Back to Kiev, Ukraine
I'll be back at the NSC Olimpiyskiy for the 2018 Champions League Final on May 25th. Last time I was in Kiev was for the 2012 Euro Champs when Spain thrashed Italy 4-0. Driving from the airport to the city center it felt like 'the land that time forgot'. This was a Communist country as I imagined one. Run down buildings, the army and police were out in force and Russia was massing troops on border. Just felt like a powder keg ready to explode. Will be interested to see what has changed. Hopefully game takes center stage.
The Submarine Commander
I've been kicking a ball around, watching Soccer since the dawn of time. My earliest memories of watching Soccer are standing next to my Dad at Molineux in the days of the old English First Division. Wolves could be back in the EPL next season, just got to hold their nerve these final few games. Not sure who first compared me to a Submarine Commander, something to do with the fact I always surface at some point, somewhere. Here are stories from those travels - enjoy! Send me a note, love to hear from you?
My Turn is Cruyff's memoir of his remarkable career, built on the techniques he learned playing in the streets of postwar Amsterdam while hoping to be noticed by the city's most famous club, Ajax. He would eventually inspire the team to eight league titles and three European cups. He won his first of three Ballons d'Or in 1971 at age 24. Cruyff was then transferred to Barcelona for a then-world-record fee. He led the Catalans to victory in La Liga for the first time since 1960. Simply a genius both as Player and Coach.
The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw
Born in Acton, west London on 27 July 1952, Robin Friday played professionally as a forward for Reading and Cardiff City during a career that lasted four years in the mid - 1970's. Through physical intimidation he unsettled opponents, had a miserable disciplinary record and his personal life was one of heavy smoking, drinking, womanising and drug abuse. Jimmy Andrews signed Friday for Cardiff City, travelled to join his new team by train without a valid ticket and had to be bailed before he could sign. Fridays skills were undisputed, refered to as 'the complete center forward' for his ball skills, footballing intelligence, physical and mental strength. Numerous contempories rated Friday good enough for the English National Team and in a 2004 BBC poll he was voted the top 'all time cult hero' for both Reading and Cardiff City. Also voted Reading's best ever player three times. He was a true bad boy of the 70's, with his long hair and care free attitude. Never wore shin pads, wore lizardskin shirts and had 'mild and bitter' tattoed on his chest. One of his most notable and prolific stunts was after he had scored a last minute winner versus Rochdale he celebrated by running over and kissing a policeman. He later said ' The policeman looked so cold and fed up standing there that I decided to cheer him up a bit'. Then once he got back into the dressing room he told his teammates of his regret as he hated coppers so much. His career ended with his retirement after just four years following an on-field incident where he kicked Mark Lawrenson in the face, the same Lawrenson who is now a soccer pundit on the BBC. Retired at 25 and dead at 38, most of us (including me) never saw Friday play. There is a film of his life in the works to be directed by Phillip John of Downton Abbey fame and Friday is reported to be played by Sam Claflin. Sure will be a cracking 'Indie' movie and one to see.