Swan Songs: Diego Tristán at West Ham

WORDS: TOM VICTOR

After his days as a Champions League star with Deportivo had come to an end, Diego Tristán surprised a few when he made the move to Upton Park in 2008 under the management of Gianfranco Zola, and although his stay in East London was not exactly barnstorming, he certainly had his moments…

Italy and the Cult of the Ageing Number 10

WORDS: DOMINIC BLISS

Last weekend was the 22nd anniversary of Francesco Totti’s debut for Roma and, at 38, he continues to produce the moments of magic that have made him not just a club legend but a cult hero for casual fans of Italian football. Yet he is not the only ageing playmaker thriving in the bel paese, far from it…

Walter Petron: The Little Butterfly

WORDS: DOMINIC BLISS

On the 70th anniversary of his tragic death in a wartime air raid, we remember Walter Petron, the delicate Torino playmaker whose mentor was forced out of his job by the fascists and whose own career was stopped in its tracks by the outbreak of war. This is a story of what might have been.

Olivieri, Petron and Gaddoni

Off The Beaten Track: Polish Football Landscapes

PHOTOGRAPHY AND WORDS: PRZEMEK NICIEJEWSKI

Away from the big cities and the major leagues lie Poland’s forgotten football fields and during the off-season they are at their most beautiful. Neglected, they simultaneously blend in and jar with their surroundings, but come the end of the winter break, they will be ready for action once again…

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Julio Libonatti: First of the Oriundi

WORDS: DOMINIC BLISS

Like Lionel Messi, Angel di Maria and Cesar Luis Menotti, he was born in Rosario and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to earn his fortune, but Julio Libonatti’s place in football history was assured when he took advantage of his dual nationality to represent both Argentina and Italy. When the lethal Torino marksmen accepted Mussolini’s offer to become a sporting repatriate, he started a lasting trend…

Libonatti goal

Julian Speroni: Hands of God

WORDS: BRYAN DAVIES

The fans at Selhurst Park call him ‘Manos de Dios’, but it took a while before the safe hands of Julián Speroni were truly appreciated by the many Crystal Palace managers who have come and gone since the Argentinean arrived in south London over 10 years ago. Now he is a bona fide club legend…

Gladbach Away: ‘This Is What Tradition Looks Like’

WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: PRZEMEK NICIEJEWSKI

Following away supporters on the road in European competition can be a colourful hobby for a photographer, so when the hordes of Gladbach travelling fans showed up in sleepy Villarreal, the resulting culture clash was always likely to make for some vibrant images, as our album shows…

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Brian McBride: ‘Fulhamerica’

INTERVIEW: DOMINIC BLISS

Ahead of the United States’ visit to Craven Cottage for tomorrow’s international friendly against Colombia, we spoke to legendary centre-forward Brian McBride about his time at Fulham, the continuing growth of the game in America and the heritage of his old west London stomping ground…

Searching for Erbstein

WORDS: DOMINIC BLISS

Ahead of the launch of my debut book, I began to reflect on the difficulties faced by a writer trying to uncover an untold story. The name Ernő Egri Erbstein means very little even to those of us who claim to know our football history, but the Hungarian Jew who built the Grande Torino was a key influence on the modern game. So why was his story forgotten for so many years?

Stood astride his Lucchese squad

Chair Held High: Mondonico’s Torino

WORDS: PAUL GRECH

In this excerpt from Il Re Calcio: Stories from Italian Football, we take a look back at the resurgent Torino side of Scifo, Casagrande and Lentini, who came so close to European glory in 1992 under the astute management of their underappreciated, chair-wielding coach Emiliano Mondonico…

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