Liverpool and Roma’s classic Anfield duel of 2002

As Liverpool FC and AS Roma prepare to do battle in the UEFA Champions League semi-final, thoughts turn back to their last duel in Europe at Anfield, in 2002, as Gerard Houllier made an emotional comeback from illness and Jari Litmanen and Emile Heskey were the stars of the show.

How Morocco's 1986 World Cup campaign changed African football forever

As is often the case with African teams at the FIFA World Cup, Morocco, despite boasting one of the continent's greatest players in Mohamed Timoumi, were written off before a ball had been kicked at Mexico 86. They'd go on to stun the world and pave the way for African progress by drawing with England, beating Portugal, and only narrowly losing to West Germany in the last 16.

Manuel Estiarte: the water polo legend who became Pep Guardiola's most trusted assistant

The measured, intelligent and likeable Manuel Estiarte has been with Pep Guardiola since the beginning. Despite his role as the Manchester City manager's most trusted assistant, Estiarte's background is not in football. Instead, he's one of the greatest water polo players in history.

It's been featured on Soccer AM and will be on display at four venues during this summer's FIFA World Cup for guests to enjoy. These are the stories behind the finest teams in history, in stunning print and crafted by some of the best writers around. Over 130 pages of timeless photos and legendary names. This is World Cup X.


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The disputed genius of Arsène Wenger

He’s finally leaving. But he’s not leaving without having changed English football forever. This is the definitive chronicle of the career of Arsène Wenger - his playing career, early rise, success in the sun of AS MONACO and two decades of memories at Arsenal.

How the biggest match-fixing scandal in Bundesliga history changed the German game forever

In 1971, at a time when German society needed its football most, a number of clubs in the Bundesliga Official - led by DSC Arminia Bielefeld but involving FC Schalke 04 and Hertha BSC - took part in a match-fixing campaign that bordered on the unbelievable, and resulted in the destructions of clubs and players' careers.

The coming of Chucky: Hirving Lozano and the road to the top

It has been a long time since a Mexican talent excited the fans quite like PSV's Hirving Lozano. Blessed with pace, intelligent movement and fantastic skill, the winger has set the Eredivisie alight in his first season in Europe and is ready to showcase his talents on the world stage this summer with Selección Nacional de México. Surely an even bigger move awaits.

World Cup 2018: how the globe’s favourite football spectacle was hijacked by politicians

It should be a tournament for the whole world to enjoy but, as ever, politics - perhaps to a greatest extent than before - is ruining what promises to be an evenly-matched FIFA World Cup in Russia. This is the story of its relentless hijacking.

Alfio Basile, the only man to have coached Maradona and Messi, and Argentina's glorious early-90s

It has been 25 years since AFA - Selección Argentina last won anything, and they did so back then with a squad featuring burgeoning talents like Diego Pablo Simeone, Gabriel Batistuta and Fernando Redondo. The man in charge for those glories was Alfio Basile, a proponent of La Nuestra and the only man to have coached Diego Maradona and Leo Messi.

The World Cup Series: 1986 and 1990

From the genius of Diego Maradona at the 1986 FIFA World Cup, in a tournament boasting a collection of spectacular talent, to the overly-romanticised but equally compelling Italia 90, we talk through two of the most nostalgic finals in history in the latest of our World Cup series podcasts.

Dimitry Seluk in conversation: the super-agent lifts the lid on the industry, Touré, Guardiola and more

Living up to the industry's billing, Dimitry Seluk is one of football's most controversial characters, striking discord with the likes of Manchester City, Pep Guardiola and UEFA as the agent of Yaya Touré. We caught up with Seluk for an in-depth, no holds barred chat about the industry and his clients.

The devil's odyssey: how Silvio Berlusconi turned AC Milan into a superpower

Few individuals have been as influential, successful or controversial as Silvio Berlusconi in modern Italy. That influence extended to AC Milan when he purchased the club in 1986, bringing a litany of world stars to the San Siro, 29 trophies and embarking on a journey that would forever change Serie A TIM. This is the story of Berlusconi's rise and his Milan years.

