Chapter 100: Saying Goodbye
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Two springs passed. Zhang Jun was now a third-year senior facing his college entrance exam.
Two months away from the exam, all third-year seniors retired from the team. It was time to say goodbye regardless of whether they were going to take the college entrance exam.
After three consecutive English lessons, Zhang Jun felt dizzy and decided to go for a walk. The third-year teaching building was desolate and few people walked the corridors. He walked down the stairs to avoid bumping into his boisterous classmates. The corridor that was usually dirty was also cleaner than usual.
Although he only wanted to go for a stroll, his feet took him to the soccer pitch. Zhang Jun shook his head and gave a wry smile. The force of habit was truly powerful.
Zhang Jun looked for an inconspicuous corner to sit down and watch the team train.
Lin Xiaofang had already taken over Yang Pan’s captain armband. He was definitely capable. In the third-year qualifying match, he had won the best defender award. His progress was quick in the past two years. Now, if Liang Ke was too busy to come, Lin Xiaofang would take up the role of coach. He had an air of captaincy about him.
Zhang Jun could not help but laugh when he recalled what Lin Xiaofang was like when he first joined the team.
The team had also matured. They were no longer the ‘lame team’ which had to rely on a few outstanding members to win a match. Wang Ning’s long shots, Lin Xiaofang’s headers, Chen Bo’s assists as well as the first year, Weng Ge. Even though Weng Ge was a substitute for his position during his third year, he would score every time he went on the pitch. Liang Ke’s knack in guiding newcomers were not false praises: they would be able to continue Shu Guang’s brilliance.
When the new team matures, it was time for the old team to break up.
Three days ago at the Luoyang airport.
“Are you really leaving?” Zhang Jun held Kaka’s shoulder and shouted. “Is not going not an option? Let us continue playing soccer together!”
Kaka gave a silent but wry smile.
Yang Pan pulled Zhang Jun away from Kaka. “When you return to Brazil, do not forget to contact us.”
“I won’t forget. You guys will forever be my friends! An Ke. I am truly sorry that I cannot see you off.”
An Ke shook his head and smiled. He then hugged Kaka. “Take care. Have a safe trip!”
“Ren Yu De, are you really not going to play soccer anymore?”
“I can’t. My body…” Ren Yu De pointed at his chest. “My father wanted me to take over his class. I even gave up my college entrance exam…”
“You won’t pass it anyway!”
Ren Yu De shot An Ke a stare and continued. “I want to mend things with my father as well.”
“Everybody has their own aspirations. However, I still find that it is a pity. If you bring your skills to Brazil, I am sure you would not lose to anyone.” Kaka merely shrugged.
Kaka then turned to Su Fei and held out his hands. Su Fei went up to him graciously to hug him goodbye. An Ke looked away and clenched his teeth.
“Su Fei. If Zhang Jun bullies you, give me a call. Even if I have to swim, I will swim across the Pacific Ocean to avenge you!”
Su Fei laughed. “You must also put in more effort. You are so handsome and yet you still do not have a girlfriend!”
Kaka smiled bitterly but did not speak.
Finally, it was Zhang Jun’s turn.
Zhang Jun asked Kaka. “Will we meet again?”
Kaka then asked Zhang Jun. “Will you still play soccer?”
“Then there’s your answer” Kaka smiled. “As long as you are still playing, and I’m still playing, we will definitely meet again. So don’t be sad. It’s goodbye for now, but not forever.”
“As long as you’re still playing, and I’m still playing, we will surely see each other again.” Zhang Jun smiled thinking that he found another reason not to give up.
After Kaka received his graduation certificate, he returned to Brazil. His father had supposedly found him a soccer club in Sao Paulo for him to tryout. It should not be a problem for him to get into the team with his abilities.
An Ke had also completed his arrangements to go to Germany with the help of his family. His flight to Beijing was on that morning but An Ke refused for any of them to send him off. He said he would be hostile towards anyone that sent him off. An Ke said this to them on the way back after sending Kaka off. Zhang Jun saw him turning his face away and wiping it after he said that.
Ren Yu De never came back after receiving his graduation certificate. He wanted to take over his father’s business and said that there would be very few opportunities for him to continue playing soccer. There was no choice as he need to learn how to do business. However, Ren Yu De never completely gave up soccer. “I loved playing soccer since I learned how to run. It has been more than ten years. Do you think I would give it up so easily?” These were his words.
Zhang Jun then remembered another person.
Last Sunday, Su Fei had dragged Zhang Jun out for a stroll. Yang Pan tactlessly volunteered to be a third wheel.
As a result, they met Li Yongle, Zhang Yang and Zhang Lintao on the streets. It was the umpteenth time that they have met on the streets. Zhang Jun sighed in his heart. “Just can’t seem to get rid of them!”
