Are You There God? It’s Me, Olivier: An intercepted prayer from Russia, by Al James

Day 8

Over the course of the World Cup, Howler will feature a different writer each day reflecting on the action, their own experience of the day’s games, or just offering a consideration of what they’ve seen and felt so far. Today, just when you thought we’d focus on Lionel’s Misfortune, another poem (or rather, a prayer)—this one about (or rather, from) a Frenchman.

A verified transcript of a prayer from Olivier Giroud dated June 20th, 2018.

Oh mighty God.
Tactical hand that guides the heavens and earth
(And presumably sets the point spreads)
Chooser of lineups.
Decider of formations.
The big video assistant referee in the sky.
Jefe, with all due respect.
Let me cut to the chase.
I’m tired of coming off the bench.
I’ve been thy faithful servant for my entire career.
For many matches, for many seasons, I’ve carried this burden.
Quietly, without grumbling.
I have been content with the scraps.
The goals that don’t require another camera angle.
The toe poke.
The glancing header.
The awkward deflection.
You’ve seen the video.
I don’t need to remind you.
And I celebrated all of these with a holy devotion.
Grateful for each one.
I trusted you and I was blessed.
You said “follow me” and I did.
Wherever you led, always ready for each trial and tribulation.
To Arsenal.
To a boot contract with Puma.
To a print campaign with Hugo Boss.
I am thy faithful servant.
You know me father.
I am not Thierry Henry.
I am not Robin van Persie.
I am Olivier. Number 9
The young boy from Chambéry
Who would hide in terror from ALF re-runs.
Who grew into a tall, muscular frame
A huge target.
Underappreciated.
Undervalued.
The forgotten one
(Who is somehow clutch might I add)
And I no longer want to be plan B.
I am tired of being the striker behind glass to break in case of emergency.
I am ready to heed the call.
To be thy vessel on the front lines.
Start me Lord.
I am ready.
Another prayer from Olivier Giroud was intercepted on June 21st, 2018 presumably following France’s 1-0 win over Peru.
Dear God.
It’s me Olivier again.
I know you’re busy with Messi.
Did you see the highlights?
I think we all know that was going in whether or not Mbappe gets a foot on it.
Should’ve been mine.
But I won’t disgrace thy blessed gifts with complaining.
It wasn’t pretty.
But that is who you’ve made me.
Amen.

Al James was a cherry-picking, ball-hog striker in high school and college. He’s currently a freelance creative director, writer and book editor in Portland, Oregon where he’s raising two future ball-hogs and swinging flies for steelhead when he can.