How Mario Stanić, who waded across a river to flee war, became one of Croatia's most underrated footballers

While his later career may have been ravaged by injury, that Mario Stanic even made it to Chelsea Football Club was an achievement. Having fled his native Bosnia, he had to wade across a river to find safety, going on to star at the 1998 World Cup and play for Parma and Sport Lisboa e Benfica at the very highest level.

Viktor Maslov: the pioneer of the 4-4-2 who took pressing to a new level

As pioneering managers go, Viktor Maslov is often overlooked. The earliest known creator of the 4-4-2, who deployed it with success at FC Dynamo Kyiv, he was also the man who took pressing to new levels, influencing a generation of Soviet coaches, including the great Valeriy Lobanovskyi.

Salif Keita: Saint-Étienne legend, trailblazing goalscorer and one of African football's greatest

In the pantheon of African greats, Salif Keita is often forgotten. A hero at ASSE - Association Sportive de Saint-Etienne for his 125 goals in 149 games in an outstanding team, the Malian would later controversially turn out for Olympique de Marseille, Valencia CF and Sporting Clube de Portugal, securing his legacy as a legend of his era.

How fascism and political violence infiltrated Greek football

Firebombs, deadly police action and high-profile stabbings have rocked Greek football over the last decade, with the rise of the far-right proving a fatal attraction amongst football fans looking for a new political direction. It's led to a divide amongst fans across the country that mirrors that of wider society.

In remembrance of Jim Hart

Yesterday These Football Times lost a great man and leader. A kind and generous individual whose guidance had a profound impact on us all. We're infinitely weaker for the loss of our brother, Jim Hart.

Timeline Photos

Introducing Duology, our brand new online series celebrating football's most iconic, successful and memorable partnerships. Dropping 27 August. For the full list of the 40 partnerships we'll cover over the course of the week, sign up to our mailing list online.

How Angola and Togo briefly flirted with the world's best

For a brief moment in time, Angola and Togo - the latter spearheaded by Emmanuel Adebayor - fought with the world's best as they reached the 2006 FIFA World Cup and staked a claim as some of Africa's finest. That all seems a long way back now for two nation's that have resorted to type since. This is the story of their tumultuous rise.

The back-to-back trebles at Barcelona and Inter that made Samuel Eto'o a modern legend

As transfers that backfired go, FC Barcelona letting Samuel Eto'o leave after his treble-winning heroics of 2009 ranks pretty high. That they also paid £40m on top of the Cameroonian for Zlatan Ibrahimović makes the deal even harder to believe in hindsight. Seemingly it suited nobody but Eto'o, who'd lift a second treble in 12 months at Inter.

The golden gloves of Alfred Gomis, the Senegalese immigrant turned calcio hero

Immigration, like elsewhere in Europe, is a divisive topic in Italy. Alfred Gomis, the talented and likeable SPAL goalkeeper who moved to Italy from Senegal aged three, is a symbol of what immigration and unity can bring. Despite facing racism, he's risen above it, representing Senegal in honour of his father but professing his love for his adopted homeland to become one of SPAL's most popular players.

How Gianluca Zambrotta became one of the modern era's finest full-backs

With a dearth of truly world-class full-backs in the game, how much would Gianluca Zambrotta be worth today? Consistent, versatile and intelligent, these traits took him to 98 Italy caps, including FIFA World Cup glory, over 200 Juventus games and stints at FC Barcelona and AC Milan.

Rob Parker talks World At Your Feet, the ultimate children's football book, for The Gallery

With so many outstanding illustrators in football today, it's a surprise that so few have turned to children's book. Rob Parker is bucking that trend, however, with a beautifully crafted project looking at the most memorable goals in history, designed to inspire kids and take their love of football to the next level.

Danny Butterfield and the least likely hat-trick in English football history

Six minutes and 48 seconds was all it took for Crystal Palace Football Club defender Danny Butterfield to write his name into the history books. Averaging a goal every 40 games, his heroics in The Emirates FA Cup remain amongst English football's most unlikely hat-tricks.

Filippo Inzaghi: the jilted poacher who conquered Europe

Beyond the jobes about always being offside and a perceived lack of natural talent, Filippo Inzaghi remains one of the deadliest goalscorers in Serie A history. Born 45 years ago today, this is a celebration of all the things that endeared him to calcio followers the world over.

Enis Bardhi: the free-kick specialist on his way to the top

Plucked by Levante UD after an impressive showing at the Under-21 European Championship for Macedonia, Enis Bardhi impressed many in his debut LaLiga season. A spectacular free-kick taker and smart creative outlet, the 23-year-old's challenge is to now elevate himself to the very top.

The destruction of Reggiana, a proud club from a historic football region

The 71-year-old man wept. “Do not do this,” he said, his words barely audible through the tears. “Do not do it.” He stood at the locked gate of the AC Reggiana 1919 headquarters, a once proud football club headed into the unknown. This is the story of their demise, thanks in part to former baseball star Mike Piazza.

