March 2, 2012
by Jude Ellery
I said, “He’s Sami Amaretti.”
Golden locks fly in the wind as he dances down the wing, like a roaring lion’s mane or a shooting star’s flame. Defenders drop like ninepins when he casts his magic spell, then a dip of the hip to incite the trip, and he’s up to score it as well. Sami Amaretti’s in town.
Three penalties won and scored in his first three. Earned him some extra pocket money and more than a few sneaked beers from the boys, along with so many back slaps he’d go into the showers redder than a cherry, and come out redder still. Surprised he didn’t lose his hair, with all the ruffles his barnet received, too.
Game four he waved goodbye to the bench.
It’s swept out to the right, he’s dribbling infield now, the defender backing off as Amaretti’s on the prowl. Past one, past two, tip tap tip, that’s a lovely flick. Keeper’s out, the angle’s tight, only Amaretti might… golly gosh he was in full flight. What a goal, what a skill, what a player, what a thrill.
They called that move the Sami Amaretti, though no-one ever saw him do it again.
Jones four, Spencer five, Amaretti seven, the boy’s in heaven.
Two days shy of sixteen, two months into the season, league top scorer by two. Still, you’d have to be crazy to make a boy your club captain…
The papers called it and there it is, shining bright in the afternoon sun: armband loose ‘round the schoolboy’s shoulder, coin flip, handshake, wave to his mum. Peep peep, off we go. Sit back and enjoy the show.
I gave up coaching him after a while; he was the one doing the teaching. Got us up to third but saved his best for the cup. Six in one match! They called it Amaretti’s game.
He takes it on his chest, flicks it on with his head, look how Amaretti leaves defenders for dead. The away fans are off their seats, ten thousand hands poised, he has a pop no-one can stop, just listen to the noise!
Of course it was Amaretti who scored the winner in the final too, to secure our first silverware in fifty years. And I’d been told he was too small, he’d never make it. As he grew, he just got better.
Locked himself in the gym, and don’t it just show? New legs like trees, goodbye knobbly knees. The whizz kid’s come of age — and he’s still got more to grow.
Our defence was too leaky, but we won the cup again in his second season. Sami was never injured and his goals never threatened to dry up. Three player of the month awards, three goals of the month, and goal of the season for that 45-yarder.
He doesn’t strike it hard, just guides it on its way, like a mother eagle, on eaglet training day. A gentle nudge, off, off you go! God’s speed and good luck, son. A gauntlet laid down for the stopper: save that or lose one-none. Into the great expanse it flies and homes in on the net, there’s often late, late Sami strikes that ruin punters’ bets.
Of course, as his body and fame rapidly grew, so did his ego.
Superman wrote in, asking Sami boy for tips. Roy Race sued, said he’d copied half his tricks. God was on the phone, asking where to get the formula, and Amaretti answered, “You should know, ‘cause I’m a clone of ya.”
Again in the cup, in his third year, he scored the perfect three, right, left, head, then amazed us all by subbing himself off and driving away into the night in his little VW. Not a soul saw or heard from him till the following Saturday.
When he did turn up, it was five minutes before the game, and he was wearing a crop top and prancing about in a pair of high heels. Said his getup was a revolutionary thing, an ode to feminism. Feminism? As far as Sami Amaretti was concerned, feminism meant slipping ten bob notes down the girl’s pants without ripping them off. We all knew what he’d been up to the night before and where his clothes had ended up.
I saw young Sam out on the tiles, a real sight to behold! Said, “I’ll be here till 4am — and still I’ll score your goals.”
He could use both feet to devastating effect, but he’d now became even more proficient with the thing dangling between them. Started getting phone calls from mystery blondes, demanding a chunk of his pay check. I was half inclined to agree, just to stop the ringing in my ears.
Oooooooohh Sami Amaretti,
You screwed my sweetheart Betty,
But she said hey,
He made my day,
So come round for spaghetti!
The public adored him. My office was submerged with fan mail. Gate receipts were up a hundred percent and with the money from that we could buy a new ‘keeper. Brought in the best in the country, but even he couldn’t save an Amaretti arrow in training.
Custom made shirts he wears, with bigger holes instead. Those biceps grown unnatural big, and so too has his head.
Never saw him take anything, but then again, I never asked, either. It was true he’d bulked out even more in his fourth season. Now if he couldn’t run around you, he’d run through you. Another record-breaking season, another cup win; a lot more parties.
They say he’s skipping training, favouring the lash; a man who once enjoyed the game’s now doing it for cash. When that was threatened, things got nasty, he pissedly exclaimed, “Why practice when you can’t get better? Leave off, or feel the pain. Come on old man, give Sam his dues, or just a little money. After all I need that dosh to buy this drink a honey!”
He quit training all together, actually, but I hid that for the papers for as long as I could. Though he was still scoring, fit turned to fat, and we lost our grip on the cup as a result.
He’s lost it again, now a counter attack, long ball, good lay-off, there’s Black at the back! Amaretti at fault, two-nothing they’re down, this circus act’s fast becoming a clown.
That’s what happens when your priorities in life are flipped like a coin.
Asked what he did to relax, Sami Amaretti said, “Play football, silly journo man — it’s women who burst my head!”
He was appearing on the front pages more than the back these days. A tobacco company paid him handsomely to appear in their ad. By the end of the film shoot he’d gone through his wages in fags, got off with the director’s wife and set fire to a fish tank.
Hair uncombed, beard unkempt, nothing near to neat. I’d toss the bloke a thrupence if I saw him on the street.
The crowd asked Sami for a wave, so he got his piece out and gave it a good helicoptering. That was when we knew the end had come.
The Legend Of Sami Amaretti by Jude Ellery is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License