F o o t b a l l , d e s i g n & W IT “I am black or white, I’ll never be grey in my life.” Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona Boca Juniors APPS: 71 • GoaLS: 35
www . p i c k l e s m a g a z i n e . c o . u k
Players of Sparta Langenhagen discussing their first round defeat in the Hanover County Cup. More on page 38-41
Christian A. Werner
editor's letter ssue ten! We made it. Another milestone and the most iconic, symbolic and historic of footballing numbers. The number of the greats, the geniuses, the free thinkers, the enigmatic heroes, the playmakers, the fantasistas. It was only right that we should celebrate the landmark of reaching our tenth issue, so we’ve redesigned the magazine and created four alternative covers, inspired by the greatest number 10 of them all... El Pibe de Oro, Barrilete Cósmico, El Diez, or simply Diego Maradona.
Editor Arnold Bérnid Creative Director Ned Read Words & Pictures Matt Brooke
Featuring the usual mix of articles and demonstrating the razor sharp wit that you’ve come to expect from your favourite auto asphyxiating pooch; Tom Dowding reminisces about his formative years spent watching young Italian men run around in very tight shorts with very baggy shirts. This is the 1990’s. This is Serie A. We chatted to one of the few Englishmen to venture overseas and ply his trade in Spain, Austin Eaton. And Greg Lea focuses on the heartbreaking tale of a fallen captain, Agostino Di Bartolomei.
“My mother thinks I am the best. And I was raised to always believe what my mother tells me.” Diego Maradona
James Carruthers Luke Constable Richard Copeman Tom Dowding
We like a theme here at Pickles and apart from it being our tenth issue, we’re focusing on Gluttony. Craig Easton takes us on a culinary tour of his footballing past. Was Puskás really such a fatty? Luke Constable has the answer. And who really ate all the pies? Mark Holloway shines the light on you greedy buggers - that’s right, the fans.
Joe Downes Craig Easton Jonathan Harding
Along with the array of writing excellence that only an independent, selffunded, football magazine could boast, we have a plethora of artistic talent; the excellent Brendan Higgins actually did a painting and some lads from Portugal went down to Hackney Marshes to photograph an owl.
Mark Holloway Laura Jones
Thanks again for your support. And spread the word, we appreciate it.
Arnold Bérnid & The Pickles Team
thanks Steve Leard
04 ... Winner Winner Chicken Dinner Words by Craig Easton
12 ... Remembering The Fantasistas Words by Tom Dowding
22 ... Pickles Porkers XI Words by James Carruthers
30 ... Think Outside The Box Tailoring and Football
06 ... The Man With The Heart of Cake Words by Luke Constable
16 ... The Fallen Captain Words by Greg Lea
24 ... Who Ate All The Pies? Words by Mark Holloway
36 ... Three’s A Crowd Words by James Phillips
09 ... It’s No Mickey Mouse League Words by Alex Stewart
19 ... Hungry And Homeless Words by Laura Jones
27 ... Generation Game Words by Richard Copeman
38 ... Every Sunday A project by Christian A.Werner
11 ... A Brit Abroad Words by Austin Eaton & Joe Downes
20 ... Where The Owl Sleeps Words by Nuno Amado
28 ... Third Party Ownership Words by Simon Curtis
42 ... The German Revolution Words by Jonathan Harding
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The opinions expressed in the magazine are the views of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of Pickles Magazine. We accept no liability for any misprints or mistakes and no responsibility can be taken for the contents of these pages. © All rights reserved. All material in Pickles Magazine may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of Pickles Magazine.
words by craig easton former scotland u21 Artwork by Quiet British Accent
ere you go Easty.” I look up from my newspaper as my manager, Paul Sturrock, places two plastic shopping bags on the table in front of me. One is full of an assortment of fruit and veg and the other, which has three foil wrapped slabs inside, has the distinct and wonderful aroma of a roast dinner. He hands me a small, dangerously sharp, knife and gives me the following instructions. “I was up last night doing a wee bit of cooking, so could you sort me out a salad or something, then share the rest among the boys?”. Before I’ve had time to reply, he’s back in his seat at the front of the bus before we set off on our five hour journey north for an away match the following day. As a captain, if the gaffer asks you to do something, you carry out his instructions to the best of your ability. I’d already had a fairly large task to deal with as the new skipper of Southend United in the first few months of the 2010 season. Attempting to bring together a brand new squad of players (myself included) for a good crack at promotion from League Two under a new management team in the wake of a financially driven clear-out the season before was a formidable challenge, but this was a test of my leadership skills I hadn’t expected. The lads spent the next hour laughing while I sweated buckets; trying to avoid serious injury as I attempted to ‘chop’ onions, carrots and peppers onto a plate which would slide around the table every time the bus rounded a corner. I found a couple of slightly less lethal knives from the bus cutlery drawer and did what all good captains do - delegate. Paul’s son Blair sliced a mango and left back Peter Gilbert helped with the salad as I started on the meat - a full roast chicken, along with huge joints of lamb and beef! By the time we’d reached the M1, we’d prepared a ‘rustic’ chicken and mango salad, and the meats had been sliced up and served with some roast veg re-heated in the microwave. The gaffer was sleeping. Not surprisingly, the days of consuming roast dinners and steak and chips before games are a thing of the past and I think that nowadays footballers at all levels have a reasonable understanding of sensible sports nutrition. Players at top clubs collaborate with nutritionists who tailor a menu to the individual’s needs, and the canteen often resembles a michelin starred restaurant with food to match. The once dreaded body fat tests have become standard protocol, usually taken every two weeks with an acceptable ratio being between eight and twelve percent for an elite player to avoid membership of the ‘fat club’ and some extra sessions. No names mentioned, but I’ve played with some who struggled to get below fifteen, saying that, they could still play a bit. Sports science and nutrition have increasing importance in elite football, however, even the experts admit that whilst it’s paramount that players are putting the right foods into their bodies, it’s also important that they enjoy what they’re eating and get the balance right. This isn’t always an easy task and it’s difficult to maintain discipline and consistency, especially when you’re on the road (as evidenced quite literally above) or, on the odd occasion, playing in a foreign country. As a young player in the Scotland youth set up, I was
lucky enough to play in many European countries and I found out very quickly that if I didn’t eat whatever was in front of me, then firstly I would go hungry and secondly, I wouldn’t be preparing properly for the game. I was one of the more experimental eaters in the squad, (mainly because I’m always hungry) but there were some cases where the food served was too exotic even for a teenager from cosmopolitan Airdrie. I recall an occasion where I instigated a mass burial of Hungarian meat-filled pancakes in a hastily dug hole at the back of our hotel; being mindful of upsetting our friendly hosts, but also fearful of what our coaches would think if we didn’t eat our dinner. At Leyton Orient and Torquay United we were responsible for our own lunch and the gaffer made it a competition to see who could come up with the best/ worst packed lunch box. Seeing our hard man skipper, John Mackie, carrying a Bob The Builder cool bag to the lunch room is a sight I’ll never forget. The manager, Martin Ling, would have random spot checks and players were fined if they didn’t show that they were making a genuine attempt to replenish their energy stores before leaving the training ground. Unfortunately for some, a tin of beans, a mouldy sandwich, or an out of date yoghurt hastily retrieved from a bin wasn’t the gaffer’s idea of a suitable post training meal.
I instigated a mass burial of Hungarian meat-filled pancakes in a hastily dug hole Luckily for me Paul Sturrock’s take on post match meals for the return bus trips after away fixtures wasn’t as inventive as his impromptu pre-game menu for that journey up north. He left that up to our strength and conditioning coach who had phased out what was becoming the league standard of a pizza delivery to the team coach from the local Domino’s. Instead, we feasted on individual pasta meals and slices of hand made pizzas, prepared for us by our masseuse’s mum and dad’s Italian restaurant on the Friday and re-heated in the bus oven as we travelled home. The latter was a popular choice on Barcelona’s post match meal menu which was leaked to the press following an away game against Malaga a couple of months back. According to the list Messi, Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta all enjoy a couple of slices after a match, while Rakitić and Piqué don’t follow the crowd - they order sushi and a nutella sandwich respectively. Sushi might not be the first choice of many League Two players, but I suppose it’s refreshing to see that, for the most part, these legends of our game refuel in a similar manner to us mere mortals. However, what I really want to know is whether or not Xavi, Messi and Alves could rustle up some tasty tapas if Luis Enrique felt a bit peckish en route to the next Clasico?
06 – GROUP A
Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. - Ferenc Puskás If one was to create a Venn diagram joining the twin concepts of football and gluttony, the man found straddling the two would most likely try to eat those concepts, shaped, as they would be, like little pies. Ferenc Puskás - The Galloping Major, The Indomitable Intestine, The Man With The Heart of Cake. Call him what you will, just don’t call him over for dinner, because he’ll eat you out of house and home, and we know how much Mum hates that... w o r d s b y L U K E c o n s t a bl e i l l u s t r a t i o n b y d o n o u g h o ' m a ll e y
orn in 1927 as Ferenc Puskása, the second ‘a’ in his surname was tragically lost when the immediately insatiable newborn ate it in utero. His hearty appetite and love of food was clear as early as the age of five, when he became best friends with a sandwich. He would join his first team in 1943, signing for Honvéd. It was during an early pre-season tour that Puskás acquired his ‘Galloping Major’ sobriquet, after eating the one-time Grand National winning horse of the same name in an American steakhouse. Greedy team-mates urged him on to finish the whole thing, gristle and all, as the team’s bill would be free as a prize for this wanton act of gluttony. Puskás did indeed eat the whole thing, and still found space for some arctic roll. This anecdote would later provide inspiration for a similar scene in the John Candy film The Great Outdoors, in which the late and cuddly funnyman famously ate two dead prostitutes. After 13 years with Honvéd - and 352 goals in 341 games - he joined Real Madrid in 1958. Initially finding the transition tough, the turning point came when he passed out before a game against Real Oviedo after eating so many chips that club doctors discovered his body was 98% salt. After sweating out the surplus sodium by sitting in a huge vat of broth,
the rotund beast went on to score a hat-trick that day, and would eventually recount this tale on the afterdinner speaking circuit, where he ate many dinners. Aged 31 when he joined the Spanish giants, Puskás would enjoy the finest years of his career at the Bernabéu. In eight years, he racked up a series of collective and personal honours: five La Liga titles, three European Cups, one Spanish Cup, one Intercontinental Cup, four Pichichi awards, two European Cup top scorer awards, two Golden Gullets and a Platinum Backside. It was perhaps on the international stage where Puskás truly burnished his legend, representing both Hungary and Spain. It is a little-known fact that Fezza P was actually a Spanish native. After arriving for the 1954 World Cup with his Spanish team-mates, confusion reigned when Puskás was asked to register his personal details with FIFA. What should’ve been a mere formality turned into farce when he was found to be scoffing one of his own shoes, prompting a bemused FIFA delegate to respond in contemporary idiom that “Someone’s a Hungry Ian!”. The resultant clerical mix-up saw Puskás registered as a Hungarian by mistake. The gaffe proved beneficial; Puskás would become part of the famous Mighty Magyars team, scoring 84 goals in 85 games for his adopted nation. He would later declare that he “didn’t
08 – GROUP A
really like tapas much anyway”, a comment which was derided by Madrid team-mate Alfredo Di Stéfano as “almost total bollocks”. His greatest gift to the game may well have been his participation in that famous match at Wembley on November 25 1953, when Hungary eviscerated England 6-3, inexorably shifting the tectonic plates of global footballing power. Puskás heroically played despite a hairline fracture of the foot, stifling the pain by cramming his boot full of chutney. He would later donate his boots to a Ploughman’s lunch. After retiring as a player in 1966, management was the obvious next step. After managing the first branch of Wimpy, he would eventually return to football where he would manage 11 different clubs from nine different countries over 26 years. His final job in management was in 1993, assuming control of his nation for four games. It was to be his last job in football, after which he decided to retire in order to spend more time with his biscuits. He died of pneumonia in November 2006 aged 79, but his legend was not to pass with him. Millions of Hungarians would line the streets during his funeral, where he was given a 21-Toblerone salute. Ferenc Puskás is widely regarded as one of the greatest ever to play the game, and in 2009 FIFA honoured him by introducing the Puskás Award, given to the player to have scored the best goal of the year. To many, his greatest achievement is his uncanny resemblance to every picture of swarthy old-timey men eating pasta found in every branch of Frankie ‘n’ Benny’s. Students of the game will debate this, but nobody would disagree that his legend has no expiry date. The author of this piece went on to win the Nobel Prize for literature
Puskas liked mayonnaise, carrot and cabbage, but never once considered eating coleslaw.
