Archive for the ‘Other football stories’ Category

“Salam, mənim adı Deon Burton.”

Deon looks up from his phrasebook and scans the arrivals lounge. Over by the drinks dispenser an Azerbaijani family are huddled; the father eyes him suspiciously and cracks open a coke. Deon sits on his little island of luggage and smiles at the Airline girl in traditional dress as she swishes past.

Bloody place is empty. Empty, hot and dusty. He checks his watch. 16:45 – they’re almost an hour late now. Back to the phrasebook, then.

‘Zərb,’ he says under his breath. That means minted.

Strange to be out here on his own. The wife and kids at home, everyone he knows. ‘Azerbaijan?’ they said. ‘What are you going to do in fucking Azerbaijan?!’

‘Play football,’ is what he said. Make some money, is what he meant.

‘Dolu.’ That’s loaded.

Finally a car pulls up outside. The door pops open, and Tony Adams is there leaning across the passenger seat and calling to him, ‘Deon! Over here mate!’ Adams in the front, Stevens in the back. A couple of canny Englishmen out for all they can get in Azerbaijan.

And now Deon Burton too.

‘Son bir maaş günü.’

One last payday.

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