When I published The Boy in Brazil in 2014 I never thought I’d end up writing a sequel. As far as I was concerned that was my footballing adventures done.
And so it remained, until one evening I received a notification on Twitter. There was someone looking for British footballers to play in Sri Lanka. Did I know anyone who’d be interested?
In fact, I was pretty interested myself. I’d taken redundancy at work with the idea of writing, and I could write from anywhere. Even better, I could write about my experiences in Sri Lanka.
A few months later, the manager of Trinco Titans got in touch. I was to be his first signing. I asked if he wanted to see me play first, conscious that becoming a professional footballer shouldn’t be so easy as replying to a tweet. But the manager, Thaabit, had read The Boy in Brazil and that was enough for me to be given a contract. Well, almost enough. ‘How tall are you, Seth?’ he asked. When I replied that I was almost 6ft that was more than enough. I was to be Thaabit’s first signing.
Brazil had taught me to be cautious when it came to contracts and so it proved here. My departure date came and went. There were visa issues. No flights. No official contract. And when all was finally sorted and I arrived in Sri Lanka, I found similar organisation with regards to the league, which had no official start date and no end date in sight.
That sense of chaos and confusion never quite left me for my whole time in Sri Lanka: from the cows that grazed in the eighteen-yard box while we trained around them to the hordes of fans who attempted to attack us after we lost yet another game.
Still, I embraced my new surroundings. As far as I’m concerned, Sri Lanka is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. It’s a baffling mix of cultures, traditions and religions that is not long out of a brutal civil war. That led to amazing stories, many of them told by my new teammates.
Everyone I came across went out of their way to make me feel welcome. They made sure that I had an amazing time in Sri Lanka. Even the fans who attacked the team and set fire to our posters in anger weren’t all bad. I wrote everything down as it happened, which has eventually become my new book: Titans of the Teardrop Isle. I hope that it does my nanbans justice.
You can pre-order it for the special price of £8.99 from the Floodlit Dreams website ahead of its release on April 26th. Leave a note when ordering and I’ll even sign it for you.