Time: 1989/1990 season, including WC
Disclaimer: Not true
Summary: Love in Italy
He is standing at the entrance to the training camp, close to Andy. Jürgen always makes them wait. Not because it takes long for him to bring his appearance in order after training – in this department he’ll give the odds to both of them. But Jürgen can never just leave the pitch. And now he is standing there, speaking with two old men.
He doesn’t know who these two are. Some club workers, probably. That one, a tall man with moustache, maybe he is the one who tends to the grass, he’s not sure. And Jürgen is speaking with both like with good acquaintances.
All club workers love Jürgen. He always finds time to share a phrase or two, remembers their names, asks after their families and health. “Bravo ragazzo” they call him, and always speak about him with a smile.
It’s amusing that in three months after coming here Jürgen speaks Italian better than he and Andy after the whole year spent in this country. Now he speaks quickly, sometimes stopping to find the right words, and the others smile, suggesting the wording, correcting the grammar sometimes, and laughter is heard above the pitch.
Italian language and shwabian accent make for a strange combination, but when Jürgen speaks he finds it pleasant.
He can’t remember the day when he decided that Jürgen is handsome. Maybe it happened when they started playing for the same club. Or maybe earlier. He can’t say. Now he thinks it strange that some time ago he could think Jürgen uninteresting and undeserving of much attention. Maybe he just wasn’t looking back then.
On a square before the Milan Dome there are always doves – many doves. He doesn’t know what makes this place any different from other squares in the city, but Jürgen loves to be here, and three of them always come here after training sessions, to sit and chat about nothing at all. Narrow, high lines of a gothic cathedral somehow always bring to his memory golden hair and careless laughter, and every time he looks at the cathedral he thinks about Jürgen. Sometimes he comes here alone and sits on one of the benches, looking at the sunlight painting the walls of the Dome with gold. Maybe this place really is special. With time he notices that he starts liking it.
Everyone knows that they are not friends. Just three Germans who spend their free time together because it is easier this way. Andy – the most peaceful and reasonable of the three – is able to prevent any conflict, and to this day there were no quarrels. No reasons for fights too – the team plays well, the Supercup is won, and situation in the team is the best it can be. He doesn’t remember when he felt himself so at peace.
- Lothar, there are such punctuation marks as dots. Don’t forget to use them.
Jürgen always jokes about his manner of speech.
- Lothar, ever thought about the career of Opera singer? You’ll never be out of breath.
Such jokes accompany him from school. Some of his teammates always try to send him on the stage, and Jürgen is no exception. He laughs or swears in return, depending on his current mood. He’s just unable to speak differently.
Jürgen always says his name pronouncing the “a” a little longer than usually. It has nothing to do with any accent, and nobody else says his name like that. He likes to think that it’s simply one of Jürgen’s whims, and he loves this version of his name better than any other.
Their first time with Jürgen happens almost by coincidence. Harsh words from coaches after the match that was played badly, traffic on the way to hotel, a bit too much wine, and they end up having sex in the hotel room. For both of them such type of relationship is nothing new, both are not inclined to make tragedy out of it, and the next evening everything repeats. After all, this way of relieving the tension is better than others.
Jürgen is making sex like he is playing football – passionately, merrily, selflessly. As if he is fifteen and not twenty-five. Such emotionality creates a curious contrast to his everyday calmness and easy way of communicating with people. Maybe this strange contrast is a part of Jürgen’s charm.
There are no long looks or soft touches between them, no gestures that will be meaningful only for two. When there is someone near them, they speak like two acquaintances, and nobody will ever think of calling them even friends. Most of their free time they are still spending in their company – “amazing trio”, like newspapers are calling them.
Sometimes he realizes that Andy’s presence annoys him.
He hates running crosses. Long distance is a torment for sprinter. Andy keeps his pace close to him, though he is able to run faster, but as he says, he has nowhere to hurry. Rays of the morning sun are playing in the trees.
Jürgen and Giuseppe Bergomi overtake them easily. Giuseppe – true Italian – keeps his ability to speak and gesture wildly even at this speed. Jürgen has enough breath to laugh without a pause.
- Children, - smiles Andy.
They are almost the last to enter the stadium. He doesn’t even need to look at the watch to learn his handicap.
- Three minutes, Lothar! – Calls Jürgen, and others start laughing.
He feels the anger rise inside him, though he knows that this result is almost the best he can manage. To any other he would give a decent reply on sprint, but Jürgen is faster than him on short distances too.
Everything that happens between them happens only at guest matches and never in
Sometimes he wants to answer that it doesn’t matter. But such thoughts pass quickly. There is nothing more important in his life than football, only if everything will be alright in his career will his private life be fine.
He can’t remember when words “private life” and “Jürgen” started meaning the same.
They seem to be so different – Jürgen and him, and at the same time they are almost alike. Both of them try to be first in everything, both are stubborn and hard to persuade, both take every wrong turn of events as a personal defeat. But Jürgen always hides his negative emotions under this bright smile that photographers always love. And he never could be diplomatic. He says what he thinks, sometimes not thinking about consequences, and creates himself troubles by this. Often he has to regret that he didn’t keep silent when it was needed.
