Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Forgotten Player: Julinho

Julinho was one of the greatest right wing ever lived, but people tended to forget about him.  Perhaps, he played for Brazil in the WC in 1954.  He was Brazil's best player at the tournament. Sandwiched between the ill-fated 1950 WC Finals and the WC-winning Finals in 1958, the WC Finals in 1954 was not a big topic in Brazil.  Brazil's participation at the 1954 World Cup Finals was probably remembered for the game they lost to Hungary.  Three players were sent off during the game and players continued to fight in the locker rooms afterward. The game infamously became known as the Battle of Berne, a game that Brazilian fans wanted to forget.

Julinho started his career with Clube Atlético Juventus, but he never made it there.  He moved to Portuguesa half a season later. He made his debut against Flamengo at the Maracana, on February 18, 1950. Because of the tragic World Cup Finals in 1950, Brazil rebuilt their national team.  They did not play a international match for nearly two years.  On November, 1951, against Corinthians he scored 4 goals. His performance earned him  place on the new national team.  He made his national debut 6 months later when Brazil returned to the international scene and beat Mexico 2-0.  Julinho made his Brazil's debut.  

After he made his name at the World Cup Finals, he moved to Fiorentina in 1955.  In his first season, Fiorentina won the scudetti, and then, reched the European Cup Final the following season. He woud become one of Fiorentina's greatest players in history.

In 1950's, most South American national teams did not select their foreign-based players.  However, Brazil asked Julinho to return to the national team for the WC Finals in 1958.  They even suggested that he would meet them in Europe after they arrived for the WC Finals.  However, Julinho did not want to take a spot of a regular player who fought the World Cup Qualifiers and the buildup.  He turned it down.  If he had taken the spot, Brazil would have dropped Garrincha, who was the backup right wing leading up to the WC Finals.  Instead, Brazil met Fiorentina for a pre-tournament friendly match. It was an emotionl match as Julinho faced his national team.  He wept during the game.

In 1958, he returned to Brazil and was recalled back to the national team for a match vs England in May, 1959.  England, in 1959, still commanded respect in Brazil.  Every Brazilian fans expected the new national hero Garrincha to start the game.  However, Garrincha was unfit and Julinho start the game.  When the starting lineup was announced at the Maracana, the fans turned against Julinho.  the jeers got louder and louder as the game approached.  Julinho would weep for the second time in a national team match.  But as soon as the match started, Julinho showed the fans what he was capable of.  He danced through the English defenders.  The jeers became cheers.  At the end of the match, he would score one goal and assist another as Brazil beat England 2-0.  He had won over the fans again.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Patrick Kluivert and Ruud van Nistelrooy

Patrick Kluivert and Ruud van Nistelrooy were born on the same day.  Their careers were very different.  Kluivert earned his cap as a 18 years old.  He became the Golden Boy of Dutch football when he scored the winning goal for Ajax at the 1995 Champions' League Final at the age of 18.  He moved to Milan two years later and then, Barcelona in 1998.  However, his career started to fade away quickly.  He left Barcelona in 2004.  Meanwhile, Ruud van Nistelrooy was a late bloomer.  He started his career at the lower division and worked his way up.  In the modern world, it is getting rare for anyone who was not discovered at a younger age.  He never played for any Dutch youth national team.  He joined PSV in 1998 Katy the age of 22, which was not too old.  But by then, Kluivert was among the top striker in the world.  He started to become well-known in Europe, but a dream move to Manchester United was delayed for a year due to his knee problems. Van Nistelrooy did not play in a big tournament until Euro 2004.  Coincidentally, it was the same summer that Kluivert left Barcelona for Newcastle United.  One player's career went up and the other went downward.  

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

From melon seller to WC starter

     Brazil's World Cup team in 1998 was loaded with superstars.   Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Bebeto, Dungo and Cafu were multi-millionaires.  Ze Carlos, however, was different.  He was a career journeyman.  A year before the WC Finals, he was playing for Matonense in the lower division and his salary was not enough to make ends meet.  So he sold melons in the street.  Then, Sao Paulo signed him in 1997.  Somehow, his performance caught the attention of Mario Zagello.  After a series of injuries within Brazil's player pool, Zagello called him up for the WC Finals.  He had never played for Brazil at any level.  Playing against Denmark at the quarterfinal of the World Cup in 1998, Cafu picked up a yellow card that would suspend him for the next match. Suddenly,  Ze Carlos, Brazil's backup rightback, found himself on the starting lineup vs Holland in the semi-final.  So the man selling melons a year earlier started for Brazil.

