Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Worst Valentine's Day Ever

February 14:
Valentine’s Day is a day of love.  A day specifically set aside each year for couples to affirm how much they care about each other.  All around the world(The world, right? Valentine’s Day isn’t just in the US/Europe is it?)men and women are showing their affection for each other through gifts and whatnot.  My Valentine’s Day has been a bit different.  Why?  Well I’m glad you asked:
Haka told me today that I was released and now I’m in Jakobstad, Finland to start a trial with FF Jaro of the Veikkausliiga.
 I have been dumped by my club.  On Valentine’s Day.
And that is how you bury a lead.  Let me backtrack a bit.  First, we gotta set the scene.  Cue the music that plays while the heist from Ocean's 11 is explained at the end…screen fades to white to signify that we’re talking about the past aaaaaaannnnnnnddddd we’re in:
Six hours ago I was getting a massage to help recover from the double trainings that I had with Haka on Monday and today.  This morning, I spent the better part of an hour after training with Sami and the other strikers working on finishing.  In the afternoon we finished a difficult practice with fitness.  After it was all done I was pretty tired and looking forward to an off day Wednesday.  I was going to go look for a television for my room.
While I’m getting my massage, Sami hands me an envelope with the reimbursement from my flight and asks to speak with me in his office as soon as my massage is finished.  This struck me as a bit unusual, but I figured that there were only one of a few things that the meeting could be about: 1) He wants me to sign a contract for less money, 2) He wants me to sign a contract with more years since I’m going to be an obvious starter, or 3) A combination of the first two.  Before I can meet with him I get a call from my finnish agent who was provided to me by my agent here in the US saying that Sami has made an unacceptable offer and that he (the agent) will be around to pick me up in an hour to go to another club.  Quite the shocking message to receive.
By this time, Sami had to run out to do something so I went home and started to pack everything I owned back into the suitcases, duffle bag and backpack.  I was truly very sad and couldn’t figure out how or why this was happening.  Wasn’t my contract guaranteed after the 11th?  Wasn’t I the starting striker for this club?  Did I not show in training and the first match that I could help disproportionately to the value of my contract?  I even wondered if the prospect of me leaving might force Sami into reconsidering his decision.
The meeting did finally happen about an hour later at the clubhouse, with my bags packed in the agent’s car.  Sami and I had a frank discussion about the situation.  I don’t feel any qualms about discussing our conversation here because I think that info like this is kinda the whole point of me making a blog about playing in Europe and secondly because I seriously doubt Sami reads my blog.  Anyway, Sami told me that he liked my play and that he believed that I was up to the level of the finnish league, something I agree with.  However, the club is not in a great place financially and for him to make the commitment to find a way to pay my salary, he had to be absolutely sure I was the player for the job.  He said that he just couldn’t be sure.  Sami then went on to say that after the first match I played against Mariehamn, he was ready to go through with the deal 100%, but that after my performance in the 2nd match he became hesitant.  As I think about that it makes my mind go all over the place.  I believe that had the two matches been reversed and my better performance had been more recent, then the contract would have been granted.  Sami wanted me to stay for an extended trial for another week or two, but the finnish agent and I both thought that was an unacceptable request.  I also didn’t mention the fact that I have a signed contract as far as I know.  I signed a contract they faxed to me and then faxed it back.  I assumed the team president then signed the contract making it valid, but it’s possible he never did.  That would have made my contract more like a mortgage without a promissory note aka worthless.
Once Sami had his say, I had a chance to speak my mind.  I didn’t run my mouth off and yell and scream but I did make some points that I thought he should know before I left.  I started by saying that my performance in the second match was in part due to fatigue since I hadn’t played a full match in a very long time, let alone two in four days.  He agreed there and also noted without my suggesting it that the whole team played poorly and it would have been difficult for me to show well in such a game.  I then went on to say that I really enjoyed my time at Haka and I hoped that Sami changes his mind because I’d be happy to put this little mess behind us and join up again with the boys.  I also asked him to tell the squad goodbye for me and sorry that I couldn’t tell them in person.  I didn’t want any of the guys thinking I just disappeared in the middle of the night for no reason and didn’t even give them the courtesy of saying goodbye.  But, most importantly, I made sure that Sami knew that what he saw in the three weeks I was here over two separate trials was the player he was getting.  He didn’t need to see me for another week because I’m still gonna be the same player next week as I am this week.  If you need to see more at this point, you’re saying one of two things:  either you think I just need to be coached to be the player you want or you don’t think I can be that player and you just wanted to be extra sure.  I think Sami believes the former so maybe there’s a chance I end up at Haka after all.
Anywho, now I’m in Jakobstad in a hotel.  I play a match tomorrow with a team that I have never met and know nothing about.  I have no idea what formation Jaro play, where they want me to play or how they play.  I don’t know the coaches name or where they finished in the league last year.  I do know that we are playing the club that finished 3rd place last season, so we’re definitely in for a tough test.  I just hope my body can handle a match on a day that I thought would be free until a few hours ago. 

Stay tuned people and wish me luck!
Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day.

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