In the mag: Atletico Madrid, botched pranks, Lampard, Bosnia's barmy army...

In the new issue of the world’s greatest football magazine - available in print and in a specially-designed-for-iPad version - we speak to the men of the moment in the Spanish capital. No, not Bale, Ronaldo & Co., the the other ones flying higher in La Liga - even without last season's star man Radamel Falcao. We travel to Spain to discover more about what makes the Rojiblancos tick, the inside story of their new revolution and the key men behind it.

We sit down with goal-getters Diego Costa and David Villa, the prodigious Koke and talismanic boss Diego Simeone (y'know, Beckham's bezzie), as well as the other key figures in the capital side's blossoming set-up.


Why didn't Costa move to Liverpool? How has Falcao’s departure really affected the club? And, the all-important question: Can Atletico actually win the league?

To some Chelsea and England star Frank Lampard is the average midfielder who scores a lot of deflections and penalties. For others he is one of the greatest goalscoring midfielders of all time. But when we sit down with the 35-year-old to answer your questions he's just won his 100th England cap, adding to the three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, Europa League and Champions League winners' medals. What happened between him and Di Canio? Can him and Steven Gerrard actually play together? And what was his relationship really like with AVB?

Ever heard about the footballer who's scared of cotton wool? How about the time players chucked roast duck onto a hotel guest’s car? Or when Chelsea joker David Luiz found himself on the wrong end of some tittle-worthy tomfoolery? From the bad to the bold, we bring you the hilarious footballing pranks that have gone disastrously wrong. 

Just how seriously do the smaller nations take qualifying for the World Cup? Well, just ask Bosnia. Twice stung in the play-offs in qualifying for the previous two major tournaments, Dzeko & Co. were determined not to suffer a repeat of fate and secured automatic qualification for their first-ever World Cup. A bleary-eyed FFT gets on a bus for an Eastern European pilgrimage like no other...

Before Bale there was another Welshman who ruled Europe - well, Serie A at least. John Charles, a hero in his homeland and legend of Leeds, wooed the Juve faithful as a complete unknown when the Gentle Giant took his talents to Italy in 1957. But how on earth did he do it? Just good manners, of course...

Ronaldo, Pirlo, Baines... the list of talented free-kick takers goes on. In fact, there's so many that FFT wonders whether or not it might be better doing away with a defensive wall altogether. We speak to the men who know best - including Nigel Martyn, Chris Waddle and Howard Wilkinson - as we attempt to answer the question once and for all. Along the way we learn more about what makes the world's best so deadly from set-piece situations, and concoct our very own formula for the perfect dead-ball barrier. But is this the end of a defensive institution?

Erik Lamela’s Tottenham career might not have begun with a bang, but then again neither did that of the man he replaced. Former Spurs great Ossie Ardiles insists he could be better than his predecessor plying his trade in Madrid - but the 21-year-old Lamela tells us he wants to stamp his own mark on the Tottenham team. The club's record capture shares his story with FFT. 

For most English fans, memories of Christian 'Chucho' Benitez conjure nothing more than a moderately successful loan spell at Birmingham City. But although he never hit the heights in England, the talented striker was idolised in his native Ecuador before suffering a tragic cardiac arrest in July. We find out what made the South American goal-getter such a popular figure in his homeland and how his memory is now fueling Ecuador’s World Cup qualification campaign. 

Pass the snails? FFT heads to Leyton Orient to find out how three men from across the channel are having a big impact on the League One side's scintillating start to the season. We get the low-down on Orient's affable mastermind Russell Slade, discover why east London is excellent and meet the footballer without a TV...   

If that’s not enough to whet your appetite we’ve got Gareth Bale's secrets for terrorising the opposition in our regular Performance section, as well as the likes of Yaya Toure and Santi Cazorla sharing their top tips for success. As well as all of the above (now you're just getting greedy), we also chat to Keith Gillespie after his gambling hell, and the clever young hopeful who traded Grimsby for Alicante. Bet the fish and chips are crap there, though...

The December 2013 issue of FourFourTwo was brought to you by Diego Simeone, Diego Costa, Diego Forlan, David Villa, Arda Turan, Gareth Bale, Frank Lampard, Erik Lamela, Gabi, Koke, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Chris Waddle, Diego Milito, Walter, Pavel Cmovs, Liam Moore, Uwe Rosler, Filipe Luis, Miranda, Yaya Toure, Romain Vincelot, Mathieu Baudry, Yohann Lasimant, Brian Deane, Santi Cazorla, Cristoph Hemlein, Charlie I'Anson, Malcolm Macdonald, Jita Singh, Quinton Fortune, Asmir Begovic, Mel Nurse, Gary White, Mario Melchiot, Nigel Martyn, Adelardo, Tom Ince, Tom Curtis, Tony Waiters, Keith Gillespie, Alan Brazil, Dario Rodriguez, Stephen Constantine, Luis Enrique, Robbie Savage, Howard Wilkinson, Marouane Fellaini, 'David Beckham' and Dynamo.

Available from Wednesday in print and in a specially-designed-for-iPad version

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Joe Brewin

Joe was the Deputy Editor at FourFourTwo until 2022, having risen through the FFT academy and been on the brand since 2013 in various capacities. 

By weekend and frustrating midweek night he is a Leicester City fan, and in 2020 co-wrote the autobiography of former Foxes winger Matt Piper – subsequently listed for both the Telegraph and William Hill Sports Book of the Year awards.