When you compare the hustle and bustle of the under 18 training ground to the first team's, it'd be like downtown London on a weekday against a sparse rural county. There's only a single player in the pitch, chasing after balls coming out of a football machine and shooting it first time to the goal.
He wasn't wearing a top, showing off the angel wing tattoo spread on his back. He's pretty well-built too, making him look more of a defender than a player higher up the pitch. Though, what sticks out the most about the man from the back was his fiery ginger hair.
Steve Bronson was smiling at the man's dedication and determination to bounce back. He must've hated himself for missing so many point blank opportunities yesterday. He walked down the bleachers with Blaise Atkinson and asked with the smile of a doting father, "What do you think of that guy?"
"He looks stubborn." That's what Blaise figured of the man still shooting like crazy. The youngsters watched the senior team's match yesterday at the Atkinson residence with delight, so he knew who this guy actually is. Seeing him here today, Blaise reckoned that even if he scored a garbage time goal late on in the match, he rued all the missed opportunities to get one earlier than that.
Now, he's pouring all that pent up emotion to the sorry goal over there…
"Haha… you really are a first team member now huh!" The gaffer laughed merrily, surprised at Blaise's spot on analysis.
After they reached the pitch, Steve called out to Blaise, who's intent on looking at the man's continuous practice. "You wanna fight him one versus one? That man will never decline challenges like those."
Blaise's eyes lit up as he cracked his knuckles. 'Finally, some action.' Even though he only gave a small nod on the surface.
Steve shouted from the sideline. "George! Someone's come to challenge you!"
The football machine released a ball that was a little too high for him to take on first time, but he tried it out anyway. From his right side, he planted his left leg and used it to propel his right foot upward, and with a smooth 'scythe' like motion, his right foot smashed the ball to the back of the net. He landed on the ground, panting after the high of the successful scissor kick came to an end.
That's when he realized that someone's shouting at him with increasing intensity…
Looking up to the sky, he rolled and laid on a supine position to see the speaker. It's his well-dressed manager, with some young looking boy trailing behind him.
"I see you're getting yourself worked up again, huh."
George stood up and brushed off the sweat and dirt on his body. "I can't move on if I don't release this out of my system, Boss… you know me."
"I know you and your ambitions very well."
"Who's that teenager behind you? A relative of yours asking for an autograph?" He asked in a serious tone.
"He's the future of this club." Blaise nodded his head at George after the manager pointed at him. "He's going to be a member of the first team from today onwards."
George's body was glistening with sweat, while his mouth made a big O shape in surprise after the manager instantly said that the youngster was going to challenge him 1v1. He's never been the kind to back down at challenges like those. He even asked, "Don't we need a keeper for this or something? Boss, do you wanna be the keeper?"
This time, it was Blaise's turn to be stupefied. The Boss? The keeper? What the fuck? He doesn't have any idea what Steve Bronson's position was when he played academy football, so his reaction was nothing but valid.
"Fine. Those keepers of ours won't be around for a while anyway." The answer confirmed it all for Blaise. The boss was a bloody keeper! What the hell!
His 'tutors' Damian Potts and Trent Hastings didn't even give him a heads up that their friend and manager was a goalkeeper during his youth. Another thing that caught him off guard was that the manager readily agreed without any complaints! Now he's thinking about what other surprises this man had in him.
The manager hurriedly changed into some comfortable pants and changed into football cleats as well, even stretching the same way the players did on warm-ups. Meanwhile, the two talked about how this challenge is going to be done.
The duo agreed that both of them will take ten shots from outside the penalty box on the volley alternating between their left foot and right foot with the help of a football machine. Of course, the presence of the keeper will make their job a little trickier, but the passes of the machine will be also a variable that needs to be taken care of.
After the two placed a football machine each close to either sideline, they configured it so that it would be sending the balls at an approximate speed, position, and height outside the penalty area.
The duo called out to their manager Steve Bronson, who's already putting on a goalkeeper's gloves to ask if he was ready.
George went first, with Blaise Atkinson holding the remote control operating the two machines. He's already pumped up, evidenced by his willful jumping and punches in the air.
The first ball was released from the left machine with a loud pop…
He didn't wait for it to touch the ground before he hit it with a lot of spin from underneath it with his right foot, rooting the manager at his spot in the middle, and sending the free spinning ball rattling into the underside of the crossbar into the goal.
Blaise had no words. This striker must still be in his shooting rhythm even after he stopped his solo practice. He scratched his head as he pressed the button to release another ball from the right side.
The second ball was passed a little farther, forcing George to move his feet and readjust, before striking it awkwardly and without much power from his left foot. He slid back first to the ground, as Blaise watched the ball collected by the manager after he dove to his left with little trouble.
Right when Blaise offered a hand to pull George up after his second shot, the two saw the manager waving his hand to someone beyond them.
"Look who the fuck's here!" A loud voice that was almost a roar resounded throughout the near empty first team pitch.
"Woah we forgot that it's actually your promotion day!" Another deep yet more soothing voice was heard. "Welcome to the first team, Atkinson lad! You know we've been waiting for your arrival here."
Damian swung his head to the far side where the goal is, and realized that the person waving his hands at them was his friend and manager… He tapped his friend Trent's shoulder and alerted him at whatever the fuck's happening in his field of vision.
Everything fell silent, as Damian pondered on what he's seeing… two football machines… the manager wearing goalkeeper gloves… a sweaty George… and Blaise Atkinson pulling him up…
"Tell me what's happening right this moment!"
I've been drowning myself with a lot of Football Manager 21 youtube playthroughs... since I can't buy it from being damn broke... oh well.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter where we got our first look of the man leading Sheffield Blades' line. Thanks for the great support!
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