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In the mag: Stars of Euro 2020! Mbappe, Ronaldo, Martinez and Soucek exclusives, De Bruyne, Mount, Lovren and more

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First a message from our editor, James Andrew:

Well, we’ve waited this long – just the 364 days – so now it’s time to enjoy Europe’s greats in one place. Some lucky souls will even get to see them in the flesh, as Euro 2020 welcomes thousands of fans back to its stadiums. And if that’s not worth celebrating alone...

Winning wouldn’t hurt either, mind. On that note, we chat to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez about dealing with the expectations of his adopted country, after a weird and wonderful journey to get here himself via ’90s Wigan. 

There’s no shortage of foes trying to stop Bobby M & Co, though. Kylian Mbappe is carrying French hopes on his shoulders as he hunts a first ever Ballon d’Or; Cristiano Ronaldo has won five of them, meanwhile, but we ask the unthinkable question: are defending champions Portugal actually better without him? Some think so... 

Elsewhere, we bring you a Group D special: Tomas Soucek discusses a fine season at West Ham and facing England once more, Jody Morris explains the rise of Mason Mount, striker Lyndon Dykes retraces his journey from Australia to Scotland, while Dejan Lovren opens up on earthquakes, life as a refugee and more in a fascinating interview.

So, get in the mood, enjoy the mag and the glorious summer to come. Lord knows we all deserve it... 

Mbappe and the Ballon d'Or

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Conquering the world in 2018 was just the start: at 22, Kylian Mbappe is on the verge of more history with France, knowing that Euros glory puts him in contention for the Ballon d’Or. Win that, and a decade of dominance awaits, writes Julien Laurens...

Bobby's Belgium... by him

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Roberto Martinez inherited a team booed by its own fans after Euro 2016 and took them to the top of FIFA’s world rankings. But Belgium’s gaffer tells FFT why winning style awards isn’t enough for a group desperately seeking silverware

Are Portugal better off... without Ronaldo?

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Back home, they’re uttering the unthinkable. Cristiano Ronaldo may be on the verge of international immortality, but not everyone thinks the 36-year-old should be in Fernando Santos’ starting XI this summer. Here’s why…

How Mount mullered his critics

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Adored by his bosses, loved on loan... but not everyone was convinced. Mason Mount has been forced to prove himself as more than just Frank Lampard’s favourite son – yet now, not even his harshest critics are crowing. FFT hears why...

Tomas Soucek exclusive

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Once ignored back home and forced to train amid dog muck; now helping to propel West Ham up the Premier League table, Tomas Soucek has come a long way fast. And he’s ready to inflict some more misery on England...

Lovren: earthquakes and Klopp

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Soucek isn’t the only man with England in his sights. Former Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren also has previous when it comes to humbling the Three Lions – but there’s a lot more to this altruistic two-time refugee than meets the eye

Lyndon Dykes' daring journey

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QPR's Australia-born striker grew up with rugby league dreams, but heads into Euro 2020 with his parents’ beloved Tartan Army. No longer tied to the 9-5, he’s found a way to make a living…

Why can't we love Sergio Ramos?

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At 35, football’s ultimate bastard stood on the precipice of international history, ready to become its all-time highest-capped player. But after a career of winning at all costs, the art-loving anarchist is no neutral’s favourite – and now, won't even be at Euro 2020...

Goran Pandev's Macedonian dreams

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He made his international debut 20 years ago, then scored the goal that took North Macedonia to their first major tournament. Needless to say, the former Inter treble winner is an untouchable idol back home – and he’s got a few things to tell FFT before his emotional final bow...

Urs Meier's Euro 2004 hell

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The Swiss ref found himself the unwitting victim of tabloid hatred after disallowing Sol Campbell’s late goal for England against Portugal at Euro 2004: intimidated, abused and then bundled into hiding. This is his side of the story

The fall of Yugoslavia

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Prosinecki, Suker, Mijatovic & Co had been fearsome Euro 92 contenders, but civil war in the Balkans meant its brilliant collection of talent was torn apart before they had the chance to prove it. Many thousands of lives were lost, as well as a footballing dynasty

Darren Bent: YOUR questions answered

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How did it feel to be snubbed for England's major tournament squads? What did he really think when Harry Redknapp said his wife would have scored? And why does he dislike Paul Lambert so much? The former striker bares all...

In the Players Lounge...

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Former Sheffield Wednesday hero Benito Carobe eats spaghetti, Portugal hitman Nuno Gomes remembers Euro 2004 heartbreak, Zoltan Gera explains how he quit drugs, while ex-Rangers man Claudio Reyna reminisces about Old Firm aggro

Going Around The Grounds...

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In our usual section dedicated to the Football League, Scotland and non-league, Wales and Cardiff striker Kieffer Moore remembers his time on lifeguard duty, as part of a wild ride to his first major tournament. 

Meanwhile, Ian Holloway inks his regular column on life as a newly promoted club, Doncaster say farewell to their 17-season hero James Coppinger, Middlesbrough go under the microscope in Best & Worst, there's some wistful memories of Edgar Davids at Barnet, while we explain why Dundee United are a bunch of idiots.  

Upfront...

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There was absolute chaos in Colombia as they prepared to jointly host the Copa America – since taken off them by CONMEBOL, and adding to their miserable history of hosting (or not) major events. 

German comedian Henning Wehn chats Germany and Jesus abuse in My Football, some Dutch fans get their tractors out, Chris Coleman picks out his greatest ever games, we run the rule over Finland's Euro stars who've come through England's lower-leagues, Roberto Mancini's short stint as a Leicester City player is recalled, while former Saint Jose Fonte tells FFT about Euro 2016 glory and triumphing in France with Lille. 

We'll also bring you our regular quiz, and many more of the best stories from Planet Football. Don't miss it! 

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