THE HOLY XI: If Peter Was A Striker, John Played 6- If The Apostles Played Football, These Would Be Their Positions
(A couple of months back, @KO suggested random topics he wanted his tweeps to write pieces about. For some reason, he assigned me this topic. But I misread what he tagged me. I read it as “If Footballers were Apostles”, and I proceeded to write on that. It wasn’t until literally this weekend that I realised I had written on the wrong topic. But two is better than one, no? So, here’s goes nothing.)
Historical books and religious texts like the Bible give an insight to the way of life centuries and millennia ago. But they never really dive into the random everyday parts of life that give a true idea of what it meant to be a youth in Biblical times.
For example, what did they do for fun, besides drinking wine and dancing to music, going to the temple or listening to prophetic proclamations from long-haired mystics and hermits? What did they do for leisure? What was their dating scene like? Where did the guys go to chill? Did they place bets too? What were their sports?
Did they play football?
What if the disciples were ballers but we just don’t know? It is possible that the sport did exist in those times, but just didn’t fit into the ‘synoptic’ essence of the gospels. I mean, there are existing books and gospels that (conveniently) didn’t make it into the bible. (Sidenote: It’s very funny just how many Christians have no idea of this sha).
The following piece is an excerpt from an ancient holy scroll by African Philosopher, Prophet and Sport Lover Mauricius Kaballinus, whose most famous quote ‘I am human and I love to breathe’ has inspired billions for centuries. The scroll was excavated deep within a well at the peak of the West African City of Brown Roofs, a place called Bower’s Towers.
What you are about to read is a word for word excerpt from this millenia-old scripture. It is a detailed account of how Football came to be. This has been represented as seen, without edits or manipulation.
“And after He spoke to the multitude, the disciples were filled with despair and boredom. He first saw Peter, surrounded by the disciples in a huddle, whispering secrets like He didn’t know all that was, is and will be. As He stared at them, Peter walked towards Him and said:
“Lord, you know we love you. You know we will follow you wherever. But Jeez, we are tired. We can’t just drink and vibe because we don’t want to set a bad example. We can’t lay with women because if e start, e no go stop. We’re bored as fuck mehn. Sorry for my language, baba God.”
He smiled, looked at Peter and said, “Oh ye of little faith. What else must I do to show you? Do you know why I chose 12 of you?
Peter replied, “The 12 tribes of Israel?”
He nodded and went on: “That is true. But there is another reason. I chose 12 of you because you shall not only be the foundation of my church, but you will bring so much joy and happiness to people as countless as the sands on the shores of the Red Sea. You shall be the first…Footballers.”
The disciples stared at one another with confused mugs as Andrew mumbled too loudly, “Footballers? What the fuck is that?”
“It is a game. A sport”, He replied.
“What’s a sport?”
He sighed in exhaustion. He didn’t have time for this shit. So He closed His eyes and said a quick prayer to Himself, and as He opened His eyes, He was standing in the center of Anfield. The disciples were in shock, staring up at the rising stands and floodlights.
He smiled at them and said, “Do you understand what Football is now?”
They replied in unison, “Yes, gaffer”.
Thomas raised his hands slowly and asked quietly: “But gaffer, what’s the line up? We’re 12, it’s 11 players.”
He beckoned for them to come closer, and said:
“Listen closely because I am only going to say this once. The people reading this possibly blasphemous piece are waiting for me to get to the point.
So No 1 — Andrew, you’ll be my gatekeeper, my goalkeeper. You were a disciple of my G John the Baptist — so you’re one of the very first to hear the word. And you’re a fisherman so you know how to guard nets. All your life you have brought fish into the net, but now I say to you, you shall keep balls out at all cost — as long as it’s within the 18 yard box of course.”
He turns to John and James:
“The Sons of Thunder! Remember when you and your brother came to ask me to be seated to the left and right in my kingdom? Well, I didn’t say no. I want you to be my wall. You guys are practically twins, so your telepathy will help reading opposing strikers’ plays.
John, my beloved. John. My beardless John. You’ll be my 6.
People say you’re big for nothing, but you’re big for this exact reason. I want you be my Guard, my fence, my human wall. Your words shall be my shield against the pile-drivers of the enemy. You’re the one I love the most; that I trust the most. You’re a son of Thunder like your brother James, so bring that energy onto the pitch. You’ve always been the fastest of the 12 of you, matter of fact you’ll be the first to get to my tomb, but you’re so respectful that you’ll let Peter go in first. This is why I love you, why we all love you.
James, my holy Giant James. You’re the big bad man, my brutal, loud and imposing James. Be my 5. I want you to just be yourself on the pitch. You’re literally going to be the first to die for your belief, just do the same on the field, with your brother. Be my Sweeper. Make sure you literally die before you let any opposition striker come 1v1 with Andrew. Bring that thunder to the defence. Scare them into submission, or let them feel your studs of faith.”
He turned to the disciples and smiled at Peter, saying:
“Number 9 — Peter, my strong-headed Peter. I want you to be my striker. I wanted you to be a center back and guard nets like your brother, but you know how to fish. You will know how to score. I want you to burst nets with that your impetuous spirit. Be vocal on the pitch like you are among your brothers. Remember, you are my rock, and on you I shall build my trophies. There shall be times when you will deny me, when you slip and stumble and miss open chances like Yakubu at the 2010 World Cup. In those times, people will vilify and crucify ye upside down. But do not falter, just get back up. You are my rock. You shall score.”
He gave Peter the captain arms-band and said, “You are my Captain.”
Peter fell to the ground and kissed the hem of His jersey, crying, “Thank you Lord. I shall burst their net. Believe.”
He replied, “Believe.”
