Dressage Dreams and a Goalkeeper’s Regime - Part 12

Although it was nearly two weeks ago, the victory against Manchester United still tastes so sweet! It was exactly what the club, players and fans needed for that boost as we enter a critical time in the season, where every point in a game is crucial. The match triumph was celebrated that evening with Asmir and myself and a few of the couples from Stoke enjoying a lovely Chinese dinner together. As you can imagine besides the usual ‘changing room’ banter from the lads, all talk was on the win. Normally this ‘banter’ is something most of the wives are not privy to as it usually remains at the training ground, so it is always entertaining to experience it first hand. It did make it hard to eat or drink, as we were all laughing so hard that evening.

During dinner, Robert Huth set Asmir a fun challenge for his following day’s television appearance on Sky Sport’s Goals On Sunday. Robert tasked Asmir with challenge of somehow introducing the word “thundercat” randomly into conversation. We were all gripped to our sofa’s the next morning waiting to see how he would manage it, however Asmir ever the constant professional, made the decision not to do it. That probably was the right decision as he is keen to develop of career in sports media one day after his career finishes.

Lights, camera, action!

As some you may have noticed, Asmir really seems to be enjoying his time on the other side of the camera these days. The media interest and bookings swelled around the time Asmir broke his finger, as he became available for work that usually he had to turn down due to fixture commitments. Asmir has shown great talent as an analyst on most of the major sports television programmes and radio, and more recently besides Goals On Sunday was also on The Fantasy Football Club. For the days running up to filming the show, Asmir was thinking long and hard about his 1-11 fantasy team that had to consist of the best player’s he has played with in his career. His decision was to play an aggressive and tactical 3-5-2 formation with Dean Kiely in goal, with Ryan Shawcross, Robert Huth and Sol Campbell at the back. Liverpool’s Glen Johnson was selected as right wing back and S.S.’s Lazio’s left wing back and Bosnian teammate, Senad Lulic. Lassana Diarra, who now plays in Moscow, who once made 87 appearances at Real Madrid after a big move from Portsmouth in 2009 took the position of holding mid-fielder. In front of them was Pjanic, of Roma and Bosnia, and QPR’s and Croatian international, Niko Kranjcar. Asmir was spoilt for choice with some of the great strikers he has played with in his career so far, but his final pick of two went to Peter Crouch and Edin Dzeko, who is a close friend to Asmir and also a fellow Bosnian national team player. 

Water Water Everywhere…….

I took the opportunity to return to my old hometown of Southampton to watch my first away game of the season. Southampton was my home for over 10 years and where I had most of my senior education attending, school and university there and just a short train ride away, Winchester, where I completed my A-Levels at college. It was a lovely opportunity for me to see Asmir play there after all the times I drove daily past St. Mary’s stadium with no idea then that one day many years later I would be back watching my husband play there. 

It was certainly an eventful weekend that started with my first ever breakdown due to a faulty fuel gauge on my car on the M42 at 9pm Friday night-excellent I thought with a ‘sigh’! I was very grateful for the RAC man who came to my rescue and soon had me back on my way. However my delay had meant that by the time I reached the end of the A34 and approached Winchester, I was in the heart the storm that was due to reach the south coast that evening. It was a very difficult and un-nerving experience as the wind and rain worsened, as I got closer to my hotel right by the water. My car was being pushed across the road as the wind speed increased. At this point I wasn’t optimistic the Southampton game would be going ahead the next day, but thankfully it did. The weather was not ideal but the team managed to get a point before the long trip back North. 

Asmir and I stayed for the night to catch up with old friends and reminisce about my time there. It was a reminder at how football can take you anywhere in the country or in the world at such short notice and how that can be one of the most challenging parts of their career. All too often you are leaving family and friends behind which is difficult and never gets easier. Writing this just made me remember that at one point in Asmir’s career, we had seven different addresses in four years as he was in the phase of developing his career which required many loan moves to get the required experience. Our lives were lived out of boxes, so the last four years at Stoke have been wonderful as we have been able to put roots down and be able call it ‘home’. 

The flooding was really awful and clearly damaging the further south we were and it was a stark reminder of the terrible time people are having with the weather this winter. Major roads were being threatened with impassable depths of water. Watching the Winter Olympics made me think how snow would probably have been better then all this rain, although neither are ideal. I really hope soon that spring brings relief to those suffering with flooding this winter. Even though we have also suffered a particularly damp winter in Stoke, we have been very lucky to be mostly unaffected to the extent those that have been evacuated from their houses for weeks or even months due to the floodwaters. Here’s to spring’s imminent arrival!

Nicolle x