“Mickey Mouse Cup” is a subjective term, particularly in English football, to negatively describe a cup, league, or other competition as being of a lower standard.
words by alex stewart illustration by Arnold Bérnid
merican sport, as they’re very fond of telling you, speaks to the American psyche. Baseball is the American dream made competitive sporting fixture, American football the crunch and thunder of war realised as a game. Boxing, basketball, track & field, even lacrosse, all have more resonance in the US sporting consciousness than what we, and we are not alone in this, revel in as the global game. If we are honest, there’s only one sport that is pervasive and popular and culturally influential enough to merit that epithet, and it’s football. Or soccer. Yes, such has been American pedantry towards a game played by more people than their entire population that they demarcate it as different from their own game, which has less historical precedent (it was actually created as an amalgam of soccer and rugby), less global reach and, even, less financial muscle. But soccer (I’m going to call it that out of deference to the subject matter of this article and because otherwise I’d get confused if I refer to gridiron) is growing in the States and dragging its domestic league, MLS (anyone who calls it the MLS automatically loses all right of reply to any points raised herein) with it into the light. Prior to the last few years, soccer in the US predominantly meant the
New York Cosmos and the ugly metonym soccer mum (in Canada, see hockey mom), as well as the only sport played by both men and women where the national women constantly out-performed the men (something to be revelled in and, I hope, another genuine reason for the burgeoning success of the game in the US—I wish I had the time and knowledge to address that one facet here). The fact is that soccer is fast becoming popular in the US and US soccer is becoming a subject of interest beyond its borders.
10 – GROUP A
soccer fandom in those cities accounts for the likely sustainability of the first two, and the shiny gleam of celebrity culture might allow for the third to prosper, though doubts linger (there are some awesome beaches in Miami, so people seem to put sport second as far as leisure activities go—though the glitz does seem suited to brand Becks). This organic growth takes two forms: the first is the increasing popularity of soccer among a younger demographic. Among teens and schoolleavers soccer outpaces baseball enormously; it’s seen as quicker, less old-fashioned, and easier to get to grips with. The second point, and perhaps of greater social significance, is that the US immigrant population, particularly those of Central and South American origin, live and breathe soccer anyway. Unable or unwilling to break into traditional US sports fandom, or just plain uninterested in doing so, these naturalised Americans have gravitated to the sport most popular in their countries of origin (they play regularly too, in their own leagues sometimes, as evocatively described by Hernán Iglesias Illa’s beautiful essay in The Football Crónicas) as a way of engaging with their roots while also spreading the word in their new land.
Let’s address one point first, and quickly: Tim Howard’s beard. Ok, perhaps not that, but the titanic performance of the Everton-based pogonophile against the cool kids’ choice Belgium in the World Cup just past was one of many things we learned to love about the US team. DeAndre Yedlin’s scintillating runs, Kyle Beckerman’s Rage Against the Machine tribute act hair, John Brooks’ last-gasp goal versus the aforementioned Belgians, and the familiar puppetmaster Jürgen Klinsmann (because in England, we can’t really relate unless you’ve proved yourself here, too; we can be dicks like that) pulling the strings: all caused us to fall a little bit in love with USMNT. That many of the team were based in the US at the time meant we all had to peer a little bit into the murk of MLS to know these players better. This summer coincided too with the recruitment of players like Michael Bradley, superb for Roma in the preceding season, Clint Dempsey, a regular goal-scorer and matinee idol for Fulham, and even our own Jermaine Defoe, all heading stateside before the natural termination of their careers in supposedly (no, in fairness, genuinely) superior leagues. Throw the signings of old-stagers with proven quality like David Villa and Frank Lampard into the newly formed NYCFC mix, and you can see why heads were being turned towards across the pond. For MLS to be able to do this sort of thing, though, the foundations and interest have to be there. I spoke to US soccer expert and the first man to have a column on the nascent, second New York franchise NYCFC, Nick Chávez, to try to understand how and why this had happened. After all, the ongoing success and popularity of baseball, basketball, and football would hardly seem to leave breathing room for yet another major sport (and, a few scandals, some of epic and horrible proportions, and some dwindling numbers aside, those sports seem pretty rock solid). Nick told me that of the three new franchises (NYCFC and Orlando are joining MLS this coming season, with Beckham’s Miami soon to follow), organic growth of
In concert with this expression of greater interest by young people and Hispanic communities is the acceleration of provision of soccer on cable TV and the Internet. While in the past, it would have been a serious headache to catch even massive European games in the US, there is now a televisual free-for-all that guarantees regular, extensive coverage of soccer in all major world leagues. This opening up of the game to visual consumers will naturally increase interest more widely and create a commensurate rise in attendance of live games. Nick sees this as perhaps the most important facet in the growth of US interest: if you can see it, you’ll become interested in it.
it’s ok; basically that it’s actually counter-cultural and not that mainstream at all when you see it their way (I’m not, by the way, saying that that is what Hornby does in Fever Pitch, but that he unwittingly facilitated that narrative). Nick Chávez’s compelling point is that the vast majority of US soccer fans are exactly like soccer fans here, maybe not as broad a church demographically, but because of why they love the sport. While the idea of the Williamsburg hipster football fan cotching in Banter (yes, there really is a bar called Banter) with a micro-brewery beer and a vintage Norwich shirt gets real traction (possibly because, like the Rise of the Idiots, no-one dares to say no), it is just not a true picture of soccer fans. As a construct, though, it plays well to supposedly high-brow US media (see above the desire to justify popularism) and, also, over here (they’ve not taken our sport, really, because it’s only some trendy, artisan coffee types over there that have bought into it and they scoot along on the breeze of fashion everywhere). The fact is, America is catching up, and fast, where soccer is concerned, but it’s doing so for the reasons we were already there in the first place. Soccer has overcome the US misconception of being slow or low scoring or (most inaccurately and pathetically) a girl’s game and is now recognized as the vibrant, exciting, global sport we all know it to be. MLS is only going to get bigger, too. Nick has no worries about New York’s ability to sustain another team: “The fact is, NYC is a soccer city… there are soccer kits, soccer team logos on hats and apparel on every corner, there are people playing everywhere.” Add to that supporters’ groups like the Third Rail, a savvy social media presence (I’ve not even touched on that here, but it’s a significant part of the growth too), and the undoubted impact of stars on the pitch or the director’s box and there’s no doubt that the next few years will see further aggressive expansion of the MLS brand as it greedily seeks to overhaul other US sports. Nick doesn’t think that that’s out of the question, either: he reckons that in 15-20 years, only NFL will be a rival to MLS.
in England, we
can’t really relate unless you’ve
here, too; we can be dicks like that
The exposure to the foreignness of soccer is also, probably, a large part of its allure, though Nick takes this with a heavy pinch of salt. He admits that while, “the more educated, worldly, and well-traveled one is, the more likely they are to be a football (soccer) fan in the US… probably because they have an open mind”, he asserts that the availability of soccer coverage, the success of USMNT, and the organic growth in fan culture is far more of a factor. It’s interesting to note that this view of the US fan as a product of hipster soccer (the “go-to sport of the thinking class”, the “too-cool sport” perfect for “too-cool” Williamsburg— all quotes from that cringe-inducing New York Times article from April 2014) is in some ways similar to the creation in the 90’s over here of the GQ/Hornbyite fan: something has always been or is becoming mainstream, and so alternative types who want to like it but can’t dare to be seen liking something so obvious come up with affected justifications for why
While the growth of MLS can be seen as part of demographic trends and, to a much smaller degree, of an engineered coolness narrative, the blunt fact is that sports fans in the US are the same as sports fans anywhere else. They want excitement, quality, teams they can support, access to games, and the sense of belonging together that sport at its best always creates. This doesn’t mean those fans are leaving the more traditional sports they follow either. While we may be drawn to the idea that soccer in the States is part of some kind of hipster trend, the simple fact is that the basis of US soccer fandom is a lot more stable and broad than that. Soccer is mainstream. What will the hipsters of Williamsburg do now?
words by Austin Eaton and Joe Downes
The 2012/13 season got underway, and I felt fit and ready to impress in my final year as a Watford scholar. Then, in week two of pre-season I tore my ATFL ligament in my ankle which put me out for three months. When I finally returned everything had changed. There were new owners (the Pozzo family), new first team staff and a drop down from the Academy Premier Division One, playing the likes of Aston Villa and Arsenal, to Academy Division Three. The U21 squad was cut for financial reasons and there was a 53-man first team squad because of an influx of players from Udinese and Granada. Whereas before I had trained with the first team squad and seemed to be making good progress, suddenly there was no pathway for my future. So, me and my family asked if I could leave Watford on a mutual consent basis.
at nine every morning and finish at two or three having gone to the gym, trained and eaten. Here you are in and out very quickly. Training starts at 9:30am and finishes at 11:30. Then you put your kit in and that’s it. There is no staying behind to do extra and no lunch. This was hard to understand at first but I am used to it now although I prefer the English structure more. The training facilities are different too. In England the pitches are always immaculately cut whereas here we train on astroturf three times a week and natural grass once a week. I came out to Spain with the idea that everyone would play like Barcelona but that hasn’t been the case. In training there is so much emphasis on tactics and defending. Getting the defensive side of the game right is huge here and all the teams focus on that. I thought I would work mainly on keeping possession but I suppose, just like in England, every team is different.
