XI Gifted Footballers

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When it comes to talented footballers there have been many and this XI is by no means definitive. These guys are picked for their footballing gifts rather than achievements, which means there is one or two you might not normally find in fantasy line-ups and as such, there are a few controversial omissions too. There is no denying they are amongst the best to have ever played the game. However this team, if it were to play together it would probably be considered a little temperamental. I’ve gone for a basic 4-4-2 line up, plus a keeper.

Keeper – Lev Yashin

This Polish cat between the sticks was known as the Black Spider because of his black kit and unbelievable ability. He is the only goalkeeper to have been named European footballer of the year. He played for Moscow Dynamo in the 50s and helped them to win five league titles and three cups.

Left Back – Roberto Carlos

Tough choice, but for his attacking flare, apocalyptically powerful left foot and love of a freekick he makes the starting XI. Closely pushed all the way though by Paolo Maldini who is the epitome of Italian football in his defensive solidity.

Right Back – Carlos Alberto Torres

There hasn’t been a better attacking right back in the history of football and of all those that have come close, they were copying a mould set by this guy. He also captained the 1970 World Cup winning Brazil team, you know the one? Yup that one, considered the best team of the modern era ever…

Centre Back – Lillian Thuram

Simply one of the best defenders of all time. He also scored twice for France in the 1998 World Cup 2-1 semi-final victory of Croatia after his side had gone behind. The team went on to win the tournament defeating Brazil in the final. Not bad at all.

Centre Back – Lothar Matthaus

Ok, this might be a little controversial, considering Lothar is remembered mainly as a box to box midfielder. However, he played a-plenty at the back too. And any player described by Maradona as the ‘best rival I’ve ever had’ is a shoo-in.

Centre Midfield – Franz Beckenbauer

Franz would complement Lothar impeccably creating a German spine of efficient ferocity, the two would be almost interchangeable. Nicknamed ‘Der Kaiser’ Franz is the only man to captain and manage World Cup winning sides.

Centre Midfield – Zinedine Zidane

Now for some real flair. ‘Zizou’ is arguably the greatest modern footballer. Gifted, creative, inventive and took France to World Cup (scoring twice in the final) and Euro titles in 1998 and 2000. He has been FIFA World Player of the Year three times and has also won the European Champions League. He is literally ‘the business’ and as if this wasn’t enough he came out of retirement to captain and single-handedly drag France to the 2006 World Cup Final were he scored and was then sent off. His crime was a spectacular head butt to Italian defender Marco Materazzi after he’d goaded Zindane with a lewd insult about his sister. Zidane. Is. A. Living. Legend.

Left Midfield – Garrincha

This guy was amazing. He played for Brazil in the 50s and 60s and was referred to by the people of Brazil affectionately as the ‘Joy of the People’ and the ‘Angel with Bent Legs’. A dribbler extraordinaire Garrincha was born with a deformed spine, a right leg that bent in and a left leg that was six centimetres shorter than his right. Brazil never lost when he and Pele played together. One famous moment for this footballing genius was dribbling past four defenders, beating the keeper then rather than slotting into an empty net waiting for a defender to get back, beating him again and then scoring. He was also along with Pele one of the instigators of what is often referred to as the best three minutes of football ever played, the opening of Brazil vs USSR in the 1958 World Cup Finals.

Right Midfield – Paul Gascoigne

I had to have an Englishman in the line up, and this guy is a one of, and one of the best to have ever played the game. Ok, he played centrally but I’d have him drifting in from the right. Gazza was mercurial in his style of play, able to ‘see’ the game like no one else. And who can forget the tragedy of the 1990 World Cup semi-finals where he received a yellow card and instantly began to sob at the thought of missing the final should England go through. What passion! As it turned out, they didn’t.

Forward – Pele

It’s Pele. Do I need to say anymore?

Forward – Diego Maradona

Diego had ability to burn, but was plagued by a cocaine addiction. Nevertheless his talent is undeniable and the goal he scored against England in the 1986 World Cup, the one where he dribbled past what seemed like the entire team, not the one where he punched it into the net, is among the best of all time. He captained the team to victory in the same tournament.

And that is the starting XI. What a team! As I make it there are four World Cup winning captains and at least three players with serious addiction problems… interesting. The talent, the gifts they had when the ball was at their feet is what we most closely align with them though. Icons of the game each and every one. What a beautiful game!

