Monday, 5th March 2012...
I lay in my cozy sofa in my mum's house (still living with her). The phone was still on my ear, even though my phone call ended over an hour ago. The words of the call still resonated in my head;
"Hello. Is this Farid Farhat?" a husky voice said from the other line.
"Who wants to know?" I replied.
"I'm calling on behalf of the board of directors of Chelsea FC. We are aware of your free agent status, and have been monitoring you since your days at Preston. We believe, following the arrival of a new manager to the club, it is now the right time to sign you if you're interested." Silence ensued.
"Hello? Mr. Farhat, are you there?"
"Yes, I'm here." I wiped the saliva that had escaped from my previously wide open mouth.
"Do we have a deal?" The voice asked.
"You must be out of yer bleeding mind, of course i'll accept."
"Great! Just come down to our Cobham training ground tomorrow and sign the paperwork."
Wednesday 6th March 2012
I walked into Cobham, still unsure whether I'd dreamt the whole incident or not. Despite Roberto Di Matteo, assistant first team coach talking to me at the gate, I still couldn't believ this was for real. Apprehensive, I entered Ron Gourlay's office. The club's chief executive was waiting for me, a sheet of paper neatly placed on his desk.
"Farid!" He said when he saw me "We don't have much time to waste." He handed me a pen and pointed to the paper.
"Why the rush?" I asked, sitting down and reading through the contract.
"You see, we have a bit of a crisis." Ron sat down.
"Crisis?" I signed the contract, satisfied with its contents. I was too star struck to care about the legal details.
"Yes. The reason why we signed you was that Drogba has been ruled out for 2 months. Sturridge is facing supension, Kalou refuses to play after Villas Boas dismissal and Fernando can't score a goal to save his life. The transfer window is shut so we have to look to the free agents. I'm afraid you're our last striking option."
"But you guys have an FA Cup replay today. Who's going to strike for you?" I asked. Ron sighed.
Matchday (Birmingham v Chelsea)
I stood on the pitch, waiting for the whistle to be blown, to commence my baptism of fire. I glanced at the gaffer, Guus Hiddink, who gave me a thumbs up. I had barely trained, I knew nothing of the team tactics, I was playing alongside legends, and still Guus expected me to shine. Fat chance.
The game started and the ball bounced from one end of the field to the other for the opening 20 minutes. I had not seen much of the ball, and both defences were standing firm. The 25 minute struck and Adam Rooney jinxed his way past an erratic Luiz znd slotted home the opener for Birmingham. Groaning, I carried the ball to the centre circle to continue the match. Lampard was fouled on the 42nd minute, and he opted to take the freekick himself, 32 metres away from goal. He paused briefly and fired a dipping freekick past the Birmingham keeper and into the goal.
HALF TIME 1-1
A tentative start to the second half was followed by a dull exchange for the nxt twenty minutes. 81 minutes struck, and Mata received the balll from Ramires' cross field pass. I was exactly on line with one of thier defenders, and i signalled to Mata. He raised the ball for an overhead through pass and I darted past the defense and collected the ball. One defender attempted a slide tackle but I skipped past him and into the box . The keeper dashed out and tried collecting the ball but I dummied a shot and wrong way. An empty net in front of me, I fired a low and hard shot into the bottom corner. The crowd went crazy. Luiz charged towards me and raised off my feet. After putting me down, Lampard and Terry patted me on the back.
"Not bad.....for a rookie." Terry smirked and trotted off to defense. I chuckled. It wasn't a champions league winner, but it was a start.
FULL TIME 1-2