He’s the best British football player in a generation. The next World Cup Finals is in a country that doesn’t want him because he’s gay.
Lights, sweat, the noise of the crowd – one more goal and England are through to the World Cup Finals. And he does it. Mark Oliver, Abercrombie model, football god, one of the best in the world scores the winner for England.
He’s also gay, but he’s not the first to come out. After that bloke in Sweden did it, a drip became a trickle, and then a trickle became a stream, albeit a small one. Mark did it casually in his book ‘A Brilliant Life’; only turned twenty four and he’s writing his life story.
He was last year’s World Player of The Year but that was another time.
Robbie is sixteen and every night when the family go to bed he reads Oliver’s book - he keeps a secret too. Not even his best mate knows, but the boy in the park who watches Robbie and his mates play football – Robbie’s sure he knows.
‘Oliver’s Army’ are on the march to the World Cup Finals being held in the Red Sea state of Mhuramba; most people had to look it up on the map.
This small state of less than a million people doesn’t even have a soccer team but they’ve landed the World Cup.They don’t want a gay footballer player in their country. England aren’t planning to go without him but he and the team have already had death threats.
Robbie is angry, he’d love to tell his family the way he feels but he has to sit and listen to his brother and dad discussing Mark Oliver, the fudge packer, queer, fruit yet they both agree the team needs him. As his dad says, ‘God’s got a right sense of humour son’.
If Mark hadn’t had to return to get his house keys he would have been in the car when it exploded.
Now the rules have changed. His world has changed. He isn’t going to accept this terror just because of “who he screws”. He said those words to the Al-jeda reporter, the one who first told him of the Jihad. There is a bounty on his head making the Team England security guys nervous about Mark travelling. “It’s like we have George W playing striker”, they’d all be targets. His team mates don’t want him to go, for his sake, for their sakes.
England asks Fifa to change their finals’ games to be played outside of the country but too much has changed hands for that to happen.
Mark watches the World Cup finals from a bar in England. Passing outside is Robbie, a new generation of kid, walking with his arm around the boy from the football park.
It’s coming, one day soon.