Kiev, October 1997. This is how it was. "Show nothing gold," warned the guard at the airport. I stopped to get some chewing gum and got back a handful of coins the size of Smarties. The streets were grey and there were baboushkas wrapped in headscarves down every subway, selling odds-and-ends from dirty blankets that were frayed about the edges. McDonald's had just opened on Sevastapol Square and through the polished glass people in fur coats were eating Filet-O-Fish and Chicken McNuggets. A bunch of us found a basement bar where we downed vodka and pickled herring with a group of men in dark leather jackets who'd come up to see the game. One of them invited us to Odessa. "Yeah, why not?" someone said, but the flight back was straight after full-time and we were all at work the following afternoon.
I didn't realise then that work would one day take me there.