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Liverpool’s imperturbability

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Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (4L), Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp (C) and Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk celebrate after winning the UEFA Champions league semi-final second leg football match between Liverpool and Barcelona at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on May 7, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

I know football. Football knows me. I love football. Football loves me. Our love affair never waned even though I gloomily walked out on her years and decades ago to go for solid education that delightfully has stood me in good stead all these years – even though without nicely earned money to excite my soul and body in our country our country run by exploiters, oppressors, swindlers and thieves in our government houses. And as I am writing this our love affair is re-igniting itself. It is far from waning even though I have not kicked a ball since I gloomily stopped kicking it aeons ago.

Our mesmerizing romance never fades; it never wanes. Our love affair is aeonian. The feelings then, the emotions then, the emissions then are even now what then they were. Incredibly, they remain un-redacted in my ever-loving heart and beyond it.

What engenders this romantic engenderment? Your question is not and cannot be out of order.

Liverpool Football Club of England, the great football club that never walks alone, is engendering this incontinent romantic engenderment.

Indeed, what the great, fabulous Reds did Tuesday night, last Tuesday 7th night, against mighty Barcelona of Spain brought forward my football memories from the corner of my romantic heart and its rooms packed with these memories…. Amukpe Football Club of Sapele, Abudu Rovers, and all the handsome, glittering football clubs of my wonderfully boyish imagination streamed and streamed to me…. Sensational football clubs that created sensations then and then re-entered my imagination un-redacted…. Enjoyment of memories!

Of course, Liverpool is my favourite football club in England. The club entered my football heart more than many, many years ago when I first read the poem “A Negro Labourer in Liverpool” whose author I cannot now readily remember or recall. I first read the anti-colonial poem in class two in the Catholic secondary school I attended.

Now from the hindsight of a post-colonial mind the poem, as I remember it, rightly or wrongly, possessed the “power to confer political legitimacy onto specific forms of institutionalized labour.”

Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Divock Origi are three great “negro” “labourers,” three great post-colonial “negro” “labourers” in Liverpool that helped the Great Reds to wallop and sink Barcelona in the second leg of the UEFA semi-final match last Tuesday, 7th May night.

For the three named black players football is “institutionalized labour” that has given them political equality with their fellow white and non-white team-mates.

Now when Origi scored the first goal for Liverpool as early as the 7th minute, all the Liverpool players as well as all their supporters at Anfield that night were imbued with belief that they could (and would) over-turn the 3-0 deficit they incurred at Camp Nou of Barcelona Football Club, the imperious Catalan club, a week earlier.

Two goals later in the second half – at 54 and 56 minutes by Georginio Wijnaldum, a timely substitute, turned belief into clear certainty. And when in the dying minutes Origi again scored the fourth goal through a crafty corner delivered to him by Trent Alexander-Arnold (another post-colonial black engaged in post-colonial labour in a foreign land?) clear certainty turned into wild reality and positively chaotic merriment and unhindered celebration.

But Liverpool players did not play that match alone. The whole of England, including their football and sports magicians, played the match in and outside Anfield.

After Barcelona beat, disgraced Manchester United at home and away in the quarters with silly goals the whole of England could not but do everything rightly possible to eliminate Barcelona.

Of course, the 3-0 defeat of Liverpool in the first leg was unjust in every way. At Anfield everything worked in favour of Liverpool who not only did not walk alone but also did not play alone as already said. Their luck was right. Their play was right. The officiating was right. The goal-keeping was perfect. The defence was perfect. The four goals were perfect.

The coach’s substitutions were perfect. In fact, Jurgen Klopp bettered what Rafael Benitez did for Liverpool in 2005 when the Reds met AC Milan of Italy in that year’s final. They came from 3-0 down to draw the game 3-3, but triumphed eventually in the penalty shoot-out.

As we saw last Tuesday night, they came back from the dead to go through to the final to be played in Madrid, Spain on the 1st of June.

If and when they eventually win the trophy they definitely will surpass the class of 2005. But we wish and pray that in the night of June 1st there shall be no awkward twist in the fabulous tale of their beautifully perfect night etched in our loving football hearts on the 7th of May night at Anfield in Liverpool of once-upon-a-time colonial negro labourers.

Where was Messi, whose lucky goals took Barcelona to the semi-finals? He was kept quiet, and silent and harmless as a cucumber.

His lucky charm failed him once again – as it failed him last season against Roma of Italy. All those who called him, wrongly, “a god of football” must now eat their words. If it was Messi who did what Origi and Wijnaldum, our two black “labourers” in Liverpool, did by now all kinds of words, including hyperbolical adjectives and sentences, would have been employed to capture his “exploits.”

Clearly, Messi himself will not forget the mishap and disaster of that night. His coach in particular will always remember this second disaster of his coaching career. He foresaw what befell his mighty team yet he was helpless from so huge an embarrassment, the second successive one of his career. His biggest star’s fruitless dribbles and luckless runs ratcheted up the bleakness of their night.

What Liverpool demonstrated last Tuesday night was imperturbability, a kind of lovers’ imperturbability, the ability in the face of pain, disappointment and the unexpected to carry on and on and to keep going to the haven of desire and more desire. Yes, yes, yes. It was, as I rightly must label it, an immaculate rendering of my football-love that induced me to take to sports-writing and football-writing and sports-column-keeping decades ago.

I should return to my long-forsaken love that never wanes and that never will die. But the way our football is run or administered is nauseating. And our football coaches in our national teams and dull clubs, our impecunious coaches who allegedly demand bribes to play players, demean the sport here.

How many of them can create the Liverpool side that demonstrated the recent imperturbability that football historians and football writers of all climes and poets also of all climes remember, everlastingly, true love?

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059 (SMS only).


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