I came out to Spain with the idea that everyone would play like Barcelona...
With little opportunities arising in England, the option of returning to Chile came about. With the style that they play and my situation in England I was eager to experience South America once again. I trained with a team called Audax Italiano, who are based in Santiago. I stayed with the loveliest family who were very welcoming and I was loving life, playing the type of football I always wanted, indulging in their culture and getting to grips with a new language. After a few weeks I got the chance to train with one of the top teams in Chile, Universidad de Católica. I jumped at it and quickly fell in love with my new surroundings. The people were typically welcoming and the football was incredible. After being with them for five or six weeks, Católica asked me to stay and play with their U20s for the coming season. It was a tough decision but, being on the other side of the world with little communication with my family made it a step too far.
It has been very difficult to move as communicating is hard and has left me feeling fairly lonely at times. But I am happy here and have really noticed a difference in the past few weeks. I am starting to understand a lot more and my Spanish is coming along. Elche’s Charlie I’Anson is the only English professional currently playing in Spain. It’s tough for young English players to take the plunge and come out here because the chance to establish contacts and get into a side is limited. The FA needs to provide options to players and clubs so that more young English talent has an opportunity to play instead of getting bogged down at home where the influx of foreign players is increasing. If players want to improve their game and experience a new way of life then coming to play abroad really opens your eyes.
Reluctantly I returned home and I was more eager than ever to find a club. I had a brief trial with Derby County but it didn’t work out. I really liked it up there but they played me out of position on the right wing. A chance to go to Spain came about through the LFE (League Football Education) which would see me go out on a 13-week programme and train with Cádiz CF. It was perfect. I would be closer to home but playing the same style of football and enjoying the same lifestyle as Chile. It was when I got out there that the opportunity to trial with Córdoba came through a friend. I went, spent a week with them and they asked to sign me. The structure is very different compared to England where you go in
On the footballing side, things are progressing well. I made my home debut in the Estadio Nuevo Arcángel against Cacereño in the Segunda B Division and my first start against San Roque when I felt I did well. I have been on the bench for the majority of the games so far which is frustrating as I just want to play like every other footballer. But I know there are more experienced guys in front of me who the coach trusts and I just have to be patient. I’m still only 19 and know you can’t look too far ahead. I just want to continue developing and learning as a footballer here. Where that takes me, who knows? I hope it will result in a longlasting football career
Illustration by Matthew Brazier
ustin Eaton signed for Spanish side Córdoba CF in May 2014. Penning that professional contract marked the culmination of a journey that started 14 years ago in Sunday football with Knebworth Youth. From there he played for his school team at St Ippolyts in Hitchin and came third in the English Schools’, before signing for Watford at the age of 10. He trained for 16 hours every week around his school work at Harefield Academy and, before the start of his Watford scholarship, trained with Chilean side Santiago Wanderers aged 16. His journey from there, though, has been anything but straightforward...
z g n ra di b w w do he m tt to ma by by ds n or io w at r st lu
here was once a time when Italian football ruled Europe. It was a time when the world’s finest footballers flocked to the bootshaped peninsula to play in the hardest league around. That time now appears as a collection of sepia-tinted moments, left to grow old and dusty while its clubs tarry to attain the standard of the continent’s current superpowers. But there are times when memories of Italian preeminence are still vivid. For me, the remembrance of Serie A’s heyday is tinged with awe and no shortage of gratitude.
slow-burners; cautious affairs where rewards were given for patience and perseverance. There was, however, a magic that rendered me a captive viewer: The Fantasista.
In a time where Sky satellite dishes were not as ubiquitous on Britain’s streets, a young football fan, desperate to see any live action on TV, would often find solace in Channel 4’s lovingly presented Football Italia. While I was denied the breakneck excitement of the Premiership, Football Italia presented me with an education. In other terms, it was like having your Mega Drive swept away to be replaced by a chessboard.
In thinking of these sublime talents, I find it incongruous that – to varying extents – they have toiled and often failed in finding the acceptance and respect of either the people close to them or that of a wider audience. To their sternest sceptics, a Fantasista may be viewed as a luxury commodity. For their most ardent supporters, they evoke the very essence of the game’s emotional appeal. It is in that appeal where one might find tales of regret, castigation and illfortune but also tales of hope, redemption and unbridled brilliance.
For the nascent footballing mind, Serie A was not always a giving master. Matches were often
As a contest meandered toward stalemate, the stage became set for a rare talent to make his mark. It would come as though delivered from heaven: a deft flick of a foot, a mazy dribble, an eviscerating pass would, in a blink of an eye, settle the argument. Many of these propitious interventions, I quickly noted, came from a man wearing a number 10 on his back.
The players who ignited my love of the Italian game also cultivated my fascination for its national team. Anyone who remembers The Azzurri in the 1990’s will recall the embarrassment of riches (or fantasisti) at its disposal. In fact, it is true to say, that during this time were players of such exceptional quality that many could lament at the abundance. Players whose ability would have easily merited international careers in excess of a hundred caps were often unfulfilled. Many were led, inexorably, to exile. One such player who exemplifies this sense of loss is the Sampdoria legend, Roberto Mancini. Not a classical number 10 in the sense of a trequartista, Mancini was a forward of exceptional artistry. He is better-known now, perhaps, for his exploits in the dugout where he has carried with him one definable trait oft-exhibited throughout his career: his irascible temper. It is easy to forget just how good Mancio was. Having joined Samp as an 18 year-old from Bologna, Mancini scored 168 goals in 15 seasons. Many defy description. A master of deft flicks, perhaps his greatest goal came in a game against Parma in the colours of Lazio. Having eluded the attention of his marker, Mancini made for the edge of six-yard box where, with his back to goal, he met a Sinisa Mihajlovic delivery with the most nonchalant of back-heels that sent the ball irresistibly into the roof of the Parma goal. There were many other goals of comparable technique in his collection, but the tragedy remains that he never truly seized the opportunity to showcase his remarkable skills
for the Azzurri. His international career saw him score only four times in 36 caps. He was seldom a regular and upon falling out with national team boss, Arrigo Sacchi, having not been guaranteed a starting place at the 1994 World Cup, Mancini turned his back on his country. It is unfair to ascribe Mancini’s self-imposed exile solely to his shortness of temper. He had considerable competition for a place in Sacchi’s team. Standing in his way was a man known as Il Divin Codino: ‘The Divine Ponytail’. Few players in the history of Italian football have earned the adoration of millions as Roberto Baggio. In the early to mid-nineties he was the world’s pre-eminent playmaker. Combining a kaleidoscopic variety of attacking gifts, Baggio captivated audiences with his mesmeric skills and his many stupendous goals. While his spells at Juve, AC Milan and Internazionale were often plagued by injury and ill-favour among coaches, they were nonetheless gilded with moments of sheer genius. There were successful spells too at lesser lights such as Fiorentina, Bologna and Brescia where his cult status thrived. But it is for the national team where Baggio’s most profound moments came. Having struggled to win the acceptance of head-coach Azeglio Vicini, Baggio became the darling of the Azzurri as Italy hosted the 1990 World Cup. Injury to Gianluca Vialli forced a reluctant Vicini to give Baggio his chance against Czechoslovakia. He would score one of the
great World Cup goals that night: finishing off a coruscating run with a delicate finish. As in Italia ’90, the 1994 World Cup would end in heartbreak for Baggio. Like Mancini, Baggio suffered a difficult relationship with Arrigo Sacchi. He was seen as expendable after Sacchi incredulously sacrificed his best player after having had his goalkeeper sent-off in a mustwin group game against Norway. Come the final, things had changed. The Italians reached the Pasadena showpiece by clinging onto the venerated ponytail. His five goals in the knockout stages had catapulted his team to the final where they were to meet Brazil. Baggio had destroyed Bulgaria in the semi-final but, just as he had reached the peak of his form, disaster struck. Baggio had pulled his hamstring and was a doubt for the final. Sacchi, backed into a corner risked his star’s fitness. Baggio suffered 120 minutes in the broiling midday Californian heat. He shouldn’t have. It is tragic that perhaps the most enduring image of his career came as he blazed the decisive penalty over Taffarel’s crossbar, handing Brazil the trophy. At 27, he would only feature 12 more times for the Azzurri. He won 57 caps. The predicament faced by Mancini and Baggio at international level is difficult to reconcile. There was great competition for places but it is also tempting to cite a malignant mistrust of flair players or more pointedly, a mistrust of fantasistas. Another to suffer was Gianfranco Zola. The Sardinian maestro won a paltry 35 caps
Fantasista n. deep-lying forward who finds space, creates and scores goals, and provides his team with a touch of playmaking genius.
