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Authors: Guy; Arild; Puzey Stavrum

Exposed at the Back

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EXPOSED
AT THE
BACK

EXPOSED
AT THE
BACK

ARILD STAVRUM

Translated by Guy Puzey

First published in the UK, September 2014

Freight Books
49-53 Virginia Street
Glasgow, G1 1TS
www.freightbooks.co.uk

Copyright © 2012, Forlaget Oktober A/S

Copyright © Arild Stavrum September 2014

English translation copyright © Guy Puzey September 2014

First published with the title
Golden Boys
in 2012 by Forlaget Oktober, Oslo

The moral right of Arild Stavrum to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without either prior permission in writing from the publisher or by licence, permitting restricted copying. In the United Kingdom such licences are issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London W1P 0LP.

All the characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental

A CIP catalogue reference for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-908754-66-0
eISBN: 978-1-908754-67-7

This translation has been published with the financial support of NORLA.

Typeset by Freight in Plantin

Printed and bound in Poland

Contents

Part 1

25 July

Murder on Sports Review

Quitting Lasts Forever

The Talent Factory

The Small World of Football

Part 2

24 July

Pride

Ambitions

A Team Sport

Soccer School

Soul of Fire

Fair Play

I Know What’s Killing Him

No Concrete Evidence

Offside

Part 3

23 July

In Shadow and in Sunlight

Football Xtra

Upside Down

The Black Adder

Definite Red Card

Whore

Golden Goal

Part 4

17 July

Walkover

Astroturf Grows Fast

She Wants to Sleep with Me

Not Only in Italy

High Pressure

Monopoly

Chit-Chat

A Hundred Per Cent Chance

Part 5

12 October 2009

“Posh” and “Becks”

Coma

Morning Star

In or Out?

An Accident

Hidden Transfers

Zizu

Part 6

5 October 2009

XYZ

Vroom

… And Now It’s Over to Ullevaal

Unstoppable

I Left My Heart in Bergen

The B-Sample

Football and That Little Xtra

Part 7

29 June 2007

The Chief

Paranoia

Deep in the Forest

Back-Up

Champions League

We’ve Got Plenty of Time, Baby

Part 8

6 April 2004

Coming Out

Spin It

Playing in Black and White Boots

First Goal in 10 Years

What Goes On in the Dressing Room…

Stars

Part 9

20 May 2002

Ballet

Where’s the Lady?

Part 10

7 July 1991

Beyond the Placebo Effect of Acupuncture

The Hunt

Comeback

Acknowledgements

Part 1

25 July

Football was so straightforward. It was 11 against 11, and whichever team put the ball into their opponents’ goal the most times won the match. Many people had tried to glorify the game as if it were something more, emphasising the symbolic significance it could have for a town or area, or even how closely a club or national team could be connected to the very development of a country. But at the end of the day football was straightforward to the point of banality
.

Arild Golden had been a football agent for over 20 years, and he knew the process inside out. On the agenda that day was the sale of Vålerenga’s captain and top midfielder Per Diesen to Everton, the highest-profile transfer of the year in Norwegian football
.

Also present were four representatives from Everton and Golden’s two lawyers. The location was the Wimborne Room at The Ritz. English football executives loved luxury. Golden went for The Ritz because it was in London, far away from Everton’s home town of Liverpool, where the local press would be on the look-out. He got up
.

‘Gentlemen, please excuse me,’ he said. ‘I need a break.’

He walked out into the reception area, looked at the rug covered in pink, flowery patterns, the huge centrepiece of fresh white roses. He stared at his reflection in the large mirror behind the desk
.

His face had a Mediterranean complexion, the skin under his chin taut. His hair had a few grey streaks but, as long as he combed it straight back, that only made him more distinguished. He let out a quick sigh and rubbed at his brow. Then he walked out of the hotel, round the corner and into Green Park
.

He went along the path, tarmac cracked in places, past the deck chairs and further into the park. There weren’t many people around, and the traffic noise was just enough to be soothing. A squirrel ran towards him
.

Golden sat down on a wooden bench, pulled out one of his mobiles and phoned Vålerenga’s director of football
.

‘I’m afraid it’s going slowly here. What’s the absolute lowest offer you can accept?’

‘We can’t let Per go for anything less than 20 million kroner,’ came the reply
.

Football executives. Imagine them giving an agent carte blanche to negotiate over the only thing they had of value: their players. Per Diesen was the biggest name in Norwegian football and his club hadn’t even sent their own people
.

‘20 million might be tough, but I’ll try,’ said Golden. Everton had already offered 4 million pounds. The current exchange rate was 9.2 kroner to the pound. Golden did a bit of mental arithmetic and came to 36,800,000 kroner
.

Half an hour of further negotiations and the deal for Per Diesen’s transfer from Vålerenga to one of England’s biggest clubs was sealed with a handshake. Golden had pushed the transfer fee up to 46 million kroner
.

Golden had been representing Diesen for several seasons. He was special and deserved a million-kroner bonus. Another 4.6 million kroner ended up in the ‘sundry’ column when it came to the accounts. Vålerenga would of course get its 20 million share, except they would have to pay Golden a 20 per cent negotiation fee, so 4 million came back to him. All in all this transfer meant that Golden Boys was left with considerably more money than Vålerenga, the transfer netting his company 24 million kroner, plus small change. 400,000 in small change
.

Murder on Sports Review

‘I know that bloody corpses are usually something for the main news, but don’t forget Arild Golden was the most powerful man in Norwegian football,’ said Benedikte, getting up from her chair and planting her hands on the table.

