Deco: the understated master of his time

“I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible … I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves.” By the time he passed away in 2012, Oscar Niemeyer was one of the greatest architects in world history. The Brazilian’s unique designs, informed by his abhorrence for all things bleak and uniform,…

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Teófilo Cubillas: the greatest Peruvian of them all

On 3 June 1978, Peruvian footballer Teófilo Cubillas broke the hearts of five million Scots with a set-piece of ineffable magic. Moments earlier, Cubillas stood 20-yards away from the Scottish goal, staring down goalkeeper Alan Rough. Rough, like any sane goalkeeper, was expecting the Peruvian to strike the ball around the outside of Scotland’s six-man…

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José Mourinho: the early years

“I was nine or 10-years-old and my father was sacked on Christmas Day. He was a manager, the results had not been good, he lost a game on December 22 or 23. On Christmas Day, the telephone range and he was sacked in the middle of our lunch.” José Manuel Mourinho Félix­ had enjoyed a successful…

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José Mourinho: the Porto years

The ball looped over a tired Monaco defender into the vacant fields of destiny. Dmitri Alenichev, one of many Porto predators, slithered in pursuit, before pounding it beyond the helpless goalkeeper high into the net with an almighty thud. For a moment time stood still in Gelsenkirchen, only for an explosion of joy to shake the…

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André Villas-Boas and the long con

I have seen the future. Football’s future. It’s both exciting and tragic. Amidst the increase in strength, pace and fitness, players have taken centre stage like never before. Long gone is the cameraman walk along the two lines of players prior to Champions League fixtures; instead, the captain takes his super-smartphone along the line for selfies…

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Porto: Southern Europe’s talent conveyor belt

Portugal’s Primeira Liga is Europe’s breeding ground for top talent; a veritable goldmine of as yet unfulfilled promise and hidden gems. Each year, the continent’s top clubs scout extensively in the long, narrow country on the Iberian Peninsula in the hope of unearthing the next Hulk, Radamel Falcao or James Rodríguez. And for good reason. For…

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