FC BARCELONA – THE REBUILDING PROCESS
Everything happened so quickly. I still get shivers after that meeting, and now here I am, about to be revealed, as the new manager of FC Barcelona. FC. Barcelona. The club that has given me so much, yet I have yet to give to, has given me the chance of a lifetime. Who would’ve thought a young Iraqi manager, with no major club experience would’ve got the job of head coach at FC Barcelona. However, I wasn’t any Iraqi immigrant, the world already knew me, as the young boy whose talent went to waste, the boy who combined at a young age with Lionel Messi, and formed the indestructible duo. I was a left-winger, with a deadly left foot, and great dribbling ability. Messi and I used to occupy the wings at a young age, with Frank Surray, an English striker with big presence and decent passing ability, took the central striking role. Up until 19 I was touted second best to him, Lionel Messi, in my eyes, history’s greatest footballer. I didn't mind it however; he was a brilliant man, a great friend. We formed an interesting link, we often complemented each other tactically, constantly adapting to each other when we went off on your mazy runs. But it was that Sunday afternoon, against Espanyol that changed everything. I was running with the ball, Rijkaard behind me told me to pick out a pass for Messi so I cut in, and kept running. The rest is a blur. To immensely strong defenders tackled me at the same time, the hacked at me. I was fragile, prone to injuries and fairly weak muscle-wise. Next thing I remember was waking up in a hospital and the doctor telling me I suffered and injury in my hamstring, which would never recover fully. I was told I would be out for two years, and that it would be wise I quit the game I loved so much. All the sacrifice from moving from Australia, leaving Iraq, all that shattered due to two idiot defenders. It was then I retired, had no will to move on. My girlfriend was also caught cheating on me with on of my best mates at his house the night after my injury putting me in immense depression. All was not well.
After leaving the hospital, I took up a coaching role in Barcelona, witnessing the beautiful Guardiola Era, the Vilanova era and the not so good Martino era. After watching the club I advised the club president to scout certain players I saw who would benefit the team. The president seemed very interesting in what I had to say, but I loved it, the tactical business, the excitement of the game, I had loads to say. But it was once again, a Sunday afternoon where my life would take another turn.
I remember it so fondly as it went something like this:
President of FC Barcelona walks in to my office, where I was working quietly on the Youth Teams tactics.
Me: Ah! Mr. President sir, so nice of you to drop in, please, take a seat
President: Thank you Faisal
President quietly sits; I get up and pour a glass of water from the nearby mini fridge
Me: So Mr. President, what would you like to discuss?
President: Well Faisal, it’s big business you see, it’s got to do with your position you see, how do I break it to you in the most fitting manner….
Me: My position sir? Have I done anything wrong? Last I checked my team maintained division 2 status, even topped the league….
President: No no Faisal you understood me wrong, you are staying at the club, we have been absolutely delighted with your achievements and tactical expertise, infact I think I might as well just get on with it.
President shifts on his seat, clears his through then begins to explain, I had never been so nervous
President: As you know, Martino had a rather upsetting season with us, and you constantly opted to help out everywhere, especially with the rebuilding of the club, and how the tactics should be panned out. After a serious amount of considering, we decided it is best, giving your immense knowledge of the club, your tactical ability and your close relation with the players, that you become the head of the rebuilding process, that you, become the head coach of FC Barcelona.
I nearly spit out the water in my mouth, because from that moment on, I was the Head coach of FC Barcelona.
The rebuilding process has just begun.