How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 24

Once Bradley and Jessie were back in Barcelona and Bradley was back training, he soon forgot about Christmas and his dad’s latest faux-pas. He liked normality; it helped him focus on the job in hand without distractions.

The weather was markedly chillier than in Mijas and it had been raining heavily for days which didn’t make for enjoyable training. Being from Scotland, he was used to it more than some of his team mates and threw himself into it with a renewed vigour that you only get after you’ve been on holiday.

Despite being rested from the Copa del Rey games, Bradley had a pretty full fixture list to get through until May what with La Liga, Champions League and World Cup qualifiers coming up. He was loving it though. Never in his wildest dreams did he ever expect to play for the biggest club in the world.

The first league fixture in January was an away game against their biggest rivals, Real Madrid in what is known as El Classico. Although they were revved up for it, their winning streak came to an end as they lost 2-1 thanks to a disputed penalty. Bradley was distraught as he had been dropped due to the revelations about his father’s arrest in Los Angeles for a breach of the peace on his flight home. His mind wasn’t in it once he heard the whole story and fended off all the reporters wanting his story, from Europe and the UK. Archie had had to step in and manage the fallout once again, a service he was getting quite good at.

This time, his dad had gone too far and right now he wanted no more to do with him. Jessie had been very supportive, but his manager hadn’t and had called him into his office so he could express his anger at Bradley for letting it get to him. They cleared the air after Bradley assured Oscar Fuentes that he wanted nothing more to do with his father and would concentrate his efforts for the team in future.

When he got on to the training pitch, he doubled his efforts and made sure he was picked for their next game at home to Real Betis at the weekend. Oscar Fuentes was impressed enough to welcome him back into the team which paid off as they ran out 6-0 winners with Bradley scoring a hat-trick.

Barcelona returned to their winning ways with a vengeance and destroyed all round them for the next eight games in all competitions. By the end of March, they had La Liga wrapped up and were in the semi-finals of the Champions League where they would face Paris St Germain home and away.

Normal service had been resumed.

It had been resumed for Kevin McNair also. Two detectives from Edinburgh Fraud Squad had flown out to Fuengirola to interview McNair once more, principally with questions regarding Bradley Gardner’s involvement and any knowledge he had about McInally’s other business interests.

He had insisted that Bradley knew nothing about what had been going on and he certainly didn’t know about McInally’s operation. McNair himself wasn’t that close to him to know what he was up to, but he did give the officers details about Ludo and Marek, who they were aware of. They made notes about McNair’s encounters with the two Czechs and told him they would be in touch if there were any further questions.

On their way home, they thought it might be an idea to stop by in Barcelona and have a word with Bradley to see if he corroborated McNair’s story. They had no reason to think that he was involved, but they needed to tie up loose ends.

Their flight arrived mid-afternoon and they took a taxi to Bradley’s place straight from the airport. Jessie was there to meet them at the door as they introduced themselves.

‘Good afternoon, miss. We would like to speak to Bradley Gardner if he’s around.’ The officer asked as he they flashed their warrant cards.

’He’s at training right now, but he should be home soon. Do you want to come in and wait for him? Jessie replied.

‘Thank you, miss. That would be fine.’

She showed them into the lounge and offered them coffee.

‘Nice place you have here. You’re obviously not a local, how do you find it? Are you enjoying life in Barcelona? It’s a lovely city from what I remember. I went to a stag party here a couple of years ago. Didn’t have much time for sightseeing though.’ The officer laughed, lightening the mood.

’We love it here. Nice weather, friendly people, and some lovely restaurants in town. Don’t miss Britain one bit, Jessie smiled.

Just then, Bradley opened the front door and threw his bag down on the floor. He noticed the two strangers sitting in his lounge and immediately became suspicious.

‘Bradley Gardner? We’re from Edinburgh Fraud Squad and we would like to have a quick chat about one Kevin McNair and his relationship with you, if we may.’

‘Sure. Not that I have a relationship with him.’ Bradley replied guardedly.

He went on to tell them everything right from when they met at Hearts and how he didn’t want anything to do with him as they weren’t exactly best friends then. They questioned him about Hugh McInally and Bradley honestly denied any knowledge of him. He had never heard of McInally.

After an hour, the officers were satisfied that his story was genuine and thanked him for his time, and apologising for disturbing them.

Bradley assured them it wasn’t a problem and they could call him anytime, giving them his private number as they left the house.

‘Well, I didn’t expect that.’ Bradley told Jessie. ‘I guessed they were policemen but I thought it was something to do with my dad. It wasn’t, which made a nice change.’

McNair was still another pain in the arse for him and he contemplated selling up in Mijas to get as far away from him as possible, which Jessie wasn’t keen to do.

They soon forgot about the visit and went back to normal, which involved taking a plate of crudités and dip and a pot of tea out on to the terrace, where the rain had now stopped and a watery sun was trying it’s best to warm the place up.

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