Carlos Hernandez and the Intellectual Scalpel

March 7, 2012

“‘Carloooooooooos Herrrrrrrrrrrnandez’. The PR system rung around Melbourne Victory’s AAMI Park as the introduction of Carlos Hernandez was announced to the home faithful in the biggest game of the season, a derby with cross-town rivals Melbourne Heart. The team sheet shocked every supporter who knew Hernandez, as he was left on the bench. Perplexing. Jim Magilton, the former QPR and Ipswich boss, opted instead for Leigh Broxham and Grant Brebner, a Manchester United youth player, in the centre of midfield.” In Bed With Maradina

Great Football League Teams 31: Liverpool 1961-2

February 25, 2012

“I grew up during a period of near total domination for Liverpool Football Club but one thing I shall always remember is a notebook my Dad had stored away in which he had kept a record of all the FA Cup results for several seasons in the early 1950s.” thetwounfortunates

Racing look for a to return to the glory years

February 25, 2012

“There was a time, before being relegated to the second division in the 1980s, before ‘ceasing to exist’ in 1999, before bankruptcy threatened their existence yet again in 2008, Racing Club de Avellaneda was unofficially the best team in the world after winning three trophies in the space of a year: the 1966 Primera División title, the 1967 Copa Libertadores, and the 1967 Intercontinental Cup, all while breaking several records in the process.” World Soccer

Cardiff claim cup glory

February 23, 2012

“As Cardiff prepare for the Carling Cup final against Liverpool this weekend, the Welsh side know that they have the chance to make history. The club have brought home few major trophies in their 113-year history, but winning the FA Cup final in 1927 against Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal was the culmination of a decade in which the Bluebirds were seen as one of the top clubs in the English league.” ESPN

The importance of potent partnerships

February 20, 2012

“Of the many images football has left in my mind, one of the most intriguing comes from a pre-match warm up more than 15 years ago. Flamengo were about to play Internacional in the Brazilian Championship. Reunited for the first time since winning the World Cup just over two years earlier, Romario and Bebeto were exchanging passes. Bebeto was sleek and somehow vulnerable, like a cheetah. Romario was stocky and merciless, a perfect hyena. The two made natural hunting partners. It is inconceivable that Brazil would have won USA 94 without them.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Sport Italia

February 12, 2012

“If anyone had any doubt about sport’s ability to warp society, Simon Martin’s sumptuous Sport Italia will leave them without arguments. A nation, remember, only since 1861; Italy has survived its first one and a half centuries by following the path described in Benedict Anderson’s influential book, Imagined Communities – and sport has played an integral part in that. Witness the birth of the Giro d’Italia cycle race, launched by a newspaper in La Gazzetta dello Sport that has intervened on many occasions to reflect the interests of politicians, businessmen and lobbyists. Witness also the carefully constructed reputation Italy forged for itself as a motoring nation, both on the track and the autostrada.” thetwounfortunates

Book Review : Sport Italia By Simon Martin
“Italian football is currently at crossroads. Having slipped down in the UEFA rankings in recent years, Italian football has lost its sheen of last two and half decades – a world cup win changed little in the way the game is run. However, it is not just Italian football which is at crisis – the entire nation faces challenges in multiple fields. Italy, which possesses one of the most unstable political systems among developed nations, is on the brink of bankruptcy. Under such circumstances Simon Martin’s ‘Sport Italia’ is a timely and very significant publication. It speaks at lengths about Italian football, but it is not just about football. It takes a holistic view at the deeply rooted relationship between Italian society and sports – it talks about Italy.” The Hard Tackle

Sport Italia: The Italian Love Affair with Sport
“The Italian love affair with sport is passionate, voracious, and all-consuming. It provides a backdrop and a narrative to almost every aspect of daily life in Italy and the distinctively pink-colored newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport is devoured by more than three million hungry readers every day.” amazon

European Championship Stories: 1964 – A Battle Of Ideologies

January 31, 2012

“If the early history of the European Championships can be seen as explicitly wrapped up in the politics of the time, then Spain’s victory on home ground in 1964 European Nations Cup could be regarded as one of international football’s ultimate flashes in the pan.” twohundredpercent

AS Roma and the 1942 Scodetto: A Gift From Mussolini?

