In the mag: Awards! We celebrate the players, managers and cyborgs who dominated 2023! PLUS McTominay! Winterburn! Samways and MORE!

FourFourTwo issue number 361, the 2023 Awards issue with goalkeeper Mary Earps on the cover
(Image credit: Future)

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First a message from our editor, James Andrew:

Wind the clock back 12 months, when we were still in the midst of the first winter World Cup, and the big question was how it would impact players and clubs once domestic football returned.

In Manchester City’s case, it didn’t seem to cause too many problems – they went on to win the Treble, with Erling Haaland breaking all sorts of records along the way. In this issue, we celebrate the Sky Blues’ memorable year.

England’s Lionesses fell agonisingly short of the ultimate glory in the summer, but we honour their achievement of reaching a first ever World Cup final by speaking to Lucy Bronze, as well as looking back on the rise of Mary Earps.

Never has the National League garnered such attention than during 2023 – Wrexham’s promotion gained coverage far and wide thanks to Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. We hear the inside story from the man who orchestrated that success, gaffer Phil Parkinson.

On a personal level as a Fulham fan, this was the year we lost former owner Mohamed Al Fayed, so in this mag we reflect on the maverick’s reign at the Cottage.

This month also marks 50 years since the first replica shirt was sold – we find out how it all started.

That was 2023, now roll on 2024

James

Feeling Supersonic

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FourFourTwo issue 360: Manchester City (Image credit: Future)

European bridesmaids Manchester City at last became the bride in June to secure the Treble, completing both their journey from the third tier and maybe even football itself. We look back at their gargantuan achievement

Where Seagulls Soar

FourFourTwo issue 360

FourFourTwo issue 360: Brighton (Image credit: Future)

The goals have flowed at both ends since Roberto De Zerbi became Brighton boss, but there’s method in the madness – using strategies first honed at the Italian Bishop’s Stortford, he’s taken the Seagulls to greater heights than ever before

Swear Down

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FourFourTwo issue 360: Mary Earps (Image credit: Future)

Mary Earps hasn’t enjoyed a smooth journey to the top, but she captured the hearts of a nation during the 2023 Women’s World Cup thanks to all manner of sensational saves and some particularly impressive swearing, too…

Hollywood Ending

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FourFourTwo issue 360: Wrexham (Image credit: Future)

With a little help from Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, Phil Parkinson ended Wrexham’s 15-year EFL exile this year. In his own words, he explained to FFT why he’ll never forget 2023...

Scot McGoals

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FourFourTwo issue 360: Scott McTominay (Image credit: Future)

Scotland’s remarkable Euro 2024 qualifying campaign owed plenty to the contribution of Scott McTominay. The Manchester United midfielder tells FFT how he turned into an unlikely goal machine

Comeback Kings

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FourFourTwo issue 360: Hatayspor (Image credit: Future)

Turkey’s biggest quake since 1939 took the life of former Newcastle star Christian Atsu in February. In his honour, his club, Hatayspor, have fought back in remarkable fashion

Victor(y) Osimhen

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FourFourTwo issue 360: Victor Osimhen (Image credit: Future)

Napoli won their first Scudetto for 33 years in 2023, thanks to the goals of their Nigerian star, Victor Osimhen. Little wonder he’s been linked with a host of Premier League clubs…

Great Britains 

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FourFourTwo issue 360: The best British club sides ever (Image credit: Future)

From underdog stories to treble triumphs, FFT ranks the 30 most remarkable teams to ever emerge from these shores

Getting Shirty

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FourFourTwo issue 360: Birth of the replica (Image credit: Future)

Fifty years ago, a small Midlands firm went from manufacturing nuns’ knickers to selling the world’s first replica football kits, just in time for Christmas. Almost by accident, Admiral opened the floodgates to a multimillion-pound industry...

Black and White

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FourFourTwo issue 360: Mohamed Al Fayed (Image credit: Future)

During 16 years as Fulham owner, Mohamed Al Fayed transformed the club from lower-league also-rans into Europa League finalists. Months after his passing, FFT recalls an eccentric who gave Cottagers some incredible memories – and a bizarre statue of Michael Jackson...

Lucy Bronze answers YOUR questions

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FourFourTwo issue 360: You Ask The Questions (Image credit: Future)

“I’m a right-back – when someone called me to say that I had won PFA Player of the Year, I thought, ‘You’ve called the wrong person!’”

