Cultured Football #20
Best football games ever
Most leagues have now come to an end and the only major club competition left to decide is tonight’s Champions League (assuming that you’re reading this when it goes out). Unsurprisingly then, this week’s issue of Cultured Football is somewhat dominated by a look at some of this season’s success stories. There are, I think, some really good ones here.
Free croissants and Iran’s dissidents
I love Harry Pearson. Few can use mundane matters to generate nostalgia and longing as he can or are as capable at highlighting details for their comic value. Take this snippet from this article on reporting from the 1998 World Cup in France: “I stayed in cheap hotels I’d found in the Le Routard guide. Some of them were charming, others were so like old people’s homes you half expected to find a mug with false teeth in it next to the bed. Not that it was a chore. After all, I was in France, I was watching football and I was getting paid for it.” Great, eh?
David Wotherspoon's story told through the words of his mum and dad
It hasn’t received nearly as much coverage as it deserves (although many will have seen manger Callum Davidson’s celebratory slide that went viral), and it is an incredible pity that the achievement wasn’t witnessed by fans, but St Johnstone winning the two domestic Scottish cups truly is an incredible feat. For club captain David Wotherspoon it was literally a dream come true seeing that this was the club he had supported all his life. He couldn’t contain his emotions after the Scottish Cup final so who better than his parents to tell his life story?
Lille enjoy French title win but maintaining success may be impossible
Speaking of incredible achievements, the story of Lille winning the French league despite the whole club falling to pieces and the financial might of Paris St Germain should be as celebrated as Leicester’s success in the Premier League a few years back. Unlike Leicester, however, it is unlikely that Lille will use this success to build on. Most of their star players are likely to be sold off (goalkeeper Mike Maignan has already joined AC Milan) and the manager who guided them to this success has left.
Atlético Madrid win it the hard way
They might not be pleasing on the eye but it is impossible not to admire Atletico Madrid’s league title win. The same goes for their manager Diego Simeone who stuck with the club even though he’s had plenty of opportunities to join clubs with more resources to win another title seven years after the first. All of that, however, would have been unlikely had Barcelona not decided that Luis Suarez was surplus to their requirements and let him leave on a free transfer.
Best football games ever
As someone who spent (wasted?) hours playing Emlyn Hughes International Soccer and Championship Manager, I wholeheartedly approve of this list of the best football games ever. That said, top spot was a bit of a surprise…
Las Week’s Most Read
Thirty years ago, Sampdoria became the champions of Italian football – then undoubtedly the best league in Europe – for the first and, so far, only time. It was a huge success for this somewhat unheralded club that had over a span of years put together an incredible team thanks to a visionary owner in Paolo Mantovani and the brilliant coaching Vujadin Boskov. The stars of that team were, undoubtedly, Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini who had such an understanding on the pitch that they were nicknamed ‘i gemelli del gol’, their goal twins.