January 24, 2012

“The fact that AS Roma have only ever won three scudetti has always been something of an anomaly. Virtuoso players have come and gone, numerous coaches have tried their luck at bringing success to Roma (with varying levels of aptitude), but only Nils Liedholm in 1982/83 and Fabio Capello in 2000/01 have brought the Serie A title to the red and yellow half of Rome since World War Two.” In Bed With Maradoma

This Is Trieste

January 18, 2012

“The port city of Trieste sits apart from the Italian peninsula; a thin sliver of land buffered by Slovenia to the East, and the ‘boot’ to the West. It is a place coveted by many over time, with its Adriatic coastline and strategically valuable trading port the object of desire of many nations and empires over the centuries. As the crossroads between German, Latin, Slavic and Austro-Hungarian cultures throughout history, it is a place with a past of fluctuating identities. Its distinctive local dialect is a convergence of Italian, Slovene, German, Greek and Serbian; its ethnic makeup for centuries unlike any other province of Italy.” In Bed With Maradona

On This Day: Ajax 6-0 Milan, European Super Cup, 1974

January 9, 2012

“With the football authorities having made an unforgivable and irrevocable mess of European competition these days, there is currently little chance of any side from a smaller nation taking the continent by storm. Since Porto and Monaco reached the Champions League final in 2004 – an unusually weak year, in all honesty – the likes of Napoli, Porto and Dortmund find themselves pilfered by the big clubs as soon as they threaten to ransack a closed shop.” FCF (Video)

Denilson: Portait of a Fallen Idol

January 9, 2012

“In 1998 he became the world’s most expensive footballer. A mere ten years later, not even Turkish Süper Lig club Vestel Manisaspor wanted to sign him on a free transfer. Aleks Klosok recounts the rapid rise to and dramatic fall from grace of one of Brazilian football’s great underachievers: Denílson.” In Bed With Maradoma

Hakuna Matata #12: Italy-France ’98 – Di Biagio and the trembling crossbar

January 3, 2012

“On 3rd July 1998 in Stade de France in Saint Denis, the first World Cup ’98 quarter final was played between the hosts, France, and Italy. It was an encounter that would be ultimately be remembered for the Luigi Di Biagio penalty that smashed against the bar to end Italy’s campaign.” The Football Express (Video)

The Angel With Bow Legs

January 2, 2012

“A serial adulterer, a volatile character, an incurable alcoholic and yet undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary entertainers the game is ever likely to see. The controversial, colourful and captivating life of a man many consider to be the forgotten hero of Brazilian Football: Garrincha. On 20th January 1983 at the age of just 49 – a mere 21 years after he was hailed as the greatest footballer on the planet – A Alegria do Povo (The Joy of the People) passed away in Rio de Janeiro penniless and unable to conquer the demon that had blighted his life: alcohol. This is the extraordinary story of an idol who, against all the odds, reached the dazzling heights of success but whose excesses led to a spectacular downfall.” In Bed With Maradona


December 27, 2011

“During the 1990s, a golden generation propelled Colombia unexpectedly up the FIFA World Rankings as far as fourth. Fuelled by an influx of money into the domestic game, Colombia found themselves with several top-class players and went into the 1994 World Cup as one of the tournament favourites. However, less than three weeks after the opening of the tournament, twelve gunshots marked the virtual death knoll of Colombian football.” In Bed With Maradona

Boxing Day bonanza

December 27, 2011

“On Boxing Day 1963, in the midst of the ‘Big Freeze’, the English First Division saw a glut of goals unlike anything before. In total, 66 were scored in the ten matches in the top flight, while across all four divisions there were 160 netted, with seven players bagging hat-tricks and four men sent off.” ESPN

The greatest ever comeback

December 23, 2011

“The Saturday before Christmas in 1957 saw one of the greatest comebacks in football history as ten-man Charlton beat Bill Shankly’s Huddersfield 7-6 at the Valley, having been 5-1 down with only 30 minutes to go. The hero of the (half) hour was Charlton winger Johnny Summers, who scored five and set up the other two in the game. This is the story of that amazing match.” ESPN

