One day after school.
I came home from soccer practice and was changing my shoes at the door when my mother came out.
My family was not that wealthy and my parents both work, so it was not unusual for me to come home after practice and find no one home.
…But it looked like Mom finished work early today.
Kenji has a visitor.”
Who could it be? I wondered, and moved to the living room.
Then I saw a dandy man in his forties sitting on the sofa.
“Kenji-kun, it’s been a while.”
The gentleman called my name in a mature voice.
His name was Matsunaga-san and he was the coach of “Teijo High School,” one of the most prestigious soccer schools in Tokyo.
And the reason why the coach of such a prestigious school was at my house was because I have received a recommendation from Teijo High School.
Thank you for coming all the way here today.”
“No, no, this is no big deal to come to your house.”
Matsunaga-san smiled calmly.
Rumor has it that he was a rather strict coach.
But I’ve had him visit me several times now, and I’ve never seen anything like that.
“But even so, Kenji-kun’s last pass in the last game was brilliant.”
“No, it was because Touya-kun was in a good position.”
“Even so, no ordinary player could have calmly slipped the ball past the opponent’s legs in a tense situation and accurately placed it at the feet of Touya-kun.
Matsunaga-san, who was at the game the other day, seemed to be enjoying himself a little and praised my play.
Matsunaga-san appreciated my pass very much.
About a year ago, I replaced a senior who was injured at the time, and I made three passes that led to a goal.
My performance caught the eye of Mr.
Matsunaga, who happened to be watching the game, and thankfully, I received a recommendation.
To be honest, I was so happy to hear about the recommendation that I jumped… But, I—
“So what do you think? Are you ready to come to my place?”
“U-Um… I’m sorry.
I’m still having a bit of a hard time…”
Although Matsunaga-san offered me his recommendation, I was unable to make a decision.
There are two types of recommendations for “Teijo High School.” One was a special recommendation that waives most of the tuition and other fees.
Those would be prepared for those who are expected to go immediately.
The other was a general recommendation that only guarantees admission to the high school.
The recommendation I received was for the latter.
In this case, I would have to pay all the high tuition fees of a private school, and since Teijo High School was located far from my home, I would have to live alone in a dormitory, which would also cost me money.
In addition, the soccer teams of strong schools often go on expeditions, so they need money for that as well.
In other words, it was a considerable burden for those of us who were not particularly wealthy.
Both of my parents told me not to worry about it, but as a child, I couldn’t.
“Umm… if I make it to the nationals, you’ll put me up for a special recommendation to Teijo High School, right?”
I can’t guarantee you a special recommendation, but I’ll talk to my superiors.”
Matsunaga-san nodded his head in agreement to my words.
I have a deal with Matsunaga-san that if our soccer team makes it to the national tournament, he would recommend me for one of the special recommendation slots.
Fortunately, the special recommendation slots don’t seem to be filled yet.
“I’m hoping you’ll decide to enter our high school as soon as possible.
Otherwise, the recommendation slots will fill up fast.”
“Umm, I’m sorry…”
“No, I’m the one who inadvertently expressed my true feelings because you are a promising athlete.
I apologized, and Matsunaga-san apologized back.
“More importantly, good luck in the upcoming matches.
I’m looking forward to it.”
I replied energetically.
He was the only person other than Touya and Ruri who would say that they had high expectations for me.
After that, Matsunaga-san talked with my mother for a while and then left.
They were probably talking about recommendation-related matters.
After Matsunaga-san left, I finished eating dinner and was in my room.
Sitting on a chair, I looked at the pamphlet of “Teijo High School” that Matsunaga-san had given me.
They were a regular participant in the metropolitan tournament and have participated in the national tournament more than ten times, winning the national championship twice among them.
“If I can get into this high school, I’m sure I can get closer to my dream…”
I have had a dream since I was a little kid: to be a professional soccer player.
When I was little, my father, who enjoyed watching soccer games, took me to the stadium.
The moment the game started, the stadium was filled with cheers from the crowd and I saw the players running on the field surrounded by fans and I wanted to be like them.
That was when I started practicing and playing soccer.
Even though I knew I was not as talented as others, I practiced hard.
I was glad that what I had cultivated in that way was appreciated by the coach of a strong school, even if it was by accident.
I was really glad that I have worked so hard at soccer.
“We definitely have to win the next game.”
Looking at the pamphlet, I made up my mind.
If we win the next game, I might get into Teijo High School with a special recommendation.
Then I could enter high school and pursue my dream with all my might without putting a burden on my parents.
If we don’t make it… then I’ll just have to thank my parents from the bottom of my heart and ask them to let me into “Teijo High School” with a general recommendation.
I’ve already talked to them about it.
Suddenly, my phone rang.
On the screen were the words “Touya.”
He probably wanted to ask about Ruri.
“I’ve made up my mind.”
From now on, I will work harder at soccer.
And I would forget about my feelings for Ruri.
I thought so after meeting with Matsunaga-san today.
Besides, recently, Touya has been approaching Ruri, and it seemed he was working incredibly hard.
It was a big difference from me, who just stayed together with her without any action.
So, as his best friend, I should support his love life.
“Hello, it’s Kenji.”
After making a strong decision, I picked up the phone.
At that moment, I gave up my feelings for my childhood friend of more than ten years.
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