When not tweaking his fantasy football team John Evans contributes to the two websites Wedding Digest and Gifts Today.

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  • Published: Jan 31st, 2012
  • Category: Soccer
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Preparing for Each of Your Soccer Games

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English: A Stanton Junior High soccer player e...

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When you decide that you want to play soccer, you should take the time that you need to be sure that you are safe.  There are a lot of people that get injured playing soccer and you want to take the time that you need to research how you can ensure that you are preventing soccer injuries.

First, you should be sure that you take the time that you need to understand how you are going to be wise about the way that you are going to prepare for a game.  Whether you are playing indoor soccer, outdoor soccer or street soccer you want to be sure that you are ready for the game.

To ensure that your body is ready you will want to make sure that you can stretch out your muscles.  When you are stretching you want to make sure that you are also warming up your muscles so that they are able to stretch as far as they can before you start playing.

Soccer is full of quick movements that can be very detrimental to tight muscles.  Make sure that you take the time that you need to understand how you are going to stretch out all of your muscles so that you can be sure you are able to move quickly without hurting yourself.

As you are playing soccer you will use a very specific set of muscles.  Throughout the game, you may find that you are not only using the specified set of muscles but that you also end up using all of the muscles throughout your body as you are running, twisting and turning to make a goal.

To ensure that you are able to minimize your chances of being injured, you should be sure that you are warming up.  As you stretch your muscles you will also want to lightly jog around the entire field so that you can get an increased amount of blood flow into your muscles.

Second, you should be sure that you take the time that you need to understand how you are going to dress when you play soccer.  There are a lot of people that do not realize how they are to suit up to ensure that they are safe and those that are playing with them and around them are safe.

Make sure that you take time to find a good pair of soccer cleats.  There are a lot of people that have a hard time understanding that when they are shopping for soccer cleats they will want to find the cleats that are molded or ribbed instead of the cleats that have the screw in rips.

When you are using the screw in tips you will find that you have a higher risk of injury.  The only time that these tips are going to be more beneficial than risky is when you are playing on a wet field or even a field that has tall grass and is being slippery because there is no traction.

Third, you should be sure that you are wearing shin guards.  When you are shopping for shin guards you have to make sure that you take the time that you need to find the protection for your shins that will ensure you are able to play safely without running into any problems.

As you are playing with your shin guards you have to make sure that you understand that people are going to be kicking your shins.  Throughout the soccer game you will find that people will accidentally or purposely hit your shins with their cleats and you will need the proper protection.

Fourth, you should be sure that you take the time that you need to be sure that you are wearing soccer socks.  The soccer socks that you are going to wear will ensure that the shin guards you are wearing will not slip all over your leg or even fall off when you are playing.

Make sure that you take the time that you need to understand how you are going to be wise about the way that you are preparing for each soccer game.  As you are wise about the proper preparation for your soccer games you can be sure that you are as safe as you can possibly be.

Playing street soccer is a great way to work out and keep your body healthy. Take time to play soccer consistently so that you can be sure you are enjoying your exercise.

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  • Published: Jul 6th, 2011
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Rewards for Success in Football Europe

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Even though football season is now over, teams around the world are examining their finances and planning for the next season. Despite the ever increasing amount of money coming into football, many of the clubs in the Premier League and throughout Europe are still making a loss and even some of the most famous are heavily in debt such as Barcelona with a £400 million debt to go with their champions league trophy. This is hard to believe when we examine the financial rewards currently available for success in modern football.

Manchester United have now earned more than £60m in earnings from Premier League prize money and TV cash from the overseas deals from TV has ensured that current premier league clubs can earn up to £7m more than the 2009 / 2010 season.

The English league governing body better know as the premier league shares out income in various ways firstly the money based on position in the league, then on equal shares of TV income, which is then added to depending on how many times your club is shown on TV on domestic television. The 2010/2011 season, each premier league club received a total of £13.8m of the domestic TV rights and again another £18m as rights to the overseas TV rights. Finally on top of this, From each place in the premier league is worth a staggering £756k, meaning the bottom club West Ham 756k, whilst Manchester United received over £15m.

