 years. Vitesse repaid the loyalty I had shown them my entire life by offering to pay for numerous surgeries, recovery programs and a lengthy 2 stint in rehab following my injury. The day I broke and threw my walking stick away in 2008 was the day I became a staff member. In 2010, Mr Jordania had entrusted me to taking over as the Under 19's Assistant Manager so that I could be close to the club I loved and help mould the next generation of Vitesse players. I was over the moon and immediately started working towards the Continental Pro License. A few years of working with the Under 19's and Reserve Team and I received the License on the 18th of February 2013. I had achieved another personal milestone and was determined to prove myself. Suddenly, I snap out of my daze and realize I've been standing at the Chairman's door, holding the door knob and my breath. Slowly breathing out, I open the door and walk inside.

Mr Jordania, smiling thoughtfully welcomed me into his spacious office. The first thing I noticed, as I always did when I walk into this room, is the framed picture of him with Roman Abramaovic. I was in the presence of a powerful man. "Lyle, I have some sad news" Mr. Jordania says to me, with the corners of his mouth twitching. I began panicking inwardly, immediately searching for the words to save my job as Reserve Team manager. Nervously, I say "Mr. Jordania, sir, I assure you those 2 losses last month were a dreadful mistake! See the thing is...". Laughing, he interrupts my stammering and said "No, no Lyle. This is not about the reserves! You have done well there. This is about Peter Bosz! This morning I had to relieve Mr Bosz of his position as manager of our dear club. The fool tries to convince me of his ambition and what does he do? He sells Bony and van Ginkel! Bah!". Having spent a lot of time with Marco van Ginkel at Under 19 level, I know exactly what a great talent we have lost. "So, I haven't lost my job as the reserve manager Mr. Jordania?" I asked reluctantly. "Alas, you will not be in charge of them anymore. I plan to remove all trace of Bosz and his bumbling staff at this club!" he said with a devious glint in his eye. Standing up dejectedly I manage to say "I'm sorry you feel that way Mr. Jordania. I will be clearing out my office if you need me". Laughing again, Mr. Joardania said 'Lyle, you will need to learn to call me Merab from now on if you are going to be the manager of Vitesse!". At this point I was already at the door but I freeze in the spot. "What?! What do you mean?" I nearly yell while spinning around wildly to face the Chairman. "Yes, at the board meeting yesterday we discussed possible successors for Peter and there is nobody that knows this club, its players and its mentality better than you! Understand me when I say this Mr. van der Berg, you will be the new manager of this illustrious club. The contract is on the table."

1 hour later, after going over the contract we start to discuss the teams vision. 'All we want from you this season is a safe, mid-table finish" Merab tells me. Seeking to impress him, I replied "Mr. Jord... erm... Merab, I believe that with the right investment and tactics, we could qualify for the Europa League again." "Ha! a young and determined man I see! very well! I will make sure that you have what you need for this season. Hmm, from the look on your face, it seems as though you've already identified a few transfer targets! Tell me, who can you sign with €3.5million?". It is my turn to be sneaky. Taking out my phone, I scroll down and dial a number as I make my way out of the office. "Just an old friend Merab. I'm just calling and old friend...". As I'm about to go out the door, I turned and saw Merab staring at me intently trying to hear my conversation. "Moshi moshi Keisuke-san! I hear you're trying to leave CSKA...'

The events of the past month were still swirling in my head. I had been appointed manager of my boyhood club. I had rescued my old friend keisuke Honda from CSKA Moscow for €1.8million. I strengthened the defence when I signed Gabriel Tamas from West Bromwich Albion and I snatched the brilliant youngster Raichiro Zivkovic from FC Groningen right before he would have signed for either AC Milan or Manchester City. Also, by selling Renato Ibarra to Ajax, I had even made a nice €1 million profit. And it all lead up to this evening.

