Chapter 41: Let’s Play a Game
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
*Beep! Beep! Beep!*
The benched substitutes of Kai Ta High and the coaches rushed into the stadium to celebrate their first national championship. The hero of the game, Zhang Jun, who scored two goals in a single game was raised by his teammates and thrown into the air.
3: 1! Kai Ta’s first participation brought them to victory and it made people surprised but convinced that they won the National Middle School Soccer Championship.
Everyone was in tears, sweat and laughter.
“Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole! We are the champs! Ole! Ole…”
Their cheers were loud and everyone enjoyed the moment to their hearts’ content.
“For victory! For the championship! Cheers!”
Truth be told, middle school students were not allowed to drink alcohol. However, because they won the national championship, everyone was very excited. The coaches and teachers agreed that everyone would celebrate by drinking, but it was only limited to that evening.
A few of them were already knocked out after drinking and thus, could not even sing during the karaoke session.
Zhang Jun was drunk. He looked at three of his friends and shouted, “We have to play in high… In high school we will be together… together! Together playing… soccer! We have to play in the…. High School Soccer National Championship! Ha!”
“C-Crazy!” Yuan Gang slurred. “National… Championship! Is that… is that just for simple games? Huh?”
“Hehehe!” Yang Pan and Liu Peng were laughing foolishly in a corner.
“I… don’t care! Come! We… we shall sing!” Zhang Jun picked up the microphones. He gave one to Yuan Gang and kept another for himself.
“…Friends will walk together! There won’t be a single word again in those days! A lifetime! A lifetime! A cup of wine!”
“…Friends will never go through it alone! A friend will understand! There’s hurt! There’s pain! We still have to walk! There’s me…”
With no music playing, there were only four teenagers screaming their lungs out. Their voices rang through the speakers, traveling out of the house and into the far away night sky.
This time, there were not only screams, there was a lot of admonishment from the female viewers as well. The audience was extremely dissatisfied with Zhang Jun’s behavior. When Zhang Jun received the ball and finally got the first move at the start of the game, he raised his leg and passed the ball to Liu Peng who was beside him instead!
Liu Peng only had a glimpse before he launched the ball with a big kick to the front, where Yuan Gang was waiting.
The moment Yuan Gang received the ball, he rushed towards Shu Guang’s goalpost. Shu Guang in the meantime had only four defenders within a range of 30 m. It was the best time to attack Shu Guang’s team, which was already feeling pressured. If Liang Ke had not been allowed to move forward and assist the defenders before the game, it was possible that there might have been only two middle defenders. However, Zhang Jun just passed the ball directly to Liu Peng, who was on the other side! This caused Shu Guang the inability to defend in time.
Wang Ning and Li Hao were desperately chasing Yuan Gang, who was having the ball. Just as they caught up to him, he suddenly made a passing kick!
Zhang Jun who was in front along with the defenders charged forward, caught the ball and went into the penalty area!
As soon as An Ke received the ball, he rushed out of the goal without any hesitation. He had the time to launch an attack and he would not make any mistakes.
Zhang Jun saw how An Ke rushed to his front and saved the ball from the bottom line; it was from a corner kick.
At this moment, Zhang Jun was still foolishly standing near Kai Ta’s penalty area. Besides him, all the other players had returned to their restricted area to help with the defense. The match had been going on for 34 minutes. They could still maintain a draw as the defense line had been playing well. They could not leave any openings for a goal now. They would just have to let them lead at the end of the first half, but they received a big blow to their morale.
No matter what it was, they could not lose the ball until the end of the first half.
An Ke pulled his gloves up by habit. He was ready to serve the corner kick.
Yuan Gang took the ball from that corner kick.
Zhang Yi stole the ball by leaping in front of Lin Xiaofang and the soccer ball flew to the far corner of the goal.
An Ke then flew to hit the ball out. But, it did not fall.
Liu Peng rushed towards the ball.
