We met each other next to the doorway of a book store. To my “How are you doing today?” and “That seems ages ago!” he answered: “I am fine!” and “That should be almost forty years ago, as I am 72 now.” In those years we used to play soccer in the same team. He as a robust and very motivated never-give-up midfielder and I being a goalkeeper under the cross bar and between the posts behind him. “Oh yes”, he sighted, “that were legendary matches we played. Do you remember against X?” Reading my expression he undoubtedly came to the conclusion that I did not recall this event quite clearly. “It was in the season 1978-1979. Dying seconds of the game. I had scored -a miracle!- two goals. 2-1 In our favour. A penalty kick for the other team. Still unjustified in my opinion. All I could think of was a victory and a match point down the drain. It was too overwhelming. I hardly dared to look!” He demonstrated how he did then: One hand before his eyes. He looked at me, peeping between his fingers: “This is how I watched. You saved the penalty kick, touched the ball away from the bottom right hand corner!” Of course I had a flash back now while he hit me on my shoulder as if it had to be celebrated one more time. “That was the penultimate match of the season. We became second, just missed the championship. We were able to cope, we had a very strong team.” He continued: “The next season we reached fourth place. But then we succeeded to defeat a First Divisionist in a cup-tie: 1-0. Our goal in the first minutes. Heavy and only defending it, delaying tactics. But we made it!” His mind went back in time again: “That season we were very successful at first. Number one in the league. A long Winter followed, snow and rain. We re-started the second half of the season no sooner than March. An away match. The pitch was so bad. Do you remember?” I did not. “Two players sent off, one in each half.” “What was the result again?” I wanted to know. “We lost: 3-1.” He looked at me reproachfully: “It was not exactly your best match”. He shrugged his shoulders: “We only won one more match. Only one…two draws.” Thoughtful he added: “As far as I know 1-1 and 0-0. We lost six times in a row. Nothing worked out fine. How could all this misery happen?” It looked like he was still thinking about an explanation: “K. and H. removed for study reasons. Lousy work out pitch, poor attendance. Many injuries, too: Hamstrings.”
He looked on his watch, a signal that, as far as he was concerned, our conversation was about to come to an end. He said: “Did I come out of the bookstore or do I have to go in yet?” As he did not carry a soccer magazine under his arm -I cannot imagine him ever reading any different lecture- I told him: “No, you have to go in”.
On the picture the midfielder is on the lowest row right, I am standing with ball and in a yellow shirt
. In those days you got 2 points in the ranking for a winning match and 1 for a draw; Today it is 3 points for a winning match.
 We played 3rd Division.