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Adam Chabukiani: Defying All Odds

The story of a young Georgian refugee, born through the chaos of the Abkhazia War to find his feet in the footballing world.
Started on 5 October 2015 by Jack
Latest Reply on 5 July 2019 by Justice
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Loving the writing Jack, an interesting story unfolding here :)
2015-11-11 05:14#221438 Walter : Loving the writing Jack, an interesting story unfolding here :)
Thank you, Walt!
23 April 2004

It was a Friday and, as Adam watched the Bradford players train ahead of their big weekend game, his mind drifted back in time towards his childhood at Bradford Park Avenue matches. He had always loved sneaking into matches there. He was so proud of himself he was now working at Bradford City now.

You know," said Archie, who was standing alongside Adam, gulping down yet another mug of tea, "I won't be doing this job forever. If you play your cards right, one day you could take over from me..."

Adam smiled and was just about to respond when Bryan Robson suddenly blew his whistle on the training pitch and bellowed: "Hey, Cloughie!"

"Your assistant - I need him in goal for the last five minutes; we're one man down."

It wasn't until he felt Archie's eyes resting on him that Adam realised Bryan Robson had been talking about him. He was the assistant that they wanted to go in goal...

Adam felt panic surge through him. He didn't know what to do. He was being asked to play football again. And that itself was unleashing a whole tide of emotions in him. Adam started to breathe in and out rapidly. He turned to look at Archie for assistance.

"Well, go on, then!" encouraged Archie. "It's only five minutes!"

Adam had no option. Only a complete loser would turn down an opportunity like this. Hesitantly, he jumped over the railings that surrounded the training pitch. Then, with his head down, he half jogged, half walked to the empty goals.

"Come on! Get a move on!" the Bradford City players were shouting at him. They couldn't see Adam's whole body was shaking with nerves.

"Here you are, son," said Bob Hurst, the Bradford goalkeeping coach, throwing Adam a pair of gloves. "You'll need these."
Really interesting last post so I feel like I need to start from the beginning. Anyways this looks like an amazing story and I will be subscribing and following it!!
23 April 2004

Adam stood in the middle of the goal and clapped his gloved hands together. He jumped up and touched the underside of the crossbar. He didn't know exactly why he did it - he'd just seen other keepers do it, so he felt as though it was the right thing to do.

He just hoped he wouldn't embarrass himself - or Archie, who was watching from the sidelines like a nervous father. Adam rubbed his back. For the first time in weeks, it was starting to hurt. Then he thought about the screws that were holding his leg together. He wondered if they were up to this. Oh, just shut up and enjoy the game! Adam shouted to his inner demons.

Adam only knew one thing. As the training match got restarted, he felt something that he hadn't felt for months: alive.

To start with, Adam didn't have that much to do. He came to collect a couple of crosses and even made quite a professional-looking throw out to the full-back. He was just starting to think this goalkeeping lark was easy, when he was presented with a much sterner test.

Andy Gray, who was playing against Adam, had struck a sixty-yard through ball for the striker to chase. Adam was already a few yards off his line and he thought that he could get to the ball first, so he came out of his area to clear it. But when the backspin on Gray's pass kicked in, Adam realised he was in trouble.

It was too late to run back in goal and he was out of his area so he couldn't pick up the ball either. The only option he had left was to try and win the race for the ball. But he was clearly second-favourite. Adam put his head down, pumped his arms and sprinted towards the ball.

And then something truly amazing happened.

For those couple of seconds, Adam felt no pain whatsoever in his body. Every bone, muscle and sinew responded to the situation and Adam's speed clicked back into gear as though it had never been away. He shot across the turf with pace and grace. He was sprinting at such speed that not only did he win the race to the ball, but now, with the ball at his feet, he didn't want to stop! He just kept going!

Adam powered forward at unbelievable speed. If he had looked up at that moment, he would have seen Archie Fairclough punching the air with joy. He was so excited that he'd chucked his mug of tea high into the air. As it dropped, it splashed its contents over the paint on the touchline.

But Adam's mind was closed to everything that was going on around him. In fact, he wasn't thinking at all. He was simply doing the one thing he truly knew he could do in this world: run with a football. As he raced down the wing, Adam just seemed to be getting faster and faster. He got all the way to the touchline and whipped in a beautiful, curling cross to the far post...

It was a sensational centre. But no one was there to meet it. Because they had all stopped playing. Instead, every single Bradford player was simply standing, staring at Adam. They were in awe of what they had just seen. It was as though, for those few seconds, Adam had been in some kind of trance.

But now he had returned to his senses. He looked back towards the empty goal that he had vacated and suddenly realised that he had sprinted the entire length of the pitch at his very top speed. He'd had no idea his body could still do that.

But it had.

"Adam Chabukiani! I knew you still had it!" Bryan Robson suddenly yelled, breaking the silence.

Adam looked up.