The day a dog saved Manchester United

At the turn of the 20th century, the club we know as Manchester United, then called Newton Heath, was on the brink of bankruptcy. Fortunately, the dog of captain Harry Stafford and a chance encounter with a wealthy businessman saved the club and led to the renaming, and re-colouring, of Newton Heath to Manchester United.

From 54 goals in a season to drug addiction: the rise and fall of Mário Jardel

Between 1995 and 2003, few strikers in world football were as clinical or boasted a better goalscoring record than Mário Jardel. Despite winning the European Golden Shoe twice and finishing as the UEFA Champions League top scorer in 2000, a major move never materialised and the Brazilian's life was turned on its head by various personal problems.

A statistical history of the World Cup's Golden Boot award

Few individual awards can top the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot. From the consistency of Miroslav Klose and Ronaldo Nazário to the one-off wonders like Just Fontaine and Toto Schillachi, this is the history of the famous award through its most revealing numbers.

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The art and anatomy of scoring a beautiful goal

What is a beautiful goal? Is it the way it's scored or the moment in which it's scored? From piledrivers and volleys to overheads kicks and cheeky chips, this is the story of the most beautiful types of goals in football and the art behind them.

Why don’t most Major League Soccer franchises play their academy starlets?

From LA Galaxy placing two goalkeepers on the bench to Chicago Fire playing Bastian Schweinsteiger at centre-back, it seems as though many Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs will do anything to get out of playing their academy starlets. But why?

Victor Valdés: the under-appreciated mainstay in Barcelona's greatest era

Despite becoming something of a forgotten man during his post-FC Barcelona career, and facing many doubters throughout his time at the Camp Nou, Víctor Valdés was a better goalkeeper than he was often given credit for, winning most of what the game has to offer and the respect of legends across Spain.

The tricks, trials and tribulations of Michel Bastos

Brazil's starting left-back at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, there was a time when Michel Bastos was rightly one of Europe's most in-demand wide men, combining pace, trickery and audacious goals during a memorable spell at Olympique Lyonnais - OL.

Emperor Cuauhtémoc Blanco

Named after the final Aztec emperor, Cuauhtémoc Blanco's career at the top of Mexican football couldn't have been apter. Blessed with power, spectacular skill and a penchant for the unknown, he remains one of the greatest LIGA Bancomer MX players in history and an icon in his homeland.

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I’m an MK Dons fan: here’s why we must drop the Dons from our name

Few rivalries in English football are as bitter as MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon. While the reasons are clear, the use of the word Dons has proved particularly thorny. The reality, however, is that many MK fans are happy to see the club forge their own identity and drop the Dons from their name.

Filipe Luís: the astrophysics-loving movie buff bucking the Brazilian stereotype

From a love of astrophysics to a deep understanding of global economics, Filipe Luis is far more than just your average footballer. One of the most consistent and complete full-backs of his era - and often underrated - this is the story of his career, from AFC Ajax and Real Madrid C.F. to Atlético de Madrid and Chelsea Football Club.

How Mario Gómez, often against the odds, proved himself as Mr Reliable

While it’s easy to dismiss Mario Gomez as a tall, lumbering striker, his goalscoring records stands up against the greatest in history in the Bundesliga Official. What’s more, the former FC Bayern München star did it against the odds for much of his career - and still is.

How Mario Gómez, often against the odds, proved himself as Mr Reliable

While it’s easy to dismiss Mario Gomez as a tall, lumbering striker, his goalscoring records stands up against the greatest in history in the Bundesliga Official. What’s more, the former FC Bayern München star did it against the odds for much of his career - and still is.

Juan Sebastián Verón: the Manchester United diaries

Rarely has a player commanded as much interest and respect ahead of a move to the Premier League as Juan Sebastián Verón did prior to joining Manchester United in 2001. And while he initially sparkled, demonstrating all his world-class ability, the ‘Little Witch’ ultimately failed to cast a spell in England.

