A Football League Trophy runners-up medal, a League 2 Playoff final runners-up medal, and voted 2nd in the League 2 Player of the Year competition. I was always the bridesmaid, and never the bride, but to be honest, it suited me. Expectations were always my biggest downfall, and experiencing gradual success, for it only to be punctured at the last moment has an allure, a fetishised excitement almost.
I was no great shakes, but somewhat of a cult hero in my local town. I was club captain, and consistently scored and created goals as we climbed from the non-leagues to a respectable finish in League 2 in only four years. Life was good; my name was being bandied about as ‘the next…’ which is in itself a sign of success. Who were they comparing me to? Well not Zidane! No, I was often compared to the likes of Grant Holt and Rickie Lambert. I was gonna be the guy who gave commentators the chance to spew clichés such as ‘plied his trade in the lower leagues,’ and ‘from non-league to Champions League.’
Well, in one moment, it ended.
A poorly timed tackle from veteran centre back Anthony Gardner ended my glorious future, as we scrapped for a 50-50 in a pre-season tour of ‘the North.’
That was four years ago.
Since then, my name has grown in the conscience of the public. I have become one of the new breed of young managers, playing an exciting breed of football that is generally described by the media as ‘Barcelona-esque’ until they realise that after I signed Xavi and Iniesta, both older than 40, it was perhaps a bad idea.
The challenge of management was always one that had glorious appeal, and to be offered the job of the same team I had played for, only a year after retirement, combined appeal with the beauty and romance football possesses. In two years, we had gained back-to-back promotions, and were fighting tooth and nail int he Championship. Backed by an Albanian denim baron (well, at least that was the pretense with which he bought the club) meant that not only could we secure the likes of the aforementioned Spanish duo, even if they were too old to perform at the level they once did, but we also nabbed a flurry of talented Albanian youngsters.
They were quickly shipped off on loan.
Those mistakes apart, my tenure had been relatively successful. I began to grow weary of the lower leagues however, and last year, after they were relegated, I was offered the managerial role at Tottenham Hotspur…