"What? How did you know my-"

"Of course I know who you are," said Bryan, laughing. "Archie told me the first day you walked in here. I've just been waiting for him to tell me that you were ready."

Adam immediately looked across at Archie. The wink he received in return told Adam everything. Archie had known all along...
26 April 2004

"The MRI scans show that all the injuries have entirely healed," said Alistair Ramsey, the Bradford chief doctor. "And the agility levels are... Well... Hugely impressive. Are you sure you haven't played any football since the accident, Adam?"

"I promise I haven't," said Adam, smiling. He hadn't been able to stop grinning since he'd kicked that football. "The only exercise I've been doing is all the stuff Archie has made me..."

It was only as he said the words that Adam fully appreciated what had been happening over the last few months. All that lifting, carrying and painting... It had all been part of Archie's plan. Slowly, but surely, he'd been nurturing Adam's recovery. Restoring him back to full fitness.

"Well, I can only tell you that your core stability is as good as, if not better than, eighty per cent of the players in our First Team squad," stated Dr Ramsey.

Adam and Bryan Robson sat, listening intently to the doc's analysis. The minute training had finished, Bryan had asked Adam to come to the medical centre to get a full diagnosis. But now Dr Ramsey had stopped talking.

"And?" asked Robson. "Does that mean he's OK to play?"

"I'm afraid it's not quite as simple as that, Bryan."

"What do you mean 'it's not that simple'? Either he's fit to play or he's not."

"Let me try and explain," said Dr Ramsey. "Physically, medically even, Adam is a hundred per cent fit. But where traumas like this have occurred you never truly know the strength of the joint or bone until they are tested... taken to the limit, if you like.

"It may be that Adam is completely fine, good as new. But it may also be that there is a weakness there and, if he were to sustain a trauma to either his back or leg again, this time, the injuries could be... well, I'm afraid there's no other way to say it... irreversible."


Dr Ramsey seemed to linger for an impossibly long time over the word irreversible. Then he looked up and concluded: "Basically, we'll only know when his body is put to the ultimate test."

"By which time it could be too late?" asked Bryan Robson.

But it wasn't really a question.

As Dr Ramsey left the room, Bryan Robson looked at Adam. "I'm going to be completely honest with you, Adam," he said. "As a football manager, I'm desperate to have you in my team. I watched you in that Montaigu Tournament Final and I've never seen anything like it. In football terms, it's a no-brainer. You go straight into my First Team squad. That's how good I believe you are. And... God knows we need you...

"But this is not a simple decision, Adam. We both heard what the doc said - there are serious risks in you playing football again. The question is: are you prepared to take those risks?"
Wow.
27 April 2004

"Please tell me you're joking," said Jeremy, striding around the room like a madman. Jeremy was Adam's mums' boyfriend. Adam had just told his mum and Jeremy everything that had happened and that Bradford were prepared to put him on a temporary playing contract. He and Jeremy had been arguing for the last hour.

"Am I the only one who can see what's happening here?" Jeremy continued. "So he starts playing again and then he gets rejected - or worse still, injured - and what's he left with? Nothing. Zilch. Again. No qualifications, no future, nothing. I say he starts back at school in September and-"

"Oh for God's sake Jeremy - it's his dream!" Adam's mum suddenly declared. "Sometimes you have to take a risk to get what you want and me and Adam know all about that already." Then she went into the kitchen. Discussion over.

Adam's mouth hung wide open. So did Jeremy's. Neither of them had ever seen her be so decisive. For a while, Adam couldn't work it out. His mum never seemed to take his side anymore and now she'd just supported him in the biggest gamble of his life. And then a memory from when he was really young elbowed its way into Adam's mind, and it explained a lot.

The next day, Adam was in the office of the Bradford Club Secretary, Eugene Elliott. In front of him was a short-term playing contract.

"Where do I sign, Mr Elliott?" said Adam.

"Don't you want to negotiate first?" Eugene Elliott laughed. "Have you got an agent?"

"I don't have an agent," Adam responded. "It's not about the money for me."

"Wow," said Eugene Elliott, handing Adam a pen. You really are a different breed!"

"I just want to play football," Adam said. "For Bradford City."

Then he signed the contract.
Yes!!! Congrats on the contract. I hear there is a league in America called MLS and by the time you get older I bet people like David Beckham will be playing there haha
Yes! I am so happy rn!
MJK46: Blimey! You could be a fortune teller, you ;)

InfraRed: I'm sure Adam shares that feeling with you :P
29th April 2004

Adam laced up his boots and walked out onto the Bradford City training pitch. As a player. Archie was there, sitting on his mower on the adjacent pitch. He'd said he wasn't going to replace Adam just yet; in case it didn't work out, Adam's old job would still be there for him. He gave Adam a big thumbs up. Adam returned the gesture.

