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Take a Chance on Me - A Football Manager Story

Could anyone make it as a football manager?
Started on 13 May 2016 by AuthoR
Latest Reply on 15 May 2016 by mgriffin2012
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Take a Chance on Me - A Football Manager Story

"Take a chance, because you never know how perfectly some things turn out."

"My name is Akeboli Chance Afolayan, but my friends call me Boli for short. I was born in Nigeria to a poor family in which my father worked and my mother looked after me and my three siblings. I'm the oldest child to grace my family and all I want to do is make a name for myself in the world. The only way I can do that is through the one thing that I love most - football."

That was it. I had finally received my initial coaching badges meaning that I could once and for all make a mark on the world as a football manager. At the age of 26, I was in the eyes of many both too young and too inexperienced to pave my way through the football world and make a significant impact. I dismounted the stage in style, pulling my tie up to my collar as I didn't want to look slovenly. My mother and father were sat at a round table in front of me a long with my two sisters, Faith and Nnamdi, and my brother, Amabi. They were all grinning from ear to ear and I could almost feel their pride radiating from them as I took my seat at the table.

'Well done Boli, you're certainly surpassing your old man.' My father had a certain pain in his voice. He had toiled long and hard every day for the last thirty years so that he could initially have a family, and then continue to provide for them. The wear of everyday live was evident on his skin and his soul and he often turned to alcohol when he was alone to make himself relax. Nevertheless, he was proud of his son and that meant more than anything.

My peers continued to rise to the stage to receive their badges and certificates to the same thunderous applause from their friends and family. Everyone had come incredibly far considering that most of us were from an underprivileged background.

I rose from my chair and walked towards the bathroom, not paying any attention to the hustle and bustle around me. I needed to piss, which was something that always seemed to sneak up on me when I was nervous. I walked to the urinal and relieved myself as my friend Farai walked through the door and stood next to me, relieving his nerves as well.

'So, what are your plans now then?' he said as he shook off any excess urine.

'I haven't thought this far ahead Farai. I didn't even think I would get my badges.'

'Well in my opinion there's no point staying here Boli. You're not going to make any sort of a name for yourself in Nigeria, that's for sure. Go travelling, I know you have money that your father has saved for you. Find yourself, and most importantly, find somewhere to carve your mark.'

Farai washed his hands and left, leaving me to my thoughts. I walked over to the wash basin and ran the cold water, washing my hands and splashing my face. I looked into the mirror and looked over my appearance. I had nappy black hair that was cut well by my mother and hazelnut brown eyes that reflected everything around them. Could I make it in the footballing world?

I finished up and returned to my seat as the entertainment for the night began. I had a lump in the back of my throat and knew that the impending question I had for my father would not go down well. My head was a sea of thoughts, but I knew that Farai was right and I needed to get out of Nigeria, I needed to travel and find not only myself but somewhere I could make a name for myself.

'Pa, I need to speak to you. Could we go outside?'

My father looked at me, his eyes glimmering hopefully. We both rose from our seats and proceeded outside of the venue, where my father leaned against the wall and lit a cigarette with a box of matches he had stuffed on the inside of his jacket pocket.

'The answer is yes.' he boomed, without even taking his eyes off the match that he had so carelessly discarded on the floor in front of him.

'How did you even know what I was going to ask?'

'You forget that I have raised you from a child, Akeboli. You have had a good education and you have chosen your path in life. I know exactly what it is you want, and I am not going to stand in your way. You will make something of yourself, I know it, and I think that you deserve to do whatever you want, wherever you want. I will give you your money in the morning, and then it is up to you what you do with it.'

I stepped forward and hugged my father, the first time I had done such a thing since I was a young boy and had grazed my knee playing football with boys twice my age. I rested my chin on his shoulder, even though I was a good couple of inches taller than him, with nothing but the thoughts of my future clouding my mind.
Great start and Welcome to FM Scout
Great start hopefully you can find a good club soon
MJK - Thank you ever so much, it means a lot!
Ninjaskill - Cheers mate :)

I had never felt any kind of feeling like the one I was feeling in this moment. I left the embrace with my father and reached into my pockets, pulling out a handkerchief and dabbing under my eyes. My father did the same and we shared a heart warming smile. We chatted for a while, before my father decided to back inside. I began to follow him, but was stopped by an unfamiliar hand embracing my chest. I instantly panicked and presumed I was being robbed, but the hand that was on my chest was too kind to be that of a mugger. The hand was clean and well groomed, and the skin smelt of fine aftershave.