A – Partial – Defence Of The Club World Cup

December 17, 2011

“On Sunday morning – if you happen to be in Western Europe – the champions of world club football will be crowned, as the final of the 2011 Club World Cup is played at the International Stadium in Yokohama between Barcelona, the current champions of Europe, and Santos of Brazil, the current champions of South America. The Club World Cup has been running since 2004, but it has yet to engage a great deal of interest in Europe.” twohundredpercent

El Clásico:Luis Figo

December 14, 2011

“Even before arriving in Spain, Luis Figo was at the heart of transfer controversy. Having unwittingly entered an agreement with Juventus in 1995 due to the influence of his club, Sporting Lisbon, an angered Figo then attempted to sign a contract with Parma. As a result, Figo was banned from transferring to an Italian club for two years, something he attributes to the influence of corrupt Juventus director Luciano Moggi. However, Barcelona came to the rescue with a bid of £2.25 million for the Portugal international.” TheFalse9

France, the Front Liberation Nationale and Football

December 12, 2011

“In April 1958, Rachid Mekhloufi stood on the brink of international superstardom. Having scored 25 goals in thirty games to help AS Saint-Étienne win their first Championnat the year before, Mekhloufi was about to win his fifth France cap in a friendly against Switzerland, with coach Paul Nicolas including him in the forty-man pre-selection for Les Bleus’ highly fancied World Cup squad.” In Bed With Maradona

There’s Something About Leicester…

November 23, 2011

“Paul Savill takes an in-depth look at a relationship which has endured the test of time. During his speech at our wedding, my wife’s father worked in my passion for Arsenal and noted that whilst writing his address he had been looking for a link between the Gunners and his home town club Leicester City. As soon as the words left his mouth I blurted out “First game at Highbury”. My father-in-law said he had asked one of his brothers about a link earlier in the day and had been pointed in the direction of the 3-3 draw of 1954, whilst his own research on the official Arsenal website had led him to the twelve goal thriller that was the 6-6 draw in 1930.” In Bed With Maradona

England v The Rest of the World – British Pathé video

November 17, 2011

“Fabio Capello’s team may feel on top of the world after beating world champions Spain, but there was a time when the best the planet had to offer couldn’t even beat them. Rewind to Wembley in 1963, when the likes of Yashin, Puskas and Di Stefano lined up against Alf Ramsey’s team” Guardian

Arsenal and Holland Legend Dennis Bergkamp On His Greatest Ever Goal

November 15, 2011

“One of the finest players to ever grace this planet, Arsenal and Holland great Dennis Bergkamp reveals his finest footballing moment, how he accomplished it and what it still means to him.” Sabotage Times

‘Slim’ Jim Baxter and a Game Of Three Card Brag

November 12, 2011

“Vienna, 1964. It is a bitingly cold December evening. Snow has cascaded down upon the Austrian capital over the past week or so. Just to the west of the very heart of the city, groundsmen at the Praterstadion have been working feverishly, fighting against the chill, to clear the pitch of its newly acquired white blanket. Their efforts are successful but, in its wake, the snow leaves behind a meddlesome, sticky field. The upcoming second leg of the European Cup second round between Austrian champions Rapid Vienna and Scottish champions Rangers looks set to be an ugly affair.” In Bed With Maradoma

The Magic Nights of Toto Schillaci

November 4, 2011

“He came out of nowhere to hit national headlines, yet his meteoric rise ended as quickly as it began. This is the story of Salvatore ‘Totò’ Schillaci, the hero of Italia ‘90, as told by Luca Cetta.” In Bed With Maradona

The Curious Career of Blagoje Vidinić: Bribes, Bank Notes and Balls

October 27, 2011

“Champagne, bags of bank notes and Adidas balls: these were amongst the gifts Macedonian Blagoje Vidinić received during his African odyssey in the early 1970s. This was a man who presided over the joint-worst World Cup performance of all time, but also a man who as a goalkeeper had once rivaled Lev Yashin in many eyes, who had played in Los Angeles, San Diego, St Louis in a pioneering era of American soccer; a man who as coach took two African countries to unprecedented heights – and managed to change the course of world sporting history, by tipping off Horst Dassler just in time for the Adidas head to back the right man in the 1974 FIFA presidential election.” Pitch Invasion