Juan Sebastián Verón: the Manchester United diaries

Rarely has a player commanded as much interest and respect ahead of a move to the Premier League as Juan Sebastián Verón did prior to joining Manchester United in 2001. And while he initially sparkled, demonstrating all his world-class ability, the ‘Little Witch’ ultimately failed to cast a spell in England.

Mehdi Mahdavikia: the Iran legend who became an icon in Hamburg

While Mehdi Mahdavikia remains one of HSV's finest imports of the 2000s, his legacy extends far beyond the Bundesliga Official. The man who scored a momentous winner against the US at a time of political instability, this is the story of the Iranian legend's remarkable career in football, on and off the pitch.

Oriol Tort: how one man helped turn Barcelona's La Masia into a bastion of talent

In the exclusive pantheon of greats to have influenced the FC Barcelona way, Oriol Tort remains something of an unknown for many. However, the former scout, armed with a small notebook, a typewriter and a brilliant eye for talent, was partly responsible for shaping La Masia as a leading bastion of talent.

Jess Fishlock in conversation: the heartbreak, challenges and joy of a career spent at the top

The career of Jess Fishlock, the only 100-cap footballer in Welsh football history, has seen her traverse the world in search of personal and professional growth, registering stints at AZ Alkmaar, 1. FFC Frankfurt, Melbourne City FC and Seattle Reign FC. We caught up with the midfield dynamo as she looks ahead to potential FIFA Women's World Cup qualification.

The American Dream: Saudi Arabia's momentous 1994 World Cup campaign

In typical FIFA World Cup fashion, Saudi Arabia, making their debut at the finals, were written off well before a ball was kicked. However, they defied many, blending incredible natural flair with a pride for their nation that few expected. This is the story of legends such as Majed Abdullah, Sami Al-Jaber and Saeed Al-Owairan.

René Higuita: the dribbles, the flair, the controversy and the scorpion

From dribbling past multiple opponents as a goalkeeper to his legendary scorpion save, not to mention his three international goals and links to drug cartels, the career of Colombian idol Rene Higuita was anything but ordinary.

The World Cup Series: 1982 and 1986

During the halcyon days of the FIFA World Cup, the 1982 edition, won against all the odds by Italy, and 1986, which featured the greatest individual show of brilliance in finals history as Diego Maradona led Argentina to glory, stand tall as football, for many, peaked.

Heroes or culprits? The troubling relationship between Schalke’s glory days and the Nazis

Is it a coincidence that FC Schalke 04's greatest glories came during the Nazi era? Probably not, and while the question was only investigated by the club itself in 2001, the answer is complicated, rooted in political pressure and a troubling national psyche at the time.

Why former players like Gattuso, Guardiola and Zidane often make the best managers

With the early success of Gennaro Gattuso at AC Milan - against most peoples' expectations - and the continued excellence of Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid C.F., it's worth examining what makes one ex-player succeed in management and another - take Diego Maradona, for example - fail.

Eusébio: Black Panther

Humble, generous and a talent to match any other, Eusébio was lauded throughout his career by the game's greats, leaving a legacy in Portugal and Mozambique that is unlikely to be matched. This is the story of an African pioneer who scored 473 goals in 440 Sport Lisboa e Benfica games and ranks amongst the very best.

The great Rivaldo hat-trick of 2001

There have been few hat-tricks more audacious, meaningful and singular as Rivaldo Ferreira's legendary trio of strikes for FC Barcelona against Valencia CF in 2001. This is the story of how the Brazilian singlehandedly took Barça to the UEFA Champions League at his absolute best.

Reinhard Libuda: the forgotten German wizard who became a hero at Dortmund and Schalke

Few can claim to being heroes at both FC Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund. Reinhard Libuda is one. Amongst the greatest Bundesliga Official wingers of his day - in an era of great wide men - his 26 Germany caps do not justice to a talent nicknamed 'Stan' for his likeness to the great Stanley Matthews.

