Players

Not all footballers crave the spotlight. James Wilson has realised that Faustino Asprilla is happier away from media attention

Colombia do not play their home games in the capital, Bogotá. Instead they have adopted Barranquilla, a coastal city of tropical languor, as their base. It is a welcoming city. Gabriel Garcia Marquez once lived in a brothel here. Outside the Dann, the nondescript suburban hotel where the players were staying before flying off to Paraguay for the World Cup game, a banner strung across the street said: “The Colombian squad is here.” So were a lot of military police.

More tales of footballers privileged to meet WSC readers

“On a train from Birmingham to Manchester about seven years ago I saw legendary imbiber Paul McGrath. As we were both travelling ‘oop north’, I assumed he was on his way to see his Mum. Anyway, it was about 9am and he looked as if he had had a few gallons the night before, lounging in his seat looking surly and very hung over. I took the opportunity not to speak to him.”
Ian Peddie

He could have retired, he could even be dead. But Nwankwo Kanu's career has been resumed, as Osasu Obayiuwana explains

With the flurry of media hype surrounding the transfer of Ronaldo from Barcelona to Internazionale, you might have assumed that the Brazilian would be holding court on Sunday 27th July on his first appearance at the San Siro in a friendly against Manchester United. But the Milanese fans reserved their loudest applause for the 80th minute emergence of Nwanko Kanu, who had overcome supposedly insurmountable odds to resume his playing career.

One of Martin Cloake's favourite players could be set to leave Tottenham - Ronny Rosenthal

Everyone has their own opinion about which players could truly be classed as entertainers, the ones who send a shiver of excitement through the crowd whenever they touch the ball. But I’ll bet there’s a name who wouldn’t feature on any list, one of the most extraordinary players ever to pull on a Spurs shirt – Ronny Rosenthal.

Non-league football has traditionally been full of bald players. Simon Bell wonders if that is still the case

Anyone who picked up a local newspaper in Surrey in the week after Woking’s 2-1 FA Trophy semi-final win over Stevenage Borough would have been greeted by an uplifting sight: planning permission has been granted for a new public toilet in Chobham. And this isn’t all. If they’d turned to the back page, they’d have seen Woking scorers Clive Walker and Andy Ellis in a joyful, idiot-grinning, gloriously hairless embrace.

Cris Freddi looks at the history of the hairless footballer, and whether they are still around abroad

A bald fact: there weren’t many of them in the very early days of the game, partly because relatively few players won any caps after leaving university. Only when international careers grew longer did hairlines began to recede.

More player spots

“I saw Gary Lineker at a whisky promo in the British Embassy in Tokyo. He wasn’t very easy to spot as he was surrounded by a load of middle-class wankers pretending to like football. I was nervous like a kid and it took me ages to work up the balls to speak to him. I shook his hand and asked him what he felt like when he equalized against Germany. He said that he felt the same way that I did. So I told him I was German. Well I didn’t, but I thought of the reply 10 minutes later.”
John Tumilty

Matt Nation offers a brief lesson in the correct and incorrect uses of some important footballing terms

There exists a type of elderly gentleman – a neighbour, perhaps, or one’s maternal grandfather – whose singular unpleasantness lends credence to the argument that the good old days were not all they are cracked up to be. Yet when spoken of by third parties, their overall lugubriousness is interpreted as old-fashioned plain speaking that the younger generation cannot even begin to understand. Mercifully, most of these elderly gentlemen are not former footballers, for the additional cap-doffing, spittle-licking and general kowtowing that occurs when anyone of a certain age plays football as well is as widespread as it is obscene as it is wrong.

Simon Kuper pays a 50th birthday tribute to Dutch legend Johan Cruyff

This month the Dutch celebrate two birthdays. 30th April, the day that Juliana, the Queen Mother, Iights her candles is traditionally the main national holiday, with market stalls, beer and orange flags.

Rogan Taylor explains the enduring appeal of a football genius and the era he came to represent

When Ferenc Puskas came to London recently to launch a new book about his life, there was a lunch organized at Wembley to celebrate his approaching 70th birthday. Sir Stanley Matthews turned out to honour the great Hungarian player, along with Jackie Sewell and George Robb. All three were members of that England team which was taught a footballing lesson back in 1953, when Puskas and his mates beat them 6-3.

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