Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Gift by David Flusfeder (4th Estate 2003)

My father approved of football. It was the people's game, working class, played in barrios and ghettos worldwide. With the right ideological apparatus it could be a force for international communism. I set myself diligently to the task of becoming a world-famous footballer and, therefore, revolutionary. I practised heading against the block of flats where we lived until the widow whose bedroom was behind the wall I was using came out with her poodle yapping. I developed my weaker left leg by practising corners with it; I built up my stamina on long training runs invigilated mercilessly by my Marxist father tottering behind me on a woman's bicycle through the streets of south-east London. My rise was prodigious. At ten I was the second-best player in the London under-twelves. Like Stan Bowles I was a stylish, shaggy-haired number ten capable of a blistering shot with either foot, of finding the miraculous pass, and with a gift for dribbling that I used seldom and apologetically, because my father had trained me into believing that the player must subordinate himself to the team and not indulge in displays of bourgeois individualism.

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