Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Why FIFA Should Turn to Romario
The Brazil legend is now a respected politician who fights corruption

by Rob Shepherd.

Brazil legend Romario is the man to become the new FIFA president and force real root and branch reform of football’s shamed world governing body.

Deluded Sepp Blatter, who announced he would stand down after serious allegations of corruption, racketeering and bribery emerged just days after he was ridiculously re-elected, somehow thinks he can start the process of reform himself.

Really..? Or has he just been clinging to power in his office these last few days to operate the paper shredder and bury the bodies..?

That so many officials and delegates stayed loyal to Blatter indicates that the corruption is a cancer that has spread across much of FIFA’s body.

Romario is respected for his anti-corruption stance

Romario is respected for his anti-corruption stance

Only a completely new man can come in and revolutionize the regime.

Why Romario..?

Well he knows the game as one of the all time great players. And since retiring he has become a power figure in Brazilian politics, constantly battling against corruption.

Indeed he is part of a congressional probe into whether Nike and other sponsors influenced the selection of Brazil players since 1998.

A World Cup winner in 1994 and Brazil’s third highest all time scorer behind Ronaldo and Pele, Romario would command instant respect of the decent football community around the world and he can handle the politics too.

In Brazil he is known as a man of the people even after moving into politics.

And if he wanted a solid citizen experienced football administrator alongside him then there would be no one better than former Manchester United chief executive David Gill, who demonstrated his principles by resigning from his role at FIFA’s top table as soon as Blatter was re-elected.

Gill is undoubtedly untarnished by the allegations so many FIFA officials face and would help guide Romario through the tangled web of FIFA’s structure and also be a conduit with the powerful brokers in European club football and UEFA.

Interestingly Romario was strong enough to say exactly what he thought about FIFA under Blatter when he wrote the forward to a book called “Omerta:Sepp Blatter’s FIFA Organized Crime Family” written by the journalist Andrew Jennings who helped the FBI and the Swiss Authorities make the moves which have exposed FIFA and brought Blatter down.

It’s time football was run by a real football man interested in the good of the game and its fans not the greed of beaurocrats. Indeed, it would be apt if it was a Brazilian who restored faith in the “beautiful game” rather than the bribery game it became under the Blatter regime.


Odds For The FIFA Presidency

Prince Ali Al-Hussein       5/4

Michel Platini                     5/4

Sheik Ahmad Al-Sabah    9/2

David Gill                           10/1

Michael van Praag            10/1

Chung Mong Joon            12/1

Luis Figo                             14/1

Rob’s World Cup Wire
Miroslav so Klose, English PL is tops & 23 World Cup questions

by Rob Shepherd.

Klose to Records

Mirosloav Klose, currently with 15 World Cup goals, needs one more to overtake Brazil’s Ronaldo and become the all-time highest scorer at the finals.

Ronaldo’s 14th goal, which equalled the previous record of France’s Just Fontaine, was the first of the 2002 final between the two teams in Japan and his second gave Brazil a 2-0 win and was his 15th.

But that is not the only World Cup record Klose, who was born in Poland, seeks tonight.

Should Germany win Klose will also achieve another record by equalling Brazli’s World Cup winning skipper of 2002 with 16 wins.

Klose, 36, has scored 70 goals in 135 game making him the country’s all-time top scorer ahead of Gerd Muller who scored 68 goals in 62 games.

He now ranks alongside Pele and German legend Uwe Seeler as one of only three players to have scored at four World Cup finals.

Klose’s contract with Italian club Lazio expires this summer and he’s considering one last move… possibly to a club in the MLS.


World Cup Posers

When it gets to semi-final stage all the pre-World Cup questions and hype seem so long ago.

The biggest speculation of course in the lead up is who makes the 23 man squad of each of the 32 countries..?

Now we are down to four here are 23 questions to pose ahead of tonight’s classic South America v Europe showdown (part one).

23. Who’s The youngest World Cup goalscorer..?
Brazilian legend Pele was only 17 when he became the youngest player ever to score at the World Cup, in 1958 in Sweden. He went on to become one of the sport’s greatest ever stars, and is one of just a handful of players to have scored in two World Cup finals.