How The Stone Roses stopped the hooligans

October 22, 2011

“The relationship between drugs and football hooliganism was on the slow-burner for many years but, according to the academic researcher Mark Gilman, this changed in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Drugs and raves suddenly became popular in football culture, as the Madchester and acid house movements managed to unite football fans in peace. To understand how this happened, a look into the history of football hooliganism is required. Until the late 1980’s, as Gilman explained in his fascinating study ‘Football and Drugs: Two Worlds Collide’, football hooliganism was rife amongst the working classes.” In Bed With Maradona

Kubala’s legacy at Barcelona

October 14, 2011

“Lionel Messi could become the standalone second highest scorer in Barcelona’s history on Saturday night as the Spanish champions take on struggling Racing Santander – Messi needs just one goal to pass Ladislao Kubala’s 194-goal record in all competitions. César still stands in his way but, while the 24-year-old continues to press his claims as a Barcelona great, he still has some way to go to overhaul the legacy that Kubala left when he played his last game for the club on August 30, 1961.” ESPN

Classic Players: Ronaldo – A year in Catalunya

October 12, 2011

“As part of our ever expanding features this season, we introduce a new section to the website – the classics. As important as the current scheme of Spanish football is, and the future, it would be wrong to neglect its fine history. To overlook this area for us will be Mohamed Moallim, who becomes our chief writer on all things of a historical nature. Here he starts with a ‘phenomenal’ story…” Spanish Football

Happy Twenty First, Germany

October 6, 2011

“It has been, by any standards, a quiet twenty-first birthday. The reunified German nation celebrated its coming of age on Monday, not with wild revelry, but with a mature, modestly demure acknowledgement of this remarkable achievement. Of course, Germany has been young before its time. Alcohol consumption began not this week, nor surreptitiously in mid-teens, but with uncharacteristic abandon upon its very birth, in the wreckage of the Berlin wall in the remarkable autumn of 1990. Germany has been financially responsible for itself for a long time; and for some years has held the keys to the Eurozone door. It is a protective parent, privately admonishing a young, careless Greece, whilst agreeing to bail it out of its worst excesses.” In Bed With Maradona

Three Stadiums, A Team and A Road: Remembering Romeo Menti

October 6, 2011

“Football pays homage to the great and the good through various touching appreciation. At the bottom, above conversation in the pub of course, are songs, ‘I still see that tackle by Moore and when Lineker scored Bobby belting the ball and Nobby dancin,’ that sort of thing. In England most clubs will honour a real legend with a staute, Billy Wright outside Molineux, Billy Bremner at Elland Road, Sir Stanley Matthews at The Britannia. Great managers get roads; Sir Matt Busby Way, Brian Clough Way, Sir Alf Ramsey Way. That prospect certainly gives the adage; Where there’s a will there’s a way, a more physical feel. Finally there’s stands; the Matthew Harding Stand at Stamford Bridge, the Gill Merrick Stand at Birmingham City and so on.” In Bed With Maradona

Scotland, Despair and the World Cup Final

September 30, 2011

“Sport, and perhaps most predominantly football, is one of the few facets of society where men can be unabashedly emotional and not be frowned upon for being so. The TV cameras love identifying a fan showing their feelings at the end of a big game. Whether it’s the ecstatic character celebrating a title win or a weeping child commiserating relegation, football and emotions are inexorably linked and I, like any other fan have experienced every single one over the years.” In Bed With Maradona

2000s Month: Istanbul

September 30, 2011

“It was the night which saw Liverpool born again. The 25th of May 2005 is now synonymous with the European Cup’s most marvellous and fairy tale. Despite the great lustre and rich history surrounding Liverpool, the side were a distant second best to Carlo Ancelotti’s AC Milan boasting some of the best world’s greatest talents. Indeed, the route to Istanbul for Liverpool contained enough twists and turns for the Kopites to perhaps feel it was their team’s destiny to march on and claim their fifth European Cup.”The Equaliser

2000s Month: The Power of Anfield
“In the UK in the early May of 2005, there was a clash between two different ideologies, cultures and backgrounds as Liverpool played Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final second-leg at Anfield. A few days later there was a general election. Although it was a match low on technical excellence and even tactical nous, the drama of the night more than made up for it.” The Equaliser

