Players

Matthew Barker looks at Silvio Berlusconi's role in the Kaka saga and at what it says about Milan's diminishing status

Silvio Berlusconi broke the news during a televised phone interview that Kaka had decided not to leave Milan. “Ricky said to me, ‘there are more important things in life than just money,’” he gushed. “It’s as if we’ve won another Champions League.” If only, thought watching rossoneri fans. That the Brazilian was staying may have prompted celebrations in the Lombard capital, but the red-and-black half of the city has had little to smile about of late.

When Danny Brady found out his sister's boyfriend was an ex-pro he feared the worst. This is what happened when they met...

When I first discovered that my big sister had started going out with a retired footballer, two thoughts bubbled up into my mind: “Ooh, I hope he’s minted and still gets tickets”; and “Please God, don’t let it be Frank Worthington”. Because in the mind of the general public, it’s either/or when it comes to retired footballers. They either spend their time sitting on a throne made out of bricks of £50 notes, or they’re scowling at the world behind a paper-shop counter or run-down bar, gazing wistfully at faded cuttings from The Pink ’Un on the wall.

David Norris's goal celebration in support of jailed friend Luke McCormick upset many, including the bereaved family. Csaba Abrahall reports

Shortly after his former team-mate Luke McCormick had been imprisoned for causing the deaths of ten-year-old Arron Peak and his brother Ben, eight, in a drink-driving accident, Ipswich midfielder David Norris told the local Evening Star newspaper that he intended to stand by McCormick, a close friend from their time together at Plymouth, while insisting: “I don’t want to do anything that causes them [the Peak family] upset.” These are two aims he seems to have had immediate difficulty in reconciling.

Former star Stefano Borgonovo has motor neurone disease and, as Matthew Barker explains, some wonder if football is to blame

On October 8, a team of Fiorentina veterans played a Milan XI made up of current and former players, in a fund-raising match for Stefano Borgonovo. Now 44, Borgonovo is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or motor neurone disease (MND), a condition that progressively paralyses the body when nerves that connect the brain to the spinal cord, and then to the muscles, die off. There is no known cause, with the majority of victims dying within two to three years of first falling ill.

Mark Bosnich is back in the headlines – and for all the right reasons so far, as Matthew Hall reports

“They say you don’t truly miss something, or know how much it meant to you, until it’s gone or taken away from you... and I have missed it.” And with that, Mark Bosnich, aged 36, returned to professional football, if signing a seven-week contract with Australian A-League club Central Coast Mariners can be considered anything of a return.

Kenny Miller has just rejoined Rangers, causing more than one eyebrow to be raised in Glasgow, reports Douglas Beattie

A funny thing happened to Walter Smith during the white-knuckle run-in to last season’s Scottish ­Premier League. A desperate 1-1 draw at Motherwell had just put the title back in Celtic’s hands and yet immediately afterwards the Rangers manager was being asked on television about rumours that Scotland striker Kenny Miller was a summer transfer target. Smith bristled before tersely dismissing the question.

Owen Amos talks to an English youth player about his surprising career move to Italy 

What happens when a 16-year-old is released from a big club? He might learn a trade and pick up £100 every Saturday in non-League football. Or he could write for trials and, with luck, move to the professional periphery. Kris ­Thackray, from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, did differently. The 20-year-old has just signed his first professional deal with Reggina, in Serie A, after spending two years in their youth team.

As Paul Gascoigne ploughs through the worst days of his life, he is totally and utterly alone. But then he always was, reflects Taylor Parkes

“Cries for help” don’t come any more blatant than cancelling a steak on room service but asking them to send up the knife, then attempting to drown yourself in front of the policemen who have broken down your hotel-room door, and sure enough he has been swamped in goodwill. The fact is, most of it is worse than useless (“Gareth Southgate has called on Paul Gascoigne’s friends to save the fallen star in his darkest hour,” reports the Daily Mail, as if that meant anything). While the back pages weep and fret, or offer worthless diagnoses, the news boys dig for gold: Gazza was begging in street, blared the Sun. “He tried to buy a Ferrari then his trousers fell down.” (In case we wondered, the article confirmed that “he was wearing no underwear”.) This reaction, all heat and no light, is as miserably predictable as the breakdown itself.

Johan Cruyff's latest revelation has only added to the idea that things are not always as they seem with the Dutch genius, says Derek Brookman

A 30-year-old story recently exploded back into life when Johan Cruyff gave what would appear to be the definitive explanation for his non-participation in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

Ken Monkou was one of the first in a flood of Dutch players to move to Britain. Thomas Blom charts the career of one of football's unsung stars 

You may as well blame the Dutch for England failing to qualify for the European Championship finals. No fewer than 158 Dutchmen have come over to supplant local players since English clubs were permitted to sign foreigners in 1978. After George Boateng, the humble, uncapped Ken Monkou is the Dutchman who has made the most top-flight appearances (280 in total). Monkou joined Chelsea in 1989 and played 94 League games (two in Division Two) before moving on to Southampton. He was named player of the year by his club’s supporters no fewer than five times over the course of his career – twice at Chelsea and three times at Southampton – so it’s no wonder he likes life in England and has stayed put. From his base in Harrogate in the Yorkshire Dales (All Creatures Great and Small was always his favourite TV show), he keeps a distant eye on his recently purchased pancake restaurant in the Dutch town of Delft.

Sign up to the WSC Weekly Howl - a small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday