Outside the Terracota Army near Xi’an (where I launched a beautiful free kick over a wall of imitation statues) there are many tourist-tat-traders / thieves. We were surrounded quickly, our pockets felt and as always the Ball received much attention. This warrior couldn’t resist a touch:
Shortly afterwards, as our attentions were bombarded with diversions, I noticed the ball gone…
…asking Chris, Rob and Tim if they have seen our precious item, I get the response that the old man had it.
The moment of theft – caught on film
Where is he?
Don’t know, I think he went that way, one of them says.
I look in the direction of pointing, don’t see him and so hurry off. Asking along the row of stalls bordering the street, my football mime pays off as I am directed round the next corner. From there I finally spy the Ball 100 yards up the road being kicked further into the distance by a group of 5 or so. I gently quicken my pace, not disturbing their flight, and reach them to be greeted by protestations as I ask for the ball back!
Click here to see Chris’ footage of my final grab back. You can just make out a guy to my left with his hand in my pocket who, as I turn back down the street, is suggesting that I give him 2 dollars for the Ball. I refused.
Ball recovery from thieves in Xi’an.
Written by Phil Wake on Monday, May 27th, 2002