Great Partnerships: Osgood and Hutchinson – short-lived but sensational

CHELSEA fans will never forget Peter Osgood and Ian Hutchinson, they were, after all, two of the key figures in the club’s unforgettable 1969-70 FA Cup triumph. These two players helped define an era, a swaggering Chelsea team that was fashionable, exciting, hard as nails at times and confident to the point of arrogance. But it is not always appreciated that their time together – … Continue reading Great Partnerships: Osgood and Hutchinson – short-lived but sensational

Great partnerships: Bremner and Giles – players of their time

  IF YOU’VE watched the film, The Damned United, you don’t necessarily come away with a positive view of Leeds United under Don Revie or the two legends in Leeds’ midfield in the mid-1960s to early 1970s, Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles. Along with Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter, no other players epitomised the stance adopted by Revie and his team in that period. Not … Continue reading Great partnerships: Bremner and Giles – players of their time

Netzer Vierundneunzig

WE WATCHED in awe. We admired his physique, his energy, his boldness and his power. He was 1972 personified: trendy, confident and, strangely for a footballer, radically cool. Günter Netzer was of his time, anti-establishment and defiant. He looked like he would be just as easily at home as a member of the Velvet Underground or part of a student protest movement. It was April … Continue reading Netzer Vierundneunzig

Premier power shows through in valuations

THE Latest report by CIES Football Observatory, outlining player valuations in the “big five” European leagues, underlines once more the undeniable power of the English Premier League. There are 27 players listed with a valuation of more than € 100 million and 16 of them currently play for Premier League teams. Although the top valuation is 20 year-old Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain, who is … Continue reading Premier power shows through in valuations

Farewell Adamec, the hero of ’68

IN 1969, when football in eastern Europe was still something of a mystery, Jozef Adamec finished joint 15thin the Ballon d’Or voting, with the same number of points as Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton. This was no mean feat and underlined that Adamec had made a significant impact on football writers across the continent. This week, Slovak football is in mourning for the man who became … Continue reading Farewell Adamec, the hero of ’68

Great Partnerships: Osgood and Hutchinson – short-lived but sensational

CHELSEA fans will never forget Peter Osgood and Ian Hutchinson, they were, after all, two of the key figures in the club’s unforgettable 1969-70 FA Cup triumph. These two players helped define an era, a swaggering Chelsea team that was fashionable, exciting, hard as nails at times and confident to the point of arrogance. But it is not always appreciated that their time together – … Continue reading Great Partnerships: Osgood and Hutchinson – short-lived but sensational

Ruud Geels – tradesman of the penalty area

HE MAY have been blonde and an Ajax player, but Ruud Geels is rarely mentioned in conversations when the great Dutch masters are discussed. Could it be that he was prematurely balding in a time when long, flowing hair was de rigeur, or the fact he was overshadowed by more celebrated players. Or perhaps it was because he never moved out of the Benelux region. More likely … Continue reading Ruud Geels – tradesman of the penalty area

England’s stay-at-home squad

ENGLAND’S football clubs may be providing more players for the 2018 World Cup than any other country, but its own squad for Russia has less experience of playing league football abroad than any other participating nation. Every member of England’s squad plays for English clubs. No other squad can match this from the 32 heading for Russia. According to data compiled by the European Club … Continue reading England’s stay-at-home squad

The spirit of ’77 fades away – Ray Wilkins

APRIL 23 1975. A few days earlier, Ray Wilkins had been appointed captain of Chelsea. The Blues had lost 2-0 at Tottenham and the writing was on the wall. I was in the City of London, having an interview with Barclays Bank and decided to visit Stamford Bridge to see Chelsea play Sheffield United. It was looking desperate for the club I had supported since … Continue reading The spirit of ’77 fades away – Ray Wilkins

Signals and signs: Learnings from the Guardian 100

WE’VE become used to seeing familiar names at the forefront of world football. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated polls and awards since 2007 and the recent Guardian ranking of the top 100 players – arguably the best list of its kind – places Messi top and Ronaldo second. Recently, Ronaldo was named the winner of the Ballon d’Or for the fifth time. These … Continue reading Signals and signs: Learnings from the Guardian 100

Best and Hudson, Keegan and Cruyff: Playboys v Smart boys

ANYONE who has attended a “sportsman’s evening” featuring footballers from the 1970s will be familiar with the script: laddish dialogue, tales of drink, women and gambling, blue jokes and so on and so forth. Sometimes, it’s not worth meeting your heroes, men you might have only seen on Match of the Day or in the tabloid press. After a while, stories of how “I once … Continue reading Best and Hudson, Keegan and Cruyff: Playboys v Smart boys

A central European odyssey: The life of Josef Bican

IN 1928, the Olympic men’s 100 metre sprint was won by Canada’s Percy Williams. He ran the race in 10.8 seconds. Over in Vienna, a young footballer could run 100 metres in the same time, but he was wearing heavy boots and a football kit. That player was one Josef Bican, known as “Pepi” to his friends. We should all be aware of Bican as … Continue reading A central European odyssey: The life of Josef Bican