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To Emi

To Emi

I’ve typed out an opening sentence a dozen or so times. Deleted it. Gone back and started again. Deleted it a couple more times and then opened Twitter. Got angry, written out a tweet then deleted it. Deleted tweets I wrote earlier. Then looked at news I didn’t really want to look at or digest.

Because what can you say? When something doesn’t feel real. When you don’t want something to be real. When you feel numb, hollow, stunned at something so inconceivable, something so sad.

You frame it in football. It’s easier that way. You cast rivalries aside and take comfort in the words of fans from other clubs. Watch as your club becomes the front page headlines, global headlines, local headlines. You start thinking about why is it not being covered in this way or why are they mentioning these things when it’s, surely, irrelevant to the story? You start getting angry about minutia, a way to channel your feelings.

And then you think about the person. The families. The people this impacts. Sure, he was Cardiff’s record signing, our savour but he was a 28 year old man. A man in the prime of his career. A man about to make the move of his life to a new country. And a son, a brother, a friend, a colleague, a compatriot. A man.

What words can you offer as comfort? He’s made an impact. He’s beloved across countries. He’s a Bluebird.

I can’t listen to the voice notes he sent his friends. I can’t read the harrowing accounts of his father, desperate for news. It’s all too much to bear. To Cardiff fans, he’s a promise. A promise of everything he could have been and everything we’ll never get to see. To Nantes, he’s a departing hero, who just wanted to see his friends one last time.

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To his family and friends. He is Emi. A humble man who worked his way to a promising career. A man who even in his final hours, was thinking of them. A brother, a son, a hero.

To Emi. Nothing I can write will ever be enough.

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