The six of them then sat comfortably in a teahouse and chatted casually.
“You guys seem so laid back. Aren’t you guys going to college?” Su Fei asked the three people opposite her.
“Nope.” Zhang Yang shook his head. “I have already decided to enlist in the army in the second half of the year.”
“The army?” The three opposite him shouted in unison.
“Yup! Becoming a soldier has always been my aspiration since I was young. As the saying goes, ‘Becoming a soldier would make you regret for three years but not becoming a soldier would make you regret for life!’ I do not want to regret for the rest of my life. Don’t you think I have the boldness of a soldier?” Zhang Yang held his head high.
The three people opposite him curled their lips together.
“What about you?” Zhang Jun asked Li Yongle. “I believe there are teams scouting you out?”
Li Yongle nodded. “Henan Jianye.”
“Good. If you go, you can keep Sima Hongxin company! Haha!”
“But I haven’t decided. I am still hesitating. What about you? What do you plan to do?”
“Me?” Zhang Jun looked at Su Fei. “I took the entrance examination. With Su Fei tutoring me, hopefully it went well. On top of that, we could also apply for recommendation to a college. We could be admitted by recommendation after winning the National Championship.”
“Oh? What college are you going to?”
“I do not know yet. Anyway, the three of us want to stay together.” Zhang Jun pointed to Su Fei and Yang Pan.
“Good!” Li Yongle’s eyes shined. “I have decided!”
“Decided on what?”
“Taking the college entrance examination! On top of that, I am definitely not going to the same college as you! There should be soccer tournaments in college, right?” Li Yongle asked Zhang Lintao who was beside him.
Zhang Lintao nodded.
“That’s great! I am going to play against you in college!” Li Yongle aggressively pointed towards Zhang Jun.
“Wow! Are you kidding me? You have lost in your second and third year. Have you not lost enough?” Zhang Jun added in his heart. ‘I really just can’t seem to get rid of them!’
“Have you forgotten what I said? I said that you are my eternal adversary!”
“And also my eternal friend!” Zhang Jun would also remember this when Li Yongle said that.
“Zhang Lintao. What about you? Your hand…”
Zhang Lintao looked at his left wrist. “It’s alright. Either way, I cannot guard the goal anymore. Yang Pan’s shots are still unstoppable! I insisted on blocking his shots and now look at my hand: can’t even wrestle a chicken to save my life. But don’t worry about me. I’ve found a decent way out.”
“What is it?” The other five asked.
“What a strange career!” The five replied in unison.
“I have always liked to draw ever since I was a child. I have been drawing until now and my level is pretty good. I’ve recently met a few new friends who have the same aspirations. We want to illustrate manga together. Draw our stories and our soccer. When it is published, each person will get a copy. Wouldn’t it be interesting?”
This brief reminiscence reminded Zhang Jun of Ren Yu De’s words. “I loved playing soccer since I learned how to run. It has been more than ten years. Do you think I would give it up so easily?” He actually felt the impulse to cry. Soccer had already been deeply imprinted in their lives. They would not be able to remove it even if they spent a lifetime trying.
Zhang Jun thought of his progress from elementary school to middle school, then to high school. That was indeed the case.
No matter where, no matter when, no matter what happens, there would always be a group of friends by his side that would not allow him to give up. He would not give up now, whether it was soccer or something else.
He looked at his former teammates on the training pitch. Zhang Jun felt that three years passed by really quickly. When he first joined the team, there were only twenty-two players. It was just enough for dividing into teams for a full training match. Now, there were about fifty players.
Su Fei had also left while the team recruited two new managers. They both loved soccer and their job as managers. The responsibility of creating the large match table on the wall had also been passed down to them. ‘Shu Guang High School’ was still marked in red. The red line then extended towards championship.
This had become Shu Guang’s tradition. The tradition would continue on just as the red line extended.
Zhang Jun felt someone appear beside him. He turned his head to find Su Fei looking at the pitch intently.
“When did you arrive?”
“Just a little while ago.”
Zhang Jun stood up. “Let us go back and continue studying.”
Su Fei held Zhang Jun’s arm. They left the stands and stepped out of the sports ground. The lively noise continued behind them.
The afternoon sun shined through the windows of Shu Guang’s Exhibition Room. Fresh air flowed through through the open door into the room. As it was class hours, there were no visitors.
On the wall on the east side of the room, there was a row of glass cabinets. Two glittering silver trophies were placed in the middle of the cabinet. Engraved on these trophies were “Champions of the 15th National High School Championship” and “Champions of the 16th National High School Championship” respectively.
Two large photographs hung on the wall behind the trophies. These were photos of the team that won the trophy. Although a few of the people in the photos were different, their smiles were the same, as brilliant as the afternoon sun…