Li Jieguang was desperately trying to pull him away, but at 188 cm and 85 kg, Liu Peng was like a huge mountain to him.
An Ke’s second reaction was fast; he jumped from the ground and bolted towards the ball.
Two people speedily dashed about 100 m to the goal.
A muffled sound rang and those two bumped into each other.
What about the ball?
Everyone was on the line.
And in the next moment, the ball lay quietly in the goal.
At that point, no one knew if it hit the goalkeeper or if it was kicked. Everyone turned their attention to the referee.
The referee did not raise a flag to indicate a foul followed by an immediate whistle. Instead, he pointed at the middle area.
Liu Peng took his feet away from An Ke, yelling as he ran to Yuan Gang from the corner flag. There was a group of ecstatic teammates behind them.
“Dammit! Blast it to hell!” An Ke was hitting the ground. At that time, he saw Liu Peng’s thigh and soccer ball appear in front of him. Liu Peng’s knee averted his eyes away, his reflexes cracked his head and his sight was deviated from the ball. Then, when the two bumped into each other, the ball went in.
Shu Guang’s team was in a daze. They thought it would be impossible to lose the ball yet, they lost it.
Zhang Jun was also standing there like a fool. The only indication that he was not a scarecrow was that he turned his attention to the scoreboard.
1: 0. Thirty five minutes into the first half and they were already leading the way.
“Don’t blame yourself, An Ke.” Yang Pan pulled An Ke up from the ground.”I’ll be back!” he said with murderous intent. His eyes were looking at Kai Ta’s goalpost in the distance.
Yang Pan was never this serious and he wanted to do his best to deal with that one person. He made a left kick and a right kick, he turned, backed away, swayed, changed directions, accelerated, stopped, turned again and then, accelerated.
Liu Peng followed him too by turning, accelerating, stopping, turning again and then, accelerating. However, he did not allow Yang Pan to leave his defensive area.
Yang Pan became more and more exhausted while his space for movement was getting smaller because of Liu Peng. If this went on, he would bring the ball out of the game. Feigning moves would not work anymore at this point. Yang Pan suddenly sped up and dashed in a straight line towards the goal.
Liu Peng sped up too; he wanted to stop Yang Pan in advance.
But Yang Pan stopped all of a sudden. While Liu Peng’s center of gravity had not fully adjusted, he snatched the ball and took a shot.
It was a 28-m, long-ranged shot!
The ball roared past Liu Peng’s ear like a shot of bright light and it drew a small arc in the air before flying straight to the goal.
The goalkeeper struggled to pounce on the ball but he could not hit it.
A loud sound rang throughout the stadium as the ball slammed against the goal’s right post and flew out of the bottom line.
At the same time, the whistle sounded, signaling the end of the first half.
The atmosphere in the lounge was heavy. Everyone was silent without a word, but it was not because of the score, it was for another reason.
Liang Ke did not arrange the formation for the next half of the match like before. He just quietly looked at his team instead. Su Fei did not say a word either.
Yang Pan approached Zhang Jun.”Come with me.”
It did not matter if Zhang Jun agreed or not, he pulled Zhang Jun out of the door and headed to the toilet.
As soon as Zhang Jun entered, Yang Pan went in too and he locked the door.
“What’s the matter―” Before Zhang Jun could finish his sentence, Yang Pan pushed him towards the wall.
Zhang Jun’s back was slammed against the wall and he looked back at Yang Pan in shock. “What’s wrong with you?! That hurt!”
“You still know what pain’s like? I thought you’ve become a vegetable!” Yang Pan glared at Zhang Jun. “I’m trying to wake you up! I should be the one asking you this! What’s the matter with you? Where were you during the first half? When we wanted to pass the ball to you, where were you?!”
