Dirk Kuyt: the most selfless hero in the modern era

🎂 | Happy 38th Birthday to you, Dirk Kuyt. Feyenoord legend, Liverpool hero and committed servant to selfless football. May your gifts be as generous as your enduring style of play.

🎂 | Happy 37th Birthday to you, Joaquín Sánchez Rodríguez. A right-sided romancer of fine Spanish vintage, with swathes of fans throughout Valencia, Málaga, Florence and, of course, Seville. May your special day end up looking a little something like this.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2015/09/11/joaquin-and-the-soul-of-real-betis/

Fantasy Premier League, Official Fantasy Football Game of the Premier League

Calling all friends. Join our Fantasy Fantasy Premier League today and see if you can beat the best These Football Times has to offer. It won’t be hard! There’s prizes - a custom kit for the winner and magazines for second and third - so get involved. Code: 240185-48928. Sign up for free and get involved:

https://fantasy.premierleague.com/a/home

Christian Karembeu: the outsider who divided France

As the debate surrounding immigration and the France national team continues to divide many, one man - Christian Karembeu - can claim to have seen it all. Victimised, loved and then discarded, despite his passion for the nation and his undoubted talent, he was often on the periphery of truly being accepted.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/21/christian-karembeu-the-outsider-who-divided-france/

How FARC and the federal government divided Colombia's national team, players and fans

“Many years later as he faced the firing squad, Commander Andrés Urrego was to remember that distant afternoon when he and his unit had played football with a severed head. That distant afternoon beneath the sun-roasted cocoa trees of Arboleda, western Colombia, in a town where men made raspberry wine and children ate milked candies, when Urrego and his FARC guerrillas had cut policemen’s throats before crashing blood-stained volleys against a school yard’s wooden goalposts.”

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/20/how-farc-and-the-federal-government-divided-colombias-national-team-players-and-fans/

If Rome wasn’t built in a day: Luis Enrique and a season in Italy

When Luis Enrique arrived at AS Roma in 2011, much was expected of the former FC Barcelona B boss, not least in enforcing the successful tiki-taka style of his compatriot, Pep Guardiola. Sadly, however, his time in Serie A was punctuated by inconsistency, poor man-management and a lack of patience.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/20/if-rome-wasnt-built-in-a-day-luis-enrique-and-a-season-in-italy/

The post-World Cup show

After a short hiatus while we revamped the show and the format (as well as the artwork), The Lob is back. First up: a gentle look back at our (largely wrong) FIFA World Cup predictions, a review of the tournament and some news from TFT HQ.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/19/the-post-world-cup-show/

North Korea: Chollima, 1966 and tragedy

📅 | On this day in 1966, before some 18,000 spectators at Middlesbrough's Ayresome Park, perennial underdogs North Korea orchestrated one of the all-time great FIFA World Cup upsets to qualify for the knockout stages, defeating Italy 1-0 and sending them home.

The special relationship between Fulham and American players

On 16 March 2008, at the same point, on the same pitch and in the same colours, five US international played in the Premier League. It marked a high point in the unique relationship between Fulham FC Official and American players, who have now made over 750 appearances for the club in less than two decades.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/19/the-special-relationship-between-fulham-and-american-players/

The rise and fall of Deportivo La Coruña

Once again just plain old Depor, for a period of time at the turn of the 21st century, Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña became Super Depor, fielding luminaries such as Diego Tristán, Juan Carlos Valerón and Djalminha. Sadly, however, the success couldn't last in the evolving world of LaLiga.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/19/the-rise-and-fall-of-deportivo/

How football is slowly challenging baseball for supremacy amongst Cuba's youth

For close to a century, baseball has been the sport of choice in Cuba - and with reason. But slowly, the youth of a nation in flux is looking towards football, developing their skills on the street and dreaming of becoming the next Leo Messi and not the next Alex Rodriguez.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/18/how-football-is-slowly-challenging-baseball-for-supremacy-amongst-cubas-youth/

The model, from the academy to the boardroom, that keeps Levante punching well above their weight

Levante UD remain one of the original pioneers for small clubs in LaLiga with regards to survival. From the academy and the first team to the boardroom and the fans, the Valencian side has demonstrated, despite a few bumps along the way, that planning ahead and making the club accessible can take you very far.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/18/levantes-highly-sustainable-financial-model-la-liga/

Matheus Toscano talks 8bit Football for The Gallery

Few art series in the game are as popular as Matheus Toscano's excellent 8bit Football. Capturing some of the game's most iconic players and moments, we caught up with the Brazilian to discuss the series, his background outside of design, and some of his other projects.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/17/matheus-toscano-talks-8bit-football-for-the-gallery/

Edgar Davids: the Barcelona diaries | These Football Times

When Edgar Davids moved to FC Barcelona on loan in January 2004, he did so as surplus to requirements at Juventus and with the Spanish giants languishing in seventh in LaLiga. What followed was a six-month stint that both revived Barça's season and invigorated a stagnant club to push on, tactically and commercially, to become a superpower again.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/17/edgar-davids-the-barcelona-diaries/

Philosophies

Philosophies: where the 🧠 and ⚽️ meet. How the minds and methods of a few defined the game we know today. Order online.