No female player in British footballing history can boast an honours list quite like Lucy Bronze’s – we tracked her down and asked her questions submitted by the FourFourTwo massive that covers World Cups, Champions Leagues, Phil Neville flattery and life in Barcelona

Tactically speaking

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FourFourTwo issue 360: Tactics (Image credit: Future)

Never build a team around one star, unless they're Jude Bellingham, Unai Emery has Villa knocking on the Champions League door and James Maddison isn't part of the Tottenham system - he IS the system. Tactical guru Adam Clery breaks down all the above

Around the grounds in the EFL, non-league and Scotland

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FourFourTwo Issue 360: Around the grounds (Image credit: Future)

Notts County striker Macaulay Langstaff tells FFT about comparisons with Haaland, Peaky Blinders and being told to ‘F**k off” by Rob McElhenney…

Andrew Jenkins joined Carlisle’s board way back in 1959, he's seen it all: from biblical floods to miracle campaigns that leave even Leicester’s in the shade. We speak to the longest-serving director in English football.

Motherwell fan Graham Barnstaple recalls Scottish Cup glory, terrible business transactions and dates with Dortmund.

Loughgall in County Armagh are proving size doesn't matter. They may have a tiny population of less than 300 and be served by one shop, but that hasn’t stopped them becoming the smallest town in Europe to boast a top-flight football club – and they’re not done dreaming big.

Ipswich fans were growing tired of mediocrity in January, and then the club embarked on an imperious run to promotion. Twelve months on, the Premier League is in sight.

The Mixer

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FourFourTwo Issue 360: The Mixer (Image credit: Future)

Each month we round up the best football kit, fashion, art, design, books and tech. Tickling your credit cards this month are some fine garms modelled by Roy Keane and his dog Jet, a groovy Beatles football shirt, a pair of shin pads that can read your xG and loads of other stuff you probably don't need, but you'll definitely still want

Seen something you want to put in The Mixer? DM Deputy Editor Matt Ketchell on Instagram

Upfront

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FourFourTwo Issue 360: Upfront (Image credit: Future)

Playing off the last defender, it’s the big-man little-man partnership of football and funnies...

We've dug around our 2023 photo archives and picked out TEN incredible images for our Pictures of the Year award. There's pyro, pigeons, parties and more.

Thomas Hitzlsperger bucks the trend by picking four games that changed his life and three of them were defeats!

Our 18-question quiz features teasers on Magpies in movies, Premier League Kenyans and viral penalty misses

FFT columnist Jules Breach explains what a week looks like working for TNT Sports. You won't be shocked to hear it's incredibly busy.

Meanwhile in Switzerland a giant Tifo needs spellchecked, Finnish side 'Sexy Pants' are on the slide, in Monaco the Scottish Health Secretary's sons spent £7k watching the Old Firm, in Norway Lyn won 10-1 on the final day of the third-tier season but missed out on automatic promotion by one goal, and in Bulgaria 1994 goalkeeping hero Borislav Mihailov has caused a riot.

Cruiserweight world champion (at the time of writing), Chris Billam-Smith, talked to us about battling Artur Boruc in the ring and swapping his gloves for Aaron Ramsdale’s shirt....

FourFourTwo's Senior Staff Writer Chris Flanagan and Editor James Andrew argue, 'Is Sports Personality of the Year still relevant?' and thrash the topic out in this month's Debate Column.

In his Opinion Column Head of Video, Adam Clery, explains why 2023 belongs to Dan Burn, reminds us that Andy Robertson got elbowed in the jaw by a linesman and champions VAR as the most exciting innovation in the managerial blame game.

In the Players Lounge this month...

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FourFourTwo Issue 359: Players Lounge (Image credit: Future)

One of Germany's heroes from 1990, a true Prem legend whose career straddled the millennium and an Englishman who became a star in Spain. It's Emile Heskey, Vinny Samways and Pierre Littbarski. Emile tells us about being mugged off by Rod Hull, Vinny explains how he became royalty in the Canary Islands and Pierre talks to us about reaching three World Cup finals. Decent

Perfect XI

FourFourTwo issue 360

FourFourTwo issue 360: Perfect XI (Image credit: Future)

Legendary Arsenal left-back, Nigel Winterburn, unashamedly selects an all-Gunners line-up, and why wouldn’t you when you got to play alongside this lot over a glittering career?

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Matthew Ketchell
Deputy Editor

Ketch joined FourFourTwo as Deputy Editor in 2022 having worked at Reach PLC as a Northern Football Editor and BBC Match of the Day magazine as their Digital Editor and Senior Writer. He has interviewed the likes of Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero, Gareth Southgate and attended two World Cup finals and a Champions League final. He has been a Newcastle United season ticket holder since 2000 and has an expensive passion for collecting classic football shirts.