Explosive. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs the only way to describe the February 2013 issue of FourFourTwo, out now digitally and in print. No other word would suffice after our PlayersÃ¢ÂÂ Poll Ã¢ÂÂ except maybe Ã¢ÂÂBlimey!Ã¢ÂÂ
Under the condition of anonymity, our survey of 100 professional footballers in England and Scotland threw up some incredible results. More than half told us pro players use drugs. A similar number have witnessed racism on the pitch, while one in six say match-fixing goes on.
A quarter donÃ¢ÂÂt mind losing as long as they have a good game, eight out of 10 say depression is a problem among footballers, three-quarters say match tickets cost too much and two-thirds agree that players can get their manager sacked.
And... well, we donÃ¢ÂÂt want to give too much away, although we did write a news story with some eye-opening revelations. But if you want to know what players really think about fans, fame, racism, match-fixing, gay players, diving and influencing referees, this is a must-read.
We also spoke anonymously to a manager, a referee, a chief exec and a physio Ã¢ÂÂ plus our regular columnist The Player Ã¢ÂÂ for the truth about being in the beautiful game. Read about the gaffer who risked player injury, referees who take the easy way out and what itÃ¢ÂÂs like for a manager to be sacked.
But football can still make your heart swell with hope. Our One-on-One this month reveals how a kid on the Peckham estates can become a Champions League winner and England captain... via a bit of ballet. Rio Ferdinand answers your questions and reveals all about his ban for missing a drugs test, facing off against a hooded gang and his finest moments for club and country.
Rio wasnÃ¢ÂÂt at Manchester UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs return to Galatasaray (because he was talking to FFT!)... but we were. Our intrepid reporter revisited Istanbul as they played there once again 19 years after the Red Devils were welcomed to Hell and recalls one of the most hostile environments an English team has ever seen.
And the insights keep on coming. We infiltrate the secret meetings of clubs and agents in the Wyscout Forum, the speed-dating of football Ã¢ÂÂ and the future of the transfer window.
Why are there still no gay footballers at the highest level, when players have come out in cricket, rugby, basketball and more? ThatÃ¢ÂÂs what we ask former NBA star John Amaechi and his thoughts are enlightening: the problem is in boardrooms, not dressing rooms.
After something a little lighter? Then have a gander at the 28 funniest stories youÃ¢ÂÂve never heard: hilarious anecdotes from our reporters from their collective decades in the industry. Maradona playing night-vision golf, Noel Whelan forgetting who he is, the day FFT called Posh Spice a minger...itÃ¢ÂÂs a cracking read.
Elsewhere, we meet the man who can make you a millionaire. Tony Ansell says he knows Ã¢ÂÂbugger allÃ¢ÂÂ about football but he brings in six-figure sums every year betting on the game. How does he do it? And how can you get in on the action? Read and find out.
WeÃ¢ÂÂve all heard how hard it is to retire from football. Now imagine what itÃ¢ÂÂs like to be forced to stop doing what youÃ¢ÂÂre best at and find a whole new career... when youÃ¢ÂÂre a twentysomething. We find out from Rob Jones, Richie Pitt and Lee Hendrie about life after football and the riches it brings.
In 2004, nine Leicester City players were arrested on a false accusation of rape while on a training camp in Spain. They were lined up while a lawyer told them Ã¢ÂÂYou, free; you, jail.Ã¢ÂÂ How did this happen? FFT reveals the truth about La Manga.
ThereÃ¢ÂÂs plenty more, of course, in a bulging February issue. Fabrice Muamba tells us of his future plans, Shakhtar star Willian reveals his desperation to move to London and we have the story of how the London Olympics destroyed Hackney Marshes, while in Performance, Olivier Giroud, Danny Simpson and Leandro Damiao share their tips.
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The February 2013 issue of FourFourTwo was brought to you by 100 anonymous professional players, Rio Ferdinand, Bobby Gould, Fabrice Muamba, Michael Kightly, Gary Pallister, Danny Simpson, Leandro Damiao, Olivier Giroud, Michel Salgado, Lee Hendrie, Jack Midson, Julian Dicks, Christopher Drazan, Dexter Blackstock, Richie Pitt, Willian, Rob Jones, James Scowcroft, Robbie Savage, NeymarÃ¢ÂÂs brother, Olympic gold medal-winning boxer Anthony Joshua, the Crystal Palace cheerleaders, the transfer window movers and shakers, secret hooligans and the kit man who smuggled Jose Mourinho out of Stamford Bridge.