March 1, 2012
— champions league managers, chelsea fc, fc barcelona, FC Porto, internazionale, jose mourinho, man management, Mourinho satire, Mourinho's story, real madrid, soccer satire, special one, stamford bridge, The Interpreter
By Carl Mungazi
I started on the pitch as a pawn. A soldier, sent into battle with instructions to follow. Yet, I soon realised that I was not destined to be a lowly pawn forever. Command was my destiny. The moment I stepped over the whitewash and became the instructor, I was home. My talents magnified ten-fold. Details that I was blind to in the thick of action were now crystal clear. The veil had been lifted.
My early years as a trainer were spent honing my new-found talents. I worked tirelessly as a trusted number two, sometimes also tending to the next generation.
Then my first break came.
A grand master opened a door, and I slipped in without a moment’s hesitation, grateful to be this great man’s aide. It was at his feet I truly learnt my trade. He was a foreigner, and I found that I was a natural at interpreting. In fact, it became second nature. By bridging those gaps, I began to understand the complex relationship between fan and manager was in truth, simple: bring them success and they will love you; continue bringing success and you will become their god.
Still, I was restless. My master left and a new one took his place. My learning evolved, but I wanted more. Interpreting is a skill that requires experimentation to develop, and I found my laboratory when I returned to my homeland.
Using the knowledge I had acquired at the feet of my two tutors, I instantly tasted success. The following year I moved to an even higher level, elevating myself onto the plateau reserved for the chosen few: the Special Ones.
Then a strange thing happened. My passion began to wane. It seemed that I had outgrown my surroundings. One night, word reached me of a group on a distant island, past these Iberian shores, who were seeking my services. How could I not oblige? Had I not been a nomad from the beginning?
This new stage of my journey saw joy return to my soul. I successfully translated the formula for success and relayed it effortlessly to the faithful masses who paid pilgrimage every week. I had forged a perfect team of warriors; an impregnable defence and a ruthless attack. The heroes of the land were slain as I led my charges to the summit. Strongholds were ripped down as my troops asserted my authority.
Yet somehow, the hallowed hall of the grand masters eluded me year after year. It was painful to endure. My enemies taunted me, questioned my ability to lead a team to the ultimate victory. Their words spread like a cancer, until even the higher powers in my own camp began to echo their criticisms. Our home was a fortress that had never been breached, never seen defeat — yet our greatest challenge now came from within. Sadly, it was one I could not overcome. My head met the chopping block, and I was set adrift.
For a year, I wandered alone in the wilderness, searching my soul. I fought the demons of self-doubt laying siege to my walls of confidence, but I fell back onto my interpretation skills once again. As though seen through a vision, my path again became clear: despite my love for my adopted country, I had to move on to pastures new.
I booked passage to the Roman lands, the birthplace of the romance languages. There I was loved again, that was certain, but my heart still lay in the distant island from which I had been cast out. Thankfully, success soon distracted me and once again, I evolved. Finally admitted to the hall of the grand masters, I then elevated myself even further, carving my name into the history books as I went about my business.
And then it happened anew. Success satiated my desire and wanderlust gripped me again. My eye cast longing glances towards a new mistress, my mind desperate for newer, greater conquests. The heavens smiled upon me and my wishes were fulfilled.
But my gift came with a curse. A bitterly ironic curse that has vexed me and caused me to lose sleep. I have finally encountered a foe whose weakness I cannot comprehend. The very same place where I discovered my skills of interpretation is now the source of all my troubles. I am fighting a force that moves in ways unimaginable. Its parts move fluidly as one. With one spirit. With one mind.
Since leaving my homeland I have encountered this mercurial foe numerous times, always to return beaten. Every morning I wake and look in the mirror, my body in conflict with itself. My resolve questions my stomach, demanding to know whether it has any fight left in it. My mind and heart jostle for leadership, pulling me to and fro, eerily reminiscent of the favoured method of attack my enemy uses.
My inability to decipher this squad has led to many miserable nights. Our contests have seen a multitude of casualties from my camp. The brutality of the defeats has been betrayed by the grace and poise in which they are inflicted, and I fear I may have suffered a mortal wound. Although my current course is headed towards the victory I was brought here to accomplish, it has been accomplished by going around, rather than through, this impossible foe. Against them, I have never been fully able to assert myself in the manner my reputation demands. I may move on, having never defeated my greatest adversary, face to face. It is a source of shame.
I cannot reconcile the uncertainty of this daily battle. I am the Special One. Yet, in the shadow of this Catalonian beast, I am rendered ordinary. An interpreter, lost, unable to decipher the path to victory, but regularly traveling the road to defeat.
The Interpreter by Carl Mungazi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.