Chapter 1032: The Final Curtain
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
When the referee blew the whistle thrice, the Crimson Stadium boiled over. They gave a parting gift to Twain, one last victory, as they wanted.
Only Manchester United players and fans were left sad and dejected. They appeared particularly desolate in the happy atmosphere.
Twain, who had wanted to go shake Mourinho’s hand after the game to complete the ceremony, knew Mourinho was not a patient man. However, as soon as he got up, he was hugged by David Kerslake next to him. The assistant manager said nothing, just squeezed him.
A group of reporters swarmed up next to them and took endless frenzied shots.
When Twain broke free of Kerslake’s embrace after some effort, he turned his head to look for Mourinho and was surprised to find that the other man was still standing outside waiting for him!
Twain pushed aside the press and walked toward Mourinho with an extended hand.
“I thought you would have already left, Mr. Mourinho.”
Mourinho, who lost the title, did not look good and obviously was in a bad mood. He shook Twain’s hand and let go.
“I just don’t want you to write in your memoir that José Mourinho is a rude and ungracious man. I should go. I want to congratulate you on winning another game. I’m very glad you retire today.”
Having said that, Mourinho did not care about the reactions of onlookers, let alone the look on Twain’s face. He simply turned around and left the noisy pitch.
Twain was surrounded by reporters and watched Mourinho’s back as he left. He felt a mix of emotions for a moment. He was definitely not overjoyed by his victory over his old rival. On the contrary, he felt a great pity for Mourinho.
As the sky darkened, the flashes around him pulled Twain back to reality. He looked at the reporters around him, ignored them, and went straight to the pitch. In the middle of the pitch, his players were waiting for him.
In the stands, 60,000 fans were loudly chanting his name.
“The game is over. Nottingham Forest won and Manchester United lost its league title. However, none of these things matter. What’s important for us is that a very important and special person finally has to bid farewell…” John Motson, the commentator for the game, said emotionally.
He now recalled his first encounter with Twain. At the City Ground stadium, Twain was knocked to the ground by his own player after a dismal first half and then left the field. He became a big joke in the whole of English football world for that round of league tournament. Motson was responsible for the commentary in the game. At the time, he bowled over with laughter in the commentator’s box and was merciless with his ridicule.
He did not expect to be friends with Twain down the road, to be a fellow commentator alongside Twain for the England national games, or to witness the young man become one of the world’s most successful managers step by step and turn into the godfather of Nottingham Forest.
Amid the cheers of 60,000 people, Twain walked into the middle of the pitch and gathered his men.
“Boss, can you stay?” Gareth Bale asked with tears in his eyes.
Twain just smiled and shook his head.
“I don’t think your health is a problem at all, really. We’ll be able to pull a few more years together. We can leave together at that time. How about it?” Bale continued to implore, unwilling to give up.
Twain reached out his hand to touch Bale’s arm and said to him, “When I bade farewell to Demi and the others at the time, I also felt this way. But they still left. This is life. You always have to say goodbye. It’s no big deal. Besides, we’re not saying goodbye forever, are we?”
Bale bit his lip and retreated to the side without saying another word.
Balotelli looked at Twain, wanting to speak several times, but stopped. When Twain understood what was on his mind, he said to him, “Stay or leave, it will be fine either way, as long as it’s what you want. You’re a genius, Mario. But a genius is not fit for all situations. When I’m gone, you should go your own way.”
Patting Balotelli on the shoulder, Twain turned to Mitchell.
He looked up at Mitchell’s face. The kid seemed to be making a face at him like he wanted to cry and laugh simultaneously.
“Aaron. I still want to say you should step up your strength training. I hope you can be more comprehensive…” At this, he smiled and continued, “Why am I still talking about these things? Anyway, I’m not your manager next season. If you can’t break through the impenetrable line of those strong defenders, the person who worries will not be me, ha!”
Twain laughed, but Mitchell cried instead.
Twain ignored the snot and tears running down his face. He patted Mitchell on the shoulders. He turned around to look for the others.
He did not want his parting to look sad and mournful. He was already more than half a century old. Was it necessary to be like this?
Therefore, he lightheartedly talked to each player, said a few words, and moved on to the next person.
As he did so, the shouts from the stands continued. None of the 60,000 Nottingham Forest fans had left the stadium. The Manchester United fans had mostly dispersed from the stadium along with the Manchester United team.