At this point, Philip stood in front of his brothers, staring at Him with a pleading look. He smiled and said to him,
“Philip, I want you to be my right back. You and Bartholomew will be my 2 and 3.”
“Why 2, gaffer?”, Philip asked.
“There is a footballer that plays in this same position centuries from now who will be named after you. He is one of the best to ever play this position - and he didn’t have me. Have faith.
Bartholomew, you were brought by Philip, you guys are buddies. I want you to be my 3, my left back. Whip those crosses, take corners quickly. Ye shall see.
Matthew, I want you to be my 10. Let’s face it, you were already a baller before you even met me. You’re rich and have a wealth of skills, and people hate you because you stack paper, because you’re a baller. They basically hate you for being you. I want you to channel that sauce to the midfield. Sometimes they will hate you and say you hold on to the ball too much, but I want you to show them why. You’re the baller, the playmaker — it is who you are, who you were born to be.
You’re going to be my most pivotal player during the match, and that’s the main reason your book is going to be the first gospel in the Bible. Opposing players will hate you for this. You will be the most fouled player on the team, but it’s all for a reason. Look for that space and spread the gospel to your brothers like your book will do for millennia to come.
Jude and James, I want you guys on the wings. Work with Philip and Bartholomew, but more importantly with Peter and Mathew.”
Jude looked dejected as he cleared his throat and asked, “Father, I know you already know this, but may I ask –
“You’re wondering why I went on long monologues about Peter and John but just gave two lines of this piece to you wingers?”
“Well, ask those who wrote the Bible, not much is said about you guys, not much source material to work with. I’m sorry but while you guys are very important to the team, people don’t care about wingers. When was the last time you saw a traditional right or left back or winger win the Balon D’or?”
Thomas cut in, “Erm…literally the last 12 seasons have been won by Messi and Ronaldo, who were originally wingers.
Andrew shook his head and chipped in, “They didn’t win those trophies playing as wingers. But who knows, Salah may win it this season.”
Peter whispered back, “What’s wrong with you man? Salah is Muslim! This piece is biblical! Shhh!”
He sighed in exasperation and turned back, speaking aloud:
“So we have Andrew in goal, Philip and Bart as fullbacks, James and John my 5 and 6, Mathew in 10 and Peter up front, James and Jude on the wings…that makes…”
Peter raised his fingers to count, as Andrew laughed, “This guy, all this years of counting fish you still neva sabi count. Olodo.”
They all burst into laughter and Peter tried to rush at his brother jokingly, shouting, “Your Papa!” to which Andrew responded “OUR Papa!” as they laughed on.
Peter turned to Him and said, “But anachronistic banter aside Lord, that leaves 2 positions missing. Our 2nd CB and a midfielder.”
“Oh I left this two for last for a reason.
Thomas…my cynic, the doubtful man. People will misunderstand your cynicism and questioning nature as lack of faith, but it is the opposite. Your faith is why you will be the one to partner James in defence. I want you to anticipate plays and attacks from the enemy. Be my 4. Be my stopper. Your unsure nature will be of advantage to us. And in the instance that you fail, you always have your partner James who will literally die for this game. Be steadfast.
And Simon, you will be with Matthew. He is going to be targeted a lot, I want you to be a physical presence in that space, giving him time to spread the word without the obstruction of the infidels. Be my 8. I want you to take shots when Peter is inevitably denied opportunities. I want you to track back and support any part of this holy game that needs help. Go from box to box, following the ball, resisting the evil of the opposition and spreading the word all game. This is my word to you.”
After this, everyone was silent as Judas chuckled and asked, “What about me Lord?
He looked at Judas and kissed him three times on his cheek, hugging him for some seconds. Looking him deep in the eyes, He said:
“Judas. You are going to be the most important person of them all. You’re going to be the 12th man - The Fans.”
“Fans? Lord, I want to play the game”, Judas replied.
“I get it oh Judas, and trust me, you shall get your chance. But for now, you are best needed on the sidelines at my side, where we can impact the game from outside.”
“But Lord, this is not fair. Why?”
“Do you know why we are here?”
He pointed around at the stadium stands and said, “Here, Anfield.”
No one answered, so He went on.
“It’s not the biggest stadium. It’s not the largest, none of that. But what this represents is the passion of the game, and the passion that the 12th man brings. Let me show you an example.”
He suddenly clapped His hands, immediately the sound was deafening as they could hear the cheering of tens of thousands of fans, rocking the stadium as the apostles stared on in awe.
“The 12th man is always the difference. He’s why the game exists, for them. He - they are the spirit of the team, they are what keeps the team going in good and bad times. At the same time, the 12th man will betray you all when you need them the most. They will deride you, ridicule you, boo you, they will turn on you at the slightest miss or loss, they will target your families.
But they love you. And they love the game. They love the sport. People do very stupid things in the name of love. You will understand this a lot more, Judas. You too, Peter.”
Peter asked, “Wetin you dey try talk so?”
He looked at Peter and smiled, “You too dey hurry. Just obsav.”
Suddenly they hear a grumpy male voice with an unmistakable Italian accent saying, “So are we going to play or you’re going to keep talking?”
It’s the voice of iconic baldheaded referee Pierluigi Collina, and he raises the whistle to his lips, blowing loudly as the players run to their positions.
As He walked off the pitch towards the sidelines, He looked up at the Kop and the bouncing crowd. In that moment, He realised He didn’t even need glasses anymore, He never actually did. He is Him. So He healed Himself in His own name instantly (fuck Lasik) and as He removed His glasses for good, the Kop erupted into a deafening cheer.
And in that moment, He knew that they would love this sport forever. Women are amazing too, but this…
This might be His greatest creation - Football.