When the FourFourTwo team first discussed the idea of doing a '90s-themed issue, it was meant to be a celebration of all the things we loved about the decade; an opportunity to revel in the nostalgia of Mitre footballs and Sensible Soccer. It also gave us the chance to speak to icons like Matt Le Tissier and watch some (mostly dreadful) football VHS tapes.
But what we had almost forgotten was just how much football changed. In a period that started with Gazza's tears and concluded with Manchester United capturing the Treble, English football went through a radical transformation on and off the pitch. Admittedly these changes came at a price – literally – but you would be hard pressed to make the case that things aren't better now than in 1989.
And it's in this spirit that we bring you this '90s special issue: a collection of the best bits and a reminder of how things could have turned out...
90 things we loved about the '90s
From John Barnes rapping to avian mascots scrapping, FFT hails some of the players, goals, matches, moments and mayhem that made football in the '90s so memorable.
When football became cool again
The 1980s represented something of an all-time low for football fandom, but Gazza's tears at Italia 90 helped to usher in an era that saw the game return to its rightful place at the heart of British popular culture. We recall how and why football was transformed.
'90s icons interviewed
Everyone has their heroes, and we've hunted down a few of our own, including World Cup stars, Premier League legends, scorers of iconic goals and the man who once called Alex Ferguson a "Scottish bastard" – and lived to tell the tale. In other words: Fabrizio Ravanelli, Jorge Campos, Philippe Albert, Gheorghe Hagi, Andrei Kanchelskis, Edmundo, Brian Laudrup and Matt Le Tissier - all of whom share grand tales of their '90s glory days.
When Ajax ruled the world (again)
The Cruyff-inspired 1970s vintage may have been the greatest in their history, but in the early-'90s a new golden generation helped to make Amsterdam the capital of European football for a second time. We speak to players and coaches to discover how they did it.
Between The Lines: Jimmy Glass
The goalkeeper's 94th-minute winner to keep Carlisle in the Football League is the stuff of legend - but he ended up driving a taxi. Now back in the game with Bournemouth, he gives a frank first-hand account of that crazy day in Cumbria and what was to follow.
The making of the super gaffers
From Barcelona's disciple of Cruyff to a tortured Juve star, via a German journeyman and a La Liga enforcer, FFT looks back at the playing careers of some top Premier League bosses: Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino.
Football 'classics' on VHS
Lavish yachts, a crooning Terry Venables and some very, very questionable jokes - we dust off the VCR and rewind to the '90s to review VHS 'greats' such as Ryan Giggs Revealed, Big Ron Bites Back and, of course, Richard Littlejohn's We Woz Robbed.
Former Blackburn and Celtic striker-turned scowling BT Sport pundit Chris Sutton answers your questions in One-on-One, including: does he regret snubbing England? Who was better: Shearer or Larsson? And why did he hide in a toilet at Highbury?
In our fun-packed front section, Martin Tyler answers a few silly questions, Arsenal old boy Gabriel Paulista (now at Valencia) bemoans his lack of first-team opportunities at the Emirates, Michael Owen tells the story of his legendary goal against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup, and our columnist Lothar Matthaus tries to explain exactly how painful it was for his Bayern side to lose the 1999 Champions League Final to Man United.
We go back further than the '90s in our monthly retro section. With the countdown to the 2018 World Cup now well under way, we recall how Sergei Baltacha - the first Soviet international to play in the Football League - took Blighty to his heart. Plus, we learn the bizarre history of Flamengo and unearth some classic Bristol City programme covers.
Crystal Palace playmaker Yohan Cabaye talks passing, the French production line and his admiration for Steven Gerrard in this month's Masterclass. We also hear about Petr Cech's ping-pong show and get taught a routine that will help you brush off your marker.
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The February 2018 issue of FourFourTwo was brought to you by Chris Sutton, Robbie Fowler, Martin Tyler, Gabriel Paulista, Lothar Matthaus, Ronald de Boer, Jimmy Glass, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Jorge Campos, Philippe Albert, Gheorghe Hagi, Andrei Kanchelskis, Edmundo, Matt Le Tissier, Brian Laudrup, Yohan Cabaye and Faustino Asprilla.
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