The decorated, destructive and damned career of Robert Prosinečki

In February 2002, over 12,000 fans packed themselves into Fratton Park to see former Real Madrid and Barcelona maestro Robert Prosinečki score a scintillating hat-trick against Barnsley. What should have been an easy three…

The Hand of Goebbels: England, Germany and the Nazi salute

IT’S AN IMAGE that intuitively seems wrong. An England team, which included a young Stanley Matthews, stands reluctantly with their hands raised in the air. It’s gesture that to the modern fan…

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…

The curious case of Dong Fangzhuo

IT WAS A momentous occasion for Chinese football. Lóngzhī Duì had finally produced a player capable of joining one of the world’s leading teams. What’s more, he was only 18. His career…

Andrew Watson: the silent pioneer for black footballers

Discussions of pioneering black athletes almost inevitably descend into common tropes about breaking race barriers, facing racial slurs of unmentionable evil and overcoming professional prejudices. A complete absence of such experiences makes…

The Ebbsfleet United fan ownership experiment

It was supposed to be one of the greatest innovations football had ever witnessed. For the first time in history, fans, thousands of fans, would be given a real say in the running…

The failed Team America experiment

LONG BEFORE A TEAM OF ANIMATED PUPPETS decided to take on the world under the banner of Team America, a hodgepodge collection of superstars and NASL underlings joined together in 1976 to take…

Janusz Kowalik: the NASL’s first superstar

THE TIME BEFORE PELÉ, CRUYFF AND CHINAGLIA was a barren one for the North American Soccer League, or NASL to you and me. Born in 1968 following a merger between the United Soccer…

The story of Frank Buckley and monkey glands at Wolves

In 1927, the board of Wolverhampton Wanderers took the bold decision to hire a man known for his unique managerial methods, authoritarian style, keen eye for detail and innovative approach. Frank Buckley, or the…

Gary Lineker in the Land of the Rising Sun

On 14 May 1992, Gary Lineker scored his final goal in English football as Tottenham Hotspur lost 3-1 to Manchester United. Following the game, players, managers and fans across the UK began to…

The rise and fall of Ipswich in the Premier League

Cast your mind back to the turn of the millennium. A time when we first came to grips with Big Brother, a time when the Millennium Dome was revealed to a semi-astonished English…

James Catton: the man behind football journalism

In the modern football environment saturated with the opinions of former players, managers and media pundits, it’s hard to imagine a time when football struggled to find it’s way into the newspapers. Yet once…

Mohun Bagan and the fight for Indian independence

In 1911, Mohun Bagan, an all-Indian team from Kolkata, captured the hearts of the nation when they won the IFA Shield. The IFA Shield was a football tournament created for English troops stationed…

When Allan Simonsen went to Charlton

LONG BEFORE FLORENTINO PÉREZ introduced the world to the term ‘Galáctico’, European clubs had been buying superstars in the hope of success both on and off the pitch. In 1982, Barcelona set out…

Saarland vs. West Germany: a national affair

WHEN THE QUALIFICATION ROUND was drawn for the 1954 World Cup, French and German diplomats looked worriedly at each other. At a time when Europe was trying to move on from the calamities…

How football and race shaped modern Brazil

England may have created football, but Brazil made it an art form. Since the arrival of football in the South American country at the turn of the 20th century, Brazil has won…