— Products shown: Philosophies.

Can Qatar emulate Russia's outstanding hosting of the World Cup?

Despite the doubts and the controversy, Russia has hosted one of the best FIFA World Cup finals in history, both from the perspecitve of the fans and the players. With that in mind, can Qatar, facing even greater doubts, emulate their European counterparts in 2022?

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/16/can-qatar-emulate-russias-outstanding-hosting-of-the-world-cup/

Strachan, McAllister, Batty and Speed: how four names defined a brilliant Leeds team

Between Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister, David Batty and the late Gary Speed, Leeds United boasted one of the most complete midfields of the era as they expertly navigated their way to the title in 1992. It was a season of blood, sweat, tears and ultimately dreams, one that hasn't been emulated since.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/16/strachan-mcallister-batty-and-speed-how-four-names-defined-a-brilliant-leeds-team/

When Blackburn Rovers ruled the Premier League

📅 | On this day in 1994, Jack Walker’s Blackburn Rovers broke the British transfer record to sign Norwich City FC striker Chris Sutton. Sutton would go on to form the fearsome 'SAS' with Alan Shearer and fire the club to their 1994-95 Premier League title.

Football in the shadow of conflict in Honduras and El Salvador

📅 | On this day in 1969, the ‘Football War’ erupted between El Salvador and Honduras as violent riots at a World Cup qualifier between the opposing Central American nations escalated political tensions beyond boiling point.

Photos from These Football Times's post

🧠 x ⚽️ | We've been thrilled with the reaction to Philosophies. It's been featured in various mainstream media outlets and is selling fast. Here are some more photos for you to enjoy. Snap up your copy today.

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How Atletico full-backs Lucas Hernandez and Sime Vrsaljko have come from nowhere to become World Cup finalists

As fellow Atléti full-backs Lucas Hernández and Šime Vrsaljko prepare to do battle against one another, in Sunday's FIFA World Cup final, Dermot Corrigan recalls, for Unibet, the journeys that brought both unlikely heroes to where they are today.

📅 | On this day in 1930, the first ever FIFA World Cup match took place as France defeated Mexico 4-1 in Montevideo. Neither nation would make it beyond the initial group stage, though, and the inaugural tournament would eventually be won by hosts Uruguay. https://thesefootballtimes.co/2017/11/24/how-uruguay-lifted-the-1930-world-cup/

Why Maurizio Sarri represents Chelsea's best option in replacing Antonio Conte

There may have been no better team to watch last season than SSC Napoli. Led by the forward-thinking Maurizio Sarri, they wowed fans across the continent. It's for this reason that Sarri-ball is clearly what's needed to buck a worrying trend at Chelsea Football Club as the Italian looks to commence his Premier League journey.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/03/22/why-maurizio-sarri-represents-chelseas-best-option-in-replacing-antonio-conte/

Timeline Photos

🇫🇷 They can smell the silver. But before the class of 2018 took shape, a nation moulded them. These are the stories that matter. The heroes and the villains. The guts and the glory. This is flair and emotion. This is France. And the world awaits.

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— Products shown: France.

How Argentina squandered a generation of outstanding talent and why the future remains uncertain

Despite a few strong talents like Cristian Pavón and Lautaro Martínez coming through - and establish youngsters like Giovani Lo Celso and Paulo Dybala - the mind can't help but go back to Leo Messi, Angel Di María and Sergio Aguero in recent years, to the sense of a wasted opportunity, and, most of all, of a wasted generation, the likes of which Argentina may not see again for a while.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/13/how-argentina-squandered-a-generation-of-outstanding-talent-and-why-the-future-remains-uncertain/

🎂 | Happy 30th Birthday to you, Sergio Busquets. Metronomic Spaniard, Blaugrana legend and one of the modern game's most treasured midfield conductors. May your passing always be swift and precise. https://thesefootballtimes.co/2017/12/27/in-the-pantheon-of-modern-day-greats-where-does-sergio-busquets-rank/

Croatia 2-1 England: Wastefulfness cost England, who could have had the game wrapped up by half-time