But sometimes words don’t come, and he doesn’t know what to say.
They always meet in his rooms, and Jürgen never stays for more than a hour. Time after time he tries to persuade Jürgen to stay the night, but can’t find the right words. Everything he says is always swept aside with this usual smile. “It’s dangerous”, says Jürgen, or “What for?”, or “Don’t speak nonsense”, and it is unpleasant to hear it, and it hurts. But he always tries, and all his attempts don’t bring any result.
He knows what he needs to say. “I want you to stay” will be argument enough. “I want to see how you look in the morning” will answer the question “What for”. But such things are impossible to say aloud. “I want to caress your hair till you fall asleep”. Sentimental nonsense from cheap melodramas, and it doesn’t matter that he really wants it.
He never says such things. Because he knows – Jürgen will only laugh if he hears it.
Jürgen drinks water from the marble fountain on Via Conciliazione. Every time they play with “Roma” or come to
- Let’s go home, - says he, and Andy nods.
- Yes, the game is tomorrow.
The match promises to be a tough one, and the idea to return to the hotel earlier seems rational enough.
Jürgen turns to them.
- Alright, you go home, and we’ll ride to Lateran with Rudi.
He is barely able to keep his facial expression calm.
- What have you forgotten there?
- I never saw Lateran, - the tone of Jürgen’s voice suggests that it was the silliest question he’s ever heard in his life. Rudi smiles, taking the keys out of his pocket.
He swears inwardly at himself for talking about going home. Now it won’t make sense to ask to go with them. He and Andy stay in the middle of the street, looking at two friends leaving. In this moment he almost hates Rudi Völler.
Andy touches his shoulder.
- Let’s go, lest we really have troubles with coaches.
He sits in his room waiting, not knowing how to pass the time. Jürgen returns in three hours, in astoundingly good mood, peeks inside his room.
- How’s it going here?
- Was your trip fine? – Asks he back.
- Fine is not the word, - Jürgen is still standing in the doorway.
- Come in, - he says, trying to make his voice sound indifferently.
- The match is tomorrow, Lothar, - Jürgen, laughing, blows him a kiss and leaves. He stays alone and sits for a long time, not moving, feeling angry at himself. For what reason – he can’t explain.
The World Cup is coming closer with every day, and in
National Team’s training camp in Malente turns into a nightmare. There is absolutely nothing to do, and training sessions become the main amusement. On fifth day even the most peaceful of players are going mad with boredom. At previous championship Karl Allgöwer and other fellows were jumping from the windows onto the nearby cars to escape, and this time coaches are checking all rooms to see if all players are where they are supposed to be. Jokes about jail become more and more popular.
His suggestion to live in the same room is met with laughter.
- Others will understand it wrong, Lothar.
- Or maybe they’ll understand it correctly, - smiles he, knowing that he already got his answer. Jürgen almost never says “no”, he just answers with some phrase after which it becomes impossible to insist.
He understands himself that if they’ll suddenly decide to live together it will bring questions. Everyone knows that they are not friends. But he is ready to tolerate all these unavoidable jokes, and who cares anyway?
- Even worse, - laughs Jürgen, and the theme is closed. Jürgen becomes Völler’s roommate, and he has nothing left but to share the room with Brehme. Luckily Andy is always ready to leave for a hour or two when it is needed.
He always sees Jürgen on the pitch, no matter where he is. Not because of this unusual style of running, not because of his outward appearance. He simply knows, feels where Jürgen is standing, even if he is behind his back. “Amazing understanding between two teammates”, say commentators. “At least someone knows what to do during the match”, says Franz.
In the game against
Situation in the locker room is close to madness. Rudi, in civil closing already, stands before Franz, who is going on and on about “not reacting to provocations” and “controlling yourself in every situation”, though without much fire. Everyone understands that Rudi is rather a victim here, and after all they won anyway.
In the other corner someone is telling loudly the old joke about Germany-Netherlands match, and Klinsmann predictably is in the role of the player who was sent off in the eleventh minute. Everyone laughs, even Franz. The mood is as if they’ve won the tournament already.
He suddenly has to fight with the urge to come to Jürgen and kiss him – right there, in the middle of the locker room, for everyone to see. No, he has to wait till they are back to the hotel, and find a reason to send Andy off from their room somewhere. But is they win the Cup, he probably won’t be able to hold himself… This thought is frightening, but at the same time it makes his heart beat faster. What if…
All the way to the hotel he tries to imagine what Jürgen’s reaction to such escapade will be.
Soft knocking, and Klaus Augenthaler enters the room.
- We’re going for a walk into town. Will you join?
Andy throws his cards onto the bed.
- I’m coming. Lothar?
- I’d prefer to rest.
Andy smiles at him, winking slightly.
- I’ll be out for three hours at least. Have fun.
The door closes after them. He gathers the cards, puts them on the table. From the corridor the burst of laughter is heard, then footsteps. He hopes that Völler has left with others, but even if he didn’t – to find a reason to call Jürgen to his room won’t be a problem. No need to wait. He crosses the corridor to the opposite door and turns the doorknob without knocking. The door opens soundlessly.