Chapter 934: Greedy
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The national team players finally saw their captain in June.
George Wood’s return to the national team attracted a horde of reporters to the scene. The press and the fans all wanted to see how Wood’s injury had recovered so far. Everyone’s hearts would sink if Wood appeared before them wearing slippers and walking on crutches.
The moment Wood’s manager, Billy Woox, parked his Bentley car outside the Colney training base, crowds of reporters rushed towards it. The security guards tried their hardest to hold the reporters back, but they could not stop them from firing off their cameras at Wood.
George Wood got out of the car with his head lowered. Everyone’s gazes were on his right foot, and they all sighed in relief collectively when they saw him he walk out dressed in a pair of Nike shoes.
George Wood did not turn around to retrieve a pair of crutches from within. He simply alighted from the car and stood before the crowd.
Woox got off the car as well and walked over to the trunk of his car to retrieve Wood’s luggage. The sight of Wood’s luggage meant that Wood would be following the team over to Spain and that he would not be continuing his treatment at home.
The security guards felt the force behind their backs increase significantly, and they knew that they could not hold back the crowd much longer. The security guards were just like a dam, and the crazy reporters and fans were just like a body of water that kept pounding against them. Countless microphones and cameras went past or above the security guards’ heads and they were all aimed at Wood.
“George! How is your injury?”
“Are you able to walk now?”
“What about running?”
“Are you sure you can recover in time for the Euro Cup?”
“George! George! The ‘St. George Fan Club’ wishes you a speedy recovery! Can you talk to us for a bit?”
The security guards tried to maintain order at the scene painstakingly. Their defense would definitely crumble if those people behind them launched another attack. Fortunately for them, a voice rescued them from their predicament.
“If you guys continue to push in that way, I can guarantee that you will definitely step on George’s right toe.”
A voice that sounded like it came from a loudspeaker boomed from behind. The voice was so loud that it could be heard clearly even in the noisiest of environment.
Everyone stopped pushing forward the moment they heard the voice. It was as though the voice carried a spell with it. The crowd turned around to look at the source of the voice.
Tony Twain stood behind them with a loudspeaker in one hand. His face was glum as he stared at the crowd.
It was in that moment that everyone knew it was time to leave.
The crowd that had gathered around Wood began to disperse, and the security guards finally heaved a sigh of relief. Their uniforms had become drenched in sweat, and there were even black palm prints left by others on their shirts.
There was a hint of a smile on Wood’s face when he saw Twain.
Similarly, Twain’s face lit up after he saw Wood as well.
Billy Woox passed the luggage in his hands over to Wood. He then waved at Twain before getting back into his car. Twain tossed his loudspeaker into the hands of one of the security guards and took big strides towards Wood.
The press thought that Twain was going to shake Wood’s hand. They did not expect to see Twain embrace Wood instead.
Twain hugged onto Wood tightly. He was afraid that the latter would run away like before.
Twain knew that Wood would show up for the national team’s training session a day ago. Doctor Wallace had called him personally to inform him that Wood is fit enough to follow the team over to Spain. He also told Twain that Wood still has to continue with his rehabilitation even while in Spain, and that he has gotten the team doctor to pay extra attention to Wood.
However, Twain could not truly be at ease without seeing Wood right before him. He was afraid that he would go to sleep and wake up to a phone call from Doctor Wallace telling him that Wood has to miss out on the Euro Cup entirely because he had picked up a second injury by accidentally wedging his big toe in the shower drain while taking a shower…
The aforementioned scenario might sound ludicrous, but it’s not like it has never happened before.
It’s great that Wood has returned to the team. Twain felt the stress inside of him decrease significantly as he no longer had to answer any questions from the press about whether or not Wood would make it to the Euro Cup. Wood’s return would also bring about a calming effect on the team that is currently in a state of unrest, as it signified that the backbone of their team is back.
“Welcome back to the team, George.” Twain whispered by Wood’s ear as he held him in his arms.
Wood’s return to the national team made headlines across numerous newspapers, and it also helped to dissipate the insecurities that the England fans had by a little. There is now hope that Wood would be able to play in games soon, even though the national team had announced during a press conference that Wood is still not able to join in the national team’s training and handle a ball at his foot just yet.
The very first match of the Euro Cup would be played on 9th June, and England would play in their first match on 12th June. There were still 12 days left till their first Euro Cup match. There is still a chance that Wood would be fit by the match.
George Wood indicated that he was feeling good during his interviews. He believed that participating in the Euro Cup would not be an issue for him.
