How Lazio's gun-toting, politically divided misfits won the 1974 Scudetto race

There may never have been a more bonkers team in Serie A TIM than S.S. Lazio's title winners of 1974. A side that would often get ready in separate changing rooms due to their political differences, and feeling the need to protect themselves with guns, within three years of their glory, star man Giorgio Chinaglia would leave, and their manager and best midfielder would be dead.

Welcome to the world of Cascadia: America's sole hope during World Cup season

To kick-off a brand new section of the site, the Confederation of Independent Football Associations Hub, ahead of the 2018 World Football Club, the only US team that will actually be present at a World Cup this summer is examined. Welcome to the fascinating world of Cascadia.

The golden memory of watching Johan Cruyff play football

Beyond the hyperbole and opinions of those that never actually saw Johan Cruyff play live, the memories of the Dutch master remain for those that did. To kick off a brand new series, Hot Bovril and Cold Terraces, one writer reminisces about the day he, as a 21-year-old, headed to Villa Park to watch Cruyff in action for FC Barcelona.

Why was Michael Carrick so under-appreciated throughout his career?

Gerrard, Lampard, Carrick - it makes sense. So why did it never materialise into something regular for England? To understand why so many renowned and successful managers ignored it, the career of the wildly under-appreciated Michael Carrick needs to be closely examined, from his days as a youngster at West Ham United to his undoubted success at Manchester United.

Previewing the CONCACAF nations at the 2018 World Cup

While the quality of Selección Nacional de México is well known, Costa Rica and Panama are still relative unknowns as the 2018 FIFA World Cup looms. We sat down with El Tri and Concacaf expert Nate Abaurrea to discuss the region's chances in Russia.

The wizardry of Gianfranco Zola

Likeable, intelligent and gifted beyond most peoples' wildest dreams, Gianfranco Zola was at times the perfect footballer. From his stint learning off Diego Maradona at SSC Napoli to glory at Parma and legend status at Chelsea Football Club, this is the story of the maestro's time in the game.

Diego Maradona: the managerial diaries

When it comes to contrasting careers either side of the touchline, few have done it better than Diego Maradona. This is the story of the Argentine legend's troubled managerial career, from a failed mid-1990s stint at Racing Club - Oficial to his time with the national team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and beyond.

🇫🇷📖 Introducing France | From the brilliant and the sexy to the romantic and the tragic, French football has a history as rich and varied as anywhere on planet earth. From Pirès and Platini to Clairefontaine and Le Classique, and 10 other articles between, this magazine, printed on thick, matte paper and featuring award-winning writing and iconic photography, is yours to order now:

— Products shown: France.

Is there any magic left in the FA Cup?

It's The Emirates FA Cup final day - but something's missing. The tournament that once captivated a nation has been reduced to a sideshow, a distraction for many of the big clubs. So is there any magic - or at least the kind like before - left in England's premier cup competition?

How England can build on the positive signs in player development over the past 12 months

In the final feature of a three-part special examining the English game, what it can learn from Spain and the future, the recent trend of British youngsters going abroad comes in question, as well as the progress in international results at youth level and player development. Are we finally seeing the signs of a forward-thinking future?

How Málaga went from rags to riches to relegation

It promised so much. As the likes of Isco Alarcón, Santi Cazorla and Ruud van Nistelrooy all entered the gates of La Rosaleda, and Málaga CF made the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, people mentioned a challenge to the established order in Spain. Six years later, the club has been relegated.

The World Cup on These Football Times

Introducing the FIFA World Cup hub on These Football Times, featuring dozens of classic and contemporary articles to get you in the mood ahead of Russia, as well as our popular World Cup series of podcasts. Head over and check out a wealth of content that, as always, is free for everyone to access.

Jomo Sono: the man who beat death, poverty and institutional racism to become a true footballing icon

Few men are bigger in South African football, and fewer still have had to take a road so littered with obstacles to the top quite like Jomo Sono. One of Africa's least heralded legends, who starred alongside Pelé and Beckenbauer at the New York Cosmos, this is the life story of a man whose life was set back by personal tragedy and apartheid, but whose unflinching determination still saw him scale almighty peaks.