I was just going through the formations, the tactics and possible outcomes on the team bus, while we approached the Gelredome. The lights from the magnificent building were illuminating the supporters were strolling in a bit late. When they caught sight of the bus, they produced a cheer loud enough to be heard inside the stadium. With the roof being opened as a special request, the crowd inside roared in unison when images of the players leaving the bus were displayed on the big screen monitors. The Vitas had arrived. This was my first competitive match in charge after a successful pre-season. While the players went to change Mr. Jordania invited me up to the Executive Lounge in order to formerly meet the Xazar Lankaran staff. The first leg of Europa League 3rd Qualifying stage was about to kick off. I was nervous as I left the executive suite on my way to the changing rooms, but I walked to the edge of one of the stair-wells first. Surveying the crowd as the cheered while our boys warmed up, roaring passionately whenever someone passed the ball to Keisuke, I felt a sense of calm wash over me. I was born to do this.

I found everyone settled and changed into their match kits by the time I got to the change room. Everybody looked eager to get onto the pitch to prove themselves worthy. Not to me though, but to the crowd. They were determined to show the world why they wore the kit. Turning down the stereo that was blasting Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow", I told them calmly that they were the destined to be in this competition. They had to go out there and prove that we were determined to not only become the best team in the Netherlands but in Europe too. That did it. They were geared up and chomping at the bit to be unleashed on the pitch. While captain Guram Kashia lead the boys onto the pitch, I took up my new seat in the dugout. It felt strange, sitting there in a new suit while the players lined up, I felt like an emperor surveying his troops. Before I knew it, the ball was at the centre spot. When the whistle blew, my reign at the helm officially started.

It took Keisuke 2 minutes to make his mark. Jonathon Reis' expertly taken corner found Honda unmarked in the opposition area, and he coolly slotted the ball into the net. 2 minutes for the crowd to get behind him. While Keisuke and the rest of the players were celebrating on the touchline, I glanced up at the Executive Suite to see Mr Jordania grinning enthusiastically and he flashed me two thumbs up. 35 minutes later Xazar equalised and we went into halftime having created more chances and with the majority of possession. In the locker room, I simply told the team that I had faith in them. We would do exactly what we have been doing all night, and with high possession and unrelenting pressure, the result would come. In the 69th minute, keisuke was up to it again. Davy Propper had a shot blocked and Gael Kakuta pounced on the rebound. It too was blocked by a Xazar defender, but it fell straight to Honda who made no mistake when he lashed it into the net on the half volley. While he was doing some weird dance at the corner flag, he caught my eye and gave me a look that seemed to say "We're going all the way to the top!' In the 86th minute Honda then set up an unmissable chance for Gael Kakuta to seal the win and my first competitive win.

2 goals and 1 assist in a debut match for Keisuke and an eye on a Europa League spot, the team bus on the way out of the stadium was the nosiest place in Arnhem. I knew it would be hard to sleep when I got home. Suddenly Guram Kashia handed me his cellphone. I look at the number that is busy dialling and realise that all the players have gone quiet. "Hello?" a tired voice asks me, obviously confused as to why he is receiving a call at this late hour. "Yes, is this the Heracles manager Jan de Jonge?" I ask with feigned sincerity. "Yes it is, how may I help you?" he replies. With a mischievous grin and to the sound of laughter I tell him "Beware. We are Vitesse and we're going to tear you apart on Wednesday!"
This is superb writing skills, will be very interested to see how far you can take Vitesse!

PS. I love your signature :P
Really liking the story so far. Can't wait to see what happens
Nice story ! And yes the signature is cool :P
2013-11-10 15:58#142836 TVDLC123 : This is superb writing skills, will be very interested to see how far you can take Vitesse!

PS. I love your signature :P

Haha thanks man. I'll be doing monthly updates, I'm delighted to see that people are actually interested in this story.
2013-11-10 16:00#142837 BayernAmerica : Really liking the story so far. Can't wait to see what happens

Thanks mate. I'll update the story so far tomorrow after work. Been peforming above expectations, that's all that I can reveal.
2013-11-10 17:06#142862 kazza121 : Nice story ! And yes the signature is cool :P

Thanks dude!
Good start to the story keep it up!

(p.s I love the banner ;) )
Loving the story so far mate! Will be keenly following.
Holy balls! This story is amazing, and the signings as well, I reckon you can finish in the top three mate! Good luck, will be following!
2013-11-10 21:23#142911 DeanByrne1995 : Good start to the story keep it up!

(p.s I love the banner ;) )

Thanks man. Yeah the guy that did the banner really did a good job ;)
Great start for Vitesse and some really quality storytelling.