However, his condition was actually not as good as he thought. On the afternoon of his return to the national team, Twain called Wood over after the training session had ended. He then carried out a secret experiment on Wood with the team doctors, and they found out that Wood was still in a lot of pain over his injury to his right big toe, and he was unable to use any force when running or touching the ball.
The results of the experiment caused Twain to furrow his brows, because it showed that Wood’s condition had not improved for the better. Wood had most likely chosen to return to the national team so as to calm everyone down…
In the end, Wood could only continue with his rehabilitation in the pool.
The next day, Wood flew over to Barcelona with the team. England had chosen Barcelona as the city for their training because their first match would be held at the Camp Nou stadium.
The beauty of Barcelona could not change Twain’s mood for the better. He had already formulated his tactics for the upcoming games, and the team had also been practising those tactics all this while, but a big issue is that all those tactics had been devised on the premise that George Wood would be playing in the game. For the past month or so however, Twain has had to train the team on how to play the games without Wood in the team. He would only show the press 15 minutes of the team doing meaningless warm-ups every day. He did not show them any of the actual training that the team was going through.
Twain noticed that there were several German reporters outside the training grounds every time he allowed the press to observe the team’s training sessions. He believes that the reporters are there to gather information for their national team, because this is exactly what the British reporters would do as well. Some of the reporters who are close to Twain would deliberately collect information that would benefit the England team when covering stories about the training sessions done by other countries, and they would then pass that information over to Twain.
What the German reporters were most interested in was the status of George Wood’s injury. They knew that Wood is the core player of the England team, and that the England team is very different with and without Wood. They all smiled in relief when they saw that George Wood was the only player jogging in the corner when the team gathered together to do their warm-ups. It looks like the injury to his toe has yet to fully recover.
On 5th June, George Wood trained with a ball for the first time before the public. Despite the fact that the training session was only open to the press for 15 minutes, the training ground still teemed with reporters from all over the world.
Wood performed dribbles and passes before the press during his training session. It did not seem like he was still suffering from a toe injury.
The British cheered at the sight. In contrast, the Germans were a little depressed.
However, none of them knew that the truth was not what it seemed to be.
Doctor Wallace specially flew over from England to Barcelona to perform a thorough examination of Wood’s right toe. Thereafter, he spoke to Twain privately about the matter.
With only seven days left till England’s first match in the Euro Cup, this conversation between Doctor Wallace and Twain could potentially determine whether Wood would be able to play in the Euro Cup or not.
“Wood would not be able to play in any games right now based on his current condition.” Wallace went straight to the point and did not beat around the bush.
Twain was not surprised by Wallace’s words. He only furrowed his brows even more deeply.
“He needs to be careful when practising with the ball too.”
“Can you give me the exact time in which you think he’d fully recover, Doctor?” This is the only thing that Twain cared about.
Wallace had clearly mulled over that issue for a long period of time, because he was able to respond to Twain’s question without a second thought. “He definitely would not be able to play in the match against Portugal. As for the match against Wales, it’d be dependent on how well he is recovering during this period of time,” he paused for a moment before continuing, “I think the safest thing to do is to not let Wood play in any of the group stage matches.”
“Are you saying that he’d be able to play in games during the knockout stages?”
“There’s a high possibility that he’d be able to play then.”
Twain went deep into thought.
The group that England is in is not made up of weak opponents. Germany and Portugal are both strong teams, and Wales is also a force to be reckoned with. Wales has successfully qualified for the Euro Cup after 40 years, and the team is currently brimming with confidence and fight. They could become the dark horse in the competition.
Can England make it out of this ‘group of death’ in one piece without George Wood? Can they forge a path ahead for themselves?
Twain still did not know for sure right now if his team is capable enough to accomplish that.
Wallace discerned Twain’s worries. He said, “If you think that this is very risky, you can substitute him for another player right now. After all, I can’t guarantee you that he won’t pick up another injury during the knockout stages either. Also, a bigger concern is his form. He hasn’t played in a match for quite some time, and he also hasn’t trained with the team recently either. It might not be a good idea to play a player like him whose form remains a doubt.”
Wallace’s words were exactly what Twain was thinking about. The two things he was most concerned about were Wood’s injury and form.
Wood has yet to recover from his injury to his toe. In addition, no one knows if he would be able to play at the same level that he did prior to his injury either.
Wood is the core of the team every time he plays. But, if the core is not in form… It could lead to disastrous outcomes for the team.
All in all, this is an extremely risky bet to make.
Wallace understood that Twain has to think things through carefully because there were too many things that he needed to consider. He took his leave quietly after saying what he had to say. The press surrounded him the moment he stepped out of the training grounds. They wanted him to talk about what he was discussing with Twain earlier.
