Szczesny’s Ghost

Unfinished business is one of the few things that makes a farewell bittersweet. If someone is going abroad for work and you know they will return, you can focus on the return. When someone leaves under a dark cloud we often feel both sad and relieved. But when someone leaves with unfinished business it’s like time for them just stops. We only remember them how they were. We wonder “what if?” And in that way, they become ghosts.

It’s odd that almost the entire human mythology around ghosts deals with unfinished business. In Japan there is a famous ghost story about a young girl named Okiku. Okiku was a servant to a powerful Samurai. The lord wanted to have her sexually and she refused all of his advances. So, the Samurai tricked her: he hid one of ten family heirlooms (plates) and blamed her for stealing. Normally, he said, she would have to pay for this crime with her life but he, being a gentle and kind lord, would wave the death sentence if she would requite his love.

Okiku refused and instead sought to prove her innocence, counting the plates over and over, reaching only 9 each time. Okiku became frenzied searching for the 10th plate and her lord once more offered to forgive her, for sex. She refused again and in a fit of rage, the Samurai threw her to her death down the castle well.

Okiku returned to haunt the Samurai. She would come to the castle every night, searching for the 10th plate. Counting slowly to nine and letting out a blood curdling shriek when she reached 10. It is said that the Samurai went mad and was killed in a rash attack on his enemies but Okiku still haunts his castle. It is also said that if you see Okiku, you can dismiss her by saying the number ten (Juu*) after she says the number nine. Thus, completing her count.

Wojciech Szczesny signed for Juventus today. Whether that was because Wenger threw him down the well or because Szczesny refused to play for Wenger we won’t know until Wenger or Szczesny write their explosive tell all book, “Smoking in the Boys Room”.

But what I do know is that Szczesny’s departure from Arsenal is one of the most bittersweet in recent years. He’s a 27 year old goalkeeper with massive potential going to a club with an impressive pedigree where he will no doubt compete for football’s highest honors. And every time Szczesny makes a great save in a Champions League match, or wins the Serie A with Juventus, his ghost will haunt our blogs and Twitter feeds.

And to make things worse, Szczesny has given us all a heartfelt fond farewell. RIP Szczesny.

I remember being a young boy in Poland, watching David Seaman, Thierry Henry, Dennis Berkamp and others play for Arsenal. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get a chance to play for the club I supported as a little kid. When I was approached by Arsenal in 2005 my world changed forever. I began my journey as a 16 year old boy at the Arsenal's academy, trying to one day become a first team player, going out for evening runs in East Barnet with Jack Wilshere. Little did we know then, that couple years later we'd beat Barcelona in the Champions League and wear the no.1 and no.10 shirts. It has been over 11 years since I became an Arsenal player and I never thought the day I leave this club would come. Everything that I am and everything that I have, I owe to Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Liam Brady, David Court, Bob Arber, Steve Bould, Neil Banfield, Mike Salmon, Tony Roberts, Gerry Peyton, Pat Rice and many others. Words can't describe my gratitude to these people and love for this club. Today I move on, ready for the new challenge in my life, taking with me only the good memories and bag of expierience. I leave hopeful that those days of Berkamp,Henry, Seaman and others are soon to return to Emirates Stadium and Arsenal get back to winning the Premier League. I may not be an Arsenal player no more but I will carry the Arsenal name with me wherever I go and I will do so with great pride. Once a Gunner, always a Gunner! ❤

A post shared by Wojciech Szczesny (@wojciech.szczesny1) on

*The number 9 in this story is important because the pronunciation of 9 in Japanese (ku) is a homophone for suffering. 10 in Japanese has an added connotation of completeness because it’s a homophone for “enough” (Juuppon).


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