I gazed at the glimmering water of the ocean below as my ageing hands brushed the smooth oak handrail reflecting on former glories of years gone by.
The deck of the cruise ship was deserted as my thoughts drifted and I lost myself in a swirling haze of nostalgia, closing my eyes as the noise of a thousand voices filled my ears.
I had guided the #InterVincibles to Champions League glory, masterminded my beloved Aston Villa to Premier League and Europa League titles as well as numerous F.A. and League Cups and helped them back to the Premiership following their relegation while I was on my Italian adventure.
I tried to balance my second Villa spell with managing the Ukrainian national team but that was a bridge too far - football wasn’t just my job, it became my obsession.
A cold gust of sea air snapped me out of my daydream and I returned to my cabin.
As I stared at my reflection, I barely recognised myself - my once thick, dark hair had thinned and spawned some flashes of silver while my youthful, bright eyes had now lost their sparkle.
The Ukraine job lost me my wife, Jia Li. She said I was ‘too busy’ to fit her in and as the years have passed, I don’t blame her - but it doesn’t mean I don’t think of her every day. For the eighteen years since she’s left, I’ve been a shadow of the man I once was.
I climbed in to bed but couldn’t sleep.
At 55 years old, I still had time to be something but I had lost the desire, heart and passion I once had and I regret the decision to walk out on Villa a second time, now more than ever.
Two days after I left Birmingham, I resigned as Ukraine manager and moved to Athens - yearning to fade in to the background and become a nobody - allowing me to grieve for my Jia Li in peace.
I’ll could see the look on her lifeless face as I walked in to our bedroom to her lying there -motionless - clutching a crumpled piece of paper which told the tale of a trouble soul, a lonely young woman who took her own life than be with anyone other than the man she loved.
I woke up with a jolt - I’ve had the same dream every night since she overdosed - constant flashbacks to the night my whole world caved in around me.