Players

Nothing unusual about a teenage player keeping a record of progress, except when he is a future European Footballer of the Year. In an extract from a feature first published in the Dutch magazine Hard Gras, Hugo Borst describes the contents of Marco van Basten's diary

Joop van Basten now lives alone in the house in Utrecht where he raised his family. His sons Marco and Stanley (named after Stanley Matthews) have moved out. Several times a day Mr Van Basten visits his wife in a mental home – a stroke depriving her of her mind in 1985 – and in Marco’s old room, he maintains a shrine to his son’s career.

Osasu Obayiuwana surveys some of the pitfalls that lie in wait for African players hoping to pursue careers in Europe

Top quality African players are appearing in Europe in increasing numbers but amongst all the success stories, like George Weah and Finidi George, are just as many tales of hardship, of players whose naïvete on financial issues has been taken advantage of by rapacious clubs or business managers.

Tom Davies argues that the one-year ban imposed on Leyton Orient's Roger Stanislaus for pre-match drug taking is both unfair and inconsistent

Two of the symptoms widely attributed to cocaine use are paranoia and confusion. Similar feelings can be experienced at a fraction of the cost by trying to make sense of the contradictory reasons given for Roger Stanislaus’s year-long banishment from the game. Stanislaus has been banned by the FA because a test after Orient’s 0-3 defeat at Barnet on November 25th found “performance-enhancing” levels of cocaine in his blood. He was subsequently sacked by Leyton Orient in order, basically, to set an example to the kids. Football must be seen to be whiter than white, said chairman Barry Hearn, making no reference to the FA’s implication that Stanislaus was a cheat.

No style magazine worthy of the name would go to press without at least one feature about supermodels, Britpop, Hollywood hunks and... Liverpool players. John Williams got past the security on the door to ask a few questions

More years ago than you would care, or want, to remember, the great Merseyside net-buster, Bill ‘Dixie’ Dean, visited Pathé News in Soho to be interviewed for some football cinema coverage. Dixie once jumped into the crowd at White Hart Lane to smack a local racist and, after a serious road accident, was also popularly thought in the city to have had a steel plate inserted into his head, thus accounting for his thunderbolt headers that started out somewhere near Garston.

We'd just been wondering whether we'd ever had a feature extolling a much-maligned ginger-haired striker, when Davy Millar offered a tribute to the singular Iain Dowie

Each generation of footballers produces its own crop of heroes, the men whose talents single them out for mass adulation. The rest can briefly rise to national prominence only by persistently psychotic tackling or by becoming a national joke. Iain Dowie is a select member of this group. Ridiculed by lazy comedians and desperate fanzine editors, he is doubly cursed as his physical appearance is considered as amusing as his performance on the pitch. Everybody now knows that he is an anti-Adonis with the footballing ability of a carthorse in labour.

Mick Slatter looks back at one of Liberia's greatest ever role models

George Oppong Weah is a disarmingly nice guy. He may have bagged the hat-trick of African, European and World Footballer of The Year, yet remains humble. He still has a common touch, passes on much of his sizable earnings and still allows journalists to get closer to him than most Serie A sweepers.

Lance Bellers remembers Harry Cripps, who passed away on December 29, 1995

’Arry Cripps was the best player ever to have a name beginning with an apostrophe. Born as Henry Richard Cripps in Norfolk during the war, it merely took a move to East London to give him his proper and rightful name. Kicking off his football career at West Ham, he played just one senior game for the Hammers – against Millwall. Between that Southern Floodlit Cup fixture in 1956 and an eventual move to Charlton in 1974, ’Arry Boy fitted in 447 appearances for the Lions and won the hearts of the Millwall faithful.

Leeds' determination to sign a striker from Parma has finally paid off. Worth a small tribute, we reckon

Get out the carpet bowls and rustle up a hearty chorus of ‘Ilkley Moor Bart T’at’, at long last, Leeds United are victors in Europe. The country’s favourite West Yorkshire yeomen have suffered more than most at the hands of tricksy continental opponents in recent years, but Howard Wilkinson has finally worked out how to take on the best foreign teams and persuade them to part with one of their best players.

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