Advent Day 25 – Gianfranco Zola, the trendsetter for foreign imports in the Premier League

£4.5m. What would that get you in the upcoming January transfer window? A 34-year-old full-back who has made just one substitute appearance all season at West Ham? A goalkeeper you’ve never heard of from the Greek league? Well, obviously inflation is huge, but even in 1996, Gianfranco Zola was a bargain for Chelsea. In fact, in that year, the Stamford Bridge club could have bought, for example, one third of Alan Shearer, or three quarters of Nicky Barmby. He was a bargain of epic proportions and had a memorable career.

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Advent Day 24 – Tim Howard

By Joe Davies

“Tim, I think I don’t know how you are going to survive the mobs when you come back home man. You are going to have to shave your beard so they don’t know who you are.”

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Advent Day 22 – Kaká, once the best in the world

By Andrew Misra

Day 22 is a no-brainer. We look back on the career of Kaká, the Brazilian midfielder who once ran past the world:

The date is Thursday 8th March 2007. It’s three minutes into extra-time in the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie at the San Siro after 180 minutes of hard-fought stalemate.

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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 20 – Ole Gunnar Solskjær, the epitome of the ‘super-sub’

On Tuesday, it was announced that Jose Mourinho had been sacked as manager of Manchester United, after their worst start to a season for 28 years. Later, it was revealed that the board were to appoint a caretaker manager until the end of the 2018/19 season, before choosing a more long-term manager.

The following day, it was confirmed that the caretaker manager would be Ole Gunnar Solskjær, a Man Utd cult legend who scored 126 goals in his 366 appearances for the Red Devils. The Norwegian has had mixed success as a manager, with a stellar record managing Eliteserien team Molde FK, marred by a less than convincing nine months managing Cardiff City in which he only won nine games and was relegated, despite making 30 signings.

However tempting it is to speculate about Manchester United’s success under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, we’re here to talk about his success on the pitch for the club. Winning seven league titles, two FA cups and one famous Champions League, the ‘baby-faced assassin’ was quietly present and efficient in some of United’s most successful seasons.

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Advent Day 19 – a young Lionel Messi, footballing memories made forever

By Lewis Steele 

Throughout the Advent Calendar series here at 5WFootball, we’ve delved into the wonderfully glistening careers of many greats. Some have been so good that one article wouldn’t do them justice, so we have just looked at one aspect of their careers. That’s what we will do here, with Lionel Messi and the number 19. The GOAT wore the 19 shirt for just two seasons, but those two campaigns set in motion a trail of events that would establish Lionel Messi as the greatest footballer to ever grace our planet. Another theme of the series has looked at a particular part under a microscope from an outside perspective, like Westworld, but like the HBO blockbuster, let’s leap inside that world and have a look at what Leo Messi means to me.

Let’s start with my trip to the Camp Nou…
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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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