“We were discussing about Wood’s injury. But I can’t give you any details. I’m sorry.”
He then climbed into his car a little wearily before driving off.
There are indeed many factors that prevent Twain from coming up with a decision on the matter. Firstly, he needs to consider the impact that his decision would bring on Wood’s professional career. Would it be positive? Or would it be negative? Secondly, he needs to consider whether Wood’s injury would really recover by the knockout stages as Wallace had predicted. Thirdly, he needs to think about Wood’s current form. Wood has either been recuperating or training alone lately, so it is difficult to tell how well or how badly he is playing right now. Lastly, he also needs to think about the team’s results for the Euro Cup. This is a very important factor that cannot be ignored. What kind of results would the England team achieve if they drop Wood completely from the team? If they were to insist on keeping Wood in the team, what kind of influence would that bring to their results?
This is not just about choosing between a player’s professional career and glory… If that had been the case, Twain would definitely be much more relaxed about having to make a decision.
With the Euro Cup just around the corner, Twain decided to talk to Wood regarding the issue once more. This could be the last chance for him to come to a decision on the matter. He has to make a decision no matter what the outcome might be. He did not want the issue to remain at the forefront of his mind until the 8th of June.
Wood climbed out of the pool. He wiped off the water droplets from his face and saw Twain squatting before him.
“How are you feeling?” Twain asked.
“I’m feeling good.” Wood replied.
“I’m feeling really vexed right now, George.” Twain passed a towel over to Wood after seeing how he had just climbed out of the pool.
Wood did not respond to Twain. He dried his hair with the towel before sitting down at the side of the pool beside Twain.
“I spoke to Doctor Wallace earlier. He told me that you won’t be able to play in the group stages based on your current condition. This means that England would need to make its way into the knockout stages before you have a chance of playing. But, I’m a little worried about the group stages…”
“It won’t be a problem.” Wood cut Twain off abruptly.
“Huh? What’s not a problem?”
“The team won’t have a problem getting past the group stages.”
Twain nodded his head. If Wood says there’s no problem then it’s most likely true. “All right then. What do you think of your current form?”
Wood answered Twain honestly. “I don’t know. I haven’t played in a game for a while. I don’t know how well or how badly I’d play right now.”
“I bet your feet have gone rusty after so many days of not playing football, huh?”
Wood rotated his ankles and shook his head. “Not really.”
“George, actually we still have the World Cup…”
“I know. But I want to win the Euro Cup too.” Wood was being quite ‘greedy’.
This time, Twain broke into a laugh at Wood’s response. He kept rocking back and forth as he laughed, and it nearly caused him to fall into the pool.
“You are so greedy, George!”
“Don’t tell me you don’t want to win the Euro Cup?” Wood asked.
Twain grinned. “Greed is my favorite sin.”
The pair went quiet for a moment before Twain asked, “George. Do you really want to participate in the Euro Cup?”
“This decision comes with a lot of risks. It’s almost like a gamble.”
Wood did not respond. He waited for Twain to continue with his words.
“I kept telling the press that you’d make it for the Euro Cup, but I think I have to confess to them that that’s not the truth now.”
Wood furrowed his brows. He had a bad feeling about what Twain was going to say next.
“My actions would put immense stress on me and the team. But, I hope that you can prove to them that what I did was not for naught. Do you remember what I said when you were in the hospital? I said I’d bring you to Spain as long as you can recover in time.” Twain looked at Wood. “Doctor Wallace told me that you’d recover by the knockout stages, and that would mean that you’d have to miss out on three of the group stage matches before you can play in a game. Still, I can’t guarantee that you won’t get into an accident during this period of time, and I also don’t know if you’d be able to play in a match when we get to the knockout stages either. It’s possible that you might not have fully recovered by then, and it’s also possible that you might be in a poor form… Despite all that, do you wish to continue to stay in the team?”
Wood nodded his head. “I want to stay.”
Twain clapped his hands. “All right, I’ve made up my mind. We’d participate in the Euro Cup together. I’d give you three group stage matches to get yourself fit. I hope you’d be back in the team by the quarter-finals.”
“If I don’t recover in time I’d just get a cortisone shot before the game.”
Twain smiled. He felt a weight being lifted off his shoulders as he stroked Wood’s wet hair. He has to face whatever outcome that may come his way after he makes this decision.
However, he was not worried about what would happen to him in the future at all, because it is a decision that he made of his own accord. No one forced him to make the decision, and no one begged him to make a decision that he did not wish to make either. So, what is there to worry about?
“I want to become champions of the Euro Cup, and I also want a healthy George.” Twain winked at Wood. “Don’t you think I’m even more greedy than you?”