Courtesy of Jonathan Wilson for Unibet, here'a recap of Croatia's 2-1 win over England at the FIFA World Cup, who could have had the game wrapped up by half-time had they not squandered golden chances.

https://www.unibet.co.uk/blog/football/world-cup/croatia-2-1-england-wastefulfness-cost-england-who-could-have-had-the-game-wrapped-up-by-half-time-1.1050812

🎂 | Happy 45th Birthday to you, Christian Vieri. As prolific Italian strikers go, there aren't many who did it like you did it. May your celebratory gelato be as cold as your stare. https://thesefootballtimes.co/2017/12/08/christian-vieri-a-decade-of-beastly-brilliance-and-bad-luck/

How the much-maligned World Cup third-place match can often define tournaments

Around the world, the third-place match at the FIFA World Cup has often been maligned, from the players to the fans. The reality, however, is that it's often a more entertaining game than the final, boasting goals and action aplenty. It can also define Golden Boots along the way, too.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/12/how-the-much-maligned-world-cup-third-place-match-can-often-define-tournaments/

📅 | On this day in 2010, on a balmy night in Johannesburg, Spain overcame the Netherlands to win their maiden FIFA World Cup, etching a smile across Dutchman Johan Cruyff's face. Why? Because to him, like many like-minded souls, Holland just weren't Holland. https://thesefootballtimes.co/2017/09/21/holland-at-world-cup-2010-the-team-that-split-a-nations-hearts-and-minds/

David Diehl talks Icons for The Gallery

There is no series of football art quite like David Diehl's Icons, which has been praised by the likes of Ronaldinho Gaúcho and SoccerBible. We caught up with the Swiss illustrator to delve into his mind and understand the social and religious context behind his most influential work.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/11/david-diehl-talks-icons-for-the-gallery/

How the Luzhniki Stadium became a monument through 60 years of triumph and tragedy

Long before it took its rightful place as one of the world's finest football stadiums, the Luzhniki - set to play host to the FIFA World Cup final on Sunday - witnessed decades of triumph, in the form of on-field brilliance, and tragedy during the darkest days of the communist regime.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/11/how-the-luzhniki-stadium-became-a-monument-through-60-years-of-triumph-and-tragedy/

Timeline Photos

Roberto Martinez’s style as Belgium manager could play into the hands of Didier Deschamps, though the Red Devils are as likely to score as they are to concede in what could be an entertaining semi-final at the FIFA World Cup.

https://www.unibet.co.uk/blog/football/world-cup/france-vs-belgium-roberto-martinez's-style-could-play-into-the-hands-of-didier-deschamps-1.1049962

📅 | On this day in 1978, Tottenham Hotspur announced the signings of Argentine FIFA World Cup winners Ricardo 'Ricky' Villa and Osvaldo 'Ossie' Ardiles. The historic double swoop would help shift the landscape of foreign football imports in England forever. https://thesefootballtimes.co/2016/03/21/ossie-ardiles-and-the-wild-times-of-tottenhams-famous-five/

Kevin De Bruyne and the journey to perfecting midfield simplicity

Few players are as complete, easy on the eye and fun to watch as Kevin De Bruyne. After securing his status as perhaps the Premier League's best midfielder at Manchester City, he's carried that form into the FIFA World Cup with Belgium. A player who has it all, it's his simplicity, however, that makes him truly special.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/10/kevin-de-bruyne-and-the-journey-to-perfecting-midfield-simplicity/

The freedom and fire of Croatia's unique relationship with midfield generals

'Prosinečki and Boban paved the way for a generation of young Croatian talents when they first moved to big European powers and then took bronze at Croatia’s first World Cup in 1998. Kovač built on that success both on and off the pitch with his professionalism and consistency, and Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić have taken things yet further, ensuring two of the world’s very best midfielders hail from the nation of just four million. It’s a vivid testament to a small country continuing to make waves in the world game.'

