You wouldn't believe how much thought and effort goes into the cover of FourFourTwo magazine. The meetings. The drafts. The discussions. And that's just over what colour the logo is.
Over the years, we've been lucky enough to have some of the biggest names in the game grace the front of the magazine. World Cup winners, dugout icons, up-and-coming stars and iconic pieces of artwork. And despite the turbulence of 2020, this year was no different.
This year, we've been to both poles of the Messi/Ronaldo axis. We've covered both the red corner and blue - Wenger and Mourinho - of that long-standing Premier League rivalry. The hero of the year, Marcus Rashford, gave us his time for a sit down and exclusive photoshoot. Check out the year we've had...
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We began a new decade... by looking back.
Back in January, we were excited by Euro 2020 and football coming home to Wembley. This beautiful cover was designed by The Sporting Press, capturing those magical few weeks in 1996 in all its glory.
Little did we know that ITV would revisit the tournament in its entirety over a few weeks during the summer, as the Euros got put on hold. Anyone for another Euro 96 revisit in 2021?
Jose Mourinho has been one of the stars of 2020 - it's only right that he made the FFT cover.
But while Jose is fighting a title race with Tottenham Hotspur right now - even if they are just a "pony" - in February, we were questioning whether The Special One still had what it took in Europe.
This striking cover highlights some of the words closely associated with Jose, as he took Spurs into a brave new realm.
Looking forward to a brand new decade of brand new talent - who else could we ask to be our cover star?
Marcus Rashford is the man of the year. We invited him for an interview when he was on the cusp of greatness, chatting to him about life at Manchester United and his hopes for the future. It was lovely to see him smiling too - Marcus is so often photographed stony-faced and serious.
Shout-out to Erling Haaland in the top-right too - we were lucky enough to fly out to Dortmund to meet the starboy himself, early in his journey.
The Rashford subscribers' cover
Our first subscribers' cover is a peach.
We couldn't not dedicate more cover space to Rashford. Stripped of the cover lines, we put the United No.10 front and centre where he deserves.
By April, the world was in lockdown. There was no football on TV, as society looked for normality in one of the strangest times in modern memory.
Luckily, Cristiano Ronaldo was there to provide a little consistency in FFT readers' lives. The Portuguese superstar was our face of the issue, as we documented his international career with this arty depiction of him.
We also did our annual EFL countdown this month.
The Ronaldo subscribers' cover
After the success of the Rashford subs' cover, we went with a stripped-back approach for Ronaldo, too. The monochrome sketch with the Portuguese colours behind was a completely different take on CR7.
With no Euros to look forward to anymore, we posed the bigger questions in May - literally, with seven rounds of quiz questions.
The managers special combined some of the biggest names in the history of the game. Our no.1 pick, Sir Alex Ferguson took centre stage of course, with Jose Mourinho getting onto the cover for a second time this year. There's no stopping the Special One.
The managers subscribers' cover
Just for the subscribers, we cut out the noise of cover lines and other features to give you our big boss collage. Nice.
We love a collage cover.
In June, we celebrated all things noughties, pre-empting the TV re-reruns of classic games in the absence of any contemporary Prem coverage. Is your childhood hero on there?
The Noughties subscribers' cover
The subs cover managed to pack in even more - but don't worry, we didn't lose Monkey from the newsstand cover.
July of 2020 marked 50 years since arguably the greatest football team of all time won the World Cup. We marked the occasion with an issue dedicated to that classic 1970 side - along with so many fantastic Brazilians who have lit up the world since.
We were delighted to welcome the incredible Stanley Chow to design five beautiful portraits for this one. Stan illustrated Ronaldo, Pele, Ronaldinho, Socrates and Rivaldo, bringing the Samba legends to life.
The Brazil subscribers' cover
Here's the subscribers' cover, featuring that gorgeous work up close, and with a blue and yellow that pops out like a Rio beach. These portraits were a work of art - take a bow, Mr Chow!
August had us thinking about stars who defined a whole era of the game. Twenty-five years after Dennis Bergkamp first landed in north London, it was a no-brainer to give the non-flying Dutchman his own cover.
Dennis was kind enough to set aside some time for an exclusive chat about his time in England and how he really feels about being an Arsenal legend. The Gunners' colours were prominent on this cover, too.
This was an older photo of Bergkamp, though. As one of the most recognisable faces in the game, we delved into the archives and picked what we think you'll agree, is an excellent headshot.
The Bergkamp subscribers' cover
For subscribers? The Ice Man's brilliant blue eyes with no distraction. A stunning photograph worthy of the Dutch master.
The Season Preview
It's not the summer without a Season Preview, is it?
Our famous bumper issue this season featured some of the stars of the coming year, as Mourinho sneaked onto a fourth cover of 2020. He gets about.
The subscribers' Season Preview cover
And for the subscribers, we wanted to strip things back and do things a little subtler.
The scenes in Liverpool after Jurgen Klopp's side lifted their first title in 30 years were really quite something, weren't they? We'd like to think we evoked the passion and fire of the Premier League - complete with a cardboard cutout trophy - in this exquisite shot.
Manchester United were excellent following the signing of Bruno Fernandes, forging an unbeaten run in the league and ushering in a new era. Andy Mitten went in-depth into the new Man United for us in this bumper feature.
Little did we realise, however, that this cover would curse the Red Devils. United didn't win while this issue was out on the shelves. Did Ole and the boys feel the pressure of having to live up to this brilliant billing?
Once again, The Sporting Press knocked it out of the park on this one. Bruno holding the tridents was a glorious touch.
The Manchester United subscribers' cover
We thought we'd invert for the subs cover. The Sporting Press gave us a darker version of the original artwork with more warmth.
Oh, and there's Rashford again at the back.
One man dominated the autumn. Arsene Wenger's autobiography was released and we felt it was only right to ask Le Professeur if he fancied an exclusive one-to-one.
Of course he did. Of course we used red and white for the banners. And of course we got in some gold - the colour of his last Premier League trophy.
The Wenger subscribers' cover
The subscribers' cover of the Wenger issue has now become an iconic shot in its own right. Seriously, this might be the best-dressed manager in Premier League history - and he's looking great for his age.
As the sun set on a tumultuous year for Lionel Messi, we went in-depth on the Barcelona captain to find out the truth of what happened over the summer - and why some at Camp Nou were hoping the No.10 would pack his bags.
Of course, we couldn't let Diego Maradona's 60th pass by without mentioning him on the cover, either. Tragically, it turned out to be an obituary to the great man in the end - a celebration of his life, rather than his birthday.
The Messi subscribers' cover
The man himself, up close face on. A fantastic photo for fans. A nightmare for defenders.
A nice shiny cover featuring some of the stars of the year - Jack Grealish, Son Heung-min, Jude Bellingham, Robert Lewandowski, Pernille Harder and Sadio Mane. Oh, and Marcelo Bielsa on a bucket.
Here's some insight into the FFT office, though - we were originally going to go with white and blue, before a late switch to the gold. We hope you like it as much as we do.
The Awards 2020 subscribers' cover
Well it's Christmas, after all. Why not get a big picture of Robert Lewandowski jumping out of our cover?
While you’re here, subscribe to FourFourTwo and save 48% – available until Christmas. It’s the perfect gift idea for anybody who loves football (including yourself)!
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