The two large screens in the stadium’s stands were replaying Twain’s documentary shorts.
The live televised broadcast continued.
Shania was waiting in the dressing room to make her appearance. It would be the final time she would appear on the runway. Now her mind was not on her job, however. She held a cell phone in her hand and was playing the television footage. It was the scene from Twain’s farewell at the Crimson Stadium.
Thanks to the ever-changing technology, she could watch live television streaming here. In this way, she accompanied Uncle Tony on the last journey of his career.
The commentator’s voice on the phone was very clear.
“I don’t want to repeat Tony Twain’s achievements at this point. I just want to admire the scene – more than 60,000 fans staying in the stands, unwilling to leave. Twain is with his players. He’s speaking to them one by one… What does this make me think of? A general about to retire is inspecting his troops and officers for the last time. He shakes hands with them and thanks them for their support and work over the years…”
Shania was engrossed in looking at the screen of her cell phone. Twain was in the middle, surrounded by the players while the reporters surrounded them all. The fans were at the periphery, singing songs and shouting the names of the main character.
The hairstylist fiddled with her hair and made final preparations. There were other models in the dressing room, but Shania acted as though there was nobody else present and did not care how others viewed her.
The scene should be sad, but Shania was smiling, like the man in the middle of the screen.
“All right, my dear.” The hairstylist motioned for Shania to lift her head and look in the mirror to view the whole effect.
It was hard to believe that the woman in the mirror was almost thirty years old. Her long hair was trailing over her shoulders. She looked young, beautiful, vivacious and sassy with the tips of her hair curled.
Shania made a face and then turned off the live television streaming on her cell phone.
It was time for her to make her appearance.
Twain walked up to Wood. He was the last one.
Looking at his team captain, Twain did not know what to say. Wood was sensible and obedient. There were some things that were unnecessary to repeat, as he had said them before.
What else was there to say now?
Looking at Twain standing in front of him, Wood did not know what to say either. However, it was not like he had nothing to say. Rather, he had many things he wanted to convey and did not know how to begin at this moment.
Even at the moment of farewell, he was still so awkward with words.
It was the same when he was facing Demi, and it was like this with Twain now.
In the end, Twain said nothing. He just put his hand on Wood’s shoulder and gave it a hard squeeze.
After saying goodbye to the players, he said his farewell to the coaches, starting with the team doctors and going all the way to the assistant managers. He shook hands or hugged each, one by one.
In the end, he approached Freddy Eastwood and muttered in his ear, “Dunn will come to take over my position. He is a great manager. However, he needs a great assistant. You will stay and help him, right?”
Eastwood nodded in agreement.
Twain let go of the other man when he got this promise and turned to Kerslake.
“Whether you leave together with me or stay here, it’s your choice, David.”
Kerslake looked at the people around him and said to Twain, “I’ve changed my mind, Tony. Nottingham Forest is a good place. I’m going to stay here.”
Twain laughed and patted him on the shoulder as he said, “The right choice.”
Having done all this, he told the two assistant managers, “I’m going to the press conference in a while, so I won’t be going to the locker room. There will be many reporters blocking my way today. You don’t have to wait for me to come back. You can drive straight back to the hotel once the players pack up and dismiss them on the spot. As for me, I’m going home by myself.”
The two men nodded at the same time and did not object to Twain’s arrangement.
Seeing that both of them agreed, Twain walked outside with confidence. After two steps out, he looked back and the players and coaches were still standing there with no intention of leaving.
Twain waved to them and said, “Go back, don’t catch a cold.”
Then he walked forward again, and he did not look back this time.
Along the way, the shouts of the fans were deafening. The flags and banners with his portrait on them in the stands fluttered nonstop. On the stadium broadcast, Sarah Brightman and Andre Bocelli sang at the top of their voices “…Time to say goodbye…”
Twain then walked to the entrance of the tunnel. Behind him stood the motionless players and colleagues. In front of him, there was a large group of reporters carrying cameras and filming equipment, shooting as they followed. The flashes brightly lit up the way under his feet until it was blindingly white.
When he walked to the entrance of the tunnel, many fans in the stands on both sides suddenly threw confetti. The fluttering confetti made Twain raise his head. He saw several familiar faces in the crowd.