Success in the F.A. Cup can also generate significant rewards with the winners Manchester City receiving £1,800,000 in prize money and the runners-up, Stoke receiving £900,000. This does not include additional revenue generated from match-day income and TV money. Birmingham City, the winners of the Carling Cup, received a relatively paltry £100,000 in prize money awarded by the Football League, with the runners-up Arsenal receiving merely £50,000 and the losing semi-finalists each taking home £25,000.

Barcelona are expected to generate in the region of £110m from victory in the Champions League final, based on a prize money, an increase in the players worth, the clubs brand, and enhanced media rights . The losers Manchester United will also benefit to the tune of an estimated £63m.

The clubs that took part in this year’s UEFA cup for the older of us or the Europa League received a better revenue from this competition as the prize money as each team that took part this term collected a £640,000 bonus for qualifying to the competition on top of that a £60,000 for every match played in the group stage. The prize money for the clubs that went all the way to the final was €3m for the winner and €2m for the runner-up this is on top of what you earned in previous rounds.

Despite the huge sums of money referred to above, UEFA president Michel Platini has created the financial fair play project, which he hopes will help “to prevent some of our most time-honoured clubs from going under because of risky management by an irresponsible few”.

Garry Hudson currently works for baines and ernst one of the largest debt management companies in the uk, dealing with bankruptcy, Debt relief , IVA’s and more

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Limp Losers or Gourmet Greats

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As you walk in to a fast food establishment you’re likely to be enticed by the alluring advertised images on the menu.  But in fact what you actually get in reality is a limp, flaccid imitation based on over ambitious promises and over-pricing.  In many ways the fast food industry reflects the story of many misjudged signings by Premier League clubs since its inception 1992. Only time will tell if mega-signings Fernando Torres and Roy Carroll will be limp losers or gourmet greats. Here are the five worst signings made in the history of the Premier League.

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Thomas Brolin

The former Swedish international was a complete and utter flop during his spell with Leeds. As a promising youngster, his superb goal sent England out of Euro 92. At the peak of his powers, Brolin was strong, graceful and technically gifted.  But Brolin’s powers ebbed away as quickly as he piled on the pounds as many wondered if he was in fact the long lost twin brother of golfer Jon Daly. However, despite the striker’s demise, Howard Wilkinson saw him as the perfect foil for the club’s top scorer Tony Yeboah, paying Parma £4.5 million for the Swedish striker’s services in 1995. In two years at Elland Road, Brolin made just 19 appearances.

Andriy Shevchenko

Before his ill-fated spell at Chelsea, Shevchenko had been one of the most feared strikers in European football.  Understandably, there was much hype over his £30million arrival at Stamford Bridge in 2006. However the Ukrainian found himself permanently on the bench behind Didier Drogba after consistently failing to find the back of the net. With just 14 goals in 51 appearances, Chelsea loaned Shevchenko back to Milan where he failed to hit the dizzying heights of his first spell with the Italian outfit. He made the move back to his first club Dynamo Kiev for just a fraction of his original transfer.

Juan Sebastian Veron

A player that have could quite easily have appeared  twice in this list, but to spare the Argentinian’s blushes,  his hapless spells with  Manchester United and Chelsea have been placed together. Veron completely failed to adjust to English football after a successful time plying his trade in Italy. In 2001 Manchester United acquired the services of the playmaker for a record fee of £28 million from Italian side Lazio. The midfielder clearly struggled to adapt to the pace of the English game, not being allowed  the time and space he was allowed in Serie A. However, this stop don’t Roman Abramovich from splashing out £15million for Veron’s services for Chelsea. The midfielder failed yet again to fulfil his potential and was farmed out on loan to Inter Milan in 2004, where he subsequently returned to form winning a Serie A title and two Italian Cups. Must be the British weather I guess.

Massimo Taibi

Sir Alex Ferguson identified the Italian as the ideal replacement for Peter Schmeichel, the omnipresent tracksuit bottoms should have caused Sir Alex to pause for thought. Manchester United splashed out £4.5million on Venezia journeyman Massimo Taibi. After earning rave reviews in Italy, Taibi’s spell was more like that of a raving madman. Taibi conceded two sloppy goals at Liverpool on his debut and one to Wimbledon the following week. And it didn’t end there. Southampton scored three at Old Trafford including a Matt Le Tissier shot that squeezed through Taibi’s legs, a shot so soft that it barely crossed the line. His agony continued, Chelsea smashed five past him at Stamford Bridge the following week. His Italian job was over a little more than a month after it began. Taibi rotted in the United reserves until Reggina took him on loan and then permanently signed him for £2.5million at the end of the season. Surely United’s worst keeper ever – in a competitive field featuring Mark Bosnich.

