How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 62

SEPTEMBER 2019

Once all the fuss had died down, Bradley made arrangements with Rosa to move his stuff to his new home outside Barcelona. He was officially to move there the following week and report for pre-season straight away and there was much to be done before then.

He had caught up with everybody he needed to speak to and was finally ready for his big move. Jessie had agreed to move out there with him, but she would need a bit of time to sort her job out and get packed. Barry and Sharon would help her move her things there and spend a few days looking around the city before returning home. Barry wasn’t happy at Arsenal’s decision, but on the other hand, €150 million up front would be a silly offer to turn down. The club had promised they would invest the funds buying two world class players to replace Bradley who would help them to continue their success. It didn’t placate the fans much, but it stopped the season ticket holders demanding a refund for now.

Rosa had come up trumps dealing with the move and everything was in place when Bradley arrived at his new villa. It was certainly a spectacular place with large rooms and a view of the Mediterranean to die for. He had met his neighbours who also played for Barcelona and had welcomed him to the neighbourhood, and the club. Generally, they had good things to say about playing for Barcelona, the club looked after them well and as long as he gave 100% on the pitch, the people of Barcelona would love him.

He was nervous on his first day in training, but Oscar Fuentes made a point of welcoming him to the club and as he was new also, he understood his nerves. They would stick together. Bradley actually enjoyed the training, it was far more relaxed than at Arsenal and there was an excellent team spirit amongst the players.

Soon enough, after a successful tour of China pre-season, it was time for the new La Liga season to start with an opening fixture at home to newly promoted Alaves. Although he started on the bench, he was assured he would get at least thirty minutes at the end to allow him to settle in and watch their style of play.

The Nou Camp was filled to it’s 100,000 capacity, as it was for most games, with the noisiest supporters he had ever heard in his life. When you are on the pitch, you shut out the noise so watching it from the benches was a totally different experience.

After sixty minutes with the score 3-0 to Barcelona, Bradley was told by the manager to get warmed up and ready to go on. The crowd cheered when they saw him strip off his training top and enter the game with the three points already in the bag.

His first touch wasn’t great, giving the ball away to the opposition, but he soon settled down and got better as the game wore on and he gained more confidence. The weight of the huge price tag could have affected him adversely, as it had done with some players over time, but he paid no attention to it and got stuck in quickly.

It only took Bradley ten minutes to find the back of the net with a superb thirty yard volley leaving the Alaves keeper with no chance of stopping it. The crowd cheered and sang his name which gave him great satisfaction. He was now enjoying life at his new club and was excited at the prospect of what the future might hold.

Jessie was joining him in a couple of days, his mum was getting better with every day that passed and life looked good. His dad continued to live in his own world thousands of miles away and contact with him was getting less and less which was the only down side in his life right then.

However, with the rest of his career to enjoy, Bradley couldn’t be happier. He had the remaining Euro qualifiers to look forward to and a determination to lift the Euro trophy the following summer in Germany.

He had made it, but unknown to him, the rest of his career was going to be a bumpier ride than the one he had enjoyed so far.

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