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The window between Euro ’96 and France ’98 was something of a coming out party for the Premier League. Previously considered little more than a retirement home for the big names, it was now able to attract international stars at their peak – your Zolas, your Overmars, your Ravanellis – and had produced some genuine glitz of its own in the form of young stars like David Beckham and Michael Owen.
It was into this increasingly glossy, glittery melange that a Yorkshire cannonball was fired in the summer of 1997. Read the rest of this entry »

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Germany positively pulsed with feelgood factor at the dawn of the 1990s, the glow of reunification only brightening when the imperious West German Mannschaft enjoyed a mighty last hurrah at Italia ’90. Having wrapped up the 80s with back-to-back Bundesliga titles, FC Bayern were characteristically confident of dominating the 20th Century’s final decade. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fall down a rabbit hole with these hidden treasures from the first half of the decade… Read the rest of this entry »

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The temptation to sound the Ronnie Radford bugle is always going to prove irresistible to football writers and broadcasters whenever an FA Cup draw pairs Newcastle with a non-league club. Sure enough, the build for this fourth round tie initially ticked off all the usual tropes. Inevitably, the cost of the entire Stevenage side (£30,000) was compared to that of £15m man and recently deposed World’s Most Expensive Player Alan Shearer, while naturally, the Conference players had to be routinely patronised for having day jobs. “Aww, that one’s a painter-decorator! Look at the adorable delivery van driver! Eh Martin, get a picture of me with this foundry supervisor!”

Stevenage Borough, however, were not prepared to conform to the cuddly underdog stereotype, and relations between David and Goliath dissolved amid a hilariously unseemly squabble that somehow dragged in rival managers and Jeremy Paxman… Read the rest of this entry »

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France ’98 never seems to get much love when great World Cups are talked about, even within the confines of its own decade. Read the rest of this entry »

Hoddle Book

One thing that was lost in the furore that followed the publication of the England manager’s incendiary World Cup Diary was the picture Hoddle inadvertently paints of himself – that of a man one travel tavern and a toblerone addiction away from being North Norfolk’s premier disc jockey. Here are some particularly Alanesque sections… Read the rest of this entry »

1998 World Cup Finals Marseille, France, 15th June, 1998, England 2 v Tunisia 0, England's coach Glenn Hoddle looks tense before the match

‘You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and half-decent brains…some people have not been born like that for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime.’

With those words, Glenn Hoddle consigned his time as England manager to a former life. Read the rest of this entry »

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“He’s a novice. He should keep his opinions to Japanese football.”

The famous welcome Alex Ferguson extended to Arsene Wenger might have been one of his less nuanced attempts at mind games, but it was also an opinion quietly shared by many at the club who’d appointed him back in September 1996. Read the rest of this entry »

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If ever a contest was in need of a distraction, it was the dour Danish Supaliga struggle between also-rans Randers and VF Silkeborg in August 2016. Midway through the second half, one hell of a diversion duly arrived when a bald and very much naked middle-aged man sprang onto the turf, bounded athletically round the pitch and entertained spectators with handstands and cartwheels while avoiding the pursuing stewards. Read the rest of this entry »

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No World Cup is complete without its underdog story, and Italia ‘90’s was Cameroon. Theirs was a tale with everything; from their shocking (and hilarious) opening game near-literal scalp of the world champions, to the iconic wiggling of their 38-year-old star turn, Roger Milla, to their history-making feat of becoming the first African side to reach the quarter finals.

The tournament’s other fairytale however, was arguably even more remarkable. Costa Rica might not have gone as far as the Indomitable Lions, but in many ways their road had been longer. Read the rest of this entry »