Michael Bernard, Fat John, Skinny Bill, and even the pub owner, Kenny Burns, were there. When he saw Burns, he was suddenly interested. He stopped and asked, “In so many years, you only left the pub when the City Ground stadium was to be demolished. Why have you come today?”
Burns said to him, “An era was torn down with the City Ground stadium. Your departure means the same as well, Tony.”
Twain stopped talking and waved to him and the others. He continued to walk down the tunnel amid a flurry of confetti.
Joe Mattock sighed, “This is the last time I will see the boss appear in front of me in this capacity…”
Wood stood at the front of the team. When he heard Mattock’s words, he suddenly had the idea of rushing up to Twain, but until Twain disappeared into the tunnel surrounded by the reporters, he did not put the thought into action.
He unexpectedly felt that he was timid, and not a tough guy.
He was a coward who could not show his feelings freely in front of a large crowd.
He was not as good as Mitchell, who was willing to shed tears in front of Twain, and Bale, who said to Twain, “Can you stay?”
As the team captain, he was really inadequate at this time…
Seeing Twain completely disappear from view, David Kerslake’s voice rang out. He usually had a loud voice, but he sounded weak at this time.
“Let’s head back, guys. Go back for a shower, change your clothes, get out of here. Your vacation has begun.”
As the players began to walk off the pitch, Wood looked up and found the fans in the stands slowly leaving the stadium. However, he knew that these people would gather in the square outside the stadium. The departure of a special person would not end like this.
He pulled off the captain’s armband, held it in his hand, and walked off the field with his teammates.
Michael Bernard, who walked out of the stadium, had no intention of staying on even though a large crowd had already gathered in the square again. They still loudly chanted Twain’s name, and the scene was very enthusiastic.
“Let’s go back to the pub for a drink, guys,” Michael said to his companions.
“Don’t you want to stay and send Tony off?” Skinny Bill was puzzled.
“We’ve already sent him off,” Michael pointed in the direction of the gate and added, “Tony, who will come out of the gate later, will no longer be Manager Tony Twain. I want to go back for a drink. All the shouting during the game has made my throat dry.”
“Me too,” Burns said next to him.
The two men held a high prestige among the fans. Since they had said so, there was no further objection.
“Okay, let’s go back for a drink in salute to…” Fat John suddenly did not know what to say.
“In a salute to the last 16 years, and to say goodbye to the people and games of those 16 years,” Michael raised his hand.
He waved goodbye to the Crimson Stadium.
Pierce Brosnan had no time to stand aside and put on an act to proclaim that “an era is over”. He had been busy since the final whistle. He was too busy to stop and reflect on it – it was Tony Twain’s final game!
Like his peers, he centered Tony Twain as the focal point and followed him from the east to the west on the field as he bade farewell to the players, said goodbye to the fans, and then went together with him to the press conference hall. Now as he looked at Twain seated at a table full of microphones, cell phones, tape recorders, and interview equipment in front of him, he had time to think about the half-hour that had just passed.
The Forest team won the game against Manchester United. Tony Twain maintained his winning record against Mourinho during the course of his coaching career. These were not the important points. Thinking back on Twain’s farewell to the players and coaches in the middle of the pitch, he felt that Twain’s influence would not diminish with his departure. On the contrary, his influence here might even become stronger.
Cruyff remained the godfather of Barcelona even after he left. He had published a variety of articles and commentary about Barcelona in the media. He gave praise when Barcelona played beautifully and criticized when they did not play well. He even had a say in matters such as the selection of the manager, which player to sell and which player to buy. The Barcelona coaches could not ignore his advice…
However, unlike this flying Dutchman, Brosnan felt that Twain’s influence would not be demonstrated through the above examples.
In fact, judging by Twain’s conduct after he retired for the first time, he would not mention Nottingham Forest much again, as if the football club had never appeared in his life. He would never interfere with the Forest team’s team building policy and would not comment on the Forest team’s employment strategy. Whether the Forest team played well or terribly, it would be other people’s business. He was peculiar like that. He would use this kind of indifference to express his feelings for the Forest team. It seemed that the more distance he maintained, the more it would let him feel the affection was pure.
However, despite this, looking at today’s scene, his place in the hearts of the Forest fans remained unshakable. He believed it would be the same years later. He did not have to say anything or do anything. However, as long as someone mentioned his name, that invisible influence would begin to show.
Robin Hood died more than 900 years ago, and his influence was still present. People had repeatedly sung about him and written about him in literature, plays, and games. Tony Twain almost deserved the same treatment, didn’t he?
