I first met Kez when I was coaching Ottawa Internationals in 2000. I'd just arrived from New Zealand (long story) and he'd just arrived from England.
The odds against us hitting it off were pretty long. He came from Manchester and was, quite ostentatiously, despite coming from Manchester, a ManU fan. I, obviously, given my charm and intelligence, come from Liverpool. I'm not a ManU fan.
But hit it off we did. And 19 years later, when my waist has doubled in size and he has styled his hair like Nicky Butt, we are still close friends.
It is hard seeing each other these days, but when we do, we haven't skipped a beat.
We actually arranged a drink on this fine Friday night. So off we went to O'Brien's, which passes (just) for a local, and had some wings and beers and remembered how handsome and suave we used to be, and what wonderful footballers we were in our prime.*
I'd intended to surprise him for his birthday with a record I'd found of his dad playing banjo and singing. (His birthday is in December, so you'll appreciate how long it has been since we saw each other.) His dad is legendary banjo player Bernie Shaw - and I;d found a signed LP on eBay. I gave it him last night, and he was made up.
So was I. Friends as good as Kez are hard to find.
*My prime lasted from 3.27 on a Saturday in March 1983, to approximately 3.33 that same day. His lasted somewhat longer.