Benedikte Blystad was 26 years old, a blonde city girl from Oslo, but her job as TV2’s sports anchor had made her tougher than her age or appearance would suggest. Still, she’d never seen Kåre Jan Vasshaug as worked up as he was now, as they argued in the channel’s cramped meeting room in Bergen’s Nøstet district.

‘You can’t seriously think that the year’s number one national news story should be put in
Sports Review
!’ said Vasshaug, loosening his tie and throwing off his suit jacket.

Benedikte listened, just like the rest of Norway did when the respected news anchor spoke, but she gripped the edge of the table, her knuckles turning white as Vasshaug’s voice bounced off the walls. Vasshaug’s Sunnmøre accent gave him the authority he needed to report on 300 people dying in a plane crash or a flood in Bangladesh, or to underscore the unlikely idiocy of his top story ending up in
Sports Review
.

Benedikte rubbed her cheek as she held Vasshaug’s gaze.

‘I was just speaking to the editing team,’ she said. ‘They won’t be able to get the report finished until 20 past. That’ll be too late for the main news.’

‘Rubbish. I can talk our way through it.’

‘The story needs pictures. We’ll have to wait.’

‘Now listen,’ Vasshaug began before being interrupted by the controller of TV2, on a live link from his home in Oslo.

‘Sit down,’ he said. ‘We need a decision. What do you think, Bertil? Has Benedikte got the gravitas to present such a tough story?’

‘Benedikte will be great,’ said Bertil Olsen, chief editor of TV2
Sports Review
. ‘I understand Kåre Jan’s objections, but the story has an obvious sports interest too. A football agent’s been killed three days before the transfer window opens. But the most important thing is that the editing team’s running late. We don’t know whether it’ll make the main news.’

‘Sports interest!’ said Vasshaug, spreading out his arms. ‘Golden was also the agent of that teenage idol pop star, Sabrina.’

Benedikte had her iPhone hidden beneath the edge of the table. She texted the head of the editing team: ‘OK, you get one dinner.’

Seconds later the head of the editing team popped his head round the door and said: ‘Sorry folks, I’ll need more time.’

‘That decides it,’ came the voice from the TV monitor. ‘Kåre Jan, you won’t say anything, and Benedikte, you prepare a teaser. Say as much as you can without mentioning Golden’s name, but make sure you get people hooked, I want record ratings for this broadcast. Now let’s get moving with a quick auction by our biggest sponsors. They will have to bleed if they want airtime between the main news and
Sports Review
. Benedikte, get yourself ready.’

Benedikte gave Bertil a quick nod before running off to her work station. Her hands were shaking as she sat down at her computer to write the text for the autocue. She was feeling nervous for the first time since her on-screen debut. The words for the camera were more important than ever. They weren’t about Vålerenga players out on the town, line-dancing border collies, cheese rolling festivals or some other crap meant to calm down the viewers after the main news. Today it was serious.

She got up and hurried down the corridor. Past computers and messy desks where tobacco tins, Coke bottles and empty pizza boxes fought for space with tatty old tabloid papers and editions of
Rothmans Football Yearbook
. She went round the corner and ran into a cameraman on his way to the lift, but she just kept moving. She swung open the door and threw herself into the make-up chair.

‘I haven’t got much time, Karianne,’ she said.

The make-up artist opened her powder palette and pulled out her brushes in a single movement. The brushes sped over Benedikte’s cheeks, forehead and neck, spreading the make-up so that she looked exactly like she always did on TV.

‘He was such a handsome man,’ said Karianne, concentrating on
Benedikte’s face.

‘Who?’ asked Benedikte.

‘Arild Golden. I heard that he’s been killed. It’s awful.’

‘Did you ever meet him?’

‘He sat in this chair a few times and he was always so considerate, completely different from the impression you get through the media.’ Karianne started with the airbrush. She sprayed a little extra make-up on the small birthmark under Benedikte’s left ear. Benedikte couldn’t stand the airbrush. They said it was make-up for HD when they introduced it, but she got fed up having it sprayed up inside her nose. Now she just agreed to that little final touch.

She left the make-up room and took the lift down to the studio, jumping over strewn cables and more pizza boxes from Dolly Dimple’s. She sat down in the chair next to Kåre Jan, who’d done up his tie and put his jacket back on.

Benedikte looked down, like she always did in the last few seconds before going on air. A black jacket with a purple silk top. The first time she was due to present she’d worn a polka dot shirt. ‘That won’t do,’ Bertil said, making her get changed. Dotted or chequed shirts or anything with intricate patterns interfered with the TV picture. Now she had to check every time: no patterns, and not too much blue.

Silence. They were live. Vasshaug turned to her and said: ‘And now over to you, Benedikte, with a most serious story from the world of football.’

‘That’s right, Kåre Jan. As we all know, Norwegian football has been in a downwards spiral for the past few years. The national team has been losing and our clubs plummeting out of European competitions. We’ve brought you reports on doping, match-fixing and widespread financial corruption, but tonight’s story is the most serious yet. You’ll hear about it right here, in a TV2 exclusive, straight after the break.’

The main news faded out, and the transmission went to an unusually long break. Then the screen showed vibrating red and blue outlines, numbers and letters flying across into a kind of net. Benedikte looked down at her clothes, then at the autocue. She paused for a second longer than usual and didn’t smile.

‘Good evening. Arild Golden, the long-standing football agent and well-known TV commentator, was found dead this evening in his office at Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo. The police are regarding the death as suspicious and have begun investigations. TV2 understands that there
have been no arrests in connection with the case. TV2
Sports Review
will follow this story over the coming days. Visit our website at
www.tv2.no/sport
to read the latest news on Mr Golden’s death.’

BOOK: Exposed at the Back
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