Players

Two fans debate over whether Sol Campbell's controversial move from Tottenham to north London rivals Arsenal was a betrayal

Yes ~
The reaction of Spurs fans to Sol Campbell’s decision to join Arsenal has been taken as more evidence of our taste for whingeing. But I’d argue we have a point, and one that should concern all football fans. I’m not condoning the pond life who strung an effigy of Campbell up outside White Hart Lane. But while it’s important to get the reaction in proportion, it’s also vital to see why anger is a justifiable res­ponse to football’s own Shaun Woodward.

David Rocastle died of cancer on March 30, aged 33. Sean Hanson looks back on the life and career, both all too brief, of the Arsenal and Engalnd star

It was on the fields of Beckenham Place Park in south-east London, playing schools and park foot­ball, that the young David Rocastle began to shine, and any­one watching knew he was going to be some­thing special. A few years later, he was signing school­boy forms at Arsenal, a contemporary of Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Michael Thomas and Gus Caesar.

What more is there to say about Stan Collymore? David Wangerin takes up the challenge and comes to the conclusion that he simply ended up in the wrong job

Should have, would have, could have. Dalian At­kinson springs to mind. All the tools you could want: strong, quick, good in the air, a nose for goal and al­ways capable of the extraordinary. Should have been an England regular, could have guided Aston Villa to a championship or two, would have been one of the top strikers the club has ever seen. Drag out the video of his wonder-goal at Selhurst Park in 1992, the one where he runs through the entire Wimbledon team and plants the ball in the net with such graceful nonchalance. Even the strains of Clive Tyldesley’s post facto commentary can’t re­move the lustre of such genius.

The proliferation of cases involving players with fake passports has led to questions being raised about the right of many foreign-born footballer to play in Europe. But, as Pierre Lanfranchi and Matthew Taylor argue, dual nationality itself is not the issue

Nationality, as certain European football clubs are discovering to their cost, is not necessarily a straightforward matter. Just ask fans of St Etienne, who saw their club drop five places in the French league in January when the league’s judicial commission judged that two of the club’s players, the Brazilian Alex and the Ukrainian Maxim Levitsky, had been using false European Union passports. The initial penalty of seven points was first reduced on appeal then reinstated, making their position one place off the bottom of the league even more perilous

As the Real Madrid star picks up European Player of the Year, Phil Town explains why they're still not happy in Portugal

“An act of justice!” declared the new Port­uguese sports minister, José Lello. He might have been describing his appointment in place of Armando Vara, forced out following a scan­dal involving pub­lic funds. But he was, of course, talking about Luis Figo winning the Golden Ball, the European Player of the Year award organised by France Football.

Tony Cascarino's exceptional autobiography tells some harsh truths about himself and about players' lives, says Dave Hill

Oh boy. Hark at this: “It has often been said that the joy of scoring goals is greater than sex but personally I’d compare it more with masturbation. I’ve always found sex to be an absolute pleasure, but scoring goals has only ever brought relief.” The search for relief – by foot rather than by hand – and the misery of not finding it, is the key theme and metaphor of this book: a book which, at its best, is almost unbearable.

Diego Maradona's new book has been the talk of Argentina. Chris Moss found few surprises in it

When it comes to resurrection, Diego Maradona is up there with the saints and prophets. Banned from playing for cocaine abuse, then ephedrine-laced cock­tails and now under doctor’s orders, hopeless as a manager, aged 40 but looking 50, he has turned to lit­erature. A new autobiography, Yo Soy El Diego (I am Diego), to be published in Britain next spring, is the edited recordings of chat, babble and bluster taped in Cuba by two “journalist friends” from Buenos Aires

Foreigners both obscure and notorious are flooding into Scotland. Gary Oliver suggests some clubs may have bought better than others

If Jim McLean is proved to have cut the lip of BBC reporter John Barnes, it will be a rare instance of a Dundee United man hitting the target this season. The team, like the former manager and chairman, has become a parody of its former self. At Tannadice there no longer appears to be a quality control department, and the club is recruiting increasingly obscure foreign players of dubious ability.

Britain's Asians are vastly under-represented in professional football. Peter Briley and Laura Manning report on an emerging footballing community 

There is not one professional first team foot­baller from Britain’s 2.3 million Asian com­munity. It is widely agreed that the main factors contributing to this absence have included the lack of Asian parental acceptance of football as a legitimate profession, the fear of racism within the game and, most importantly, scouts short-sightedly disregarding Asian areas and leagues.

Harry Pearson remembers the player and man who still casts a shadow over Teesside

For many of us who grew up around Teesside in the Sixties and Seventies, Wilf Mannion was a source of considerable youthful irritation. The older generation of Middlesbrough fan made it abundantly clear that those of us who had not had the privilege to see the blond inside forward play had missed a vital part of our footballing education and would therefore never be competent to pass any judgment on the game whatsoever. Any praise for a modern star was routinely dismissed by an unflattering comparison with the South Bank-born genius. It was as well Mannion was capable of lacing his own boots, for it was widely held that no one else was fit to do it for him.

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