How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 17

McNair checked his bank account online for the umpteenth time that day. At last, he shouted when he saw the proceeds of the sale of his house had been credited to his account, minus the solicitor’s fees. His furniture, what little there was of it, had been sold on the cheap and apart from his clothes there was very little to put in the back of the rented van parked outside.

He was now just waiting for the estate agent to turn up and take the keys with them after he had signed the necessary forms. When he saw him walking up the drive he went outside to meet him, carrying the last few bits for the van.

‘Morning, Mr McNair. Everything seems to have gone through smoothly, thank goodness.’ The estate agent greeted him cheerily.

’Money is in my account, less your extortionate fees. Here’s the keys – where do I sign?’McNair replied brusquely.

‘Thanks very much. If you can just sign here, here and here, that would be great.’ The agent told him as he pointed to the bits marked ‘x’ on the forms.

McNair duly signed where requested and handed the forms back to him.

‘That’s great Mr McNair. All done. So, if you don’t mind me asking, where are you moving to? Have you found somewhere to buy yet? Maybe we can help.’

‘I don’t think so.’ McNair snarled. ‘Where I’m going I don’t want anyone to find me. Thanks for doing this and Goodbye.’

He slammed the rear doors of the van after putting the last few bits of luggage in and climbed into the drivers’ seat. Taking one last look at his home for the last ten years, he revved the engine and sped away from his past life, heading for his new one. As enjoyable as it was to live there, he had decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea to prolong his stay any further. He had put a deposit on a nice place in Fuengirola where he was unlikely to be found by Ludo and Marek or anyone else for that matter. Driving all the way there would make it harder for him to be traced as well. Airlines have a propensity to give out customers’ details when they are asked for them with a £50 note being waved under their nose.

His road trip would take him down the M8 towards Glasgow, on to the M74 to Gretna where it becomes the M6 past Manchester and Birmingham then the A14 to Felixstowe where he would board a ferry to Zeebrugge in Belgium. From there he would take his time as he drove through France and the Pyrenees Mountains, staying for a couple of nights here and there, then down the Costas in Spain until he came to Fuengirola and his new home.

He figured it would take about six days in total taking it easy, then he had a hotel booked in Fuengirola while he looked at suitable property a local estate agent had lined up for him. He had insisted on the properties being empty and ready to move in, no bank re-possessions, no Brits for neighbours and somewhere quiet and remote. The agent had emailed a list of potentials which McNair had narrowed down to four which interested him and ticked all his boxes.

Eight hours later and after a couple of pit stops, McNair arrived at Felixstowe docks in time for the ferry. After a surprisingly good night’s sleep he drove off the ferry in Zeebrugge and programmed the satnav to show him the way to Metz where he had a friend who was going to put him up for the first couple of nights.

To call him a friend was pushing it a bit. He was someone he played in the same Hearts team a few years ago and hadn’t remembered McNair when he first got in touch through Facebook. He was playing for Metz nowadays and to be honest, had forgotten all about his one season with Hearts. It hadn’t gone that well, anyway.

McNair’s next stop was someone he did actually get along with, and who remembered him as well, which was a bonus. His friend in Metz had been a bit distant with him and he had regretted staying there. Should have booked a hotel, he thought.

Simone Pascale was a decent defender in his day and was still playing amateur for a team near Lyon where he came from. Although he and McNair had never played in the same team, they had met at a football function one night in Glasgow and been on fairly good terms ever since. He enjoyed those two nights; Lyon was a great city and Simone took him out both nights to some of the bars scattered around the centre of town, where he was obviously well known.

They talked about their playing days and how they never made the money some of the players earn nowadays, which they bitterly regretted.

McNair noticed that Simone never had to get his hand in his pocket for a drink as they were all paid for by Lyon supporters who remembered fondly Simone’s performances when playing for their home team all those years ago. McNair pointed this out to Simone telling him that he had to get his own drinks in Edinburgh and that he was a lucky sod.

After two thoroughly enjoyable nights with Simone McNair continued on his journey south. The longest stretch from Lyon to Fuengirola was going to take two days to complete and unfortunately he didn’t know anyone who lived somewhere on route where he could crash for a night or two. Except Bradley Gardner, who he knew lived near Barcelona somewhere, but as he had blocked his calls he didn’t think he would get a comfy bed for the night with him, even if he knew where he lived.

He had watched Bradley help Scotland to shock the world by winning the Euros and wanted to thank him personally. He had made an awful lot of money out of his bets, helped in no small way by Bradley’s exploits. He was probably on holiday somewhere exotic anyway, he thought as he crossed over the France – Spain border just south of Perpignan on to the E15 and the AP-7 which would take him down through the Costas to his ultimate destination.

As it was over 1,100 kilometres to Fuengirola he decided to stay overnight in Valencia which was roughly half way. He had thought about speaking to Jose Sanchez who had joined Hearts after he had retired, but knowing he was close to Bradley wasn’t going to open any doors. Although Sanchez played for Arsenal, he knew he was from Valencia originally and might have been able to sort him out somewhere to stay on the cheap. Still, with his winnings and proceeds from the sale of his house in Edinburgh, he didn’t really need to ponce off of anyone anymore and could afford a decent hotel for the night.

He arrived at the hotel in Valencia just before 4pm after a six hour drive along the coast admiring the stunning views along the way. Once he had unpacked he went for a stroll through the main parts of Valencia sampling a few beers and a passable paella on the way. He could get used to this life, he smiled.

Up nice and early the next morning, he loaded up the van and set off on the last leg of his journey which would take around six hours to complete. He had decided to take the scenic inland route through Tomelloso and Cordoba then down to Malaga past Mijas and into Fuengirola. Mijas rang a slight bell for him, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

He found his hotel after driving around the one way system in Fuengirola, arriving just in time to drop the hired van off at the local branch of Enterprise before they closed. They had charged him more than enough to drop off the van there as it would cost them loads to bring it back unless they found another Brit who had given up on living the Spanish dream and wanted a van to pack their stuff in to move back to the UK.

Once he had checked in, he phoned the estate agent on his mobile as it was out of office hours. They confirmed the viewings for the next day; a couple of nice apartments in Fuengirola, one in Benalmedina and another in Torremolinos which he didn’t really fancy as it sounded like it was too much of a holiday resort.

One thing he found out when looking at these places was that it was difficult to get away from the thousands of Brits who had moved there over the years. If he wanted seclusion, he would have to look inland more at places like Mijas, although there were golf resorts everywhere so it would be hard to get away from them even in the villages.

It would do for now, he thought as he wrote down the addresses of the properties he was going to view. The nice weather, the cheap food and beer and the fact that he wouldn’t have to speak Spanish much would compensate for not getting everything he wanted. Anyway, he could always look for somewhere better once he had settled in.

He smiled as he raised yet another beer to his lips. Yes, he thought. This life will do very well, thank you.

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