My nerves were starting to get to me. The game was starting soon. The rest of my teammates joked around in the locker room. I just concentrated on lacing my cleats tightly.
This wasn't normal. I never get too anxious before a football match. I was the best player in my league. Come on Lou, chil out! You got this! I gave myself a mental pep talk.
I stood up after knotting the laces on my cleats. I brushed off my uniform and straightened my shin guards. I blew out a puff of air.
"I'm good. I'm cool. I am Lou, the best player on the team. Possibly, the best player in my league. Why the hell am I feeling these nerves?" I spoke quietly to myself.
My teammate standing beside me gave me an odd look.
"What are you looking at?" I gave him a nasty look. He shrugged and looked back down. That's right! Look down! Who do you think you are? This new kid was trying to give me some attitude. He should learn not to test me. I angrily thought to myself.
I had never been this rude before a game either. We can't have tension within our team before a game! I guess my anxiety was making itself known through my attitude.
"Hey mate, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been so short tempered. I guess the nerves are getting to me! You're new right?" He had watched me silently throughout this dialogue. At my last question, he gave a nod, affirming that he had just joined my team, the Doncaster Rovers.
"Sooo..." I said awkwardly. This guy wasn't much for conversation. "What's your name?" I queried.
"Zayn. And you're Louis, right?" He said with more confidence in his voice than I would have guessed because of his silence.
"Right. Well, nice to meet you! And welcome to the Doncaster Rovers!" I said and gave him a smile. He returned my smile, pulled up his socks a bit higher and turned to join the rest of the team that had congregated in the middle of the locker room. I hadn't yet decided on my feelings toward Zayn.
I sighed and followed Zayn towards the rest of the team. Our coach and manager walked up to the team just as I reached them. I listened intently to his speech to keep my mind off the imminent match.
My friend, Harry, walked up to me just as the pre-game talk concluded.
"Mate, are you okay? You look nervous." He asked me while looking at me with a worried expression on his face.
"Yeah, it's strange. I'm never this anxious before a game." I answered him.
"Lou, you will do fine. You know you are already one of the best players. The girls love you. The fans love you. And the team will love you after you help us win this match!" He told me, trying to reassure me.
I gave Harry a grateful smile. "Thanks man. Now, let's go play!" We both turned and headed off towards the field.
Somehow Harry's small speech had helped me more than anything else. His last three sentences repeated in my head as we walked out of the locker rooms and were greeted by the cheers of fans and flashes from cameras.
The girls love you. The fans love you. And the team will love you after you help us win this match. My thoughts repeated Harry's words like a mantra in my head.