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ethiopia's first game at the 1994 WCQers

      Ethiopia's first game at the 1994 WCQers was an away match against Morocco. they traveled to Morocco via Rome, where their best five players deflected. The squad ended up with 8 players to play the match. So they used the backup keeper, the assistant coach and a friend to play. By half time, two more players dropped out. Three more players dropped out early in the second half. The match was stopped with 6 Ethiopian players left on the field.

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Figo signed for Real Madrid because he thought Florentino Pérez would never get elected the president of Real Madrid?

    Luis Figo's transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000 is perhaps the most controversial transfer of all-time.  According to Steve McManaman, Figo signed for Real Madrid because he thought Florentino Pérez would never get elected the president of Real Madrid. 
    In 2000, Real Madrid was holding an election to elect its president.  Lorenzo Sanz, the president of Real Madrid at the time, just led Real Madrid to two European Cup titles in 1998 and 2000. The two titles were Real Madrid's first European Cup since 1966.   Florentino Pérez was not a big contender on the election. He was relatively unknown, but he had something up his sleeve.  He discovered a release clause in Luis Figo's contract with Barcelona. So he offered Figo a pre-contract.  The deal would only go through if Perez got elected.  According to Steve McManaman, Figo assumed that Sanz would be reelected easily. Thus, if he signed with Perez, the signing bonus would be easy money. Besides, Figo was negotiating with Barcelona at that moment.  He could use the rumor to get a better deal.  After the election, Figo could just simply deny the deal and no one would ever know.   So he signed the pre-contract while denying it up until a few days before he was introduced as a Real Madrid player.  But when Perez leaked information of the deal, suddenly, the tide switched and Perez was elected the President of Real Madrid. The rest is history.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Peter Beardsley playing three major rivalries

Peter Beardsley was known for moving from Liverpool to its cross town rival, Everton in 1991. He is also one of only four players who had played for both Liverpool and Manchester United. He also played for Manchester City.  So he had played for both clubs of three major rivalries in England.  However, he only played for Man Utd once and was playing for Man City in the lower division.  So he never wore the Manchester United shirt against both Liverpool and Man City.  I doubted that he ever wore the Man City shirt against Manchester United.

Beardsley held several record fort the Mersey derby.  He held the transfer record for a player from Liverpool to Everton.  Along with David Johnson, he was one of two players ever scored for both sides of the Mersey derbies.

Note: Brazil's Ronaldo played for Inter Milan, AC Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid.  He played for each of them against the rivals.

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cheung was an Asian pioneer in England and Bobby Robson's first ever signing

Before Park Ji-Sung, Hidetoshi Nakata and Lee Young-Pyo played in England, there was Cheung Chi Doy (張子岱)of Hong Kong.  He joined Blackpool in 1960. He was not the first player of Asian origin  to play in England.  The honour went to Frank Soo, a Chinese-English mixed who went on to be capped by England.  Nevertheless, Cheung was a pioneer in the world of Asian football.

Before the 1970's, Hong Kong was a power in Asian football.  Players from there formed two national teams.  The Hong Kong "A" team played as the Republic of China.  They had done well at Asian Cup, etc.  Meanwhile, the younger players played for Hong Kong.  They also finished not far behind from the other countries in Asian Cup.  Cheung Chi Doy came from this interesting system of two national team. 

Cheung made his professional debut as a 14 years old in Hong Kong.  in 1960, a Hong Kong-based British journalist from Hing Kong Standard discovered him and recommend him to Blackpool.  Over there, he joined Jimmy Armfield and Stanley Matthews.  However, his playing time was limited. On January 14th, 1961, he made his debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers.  The game, however, was stopped due to bad weather.  Later in the month, he made his full debut against Bolton Wanderers.  On November 25th, 1961, he played his second game in a 1-3 loss to Sheffield Wednesday., scoring the only goal for his club.  Thus, he became the first Chinese to score in the top tier of the English league.  However, due to homesickness, he returned to Hong Kong in 1962.

