How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

By Andrew Playle All Rights Reserved ©

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Chapter 60

After the day’s excitement, Bradley suggested they all go out to dinner in Mijas to celebrate. He phoned Sam first to see how his mum was doing and was met with some positive news. She had promised to stop drinking and seemed determined to turn her life around so Sam and her doctor had found her a suitable facility not far from them in Perthshire where she could get the best help.

Sam had told Bradley the costs and that he expected him to pick up the tab, rather presumptuously, but on a teacher’s salary there was no way Sam could afford it. Of course, Bradley told him he would pay what it takes and to send him the bill so he could set up a transfer to the clinic. Little did Sam know but after today, the bill for her treatment wasn’t going to be anything more than small change for him. He was itching to tell Sam all about it, but it probably wasn’t the right time to bring it up, nor should he tell anybody just yet. That had been made abundantly clear by Sr Jiminez.

As they wandered into Mijas in the fading daylight, Bradley was pleased to note that Archie was in an incredibly good mood and was happily telling corny jokes to Jessie which she seemed to find funny. Cynically, he realised that the two of them had just been promised a lifetime of good living and no money worries. As well as making sure his mum was well cared for, he would like to help Jessie’s parents, his grandparents and Sam. Especially Sam, who had been the best big brother anyone could have. He was the dependable one; always there with support and advice when needed, and as he was proving now, a very caring attitude to people who meant something to him. Maybe he could buy a nice house in Edinburgh for Sam and his girlfriend who was soon to become his fiancée. As for dad, he didn’t seem to want for anything and had made a new life for himself with Lucy in California. Bradley was sure he would hear from his dad if he needed something.

El Bodega was a tiny, family-run restaurant near the centre of Mijas where Bradley and Jessie had eaten when they were house-hunting. They had loved the relaxed atmosphere, great food and friendly staff who were pleased to see them once again.

Archie was so impressed, he offered to pick up the bill, not that it came to much as it was great value for money as well. The paella was amazing, as were the tapas plates ordered, even though Archie hadn’t a clue what some of the dishes were. He was due to fly back to Glasgow in the morning and vowed to come back soon as he had fallen in love with the place, just like Bradley and Jessie. He could see why they bought a place here, it had everything you could possibly want whenever you wanted to get away from it all.

It would be perfect for getting away from Barcelona when needed as well, being less than an hour’s flight away. He had plenty of paperwork to get through after tonight and he wished that the evening would never end. He and Bradley had talked a lot that night; Archie had found out more about his dysfunctional family and when Bradley told him about his mum’s overdose and how she was in hospital, he rolled his eyes. His parents had an uncanny knack of trying to grab the headlines from their son, although with his mum it was obviously more than that. He assured Bradley that if the story ever broke he would deal with it, as usual. He was pleased his dad was off the scene in California where his actions would probably seem normal to them.

Eventually, they strolled back to the villa with Archie relating more of his corny jokes and even started singing at one point, much to the amusement of the locals. After a quick nightcap back at the villa, they all retired to bed exhausted after their long day of negotiations. Overall, it had been a good day for Bradley; deal with Barcelona sorted, mum sorted, and Archie would be sorted for life. Most of all, Jess had told him she wanted to move with him to Barcelona.

After a quick breakfast, Bradley called a taxi to take Archie to Malaga airport for his flight back to Scotland. Once they had got the place back to themselves, they made some tea and went outside to sit on their patio soaking up the sun and talking about their new adventure. They were both excited about the move and Jessie was making plans for furnishing their new place in Barcelona, which is when the phone rang.

A woman introducing herself as Rosa told Bradley that she was the club’s Player Liaison Manager and it was her job to smooth out the details of their move to Barcelona and she had a few questions to ask of him.

They would arrange for his apartment in London to be packed up and shipped to his new villa on the edge of the city which they had found for him. He was a bit put out that he had no say in where he was going to live, but Rosa assured him that this was where a lot of the team lived as it was a secure, gated community which was safer for them.

He was finding out that this club liked to have complete control over all their players and staff so while it was useful to have somebody at the club to arrange all the necessities involved in moving, he was feeling his sense of individuality leaving him. Rosa assured him he would love the place, but if he didn’t then they would find him an alternative. The new villa had five bedrooms, a swimming pool and a separate four car garage, and would cost €5 million which the club were happy to pay. This was an unexpected bonus, he thought. But then for a club of their stature, it was probably insignificant.