Brosnan, who was lost in contemplation, snapped back to reality when the press officer said, “the press conference starts now.” The room, which was quite noisy earlier, immediately quieted down. Everyone looked up in anticipation and looked forward to Twain delivering his farewell speech.
Mourinho had already left. While most of the reporters were still on the pitch, he had been interviewed by several Manchester media outlets and then hastily departed to leave the stage to Twain alone.
What a considerate opponent…
Twain looked at the eager reporters below and cleared his throat. Just this gesture was enough to make the people sit up straight, lean their heads forward, and prick their ears.
Twain chuckled mischievously.
The runway show was over. Shania had just been led out by the designer to make the curtain call. Now she was standing in front of a backdrop, being interviewed by the reporters.
“Yes, it’s true that I’m quitting the modeling and entertainment world. I had seriously considered it before I made this decision,” Shania admitted the fact, which had long been hotly speculated, to the media for the first time.
“I’m completely retiring from the industry and I won’t come back in the future.”
Shania fiddled with her brown hair. With her makeup removed, she looked like a completely different person as compared to the cool beauty on the runway stage. Now she had a gentle smile on her face as she patiently and meticulously answered every question from the reporters without showing the slightest bit of impatience.
“After my retirement, I’ll be with my husband and daughter before I think about the future… Maybe I will be a fashion designer.”
The reporters still wanted to find out the real inside story. For them, the answers that could be found in the press were of no value. People would never find out the whole truth.
“The real reason for quitting?” Instead of expressing she was fed up with the question posed by the reporter, Shania showed a smile to make hearts flutter.
“It’s very simple. I’m pregnant.”
When Shania casually threw out the remark, no one in the room had any reaction at first. With an expression of anticipation on their faces, they waited for the real answer to come out. No one realized that the true answer had already emerged.
“Ah…” The reporter who asked the question reacted the quickest. He opened his mouth, wanting to say something but could not utter a sound.
Shania looked at the quiet reporters in the room and winked mischievously. It turned out to be quite interesting. She had succeeded in surprising them all.
“…I have nothing to say.”
Twain said this to the eager reporters in the press hall at Nottingham’s Crimson Stadium.
“I know a lot of people like me and a lot of people hate me. I never thought of trying to change the way you think of me, even today. However you usually describe me, you shall write the same tomorrow. Anyway, I will not read any of it. I’ll be retired tomorrow.”
Twain spread his hands. He saw many of his enemies in the crowd, such as Carl Spicer and Christopher Beesley. He would no longer bicker with and hold grudges against these people. He did not need to create any more hype. He did not need to attract the firepower of the media to relieve the pressure on the players either. From today onward, he could finally completely unload the heavy burden from his shoulders and sleep through the night peacefully.
“I just want to say goodbye to all of you.”
After saying this, Twain actually stood up and left!
The reporters panicked. How could they let him go just like that? They’ve prepared so many questions. How were they going to ask him once he left? Once he was out of the door, he was no longer the Nottingham Forest manager. He would be out of the reporters’ reach.
A group of reporters got up from their seats, kicked over chairs, and tried to stop Twain from leaving.
“I still have questions, Mr. Twain!” Christopher Beesley held up his notebook and shouted. The notebook was full of words. “You can’t just leave like this. The press conference isn’t over yet!”
“I already said it was over,” Twain said to the Liverpool Echo reporter who had wished him dead with a smile.
“But we have the right to ask questions. You are a public figure…” Beesley was still making the final struggle.
“I have the right to refuse to answer.”
Twain gave a shrug.
Carl Spicer had initially wanted to shout a few words. However, after seeing Beesley’s fate, his lips quivered for a while and he made no sound.
Twain did not leave directly from the side door. He walked down the steps and toward the main door from the middle passage of the press seats, intending to leave directly from there – it was closer to the stadium gate.
The reporters got up one by one. However, no one really dared to go up and stop him to ask questions.
On the contrary, everyone deliberately or unintentionally gave way to him.
Just as he was about to get to the door, Pierce Brosnan suddenly shouted out, “Goodbye, Tony!”
He raised his hand and stopped in the midair, wanting to wave goodbye to Twain before he realized that Twain had his back toward him and could not see.
Twain, who heard him, did not look back and did not stop. He just raised his right hand, waved, and opened the door to walk out.