In 1968, Bobby Robson  got his first job as a manager with Vancouver Royals.  He remembered the talented Cheung Chi Doy.  He signed Cheung Chi Doy and his brother.   They became one of Robson's first ever signings as a manager.  Cheung was the highest-paid player on the team.  However, Robson's position was not secured.  Vancouver Royals was merged with another club.  Ferenc Puskas became the manager while Robson was sent home.  Not being one of Puskas' players, he was not used regularly.  He later joined St Louis Stars.

With Vancouver Royals
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Vsevolod Bobrov: the two sport hero of the Soviet Union

Vsevolod Bobrov was one of the greatest ice hockey player in history. He was also capped by the Soviet Union football team three times. He led the Soviet football league in scoring twice.    He represented the USSR for soccer in 1952 Olympics.  Four years later, he won the gold medal for hockey in 1956.  He also represented the Soviet Union in bandy.

Bobrov started his career playing bandy hockey as a youngster.  He soon was discovered by CDKA Moscow for his football talents.  In 1945, he joined Dynamo Moscow as a guest player for a tour of Great Britain.  He scored six goals against teams which included Chelsea, Arsenal, and Glasgow Rangers.  He was highly rated by the British.  During his visit in Britain, he accidentally discovered ice hockey.  He literally walked into a game between two British teams and he fell in love with the sport. After returning to the Soviet Union, he started to play ice hockey for CDKA Moscow.

On the football field, he was the Soviet league top scorer in 1947.  He was capped 3 times, scoring 5 goals.  At the 1952 Olympics against Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union was down 5-1, but they fought back and made 5-5.  He scored a hat trick in the game. During the extra-time, Bobrov dribbled past several defenders and hit the post.  After 1952, he lost interests in football and concentrated on ice hockey.

His successes on the ice rink exceeded that of his successes on the football field.  In 1948, Bobrov scored 52 goals, compared to the runner-up who had 23. He also won the league scoring crown in 1951 (41 goals) and 1952 (34 goals).  In 1950, a plane crash almost killed the entire Soviet national ice hockey team. Bobrov survived the crash as he overslept and travelled by rail.  With his leadership, the Soviet Union won the world championship Gold medals in 1954 and 56.  They also came second in 1955 and 57. He also won the Olympic Gold in 1956.  He played 59 international games for his country and scored 89 goals.

He was enshrined into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 1997, the first year it was created. For the greatest Russian athlete in the 20th century, Bobrov finished third behind football goalkeeper Lev Yashin and Greco-Roman wrestler Alexander Karelin. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Forgotten Footballer: Gerri Muhren

Gerri Muhren played a big part on the great Ajax team of the 1970's that won three European Cup.  Against Real Madrid in the semi-final of the European Cup in 1973, he decided to jiggle the ball in the middle of the field before passing it.  His action captured the minds of football fans from around the world.  Many considered the jiggling act as symbol of Ajax's greatness.  

Muhren was projected to be a starter at the WC Finals in 1974.  Unfortunately, he withdraw from the squad because his son was ill.  Wim Jensen took his spot in the starting lineup.  Without the spotlight from the WC Finals, his name is not as famous as the Dutch players of his generation.   His brother Arnold Muhren was a part of the great Dutch team that won the European Championship in 1988.  Although Gerri was probably rated higher of the two, Arnold is probably the bigger name because of the title in 1988.  

Gerri Muhren would finish his career in Spain and Hong Kong.  He died in 2013.

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ethnic "mix" at the 2006 World Cup Finals

The World Cup Finals in 2006 was full of teams drawn with their ethnic rivalries and their ethnic "cousins" in the Group stage.  Of course, every WC finals has a few ethnic battle, but Germany 2006 had at least 10 pairings, creating many "derbies".

Group A: Germany, Poland, Costa Rica, Ecuador

1) Germany and Poland shared a border.  A part of current Poland was once upon a time a part of Germany.  Many German citizens are of Polish ancestry and vice versa.  Poland played against Germany at the World cup Finals before, this edition is different.  Two German players, namely Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, were born in Poland, and Tim Borowski is of Polish ancestry.

