For some time the boy — now 23, and whose id is being withheld to shield his privateness — saved the messages to himself. He knew he was lucky, chosen amongst a gaggle of two dozen boys who got coveted locations residing and coaching at France’s nationwide coaching middle at Clairefontaine, arguably the world’s main soccer ending faculty. He knew Clairefontaine had been the launching pad for dozens of prime French skilled gamers. So moderately than converse up concerning the disturbing messages, the boy mentioned nothing to his teammates, coaches or dad and mom.
The first inkling that one thing was incorrect got here on a bus trip in 2012. The squad of proficient youngsters was in a sometimes boisterous temper. They have been poking enjoyable at each other when Tiago Escorza, one of many gamers, picked up his teammate’s cellphone. Escorza, now 23, recalled seeing messages from the trainer to the boy, telling him he cherished him. His response was to burst into laughter — after which to learn the messages aloud to the remainder of the gamers.
“We all said to him, ‘Is that your father or what?’” mentioned Hedi Mehnaoui, a goalkeeper who was current. Just getting into their teenagers, he mentioned in a current interview, they weren’t mature sufficient to grasp the influence the messages might need had on the boy, or any motives San José might have had for sending them.
But, wanting again, Mehnaoui mentioned, he now remembers his good friend speaking usually about quitting the academy. “He never really explained why,” mentioned Mehnaoui, who was the boy’s roommate. “He kept everything to himself, so I didn’t ask too much either.”
A couple of months later, the boy’s mom additionally grew to become conscious of the messages. Switching on a brand new cellphone she had purchased her son, she found a textual content from San José.
Her husband was livid concerning the message, she mentioned, however he was additionally dealing with a severe sickness, so she determined she can be the one to confront San José, in individual. She did so with a letter, handed to him at Clairefontaine, that instructed him not to ship any extra messages to her son or to be alone with him beneath any circumstances. San José, she mentioned, disarmed her by telling her that in his tradition — he has a Spanish background — it was routine to say issues like “I love you” even to individuals exterior your personal household.
The matter might need ended there however for a dialog overheard by two watchmen accountable for taking care of the staff throughout a routine night inspection. They have been proven messages — forwarded to two different boys — that they have been advised had been written by San José. “I’m fed up that it’s always me saying I love you,” one learn, in accordance to one of many watchmen.