Remember when Shunsuke Nakamura was nominated for the Ballon d’Or?

“We have a lot of quality players, but I turned to my assistant and said ‘I think we are witnessing a genius at work’. If you are talking a pure, pure footballer, he is as good as there is.” – Gordon Strachan

Continue reading “Remember when Shunsuke Nakamura was nominated for the Ballon d’Or?”

When Kaká was unstoppable and ran past the World

By Andrew Misra

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.

Celtic midfielder Evander Sno squanders possession and the opposition swiftly launch a counter attack.  A 25-year-old Brazilian lurking just inside his own half senses an opportunity. Italian midfielder Massimo Ambrosini dutifully passes the ball towards the number 22 in the famous red and black stripes of the Rossoneri.

The ball bobbles into the playmaker at pace. His first touch cushions the ball into his path, allowing him to swivel and shrug Neil Lennon to the floor as the Northern Irishman forlornly attempts a challenge. A second touch sees the attacker gallop through the centre circle, accelerating in his own inimitable way.

Three more touches see him surge towards the last defender, the fourth takes him one-on-one with the keeper Artur Boruc. Seemingly impassable over the two legs, the Pole is powerless as the final, decisive Continue reading “When Kaká was unstoppable and ran past the World”

Ballon d’Or: treasured more in South America than Europe?

By Andrew Misra

“Gooooooooooaaaaaallllll”. Not just the introduction to Alan Partridge’s 1994 World Cup Countdown, but a shortened version of a noise regularly heard on South American television, radio and inside bars. Colombian commentator Javier Fernandez Franco, tunefully nicknamed the “Goal Singer”, unleashed a 37-second outcry of this after Carlos Bacca scored in the 2016 Copa America third-place playoff. Bacca’s effort wasn’t extraordinary either, rather it was scruffily turned in, bouncing over the line.

Continue reading “Ballon d’Or: treasured more in South America than Europe?”