How 18 months in Japan set Arsène Wenger up for glory at the top

As Arsène Wenger bids farewell to Arsenal and a 22-year journey that revolutionised the Premier League, the story of his own enlightenment comes to the fore. It's one that starts in a Ligue 1 Conforama brought to its knees by corruption and reaches its climax in the unlikely setting of Japan.

Robbie Keane's doomed spell at Internazionale

It had been a long time since Irish football had experienced the kind of buzz it did when Robbie Keane burst onto the scene in 1997. Three years later, he'd make a momentous move to Inter, following in the footsteps of Liam Brady in Serie A TIM. Sadly, however, a tumultuous time for the club and a litany of other great strikers halted Keane's progress in calcio.

Three penalties and goal aged 36 that decided the fate of the brilliant Martín Palermo

By almost any measure, Martin Palermo, with 249 goals in 592 club games and legend status at BOCA, was an exceptional striker. But more than just the goals, his career was full of incredible stories, not least the three penalties he missed in the same Copa América game in 1999 and his memorable strike 11 years later in the FIFA World Cup for AFA - Selección Argentina.

The World Cup Series: 2002 and 2006

The first FIFA World Cup held outside of Europe and the Americas, 2002 in Japan and South Korea was a momentous event, full of surprise, intrigue and controversy. Four years later, Italy would lift the World Cup title amid the crippling effects of Calciopoli, uniting the nation for one of the modern eras finest tournaments. These are the stories that matter from two unforgettable finals.

How the unforgettable 1999/2000 LaLiga season helped define a new era for Spanish football

Few domestic league seasons at the highest level can match LaLiga in 1999/2000. With Real Madrid C.F. 17th after 14 games, FC Barcelona wildly inconsistent under Louis van Gaal and Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña, Real Zaragoza and Deportivo Alavés vying for the title, it's a season that lives long in the memory and one that kick-started the era of the underdog in Spain.

How Cup Winners' Cup glory ignited the Ferguson era and rekindled Manchester United's European obsession

Prior to lifting the Cup Winners' Cup in 1991, Manchester United hadn't won anything in Europe for 23 years. For a club with such a fascination with the continent, that represented too long. However, with Alex Ferguson slowly building one of his finest sides, the Red Devils would triumph in a much-missed tournament against Johan Cruyff's FC Barcelona in the final.

The chaos and the charm of Newcastle cult hero Laurent Robert

Capable of the brilliant and the baffling in equal measure, Laurent Robert became a Newcastle United cult hero during five unforgettable years in black and white - with instances of talent, like his many free-kicks, as memorable as his blasting of the ball into Olivier Bernard's face.

The seven goals that had people comparing Afonso Alves to Romário

When Afonso Alves - already one of the deadliest strikers in Dutch football, capable of scoring all sorts of goals - netted seven in a game for SC Heerenveen in 2007, it saw Europe's biggest clubs monitor his progress, and comparisons made with Romário. Sadly, like so many other strikers from the Eredivisie, his career would peter out as quickly as it ignited.

Rui Faria: brutalist, loyalist and José Mourinho’s indispensable assistant

After 17 years of impeccable service, Rui Faria is leaving José Mourinho's side to forge his own path. And what a path it could be, for the trusted assistant has proved to be one of the most dedicated, intelligent and insightful football minds in Europe for well over a decade.

A trip into the elusive but ever-improving world of Andorran football

You'd be forgiven for not knowing much about Andorran football, but it's a world like few others. As the national team continues its improvement and clubs begin developing players capable of excelling in more prestigious leagues, we headed to the tiny mountainous nation to find out more.

The revolution that changed Spain and the one yet to arrive in England

In 1995, a review took place in Spain that revolutionised the game, producing a stream of ball-playing midfielders that shows no sign of abating. In England, the game still waits. With input from Graham Hunter, Jon Townsend and a host of others, this is the story of a textbook revolution and why England still lags behind their Iberian rivals in player development.

Vladimir Petković: the migrant who struggled his way to the top of Swiss football

Like so many from his generation, Vladimir Petković was forced to flee Bosnia in search of a better life - and he ended up in Switzerland. What followed has been a 30-year struggle, as a player and later a manager, to claim his position as the foremost coaching mind in Swiss football and manager of the national team.

