York to Madrid (via London)
That was the journey I, 23 year old England striker Nick Greig, had completed, upon touching down at Madrid Barajas International. The fanfare and media attention was a regular occurence now, and something I definitely expected following the £29,000,000 transfer from my boyhood heroes Arsenal.
Shuttled out between 4 or 5 bodyguards and ushered into a private limo, I began to reflect on how things had been so different 7 years ago...
Back then, being rejected by Wycombe Wanderers due to concerns over the health of my knee had seemingly put paid to my dreams of making it as a professional footballer. The only ray of light was the recommendation of the scout who had spotted me, made as I dejectedly left Adams Park following the failed medical. "Richard something or other, based out in the States lad. If you really want it..."
I did. More than anything else. So after spending every last penny I had on the flight to the US and for the surgery, I'd returned to the UK and been forced to settle up North, where life was a little less expensive. It was there I was spotted by a scout of York City, and where my dreams slowly descended on reality.
As the limo pulled up to the Santiago Bernabéu, I took in the history and prestige of the place. It was just as dizzying as the day I first took to the field at Bootham Crescent, or when I was walked around the marble halls at Highbury and told "No, it's not a wind up sir".
After a brief tour of the stadium facilities, including a sneak peak at the room I was to face the worlds' media in shortly, the manager put him arm around my shoulders as we walked up the tunnel, and said to me in his French tinged English "And this my boy, is where you shall be a God". I was still thinking about exactly what he meant as we emerged from the tunnel and onto the pitch...
for a pre-season friendly against Doncaster Rovers!. It felt wonderful to have a proper football kit on, and a squad number as well. Okay, so it was only York City of the Conference League, but I was just glad that my trial had gone well and I'd not felt any ill-effects in my magically repaired knee. So there I was, in the starting line-up and wearing my favourite #9 shirt.
Things couldn't have gone any better really. I seemed blessed during my time with York. Despite starting only 95 games for them over 2 season, I managed to bag an amazing 175 goals. It was like some surreal dream at times. Enjoying two successive promotions and becoming faster, stronger and smarter as I gained more experience, I'd picked up MOTM in 41 games too, and chalked up 71 assists.
I was ambitious of course. I'd be foolish not to have been with the talent and luck I seemed to possess. I was still amazed when I didn't have to spend a year or two at a Championship side before joining a Premiership team though. The fact that team happened to be Arsenal made the dream all the more dreamlike...
#You can play your card, I'll hold onto mine, Tied up in the reasons, Ace take your time#
#Looks turn to lovers, flames into fires, Jack loves his tragedy, Queen her desires#