Ali Dia

Was he George Weah’s cousin? It’s highly unlikely. What is probable though is that Ai Dia was arguably the worst player in the history of the Premier League. Having failed a trial at Rotherham United, Dia was signed by Southampton manager Graeme Souness in 1996. Souness received a phone call purporting to be from former World Player of the Year George. In fact the call was from Dia’s agent, who falsely claimed his client was a Senegalese international and had played for Paris St Germain. Dia played just one game for the Saints, against Leeds United in November 1996. He came on for Matthew Le Tissier who was substituted after 32 minutes but hi performance was spectacularly below Premier League quality. It took Souness a whole 52 minutes to suss he’d been had. Dia was substituted and never played for Southampton again.

 

Aidan Donovan is a copywriter for Justeat that deal with a number of takeaways across the UK from Chinese Birmingham establishments to Pizza delivery

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The English Premier League

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English Premier League

While English top division professional soccer has been played for well over 100 years, the English Premier League as we know it only came into existence during the 1992-1993 season.  The recently completed 2009-2010 season, which saw Chelsea FC win the Premier League title by only one point over Manchester United, was the 18th complete season in Premier League history.

In just eighteen seasons, the Premier League has firmly established itself as the single most popular soccer league in the world, and together with Spain’s top division (La Liga), it can rightly consider itself the most competitive and challenging soccer league on earth.  The stars who have graced the Premier League read like a ‘who’s who’ of world soccer: Cantona, Beckham, Bergkamp, Henry, Rooney, Owen, Lampard, Shearer, Anelka…the list could go on forever.

The dominant team of the Premier League era has clearly been Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United.  Over the last eighteen seasons they have won the competition 11 times, finished 2nd four times and finished 3rd three times.  That kind of domination over a nearly two decade period is remarkable for so many reasons.  Sir Alex has won consistently over what really amounts to two or three soccer generations these past two decades.  He consistently retools his lineup, and he is never afraid to sell star players if he thinks it makes good business sense (selling Cristiano Ronaldo after the 2008-2009 season immediately springs to mind).

Other than Manchester United, the only other teams to win the Premier League are Chelsea (three times), Arsenal (3 times), and Blackburn (once).  In recent years Chelsea has won three of the last six Premier League titles, with the help the billions of dollars of wealth at the disposal of their Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

Alan Shearer is the all-time leading goal scorer of the Premier League era with 260, followed by Andrew Cole with 187 and French legend Thierry Henry with 174.  There are 19 players with over 100 career Premier League goals, including the Manchester United trio of Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs who all scored their hundredth goal this past season.

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Finally the NHL can laugh at a sport about TV Coverage.

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The biggest international soccer game in the last 20 for the US team is not going to be on any English speaking TV network. The US vs. Mexico on August 12th will be broadcast in the US only on Spanish TV. The NHL’s deal with the Vs. Network doesn’t look so bad.

Maybe the Vs network was too busy covering the US Turtle Assoc. races to bother with US soccer. At any rate, any hope that the US performance in the most recent tournament has sparked massive interest in the sport can be put to rest. The question is with millions of young adults having played soccer in their very early life, why has soccer never taken off as a major sport?

The explanation is simple—we Americans don’t watch what we won’t win. In most of the world, the best athletes that a nation has become soccer players. Here, the best athletes play in the NBA, NFL, and MLB. As a result, we don’t win many international competitions. Americans don’t enjoy tuning in to see the US team get pounded by faster, more athletic teams from South America and Europe.

The MLS has done its best to try to tap into the adult population that played youth soccer. But it hasn’t worked so far. The best players in the MLS tend to be foreign imports. Even teams that do well in the league struggle to get attendance and sponsorships.

Analysis: I don’t believe that the MLS will be the key to US soccer expansion. The best hope for soccer in the US is that the Hispanic population coming from Central and South America will be the future of the sport. Those are very sophisticated fans and will not accept substandard quality play. They will watch soccer but it will be the MLS. It will be the Central or South American leagues.

In the future, the demand for soccer should grow. Maybe it will reach the level that the Vs. Network will be interested.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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