I will follow.
Lylinho25's avatar Group Lylinho25
9 yearsEdited

Before the season even started, there were people that had their doubts about us. People wanted to see us fail. We had sold our star players in had replaced them at a fraction of the cost. Journalists and pundits called us the pretenders and had said that our aspirations were those of children. Tonight we would prove them wrong again. We felt invincible. Then again, we had every right to feel that way.

After the Xazar match we had dispatched of Heracles (3-0), we drew away at Xazar to earn a Europa League Playoff tie against Lech and we had thoroughly defeated AZ and NAC 2-0 and 2-1 respectfully. The first leg of the Playoff would be on Lech's turf, but nerves had crept in on that cold evening. Complacency had grabbed the players by the short and curlies and we found ourselves 2-0 down at halftime. With some carefully chosen words I told the team to show no fear, to go out and grab an away goal before the end and we would let the Vitesse supporters show these Lech players no mercy in the return leg. The tie ended at 2-1 but we had the consolation of the away goal. Our attentions then turned to our biggest match yet. A visit to De Grolsch Veste, to face title contenders FC Twente. Coming off a defeat 3 days earlier, morale was low on that rainy night. It took a poster in the crowd to remind us just before kickoff that we were on top of log and undefeated in 3 league matches. That seemed to renew the confidence in the boys as Gael Kakuta, Davy Propper and Marko Vejinovic proved to an FC Twente crowd stunned to silence that we were in fact the title challengers and they were the pretenders. 3 weeks later after a goal scoring streak by Havenaar, Reis and Kakuta we had whipped Lech 4-1 at home and qualified for the Europa League, destroyed ADO Den Haag 3-1 and decimated SC Cambur 6-0 in successive order. And now we face the biggest challenge to come to the GelreDome in recent memory.

Even though it was raining and the thermometer had stopped at a chilly 11 degrees this Thursday night, I was feeling the heat. The rain had my hair plastered to my forehead and the sweat had my shirt sticking to my back. Sitting in the dugout, staring intently at the Sevilla players lined up, I thought I could hear the heartbeat of every single one of the 30000 fans. My throat tightened up as the rose to drown out the 4000 odd travelling fans. We had made it to the big time. Yet, I was as nervous as a virgin on prom night. It would take 8mins for the nervousness to be dispelled though, as Giorgi Chanturia picked up a pass from Havenaar, danced his way past two defenders and with all the composure in the world, neatly slotted the ball away to the left of the Sevilla goalkeeper. The roar from the crowd threatened to blow the heavy clouds above away. One second I was standing on the touchline and the next I on the ground under a heap of black and yellow. "Give me 3 more of those Giorgi!" I managed to shout as the players took up their places once more. In the 21st minute Cala silenced the crowd from a sweetly struck freekick and handed Sevilla an equaliser. I couldn't believe it, and neither could the crowd. The rest of the first half was watched in a medley of silence and soft singing. As we headed into the change room, and 12 year old boy hung over the railing and proclaimed "You can do it boys! The Spanish don't know real Totaalvoetbal!". Laughing, we headed into the changing room. "Well, that kid just told you what to do. You've all been in his position. Do you want to disappoint him?" It was the shortest team speech in my career thus far. But it worked. 1 minute after kickoff Gael Kakuta was tripped by Rakitic 30 yards out. As he lined up the freekick, I saw him look in the direction of that kid. And then the noise enveloped once again. He had rippled the net with a thunderbolt of a freekick that dipped and served with the accuracy of a Tomahawk missile. We held back waves of Sevilla's attacks after that goal, Velthuizen proving to be titan in goal. In this 86th minute, Chanturia broke free after another Sevilla corner and darted down the right flank. Suddenly, Havenaar ghosted free of his defender in the box and sent his header across the goal, wrong footing the keeper and into the back of the net...

3-1. We had defeated Sevilla and I think I went deaf for a few minutes. After the final whistle and the lap of honour for the incredible crowd, I had a surprise waiting for the players waiting in the changing room. That young man that had given us the boost was waiting for them to give them the post-match speech. In little over 2 months I had taken a team and created a family. As I watched that boy walking out the changing room in Theo Jansen's shirt, I heard him say "One day, I'll be scoring against Sevilla too dad!"

You are reading "The Return of the Fallen Soldier".

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