Yang Pan grabbed onto Zhang Jun’s collar and shouted, “Damn you! Memories are beautiful, aren’t they? Why don’t you go back to the past then? Why did you come to Shu Guang? This is all because of you and now you still want to hide away on your own! You’re a coward! What do you think of our teammates now? Yuan Gang and Liu Peng are your friends. Then what about Ren Yu De, Kaka and also An Ke? Who are they to you now? Su Fei, what about Su Fei? Didn’t you make an oath with her? Have you forgotten about it already? What is this? Do you really think it’s only about friendship? You’re such a big idiot!
Yang Pan pushed him against the wall again with full force and left Zhang Jun, who was still in a daze. Yang Pan then turned and walked away.
“Where did you go?” Kaka asked the returning Yang Pan.
“I went to pee,” Yang Pan said blatantly.
“Were you holding on to your pee throughout the first half of the match?”
Yang Pan did not answer Kaka. He just turned his head towards Zhang Jun, who just came in.
Zhang Jun sat on the chair in a stupor. He suddenly had the desire to talk to someone. At that very moment, he saw Su Fei and hurriedly went up to her.”Su―” As soon as Zhang Jun was about to speak, Su Fei turned around, giving Zhang Jun her back and immediately sending Zhang Jun’s words back to him.
If sleep walking could be used to describe how Zhang Jun was during the first half of the match, then Zhang Jun’s soul would be gone by the time the second half started.
He only stood still in the first half; he did not run or take the initiative to get the ball. Everyone beside him was running up and down yet, he did not see anything. Others regarded him as nothing.
Still, the ball was passed below his feet. However, it was intercepted by Yuan Gang again and again.
“Why are you passing the ball to Zhang Jun? There’s no use to that and you’re wasting a good chance to strike!” Xiao Zhang complained. “If you had given it to Yang Pan, you’ve would have scored earlier.”
“That’s trust,” Chen Huafeng said. “His teammates still trust him, no matter what his behavior’s like. They believe that Zhang Jun can take a stand for himself. Shu Guang, they’re a really terrific soccer team…”he said to himself. Oh yes, when faced with such a situation, would the other team’s members find a way to solve it? Or, would they be hesitant to pass the ball to him, risking whatever chances they had? In Shu Guang’s despairing situation, they still passed the ball to Zhang Jun. This trust they had for each other was not a small matter.
Su Fei felt some regret after Zhang Jun approached her to say something. But seeing his terrible performance in the first half, she could not help but ignore him. Now, looking at how soulless Zhang Jun was, she feared that her actions had hurt him.
Though, she could not do anything about it at that moment.
Despite snarling at Zhang Jun during intermission for nearly a minute, Yang Pan still passed the ball to Zhang Jun. Even though he was obviously angry and hot-headed, why… Was it a habit? After receiving the ball, it was a habit to pass it to Zhang Jun.
Zhang Jun took the ball from the side and unexpectedly, he took the lead!
Liu Peng was at the side, feeling anxious. He hurriedly tackled the ball and it went out. Zhang Jun also fell down in the process.
Liu Peng nervously looked at the referee, but luckily, the ball was still in play. Phew! That was close! He almost felt guilty for his mistakes. He wouldn’t be nervous about it, right? He shook his head and stood up with a wry smile.
On the other hand, Zhang Jun felt a strange yet familiar feeling.
When he fell, he suddenly recalled many things.
Su Fei’s smile and the words “I like soccer!”; the promise he made with Su Fei to make sure she would always be happy; performing a hat-trick for Su Fei’s birthday; Liu Qi and his cheerleading team; holding on to his team in the noisy stadium saying,”I’m not satisfied!”; his captain, who was a crying mess; and also his tears, which were delayed for a year…
So many things had happened, how could he forget them all? He almost made a blunder! Fortunately…
Zhang Jun lifted his head to look at the time. The second half only had 30 minutes left.
There was still a chance, there was always a chance.
After lifting his head, he saw Liu Peng standing in front of him, holding the ball. Liu Peng approached him and threw the ball to him.”Let’s play a game, Zhang Jun.”
It was just like before―someone was happy to rush towards Zhang Jun with the ball.
“Let’s play a game, Zhang Jun!”
And Zhang Jun smiled.