It had been just a year since I had left the game I had loved. Retirement had not been easy, but it was definitely something my body needed. As much as I wanted to, I just could not continue playing and had to hang up my cleats. But I had also been feeling what many of my contemporaries did, I had felt a void that I just couldn’t fill. Playing soccer was pretty much all I had known, and desired in life. I opened my eyes as I again contemplated my life. The past one year away from soccer had been pretty much the same – I would get up in the morning, and retrospect. I had been experiencing all the withdrawal symptoms one could think of. And people say quitting cocaine is hard, try quitting soccer when it has been an integral part of your life for 39 years! Hah!
Today, surprisingly, I wasn’t thinking of myself. But of my team. The one club I had made my life. Afterall, it was more than just a club! What a turbulent seven years it had been. The seven years that would see us being dethroned from being one of the giants and powerhouses of European football to being utterly mediocre. The Seven Years that had seen us thirst for any sort of success; The seven years that had deprived us of all silverware. I had had enough now. Quite honestly, it was not just me, infact any fan of this prestigious club would have had enough by now. This was our breaking point. This had to be it. No more. No more.
I tried to pinpoint what exactly was it that had happened in these seven years that changed the dynamics so drastically that from being a top European team – definitely the best team at that time – to being outplayed by every other ‘continental’ team. A terrible seven years for any fan of our club. Seven years that had perhaps killed our thirst for success – and had starved us of ALL silverware. It had in fact been only a year since I had stopped playing, yet I never realised. I never realised the nadir that our club had sunk to in recent times. Had you told me, or any fan that such a thing would happen, back in the early 2010s, we would have laughed at you and called you delusional. These thoughts began a chain of thoughts in my head - one thing leading to the other. I wondered, what was it that had gone wrong? I wondered… how did I never notice this all these years while playing for the club? Or perhaps I had noticed it, but decided to bury it into the echelons of my subconscious mind because I was too afraid to accept it. To acknowledge the fact that indeed we had fallen from ‘grace’. The throne was no longer ours. We were no longer the best, or even amongst the best. As all this dawned upon me, I realised that I had been lying motionless in my bed, in a flurry of thoughts, without any knowledge of time or space. I wanted to forget it all. To go back in time and change it all. Unfortunately, that was one thing that I couldn’t do. I told myself to get over it, to forget about it, ‘your footballing career is over, stop thinking of it’. But could I? Could I get over this club that had been an integral part of my life? Just as in any dilemma, my heart went against my mind. NO! I will not let my club suffer this indignity! We belong up there, lifting the Champions League, not at home getting drubbed by our rivals! I had decided. It was time I did something, for the fans, for myself and for the club. It was time that I revive our glorious club to what it was and should be – A POWERHOUSE! In a matter of seconds, I felt a rush, as if life had meaning for me again. I needed to do something.
Well, the club was looking for a replacement for manager Luis Enrique! He had just been fired and I am sure that they would consider me, keeping in mind the fact that I have spent all my life at the club and know it inside out! But wait, was this just some random thought that I had overanalyzed and pondered upon? Or was it really something that I had wanted? Well, soccer was what I wanted. And this club would be perfect? But then again, would they pick me? I don’t really have any experience per se, oh wait, I have no experience as a manager at all. But then I remembered something, and assured myself, ‘It’s just football, not rocket science’. Tomorrow would be it then. I would announce my candidacy for the managerial vacancy at FC Barcelona. And make it what it was once – more than just a club.