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/10/the-freedom-and-fire-of-croatias-unique-relationship-with-midfield-generals/

On Unibet: 20 years on from Michael Owen's breathtaking solo goal against Argentina, we're yet to see anything nearly as exciting from an England football team player at the FIFA World Cup. https://www.unibet.co.uk/blog/football/world-cup/international-football/adam-hurrey%20s-90s-heroes-michael-owen-the-teenage-tearaway-who-amplified-englands-love-of-pace-1.999008?mktid=52:5211000020:odds_20022018

Introducing Philosophies. Where the 🧠 and ⚽️ meet. From Catenaccio, Zona Mista and Soviet Science to Totaalvoetbal, Garra Charrúa and O Jogo Bonito - and so much more in between - join some of the game's finest writers for a breakdown of how football, through the innovative minds of a few, became what it is today. Find out more and order today:

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A history of the best young players at the World Cup since 1990

From Robert Prosinečki and Marc Overmars to Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller, the FIFA World Cup has placed young stars on the map. This is how a few select names kick-started their careers, and why shining at the world's biggest football event doesn't necessarily translate to a great club career.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/09/a-history-of-the-best-young-players-at-the-world-cup-since-1990/

📅 | On this day in 2014, in one of the most memorable knockout games in FIFA World Cup history, a team of hopeful Brazilian hosts were trampled by a rampant German side at the Mineirão, shipping four goals in seven minutes in a devastating 7-1 pummelling. https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/01/18/the-dark-shades-of-1950-and-2014-the-nights-brazil-wept/

📅 | On this day in 1982, France and West Germany contested a truly epic FIFA World Cup​ semi-final for the ages, as the first flowering of Les Bleus' ‘Carre Magique’ was cut down and Schumacher plumbed new depths of skullduggery with his assault on Battiston.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2015/05/21/1982-the-dead-poets-societe/

When heroes could've been legends: England, Sven and the disappointment of a tepid 2002 World Cup campaign

'It is hard not to believe that England might have done better against a weak field in 2002. The Brazil performance, flat and one-dimensional, was not a black swan; rather, it typified the lack of flair that characterised Sven’s England. One does not have to be a shameless cheerleader to observe that the golden generation – awful term as it is – was a crop of players of genuine quality. All of Cole, Ferdinand, Campbell, Hargreaves, Beckham, Scholes and Owen won enough in their club careers to demonstrate they belonged on the same field as Rivaldo, let alone Roque Júnior.'

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/07/when-heroes-couldve-been-legends-england-sven-and-the-disappointment-of-a-tepid-2002-world-cup-campaign/

How the unflappable Igor Akinfeev cemented himself in Russian football folklore

Making his debut at just 16, Igor Akinfeev has gone on to play almost 600 games for PFC CSKA MOSCOW - and he's still only 32. Factor in 110 Russia caps and his talent, longevity and legacy becomes immediately clear. But scratch beneath the surface, however, and there's so much more to the man than meets the eye.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/06/how-the-unflappable-igor-akinfeev-cemented-himself-in-russian-football-folklore/

The making of Luis Suárez: a year in Groningen

Luis Suarez is fast approaching his best form again. Still one of the world's best strikers, it took a year-long stint at FC Groningen in the Eredivisie for the Uruguayan to showcase his talents to a bigger audience, a period that included love, anger, 15 goals and a broken umbrella.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/06/the-making-of-luis-suarez-a-year-in-groningen/

Marcus Rashford and why it pays to be young in a World Cup penalty shootout. The latest feature from our FIFA World Cup partners, Unibet.

https://www.unibet.co.uk/blog/football/world-cup/marcus-rashford-and-why-it-pays-to-be-young-in-a-world-cup-penalty-shootout-1.1048809

Angelo Trofa talks football concept kits for The Gallery

When it comes to concept kit designs, Angelo Trofa Kit Concepts is something of a godfather. Having designed one of EA SPORTS FIFA's FUT Icons jerseys, his work has shot to prominence, and rightly so. We caught up with the designer to discuss the inspiration behind his work, what makes a great kit, and why Christian Vieri blocked him on Instagram.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/05/angelo-trofa-talks-football-concept-kits-for-the-gallery/

How Ayrton Senna and Brazil's national team helped forge a proud national identity in the early 1990s

In the late 1980s and early-90s, Brazil was a nation rife with social issues boasting a national team that hadn't won the FIFA World Cup in over two decades. Then came Ayrton Senna, Romário Faria and a number of others, flying the flag when it was too often hidden before. A nation rejoiced, found hope, and quickly fell in love.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/07/05/how-ayrton-senna-and-brazils-national-team-helped-forge-a-proud-national-identity-in-the-early-1990s/

Unibet Blog

Though Kylian Mbappé has put in just one truly world class performance at the FIFA World Cup so far, for Unibet, Michael Cox discusses why the French youngster is perfectly primed to win the tournament's coveted Golden Ball award.

Jordan Pickford and Eric Dier were the heroes for England but their penalty win over Colombia at the FIFA World Cup was a win for Gareth Southgate's calm mentality.

https://www.unibet.co.uk/blog/football/world-cup/england-1-1-colombia-three-lions-end-penalty-woe-as-southgate-shows-hes-lucky-as-well-as-impressive-1.1048458

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