Jon Townsend

Senior Writer

Why Landon Donovan did more for US soccer than anyone else

The announcement was inevitable. Seeing Landon Donovan score against Bayern Munich in a meaningless game somehow signified a type of finality reserved for movie scripts. When Donovan announced his plans to retire…

Bob Paisley: the gentle giant who couldn’t stop winning

This feature is part of The Masterminds GOOD FOOTBALL TEAMS require direction and leadership. The captain functions as the on-field general, rallying the troops in the heat of competition. The manager is…

The Fermi Paradox of American soccer

WHY HASN’T THE UNITED STATES produced a world-class player in the men’s game? That question might as well read like Enrico Fermi’s intergalactic quandary, “Where is everyone?” I imagine physicists and astronomers…

‘That was Cruyff’: how one man changed football

‘That was Cruyff’. So many things in football are indeed Johan Cruyff. Senior TFT writer Jon Townsend, a man heavily influenced by Cruyff as a player and now coach, looks back in celebratory fashion at the beautiful gifts the Dutch legend left behind.

Rinus Michels and the Total Football rebellion

This feature is part of The Masterminds FOOTBALL CAN BE APTLY be described as a simple game made complex. It is about the goals and entertainment and the social function it affords its…

Brian Clough and the art of doing it your own way

This feature is part of The Masterminds The only way to simplify football is to make it complicated. As such, understanding who Brian Clough was and his impact on football seems appropriate for…

Football’s agitators and agents of chaos

MY FIRST FORAY INTO A TRUE BRAWL DISGUISED AS A FOOTBALL GAME was when I was 16-years-old. I had been “recruited” by a group of stockyard workers from Eastern Europe to play in…

Kenny Dalglish: a king among men

Kenny Dalglish wasn’t the most skilful player, nor was he blessed with blinding pace or immense strength, but scenes of a stealthy and intelligent Scot with straw-like hair and ice-blue eyes cutting defences…

David Beckham: the English regista that never was

Stylish, flamboyant and a free-kick master. A wonderful range of passing, a quick decision maker, creative, patient and composed. Such superlatives could be about any number of brilliant players throughout football’s history. Perhaps reading…

Adriano: football’s monumental ‘what if’ tale

This feature is part of The Fleeting Fraternity A SINGLE SNAPSHOT of a player often reveals much more than the football they play. The way they carry themselves off the ball, how they…

The fleeting but eternal brilliance of George Best

This feature is part of The Fleeting Fraternity EVERY MAN WANTED TO BE HIM and every woman wanted to have him. Few players are capable of not only existing, but thriving on…

Marco van Basten: an undisputed legend despite a premature end

This feature is part of The Fleeting Fraternity Imagine a striker tall in stature but with lightning-quick feet, a velvety deft first touch, the explosiveness of a coiled spring, the flexibility and acrobatic…