AT THE age of 11 and a half, my football career probably peaked. In fact, you could say that 1970 was my Annus mirabilis in terms of the beautiful game. In 1969-70, I was leading scorer for my primary school, Benyon of South Ockendon in Essex. I scored 10 goals in 15 and a half games (actually 16 starts). I was chaired off the pitch … Continue reading Tostão, tomatoes and TV: 1970
IT HAS not been a totally disappointing World Cup, but it hasn’t quite ignited into the festival of football we are always promised and rarely get. The fancied teams have yet to find their form, although it is feasible they are merely pacing themselves after long domestic programmes. The surprise of the first week was surely Mexico’s win against reigning champions Germany, although it didn’t … Continue reading Week one – and where are all the flowers?
WE ALL look to Brazil as being one of the ancestral homes of football. When World Cups come around, the TV broadcasters cannot wait to get that mythical “Brazilian samba” onto their screens, however overused that view is. Furthermore, the happy, smiling faces of Brazilian fans represent one of the iconic images of the competition. Stereotyping Brazil and its football continues to be something that … Continue reading The gulf between South America and Europe, created by football’s global warming
JEAN-MARC Bosman really did create the future of professional football when he challenged the laws around football transfers. It didn’t do him much good, but every major footballer in Europe has been the beneficiary of Bosman’s actions. Neymar may or may not move to Paris St. Germain in the coming weeks, despite signing a five-year contract in October 2016 with Barcelona. Neymar is idolised in … Continue reading Neymar, PSG and the decline of the contract
AS WE WALKED down the steps into Chelsea’s old West Stand lower tier, the uncomfortable bench seats that used to provide budget-priced accommodation for fans that didn’t want to try their luck in the maelstrom that was the Shed, we attempted to play “I spy a World Cup legend.” “Is that Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer?..Who’s that tall fellow…the Brazilian…it’s not Pele, is it? No, … Continue reading Carlos Alberto and a night in London SW6
The Brazilian national league gets underway next week (May 9) and there will be a familiar face missing from the Serie A line-up, Botafogo, the club that spawned the great Garrincha. It’s a club that most football followers with an international eye are aware of, but by no means are they Brazil’s most successful. At the end of the 2014 season, Botafogo were relegated for … Continue reading South American Way: Botafogo – Elvis has left Serie A
The various permutations for the World Cup final make for intriguing discussions – in an ideal FIFA world, they’re probably hoping for a clash of the South American titans, Brazil v Argentina. If the diplomats have their way, it will be Brazil v Netherlands or Germany v Argentina (please, no). But given the law of coincidence often delivers the unlikely in football, Germany v Netherlands … Continue reading World Cup 2014: No Neymar, no chance? – Brazil v Germany
The nerves are starting to show in Brazil. Scolari looks like he’s getting hot under the collar, Neymar’s fitness becomes national news and there’s the omnipresent threat of violence if things go horribly wrong for Pentacampeões against Colombia. Having predicted that Chile would beat Brazil in the last 16 – actually, they very nearly did – we are going to have another bash at making … Continue reading World Cup 2014: Tremors to hit Brazil?
And so, two weeks into the greatest show on earth, 16 teams have gone home and the rest go into the business end of the competition. It’s been a good World Cup so far, not a great one, despite the plethora of young hacks claiming it’s the best since 1970 and in their lifetime. It’s partly been good because five of the last six have … Continue reading World Cup 2014: Jeux sans frontieres
Seeing Luiz Felipe Scolari in charge of Brazil is a reminder that he has happily rebounded from his short and very unproductive spell with Chelsea. Ironically, four of Scolari’s squad, on which the fate of the nation depends, were Chelsea players last season: Luiz, Ramires, Willian and Oscar. When Scolari arrived at Stamford Bridge, he was feted as the man who would bring the Brazilian … Continue reading Scolari shows there’s life after Chelsea
Notwithstanding the background noise around FIFA corruption and revolution in the air, the opening game of the World Cup needs to be good in order to captivate the global audience for the next month or so. More than ever before, the competition needs a successful host nation to drive the overblown 32-team format to the knockout stages. Recent World Cups have disappointed, the last three, … Continue reading World Cup Day One: We need a strong Brazilian start
It’s now 44 years since Brazil set a World Cup benchmark they – and any country, come to think of it – have never been able to live up to. Pele’s heroes of 1970 left the samba nation with a legacy they just cannot better, not matter how many times they win the competition. The only time they have excited us the way the media … Continue reading World Cup 2014: Brazil – who’d be a host nation?