AT HIS lowest ebb in a Bulgarian jail cell, Michael Shields picked up a pen and paper and began to write. Then a terrified 18-year-old wrongly imprisoned in a place where few spoke his language, he found comfort in recording his thoughts. Four years later, those early diary entries and countless hours of interviews have been transformed into Michael’s story. Today, as Michael Shields: My Story goes on general sale, the ECHO publishes exclusive extracts from the book. It is the first hand account of the dream trip to a Champions League final in Istanbul that turned into a nightmare as he was arrested and eventually charged with the attempted murder of Bulgarian waiter Martin Georgiev. Released after more than four years in prison, the book tells the 23-year-old’s story in his own words – of the battle to clear his name and the remarkable campaign staged by his family, friends and the ECHO to see justice done. Here the football fan recounts the night of May 30, 2005, when his world came crashing down.
* BUY Michael Shields: My Story here and check out our dedicated section featuring a full story archive and exclusive six-part video interview here
EXCITEMENT about going home wakes me up in the morning. On my first holiday abroad without my parents, I’ve seen Liverpool make history, and travelled through two countries, but now I’m ready to get back to my city and my family.
My suitcase is already packed and it’s just a case of waiting. I’ve slept through breakfast but Kieran and John come up and say there are police downstairs taking everyone’s passports from the hotel deposit safes.
I go downstairs just in case, and get our passports because our flight tickets are with them. We’re sitting in the room when there’s a knock on the door.
Three policemen walk in and tell us, in broken English, to put on white T-shirts, bring our passports, and follow them. We’re worried and confused.
“What for?” we each ask.
But they are not interested in explaining anything and tell us to follow them now.