Which club did the first ever Ballon d’Or winner play for? Barcelona? Real Madrid? No, Blackpool.
Stanley Matthews took the inaugural award in 1956, pipping fellow great Alfredo Di Stefano. Only four Englishmen have ever won the individual prize – and now Raheem Sterling wants to be the fifth. That’s what he tells FourFourTwo in an exclusive interview in this issue – and why not be ambitious?
A big nine months lie ahead for Sterling. Manchester City are bookmakers’ favourites to win the Champions League, and England are second favourites behind France to win Euro 2020. If he can lead club and country to success, he starts to put himself in the conversation for global honours.
Sterling tells us how he’s defeated the doubters to become arguably England’s most influential footballer, on and off the field. For our photoshoot, he donned the most iconic kit in his club’s history, from City’s 1999 play-off final win over Gillingham. Now, he’s making his own history.
If he needs any tips on clinching the Ballon d’Or, he could read our interview with the last Englishman to achieve it – Michael Owen talks us through his amazing 2001, when Liverpool won a cup treble and England beat Germany 5-1. We also speak to Michael Knighton about that failed Manchester United takeover, spend a day with Lazio’s ultras, and head north to the Arctic Circle. Here's what's up...
Don’t look back in anger
Raheem Sterling faced plenty of criticism early in his Manchester City career, but he overcame it to become a hero for club and country. The forward tells FFT how he proved the doubters wrong.
The Arctic Circle derby
Bodo/Glimt and Tromso are the two northernmost clubs in Norway’s top flight, and there’s no love lost when they meet. FFT headed off on a polar expedition to see their latest head-to-head.
Between The Lines: Michael Knighton
Thirty years ago, Michael Knighton juggled a ball at Old Trafford to announce his takeover of Manchester United. It didn’t go through. In his own words, he reveals what went wrong – and right.
How to make Barça and Real great again
The giants of La Liga won five Champions League titles in a row before Liverpool got their hands on Ol’ Big Ears for the sixth time back in June. With the pair enduring upheaval, FFT looks at how and if they can ensure that 2018/19 was just a blip, and not the end of their continental domination.
Le Hand of God
It’s almost a decade since Thierry Henry’s handball in Paris denied the Republic of Ireland a place at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. For both sets of players, it was a night they will never forget.
The Burnley striker’s win-at-all-costs mentality may rub opponents up the wrong way, but he doesn't care one bit. He tells us he is revelling in his role as the Premier League’s number one villain.
The Football War
When Honduras faced El Salvador in a 1969 World Cup qualifier, more than just sport was at stake.
Years before Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo raised the award’s profile forever, Michael Owen was crowned Europe’s best player in 2001 after a stellar year for club and country. He and Jamie Carragher talk FFT through his annus mirabilis, and ponder why he never got the credit he deserved.
Inside Lazio’s ultras
On August 7, the leader of the club’s hardcore support was shot dead. FFT heads to Rome to meet the mourning Irriducibili, before trying to earn their trust and secure a ticket for the Curva Nord.
Ronald de Boer: Your questions answered…
The former Ajax, Barcelona and Rangers midfielder explains why he missed out on moves to Arsenal or Manchester United, and why he once told Sean Connery that he wasn't a fan of his new film.
The Players Lounge
John Barnes explains what it was like having Elton John as a chairman, Alessio Tacchinardi talks European Cup finals with Juventus, Sandro lets loose about Tim Sherwood at Spurs, and Ian Holloway reveals that painting lessons are helping to fill the void while he awaits his next job.
The greatest gear of the month, featuring Roma’s third kit and an Adidas tribute to Blackburn.
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