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Over time

It is over. Once again it is all over for me. No more next game, no
more worries about the fitness and no more chance to perform for my
team. With one whistle blow another season is only statistics anymore.

It is quite scary. For ten months the major concern in daily basis has
been the next game, the fitness level and winning. It is hard to
describe the feeling when the last league game is over. In many ways
you have been waiting for it, sometimes even begging for it. But then
when it happens, it is almost like a panic attack. What do I do now?

When there is no more league table I am a free man to look what else
is out there. It is not always easy to relax though when your leg is still restless,
not used to staying still. Not that I desperately want to play
football all year round, far from it. But it is just that all my
routines, habits and everything have changed with one whistle blow.
Who am I really when it is not crucial that I have my pasta at right
time or when I don’t need to sleep certain hours? Those questions of
life are the far end, for a simple footballer it is easier to start
the self-evaluation from the past football season.

So what really happened then? Summing up the season isn’t the easiest
of tasks. I can see that there are no new trophies at my flat or I
know for fact that I didn’t win the World Cup, but this information
doesn’t give any idea what I really have done. All I know that my
goals set to myself were not achieved. The season definitely didn’t
even compare to any of the ones before.

How well someone has overall played is often a matter of an opinion
anyway. My mum thought I did well. I am sure many will disagree with
that. Players’ ratings did. And for the first time I actually agree
with them. My main thought is that I should have done better but most
of it was because of injuries. That is still not a very complete
evaluation of the season.

Only concrete and objective evaluations I can think of are statistics.
Statistics are countable and comparable, in some ways a good guide,
although even them have they weaknesses. I can still share my numbers
though. Yes, I have counted all this, I am a one of those sad ones who
keeps training diary.

Let’s see. I played for my club Crystal Palace 30 games, which ten I
started as a sub. For Finland I played five times, one as a sub.
Totally I played 35 games plus three pre-season or reserve team games,
so 38 all together, which is almost half less than any other season I
have ever played.

Obviously all this is up until today, 12th of May. I still have four
weeks training to do and three international games before I can book
my holidays. But let’s look only those 316 days from the day I
reported to pre-season at 1st of July until now.

I trained in 281 days and had 35 days off from actual exercising, but
in 12 of the rest days I was at least half a day having treatment or
doing a sponsor presentations. Totally I played 38 games, trained 203
times with either Crystal Palace or Finland and 193 on my own time.
Overall all this equals 434 happenings with 35465 minutes of workout.
Hanging around at the training ground, treatments and all other
preparations for trainings and games plus watching or talking about
football are not counted here. During all that time there was about 10
seconds when I thought that I was almost as good as Zidane.

The results have been average as well: 13 wins, 14 draws and 11
defeats. My national team is currently fourth in the European
qualification group and my club team finished 12th at the English
first Division. I got four yellow cards, one goal, one man of the
match award and I was sometimes criticized strongly.

The biggest grief and difference to previous seasons were that I was
injured 98 days, which is 92 days more than during the past five years
all together. This is the official explanation I am giving for my poor
season. None of the knocks though were serious but when you add them
all up, it doesn’t look good for my insurance details either.

Because of my work I visited 5 different countries, spend 66 days on
the road and lived in 12 different hotels which all had dodgy
breakfasts and pillows plus I spend around 400 hours in a car on my
way to trainings and games. I played at 19 different stadiums, trained
in quite a many windy training grounds, four parks, seven gyms, one
churches yard and in my living room plus couple of times in my dreams,
which I didn’t count as actual training. I was blessed with 14 sponsor

Football has not the normal working hours indeed and it is not a
normal work either. I also have to count some odd figures as part of
my job: One operation, the facts that I had to visit eight different
doctors, had seven different small injuries and had more than enough
ultra sound and less than enough time with my boots on. No medals or
trophies but a wide collection of magnetic pictures from different
parts of my body were received. I used 6 pairs of boots, and somebody
stole one of them. Again I managed to play a year without washing my

I also used over 500 meters of strapping into my ankles and I was
freezed by about 80 ice bags and even by a bag of deep-frozen
vegetables as first aid, plus I shuffled inn six packets of anti-
inflamatory. I signed one wrist injury worth of autographs and I
looked stupid in too many interviews. Moreover I ate a ridiculous
amount of pasta, and more salads than normal rabbit family consumes in
a decade. I couldn’t go clubbing or Shakiras consert and I missed
couple of good telly programs. Furthermore I was made to train Pilates
and nutritionist told me that I have eaten too much pasta.

Statistics surely doesn’t look good for me this season. However they
are fixable. To make myself look good I finally found a statistic that
gives me little hope for explanations: we didn’t loose the minutes I
was on the pitch for Palace since 24th of August in the league games
that I played more than five minutes. Hmm, whatever makes me happy!

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