No serious training on a Monday.
Just some ‘warm down’ exercises and an assessment of any injuries or bruises.
We’d played Sunderland on the Saturday and I’d scored the only two goals in our away win. I was given the cold-shoulder by my team mates who perhaps thought I was a little upstart. Nothing impolite just a coolness you could feel around the training ground dressing room.
As usual I was last to enter the showers and last to come out. I never feel comfortable parading my nakedness in front of my team-mates.
I felt happy in the shower. Everything going supremely well. My two goals have signalled my arrival. Regular first-team football. My mum safe. My secret safe – and I’d been looking at luxury apartments in the City.
I entered the dressing room draped in a big sky-blue towel, but no-one took any notice of me. Half-naked players, combing hair and squeezing spots in front of the many mirrors. They’re always too preoccupied – smearing Benzoyl into their acne, kneading on aloe vera for their dry winter complexions and grooming in selenium gel for their dandruff. Players getting changed. Some naked except for earphones. One player had a remote in his hand, pointing it at the Sharp 90-inch TV hanging high in the corner. Sky Sports News–flick-BT Sport-flick-BBC News-flick-ITV Sport-flick-flick-flick-Sky-Sports News again. The custodian of the remote seemed especially impatient to toggle channels. Perhaps because nearly every sports channel was showing shots of my goals and the guy flicking the remote seemed a tad envious. Then someone shouts “hey!” and the scrolling stops. A pretty African teenager in a red dress and an electric blonde wig. And underneath a script. ‘Wonder Woman?’
“Hey. Guys. Hey. Voila! Hey les gars regardent ce qui la baise se passé? Fuck! Voila. Voila!”
A montage of stills spin on and off the screen zooming in on shots of me! Shots of my photos in The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Sport, Times, Guardian flashing headlines such as Boy Wonder, Tiko That! The Lion Prince! Safari Kid! The stills keep whirling until one photograph underlined with the title ‘Super Girl’ showed me! – in my red dress and blonde wig. Then the talking-head of a Sky Sports newscaster. The sound is turned up.
“…and the photographs were published in today’s in the Melchester Evening News after the paper’s sports desk received a link to the Facebook page of a transvestite friend of Namutebi.”
More stills of me, dancing and seemingly smooching Oscar.
“Currently, neither Tiko Namutebi or Melchester City are available for comment, but we are expected to hear later! Stay tuned!”
Then! Silence. Everyone looking at me! One of the players, and then another, and then another, immediately reaches for a towel to cover their extremities. Another retreats to a more secluded part of the dressing room. One player has turned his head and his continuous spray is missing his hair completely.
Then. Enter Al. Perplexed. Sweating.
“Tiko! There’s a car waitin’ outside. Come on. Yeah. Come on, Tiko!”
Al practically drags me out of the dressing room.
A fusion of naked international soccer stars dash to the window to witness Al dragging me out of the dressing room to a waiting black Audi.
Multi-cultural backsides each a different shape.
Wedging around the window – to watch my great escape.
“What fuck is going on?” says a German accent.
Well it looks like Tiko is ‘out’ – that’s what’s going on.