That's me, yeah...On the floor. No, no not literally me. Metaphorically speaking I'm down and out. Ali looking over me, that's life. That's life giving me whole world of shit and not for the first time. Does it bother me? Would it bother you? Sure. This isn't about how many times you're pushed to the ground though. It's about how long you spend down there and how long you take to get back up.
Now I could sit here and write about how my life's been one crock of shite, following up with some quotes by Ali. Would it make for a good intro? Hell probably, the man was smart. The smartest. He had an amazing way with words.
Instead of doing that, I'm going to quote Roberto Duran - "Getting hit motivates me. It makes me punish the other guy more. A fighter takes a punch, then hits back with three more."
That's what I've lived my life by for 20 years. 20. Jesus Christ it's been that long. I'm getting old.
Twenty back breaking years since that day. Before I was 19 I'd been all around the World and lived in many different countries. Some might say I don't belong to any country and some wince at the strange accent I have. My dad was born in England and on a trip for work one year to Serbia he met my mother.
Of course my father traveled a lot so we were always on the move. I spent my early years in England, then we went back to Serbia to be closer to my mothers family. At the age of 9 we moved away again to Russia, and in between the years of 89' and 97' found ourselves living in America, Turkey, and Italy.
Strange right? I know. My friends were few and far between. I was never around long enough to make them, and we didn't have the internet back then so you couldn't keep in touch.
By 1997 I was 19. Remember how I mentioned Italy? Long story short, my dad loved football and in his time Liverpool were a big deal. It's where I was born. It's who I support. He got me into the beautiful game and always pushed me to be the best I could be whenever I had the chance to play.
Though one day in Italy, playing for my team a man walked up to me. This man would change my life...Or at least I thought. He had me down on his list as "The next big thing" believe me I snuck a quick look.
"You sir are a talent. You may be a little older than we'd like but potential is still potential. How do you feel about playing for A.C. Milan one day?"
Obviously my jaw dropped and I struggled to catch a breath to reply. I won't bore you with the bullshit in between though. I think you know what my answer was.
One game, yes for AC Milan, not the first team. The u21's team. It all fell apart. I had scored 19 goals in the league, 10 assists, we were on course to win the league. Then that second to last game is what really changed me.
A tackle from the other player, had me down on the floor within a second. It wasn't a bad tackle, it didn't have to be. The way I landed and twisted my knee is what ended my footballing career there and then on the spot. Everything I'd worked for in those early years of adult life just taken away.
But getting hit is what motivates me, it makes me punish the other guy more. A fighter takes a punch, and hits back with three.
And I'm a fighter.
I had to be.
With a name like Ardit Sinani.