The Giant From Portugal

A football club usually owes its popularity to regional factors and its sporting achievements. Benfica, known worldwide as the giant from Portugal, are no exception. In fact, one of the main reasons for Benfica’s incomparable popularity in their home country is their achievements since the club’s early years. The Reds have won the most championships…

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Leave Them Kids Alone

There are moments in life when you just know you have over-stepped the boundaries of appropriate adult behavior. In my case it was shouting ‘For fuck’s sake, don’t make that fat twat look like Messi!’ during a tense under-10s league match in which my son was playing. For one second shame overcame me at the…

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Pickles Meets MCWFC

A slightly dreich morning at Sale Sharks’ AJ Bell Stadium, and I’m here to meet some of the stars of England’s best performance in an international tournament in 45 years. I’m shown into a small, tiled changing room and there, sitting on the floor against the wall, knees drawn up to her chest, is England’s…

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The Team Who Stole The World Cup

“The most chaotic, disorganised and ramshackle tournament in history” is how one publication described the World Cup in Brazil. Not the 2014 edition, with its concerns over stadiums, protests and transport – but the one in 1950, which was something else altogether. Blighted by teams withdrawing for dubious reasons, not technically having a final and…

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An Italian Lesson

Autumn 1994. I arrived in Padua, a small town in the north eastern corner of Italy and about a 20-minute train journey from Venice. I was a 21 year-old student of Italian and had never heard of the place – it had been drawn out of a hat by 2 members of staff in the…

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