'There's no need to go in yet my son.'

I traced the hand up to a torso, and then up to a face. I recognised the man instantly.

'Forgive me Sir, I had no idea it was you.'

The man before me was Amaju Pinnick, the president of the Nigerian Football Federation. He was well dressed and had an extremely powerful aura surrounding him. His hands were covered in rings of the finest gold, and hit suit was almost definitely designer.

'Don't be silly, I accosted you in an unorthodox way. Please, come sit.' he said, wandering off to a nearby bench, placing himself down as if he had the utmost respect for it.

I of course followed, and tried to place myself down with as much grace as he had. He placed his hand on my shoulder and pinched me, which certainly made me aware that I was not dreaming. Why was the Nigeral Football Federation President sat talking to me?

'I have been watching you for some time Akeboli. Your work ethic is impressive. You're definitely something special. I overheard your conversation with your father and I do believe that you will make a name for yourself in the footballing world. However, I would like for you to stay in Nigeria, just for a while, so you can take your baby steps at home. I have an offer for you.'

Sweat began to pour down my head, congealing in the light stubble that I had chosen to keep on my chin. I was incredibly nervous and I'm sure that he could tell. I had no idea what the man was about to say, but I was ever so sure that I was going to accept - even after the conversation I had just had with my father and Farai. I couldn't even imagine saying no to this man.

'I'd like for you to stay in Nigeria and manage our international under-23s, Akeboli. I think it's a great way to get some experience. You can of course refuse son, but you can continue your learning right here at home before you go out into the world.' he boomed.

'Of course Mr. Pinnick. I'd love to.'

I attempted to shake his hand, but he shook his head and drew me into a hug. We stayed there for a brief while, before he whispered something in my ear.

'Stay as long as you're comfortable my boy. You're going to be big.'
I took a couple of days to tell my family what I was planning to do, and they were all very happy for me. I'd signed a contract the next day and would be earning a decent wage for my first job, the NFF would also provide me with accommodation near the training ground and a ride whenever I needed one. My little sister even gave me a little necklace with a silver boot on it.

'I saved up all of my pocket money and bought you this. I hope it gives you only the best luck.' she said, her heels clicking together as if she was in The Wizard of Oz, and her smile infecting the whole room.

'Thank you' I said, pinching her cheek. 'I'll never take it off and I'll treasure it always. I'll be back to visit as much as I can, and I'm sure I'll be bringing you presents and sweets.'

'Not too many sweets.' My mother chirped up from behind her sewing machine.

I spent some time saying my goodbyes and making sure everyone knew how much I loved them before I gathered my belongings and walked out of the door, not even looking back into my childhood home. I slung my rucksack over my shoulder and dragged a suitcase behind me as I went to walk towards the bus stop. After a fifteen minute walk, I placed my bag on the floor and sat upon my suitcase next to the stop, waiting for the next bus to take me to my new home. There was so much commotion. I'd never noticed how busy the streets were before, and this was where I had lived for the last twenty-six years.

A car horn beeped and threw me out of my daze, and as I looked towards it the window rolled down, revealing a beautifully sculpted woman wearing a suit and drivers hat.

'Mr. Afolayan? There is no need to wait for public transport, please, get in.' she said almost seductively.

'Not at all, it's fine. I'd much rather get on the bus, I'm nothing special. Yet.'

'You don't have a choice Mr. Afolayan. The streets are dangerous and we can't be losing our newest asset. Please get in so I can get you to your new home. From what I hear there's some very important paperwork waiting for you.'

After a discussion that lasted around five minutes, I decided to get into the car and let her drive me to my NFF provided accommodation. We chatted about football and our childhoods, before I left with a smile and a thank you. As I left the car, she handed me an envelope addressed to 'Akeboli' which contained a set of shiny, freshly cut brass keys.