for Italy, the last of which came in 1997 thus robbing Zola of the chance to play at the 1998 World Cup, one in which he had played no small part in helping the Azzurri reach. While conservatism pervaded the thoughts of national team managers at the time, suspicion toward flair players domestically was less conspicuous. The glut of talented foreign players who made Italy their home throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s opened eyes to the value of such players. The legacy left by imports such as Michel Platini, Diego Maradona and Zico was a stage upon which the likes of Mancini, Baggio, Zola and Giusseppe Signori flourished. A continuation of that legacy has been the glorious careers of two other home-grown fantasistas: Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti. Unlike their vaunted forebears, Del Piero and Totti both triumphed at a World Cup under the guidance of Marcello Lippi in 2006. In spite of their success at international level, both players have at times struggled for unequivocal acceptance. Del Piero suffered the ignominy of being compared negatively (and publicly) to Platini by Juventus owner, the late Gianni Agnelli who left Del Piero in no doubt that he considered Platini superior. Juventus’ debt to their former captain should not be ignored. Del Piero holds the records for highest goal-scorer and appearancemaker in Juve’s history. This, alas, was not deemed enough to offer him a contract extension and he was released at the end of the 2011-12 season. It is amazing to think that twenty years have
passed since I first saw Del Piero: a fitting heir to Baggio as number 10 for the Old Lady. Of all the players I witnessed in those early years, it was him who made the most immediate and spectacular impression. During a memorable match with Fiorentina in Turin, a 20 year-old Del Piero won the game for Juve with an extraordinary goal. He met a long ball with a flicked volley from the outside of his right boot leaving the keeper helpless as it dipped over him. First impressions count for much. Unlike Del Piero, Roma captain Francesco Totti has never found it hard endearing himself to those close to home. A one-club man and Serie A’s second highest goal-scorer, Totti is revered in Rome. Though his abilities and individual achievements are held in high esteem, Totti has not always cast himself in a sympathetic light. An inept performance of an Ecuadorian referee surely spared him further criticism following a sending off against South Korea in the 2002 World Cup. Italy would go on to suffer one of their most humiliating defeats. Worse would follow in the European Championships two years later. He was banned after spitting on Denmark’s Christian Poulsen in Italy’s first game; clearly the kind of behaviour that led Ron Atkinson to remark (unwittingly while on-air): “He’s a little twat, that Totti. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.” Totti has a vicious temper. In his career to date he has accumulated twelve red cards. While he may be vilified by many for his on-field histrionics, he
is one of the Italian game’s greatest ever players. Blessed with immutable skill and vision, his dedication to the Giallorossi has woven one of football’s great love stories. One Serie A title is meagre award for his commitment. Totti is arguably the last truly great trequartista. In recent years he has had to develop his game around the limitations of his Roma side. His successful deployment as a false-nine attests to his endless quality. Be it naivety or hubris, it once seemed as though these stars would keep coming. As natural as it was that Del Piero and Totti followed Mancini and Baggio, it seemed equally natural to assume they would be succeeded by equivalent quality. They haven’t. Pretenders have come and fleetingly succeeded. The gifted but troubled Antonio Cassano is the biggest disappointment. The likes of Lorenzo Insigne and Sebastien Giovinco appear lightweight in both stature and requisite ability. The truth is that the legendary fantasistas were not inherent to the country that sired them. They were never justifiably appreciated by their national team, bloated as it was on talent harnessed unconvincingly. They were products of a different era. The game’s evolution has antiquated the classical number 10. They are now squeezed out in favour of false-nines, inverted wingers and registas. Serie A has also changed. The world’s best players now ply their trade in other leagues and magisterial home-grown talents are scarce. But I, for one, will never forget the period in which Italian football ruled. And nor should anyone forget the fantasistas
16 – GROUP B
The Fallen captain The European Cup final is supposed to be the pinnacle. For Agostino Di Bartolomei it was the start of a tragic downfall. words by greg lea
n the 30th May 1984, Agostino Di Bartolomei led his boyhood club Roma out at the Stadio Olimpico for the European Cup final against Liverpool, fulfilling an ambition that every young football-obsessed child dreams of. On the 30th May 1994, Agostino Di Bartolomei took his own life by firing a bullet through his heart. Di Bartolomei was Roma’s best player against Liverpool. A tall and elegant playmaker, the Giallorossi captain ran the game from deep, turning defence into offense quickly by launching long, accurate passes forward for wingers Bruno Conti and Odoacre Chierico or strikers Roberto Pruzzo and Ciccio Graziani. Despite his shirt bearing the number ten, Di Bartolomei played his best football as a regista; stationed just in front of the back four, he would
artwork by Brendan Higgins
routinely collect the ball from the centre-backs and instigate Roma attacks. It is a mystery that his career passed without a single Italy cap: long-serving manager Enzo Bearzot may have preferred the energy and industry of players such as Gabriele Oriali and Marco Tardelli in his starting eleven, but it is scarcely believable that someone of Di Bartolomei’s quality never even made an international squad. After 120 minutes of action, the scores remained level. Phil Neal had given Liverpool a twelfth-minute lead after a fortunate ricochet fell the full-back’s way eight yards from goal, but Roma responded before the interval through Pruzzo’s looping header from a Conti cross. Neither team managed to get the allimportant winner in normal time, and the additional thirty minutes passed without event, neither Roma nor Liverpool willing to take unnecessary risks in search of a winner. As such, the European Cup would be decided on penalty kicks for the first time in its 29-year history.
When Steve Nicol fired the opening effort over the bar, Roma had a great opportunity to take an early advantage. The responsibility fell to the skipper and Di Bartolomei made no mistake, smashing the ball straight down the middle after his customary singlestep run-up. Things quickly turned, though, with Conti striking his penalty high over the bar and Liverpool converting their next three spot-kicks. When Graziani failed to score, Alan Kennedy was given the chance to seal the game and secure Liverpool’s fourth European Cup, an opportunity he duly took by side-footing the ball to goalkeeper Franco Tancredi’s right. Nils Liedholm’s fantastic Roma side of Conti, Falcao, Carlo Ancelotti and Di Bartolomei had lost the European Cup final in their own stadium. Those players knew they may never get a better chance. Liedholm departed that summer to return to former club Milan, and his successor Sven-Goran Eriksson soon decided that Di Bartolomei was not part of his plans.
18 – GROUP B
The then 32 year-old joined up with Liedholm at the San Siro but was extremely open with his feelings about the transfer, stating in numerous interviews that he could not understand why Roma were prepared to let him go. After all, Di Bartolomei had been born in the city, joined Roma at the age of fourteen and gone on to play 308 games for the club, wearing the armband on 146 occasions. This was not a player past his best, either; Di Bartolomei was an essential member of the 1983 title-winning team and had continued his excellent form throughout 1984. Notwithstanding Eriksson’s personal midfield preferences, Roma’s decision to authorise their captain’s departure remains difficult to explain. Liedholm and Di Bartolomei spent three years with the Rossoneri but no great success was to be had, with the club still recovering from their two relegations to Serie B in 1980 and 1982. Indeed, Di Bartolomei’s most memorable moment in a Milan shirt probably came in the aftermath of a 1985 clash with Roma, when he was struck by former team-mate Graziani in a post-match fight. A falling-out with fellow ex-colleague Conti followed, and the incident seemed to indicate just how far outside the Roma circle Di Bartolomei had fallen. Retirement came in 1990 aged 35, the midfielder’s career having fizzled out with brief spells at Cesena and Salernitana. Unlike Tancredi and Conti – who Di Bartolomei had since made up with – there was no coaching or boardroom role on offer at Roma, and having played professional football since his eighteenth birthday, Di Bartolomei was suddenly confronted with the need to find another way to pay the bills. That proved difficult, and Di Bartolomei began to suffer from severe bouts of depression as he struggled to adapt to life away from the game. A football school was opened but could not be maintained due to a lack of investment, while personal financial problems also saw him amass a sizeable level of debt. “I can’t see any way out”, Di Bartolomei tragically wrote in the suicide note that was later uncovered in his pocket. It is surely no coincidence that Di Bartolomei chose the 30th May as the day that he would end his life. It is tempting to wonder what would have happened if Conti and Graziani had netted their penalties and Roma had won the European Cup; Liedholm may well have stayed on as manager if the result had been different, and it is difficult to envisage a situation where the continental champions let go their homegrown captain just weeks after the greatest moment in the club’s history. Counterfactuals of this nature are always dangerous and there was no explicit mention of Roma in the aforementioned suicide note, but what can be said with certainty is that Di Bartolomei felt shunned by his former club and, according to John Foot, was unable to “[find] space in the world of football [after retirement] despite constant attempts to do so”. It is still massively puzzling why Roma did not find a role for Di Bartolomei once he had hung up his boots, and after the news of his passing broke, many accused the Giollorossi of abandoning one of their own.
I can’t see any way out Agostino Di Bartolomei
Twenty years on from Di Bartolomei’s heartrending death, football still has much to learn about mental health. The misconception that footballers can never be truly unhappy because of their occupation is still far too widespread; as the Daily Mail’s Brian Viner wrote in 2006, “depression is no respecter of wealth, athleticism, fame or talent”. Whenever Roma’s current squad of players train at the club’s Trigoria complex, they do so on the ‘Di Bartolomei pitch’ after its renaming in February 2012. Roma have built on last season’s impressive second-place finish with a good start to this campaign, although the wait for the club’s maiden European Cup goes on. As the tragedy of Agostino Di Bartolomei’s death demonstrated, though, there are many things more important than football Greg Lea is a freelance football writer who focuses predominantly on the Italian game. He has had work published by FourFourTwo, When Saturday Comes and World Soccer, and is a featured Serie A columnist at Bleacher Report. @GregLeaFootball
19 – GROUP B
words by laura jones
carborough is the quintessential Victorian seaside resort. You can spend the day looking out onto the bleak North Sea whilst protecting your fish and chips from confident, dive-bombing seagulls. In between eating the fresh catch of the day and gorging on warm doughnuts and sticks of rock, you can gamble away a pound of copper on the amusements 2p shove machines. The resort has had its problems over the years but recently regeneration has started to bring the good times back. What Scarborough is now starved of is football. Scarborough F.C. folded in 2007 after 128 years of playing. The club was wound up in June 2007 in the High Court with debts of £2.5 million. Although they never climbed higher than the now League 2 (Division 4 as it was then), Scarborough were a relatively successful Football League and non-league team. The club also gave current Cardiff City manager, Russell Slade, and Leeds United’s favourite managerial filler in, Neil Redfearn, invaluable coaching experience. So why didn’t the club’s ambitions bear fruit? Scarborough F.C. signed a deal with McCain, the frozen food company, in 1988 for the naming rights to the Athletic Ground. After over a century at the ground, the club were hoping to move to a purpose built stadium in 2010 but this ambition proved to be their downfall. The McCain Stadium was to be sold to property developers to fund the build of the new ground and to wipe out debts the club had accumulated from tumbling down the leagues. The issue was the ground had a covenant on it, which meant that the land could only be used for sporting activities. Without the sale Boro couldn’t move, they couldn’t pay off their debts and the Council couldn’t use the land for any other purpose. The overall proposal, as they say, had had its chips. During this time Scarborough F.C. had dropped from the Football League, through the Conference and to the Conference North. The money was no longer there to pay the bills. The hunger for football in Scarborough hasn’t left the town. Since Scarborough F.C’s demise, two new clubs sprouted up. Scarborough Athletic were formed almost immediately after F.C’s winding up in 2007 and Scarborough Town were
i l l u s t r a t i o n b y d o n o u g h o ' m a ll e y
