From the slums to the stands. They’ll always want a piece of you.
A desperate boy holds a dark secret.
His only option is to leave home and face the treacherous journey to Europe in the hope of a better life.
A young journalist is determined to bring down the system that creates such desperation.
Two lives intertwined, hunted for nothing more than wanting to create a better world.
Afam is a promising young footballer, but he’s not set for stardom. Working on the streets of AJ City in Lagos, Nigeria, he’s grafts hard so he can support his sister through school. When Sam, a Christian missionary, promises him the world — a trial at a top club – Afam leaps at the chance. But things soon turn sour, and it becomes clear that Sam has ulterior motives. When he confesses to his friend, Leye, about Sam’s unwanted advances, he finds a surprising comrade.
The boys hatch a plan for revenge, but things don’t go according to plan and soon they are on the run. Leye goes into hiding with some questionable friends of his cousin and Afam has nothing else to cling to but the shaky promises of human traffickers who assure him they can get him safely into Europe, where a trial at a Paris club awaits him.
At the same time, Annabel, a British investigative journalist has had a tip-off that in addition to facilitating the shady academies making false promises to young African boys in order to part them with their cash, someone at the top level of football, and maybe government, is clearing the path for ruthless human traffickers to bring these young men into Europe and make modern-day slaves out of them.
Very soon, Annabel finds herself too close to the truth, and some very powerful people want to silence her.
Remember My Name is the latest offering from Erkut Sogut, football agent and author of Deadline, who is shining a light on the darker side of international football. The latest novel investigates the real-life links between African football academies and human trafficking into Europe.
My thanks to Jaime of Ink Editorial for the tour invite and extract. Erkut Sogut previously featured on my blog last year with an extract from his debut novel Deadline.
Remember My Name is published by CA Publishing Ltd (13 December 2022) and is available in ebook/Kindle Unlimited and in paperback.
Isaac stood leaning on the bonnet of the van. He casually scanned the horizon, thinking of their next steps. It didn’t matter that they had killed the guy; the death of an immigrant in a run-down area was not top of the Paris police’s priority list. All they had to do was make sure they properly covered their tracks, lie low for a few days and soon enough someone would file away the case as just another case of immigrant-on-immigrant crime. No doubt there would be those who said he probably deserved it. You didn’t get into those situations unless you knew those sorts of people. Little did they know.
‘Come on, we’ve waited around here too long,’ he said to ‘Patou’, and moved to the front passenger side of the battered, black VW Transporter. The nickname came from the casual term they gave to guard dogs in the mountains. Farmers used them to protect livestock from bears and wolves. Unlike Leye, Patou and Snoop had been with Isaac for years. He trusted them. For now. There was a commotion inside the rear of the van, but left Snoop to deal with it as his phone buzzed in his pocket.
‘Yeah,’ Isaac started. He knew who it was. Only one person had the number. Ousman.
‘I need you to pick someone up. A woman,’ came the reply. He hated talking to Ousman. Tried to make every conversation as swift as possible. The man oozed violence. It came out in every syllable he spoke. But he much preferred to talk to him on the phone. In person, you were at the mercy of his temper. Isaac had seen it in action. It’s how he’d ended up with the job.
‘The journalist that’s been talking to your Boy Wonder. She’s ruffling a lot of feathers. She’ll be at a cafe in the city, near Père-Lachaise. I’ll text you the address. I want her gone. But keep the kid around.’
‘Sure. Ten minutes,’ Isaac said, and hung up. He breathed a brief sigh of relief, shook off the uncomfortable feeling that had crept over him as he spoke to Ousman. He turned to the back of the van.
‘New job, boys. Ousman wants us to pick someone up.’
‘That prick, what are we, a taxi service for his whores?’ came the response.
‘Not that kind of pick up, moron. Some woman refusing to wind her neck in. Wants us to shut her up. Come on, less talk, more action. Let’s go.’
The van’s engine roared to life and they moved off to join the highway back into the city. Whilst Isaac hated talking to Ousman, he always gave him good work, the sort of work he enjoyed. Extortion, kidnap, even the odd murder. From an early age, Isaac had always been able to do the dirty work. He only had one rule — no kids.
Today had been a good day, getting Boy Wonder under their wing, in their pocket. The case would go cold, but he’d always know that they knew he was there. That they could implicate him and bring his entire career tumbling down. He’d be no good on jobs, too goody-two-shoes for that sort of stuff. But they could make sure they took their cut for the foreseeable. And the higher he went, the bigger that cut got. For now, though, they needed him to keep quiet. Kid had a hero complex.
‘Leye,’ Isaac shouted over the racket in the back of the van, ‘Bag him.’
He turned and watched the boy wrap his friend’s head in one of the black burlap sacks they’d brought. Now that kid was dangerous. Nothing seemed to faze him. He did anything you said. Would need a tight leash, though.
The Boy Wonder bucked and struggled against his friend, and Isaac could hear the rapid panting. He decided to fuck with the kid. Told him to be careful who he associated with.
‘This lady journalist is dangerous to know.’
He saw Leye murmur something in his friend’s ear and he seemed to relax. It made it easier for Leye to connect the pistol to the side of his head, landing a vicious overhand strike that sent the kid to the floor.
‘Come on,’ Isaac said to Patou. ‘Put your foot down. We’ve got work to do.’
They pulled into the fast lane and back into the melee of the city.
Dr Erkut Sogut is a player agent, lawyer and lecturer. He is the founder and director of Family and Football and his clients include Mesut Özil, Kieran Gibbs and Kerem Aktürkoğlu. He holds a doctorate in sports law, is the founder of the Football Agent Institute and wrote the definitive book on agenting: How to Become a Football Agent.
Erkut has always been passionate about sport and football and in 2022, married his love of the game with thriller writing, publishing his debut novel, Deadline, which used Erkut’s own experiences to explore the murky world of football agenting.
Remember My Name is his second thriller featuring investigative journalist Annabel Green. Erkut drew inspiration for this book from his own experiences meeting young players in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya and the research of academics into sports trafficking.
Sogut wants to help highlight an area of the sport that is unexpectedly rife with modern slavery. Aspiring players, often children from developing nations, are lured with the promise of professional contracts and the opportunity to develop their skills at clubs in Europe and the US. Deceived into thinking that a new, prosperous life beckons they find themselves losing their fundamental human rights as they are robbed, exploited and abused.
Until now, these crimes have received limited attention from fans, national governments and sporting organisations. This is in part due to a code of silence among the victims, meaning a lack of evidence on the nature and scale of the problem, although early reports suggest between 15-20 thousand young individuals are trafficked from West Africa alone into Europe to play football every year, with many more around the world. Erkut Sogut hopes to use his novel to highlight the issue to fans of the game and eventually bring the practice to an end.
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