“I don’t know, guys,” Luke said, shaking his head. “I’m not sure I’m up to it. I’m 38 years old now, and I haven’t played in years. I had adopted a kid now, and I don’t want to leave him alone.”
“Please, Luke,” another teammate begged. “We need you. We’ll do whatever it takes to help you get back in shape. Just give us a chance. You can bring your son to our exercise, as long as he didn’t mess up our schedule.”
“Do you guys will kept your promises? I don’t want to make Ayden uncomfortable, he had experienced a lot in his past life.” Luke replied.
“We promised. If we do not keep our promises, you can retire anytime,” said Juan, patting his shoulder.
In the background, Ayden was going crazy with excitement. He was thrilled to see Luke returning to professional football, and he couldn’t wait to see him back on the field. He froze in a big smile until Lloris ask “what makes you happy, little boy? Do you want to see him play a match?”
Ayden nodded. “Yes, I’ll support him. He had supported me from the beginning, and now it’s time to repay his kindness.”
As Luke’s teammates prepared to leave, Ayden ran up to them and hugged each one of them, thanking them profusely for “inviting Luke back.”
The teammates chuckled at Ayden’s enthusiasm but were touched by his appreciation.
“It’s no problem, Ayden,” one of them said, patting him on the back. “We’re glad to have Luke back on the team. He’s an amazing player and a great leader.”
The next day, Luke and Ayden drove to the team base. Ayden was thrilled to see all the new sights and sounds, and he couldn’t wait to watch Luke play.
“Luke, I can’t believe it. I will watch you exercise with your team.” Ayden said. Luke just smiled.
After passing the crowded street, They arrived. “Ayden, you can wait at the stadium, or just sit here near the car. I’ll come to you after changing into my jersey.”
Luke was greeted by his old teammate Lloris, who introduced him to the new coach. “Hey Luke, this is our new coach, John.” the coach looked at Luke with a mixture of boredom and disinterest, sizing him up as an old, weak player who needed glasses to see.
“Hi there, Mr John! My name is Luke,” Luke gave his hands to shake hands with him. But, John denied it. He hides his hands and stares into Luke’s eyes.
“What? Is this Luke, the football ‘star’ that you tell me about? Obviously, this dude is weak.” the coach asked Lloris, his voice laced with disbelief.
Lloris act weirdly to the response from John, “Yeah, this is him. He may be old now, but he’s still a star.”
“Luke, you’re old, out of shape, and you can barely see the ball,” then he forced Luke to take his glasses off, and start seeing far things.
“In football, there’s no such thing as seeing with glasses. This is unacceptable. C’mon, tell me what time is it,” John pointed at the clock who is high and far.
Luke squints his eyes. He can’t see it, it is a blurry mess. “I don’t know, coach. I’m sorry.”
“See? how could you score a goal if you can’t even see the clock?” coach John yelled at him.
Luke’s heart filled with anger. “Mr John, I will try to play without my glasses. But please, allow me to show my skill to you.”
He takes a breath, and continues, “I may be older and a little slower than I used to be, but the team has invited me. They said that they were on a losing streak, and they ask me to help them. I agree, so here I am.”
The coach looked at Luke with a sceptical expression, but he knew that he couldn’t afford to turn down a player like Luke, who had successfully led the team to win a few champions in the past.
After seeing Ayden, who John thought was his kid, he knew that he couldn’t let Ayden cry. With a sigh, he reluctantly agreed to give Luke a chance to prove himself on the field.
“Okay. Let’s see your skill. If you can’t prove that you’re skilled, get out of here.” John said.
Ayden watched him exercise and train with the team. Despite his best efforts, Luke struggled to keep up with the pace of the game and he began to feel like he was holding his teammates back.
“Oh my god I’m so bad,” he said to himself. He struggled to catch his breath, as he played. “Guys, could you slow down a bit, I’m exhausted,” Luke said to his teammates.
The other players could see that Luke was struggling, and they did their best to hide his weaknesses and protect him from the coach’s criticism. They didn’t want to see Luke benched or kicked off the team, and they knew that he still had something special to offer.
But Coach John wasn’t so forgiving. He watched Luke with a critical eye, frowning whenever he made a mistake or fell behind. He wanted a team full of young, strong players, and he wasn’t sure if Luke fit into his vision.
Weeks passed, and Coach John still hadn’t been convinced that Luke was up to the task of playing professional football again. Despite his best efforts, Luke remained in the substitute player group, watching from the sidelines as his teammates took the field.
But his teammates had a plan. They knew that they couldn’t let Luke down.
“Guys, how about faking ‘sick player’? I knew it is risky, but if we want to show John how skilled Luke is, I think that’s the only way to do it.” Lloris said.
“That’s not a good idea, but we have no option,” said Wayne, another teammate. “Let’s try it. Who wants to go sick?” he ended the last words with a laugh.
The next day, hours before the match began, the team came to the base. Luke still feels sad, knowing that he is just a substitute player now.
“Hey Mr John, we have bad news,” said Lloris.
“What? Are you gonna negotiate with me about Luke’s placement again? Stop it, I don’t want to hear it.” coach John said. “He is not up to our standards.”
“No, it’s not about Luke. Actually, Juan got injured while he drove his car yesterday.” Lloris replied and added, “He’s in the hospital right now.”
Coach John had a sudden headache. “Argh, you guys always caused trouble in the last minutes,” he shouted. He fell down to his knee, thinking of a way to replace Juan.
Their original plan worked, and Coach John had no choice but to put Luke in the main lineup.
“Fine, I’ll insert Luke in the main lineup.” said coach John.
At first, John was hesitant and skeptical, but as the game progressed, he began to see that Luke still had the skills and leadership abilities that had made him such a great player in the past.
Just as he started to trust Luke and thought “he’s not that bad”, Luke suddenly fell to his face, and blood comes down from his face. But he continued to play, ignoring the advice from his teammates.
He moved with grace and speed, dodging past defenders and scoring crucial goals for the team. His teammates cheered him on, and soon the crowd was on its feet, chanting his name.
As the final whistle blew, Luke’s teammates lifted him in celebration, knowing that he had proved them all wrong.
And with that, Luke’s journey back to professional football reached its triumphant conclusion, as he proved that age and adversity could be overcome with hard work, dedication, and the support of those around him.
Sorry for the lack of events in this series – I’m running out of ideas… This is the reason why the story got released earlier because I though this is bad. But I promise the next one will be better because I have a “new vision” for this story.
How long he will continue to play? He knew that he had already neglected Jake by putting his time to exercised on field. What decision he eventually made?Read the next story in the series (#5)
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