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In the mag: Jack Grealish special! PLUS the painful death of La Liga, Keegan, Kinkladze, Wrexham, dribble kings and more

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First a message from our editor, James Andrew:

Regardless of which football team you support, you’ll always remember the sport’s seismic events and where you were when you heard them.

I wasn’t born when Trevor Francis became the first million pound player in 1979, so the first major move that really registered was Andy Cole’s shock £7m transfer from Newcastle to Manchester United in January 1996. It felt like such a big deal – not just because of the fee, but that it was also shocking to see a player switch between rivals. 

Then there was Alan Shearer’s hefty £15m transfer from Blackburn to Newcastle. Since then, fees have risen lazily – and then quite spectacularly. Now, we’re at a place where the most exciting player in British football is worth £100m. 

But while there’s no doubt that the numbers behind Jack Grealish’s move from Aston Villa to Manchester City are staggering, the best players don’t let their price tags drag them down. 

In this issue, we take a look at how the 25-year-old became a history-maker, chatting to several of those who helped him reach this landmark in a journey that’s been far from plain sailing. We all remember the raucous reactions to him at Wembley – but that’s only a small part of Grealish’s fascinating story. 

Enjoy the mag... 

 

 

 

 

Jack Grealish: the £100m man

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Jack Grealish became a national icon this summer, despite starting only once for England at Euro 2020 – such is the appeal of Manchester City’s £100 million man. Yet reaching cult status hasn’t been straightforward for Britain’s costliest player, who has battled family tragedy, derby day carnage and a near-death experience to get here...

The Premier League's greatest dribblers 

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Grealish has carved out a reputation for winning free-kicks on command, but even his dazzling footwork doesn’t get him onto this rundown of all-time Premier League dribble kings. Not yet, anyway...

The painful death of La Liga

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Lionel Messi’s future was major merely one of Barcelona’s problems amid financial chaos this Real Madrid’s frugality has made them a fading force year, while in Europe. Are Spain’s struggles just a short-term crisis, or something much more troubling? FFT gets digging...

Keegan at Anfield, 50 years on

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In 1971, a lean 20-year-old made his Liverpool bow following an almighty leap from the Fourth Division. Kevin Keegan’s incredible success extended far beyond the Kop, however, during a fascinating career of pop singles, punch-ups, bike crashes… and cracking perms

Georgi Kinkladze exclusive

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Georgi Kinkladze was a light in the darkness of Manchester City’s late ’90s misery, ensuring a special place in Maine Road history. More than 25 years on, it’s all still love – not least from the man himself, who takes FFT back through a wild life of Maradona, Madchester and Vinnie Jones menacing

Champions League: what to watch

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After Chelsea’s unexpected success, the Champions League returns – with a few not-so-minor adjustments. Star signings and a major rivalry reignited make for another juicy campaign

How Wrexham went global

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Hollywood heroes buy fifth-tier Welsh club in bid for glory. It sounds like a movie idea, but this story needs no scripting. Wrexham may have a bright future under Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, but as FFT hears, it took 20 years of unbridled misery to make it this far

The keeper who went to war

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In June 2019, Syria’s former under-20 goalkeeper was killed fighting for freedom in his people’s devastating war against president Bashar al-Assad. To millions, Abdul Baset al-Sarout was a hero standing up for justice; to others, he was an extremist who flirted dangerously with Islamic State (ISIS). This is his incredible story...

Manuel Pellegrini answers YOUR questions

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How did he feel when Manchester City announced Pep Guardiola while he was still in the job? What went wrong for him at West Ham? And why does he have a roundabout named after him? All of those answered and more...

Schalke vs Hamburg... in the second tier

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Germany’s second division could be far more exciting than its top flight this season, with a pile of hungover fallen giants slogging it out for promotion. The unthinkable has become reality for Schalke and Hamburg in 2021, so FFT headed to Gelsenkirchen to discover their stories of woe...

In the Players Lounge...

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Dean Windass on Bob the Builder, Carlos Queiroz explains the Bebe fiasco at Manchester United, Christian Fuchs buys a prison, while Shaka Hislop remembers his summer at NASA. 

Going Around The Grounds...

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QPR's Charlie Austin looks ahead to another big season at Loftus Road (and back at being a viral sensation). Elsewhere, columnist Ian Holloway muses on government crackdowns, while we bring you belting stories from Hastings United and Hereford.

Sheffield Wednesday are in focus for Best & Worst, Luton's Carlos Mendes Gomes is profiled for Boy's A Bit Special, we explain why Cardiff inspired a lasting Arsenal tradition and remember the time Stuart Pearce joined England's worst club. 

And Upfront...

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Chelsea great Michael Essien walks us through the matches that made him, Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie recalls the day a child took a bottle of wine to the face at Celtic Park, former striker Stern John opens up on the challenges of managing Anguilla, while Karen Carney answers silly questions about Brummies and fighting wolves.

We also shed light on the mysterious war for football's international caps record, chat to Nashville's Soccer Moses, chart Bari’s spectacular fall from grace and more.

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