created in 2008. Both of these new clubs were started by fan-based groups, with differing levels of success. Scarborough Town grew from the previous incarnation’s centre of excellence. The team was created from the youth team and football in the community scheme. The club developed a senior team and began life again in the Teeside League Division 2. There was always a sense that Scarborough Town didn’t belong though. They were talented and competitive but the football establishment couldn’t agree which league they belonged in. The club moved from the Teeside to the Wearside League, where they then applied to join the Northern League. Like parents looking to get their child into a good school, the FA told Town that they didn’t fit into the Northern League’s catchment area but they were admitted entrance to the Northern Counties East League (NCEL). Like Scarborough F.C, Town were at the mercy of the borough council. The conditions for starting in the NCEL were they must have planning permission for floodlights at their interim ground. The council unduly delayed and despite the fixtures already planned in the NCEL annulled Scarborough Town’s membership to the league. They applied to the Central Midlands League in 2011 but the FA again intervened saying again they didn’t fit into the catchment area. Town were then shipped off to the Humber First Division. They won the league at the first attempt. Ravenous for success but alas it wasn’t to be. Their last supper was in 2013 where the fans group committee felt there was no option but to fold because of the ongoing ground improvement red tape. Scarborough Athletic have fared much better under supporters group The Seadog Trust, but still Scarborough haven’t got a team playing in the town. Athletic currently ground share with local rivals Bridlington Town. Chair of the Supporters Trust, Dave Holland, says that moving 23 miles down the coast was “too difficult to bear” for some fans but he believes “you have to make the best of things.” Dave, a Scarborough supporter since 1963, is very thankful to the board of Bridlington Town especially the Chairman Peter Smurthwaite, because without
them Scarborough Athletic wouldn’t have a place to play. Even when the tenants overtook the landlords in the football pyramid and Athletic’s fixtures now take precedence over Bridlington’s, the relationship has remained close. However friendly the relationship, Scarborough Athletic director Nick Finch puts it bluntly that Bridlington “it’s like home and we need to block that out because it’s not home. Scarborough is home.” There is a big emphasis from the club about sustainability and development. It’s hard to develop a club when the senior team plays in Bridlington and the Under-19’s play in Pickering (a distance of 56 miles). The two teams recently played each other but because there were no suitable night facilities they had to play the friendly in Hull. There is hope on the horizon. The juniors are now back playing in Scarborough albeit on a school playing field but it’s a council initiative that is giving the club reason to keep going. According to Dave Holland plans for a 2000 capacity stadium within the proposed Weaponness Valley Sports Village complex are “still outstanding” but the “process is well developed.” He’s aware of the fans impatience, some even came forward to say they wanted to help volunteer to build the stadium but as the Chair says “it doesn’t work like that. It takes time. The fans are beside themselves with impatience.” The idea of the Sports Village blends nicely with Athletic’s vision for the future. Nick Finch believes that the Weaponness is “being constructed not just for the football community but for the wider community.” As a supporters run club they know only too well that without the wider public there wouldn’t be football in the area at all. The board is very conscious about overspending. Nick the director says, “We all recognise that there’s no point to chase a dream if it will end up a nightmare as it did for Scarborough F.C.” The memory of the McCain stadium clearly still hurts. There’s a big appetite to restore football in Scarborough. It looks like the entrée is on it’s way
words by Nuno Amado i m a g e b y J o r g e C a s t r o H e n r i q u e s a n d Al e x a n d r e T r o n c a n a
f a commentator ever says “nobody wants to see that” about an incident at a football match, you can be sure that ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE wants to see it. Take the recent Wenger-Mourinho rutting stag act in which the lanky one alpha-maled it all over his special counterpart’s territory. “Nobody wants to see that”. Wrong: everybody wants to see it. On repeat. For an hour. But imagine some real stags slapping each other around on the touchline at Stamford Bridge. Even the commentators would have some fun with that. ITV can never get enough footage of Benfica’s eagle flying around the Estádio da Luz on a Champions League night, and if a squirrel starts burying his nuts in the centre circle at the Etihad you can bet that Clive Tyldesley will be far happier than if a streaker were to try to do the same. Perhaps it’s got something to do with the birds and beasts on our club crests, but the world of football seems to be a world of animal lovers. Indeed we often have more time for appearances made by visitors from the animal kingdom than by the representatives of our own club. From the fleet-footed chicken in the 1986 Cup Winners’ Cup Final between Atlético Madrid and Dynamo Kyiv, a possible inspiration for the first scene of City of God, to the Riquelme-like squirrel who appeared at Highbury in the 2006 Champions League semi-final between Arsenal and Villarreal, not forgetting the errant duck who stopped the Zulte Waregem vs Lokeren match in Belgium or the mercurial marten that eluded several players only to bite FC Zurich left-back Loris Benito, there have been plenty of amusing incidents.
As is often the case in football, the source of joy in stands can cause consternation on the pitch. Even a team that has practiced man-marking to perfection will sometimes be at a loss when trying to catch a rampaging dog. This peculiar combination of animals and football, where anonymous creatures make fools out of millionaire world stars, gets a big chunk of the end of the year sports montages. Some animals have such field presence that they become stars. In the quarter finals between England and Brazil at the 1962 Chile World Cup, a dog stole the show. Not only did it invade the pitch and stop the game, but it proceeded to reward Jimmy Greaves, the only player able to catch it, by generously emptying its bladder onto Jimmy’s white shirt. Back in 1962, teams had the strange belief that one shirt was enough for one game, so Greaves had to play the remainder of the match smelling of dog’s urine. Garrincha found the episode so funny he adopted that dog and named him “Greaves”. Some animals become famous for the wrong reasons. When goalkeeper Chic Brodie collided with another canine invader while playing for Brentford away at Colchester the injury ended his professional career. Elsewhere it’s been the humans who have injured the animals. Whatever people say about football fans, they should be in the good books of animal rights activists. In another Argentinian incident, a Club Sportivo Bella Vista de Tucumán player took a contrasting strategy to Greaves, grabbing the visiting canine by the throat and trying to throw him over a fence. His actions ignited the fury of the home crowd and got him a red card for aggression. Luis Moreno had serious problems too. He remains in danger of only being remembered as the footballer who kicked the owl. That happened
when he saw a standing owl on the pitch in a Colombian League match between Atletico Junior and Deportivo Pereira in February 2011. It didn’t help him that the owl was the opposition’s mascot and died later from the kick, He was punished by his club and by nature conservation authorities; it was also rumoured that he was on the receiving end of death threats. While some animals invade the pitch, others are just spectators. Perhaps most memorable of all birds in football folklore is the Maracanã owl, that 26 years ago, landed on the top corner of the goal frame in one of the world’s most revered stadiums. In a game between Fluminense and América, it remained, perched there for a while, both majestic and enigmatic, to witness the end of a 2-2 tie. Even the most philosophical of footballers (Sócrates perhaps?) would be at a loss as to what it was thinking. Was it looking for rats? Was it considering the tactical preferences of both teams? If so, was it for a three men or a four men defence? Did it favor man-to-man marking? Was wing play of particular interest? Whatever it thought, the spectators of that wonderful moment in football history had a use for this pensive owl. Since then, the most elusive and spectacular of goals, when the ball enters the goal between the crossbar and the goalpost, the top corner, that most coveted finishing target, has been known by a more poetic nickname in Brazil than it’s dowdy English counterpart, the postage stamp. In Brazil, that is “where the owl sleeps”. And such is the joy of football that, from the Maracanã to the Hackney Marshes, following a Pirlo free kick or a lucky header from Joe-from-theoffice, the sight of a ball entering a top corner can be named after that other special sight. Onde a coruja dorme
Our namesake and inspiration, Pickles, is one of the most iconic canine characters in football - famously sniffing out the stolen Jules Rimet Trophy in 1966.
5. Jan Molby - Midfielder “Despite spending most of his Anfield career in the centre circle, his vision and technique more than made up for his lack of mobility and negligible turning circle.”
Simon Jordan may not have had unwavering confidence in Neil Ruddock, but nevertheless Razor had a decent Premier League career. The bulk of his top flight appearances were for Liverpool as one of the least fashionable members of the Spice Boy era, yet in this time there he picked up a League Cup winners’ medal and an England cap in 1994 against Nigeria – for the record, the Africans had no way past the big man. Ruddock was tough, uncompromising, and reasonable value on I’m A Celebrity.
7. John Barnes - Midfielder
“You’ve got to hold and give, but do it at the right time. You can be slow or fast, but you must get to the line.”
Is how Liverpool’s official website remembers Jan Molby. With his reputation, Big Jan would have a good shout at being captain of this sizable team, but being a regular for Liverpool in a time when they were still dominating domestic football counts for an awful lot. Regardless of winning three league titles and a couple of FA cups, Molby’s greatest achievement whilst on Merseyside was his ability to master the accent, which is probably the real reason he is so revered amongst the Anfield faithful.
Roy Evans may or may not have been concerned by Julian Dicks’ weight during the time the pair spent together at Liverpool in the mid-1990s, and that may or may not have resulted in the player’s departure back from whence he came, namely West Ham. However, on this team, all you really have to do to warrant your place is to be able to thump a ball as hard as a Japanese Bullet Train. There was something unbelievably cathartic about watching Dicks strike a free kick or a penalty, no messing, no fuss. Plus, his nickname was ‘The Terminator’ – respect is due to the man who earns that nickname.
Not the first name on this team-sheet given Campbell was often in gladiatorial shape during his career, but by the time Sol rolled up at Newcastle United he was…well, rolled up there. We shouldn’t forget his imperious displays for England at every international tournament between 1996 and 2006 (selected in the team of the tournament in both 2002 and 2004), nor should we forget that he was an Arsenal invincible (along with Pascal Cygan and Jérémie Aliadière, lest we overlook). Yet, when we saw him falling 5 ways out of a Newcastle training top, we did forget all that. Just for a moment.
As the rap suggests, there were times in John Barnes’ career when he was fast on his feet, but also times when he was a tad slower. The latter years saw Barnes add some girth to his frame, particularly during his time at Newcastle...where footballers seem to go to dine. The early years of Barnes’ career were thrilling though. Rap aside, he is probably best remembered for the jinking, slaloming wonder-goal he conjured up inside the Maracana in 1984, and delivering furious ammunition for Liverpool strikers in the late-80s and early-90s.
“The weight thing was just an excuse. He barely talked to me in the time I was there. I was trained with the kids and playing with the reserves. Evans bombed me out altogether.”
“I accept that the picture wasn’t flattering and I do need to catch up on my level of fitness, but the training kit was not very flattering and showed up all sorts of things,”
“For instance, Fatty Arbuckle, Neil Ruddock, wanted to sign. And Harry Redknapp told me to make sure I had a weight clause in his contract - 98 kilos, or whatever. And if he’s over that then fine him 10% of his wages. That is the only way to ensure you get a fit-and-focused Ruddock.”
This guy really shouldn’t be in this list. “Fat Frank” ain’t even fat. Lord knows how he secured this unflattering moniker. But, if people want to label him fat, he has more than enough talent to get into this team. The most prolific of Premier League midfield scorers, he’s still giving Premier League defenders nightmares. He’s scored against 39 different Premier League clubs – now including Chelsea – en route to amassing 174 Premier League goals, and counting.
“I can remember going back to Upton Park about seven years ago and a really overweight woman stood up in the chicken run and shouted “Fat Frank” at me. That was the moment where I realised this was getting ridiculous.”
6. Frank Lampard - Midfielder
3. Julian Dicks - Defender
4. Sol Campbell - Defender
The fury in Harry Redknapp’s eyes burned bright as he laid into his wayward midfielder, Adel Taarabt. Three stone overweight and not fit to play football, Redknapp proclaimed. Assessing for oneself, Taarabt didn’t look like a man three stone overweight, even accounting for rounding, but his contribution to QPR’s season so far has been zero… and that is rounded up. With this in mind, Pickles felt the need to pay respect to the game’s legendary players who, despite succumbing to an inner desire to indulge their more glutinous side, still went out and produced the goods every week. That is real talent, and this is the Pickles Porkers FC Invitational XI.
