FFT Sneak Peek: Balotelli, Pellegrini, Fandi Ahmad, England's first foreign legion...

The new issue of FourFourTwo means an exclusive sit-down with everyone's favourite Mario, our exclusive chat with Manuel Pellegrini, England's first foreign legion, David Ginola answering fan questions, Fandi Ahmad’s return to his homeland and is passion all it's cracked up to be?

In the new issue of the world’s greatest football magazine, we sit down for a rare chat with Milan maestro and former Manchester City headline-pleaser Mario Balotelli. When FFT heads to Italy to meet the madcap Italian, we're not sure what to expect – will we get the player whose entertaining antics wreaked havoc in England, or the misunderstood genius hoping to set Brazil alight at the World Cup this summer? 

In the end it's a bit of both – and who'd have it any other way? Naturally, there is one burning question we want answered for our readers: who is the real Mario Balotelli? In an enlightening session with the Milan goal-getter, we have a stab at getting to the bottom of it all. Is he the world's greatest? Will we see him back in the Premier League one day? Can we have that t-shirt off him please? Sadly there's only one 'yes' to those – but we're pretty sure you'll be pleased with it...

If Manchester City fans weren't bowled over by Manuel Pellegrini succeeding Roberto Mancini at the Etihad, they almost certainly are now. Despite managing Real Madrid in between successful stints at Villarreal and Malaga, the Chilean still arrived in England as something as an unknown quantity. Was he really the man to wrench the title back off Manchester United after last season's dismal attempts at defending it?

So far it's looking good for the man they call The Engineer. City are demolishing all in their wake at home, and are on course to break the million-goal barrier before the season's end (honestly, ask those number folk). FFT heads to Manchester to find out how it's all been possible, from the man who knows best. 
 

"Pah! All them foreigners taking our jobs..." In 1978, when the European Community ruled that football clubs couldn't deny access to players based on nationality anymore, a new revolution was born. Tottenham snapped up Argentine crowd-pleasers Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, Sheffield United signed inspirational Alex Sabella after snubbing Diego Maradona, and Ipswich were wowed with Dutch duo Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen. They were the first of many, and, after many a raised eyebrow, sparked an exciting new wave of truly sexy football...

Although he didn’t manage to play in England during his playing career, Fandi Ahmad wrote himself into Southeast Asian sporting folklore when he scored against Italian giants Inter Milan in a UEFA Cup match in 1983, a feat that hasn’t been matched since. Now coaching the LionsXII in the Malaysian Super League, local fans will be undeniably expecting him to pull off another Fandi special. Is he worried about the expectations? Not at all as he shares with FFT  in an exclusive interview.

"RUN BERBA, ****ING RUN." You've all heard it before [insert your player for the loveable Dimitar], with plenty of other fruity words for company. But does it really matter if your star striker doesn't look arsed when he scores a goal? FFT speaks to the men who've been there and done it - including former Liverpool man Jamie Carragher and ex-Toon favourite Micky Quinn – to discover if it's worth the stress...

Speaking of passion, the one guy whose spirit and enthusiasm cannot be questioned is K. Reuben. Not only did the ATM right-back play in six different competitions for club and country last year, he did it while studying for his university courses and helping his parents to manage their orphanage. Is he, like what Malaysian football fans have nicknamed him, a tank? Maybe. We catch up with the ATM right-back after his recent ACL surgery.

If there's one thing you can't accuse David Ginola of, it's shirking a question. "When I speak to people they listen to me," the Frenchman tells FFT. So we do, as he recalls his best stories from a 17-year career which took in entertaining spells at Newcastle, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Everton. Could he have ditched Newcastle for Barcelona and Arsenal? Will he ever make up with Gerard Houllier? Why didn't he get more France caps? 

We also bring you an exclusive with Bayern Munich stopper Dante in our new Destination Brazil section, along with expert tips and advice from the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Jordi Alba and Tim Cahill in our regular Performance segment. All this, and more, only in our March 2014 issue!

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