Valeriy Gazzaev and the journey to greatness

Valeriy Gazzaev stands tall as one of Russian football's most enduring characters. Guiding PFC CSKA MOSCOW to the 2005 UEFA Cup title as well as three domestic triumphs, he etched his name into folklore through notably hard-line methods.

Can Cristiano Ronaldo help Serie A become the go-to destination in world football again?

Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer to Juventus has stunned many and has the potential to change Serie A. With a new TV rights deal on the horizon, a league that's rapidly improving, and talent coming through the ranks, could the Portuguese star's move elevate calcio to world dominance again down the line?

Remembering William Prunier, the sixth-worst player in Manchester United history

He was only meant to be a back-up, but William Prunier had pedigree. A France international having played over 200 games for AJ Auxerre, some Manchester United fans believed he could've been the ball-playing centre-back they desperately craved. A month later and he was gone, eventually voted the sixth-worst player in United history. This is his story.

The Premier League 2018/19 season preview

The Premier League season is upon us, and a raft of questions and queries surround each team. Whose made the best signings? Who has gone backwards? Can anybody topple Manchester City and who'll be languishing in the relegation zone? Join us for this and more as our experts tackle the campaign ahead.

The rise of Thailand's Port FC, a club with an atmosphere like few others in the region

Thai football is in the ascendency in so many ways, with a national league great to watch and always improving. การท่าเรือ เอฟซี Port FC sum up that feeling of hope better than most, with a rise up the league aligning perfectly with a crowd that's one of the most entertaining and noisy in Asian football.

The journey of Kylian Mbappé from non-league football to a legend in waiting

It has been a journey of both surprises and inevitability for Kylian Mbappé on his way to glory with PSG - Paris Saint-Germain and France. From multiple rejections of Real Madrid C.F. to breaking records at seemingly every turn, this is the story of a player surely on his way to legend. But can he become one of the all-time greats?

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Thierry Henry and the rise to become the modern striking blueprint

📅 | On this day in 1999, Thierry Henry signed for Arsenal. Plucked from the sidelines of Turin by his old confidante at AS MONACO, Arsène Wenger, Henry would go on to become one of the greatest forwards the Premier League - and wider European football - has ever seen.

The renaissance of KFC Uerdingen

Like many other former Bundesliga Official clubs before and after, KFC Uerdingen 05, formerly sponsored by Bayer, DFB-Pokal winners in 1985 and Cup Winners' Cup semi-finalists a year later, have endured a torrid two decades. But they're back in the professional ranks again, returning to the 3. Liga for this season - and their ambitions don't stop there.

The battle for the soul of Belgian football: shady investment, marginalised fans and the death of former giants

As the national team rise again, all seems well in Belgian football. But at home, the domestic game is struggling amidst shady foreign investment resulting in the destruction of historic former powers. It's all points to a nation that's perhaps never had it both so good or so bad.

Why Nicolas Anelka was much more than just Le Incredible Sulk

📅 | On this day in 1999, Nicolas Anelka traded places with Davor Šuker, in swapping Arsenal for Real Madrid, where the divisive Frenchman would remain for just a single European Cup-winning season before departing for boyhood club PSG.

Nils Nielsen talks the Denmark women's team and coaching the future in China

A UEFA A licence holder aged just 20, Nils Nielsen was always destined for a coaching job at the highest level. After fine work with the Denmark women's team, he's now plotting the future of football in China. We caught up with the Dane to discuss his career so far.

Why the 1990s should've belonged to a star-studded Internazionale

Throughout the 1990s, Inter was a hotbed of talent like few other places in world football. But while the club boasted the likes of Ronaldo Nazário, Roberto Baggio and Dennis Bergkamp, to name just a few, it also saw 13 managerial changes, with near-relegation offsetting three UEFA Cup wins.

Nwankwo Kanu and the languid brilliance of Nigeria's most celebrated footballer

🎂 | Happy 42nd Birthday to you, Nwankwo Kanu. Arsenal favourite, Nigerian trailblazer and cult hero to all for whom you played with a smile. May your celebrations be as long as your stride.

Scott McRoy talks big brand collaborations and niche football art for The Gallery

Having worked with the likes of EA SPORTS, adidas and Liverpool FC, Scott McRoy is one of football's leading illustrators. We caught up with McRoy to discuss custom kits, big brands, his inspiration, Ronaldinho Gaúcho, and Nike's famous airport advert.

José Leandro Andrade: the troubled magic of a legend like no other

Long before Pelé, José Leandro Andrade was an icon who transcended race, geography and class. A brilliant midfielder who won the FIFA World Cup with Uruguay in 1930 and was considered the world's best footballer, Andrade's life would descend into chaos, with his demise in the game seeing him go missing for years and an ultimately tragic death in 1957.

Sir Bobby Robson: football's finest man

📅 | On this day in 2009, legendary football manager Sir Bobby Robson sadly passed away. The beloved revolutionary and former England football team, Newcastle United, Ipswich Town Football Club and FC Barcelona man was 76 years old.

