I suppose it’s been building to this in a way. England. France Vs England. Franjo Vs England. Never mind the Euros, this one match could define my career. Why did it have to be sodding England?
Our opening match this Summer could turn me into a villain and a pariah in my own homeland, or it could turn me into a figure of derision; the target of jeers and ridicule for decades. As far as I can tell when it comes to football, there is no in between. Not in my country. From Dover’s white cliffs to where Hadrian’s wall once stood, Every single English man, woman and child up and down the country will know my name after that match. And odds are they won’t be a fan. I’ll come up in conversation one way or another the next day all across the country.
“What an arsehole this Franjo is”, one stranger will say to another on London Underground’s Northern line. They’ll share a look during a brief moment of truce between periods of almost aggressively ignoring one another. A look of brotherhood. They’ll smile, safe in the knowledge that for all of their probable differences, they do at least share a common enemy. They’ll call me a bell end in Huddersfield’s cricket clubs, a nobhead in Salford’s pubs, before presumably drawing their machetes, a melt on the high streets of Portsmouth and something I’m not even going to preemptively repeat in Newcastle’s broken-glass-ridden parks. They’ll call me a dickhead in Worksop, the formation of dole-money-funded mud huts that I call home.
Across village fêtes, bingo halls, school playgrounds, construction sites and greasy spoons, the name Franjo will be mud. And all of the English will be united under the cross of St George, which now, as something of an outsider, is a fucking scary proposition given our penchant for hooliganism and violence. I mean it’s a minority of stupid little bastards, but still.
Maybe the Welsh will adopt me. I like the Welsh. True, my knowledge of the country mainly comes from watching Gavin and Stacey over a decade ago, but the Welsh seem like they’d take me in. They seem a nice sort. Or maybe the Northern Irish? Perhaps even the… Other Irish. How do you say that in this context? Just “The Irish”? That seems confusing. “Republic of Irish”? “Southern Irish”? Ah, I don’t care. But maybe they’d take me in. After all, I do have some of their blood in my veins. Maybe even Sco… The Welsh seem like my best bet.
I’ll worry about actual preparation for the match closer to the time. For now all that I need to focus on is panicking, finding a preferably legal way to change my Nationality and then trying to guide Auxerre into Europe. Good.