2) There are too many Latin American teams at every single World Cup Finals.  So it isn't surprising that Costa Rica was drawn into the same group as another Latin American country, and vice verse.

Group B: England, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago and Paraguay

3) The United Kingdom has a huge colonial empire, but only three of the former colonies qualified for this WC Finals.  T&T had the most UK-born players of the three.  At least, three of T&T players were born in the UK.  Shaka Hislop was one of them.

4) England was coached by Sven-Goran Ericsson, a Swede.

Group C: Holland, Ivory Coast, Argentina and Serbia Montenegro

This group is free of ethnic battle although both Holland and Ivory Coast are dressed in orange.

Group D: Portugal, Angola, Mexico and Iran

5) Portugal was the former master colonial master of Angola.  Several of Angola's players were of Portuguese ancestry or grew up in Portugal.  Except Brazil, Angola is the only former colony of Portugal at the tournament.

Group E: Italy, USA, Ghana and Czech Republic

6) Hollywood led us to believe that the United States is full of Italian-Americans, but their actual population is very small.  We just watched too many movies starring Roberto de Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, etc.  Bruce Arena, the coach of the USA, is an Italian-American.

Hollywood's version of the United States

Group F: Brazil, Croatia, Japan and Australia

7) The Croatian immigrants in Australia played a significant role in Australia's football history. Several of the Australian players are of Croatian background and three of Croatia's players were born in Australia. Mark Viduka, Josip Skoko, Ante Covic, Zeljko Kalac and Tony Popovic are of Croatian ancestry.  Croatia's Josip Simunic who was sent off after picking three yellow cards from Graham Poll in that infamous incident was born in Australia.

Martk Viduka is a son of Croatian immigrants.

8) Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. Japan included one naturalized Brazilian, Alex and  Zico was the head coach of Japan. 

Group G: France, Togo, South Korea and Switzerland

9) Togo was a former colony of France.  France had three former colonies at Pot B.  So the chance of drawing a former colony was high for them.  Togo included four French-born players.  Switzerland is partially French-speaking too, but this pairing was not too unusual so I do not list them as an "ethnic" game.

Group H: Spain, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia

10) Saudi Arabia and Tunisia were the only two Arab nations at the WC Finals.

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Brazil 1982 with Careca

Brazil 1982 with Careca(second bottom from the left)

Many considered Brazil 1982 as one of the greatest teams that had never won the World Cup.  Serginho Chulapa was known as the weak link among the outfielders.  However, he was not supposed to the starter. The team that we saw at Spain 1982 was actually misising its original starter: Careca.


Careca who would star at Mexico 1986 was injured right before the tournament.  Tele Santana brought back Roberto Dinamite, who was out of form.  Serginho Chulapa became the starter and he had a poor tournament.  He was often portrayed as a donkey playing with 9 artistic outfielders. He was unfairly blamed for Brazil's exit.  The world never got to see the full potential of Brazil at the WC Finals in 1982, but Brazil played two friendly matches a month before the start of the World Cup Finals with Careca as the starter.  They were the only two games where Brazil used the expected lineup in the Finals.

Against both Switzerland and Ireland, Tele Santana chose to use the same starting lineup.  Paulo Isidoro who was used as a sub during the WC Finals started for both matches.  At the WC Finals, Dirceu started in the first match against the Soviet Union, but Toninho Cerezo started in his place for the rest of the Finals. Of course, Careca started both games.

Starting lineup for both games:
GK: Waldir Peres
RB: Leandro
CB: Oscar
CB: Luizinho
LB: Junior
MF: Falcao
MF: Zico
MF: Socrates
FW: Eder
FW: Paulo Isidoro
FW: Careca

Brazil drew 1-1 with Switzerland.  Then, they beat Ireland 7-0 during the sendoff game before the Finals.  It was Ireland's worst ever defeat.  While the scoreline was impressive, the Irish team was not their full team.  Their English-based players were not allowed to travel because of the Falklands War, a year earlier.  Liam Brady, however, played.  They also lost to Chile and T&T(according to some sources, Ireland won the game, but T&T changed the scoreline).

Brazil vs Ireland

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.