Kerlon and the demise of a great that never was

Few things evoke emotion quite like observing something extraordinary on the football field. An act that defies all logic and belief. The gasps of those in attendance, the clattering of seats as spectator’s rise to their feet in unison. Witnessing something awe-inspiring is magical at the best of times, yet when such aptitude is conjured…

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The endless evolution of David Villa

Confined to his hospital bed, all he could do was stare helplessly at the television. The faint sound of music was still audible, but the match encompassing his eyes had him transfixed. Memories of freedom and joy would come flooding back, further enraging an angst of all he was missing. He would kick his left…

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Jan Mølby: Liverpool’s original pass master

There was a time, not long ago, when footballers were permitted the luxury of vastly different physical forms and appearances. Today’s identikit toolbox of tattoos, ruggedly groomed facial hair, short back and sides, and primed athletic torso weren’t prerequisites. Mick Quinn appeared more suited to darts. Alan Cork was bald, sometimes bearded, and lent a perpetual appearance…

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Ariel Ortega: the little donkey

Undefeated. That was the word on the minds of River Plate fans as their team marched into La Bombonera on 11 December 1994. Not once in their 93-year history had Los Millonarios won a trophy without losing a game.  And yet, as the fireworks hissed and the Boca fans jeered, those brave enough to travel from the northern barrios realised…

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Andreas Herzog: the silky Austrian perfectionist

With creative attacking footballers there tends to be stand-out, pivotal moments in their careers; wonderful flashes of genius or spectacular goals that are fondly recalled after they retire. There are countless examples. For Roberto Baggio, the supremely gifted Italian, the magic moment came at the 1990 World Cup when he delicately weaved past several Czech…

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Xavi: the humble composer

The expert, the architect, the scientist; the heartbeat, the metronome, the brain. Endless adjectives, analogies and appellations have been summoned by fellow professionals in sincere yet scant attempts to describe exactly what Xavier Hernández was in his prime, the ways in which he kept the beautiful game beautiful, and what unique qualities he spent the…

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