2. Neil Ruddock - Defender
Irrespective of Sir Alex Fergusson’s criticism and the manner in which Bosnich’s time in England petered out, he was still a great Premier League performer through the 90s. Agile and commanding, his penaltysaving exploits were heroic, pulling out 8 in the 93-94 season alone. His one weakness, other than the pies, was his kicking, but don’t let that detract from the magic in his gloves.
“We played down at Wimbledon in February (2000), and Bosnich was tucking into everything: sandwiches, soups, steaks. He was going through the menu, eating like a horse.”
1. Mark Bosnich - Goalkeeper
Pickles Porkers xI
words by james carruthers
One man’s fat is another man’s incredibly stacked. Either way Akinfenwa is a beast. The journeyman of lower league football has racked up a cult following and a goals to game ratio of 1 in 3. Although he’s never played higher than League One, he would surely have made some sort of mark given a Premier League chance, stating he would “love to smash John Terry.” Which would be fun to see.
“I’m a 16-stone footballer who’s bigger than the norm, so it’s fair to say I stand out when I am on the football pitch, for my size as well as my ability. On FIFA 13, I’m rated as the strongest player in the world, and I think I am, too.”
11. Ade Akinfenwa - Forward
The players included in this list are legends of the game and the buffet table. We love you all. PICKLES MAGAZINE
Winner of two World Cups, two Copa Americas, one Confederations Cup, La Liga, and countless other club trophies across Europe. Triple winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award. Scorer of 15 World Cup goals. Donner of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Brazilian shirts. In his pomp he was powerful, quick, and clinical. And yet no-one can mention his name without prefixing it with the word “fat”. I blame Cristiano.
“Look at that little fat chap. We’ll murder this lot.”
“Fat Ronaldo’s is a World Cup pop-up space with large screens, bars, and food from DJ and Smokey Tails founder Seth Troxler.”
It’s quite a confrontational approach to management, I’m sure you’ll agree, but then Diego Maradona has always been a confrontational character. There is no doubt that his playing ability far outweighed his divisive managerial ability, and at times his body mass index far outweighed his playing ability. Yet it would be remiss not to hand the managerial reins to a man who is perfectly positioned to counsel this rotund XI through the trauma of gastric bypass surgery, should any of them require it.
“To those who did not believe: now suck my dick. I am grateful to my players and to the Argentinean people. I thank no one but them. The rest, keep on sucking dicks.”
Diego Maradona - Manager
It’s easy to underestimate an opponent, and in 1953 England’s footballers were guilty of thinking fat chaps can’t dance. One of the greatest, and only slightly portly, strikers of all time put England to the sword, waltzing past the home defence like a hot knife through a bulging butter churn. He was chief tormentor as Hungary stuffed the Three Lions 6-3 to become the first foreign team to win at Wembley. His goals to games ratio was just silly – not quite Cristiano Ronaldo silly, but still exceptional. Not bad for a fat chap.
10. Ferenc Puskas - Forward
9. Fat Ronaldo - Forward
Was Matt Le Tissier’s response when asked about a picture of him and a supposed kebab. Guernsey’s greatest export may well have a penchant for food of the fast variety, but he was also a purveyor of fine goals and dizzying pirouettes. Le Tiss was the first midfielder to score 100 goals in the Premier League, and 95 of them blockbusters. He was underappreciated at international level but not by Southampton fans or anyone struggling to name a famous channel-islander.
“This needs to be cleared up. It wasn’t a kebab! I’ve never had a kebab in my life. It was a cheese and mushroom burger, with tomato sauce. There was a beef burger in there too.”
8. Matt Le Tissier - Midfielder
Tales of sympathy and greed w o r d s b y m a r k h o ll o w a y i l l u s t r a t i o n b y j o e g a m bl e
n 1963 Don Howe led a squad of disgruntled West Bromwich Albion players to revolt against their then old-school no-nonsense manager Jimmy Hagan. It was December, it was freezing cold, and Hagan had refused to allow the players to wear tracksuit bottoms during training. The uprising took the form of counter-refusals to train and mass transfer requests, but the act of defiance that my dad remembers most fondly was when, on Christmas Eve, the players pushed Jimmy Hagan’s car down a steep bank beside the training ground and into the canal. In 2014, it’s hard to imagine a modern footballer ever having to push a car. It’s hard to get a grip on the sleek lines of a Bentley Continental GT, and it’s futile trying to push a hefty Range Rover Sport anywhere. Modern football’s too slick for any whiff of canals, industry, or manual labour. Try for a second to picture any player or manager manually winding
down the driver’s side window to talk to the press on Transfer deadline day: you can’t do it can you? But you can picture John Terry sweeping parking tickets off his Ferrari’s windscreen and reversing out of a disabled space with a menacing laugh. And you are probably not surprised by stories about Jermaine Pennant forgetting he’d left a Porsche in the car park at Zaragoza station. Or about a 20-year old Andre Wisdom, with a huge 14 Liverpool first-team appearances to his name, walking nonchalantly away from the £100,000 Porsche Panamera Turbo that he’d driven into a muddy woodland ditch en-satnavsabotaged-route to Pride Park when on loan at Derby. My dad told me about the canal revolution when I was a child. He’s retold the story several times, as his wont, each time as if he’s never told me before. He remembers the events with extreme fondness. In fact, he also remembers the events with errors. Hagan’s car actually careered backwards into the canal because he’d left his car in reverse, and the rebel players carried him back up the steep bank to safety (while Hagan chastised them for their lack of fitness, amusingly enough). It’s easy to be nostalgic about the world of your 18-year-old self, but, clearly, in the 60s, players had the sympathies of the supporters, even to the extent that my dad has nostalgia for insubordination that didn’t really happen. They stuck it to the man. Good for them. But will anyone from
my generation ever reminisce about bygone years when the players stuck it to the man? Who will pine for the days when the rich powerful Ireland captain would stand up to his modestly-paid Northern manager with anatomically impossible invective (yeah, stick it up your bollocks, Mick McCarthy)? How many thirtysomething Forest fans currently tell their sons fond tales of Pierre Van Hooijdonk’s refusal to play for the side that got relegated? The intelligent reader doesn’t need to be insulted with the obvious news that football has changed, but there’s no other way to put it: football has changed. Perhaps we can blame Jimmy Hill and his greedy chin greedily demanding that footballers good enough to represent their country at world cups should also be able to earn enough from the game to make their window-cleaning rounds dispensable. Maybe we can blame the greedy managers of the 1970s, hungry enough for the services of the best players that they forgot to pick up that brown paper bag full of cash they left under the table in a motorway service station greasy spoon. We can more safely blame players like Kevin Keegan for selling his soul (and his golden-booted soles) to Brut 33 and the moral vacuum of the world of advertising and sponsorship. And for that matter let’s blame any club that has ever prioritised sponsor’s cash over dignity and class, like Oxford United pretending to be oblivious to the sad
25 – GROUP C
fact that it said WANG on their shirts, or Coventry City swapping the very concept of a football shirt for a shit-coloured logo of a manufacturer of shit automobiles, and then being, quite literally, brown shit on the pitch. We can - and must - blame Hoddle and Waddle and their Diamond Lights for greedily seeking to enhance their privileged football lifestyles with the fame and glamour of pop stardom. And that’s all before we even approach the Premier League era, a golden age for unfit and improper persons laundering obscene amounts of dirty cash through the bespoke pockets of obscenely rich greedy twats (oh but they are), never fit to lace the boots of the beautiful and now mourned window-cleaning strikers of my dad’s youth. It’s convenient, isn’t it, that we’ve got all these guilty parties to blame for the greed in modern football. Because, of course, it’s certainly nothing to do with us supporters. We can all indulge in vehicular ridicule of Jermaine Pennant and Andre Wisdom, but it’s not as if any of us would ever use a mode of transport for ridiculously indulgent nonsense, is it? Like flying a plane over a stadium because we think we’re too good for David Moyes, or because we want a very expensive Portuguese winger back. And none of us would ever rejoice if a billionaire turned up at our club and promised to bankroll success on the pitch; we would object, wouldn’t we,
26 – GROUP C
if someone with absolutely no emotional connection came along whoring our club out of its dignity and traditions? We wouldn’t allow them to rename the ground or change our home colours. We’d never overlook the immoral way our club’s new suitor “earned” his wealth just because his takeover meant that we’d get to sign Damien Duff. If kickoff times got changed at the whim of broadcasters we’d go mad, and there’s absolutely no way we would tolerate huge hikes in ticket prices, soulless prematch anthems to greed, goal celebration music, or stewards telling us to sit down and stop swearing because a half-and-half-scarf-wearing tourist has just complained. If greed started to infect our game in any way, we’d stand up and stick it to the man. We’d take proper, effective action. We’d certainly do a lot more than stage vapid and riskless protests like marching from the pub to the ground (and then paying to go in and watch the match), or wearing the club’s traditional colours to the game (paying extra, of course, to watch the match with a programme and delicious array of snacks). There are football fans of my dad’s generation who refer to the Premier League as “the Greed League”, a fitting epithet for what ostensibly began when a group of clubs split from an established, fairer, system so that they wouldn’t have to share an ever-growing pot of cash with anyone else. But let’s not pretend that we’re not complicit in the greed. When the Premier League was first formed, I never believed that my club, West Brom, would ever play in it. We missed the 1992 boat by some distance, and it seemed inevitable that the boat would sail further and further away from us with every season as we fought our way back to the old second division only to flirt with relegation on an annual basis. When we miraculously reached the playoffs in 2001, we drew 2-2 in our home leg with Bolton and then, somewhat inevitably, got battered 3-0 away. And the Albion faithful sang loud and proud and celebrated a brilliant season while the home crowd - already numbed, it seemed, by time spent in the Premier League, remained passive and unimpressed. Our manager Gary Megson spoke afterwards of spending the end of the match watching the fantastic support rather than the game. He took us up to the Greed League the following year, so we referred to it as the Promised Land instead. Now, we’ve got 8 full Premier Seasons behind us (and not all of them ending in relegation), our support never seems quite as loud. Unless, of course, you count the volume of the boos that greet any home defeat or the clatter and clamour of social media demands for more money to be spent on new players in every transfer window. With instant replays and radio phone-ins available on tap, the contemporary football supporter can scrutinise and shout about every misplaced pass, every shanked clearance, every sliced shot, and every refereeing injustice in every 90-minute instalment of their team’s season. And we want every decision and every result to go our way. We have a greed for things we’ve never ever been entitled to. It has become commonplace, for instance, for greedy fans and lazy punters to bemoan League Cup team selections whenever a Premier League club sees its
Kevin Keegan promoting his favourite cologne, Brut.
reserves get knocked out of the competition. Every development in English football over the past twenty years has contributed to making domestic cups of infinitesimal importance when compared with any Premier League game. We’ve greedily consumed all of the contributing factors, yet we bemoan their consequences. If you blame the Premier League, the FA, or the clubs for not “going for the cups”, whatever team you support, have a look through some old programmes from the 1980s; you’ll see that the club were putting out pretty much the same first eleven in the early rounds of the League Cup as they were in the League, but you’ll also see that in most cases, attendances at League Cup games were lower than for league games. Us supporters - or at least those of us who stayed at home on those midweek nights - were the ones that didn’t take the competition seriously. We started it. But why let facts get in the way of a good rant? The collective spirit of the crowd on the terrace seems to have made way for the voices of individuals, all making their “points” on 606 or announcing their preferred starting eleven on Twitter (why?!?). As the sport itself has evolved into a business in which individuals (be they players, agents, investors, or whoever) seek to maximise what they can make / take from the game, so more than ever the supporter has become an individual with a voice, rather than an anonymous face in a crowd. It may be impossible to tell whether this is the cause or the effect of our failure to take any kind of collective stand against the innumerable undesirable elements that have entered our game (or what once was our game), but it is perhaps ironic that now that we all have such freedom and willingness to express our opinions as individuals, nobody's listening. As a crowd we at least made a noise.