When two become one: the Iván Zamorano and Marcelo Salas diaries

Individually, Iván Zamorano and Marcelo Salas​ can lay claim to being Chile's greatest striker. While the former remains one of Real Madrid C.F.​'s most potent goalscorers, and the latter became a hero at Club Atlético River Plate​ and S.S. Lazio​, it was their glorious time together for La Roja that still evokes memories of one of the truly great strike pairings.

The World Cup Series: 1994 and 1998

From Baggio, Brazil and Hagi to Ronaldo, Zidane and Blanc, the FIFA World Cups of 1994 and 1998 are perhaps underrated by many, straddled between the golden era of the 1980s and a modern decline. But they were blessed with an abundance of talent, incredible highs and lows and some legendary matches.

How Panama overcome past despair to find the ultimate glory in World Cup qualification

Four years can make all the difference to a nation desperate for a FIFA World Cup appearance. Just ask Panama. Throwing away a two-goal lead in the dying minutes cost them a place in Brazil. This time, in qualification for Russia, they wouldn't make the same mistake as old heroes came to the fore once again.

How Ronaldinho inspired Atlético Mineiro to Copa Libertadores glory in 2013

When Ronaldinho Gaúcho joined the much-maligned manager Cuca at Clube Atlético Mineiro in 2012, they had, just a year earlier, narrowly survived relegation. A further year on and they'd be crowned Conmebol Libertadores champions for the first time in their history, with their talismanic legend inspiring a gifted squad that included Jô, Diego Tardelli and Bernard.

Surviving the abyss: Cowdenbeath and the meaning of a local, historic club

As football looks ahead to the FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League finals, some clubs involved at the other end of the scale are scrapping for survival. Cowdenbeath F.C., in Scotland's third tier, are one of these clubs, and their scrap for survival incorporates all that's pure and enjoyable about football at its most primitive best.

Setién, Simeone and the bridge between chaos and order in football

To understand order and chaos, football is a great place to start. For every Diego Pablo Simeone, you have a Quique Setién. With balance needed to achieve the greatest results, how can managers stick to their principles but also innovate, progress and achieve? And is it as simple as finding a balance between order and chaos? Maybe.

Fulham: a journey to Europe

In one of the most extraordinary European odysseys undertaken by an English side, Fulham FC Official made the UEFA Europa League final in 2010. What's more impressive is that they did it with a manager written off in his homeland, a squad that had only recently survived relegation, and a journey to the final that included games against AS Roma, FC SHAKHTAR and Juventus. This is the story of a spectacular year at Craven Cottage,

Fernando Morientes and the haunting of Real Madrid

Alongside Raúl, Fernando Morientes formed one of the best strike duos in the game at Real Madrid C.F. Then came Florentino Pérez, whose Galáticos policy marginalised the Spaniard. Morientes, however, would have the last laugh, as a memorable UEFA Champions League campaign with AS MONACO saw him return to haunt Los Blancos and split his legacy within the walls of the Bernabéu.

The drama, passion and emotion of the 2001/02 Serie A title race

We didn't know it at the time but the 2001/02 Serie A TIM title race, decided on a quite incredible final day battle between Juventus, Inter and AS Roma, would be one of the last great Scudetto races of the era. This is the story of a season that boasted some of finest collection of talent ever seen in one league.

Remembering Lorenzo, the original Buffon, and one of calcio's most epic personal rivalries

Long before Gianluigi Buffon, there was another Buffon setting Serie A TIM alight - and he too played in goal. This is the story of AC Milan's Lorenzo Buffon, cousin of Gigi, and the rivalry - personal and professional - between himself and Inter's Giorgio Ghezzi, which defined Italian goalkeeping in a golden era of talent.

The midfield template holding back English football for decades and solutions in Spain

The first of a three-part series examining why English football continues to struggle in its development and appreciation of creative players, in part one, the archaic and immovable template behind the Three Lions' midfield comes into view, and why the solutions are easy to find in Spain.

The pioneering AC Milan Lab that extended players' careers

During AC Milan's glory years under Carlo Ancelotti, one key factor behind their success was often overlooked: their ability to prolong the career of their most valuable assets. This is the story of a chiropractor named Jean-Pierre Meersseman and the pioneering Milan Lab.