Once he and Rosa had got everything into action, he took her number and thanked her for her help.

‘They seem efficient. Are they really doing all the moving furniture and stuff?’ Jessie asked as she made some more drinks ready to take out to the pool.

‘Sounds like it. Hope they don’t start immediately, Jose and Alvarez are going to wonder what’s going on and I can’t tell them yet. Still, Rosa did say to enjoy the rest of our holiday while the paperwork is being done, so it doesn’t sound as if it’s going to be that quick.’

It was indeed going to take a few days at least to push everything through. Arsenal’s Chairman had flown to Barcelona to thrash out the deal, rubbing his hands at the thought of making a huge profit on the boy. Hearts would also benefit due to the sell-on clause to the tune of £12.5 million which would be nice for them. Personally, he knew he would be made the scapegoat for selling Bradley and the supporters would call for his head, so he would have to resign, sell his shares and pocket a huge pay-off which would enable him to retire to the Caribbean and see out his days in luxury.

In the meantime, Bradley and Jessie could enjoy their holiday in their new villa undisturbed. Or, so they thought. No sooner had they settled down by their pool to relax, the phone started ringing. The first call was from Sam to update him on Martine’s condition, which thankfully was improving. Bradley promised to get over as soon as possible but that there were things going on that he couldn’t tell him just yet and he needed to be available until it was all sorted. Sam thought this was a bit mysterious, but that was typical Bradley. There was always an excuse not to do something.

The next call was a bit of a surprise. It was from Oscar Fuentes, the new Barcelona manager who wanted to talk to Bradley one-to-one.

‘Bradley? It is Oscar Fuentes. How are you? I apologise for ringing out of the blue like this, but I didn’t get a chance yesterday. I just wanted to say how pleased I am that you have decided to join us at Nou Camp and I hope you will forget what went on in Brazil.’

‘Thanks for calling Senor Fuentes. Those events were playing on my mind as I wasn’t sure whether you wanted me to play for you or not.’ Bradley replied cautiously.

‘That is all in the past, Bradley. Of course I want you to play for me, you are one of the world’s most talented players and I am excited at the prospect of you helping us win lots of trophies. Together with the rest of the team, we can be the best team in the world. I consider myself fortunate to have such a player as you available to me. I hope you can overcome your doubts and we can have an excellent relationship.’ Oscar Fuentes told him.

‘That’s very reassuring, Senor Fuentes. I am also looking forward to joining you and the club. I can’t wait to get started.’ Bradley told him with a smile.

As he put the phone down once more and watched Jessie swimming a couple of lengths of the pool, the phone rang again. It was his dad this time.

‘Hi Bradley, are you having a nice time in Spain? We will have to come and see that new villa of yours one day, when I get some time off.’

‘Hi dad, yes, it’s great. We’re just sitting out by the pool and chilling. What have you been up to?’ Bradley replied, pleased to hear from his dad at last.

Brian then went into great detail about how his job was going really well, how they were loving the California life and eventually asked how Bradley’s mum was doing.

Bradley updated him on that front, although he didn’t seem that interested. He just told him that he was pleased she was getting something done about her problem before it became fatal. He never asked him anything about his football and never even mentioned the fact that with Bradley’s help Arsenal had won four major trophies recently. This disappointed him, but at least it meant he wouldn’t have to skirt around the upcoming transfer to Barcelona. He couldn’t risk telling his dad anything about that as he didn’t have a good track record with the press.

Bradley wished them both well and hoped he would see them again one day soon, before hanging up and putting the phone down once more.

The final call of the day was from Silvio expressing his anger at Arsenal selling him and how he didn’t bear any grudges towards Bradley as he knew he didn’t ask for, nor want the move in the first place. He laid the blame fairly and squarely at the feet of the Chairman and apparently he was under pressure to resign as the rest of the board were not very happy about it. He promised he would come and see Bradley when he returned to London to say goodbye, which upset Bradley as he enjoyed playing under Silvio and would be sad to be leaving. That’s the life of a footballer, though.

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