Adam hoped that neither Archie nor anyone else would find any specks of sick in the changing room; he'd tried to wipe it all up but there wasn't much time - he didn't want to be late for his first training session. Adam had spewed up almost his entire breakfast. He was so nervous, he felt he might just fall over at any given moment.

It had been almost a year since the Montaigu Final with the England squad. That was a lifetime ago.

Almost as soon as they started playing, the ball came to Adam. But he was so worried about what he was going to do with it when he got it that he didn't control it properly. The ball bounced off his knee and straight out of play.

The second time that Adam tried to kick the ball, it went off the wrong side of his boot, gifting possession to the other side. Then, a few minutes later, when Adam tried to volley in a shot from a glorious Andy Gray cross, he thrashed at the ball so wildly that he missed it completely and ended up in a heap on the ground. Adam punched the turf and yelled so loudly in frustration that Bryan Robson actually stopped the game.

The other Bradford players were all just staring at him. They weren't even laughing. They felt embarrassed for him.

"This some sort of prank, then, is it, gaffer?" asked Andy Gray. "One of them TV wind-up programmes where we're not supposed to believe that you've signed the lad from maintenance and then someone tells us it's all been a gag?"

"Good question," said Bryan Robson, smiling at Adam as he answered. "Could be. You'll have to wait and until the end of training to find out, won't you?" Adam got to his feet. He looked down at his left leg. One of the scars went all the way up from his shin to his knee. You could still see where the stitches had been inserted.

What did he think he was doing? Did he honestly believe that he could still play football at this level? After everything his body has been through? What had happened in that other training session had been the final bit of football that his body had been willing to offer. Not the start of a new chapter.

"Keep your head still," Bryan Robson said quietly to Adam as he picked up the ball. "Everything in sport comes from keeping your head still."

Then Bryan suddenly roared "Play ON!" and he smacked the ball straight to Adam.

There was no time for Adam to think. He instinctively controlled the ball on his thigh. It bounced upwards. He let it rest on his forehead for a second, tilting his neck to keep the ball still. Then he flicked the ball up, off his head and into the air. As it dropped, Adam smashed an inch-perfect fifty-yard cross-field pass to the right-winger way out on the other side of the pitch. It was easily on of the best long passes that Adam had ever played.

"What were you saying again, Andy?" Bryan Robson asked his star midfielder as they both followed Adam's ball out to the wing.

"Nothing," said Andy Gray. "Fair enough, gaffer; the boy can play."

"Oh, he can play alright."
Saturday 15 May

The day before the last league game of the season. The day before Bradford v Leeds.


Adam turned off the TV. All the sports stations had wall-to-wall previews of the Bradford-Leeds game. They were speculating about the team news. But none of them knew about Adam. Bryan Robson hadn't told anyone. He wanted to keep it up his sleeve. "Something to give Peter Reid a little shock just before kick-off," he'd told Adam.

Funny how life goes in circles, Adam thought to himself as he turned off the light above his bed. Here he was, staying in the Travelodge where he had stayed before finding his family's council house in Pudsey. He tried to imagine where his actual dad was now and what he would be doing. Adam pictured him in public somewhere, watching the game. Then suddenly, he would see Adam Chabukiani come onto the pitch.

Adam's eyelids began to droop as his body wriggled into a snug position. Now, in the darkness, his mind was leaving this room and travelling somewhere else. His memory was returning to a place it had been before and to a moment that had changed the course of Adam's life...

Adam was standing on the side of the road. He recognised the road. But he could not yet place it. He could hear voice behind him: soft at first, now getting louder and more aggressive.

"Yeah, he's just a little boy!" they were shouting.

No, not they; only one voice. One nasty, vicious voice.

"Go home, little boy," the voice was shouting. "Go back to your mummy."

Back in the Travelodge, Adam's body twitched and his eyelids flickered as, beneath them, that night's events continued to unfold for him. From above, Adam could see himself standing in the road, turning around to cross back towards the other Leeds players...

"No!" Adam wanted to scream to himself, to warn himself, but his mouth was locked shut. He couldn't stop himself doing it.

Adam wasn't looking as he started to cross the road, but his head turned when he heard the screech of braking tyres.

The car crashed into Adam's body - a body that had been protected and prized as one of football's most valuable assets - and tossed onto a bonnet.

Now he could see himself bouncing off the window and over the car; he was about to hit the ground-

And then suddenly Adam was awake. He was bolt upright with sweat pouring down his forehead. It was a cold sweat, a freezing sweat. Adam's whole body was shivering and his eyes were wide open with fright. He looked across to the alarm clock by his bed. It was four a.m. There were exactly twelve hours to go until kick-off.
Wow Adam needs to just relax and needs to just take a step back a second. Anyways this is setting up to be something massive
2015-11-14 01:16#221587 MJK46 : Wow Adam needs to just relax and needs to just take a step back a second. Anyways this is setting up to be something massive
Thanks man! :D

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