The destruction and recovery of Ankaragücü

It's a sign of the size and following of Ankaragücü that, even when sitting outside of Turkey's top flight, they were able to attract crowds of up to 30,000. Despite a rocky and often uncertain period over the last decade, the club is now looking ahead to next season in the Süper Lig. This is their story.

Freddie Ljungberg: the Arsenal diaries

It took a chance evening in front of the television for Arsène Wenger to come across the considerable talents of Freddie Ljungberg. Nine years later, having wowed the fans with his skill, movement and commitment, and bamboozled defenders all the same, he left Arsenal a legend.

The talent, temper and tragedy of Heleno de Freitas, the Brazilian icon who died at 39

As Brazilian greats go, the tale of Heleno de Freitas is rarely told. Blessed with film-star looks, the brilliant forward scored 209 goals in 235 Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas games, and 19 in 18 for Brazil, but would leave the club in a cloud of controversy, fail at BOCA and be dead at 39, alone, sick and broke.

Andy van der Meyde: short skirts, drugs and alcohol

There was a time when Andy van der Meyde was considered one of Europe's best wingers, short only of Luís Figo. A bright start at AFC Ajax and a big move to Inter confirmed that. However, his career would spiral into the abyss shortly after a transfer to Everton Football Club, with drugs, women and alcohol becoming his uncontrollable vices.

Will football's social media enlightenment lead to fans revolutionising their clubs?

Fan engagement on social media has never been higher in the world of football, and clubs are having to take note. But while the involvement at the moment is limited to protests and polls, might we say the day when fans are given input in team selection, transfer and more - fans that could one day end up running aspects of the club?

Fabien Barthez: the brilliant and the bizarre of the bald one

'Regardless of his high-profile errors, many Manchester United fans still hold fond memories of Fabien Barthez, who plagued Premier League strikers with mind games and nutmegs. Purchased as the solution to a problem, he arguably created more issues than he solved, but amid the madness, there was a world-class goalkeeper who deserves to be remembered in equal parts for his comedy and spectacular talent.'

How tragedy turned to talent and triumph for Egypt's national team

After the Port Said disaster in 2012, which killed 74 people, Egyptian football had hit its lowest point. But from the rubble rose a new generation, inspired, unlike many other greats before them, to leave their nation and build a career on foreign shores. The result? A first FIFA World Cup appearance in 30 years.

Arrigo Sacchi: the greatest nobody of all time

He came as a former shoe salesman, left as a legend, and rewrote calcio’s tactical rulebook along the way. He coined some of the greatest quotes in managerial history, brought a number of the game’s most coveted medals back to hometown and inspired a generation of coaches to realise their dreams and calculate their way to success. This is Arrigo Sacchi.

The Coaches' Forum talks to Oliver Sifkovits

Oliver Sifkovits is a high-performance coach who’s worked with athletes from different sports, levels and age groups in multiple countries. Host Jon Townsend caught up with the author and coach to discuss the optimisation of performance and how to make marginal gains in this multi-faceted and engaging podcast for all coaches and trainers.

A Tale of One City: Sofia

Sofia's football scene, despite being overshadowed by PFC Ludogorets 1945 in recent years, is still very much alive. We headed to the latest Eternal Derby between CSKA Sofia Fans and Levski - Sofia Fans to sample the good and the bad of football in this eclectic and historic city.

Preben Elkjær: the last of football's true mavericks

When it comes to maverick footballers, it's hard to look past Danish legend Preben Elkjaer. As gifted as any player from a splendid generation of number 10s in the 1980s, unlike compatriot Michael Laudrup, he forged a career at the likes of Sporting Lokeren and Hellas Verona FC, taking the latter to the 1984/85 Serie A TIM title.

Miroslav Blažević: Croatia's "coach of all coaches" and the man who led them at France 98

Miroslav Blažević is a colossus in the world of Croatian coaching, influencing generations of brilliant footballers to reach their peak and managers alike. This is the story of the man who coached for 46 years and took his nation to third place at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

The story of Luis Monti, the only man to have played in World Cup finals for two different nations

A symbol of the early Oriundi movement that saw Argentine players leave their homeland for the riches of Serie A TIM and the Azzurri, Luis Monti would become an idol at Juventus and remains the only man to have played in the FIFA World Cup final for two different teams.

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