Here’s what we’ve been asking ourselves in the final few weeks before the World Cup kicks off:
- How would Nigel de Jong react if we asked him to pose with a child’s lawnmower? Rather well, it turns out. The Dutch destroyer relives his greatest hits, specifically on Xabi Alonso ("I’d like to take him for a beer") while playing up to his nickname.
- How important is Paul Pogba to France? Once upon a time the golden boy for Les Bleus, the Manchester United midfielder will be hoping to put a patchy season behind him and prove to the world that he’s still the main man for Didier Deschamps’ side.
- Roberto Firmino – can he flick it? Yes he can. We caught up with the Liverpool forward over a game of Subbuteo to discuss emulating his heroes, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, by leading Brazil to a record sixth World Cup.
- Will Jesse Lingard be England’s surprise star in Russia? The Red Devils’ midfielder is certainly backing himself, having already visualised how he might celebrate scoring in the final. Note: that’s a definite yellow card, Jesse...
- And finally, who’s going to win it? The wait is almost over, time to find out...
No Pogba, no party
Can French football’s King of Bling revive his career and sparkle in Russia this summer, or will Les Bleus’ new wave of wonderkids cast the former golden boy into the shadows?
Belgium's big dilemma
Having a Golden Generation at your disposal doesn’t mean you’re on Easy Street – just ask Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, who’s got a serious selection headache ahead of his first World Cup.
Having enjoyed his best season yet in a Liverpool shirt, Roberto Firmino heads to Russia hoping to emulate his boyhood Brazil heroes and put any lingering doubters back home firmly in their place.
Football's strongest player
Panama hero Roman Torres scored the dramatic late goal that sent his nation to their first ever World Cup. Now he’s ready to take on Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku... and Adebayo Akinfenwa.
Hummels aiming high
World champion Mats Hummels exudes confidence – and the bad news for Germany’s rivals is that Die Mannschaft are massively motivated to become only the third nation to retain the trophy.
Lingard's naked ambition
Following a breakthrough campaign for Manchester United, the Warrington wonder is daring to dream about conquering the world – but be afraid of his goal celebration if England reach the final...
Morocco's foreign legion
They failed to qualify for the previous four World Cup finals, but the Atlas Lions head to Russia 2018 thanks to international football’s finest recruitment drive since Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland.
How Tite transformed Brazil
Move over Neymar – it’s no longer all about you. New coach Tite has rebuilt the Seleção following their 2014 humbling by Germany, and is proving to be Brazil’s real star as they seek a sixth crown.
South Korea's favourite Son
The Spurs flyer has had a stunning season in both the Premier League and Europe – now he’s got a point to prove as South Korea look to avoid the kind of World Cup nightmare they endured last time.
After leading Liverpool to a first Champions League final in more than a decade and his nation to a first World Cup since 1990, Egypt’s favourite player is giving the entire Middle East reason to rejoice.
Young stars of the World Cup
Following Pele and Paul Pogba by becoming the World Cup’s best young player won’t be a walk in the park for England’s rookie goalkeeper. Check out some of the other starlets vying for the title...
Hooligans: the truth
Talk of fan violence has dominated much of the build-up to the World Cup, but will things really kick off as spectacularly as the headlines suggest, or does Vladimir Putin have everything under control?
Between The Lines
He was arguably the lowest-profile member of Spain’s iconic 2010 World Cup-winning side, but Joan Capdevila - thanks in part to a fire in his hotel room - helped them become the best team of all time.
Reggae Boyz remembered
Jamaica’s 1998 vintage are among the most loved underdogs in World Cup history – 20 years on, FFT finds out how Deon Burton, Robbie Earle, Ricardo Gardner & Co. captured people's imagination.
The World Cup's biggest villains
Every four years, even the most humble men become heroes, but the 20 previous tournaments have created bad guys too – be they leg-breakers, water-tamperers or ball-handling shoulder-biters...
Former Netherlands, Manchester City and Milan midfielder Nigel de Jong answers your questions, including: would he get the better of Roy Keane? Does the man known as ‘The Lawnmower’ mow his own lawn? And has he ever spoken to Xabi Alonso about that tackle in the 2010 World Cup Final?
In our fun-packed front section, Dion Dublin answers silly questions, Carlos Vela tells us about Mexico’s World Cup hopes and Archie Gemmill recalls his stunning goal for Scotland in 1978. Plus Lothar Matthaus explains why not all of his five World Cup campaigns with Germany went to plan.
We remember one of football’s greatest tragic-comedies – El Salvador’s 1982 World Cup campaign, in which the Central American minnows suffered the tournament’s biggest battering. The World Cup’s origins are uncovered in the latest ‘Football’s Inventors’, Miles McClagan shares his archive of Scotland programmes, and Ireland supporter Neil Roche recalls his last-minute dash to USA '94.
Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus talks to FourFourTwo Performance about the need for speed and staying calm in front of goal. We also learn about some visionary specs that aid deep sleep, and get taught a workout routine that will have you flummoxing opponents with lightning-fast feet.
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The July 2018 issue of FourFourTwo magazine was brought to you by Nigel de Jong, Davor Suker, Dion Dublin, Mahmoud Hassan, Carlos Vela, Archie Gemmill, Lothar Matthaus, Roberto Firmino, Roman Torres, Mats Hummels, Jesse Lingard, Tite, Son Heung-min, Joan Capdevila, Rene Simoes, Deon Burton, Paul Hall, Ricardo Gardner, Darryl Powell, Frank Sinclair, Gabriel Jesus and Frank Lampard.
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