How Gheorghe Hagi rebuilt his career in Serie B with Brescia

Between stints at FC Barcelona and Real Madrid C.F., the spectacular Gheorghe Hagi moved to the unlikely setting of Brescia Calcio BSFC, where he suffered relegation to Serie B, stayed with the club, then dominated the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

The East German curse: how footballing reunification failed

For decades, East German football lived in the shadow of the mighty West. Despite producing world-class talent of their own, reunification was meant to usher in a brighter dawn. Sadly, the results highlight a failure - still ongoing - and an even greater shift of power to the west.

Dissecting Diego Maradona's astounding goal against Belgium in 1986

Reducing a gifted Belgium side to a shivering mess, Diego Maradona’s goal against them may be forgotten to time - largely due to his magical effort against England - but it may just be the greatest goal of his at times otherworldly career.

Emiliano Mondonico's Raging Bull

Rest in peace Emiliano Mondonico, the charismatic former Torino Football Club manager who guided the side to the UEFA Cup final in 1992 and Coppa Italia glory a year later. He will be missed by calcio fans the world over.

The Battle of Montevideo: Celtic, Racing and the brutal 1967 Intercontinental Cup

The Intercontinental Cup, the precursor to the FIFA Club World Cup, was a brutal affair between South America and Europe. Never was this greater than during the three infamous ties between Celtic FC and Racing Club - Oficial in 1967, which saw multiple acts of violence on and off the pitch.

Nine trophies in 342 games: the colossal legacy of Vicente del Bosque

When it comes to considering the greatest managers in history, Vicente del Bosque​ rarely gets a mention. Why? After all, he's averaging a trophy every 38 games and has won the UEFA Champions League​ twice, LaLiga​ twice, the FIFA World Cup​, and the European Championship. It all goes rather nicely with his five league titles as player and various individual awards.

How greed and gentrification are burying traditional fans alive

"Fans aren’t getting the real football experience. It’s either completely sanitised or hyper-real – packaged to feel like a game of football should. The reaction to the new Tottenham Hotspur ground and the recent ire at West Ham United have shown that supporters are no longer willing to accept playing second fiddle to investors. They are willing to act, but act soon they must, because change is coming like a landslide and we are already half-buried."

Marcelo Bielsa: the Mexico diaries

Long before he became one of the most influential coaches in world football, Marcelo Bielsa had to cut his teeth is the demanding world of LIGA Bancomer MX. This is the little-known tale of his early rise, which shaped his philosophy, taken exclusively from the Mexico issue of These Football Times magazine.

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The bizarre coaching odyssey of Tony Adams

Tony Adams is rightly considered one of English football's greatest defenders - a legend at Arsenal. His coaching career, however, has been far less successful, inclusive of failed stints at Wycombe Wanderers FC, Portsmouth Football Club, in Azerbaijan, and most recently at Granada CF. But he's not giving up just yet.

Did the traditional German leader disappear with Philipp Lahm?

From Fritz Walter and Franz Beckenbauer to Lothar Matthäus, Oliver Kahn and Philipp Lahm, Germany has been blessed with exceptional leaders for a number of generations, all with different qualities that summed up their era. Now, however, they're facing a shortfall in their search for an inspiring, era-defining leader.

What do Napoli and Diego Maradona mean to a generation of younger fans?

To those who witnessed Diego Maradona at SSC Napoli, it was a relationship rarely seen in football before; of the game's greatest talent and a city desperate to upstage the traditional powers. But what does it mean to today's generation, particularly outside of Naples?

Red Star Belgrade and Steaua Bucharest: the fallen giants of Eastern European football

In 1986, FC Steaua Bucuresti were crowned champions of Europe. Five years later, FK Crvena zvezda emulated their feat with one of Europe's best sides. It was a golden period for Eastern European club football. Sadly, both clubs are now in decline, with little signs of hope as western Europe's juggernaut rolls on.

The unfulfilled career of Gianluigi Lentini, once the world's most expensive player

When Gianluigi Lentini moved to AC Milan for a world record £13m in 1992, many expected him to become the world’s best player. Sadly, after a serious car crash, which still poses question-marks to this day, the Italian never reached his potential, only winning 13 Azzurri caps along the way.

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