1 July 2003
Dominic Matteo's Birthday Meal
Adam inspected his chin in the mirror but, for once, he had no spots at all! He smiled as he spiked up his hair with gel. As he got into the cab to head to Fazenda's, Adam checked his phone to see if there was a text or a missed call from anyone but there was nothing.
Tonight, Adam was going out with some of the most famous football players in the country. When he arrived, Adam got out of the cab and gave the driver some money. He checked his reflection one last time in the car window. Then he went inside.
Walking into the restaurant, Adam felt a flutter of nerves. He hoped he wouldn't say the wrong thing and make a dick of himself tonight. He just wanted to be accepted into the team.
shouted Dominic Matteo. "Over here, mate. Just in time. We're about to order."
Adam sat down and took off his jacket. For some reason he felt boiling hot. He looked around him. The walls of the restaurant were covered with signed photographs of the Leeds United players. There was even one of the squad in the restaurant with the 1992 Division One trophy! They must have come here whenever an event took place.
Adam picked up the menu only to find out that the whole thing was in Italian! He didn't have a clue what to do. He could point to a dish at random, he reckoned, but what if it was something he hated, like an olive salad?
"Ah, Mr Matteo!"
said a big, fat man as he embraced Dominic Matteo with a super-sized hug. "And-a happy birthday to you-a!"
"Thanks, Alberto. How's business?"
"Oh, very good, sir. Very good indeed. The usual for everybody?"
"Yes please, Alberto, that will be great."
"No problem, Mr Matteo. You know whatever you want, you just ask Alberto!"
and with a hearty laugh, Alberto instructed his team of young waitresses to collect the menus. Adam breathed a sigh of relief. Who knows what he would have ended up with if it had been left up to him!
It was at around nine-thirty p.m. that a strange ritual occurred right in front of Adam. Seemingly as one, all the first team players reached for their mobile phones, read a text message and then put their phones back in their pockets without even bothering to respond. Adam wondered what all the texts were and why not one of them had sent a reply.
Then, a couple of minutes later, Adam felt his own phone vibrate in his pocket. Discreetly, he reached into his jacket. He assumed it would be from his mates but, when he opened his inbox, he saw that it was from a number he didn't recognise. Slowly, Adam pressed the button to open the message.
You are in the first team to play Arsenal on Saturday. The coach leaves for the airport at 1 p.m. We'll be travelling in tracksuits. Anne.
Adam's hands were shaking. He read the message five or six times. At first he thought it might have been a wind-up from his best mate at school, Mateusz. Maybe they had borrowed someone else's phone to try and fool him? But even they wouldn't know that the first team administrator was called Anne. Adam only knew that himself because he'd heard Steve Brooker talking to her on the phone last week to arrange tickets for a first team game.
This was real. This was serious. This was happening. Adam was in Leeds United's First Team squad!