The Best Of Zidane

September 28, 2011

“You want an intro? No chance. If you need an introduction you’re probably in the wrong place. Nice montage this though, and for once you don’t need to hit the ‘mute’ button. Enjoy! Click the image to watch.” In Bed With Maradona

Talking To Picksi: A Conversation With Stojkovic

September 25, 2011

“Dragan Stojković was born on 3 March 1965, and is one of the finest players ever to emerge from the former Yugoslavia. Nicknamed ‘Piksi’ after a cartoon character from his childhood, Stojković made his name with hometown team Radnički Niš before establishing himself as one of Europe’s best creative midfielders with Crvena Zvezda of Belgrade in the late 1980s. He is one of five individuals to have been named Zvezdina Zvezda (a Star of the Star).” In Bed With Maradona

The Joy of Six: football in the TV studio

September 23, 2011

“From Scotsport’s Bing Crosby-lite review of the year to Mullery v Allison, via Clough and Dunphy, here are some classic moments” Guardian

Brazil’s answer to Emile Heskey looks set to flourish

September 20, 2011

“Brazil have made a habit of producing a fine profusion of strikers in the past. Tostão, Pele and Rivelinho all graced that 1970 World Cup in a team which some have dubbed the greatest squad in the history of the game.” World Soccer

Leandro Damiao: Superstar Under the Radar

September 16, 2011

Leandro Damiao
“Brazil have made a habit of producing a fine profusion of strikers in the past. Tostão, Pele and Rivelinho all graced that 1970 World Cup in a team which some have dubbed the greatest squad in the history of the game. Eight years prior, it was Garrincha and Vavá who stole the show with their fine movement and keen eye for goal that led Brazil to their second title. Fast forward to the modern era and the 2002 tournament which focused on the “Three R’s” of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho, the trio working in perfect tandem that eventually landed their fifth World Championship in South Korea and Japan.” In Bed With Maradona

2000s Month: The Mayfly

September 16, 2011

“The mayfly, that most romantically fated of insects, spends the majority of its life under the surface of the water. After going through several months feeding on decaying flora and fauna; moulting numerous times – going through change after change; they emerge in to the sun. After one final metamorphosis, they dry their wings and take glorious flight. Their mouthparts, however, are not functional, and their digestive system is full of air. They cannot feed. They have but one day to make their mark, to fulfil their purpose, and then they are gone. Their bodies fall down into the water again.” The Equaliser

Sons of Bitches: Ultras and Maradonapoli

September 14, 2011

“While the 1982 World Cup victory created some temporary commonality among Italians the cracks were still there, evident in violence among increasingly extreme football fans. As Winston Churchill apparently quipped: ‘Italians lose wars as if they were football matches and play football matches as if they were wars.’ Inter-fan rivalries pre-dated Fascism’s take-over of the game and continued after the war, with a notorious match between Napoli and Bologna, in 1955, involving a pitch invasion and an exchange of shots between fans and police. Rarely premeditated however, crowd disorder was usually an impetuous, unplanned reaction to on-the-field events. This changed in the 1960s, with pitch invasions, violence and confrontations with the police reflecting and releasing society’s accumulated tensions.” In Bed With Maradona

The Story of the Quinta del Buitre

September 12, 2011

“This is the first article in a superbly in-depth two-part look at the Real Madrid side of the 1980s by Michele Tossani. Featuring interviews with the members of the famed ‘Quinta del Buitre’ , the first instalment charts the rise of the five young prodigies from Castilla hopefuls to first-team regulars.” The Equaliser – Part I, Part II

Eight finals before the finals

September 7, 2011

Dennis Bergkamp, Holland 2-1 Argentina, World Cup quarter-final
“A selection of eight games that really shouldn’t have been wasted on the earlier rounds of the tournaments they took place in.” SI

When the Lions of Bilbao Met the Renengares of Budapest

September 7, 2011

“Football and war have had a strange relationship over the years and have often come together in the most unlikely of circumstances. One famous example is the now legendary (and somewhat mythical) First World War truce in no man’s land when despondent troops from opposing trenches supposedly stopped on Christmas day for a good-natured kick-about. There have been many other instances where football has been affected by war such as the time in 1938 when Liverpool Manager George Kay, along with dozens of top flight footballers, joined the Territorial Army in readiness for the inevitable conflict with Nazi Germany. When the war came many players hung up their boots and took up arms to fight for their country and inevitably some never returned.” In Bed With Maradona