The lobby at the main entrance of the stadium was through a short corridor. Twain unexpectedly found a man there.
“Mr. Fasal? Aren’t you supposed to be with Shania?”
The smiling man standing in front of Twain was Shania’s agent, Fasal. No wonder Twain would be surprised and asked him the question. As long as Shania was traveling for work, Fasal would always keep close to her. Why was he here now in front of him? Could it be that Shania finished her work early and came back?
Thinking of it, Twain looked behind Fasal, hoping to see his wife.
“No need to look, Mr. Twain,” Fasal smiled and said to him, “Shania is still in Paris. If nothing out of the ordinary happens, she should have just finished her last runway show.”
“Then you…” Twain grew puzzled.
“I’m here to tell you the good news. Since Shania can’t leave yet, I’ll be the one to do it. I am afraid you won’t believe it coming from another person.”
At this point, Fasal handed Twain a piece of paper.
“The results of the hospital’s checkup.”
Twain was baffled as he took the paper. With one glance at it, he saw his wife’s name written in the box of the person receiving the checkup.
Before he could continue to read, Fasal’s voice sounded again, “Congratulations, Mr. Twain. Your wife is pregnant.”
Instead of jerking his head up to look at Fasal, Twain lowered his head and stared blankly at the printed page. He could not believe the news he had heard.
“Two months ago, Shania went for a checkup. She’s pregnant. But she did not tell you yet so as not to affect your job and left the news until now to give you a retirement gift.”
Fasal noticed that Twain’s hand, which was holding the checkup sheet, was shaking. He suddenly remembered that the man in front of him had had a heart attack before. What if he could not bear the excitement of the news and had another one?
Fasal dared not think of such a thing. He hurriedly called out, “Mr. Twain, are you all right?”
Twain then looked up and glanced at Fasal. He opened his mouth and said, “I’m… good… very good…”
Having said this, he caught his breath and continued, “I’m fine, thank you for telling me such good news, Mr. Fasal.”
Fasal had thought that Twain would be so excited and say a lot more. He did not expect Twain to finish this sentence and want to go.
Instinctively, he asked, “Where are you going, Mr. Twain?”
“I’m going home,” Twain said as he walked out of the hall.
“I think the whole police force of Nottingham is here!”
A fan, who was stopped outside by a human wall made by the policemen, complained.
These people could not be blamed for complaining. The fans originally planned to get up close and personal with their idol. However, the policemen stood guard and forcibly pushed back the fans, making way for a five-meter-wide passageway from the stadium gate all the way to the parking lot.
Learning the lesson from the John Lennon incident, they could not guarantee that there would not be a fanatical and crazy fan who would abruptly carry out a murder and make Twain stay for good just because he was unwilling to let him leave. It was no joke, so the local police force kicked into high gear for fear that another Mark David Chapman would appear among the fans.
When Twain appeared in front of the crowd, the fans in the square burst into loud cheers. They created an uproar and the policemen present were overwhelmed by the crowd and struggled.
Twain was not surprised to see the scene. He stood on the steps and waved to the excited fans. Then he lowered his head and walked down the steps through the already crooked passageway outside.
The BBC 5 station broadcasted the scene to the world.
Amid the cheers of tens of thousands of people, their king strode down the steps of the throne and walked down a red carpet outside the palace. He left the crown on the throne. The magnificent palace did not give him the slightest regret, and he turned a deaf ear to the voices of his subjects.
In the raging red crowd he, clad in black, was so calm. He folded the note in his hand, carefully put it in his pocket and patted it gently. Then he took out his sunglasses, put them on, and sauntered slowly through the excited crowd.
The 16 championship trophies, the ups and downs of the last 16 years, the days of being revered by millions of people, as well as endless arguments surrounding him, were left behind step by step.
More than a thousand years ago, the Roman conqueror returned home after victories in wars.
He would enjoy the honor and glory of a triumphant return and a moving parade.
There would be trumpeters, musicians, and exotic beasts from the lands he conquered.
There would be chariots full of treasures and confiscated weapons.
The conqueror rode the chariot to return victorious.
The prisoners of war sat in front of the chariots in chains.
His children, dressed in white robes, stood with him in the chariot or rode horses next to him.
A slave, holding a golden crown, stood behind the conqueror.
He whispered a warning in his ear:
All glories are as transient as the fleeting clouds.