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
THERE WILL be great expectations at the Emirates Stadium this coming season when former Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette makes his debut for Arsenal. And the expectation will not only be on the part of the Gunners’ supporters, for Lacazette will also be hoping to make an immediate impact at his new club. The fee, some EUR 60m, is one thing, but the Frenchman is 26 … Continue reading Lacazette should hit the ground running
ROONEY for Romelu? Seven years difference. A player in the ascendancy, a player on his way down. Good business for Everton? Certainly, with a £ 10m golden handshake, this is good business for Rooney. What makes people think that Wayne Rooney will enjoy an Indian Summer at his former club? For the past two years, Croxteth’s favourite son has been winding down, unable to command … Continue reading Everton and Rooney: What happens if the hero is a busted flush after all?
MY Father did not like football, he saw it as over-rated and over-hyped. But in 1992, just a few months before he retired from his job as a social club manager, he joined in the celebrations when Denmark became European champions. On the night that Denmark beat Germany 2-0 in the Euro 1992 final, he donned a huge Viking helmet and a red tie. He … Continue reading A Danish hero
CHELSEA’s long history has included a plethora of outstanding goalkeepers, from the huge and imposing figure of Willie Foulke in 1905 through to the 1960s and 1970s when Peter Bonetti stood imperiously between the sticks, and then onto the Mourinho-era reliability of Petr Cech. Peter Bonetti saw off many pretenders to his throne, but one goalkeeper went closer than anyone to taking his place – … Continue reading John Phillips, the unenviable understudy
WE ALL wanted to be George Best. In the playground, on the football pitch, in the disco(!), in the boutique. He seemed to have everything that a virile male, circa 1967-72, needed to be a success in life: looks, women and outstanding ability. But he was a flawed character, and there can be no other assessment as we now look back on his short … Continue reading The problem with being Best
IT IS always sad to hear of the passing of a football great and Piet Keizer’s death is a reminder that the heroes of a golden era are gradually leaving the playing field of life. Keizer didn’t really figure in World Cup 1974, having played in just one of the Netherlands’ seven games in West Germany, a goalless draw with Sweden in Dortmund. In fact, … Continue reading Piet Keizer – until Cruyff, he was the man
SO GARETH SOUTHGATE is the man given the task of moving aside Wayne Rooney, England’s talismanic and unfulfilled Premier-era “star”. No doubt this will be an unpopular decision in some quarters, but if Southgate is to initiate the “new broom sweeping clean”, then the gentle removal of Rooney, arguably the last link with the ill-fated and self-appointed golden generation, has to be the first to … Continue reading Heading for the exit – Rooney and the problem of longevity
AND SO, the long and illustrious, sometimes controversial, career of John Terry is over. Tears will flow at Stamford Bridge at the final game, one that Terry can only watch from the sidelines after his second red card of the season. As a result, the “captain, leader, legend” ended his Chelsea days by stripping off his captain’s armband and walking off the pitch in added … Continue reading Farewell the femme fatale
CHELSEA fans of the past 15 years will probably not have heard of Ian Britton. He wasn’t one of the Stamford Bridge greats, neither did he win much in the way of silverware in his career. He played during what was Chelsea’s equivalent of an economic downturn – the period from 1973 and 1982 that left few highlights. An era where the club almost went … Continue reading Ian Britton, wee-man from Chelsea’s dark age
One day in January 1993, my telephone rang at work. “Hello, mate, it’s Peter Osgood here.” I hesitated, gasped and was a little nervous with my reply. “I used to have a poster of you on my bedroom wall,” I uttered. “I hope you still haven’t got it up,” he quipped. Here was my boyhood hero, Peter Leslie Osgood, born Windsor, February 20 1947, 6ft … Continue reading The King may be dead, but he’s not forgotten
WHEN YOU think about TV football commentators and pundits, four names spring to mind, especially if your formative years fell between the mid-to-late 60s and the 70s: Kenneth Wolstenholme; Brian Moore; John Motson and…Jimmy Hill. When we were kids, we would draw a crude sketch of Jimmy Hill: hair, eyebrows, moustache and beard. As a player, he resembled a beat club poet rather than a … Continue reading Jimmy Hill: Not just a beard and chin
WORLD SOCCER’S series of specials on the top clubs and players – Barca, Real, Liverpool, United – lost a little bit of credibility this week with a whole magazine devoted to David Beckham. In the corridors of European football, they must be scratching their heads. Why? – when there are so many other riches to choose from. Beckham, for all his photo opportunities, does not … Continue reading Beckham – has football done its job for the brand?