TFN editor James Dutton looks back at how the 2014 World Cup helped him at a time of personal loss…
I don’t know what I’d have done without the 2014 World Cup. I owe it a lot. I shouldn’t love it, I should hate it and the time in my life it represents. But I don’t, and all it reminds me of is the enduring power of sport and the unerring truth that the World Cup is the greatest show on earth. It first brought me joy as a 7-year-old. It still brings me joy as a 27-year-old. And four years ago it brought me back from my lowest ebb.
Did it really happen? Four years have passed, reality has had enough time to sink in and yet that irrepressible thought can never be shaken. Maybe it never happened.
It’s childish fantasy. I was there, I watched it happen. I can still see it now. I will never forget it. Woken early in the morning to be told ‘this is it’, and for that to really be it within a few tear-drenched minutes was a pit I never want to return to.
We were prepared for it. Some people are never fortunate enough to know the end is coming. Luck is hardly the right word in this scenario, but we were lucky to have the final few weeks to prepare for it, at home, the family all together.Continue reading →
TFN’s Alastair Nasmyth is sceptical of football’s growing obsession with statistics…
Football has always been surprisingly suspicious of new technology. How long after cricket did we finally start seeing Hawkeye technology used for goal line disputes (it’s so simple and they also keep pigeons off the pitch)? Will football ever join the majority of professional sports that use television replays? Or is a can of shaving foam the only form help we’re willing to give the men trying to do the impossible job? While the authorities have treated scientific advances and their potential applications in the game in the same way that my Nan treats her mobile phone (used at arms length and with a look of worry on her face like it might explode in her hand), everyone else connected with the sport is embracing it with open arms, and no one more so than the statisticians. Continue reading →
TFN’s Kyle Hulme analyses USA’s 2-1 victory over Ghana…
The people of the United States are no strangers to history; they can proudly recall how they threw off the shackles of the British in 1776, name the field commanders of the Civil War and talk with intrigue and pride about the Battle of the Alamo. But after last night, perhaps they will have a new historical event to talk about around dinner tables and in classrooms up and down the country – the night soccer established itself as a part of their national identity.
Americans are no strangers to rivalries either – ask any hockey fan and they’ll explain how nothing feels better than getting one over the Russians or the Canadians – and last night another ghost was laid to rest. Ghana may seem like an unlikely rival, given that the two countries have no historic problems and they are separated by oceans and thousands of miles, but the Black Stars have been a thorn in the side of the US soccer team for years, bettering them in the group stage in 2006 and knocking them out with a goal in extra time in 2010. Ghana were a demon in long need of exorcising. But last night the US rewrote history, triumphing under a siege of Alamo proportions and moving one giant leap closer to the initially unlikely progression from their “group of death”. Continue reading →
Ahead of Portugal’s opener against Germany, Hugo Greenhalgh looks at one player who didn’t make the cut…
Ever since the appointment of Jose Mourinho as Chelsea manager, there has been an obvious and sustained Portuguese imprint that lasted at the club for around a decade. The easily forgettable Filipe Oliveira predated his arrival, but he quickly brought in his able lieutenants from Porto, Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira, while Tiago Mendes joined from Benfica. In 2006, Hilario was added as a back-up goalkeeper and two seasons later, after Mourinho had left, Jose Bosingwa and Deco were signed.
During that 2008/9 season, another Portuguese also joined the ranks on loan in the January window. A one-time prodigy, Ricardo Quaresma had been playing for Inter, incidentally under Mourinho, but his time in Italy had not been particularly happy. Very much a ‘style over substance’ player, Quaresma was criticised for his lack of effort and suffered the indignity of winning the Bidone d’Oro award for the worst footballer in Serie A for 2008. Continue reading →
TFN’s Ethan Meade takes a look at some of the African hopes at the 2014 World Cup…
“An African nation will win the World Cup before the year 2000” – Pele, 1977
“What Pele saw was the physical attributes that African players have, but what he probably didn’t take into consideration is the mentality necessary to win the World Cup. It’s not just about physical ability, it’s about your mentality.” – John Barnes, 2014
Pele’s bold prediction of 1977 has fallen somewhat short in the intervening years. The furthest an African team has reached is the quarter-final – the Roger Milla-inspired Cameroon side of 1990, and Ghana in 2010, denied by penalty heartbreak for Asamoah Gyan. This time around, Pele’s prophecy looks unlikely to be fulfilled. That said, in Nigeria and Ivory Coast, they boast two potential heavyweight’s in Brazil, whilst an enigmatic Algerian side will be joined by perennial challengers Ghana and Cameroon. Continue reading →
Making his TFN debut, Alastair Nasmyth explores the paradox of expectations ahead of the 2014 World Cup…
As we approach the World Cup (sorry Sepp, The FIFA World Cup™) the world’s media is unwittingly (or perhaps not) doing its part as FIFA’s marketing mercenaries, ratcheting up the anticipation.
Articles such as: “Best World Cup Goals Ever” by Emile Heskey (to clarify it would be him picking them not a collection of his own), “How to win a penalty shootout” by Terry Venables, “My favorite World Cup socks” by Calvin Klein and “How to get the perfect Pitch” by Alan Titchmarsh clog up server space and squat in newspaper columns.
If we lived in a sane world this level of build up would only be seen for one off events like the Second Coming and I’m talking son of god, deity-type events not disappointing second albums or Robbie Fowler. The only thing that comes close to the disproportionate media hysteria is the hysteria over how disproportionate the media is being only adding fuel to the fire by giving the publicity publicity. Continue reading →