The day 19 players were sent off when Boca Juniors played Sporting Cristal

In an era of violence in the South American game on and off the pitch, one match stands out as perhaps the most brutal in of the time. This is the day when 19 players were sent off in a Conmebol Libertadores game between Argentine giants BOCA and Club Sporting Cristal of Peru.

The five heroes who scored three free-kicks in a single game

As rare a club as any in football, five men - Siniša Mihajlović, Beppe Signori, Ray McKinnon, Kostas Frantzeskos and Cristiano da Silva - have scored a hat-trick of free-kicks in the same game. This is the story of one-step wonders, curved masterpieces and three goals in two kits.

Remembering Geoff Hurst and his unlikely spell at Cork Celtic

📅 | On this day in 1966, a hat-trick from Geoff Hurst, once of Cork Celtic, inspired England to come from behind and defeat Germany 4-2 AET in the final of their home tournament, seeing them lift the Jules Rimet trophy for the first and only time in their nation's history.


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How Bryan Robson became Captain Marvel at Manchester United

To many, Bryan Robson is merely an average manager and a footballer from another era. But to those old enough to have witnessed him at Manchester United, he's one of the greatest English midfielders of all, christened Captain Marvel at Old Trafford and leading the club through a challenging decade to become a dominant Premier League force.

The three sides of Lukas Podolski: international legend, hometown hero and club-level enigma

It's difficult to sum up the career of Lukas Podolski, a player who has an army of fans, has won the FIFA World Cup, and is the third-highest scorer in Germany history. Despite that, he'll leave behind a club career that many feel should've resulted in more goals and titles.

Alan Shearer: the greatest Premier League goalscorer of all

Exactly 22 years ago, Alan Shearer headed home, joining Newcastle United - a season after winning the title with Blackburn Rovers - for a world-record £15m where he'd cement his legacy as the greatest goalscorer the Premier League has ever seen.

In celebration of Stiliyan Petrov: the tiger in the grass

From selling burgers outside Celtic Park to a difficult battle with leukaemia, life has thrown up its fair share of challenges for Stiliyan Petrov, who joined Celtic FC 19 years ago today. Between those difficult times, though, was a fantastic footballer, committed to the cause and capable of mixing it with the best.

When Jürgen Klinsmann dived his way into the heart of English football

Twenty-four years ago today, Jürgen Klinsmann arrived at Tottenham Hotspur as one of Europe's most feared marksmen. Derided by the British press for his perceived diving, the German quickly proved his naysayers wrong and became a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League, leaving behind a season of memories and magic.

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

🎂 | Happy 37th Birthday to you, Michael Carrick. Shining quietly throughout an era blessed with talented English midfielders but rarely trusted to pull the strings on the international stage. May your celebrations go as smoothly as one of your passes.

My first football match: Everton vs Blackburn in the harsh winter of 1962

Fifty-five years ago, Everton Football Club traveled to Blackburn Rovers during one of England’s harshest winters. For one seven-year-old, it was his first football match. Now 62, writer Paul McParlan remembers his match day programme, tasting hot Oxo for the first time, and what going to a match with your dad in those days entailed.

José Luís Chilavert and the spirit of a bulldog

🎂 | Happy 53rd Birthday to you, José Luis Félix Chilavert González. Paraguay’s favourite goal-scoring goalie and all round eccentric. May your special day be as brilliantly unpredictable as you were between the sticks.

How a dated promotion system is facilitating Salford City's heavy spending

Staggeringly, Salford City FC of the The National League, England's fifth tier, are paying Adam Rooney £9,000 a week to help them in their quest for the EFL. And while this has inevitably drawn criticism, the real issue in the league lies in the sole automatic promotion spot available, with only one more via the playoffs. It's curtailing the progress of many well-run, financially stable clubs.

Is the balance of power slowly shifting in Seville?

After finishing above Sevilla FC last season, and with one of LaLiga's most exciting managers in Quique Setién, Real Betis Balompié fans have reason to be hopeful. As William Carvalho joins an already talented squad, could the balance of power shift this season in Seville?

📅 | On this day in 1977, Kevin Keegan made his debut for HSV, in a pre-season friendly versus FC Barcelona, after a British record £500,000 move from Liverpool FC. The Blaugrana laughed at his pink jersey. Keegan laughed back when he scored in a 6-0 win.

Will Wright talks Classic Shirts inspiration for The Gallery

Continuing the ever-popular Gallery series, we caught up with illustrator Will Wright to discuss his Classic Shirts collection, featuring some of the game's most iconic kits, why we're always drawn to the shirts of our childhood, and why kits nowadays lack bravery in design.

Yordan Letchkov: the grand magician of Bulgarian football

One of the stars of Bulgaria's run at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the iconic Yordan Letchkov was a player of outstanding quality, mixing world-class passing and vision with a knack of scoring important goals. Despite his talent, he had a modest club career and won only 45 national team caps, retiring at 31, then coming back before embarking on a failed career in politics.

Jens Lehmann: a lasting marriage of greatness and chaos

📅 | On this day in 2003, 33-year-old German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann - brilliant, determined, crazy and inimitable - joined Arsenal. A short while later, he became Invincible.

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