Modern football may be a gluttonous affair, but we’re the ones that legitimise the gluttony. In any conversation among fans about a player going elsewhere for higher wages, at least one person will make the point “yeah but you’d do the same in your career if you had the chance” and as a society we seem to have reached a point where such a perspective is an accepted and acceptable norm. But it’s based on the assumption that we all do whatever we do for money. Now, I’m a teacher, and my sister’s a nurse: how stupid must our family be if we’ve chosen our careers for the financial rewards they bring? As a teacher, if I’m committed to teaching a particular group of students for a particular period of time, then it would just be plain wrong of me to abandon those students because more money’s on offer elsewhere. Even worse if I have to uproot my family to go and get the cash; and what if my new fatter pay packet is going to be funded by a regime whose record on human rights would suggest they wouldn’t know morality if Roy Keane stuck it up their bollocks? I might be in an ever-shrinking minority, but no I wouldn’t do the same if I had the chance. I am, I realise sadly, perfectly happy to watch my team play in the Premier League, I’ve got my subscription to Sky Sports, and BT Sport, and I spend far more time in the company of 606 than is intelligently justifiable. And I know deep down inside that I’m as greedy and apathetic as the next football fan. We each sit alone, with a lonely waistline that guiltily answers the question that we used to chant together: who ate all the pies? Mark Holloway is a self-confessed fat bastard, and would like to apologise to his dad for doing some proper research into Don Howe and co’s 1963 rebellion. The version of events that has the players pushing the car into the canal is infinitely preferable
words by Richard Copeman
’m walking down our stairs, shaking my head, muttering too loudly for it to be under my breath. ‘What a waste of money.’ I sound like a grumpy old man, and I don’t like sounding like a grumpy old man. Which, in turn, is making me sound even more like a grumpy old man. Which is making me grumpy. For I have just (yet again) played the role of moneybags chairman, splashing out to fund our 11-year-old son’s free-spending, win-at-much-cost, managerial assault on world football domination. Now, if you’re the parent of a similarly-aged, similarly-football-mad kid, then prepare to balk at the sight of the following two words. FIFA coins. Yes, FIFA coins. The currency that powers in-game purchases in the video game series by EA Sports, the latest iteration of which will soon be hogging an unfair amount of time on our new PS4, once Santa has delivered a perfect finish this yuletide.
and helping him to beat his mates or, slightly worryingly, total strangers, online. Still muttering I head for the sanctuary of the loft. I have promised to tidy it, after all, so as to make room for the latest batch of toys and possessions our kids have grown out of and which we want to keep for ‘sentimental reasons’ (and which we’ll probably throw out in five years when there’s more stuff coming up behind). Squeezing through the hatch, I sit down. Now where is it? Where’s the guaranteed antidote for my frown. I stretch across the Christmas decorations and reach through a beam. No buttons, no screens, definitely no plugs. Just a simple mid-size cardboard box, in surprisingly good shape following three recent house moves, with a kid’s writing sprawled across the outside, clearly legible; despite the fading red felt tip pen. I open the lid, and a musty smell slips out. Pure 1979! Inside, a collection of smaller rectangular boxes, coloured a similarly musty green.
For the uninitiated, FIFA coins are the spoils of war when playing the virtual beautiful game. You receive them for winning a match, more if you do it with a flourish of skill and goals (at least, so 11-yearold son assures me. My best playing days, virtual and otherwise, are clearly long-since behind me).
On the front: SUBBUTEO. The strangest, most nostalgic of words, screaming out like a
It’s the currency of the game’s transfer market, which can help you to buy success. And when I say ‘buy success’, I truly mean it. Spend real money to buy fake FIFA money. With which you buy fake versions of real players. To play in your fake teams. With which you try and beat real (human) players for fake prizes. (Keep up now, this is real, you know, I’m not faking it.)
Subbuteo takes its name from the Latin for bird, Falco Subbuteo Subbuteo.
Long gone are the days of simply paying for a game and playing it. Now you buy the game, then keep buying. And buying, and buying, ad lib to fade… Which has now led to 11-year-old son spending £3.99 on yet another stash of virtual coins. Cue packs of players, managers, badges and training regimes spinning into his virtual club, all with the ultimate goal of boosting his team’s rating
splash headline on the back page of a tabloid. Underneath, a picture of a player from a previous age, caressing a pass with his cultured right foot (right feet were always cultured, even back then). Inside, eight players of a Manchester United XI, plus a goalkeeper, without a body, his feet chopped off at the ankles, stuck into his extended green base. Poor Gary Bailey, what a way to go. The memories come flooding back. I reach for another box. Manchester City, eight fit players, and a goalkeeper’s (Joe Corrigan’s) body, but nothing else. An equally painful variation on a theme. Next, Argentina – bought during the World Cup the previous year – seven players, a goalkeeper in good order, and all with black skin. (It was all or nothing for model painters in those days). Norwich City – 10 players, and a match fit keeper, follow, as do Liverpool, Nottingham Forest, Reading/QPR (there was a lot of doubling up back then), Aston Villa (Burnley, West Ham – at a push), Leeds, Tottenham (Bolton, Derby), England and Scotland, too. And many, many more. More than I feel to which I want to admit. The boxes may be somewhat bigger than I described nine paragraphs ago. I count up the teams. There are 27. Really, 27. I see another box, this time plastic, and within easy reach. A more modern collection, with far less sentiment attached. Bought during my dark (and costly) ‘eBay period’ of the early 2000s. A total of 21 teams including no less than 12 England XIs in differing versions of the same white or red kit, with an honourable mention to the grey Euro 96 semi-final shocker. What were they thinking? What was I thinking? Reality painfully and embarrassingly dawns. I used to spend my money on fake versions of real players. To play in my fake teams. With which I tried to beat real (human) players for fake prizes. Sound familiar? I climb down the loft ladder and go and sit with my son. ‘Shall we buy a new striker?’…
28 – GROUP C
words by simon curtis
illustration by raj dhunna
anchester City have become a regular and, some might even say, relatively easy target of UEFA and their electrically-enhanced Financial Fair Play investigators in recent years, but there is one aspect of City’s burgeoning transfer activity since the arrival of the desert coin that UEFA’s all-knowing, all-seeing accountants may well be slightly more tickled about. City have now been involved in at least three extremely complicated transfers involving players not wholly owned by the selling club. Only football can come up with scenarios like this. The transfers of Carlos Tevez, who was on loan from a third party at Manchester United, Jô from CSKA Moscow and Eliaquim Mangala from Porto this summer produced enough paperwork to fill a library and more headaches for those poor administrators involved in the shuffling and rearranging of contractual documentation than a swimming pool full of aspirin could dispel. Among the turbulent conjecture regarding Mangala’s move from Portugal were a host of conspiracy stories ranging from hidden injuries to the player’s unwillingness to go anywhere but the bright lights and high hem lines of London. The truth of the matter was slightly more mundane and involved an army of accountants and management consultants backed by squadrons of jittery lawyers, all attempting to make sense of who owned which bit of a £32 millionrated centre-back. Trust funds, hedge funds, agents and Uncle Jacques back in Namur were all purported to be edging themselves forward as interested parties. Portugal, where Mangala, a Frenchman, had been plying his trade since leaving Belgian club Standard Liège (yes, you will have noticed the kid’s trajectory is already getting intricate before we even start to sniff the proper money) is rife with these kinds of arrangements, where agents and trust funds step into the financial gaps left by clubs struggling to pay their way. Even the big three of Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon cannot hold a candle to the European heavyweights these days and must rely on third party arrangements to get them their players, the richest source of which all come from South America, where the practice first surfaced and continues to be as popular as a lazy afternoon waiting for those tray-sized steaks to brown at the churrascaria. While one official called the practice “an unedifying trade in young people that rips the heart out of clubs which try to develop players”, it could also be seen as a great way of making the likes of European super agent Jorge Mendes just that little bit richer and, let’s face it, filling that Aston Martin with enough petrol to get down to the grocer’s and back is no laughing matter in these difficult times for the likes of Mendes, who earns the equivalent of Portugal’s GDP each time he dispatches a young Argentine in the direction of La Liga. But, hell, you might want to ask, where’s the harm in all of that? If it is the difference between poor little half-bankrupt Benfica getting their Chilean wunderkind and not, let us dive in. The money, though - and that’s what makes everyone chuckle in football these days - goes straight into the pocket of various
non-football parties and does not generally return. With the likes of the utterly unwholesome Jerome Anderson making a packet out of the English game, do we really want to condone more of the same? Pini Zahavi, Kia Joorabchian, the once prolific Willy McKay and any number of well-placed and well-known names skirting the dark fringes of football finance, will no doubt have their say in defence of this practise. Gestifute, Jorge Mendes’ company is up to its ears in part-ownership constructions and the situation has even developed as far as clubs such as Benfica setting up their own funds, the rather presumptuously named Benfica Stars Fund, to free up more imaginary cash to feed the insatiable monster that is modern football. This system only works because the club is the most widely supported in football-mad Portugal and sells the economic rights of its players to a fund in exchange for hard cash. It produces a Mephistophelean knot of such intensity that only those with a doctorate in molecular science would be able to pick the thing apart. By the time money had been siphoned off to former employers and to funds, the summer transfer of Argentina centre-half Ezequiel Garay to Zenit St Petserburg netted the Lisbon club a meagre £2.4m. Where the rest had gone and how much evaporated before it could even be calculated as part of the player’s worth, is anybody’s guess. Leading Portuguese sports lawyer, Paulo Farinha Alves, who works for Lisbon law firm PLMJ and Associates, says: “Football is not so very different from politics. In Portugal, the increase in these situations where the football club no longer has so much of a say in the ‘ins and outgoings’ of players, mirrors our total inability as a society to create wider platforms of consensus whereby we can better control our own affairs from outside influences.” While all of this unseemly wrestling goes on for a share in football’s re-enactment of the gold rush, what of the players? Rich beyond their dreams, are they still to be thought of as chunks of meat being thrust around an eager market waiting to gorge itself upon their chunky thighs? With Billy Meredith’s successors bowed, silently gazing at their iPhones, it is tempting to ask if many of them notice the difference. The snappy headgear contract, the boot endorsements and the triple biography book signings all build up a mountain of resources that can be recycled into various types of headphones and shapeless but exorbitant jeans, meaning at the end of the day, they probably don’t much care. As FIFA’s moral compass Sepp Blatter announces that third-party ownership will be banned in every league, it still remains unclear how quickly changes will come into effect. Jorge Mendes continues to reinvent himself as a moral-lite Prince of Monaco and great football institutions like Benfica and Sporting fray gradually to the core, we are left to ask the question, will football be able to stop eating itself before there is nothing left but gold-plated breadcrumbs?
