*I chanced upon this term during a Site and Urban Planning Lecture. Free association naturally directed me to football, which led me towards writing this piece. You have been warned.
You know that certain cliche “I don’t remember what life was like before (insert applicable term here)”? I can relate to that whenever I think of how long I have watched and supported that certain football player named Michael Owen.
This year marked the milestone of my being able to say that I’ve followed him for half of my life now, and even though it’s been one heck of an emotional roller-coaster ride, there’s no way in hell I am getting off my seat.
There are moments when I think of my first year of watching football, when I was initially torn between two Northern England clubs and I reached a point of no return (i.e. choosing just 1 club to permanently support) after a seasoned fan told me bluntly that it’s simply not possible for me to support both clubs, unless I want to be forever branded as a “glory hunter scum” (among other unsavory terms, a fate far worse than death). Had I chosen that other Red club, my football life would have been, in a way, easier, but I just didn’t feel that “spark” for them and Liverpool FC had my heart from the first match I watched on the telly one fateful day in 1997. Proof that some things are really just meant to be.
Even though I still harbour that unshakeable and unextinguishable hope for his Anfield return, I am thankful that I got to have seven glorious years of him proudly wearing that Red shirt, scoring the goals like nobody else and being a bright spot in times of strife, confusion and agony. Seven years may not seem a lot, but the lessons and emotions from them are forever woven in my memory.
I didn’t always agree with his professional choices, but my faith in his talent enabled me to look past my personal biases and somehow believe that everything will turn out for the best.
Incidentally, I randomly ranted about his contract renewal to an old friend (who’s well aware of my Owenmania) a year ago, and her reply through SMS was short but spoke volumes: “Maybe he’s happy where he is.” That’s when I realized that in the bigger of scheme of things, all is not lost–I will get to see him play for at least one more season, and he is in a club where he seems content and well taken care of. Always look on the bright side of life, yeah?
And now, that chapter of his life has been put to a close. Uncertain times lie ahead yet again.
I don’t claim to know him (although of course, it would be awesome if I do), but I’ve a feeling that his story is far from over yet. The off-season will be long, and full of talks and rumours and speculations, and of course his absence from the England Euro 2012 squad will only add salt to my wounds, but I will patiently wait for his next move. After all, what is a true supporter left to do but to cross their fingers and toes and hope for the absolute best?
I suppose to put it in the simplest way possible–He makes me believe. Sometimes, that is more than enough for me to get by.
And yes, in case you were wondering, I truly don’t remember what my life was like before Michael Owen.