LIVERPOOL, ALEKSANDAR

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Liverpool. Aleksandar. Morin-Heights, Quebec, 2014.

Why Liverpool? I asked.

“You know why. Just write it down.”

I do know why: for the same reasons as this guySasha and I have been best friends for thirty years and we discussed football related matters about million times, so I know. He writes for living; about his literary genius you can read all over the internet. Better yet, just pick up one of his books. The latest one, The Making of Zombie Wars, is coming out in May this year and it truly is a roller-coaster ride of sex and violence. He can’t help himself so Sasha often writes about soccer/football too. He’s been quoted at the top of this page, a fine achievement I think.

We both love to play the game, not just talk about it, and were involved in many matches together, be it in Sarajevo, in Montreal or in Chicago, sometimes as teammates and sometimes on the opposite sides. The only argument we ever had was during one of those matches (we were teammates in that one). But then I tore both of my ACLs and retired from the game. Sasha still plays every week year-round, regardless of the weather, in a Chicago park.

Chicago, November 2011

Chicago, November 2011

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RAJA CLUB ATHLETIC, HASSAN

Raja Casablanca. Hassan. Rabat, 2014

Raja Casablanca. Hassan. Rabat, 2014

Why Raja Casablanca? I asked.

“Best, best, best”

The initial enthusiasm of someone who thinks he is a pinball wizard quickly deflated after a machine, accustomed to someone’s else hands, hungry swallowed my coins. With great regret I made conclusion that my magic somehow vanished (I blame digital world) so I moved to the next room where local boys were attending what looked like a serious tournament in table football. To avoid further embarrassments, I choose a little boy age seven or something to play with. I use to own one of these tables and I think I’m good in it. However, it turns that the boy is not from this planet and he puts all the balls behind my wooden goalie before I even managed my tactics. I admit, in my career of promising table football player I lived though a number of humiliating defeats. The one in a dungeon just off Rue el Fassi in Morocco’s capital Rabat is probably the worst one.

So I walked away, down the street and then left to a small alley following the irresistible smell of freshly baked bread. Like a black hole, a small bakery sucks me in. One of boys inside, Hassan is his name if I remember correctly, was wearing AC Milan shirt but as soon as he saw my camera he jumped and proudly put a green-and-white Raja Club Athletic jersey over it. Naturally, I took pictures of smiling Hassan and then followed him and one Ronaldo pushing carts with bread through the labyrinth of Rabat’s old town.

Raja Club Athletic from Casablanca, eleven times champion of Morocco, had reputation of being a people’s club for which was often more important to hide the ball and humiliate the opponent than to score goals. Many of my friends will now, with a loud sigh, think of FK Velež from Mostar in Bosnia and its legendary generation of artist players. It’s not a surprise that one of these geniuses, Vahid Halilhodžić, led Raja Club Athletic to the Moroccan title as its manager in late nineties.

Hassan and Ronaldo delivering bread, Rabat's old town.

Hassan and Ronaldo delivering bread, Rabat’s old town.