Cultured Football #23
Life, loss and 'cosas chingonas'
This might seem tangential to how I usually start off these newsletters but I saw Ted Lasso this week. And loved it. Somehow, it managed to show the big emotions that this game can elicit in people but also that there are more important things in life than winning. Counting the days till Season 2 comes out.
In the meantime, as one of the show’s characters likes to say, football is life!
The Belgian Blueprint
Whatever happens to Belgium during Euro 2020, the journey that led to the formation of this undeniably great side with brilliant talents is a fantastic example of what can be done if people investigate every aspect of the football development journey and consider all possible ideas of doing things differently. And it all started from the despair of being humiliated in a tournament they were hosting.
How the UK’s pursuit of the perfect pitch changed football
When Real Madrid go in for a player, it is very rare that they don’t succeed in getting him. Not even the riches of English football can shield clubs from their approaches as several high profile instances have proven. Their getting Paul Burgess from Arsenal in 2009, however, is not one of those well known cases and there’s a pretty simple reason for that: Burgess is not a player but a groundsman. And yet, that doesn’t make it less important. Nothing about football pitches is less important than what else we see about football, as this surprisingly engaging long article about the subject shows.
The football nomad who became a hero for role in saving Christian Eriksen’s life
Even though he has, by most standards, enjoyed a remarkable career and gotten to play for some great clubs there is always the feeling that Simon Kjaer never fully fulfilled his potential; that he never really managed to make to jump to the truly elite level. Those thoughts, however, paled into insignificance last week as he showed what he is truly made of when he helped save his teammate Christian Eriksen’s life and in the maturity he showed in managing the immediate aftermath. His experience in Seville, a club shaped by a similar tragedy, may have played a role.
The inside story of Raheem Sterling
“Brent is a place where you can hear a hundred languages.” As opening lines go, that’s quite a hook. And this is quite an article. The focus is Raheem Sterling, a kid who grew up in an area where there are few prospects but made it to the top of English football. Yet not everyone seems to appreciate his rags to riches story. There is a story, told in this piece by one of Sterling’s former teachers, about an anecdote he said a journalist in confidence. Even though he had made it clear it should end up in an article, it was used as a headline in a two page spread. It explains the complex and often nasty attitude that exists toward the player. Not enough are willing to admit that “he’s brought all of us joy or sorrow and that’s what brands a special footballer”
Life, loss and 'cosas chingonas': Chicharito's battle for balance and endless search to find himself
For most of us, whether we want to or not, the image of a player is defined by how we see them play and enjoy the riches that come with their profession. It is hard to look beyond that. Christian Eriksen’s heart failure helped change that; it allowed us to understand their frailty as well. So too does this incredible interview with Chicharito Hernandez in which he ruminates about his life and the challenges he’s had, including trying to focus on his job whilst grieving over the death of his grandfather. “That death helped me to love myself, to accept myself, to surrender to a lot of things that I don't have in control.” Rarely does a professional performer open up in this manner.
Last Week’s Most Read
The story of Graeme Souness’ time in Turkey, particularly the moment which saw him plant a giant Galatasaray flag in centre circle was the one most people opted to read last week. If you want to get to know more of that story, you can check it out once more here.