SHARP SHOOTERS And BOOTERS THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Photography Matt Brooke Fashion David Nolan
THIS PAGE Knit roll neck by MARGARET HOWELL Track trousers by NIKE OPPOSITE Suit by HUNTSMAN Shirt by BUDD Bib, boots and ball all NIKE
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Model: OShea at Select Photographic Assistance: Ben Peter Catchpole Production: RM Production Retouching: Richard at Happy Retouching Special thanks to Nike.com
36 – GROUP D
w o r d s b y j a m e s p h i ll i p s illustration by james boast
uke Daniels, Brian Murphy, Benjamin Siegrist. ‘Who are these people’ you may well ask. Premier League footballers is the answer. The reason you’ve probably never heard of the West Brom, QPR and Aston Villa players is simple. They belong to that most enigmatic of species – the third-choice goalkeeper. Sometimes portrayed as greedy, the reserve custodian’s reserve settles for a life out of the spotlight, perhaps appearing in the odd Under 21s game, yet picking up a footballer’s wage packet and mingling with their more illustrious team-mates. Henrique Hilário –remembered more for his moniker than anything else - played 40 league games in 16 years with Porto and Chelsea. That average of 2.5 a season is actually quite good for a third choice. But he only made the bench 13 times in his last four Premier League seasons, playing twice, and retired to little fanfare in 2013.
alas, the club ensured Robert Snodgrass won the award after Nash insisted he wouldn’t accept. Richard Wright abandoned a career as Ipswich Town’s first choice to play back-up at clubs including Arsenal, Everton and West Ham. Now he is best known for a pair of freak injuries – one from falling from a loft and another from hurting his ankle on a sign telling goalkeepers not to warm up in the goalmouth. It’s hard to believe he has been part of the all-star Manchester City squad since 2012. He has made no appearances at the time of writing, although he did appear in full outfield kit for the 2013/14 Premier League trophy presentation. The low profile – Wright has around 4,000 Twitter followers despite having been a Premier League player since 2000 –means he avoided the merciless mocking John Terry received for a less-ridiculous stunt in 2012.
The lack of action can show when a third choice is called upon. Iain Turner, now bench-warming at Sheffield United, was third choice at Everton in 2006 when he was thrust into the limelight in a clash with Blackburn Rovers. Less than ten minutes in, he handled outside the area and was dismissed.
Arsenal youth product Stuart Taylor played a role in their 2001/02 Premier League triumph but has since been third choice at a series of clubs. Now 33, Taylor turned down a no-doubt lucrative twoyear contract extension with City in 2012 to sign for Reading after three seasons which yielded just one appearance. But he only played four times in his two years at the Madejski and is now a reserve at Leeds.
Last season, Norwich City’s third choice Carlo Nash, who made a total of zero Premier League appearances in seven seasons with Wigan, Everton, Stoke and the Canaries from 2007-2014, nearly claimed some elusive glory. Disgruntled fans campaigned to make him player of the year as the active players had performed so badly, but
When he was selected for Reading against Everton in 2013 he admitted he nearly went to the bench out of habit, as it had been over five years since his previous Premier League start. “A lot of people say to me ‘I don’t know how you do it, all these years you have just come in and trained, trained and trained.’ Sometimes you go through
phases thinking, ‘Is it a waste of time?” Taylor says. “You drop off the radar. Unless people see you play you feel forgotten.” A major aspect of the third choice’s role is support of the first choice whom they work closely with in training. Taylor had a strong relationship with Joe Hart who tried his best to convince him to stay at City. Hilário said of his long-term ‘over-study’ Petr Cech, “He is my friend. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Petr. I feel proud that when I am playing I have his support. It helps me a lot. Every single training we are together.’ Nash took on other interests to get through life. He speaks multiple languages and along with his wife is a travel enthusiast who has visited over 80 countries. They have even released a series of books called ‘Luxury Backpackers’. Taylor claims: “If someone said to me you can play every week somewhere I would jump at the chance.” But if he really wanted to, surely he could have by dropping down a level? Ross Turnbull is one of the few to have escaped. After four undistinguished seasons at Chelsea, he dropped down to Championship club Doncaster Rovers in 2013 and played 31 times before moving to League One Barnsley this season. Spaniard Ricardo is another, after three years playing third fiddle at Manchester United, he moved to La Liga minnows Osasuna in 2005 and made 189 league appearances before retiring. So are the likes of Nash and Taylor greedy? Perhaps. But would you reject a five-figures-aweek salary for a low pressure job in football?
Players of Fortuna Frankendorf and Eintracht Wickerstedt in eastern Germany during a corner kick in the first match after a long and hard winter in 2013.
â€œLife gets complicated when you love one woman and worship eleven menâ€? Nick Hornby
every sunday amateur football in Germany a project by Christian A. Werner
In Germany, all sports pale into insignificance compared to football. Victory in the 2014 World Cup illustrated how fanatical the nation is. Week after week, thousands of fans visit stadiums all over our vast country with millions of others glued to their televisions. From north to south, east to west, football is a phenomenon here that connects people from all walks of life. It is our folk opera, our religion. In terms of active participation, the German Football Association (DFB) connects more than 26,000 registered clubs in 2,381 leagues, starting with the Bundesliga. That adds up to more than three million players of different ages celebrating their love of the sport every week. In the shadow of our big arenas, where the superstars shine and earn their millions, are smaller clubs where the stakes are just as high for those engrossed within them. From winning the German championship to defeating a neighbouring village, it's all the same to us. Even in the smallest villages, bereft of local amenities, exists a football club, feeding the local appetite for 90 minutes each week. Crowds of eight or 80,000 are transfixed on the ball. It is our globe and in that moment everything else seems light years away.
40 â€“ GROUP D
A player of SV Weser 08 Bremen prepares a corner kick during a match in the second lowest league in the region.
Members of Blau Weiss Schmiedehausen searching for the match-ball in a nearby canola field.
Players of OSV Hanover refreshing themselves in the dressing room after a lost match in spring 2013.
words by Jonathan Harding
illustration by Case Jernigan
decade that has been described as the greatest transitional period in German football has been spearheaded by one man, Joachim Löw. Initially brought into the German setup as Jürgen Klinsmann’s assistant in 2004, he went on to succeed Klinsmann and was appointed manager of the national team in 2006. The change in approach and style resulted in the pinnacle of international glory and Germany lifting the World Cup in Brazil for the fourth time in their history. Moments of unforeseeable fortune and an array of talent played a role in Löw’s winning hand, but the timing couldn’t have been better for the fanatical coach. Löw’s playing career was halted prematurely because of a leg break while at Freiburg – a club for which he still retains the goal scoring record. While the injury devastated the former striker, German football would have been poorer without it as his response was to coach. “I don’t normally react rationally in games, more intuitively. It’s the unpredictability that makes football fascinating,” he said in a magazine interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung in the months building up to Brazil. And who could have predicted in 2004 what was to come? German football was defensive, old and slow. It was here Löw implemented the origins of his attacking, transitional style. “Creativity, technical ability and playfulness have become values in the German game now and that makes me happy.” Key to Löw’s mantra, was the development of youth football in Germany - roughly €80m per year being invested in grass roots football – improved organisation and coaching, allowing the cream to sift to the top and giving young
players the opportunity to gain experience. In 2009, Germany’s U21s won the Euros, comprehensively beating England 4-0 in the final. Six of the starting eleven that night went on to be cornerstones of the Germany squad that delivered in Brazil. Mesut Özil became a key part of Löw’s new attacking, transitional Germany. Revolutionary goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, defensive trio Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels and Benedikt Höwedes and majestic midfielder Sami Khedira all executed Löw’s system perfectly. Three pillars of Löw’s system were already in place. Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski were established, reliable figures within the team; utilising their experience and unifying the young and older players - they would play a pivotal role in the national team’s success. Euro 2012 was the one that got away. Despite being impressive in the group stages, a disastrous defeat to Italy was full of individual mistakes, Löw’s included. Questions about the manager’s stubbornness and decision-making were posed. Toni Kroos, unripe defensively, deployed as an extra midfielder to combat the roaming force of Andrea Pirlo proved a mistake, as did having an extraordinarily high defensive line. Joachim Löw had taken his side from rigid, defensive-minded formations to fluid, fast football, but success remained elusive. The stage was set, the 2014 World Cup. Although better equipped and more experienced, Germany’s early performances against Ghana and the United States were far from convincing. Aside from the dismantling of Portugal and that historic semifinal against Brazil, the team looked vulnerable. Per Mertesacker’s outburst after the gruelling extra-time win against Algeria in Brazil revealed
Germany had finally acknowledged winning ugly was a necessary evil. “What do you want from us? Do you want us to play nice football and exit the competition again?” The tactical change of Mertesacker for Boateng after the Algeria escape proved a masterstroke. Boateng played out the tournament in careerbest form. In perhaps a forgotten trend of modern sport selection, character was important for Germany in 2014. The team’s base in Brazil was a self-contained one that welcomed wives, girlfriends and children on free days. In training, varying formalities of language were used. All of it bred the right kind of atmosphere. One problem Löw now faces is the balance of that atmosphere. Özil has not performed anywhere near the level shown in tournament’s past and Podolski continues to be picked, based on years of service. Despite his increased adaptability, the blur between the merit and individual skill hasn’t become any clearer. What is clear is what must come next: The fourth European Championship. Germany are no longer a creaking, old warhorse. They’re world champions. This transition will define their manager. Löw, a son of the reconstruction generation, is already a brilliant coach. He could be considered the best ever. Thomas Schneider is the new assistant coach, replacing Hansi Flick who has moved to head up youth development. The move sprinkles just the right amount of freshness in the dugout, and should motivate a number of World Cup winners as well as the country’s newest talents. With or without the 2016 title, Löw’s time will end after France, leaving the 54-year-old the chance to return to Freiburg, enjoy a good glass of red wine and a meal at his local Italian