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First a message from our editor, James Andrew:
What is it that elevates a player to cult hero status? That’s the big question we’ve tried to answer at FFT Towers this month – not the easiest it must be said, when we don’t even agree among ourselves.
The definition is hardly set in stone, but we all knew one thing at least: they needed to have nailed the romantic side of the game; not necessarily through what they did on the pitch, but as a packaged-up personality. They’re not usually a team’s best player – but that doesn’t mean they’re not allowed to be. Most of all, they’re simply… fun.
In this issue, we talk to a number of greats who’ve lit up British football, featuring terrace titans from Newcastle, Rangers, Arsenal, Swansea and beyond. Our staff writer Chris Flanagan enjoyed an exclusive chat with Tottenham legend Jurgen Klinsmann, who loved his two spells at White Hart Lane and still adores them as much today.
We also chatted to former West Ham maverick Paolo Di Canio for a hugely entertaining hour on wonder goals, ref wars and more. His compatriot Federico Macheda made a different impact for Manchester United aged 17 – but for many, it was just as memorable. Now, he too tells FFT all about it. A very Happy New Year to you...
Jurgen Klinsmann on Tottenham
Klinsmann fought xenophobia when he arrived at Tottenham in 1994, but English football was soon in his thrall. The German hero tells FFT how his love affair bloomed – and why he wants another Spurs return
Paolo Di Canio exclusive
Di Canio was never boring at his first three British clubs. Incendiary at Celtic, infamous at Sheffield Wednesday and wonderful at West Ham, the Italian’s imperfections made him a terrace charmer, as he recalls with FFT...
You Ask The Questions: Pepe Reina
Why did he "get p**sed" for the 2005 Champions League Final despite not playing for Liverpool? Has he ever let his kids use a beach ball? And why did he insist on using a petrol station before matches? The former Reds great explains all...
Federico Macheda chats 2008-09
In April 2009, a 17-year-old Macheda leapt off the bench in successive matches to score crucial late winners that helped Manchester United beat Liverpool to the title. But what happened next? He shares his fond and frustrating memories
The mad world of Tino Asprilla
Faustino Asprilla arrived on snowy Tyneside to take Kevin Keegan’s Entertainers over the line – then got the blame when it all went wrong. So how is it that the cheeky Colombian is still so adored by besotted Geordies? It turns out guns, girls and hat-tricks aren’t even the half of it...
Anders Limpar: time traveller
The Swede steered Arsenal to title glory after an infamous role in a royal rumble. He reflects on his Highbury heyday and how he advanced to the year 2000...
Anyone for Nacho?
Nacho Novo spurned Celtic to follow his heart and join Rangers in 2004 – and never regretted it. Unlike some of the dodgy tattoos dedicated to him…
Big Sam's Galacticos
First Youri Djorkaeff saved Bolton Wanderers from trouble, then came a motley crew of stars searching for something special. In a humble corner of the North West, the Trotters’ unconventional rise delivered plenty of pleasant surprises…
Lee Trundle's wheel of trickery
The Football League’s finest showboater of all time was loved far wider than the Swansea fanbase that still adores him. For Trundle, it was just part of the fun – and Versace suits from unsuspecting family members were a very nice bonus...
The battle of Berlin
Union and Hertha Berlin were separated by bricks, country and ideological lines during the Cold War, but a once-friendly rivalry has got pretty feisty since reunification. FFT heads for the forest to hear both sides of a bitter story
150 years of FA Cup fun
The world’s oldest cup competition has turned 150 years old – and there’s plenty of gold stuffed away in those dusty annals, as brought to you by football historian Brian Beard
In the Players Lounge...
Matt Le Tissier recalls the time Gerard Houllier tried to call him up for France, Middlesbrough hero Massimo Maccarone remembers leaving it (very) late... twice, ex-Rangers and Aston Villa favourite Alan Hutton explains why he adores aggro, and Sheffield United icon Tony Currie explains why nutmegs basically should have earned him more England caps.
Going Around The Grounds...
Forest Green Rovers' chairman-cum-activist Dale Vince discusses the eco future of football, FFT remembers the time former decathlete Daley Thompson tried to become a footballer, we visit lowly Dover in crisis and chat to Scotland favourite John Souttar about his intriguing new side project.
Meanwhile, our columnist Ian Holloway recalls his FA Cup memories both good and god-awful, Notts County are featured in Best & Worst, and we reveal why MK Dons' Scott Twine is literally better than Messi.
Elvis Costello recalls the time his mum told Robbie Fowler off in public, while ex-Blackburn legend Morten Gamst Pedersen tells us why he's still playing on in Norway's third tier.
We also bring you the heart-warming story of AFCON debutants Comoros, news of your new favourite bar in Leeds, Kevin Phillips' life-changing matches, the men who stole our hearts at major tournaments, our usual ultimate quiz and more. It's the perfect way to kick off your new year...
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Joe is the Deputy Editor at FourFourTwo, 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.
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