2000s Month: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galacticos

September 6, 2011

“For almost a century, money and soccer lived an uneasy relationship. Teams scraped by on modest sponsorships and reliable but not cosmic TV deals. They competed for players, but dollars and cents arms races were rare. Then came the Galácticos. If the Bosman ruling allowed the snake of commerce into Football’s Garden of Eden, then Florentino Perez swallowed an entire barrel of apples without thought. Looking back, a Madrid fan doesn’t feel vindicated by the trophies. Rather, he or she wonders how they won anything at all.” The Equaliser

Five-star England hammer Germany

September 2, 2011

“In 2001, before the distraction of the transfer window arrived, there was some important football to played on September 1 and on the international stage England completed one of their finest ever results on this day – a 5-1 hammering of the old enemy Germany at the Olympiastadion in Munich.” ESPN

1990s Month: CIS and the Transformation of Eastern Europe

August 28, 2011

“The Commonwealth of Independent States came into existence as a direct result of the break up of the Soviet Union and the consequent state of confusion that such a grand occasion caused. When the newly appointed leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus convened to discuss where the newly sovereign nations of eastern Europe should turn next, the idea of an alliance between them began to take shape.” The Equaliser

1990s Month: World Cup ’94 and the Footprint of the World’s Game

August 24, 2011

“Humans naturally grasp for simplicity and certainty. In the case of soccer in the United States, for the last decade, fans have held their breath, waiting for a watershed moment to shout exuberantly “Soccer has arrived!” Yet nobody feels tectonic plates shift. You just wake up one day and you live in South America, not Africa. The 1994 World Cup was wholly unremarkable in the sporting sense, yet indelibly left a footprint stateside. And that footprint led to a trail far removed from the “pick off-American football-fans” of the collapsed NASL.” The Equaliser

The greatest disallowed goal of all time?

August 24, 2011

“Barcelona defeated Napoli 5-0 in the pre-season Joan Gamper Trophy at Camp Nou on Monday, Cesc Fábregas opening the scoring and Leo Messi knocking in a 15-minute second-half hat-trick. But it could all have been so different for the Italians.” Guardian

1990s Month: Remembering Euro ’96

August 20, 2011

“Euro ’96. It’s easy to look back with fondness on the tournament which was billed as “Football comes home”, a slogan paraphrased in David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds’ huge anthem “Three Lions”. I was fifteen at the time, and being over six feet tall and the proud owner of both a fake ID and a bum fluff beard, it was the first tournament that I watched in the pub.” The Equaliser

1990s Month: Reminiscences of a Scot in the Nineties

August 15, 2011

“I am in my mid twenties, my earliest football memories are from the middle of that decade, of ‘cool Britannia’ and of ‘Britpop’. In 1994, Raith Rovers beat the mighty Celtic in the final of the Coca-Cola Cup. I have no recollection of the game itself, only a picture in my head of people clad in dark blue, celebrating wildly. I remember the contrasting emotions, of joy on one side, of despair on the other, only disbelief uniting blue and green.” The Equaliser

1990s Month: Keegan’s Entertainers

August 12, 2011

“You could always guarantee entertainment at St James’ Park under Kevin Keegan. The goals may not have always been at the away team’s end, but it made for an engaging afternoon nonetheless. The drama, the joy, the heartache; it was all condensed into ninety minutes every week, and it made Newcastle one of the most appealing aspects of English football in the 1990’s.” The Equaliser

1990s Month: Denmark’s European Adventure
“Danish coach Richard Moller Nielsen was on the brink of the sack following Denmark’s failed attempt at qualification for the European Championships in 1992. Nielsen had become sick of seeing his Danish side play beautiful football but lack positive results. He tried implementing his unique managerial approach with the team, but it resulted in one of their most vaunted players – Michael Laudrup – quitting the international game in protest at Nielsen’s playing style. What Nielsen, his squad, and the media didn’t know at the time was that it was an event which would turn out to be for the greater good.” The Equaliser


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