How ‘Super Jack’ Became a Holte End Hero

IN many ways it would have been the perfect way to go. The boyhood Aston Villa fan, turned Holte End hero, hoisted onto the shoulders of the very supporters he once prided himself on being a part of.

Although only taken a few months ago, the images of ‘Super Jack’ after the Villa’s Play-Off semi-final triumph over Middlesbrough have become somewhat iconic, and show just how adored he has become in the second city. Sam Johnstone, John Terry, James Chester and Robert Snodgrass enjoyed superb campaigns in a claret and blue shirt last year, but when those several thousand fans flooded onto the pitch that May evening, they had eyes for only one man. A player who, just a year prior, was considered by many outside of Villa Park to be unscrupulous and more concerned about his social life than his fledgling football career. Those exuberant fans, who paraded their hero around the stadium had no doubt that he would, in just 11 days, be guiding them back to where they belonged – the Premier League. Alas, it was not meant to be. Continue reading “How ‘Super Jack’ Became a Holte End Hero”

Paul Gascoigne at Lazio: more tears in Italy for a lionhearted hero

AFTER 17 minutes of the 1991 FA Cup final, Tottenham Hotspur’s worst nightmare came true. Star man Paul Gascoigne is stretched off with a serious knee injury. Just weeks earlier, Gazza had produced one of the great Wembley moments as he scored an incredible free kick in Spurs’ semi-final victory over fierce North London rivals Arsenal.

In the months before the final, Lazio had agreed a British record deal for the talented midfielder. The fee had been £8.5 million but was reduced to £5.5 million due to the severity of the injury. His recovery was even delayed due to a heavy drinking night in Newcastle where Gascoigne was assaulted. Continue reading “Paul Gascoigne at Lazio: more tears in Italy for a lionhearted hero”

Jairzinho: more than just the Hurricane

THE Brazil team of 1970 is widely regarded as the greatest football team ever. The lineup boasted the likes of Pelé, Rivelino, Carlos Alberto and Gérson, a side with incredible individual talent as well as impressive managerial discipline from Mario Zagallo. This is a team that epitomized the beauty of football; this team is known for showing the Jogo Bonito with excellence, it was akin to well-orchestrated classical music with all the instruments playing in harmonious unity. Zagallo managed to put a team together that played attacking free-flowing football with exchanging of positions, quick passing and dazzling skill. Continue reading “Jairzinho: more than just the Hurricane”

Jérôme Rothen: one of football’s great nearly men

JÉRÔME ROTHEN was one of many French footballers to be schooled in the famous Clairefontaine National Football Academy in France. He went on to represent five different French teams and his nation thirteen times. Famed for his set pieces, crossing and skills out wide, Rothen had an admirable career. During his playing career he picked up two French League titles at PSG and AS Monaco, the French Cup with PSG, a Confederations Cup in 2003 and the Scottish League and Cup double with Rangers. He was also a member of the AS Monaco side that finished as runner-up in the 2004 Champions League, Rothen’s side losing to José Mourinho’s FC Porto. Continue reading “Jérôme Rothen: one of football’s great nearly men”

Turmoil at Newcastle United

DETACHMENT. It’s a recurring, egregious problem in the relationship between the new age owners of elite premiership clubs and their fervent, archaic supporters. An inevitable one too really. For those willing to bleed their clubs colours up and down the country week after week it’s a social chasm to those who sit in starched suits and heated seats looking for investment opportunities. It’s also the reverse. The terrace stalwarts are rabid about everything but tradition and loyalty and the businessmen are obsessed about anything but profit margins. A middle ground is reached by the fact that it’s a default setting and therefore ingrained into the fabric of most Premier League clubs. As long as new faces and new money trickle slowly through the doors then everyone is appeased. Continue reading “Turmoil at Newcastle United”

Robert Enke: a personal and secret struggle

IF there’s one great misnomer about the modern day footballer, it’s the idea that their life is a spoilt and easy one. In terms of affluence that may well be true. In both an Internet and television age, the sport has quickly become both the language and commerce of its time: providing both instant exposure and financial wealth that plays out like something from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Continue reading “Robert Enke: a personal and secret struggle”