24: Super Eagles of Nigeria

The Crown Plaza Hotel in Vilamoura was a white twelve storey building that overlooked the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Behind it, a double olympic size swimming pool stretched out down to the dwarf flower fence that separated it from another hotel.

Jennifer and I had rented a standard room that reduced our money by €120. We had been told that the money included no other thing than the room. No breakfast, lunch or dinner, not even a cup of coffee.

We had settled inside the room on the ground floor and rested for two hours. Our mobile phones were switched off.
Strangely, I was asked for my resident permit before we were accepted in the hotel.
During my running from Lisbon to Porto, Braga and Setubal, I didn’t remember ever being asked for my permit. I had only used my International passport.

The troubles I was running from couldn’t even allow me to celebrate the permit. I was supposed to be over-joyed to have acquired the permit which would allow me to move freely from one Country to another. But I had forgotten what relaxation and happiness felt like.

We had walked into the room and sat on the bed. I had brought out the new permit and gave it to Jennifer. She examined it and gave it back to me. She was too tired to say much. She just smiled and asked what was going to happen to her when I leave Portugal.
I had brought out the look-alike permit card and gave her too. She smiled as I told her that we were going to Germany together.
I told her that I was going to look for tickets tomorrow in Faro.

About two hours after we arrived at the hotel, I decided to go out to the reception hall and buy some over-priced bottle of Hennessy I had seen on the small bar.

As soon as I stepped into the hall, I saw some group of black men coming down from a commuter bus. They were all wearing green and white tracksuits.
I looked at them carefully and recognized one of them. He looked exactly like Julius Aghahowa. Yea! It was Julius Aghahowa.

Yeah! My own Super Eagles of Nigeria had just returned from the evening training.
They were lodged on the second floor of the same Crown Plaza hotel.

I paid for the Hennessy quickly and and took the bottle outside.
I was a football freak and it was a soothing moment for me to see those guys whom I had only seen on the Television.
I had been through a lot in the past two weeks and it was a perfect moment of happiness for me.
For once, I saw Nigerians who were not chasing after my life or my money.

I opened my Hennessy and guzzled down some contents directly from the Bottle.

Kanu Nwankwo was looking at me as if I had commited a crime.
I smiled at him and said Papilo. He waved and smiled back.

Jay Jay Okocha got down from the bus too. I shouted ” Pa Jay” as if we were old friends.
For once, I forgot that I was on the run.
I saw wilson Oruma alight from the bus, he was very short. I couldn’t believe that as short as I was, I was a little taller than him.
” Hey guy, you day Enjoy ooh” Okocha said and laughed as he passed me into the Hotel.
I looked at their faces one by one and identified them. I had seen them many times on Tv. They were just the same except that I was surprised at their heights. The TV had made them so tall.
I counted then as they passed me into the Hotel.

The coach Eguaveon was right behind Okocha and Ike Shorumni.

Then The yellow skinned Odemwiengie, Enyeama, The Young Mikel Obi, The big headed Yusuf Ayila, Makinwa, Yobo looking calm as always, ugly Taiwo, The Tall Kanu Nwankwo, The hair plaiting Chidi Odiah, My homeboy Chukwudi John Utaka, The very short Oba Martins, The ever Humble Garba Lawal, Nsofor Obinna and Obodo. I couldn’t recognize the others.

They moved into the hotel and walked up to their lodge. I sipped more Hennessy as I watched them all the way to their second floor.

Another bus arrived. Other sets of footballers started coming down. It was FC Mainz from Germany. I recognized a Camerounian footballer whom I had been watching in German Bundesliga. They walked past me as I stood like a security agent sipping my Hennessy.
Few of them stole a glance at the free guy doing what they were not allowed to do.

Sport was very good. It extended lifetime but those players didn’t have freedom as I had.
Freedom to roam about, freedom to drink, freedom to blackmail, freedom to go wherever I wanted.

I went back into my room and found my baby sleeping. She was tired. She had been on the run ever since she met me.
She needed the rest. I sat down on the chair and watched her sleep.
I flashed back to how it all started.
I had only intended to hook up with a girl and have fun but it turned out to be a nasty move.

I stood up and went to the bed where she was sleeping. I bent down and kissed her twice on the cheek and murmured
” I won’t let you suffer anymore”

She opened her eyes and smiled at me.

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