Eric Abidal: Cule of the year returns home to Lyon

By Barney Stephenson

Earlier this month Eric Abidal was awarded “Cule of the year”, an award that recognises individuals who possess “the Barca DNA: teamwork, solidarity, respect, fair play, humility, ambition and generosity”. Back at the club he spent six years at after five years away it is fair to say that the Frenchman is a decent candidate for the accolade.

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Advent Day 21 – Lahm, Merkel and the ascendance of Germany

By Barney Stephenson

2002 was a big year for the Germans. The new year saw the advent of a period of economic dominance for Germany as the Euro officially replaced the Deutsche Mark. In the summer Die Mannschaft became perhaps the worst side ever to reach a world cup final only to lose to a far superior Brazil. But in hindsight (in sporting terms anyway) the critical event for Germany of 2002 was the introduction of a miniature Bavarian full-back to professional football. Continue reading “Advent Day 21 – Lahm, Merkel and the ascendance of Germany”

Advent Day 18 – Jermain Defoe, always 18 never the nine

By Barney Stephenson

Always the bridesmaid and never the bride. There’s something particularly apt about Jermain Defoe’s long association with the number 18.

Clearly a box player in the mould of a classic centre forward, on leaving West Ham in 2004, Defoe relinquished the number nine shirt settling for its less prestigious multiple due to Freddie Kanoute’s presence at White Hart Lane. Jermain and the 18 have been inextricably linked ever since.

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Introducing Asunción’s new prince: Fernando Ovelar

By Barney Stephenson 

The latest edition of Asunción’s Superclasico, the biggest fixture of Paraguayan domestic football, saw a 14-year-old line up for Cerro Porteño against Club Olimpia’s Roque Santa Cruz – arguably the nation’s greatest ever player. Standing at 5’8”, fresh-faced and playing against players of more than twice his age Fernando Ovelar would have been forgiven had he been overwhelmed by the day, had he been star struck and unnerved. It soon became clear to the sell out crowd at the Estadio Defensores del Chaco this wouldn’t be the case.

Maybe you’ve seen the goal by now, but maybe not…

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