Life was looking up for Kolo. New life. New people. New experiences. New adventure. He was revelling in it. The french media adored him, his can do way of looking at things, his genuine way of speaking, his child like excitement for football. Soon his family would follow him to Marseille and they would all be together in this new paradise he'd created for them.
Kolo placed his steaming mug of chai latte down on the table, smiled at the thought and turned back to his book. The cool evening light just enough to read by. The chai spices danced their way to his nostrils - the smell of home. Kolo simply couldn't get enough of that smell, his mother's own recipe, the gentle milky texture swirled delicately with nutmeg, cinnamon, aniseed. His constant pre-bed companion. Tomorrow was the day. The day this could all begin to sink, or swim. The french adventure, this new life, it all depended on his work. Kolo felt the pressure intensely, not from the media, or the fans, but from himself. He had uprooted a happy family, happy in the country they'd called home for well over a decade, moved them hundreds of miles away, all for his ambition. If he did not succeed it would all be worthless, they'd have to move again. He wouldn't let that happen, his family needed stability and he was determined to give it to them.
Kolo thought back on his interview with the board, the promises he'd made. Europa League qualification - was it possible? A host of youthful signings?
Doubts filled his head. Youth costs. For top young players you had to pay the premium rate and money would hardly be free flowing from what the chairman had said. The team needs investment, with the current crop Europa League was a fantasy. And yet, the words of his former coach Jürgen Klopp were interspersed with his doubts, pinning them down, holding them back. Becoming a part of him, his new way, his style.
When Kolo had told Klopp his news the big German had burst into his deep booming laugh, grinned like a Cheshire cat and embraced him in one of his trade mark bear hugs..."Good luck Kolo! Remember, with proper training and hard work, anything is possible, it is not all about the money.
Ring me if you ever need a friendly ear." Kolo stared wistfully at his phone, picked it up from the table and punched in a few digits, he stared at the screen, then back at the note of paper Klopp had handed him on that last day. Double checking. Triple checking. Kolo's thumb hovered over the call button, suddenly the doubts were gone. Klopp's words mixed with those he'd lived his life by mingling into a rhythmic chant, like that of a tribal burial in his homeland "Proper training, hard work, ne jamais dire mourir jusqu'à ce que vous êtes mort."
Over and over they went, and now he said allowed his personal mantra, in English now... "Never say die till your dead!"
A fire burned in his eyes as they returned to his mobile screen. Not yet, not before he'd even got going. Klopp was there to talk football, not about the voices in his head.
Kolo highlighted the number, and typed. A second later a monotonous voice came from his mobile "New contacts saved, Jürgen Norbert Klopp."
Kolo flicked open the lid of his notebook, opened his email account and began to type...
A few days past and Kolo settled into a routine. Up. Eat. Drive. Train. Eat. Train. Phone Calls. Drive. Eat. Sleep. First things first, he needed to assemble a killer backroom team, filled with the experience he lacked but sharing in his enthusiasm for playing, and playing in the right way. After a week or so, he was satisfied. Sitting back one evening Kolo stumbled upon a Sky Sports article, documenting his work thus far. He read slowly, and smiled gently, the ball was rolling...