Fábio Rochemback – an Unconventional Middlesbrough Hero


John Nicholson of Football365 looks back fondly at Fábio Rochemback’s Teesside adventure…

Fábio Rochemback only played 68 games for Middlesbrough from 2005-2008 but he made a big impression on our imagination and also on the pitch when he ran around. This was due to being, what physiotherapists and cruel gym teachers like to call, ‘a bit of a fat lad’ and the Teesside, parmo-based diet did nothing to correct this tendency, much to everyone’s delight. We all love a chunky lad, sadly increased levels of professionalism have made him a more rare beast these days.

An ex-Barcelona man, Rocky’s time at the club coincided with its most glorious days in the UEFA Cup. Like all husky-sized men, when he hit the ball, it stayed hit and Rocky liked a punt at goal. Usually these went somewhere other than in the goal, but occasionally, my god, he got it right. His final act in a Boro shirt was to a hit a phenomenal free kick to score the sixth goal in the final game of the 2007/08 season, an 8-1 win against Manchester City. You have never seen a ball hit harder.

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Emerson: Failed Brazilian Promise on Teesside


Mike Brown of Bridlington Free Press profiles the final piece of Middlesbrough’s Brazilian trio of the 1990s…

Signing a Brazilian footballer is always exciting. When that signing is a Brazilian midfield powerhouse, added to a team already boasting a silky Brazilian schemer and a World Cup winning defender, things get more exciting still.

So it’s fair to say that Middlesbrough fans were fairly delirious when Emerson jetted into Teesside in 1996 to join compatriots Juninho and Branco.

The mid 90s were probably the best time to make a foreign signing. Football had undergone its gentrification in the early part of the decade, which reached its nadir post Euro 96, and gave football stadiums up and down the land a decidely more continental, or at least cosmopolitan, feel. There was enough European football on TV to whet our appetite, but not enough to saturate.

It was a time before a fanbase could call up any given player’s career statistics at the touch of a button, before one internet message board dweller reveals that he can speak fluent Portuguese then painstakingly translates every tweet said player has ever sent.

It was also long before the time when a career could be chewed up and spat out on the back of one heavily edited YouTube clip.

So while excitement was the prevailing feeling when Emerson Moisés Costa stepped out for his debut at the Riverside in Willie Maddren’s testimonial match against Inter Milan, most didn’t quite know what to expect. Continue reading

Branco: From World Cup Winner to Middlesbrough Outcast


Mike Brown, reporter for Bridlington Free Press, profiles World Cup ’94 winner Branco and his time on Teeside…

Football fans everywhere, imagine the scene if you can.

Before Chelsea, and Manchester City, and all those French clubs made it boring, a wildly rich and benevolent owner is bestowing millions of pounds of his own money on your club in order to gatecrash the top table, challenge for honours, and compete for the world’s top stars. Even better, this man is not a shady oil baron, but a local lad made good.

Then imagine him installing a world renowned football icon as player manager, getting promoted in your first season, then moving being the first club in decades to move to a purpose built new stadium.

Along the way you’re signing international forwards from Norway, Denmark, England, Italy and Brazil.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Continue reading

This One’s for the Neutrals


Can we work out who is the Premier League’s ‘most neutral’ team? David Wild puts it to the test…

‘This is one for the neutrals’; English football has thrown this phrase our way an awful lot recently.  If we look at some recent cases from the League and FA Cup we can see in the cup runs of Bradford and Oldham a classic example of a national complex; the celebration of the plucky underdog.

When we see a team performing in a way that we admire our hearts go out to them, they achieve a kind of universal admiration. In these cases the admiration came from both teams performing beyond the expectations of teams of their quality in beating premier league opposition. Continue reading

Ten Years of the January Transfer Window


2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the January Transfer Window, Freddie Mickshik looks at some of the transfers that have become part of football folklore…

It’s the start of 2013, which aside from futile resolutions and intense hangovers means the opening of the January transfer window, as it celebrates its 10th anniversary. This mid-season shopping window gives managers the chance to add to their squad and potentially find those extra few goals or tighten a shaky back four enough to secure a title or beat the drop. The shortness and timing of it, however, means the new year sees many a panic buy  (Savio anyone? Thought not.)

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