Broke Back Bournemouth
Broke Back Bournemouth
The understanding that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are now displaying is fairly breath-taking at times.
They are becoming a continuation of each other, becoming more and more interchangeable on the pitch with every game as seen most clearly when Ozil takes the striker spot and waits on the shoulder of the last man while Sanchez drops deep to become the playmaker. And then they revert back again.
Both players favour drifting to the left to find a pocket of space, and so this synchronous understanding is essential. It’s a thin line between a blessing and a curse. For them, it’s a blessing as they seek each other out to play at close quarters this time or reverse roles the next.
Their relationship has reached the comfort levels of an old married gay couple finishing each other’s sentences.
Picture goes blurry…as we are transported to another time and place. That time is December 24th, 2056.
“Welcome to our Christmas edition of WHERE ARE THEY NOW. The show where we track down the famous and infamous of yesterday,” I announce.
And this week we have a special bonus for you. Two for the price of one when we sit down with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil Sanchez.
“Alexis. Mesut. Thank you for inviting me into your beautiful home to spend some time with you and your wonderful Labradors, Martinez and Emi.”
“You are so welcome,” Alexis and Mesut chime together.
They were a picture of domestic bliss, as they sat together in festive knitted sweaters, sharing a cup of hot cocoa, the words “World’s Number One Dads” written on the outside. Now both in their late sixties, they live a quiet life in the Devon countryside.
I asked them both, “Everyone remembers your exploits with Arsenal Football Club, crowned off by winning the Double in 2017 and in 2018, and the Champions League in 2019.
But for the two of you, when did your love story actually begin?”
A: I guess you would have to say the Bournemouth Home game at the start of the 2016/17 season. We had been finding each other all through the game, it must have been obvious to everyone watching, and when it was over…
M: We just didn’t want to stop finding each other for the rest of that evening.
A: Or the next morning
They giggled like kids at the freshness of the memory.
You two are a heart-warming pair, I must say. And the way you finish each other’s sentences.
So…was it hard coming out in football at that time. When did you first realize you were gay?
A: Oh, we’re not gay.
M: No, no. We’re not gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
A: No, absolutely. Live and let live. To be honest, it would have made things a lot simpler for us if we were gay. It would avoid all the awkwardness and embarrassment when we’re intimate with each other. So, like, every night. Heh, heh.
Mesut giggled coquettishly, exchanging a shy and tender moment.
M: It was all so new to both of us…so it was definitely more exciting. And still is.
They laugh again in tandem.
A: And believe you me, Mesut does like to finish.
M: Alright now, quit bragging! We have told the world more than enough.
It was clear that after all these years the spark between them was very much alive
Later on that short afternoon, we took a leisurely walk on the beach not too far from their home, with Alexis and Mesut and their 2 dogs. Mesut found a stick to play fetch, and they would bound back with it between their teeth, tongues flopping around, eager for the reward of a dog treat and a pat on the head. Alexis won 7 out of 8.
But if one moment spoke to the love between this couple, it was when, sitting again on the sofa in their living room, I made the mistake of asking Mesut,
“Mesut, how did this unlikely couple ever workout? I mean, here you both are. Alexis, famously, the most energetic and tireless player in football and you the laziest.”
My clumsy effort to be clever and funny touched on an old wound, causing a visible pang to shoot across his face for an instant.
Before he could answer, Alexis squeezed his arm gently and said,
“Mesut was never understood. He usually ran further than everyone else. He played almost every minute of every game. And he was never lazy. He saw the game differently, that’s all. He saw it not for what it was but for what it could be. And then he made it happen.”
Mesut looked down and across to Alexis’ hand and squeezed him back.
It said everything about this adorable, and now truly inseparable pair.
I thought to apologize but realized in that moment that they were barely aware I was still there.
It was one of the most charming and heartfelt of afternoons.
As I was about to say my goodbyes, Alexis suddenly sat bolt upright, ears pinned back, then shot out through the patio doors, leapt the balcony rail and sprinted to the bottom of the long garden where there stood a towering oak tree.
“Is…everything…ok?” I asked.
“Squirrels,” replied Mesut. “But he’s getting closer every time.”