I entered my new abode and set my possessions on the floor near the sofa. It took me a while to fully take in the surroundings. I was in a nice area, everything in the house was brand new and looked awfully expensive for my tastes. Upon the kitchen island was a parcel, containing documents surrounding a friendly against Algeria that was in six days, marked URGENT.

"Dear Mr. Afolayan,

Please find enclosed the pool of players available for your selection. I understand that this will be hard for you as you have not had a chance to see the players train, however I know that you are a man that follows his gut and you are also a man that knows a lot about football. Follow your gut, I want to see some attractive football at this game.

Your's faithfully,

Your friend,

Amaju Pinnick
President of the Nigerian Football Federation

This was definitely putting me under some pressure, and I took it as some kind of welcoming test. There were three names that I instantly wrote down on the document, in the form of Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Isaac Success. These were our countries brightest talents and I'd be crucified in the streets if I didn't include them. Not that I was swayed by public opinion, that is, they are incredible players for their age. I sat and pondered for a while and realised that we had little in terms of goalkeeping talent, before naming Ayotunde Ikuepamitan and Ivan Anyadiegwu as our goalkeepers. I rounded off the 22 man squad by selecting a number of talents after doing some research online.

I signed the documents off before walking outside and placing them in the post box, before unpacking my possessions and lying on the freshly made double bed inside my home. I had never had a double bed before and this was something of utter luxury to me.

It wasn't long before I was fast asleep, and I definitely needed it. I had a big day ahead tomorrow.
Two days later, I had to go and introduce myself to a group of young men that were anywhere from three to eight years my junior, some of which were way more successful than me already. I had summoned them for a friendly against Algeria's under-twenty-three squad, who we had beaten 2-0 around a fortnight before this.

I walked into the training ground in a freshly pressed tracksuit and a clipboard under my arm. My sister's necklace was around my neck and I could feel the cold metal pressing against my chest. Everybody that I had called upon to arrive was there, and they were standing around, laughing like a group of school boys. After all, some of them probably still were.

'Good morning. I'm your new manager in terms of international under-twenty-threes. My name is Akeboli Afolayan. I am well aware of who you all are and do not need any introduction to you. I'm here to see who can perform and who can't, and make my first eleven selection based on that. Any questions?' I was extremely nervous, but felt that I'd managed to get my point across sucessfully.

Isaac Success, the biggest star of the group walked up to me and shook my hand. He was around three inches smaller than me, but was built much better, and you could feel this in his hand shake. I almost felt intimidated by him, even though I was seven years his senior.

'Welcome boss.' was the general voiced opinion from the squad.

I had the players split into two teams of 11 and play against each-other after doing some training techniques, and I was quite impressed. Although both of our selected goalkeepers were incredibly inexperienced and in my opinion, not very good, they both performed well but did not manage to keep a clean sheet. Both Isaac Success and Kelechi Iheanacho captained the sides and impressed significantly. They were definitely players to lead Nigeria in the future. Kelechi was the only player in the squad playing for a Premier League side, however two of the players were playing in the championship.

The game ended as a draw, four-four. I was impressed with what I had been watching and gathered the boys in the centre of the pitch to congratulate them and tell them what was what.

'Both sides played well. I've made my decision for some positions but you're not going to be told until half an hour before the game. I want you all to get a good rest tonight and eat well, because you're going to need it. We're at home and we need to impress.' I said, fondling my board with my fingernails.

The boys murmured in agreement and began to walk into the changing rooms to get changed. I felt as if I had made a good first impression but was not completely convinced. This was the first time I was meeting the boys and we had a game tomorrow. I turned and looked into the stands and Amaju Pinnick was sat, alone, with a sandwich in his hand. He waved at me before taking a bite.

I had a feeling that I was not completely trusted in my new role.
Great story so far man, really detailed pieces.
Amaju Pinnick seems like he is going to be a pain for you. Another great write up man!
Got some great strikers hopefully they can fire you to some success in your first job
Great start mate, really looking forward to seeing where this story goes!

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