For some time the boy — now 23, and whose id is being withheld to guard his privateness — stored 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 heart at Clairefontaine, arguably the world’s main soccer ending college. He knew Clairefontaine had been the launching pad for dozens of prime French skilled gamers. So slightly than converse up in regards to the disturbing messages, the boy mentioned nothing to his teammates, coaches or dad and mom.
The primary inkling that one thing was unsuitable got here on a bus experience in 2012. The squad of gifted youngsters was in a sometimes boisterous temper. They had 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 teacher to the boy, telling him he beloved him. His response was to burst into laughter — after which to learn the messages aloud to the remainder of the gamers.
“All of us mentioned to him, ‘Is that your father or what?’” mentioned Hedi Mehnaoui, a goalkeeper who was current. Simply coming into their teenagers, he mentioned in a latest interview, they weren’t mature sufficient to know the influence the messages might need had on the boy, or any motives San José might have had for sending them.
However, trying again, Mehnaoui mentioned, he now remembers his buddy speaking usually about quitting the academy. “He no means actually defined why,” mentioned Mehnaoui, who was the boy’s roommate. “He stored every thing to himself, so I didn’t ask an excessive amount of both.”
Just a few months later, the boy’s mom additionally turned 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 in regards to the message, she mentioned, however he was additionally coping with a severe sickness, so she determined she can be the one to confront San José, in particular person. She did so with a letter, handed to him at Clairefontaine, that instructed him to not ship any extra messages to her son or to be alone with him underneath any circumstances. San José, she mentioned, disarmed her telling her that in his tradition — he has a Spanish background — it was routine to say issues like “I like you” even to folks outdoors your individual household.
The matter might need ended there however for a dialog overheard two watchmen accountable for taking care of the crew throughout a routine night inspection. They had been proven messages — forwarded to 2 different boys — that they had been advised had been written San José. “I’m fed up that it’s at all times me saying I like you,” one learn, in accordance with one of many watchmen.