22. What’s the biggest ever scoreline..?
The biggest scoreline in World Cup history – in fact the worst defeat in international football – is 31-0, Australia’s thrashing of American Samoa in qualifying in April 2001.


Zoff; Double record holder

21. Who’s the oldest ever World Cup winner..?
Italian goalkeeping legend Dino Zoff was part of four World Cup squads. He played in three tournaments and then finally won in Spain 1982 at the ripe old age of 40 years, four months and 13 days. He also holds the record of 1,142 minutes without conceding a goal.

20. How much has this World Cup cost..?
This will be the most expensive World Cup to date, with the Brazilian government spending around $14 billion dollars (just over £8 billion). That’s more than the last three tournaments put together and there were big protests across Brazil in the lead-up to the tournament from people saying it’s costing the country too much.

19. What has the Brazilian government hired in for the World Cup..?
Robots called Packbots have been hired by the Brazilian government to help boost security during the World Cup. The robots have heat vision, are super strong and light, and can even climb stairs and work underwater! They have previously been used to help find and rescue people trapped in earthquakes.

18. In how many different cities will matches take place during the World Cup..?
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil will see matches take place in 12 different cities across Brazil. Matches have been played in: Manaus, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife, Salvador, Cuiaba, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, Curitiba and Porto Alegre.

17. Which team was the last nation to win the Jules Rimet World Cup..?
Italy was the last nation to win the Jules Rimet World Cup in 1938, a year before World War Two started putting the next two World Cups on hold. It’s said the Italian Vice-President of FIFA hid the trophy in a shoe-box under his bed throughout the war to keep it safe.

16. What type of animal is the World Cup mascot..?
Fuleco the three-banded armadillo is the 2014 World Cup mascot for Brazil. The three-banded armadillo is an endangered species native to Brazil and his name is a combination of Futebol (football) and Ecologia (ecology).

15. Why was Diego Maradona’s famous goal against England so controversial in the World Cup?
In the 1986 World cup in Mexico City, Argentinean Diego Maradona scored a controversial goal that has become known throughout football history as “the Hand of God”. In the match against England, Maradona headed the ball into the net using his head and hand in what he later called: “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”.

14. How many spaces does the base of the World Cup trophy have for the future winners..?
The base of the current World Cup trophy, which was introduced in 1974, has space for 17 inscriptions – enough for every winner until 2038.

13. Who scored the fastest goal in a World Cup..?
Hakan Suker of Turkey scored the fastest ever goal in the history of the World Cup against South Korea in 2002. 10.8 seconds was all it took for the striker to score, a record which today still remains unbroken.England’s Bryan Robson scored after 27 seconds against France in 1982.

12. Who was the first player ever to get sent off in a World Cup..?
During the opening match of the 1974 World Cup the Chilean player Carlos Caszely made history by being the first player ever to be sent off by a straight red card in a World Cup.

11. How far did the World Cup trophy travel on tour..?
The total distance covered by the World Cup trophy during its world tour before Brazil 2014 was 149,576.78 km (92,942.702 miles). That’s more than three times around the world!

10. Who found the missing World Cup..?
On the 20th of March 1966 the original Jules Rimet World Cup trophy was stolen from an exhibition in London. It was found a week later by a small dog called Pickles, out on a walk with his owner.

9. How many players tested the Adidas Brazuca football..?
The new World Cup ball is pleasing to the eye… And proved fit for purpose… it has also gone through a rigorous testing procedure over the past two and a half years. It was tested by more than 600 professional players and 30 teams in 10 countries across three continents, making the Brazuca the most tested ball in Adidas’ history. So much better than the beach ball which ruined the 2010 finals.

8. When was the World Cup first televised..?
The World Cup was first televised in Switzerland at the 1954 World Cup, but it wasn’t until the 1970 World Cup that it was broadcast worldwide. Now it is one of the most viewed sporting events in the world. The previous World Cup in South Africa attracted an audience of 3.2 billion people: around 46% of the world’s population, and that doesn’t include people who watched in on their mobile gadget or in a bar or restaurant!


England; Crap at penalties…

7. How many World Cup matches have been decided by a penalty shoot-out..?
As of the start of the 2014 tournament a total of 22 World Cup matches have been decided by a penalty shoot-out since the rules came into effect in 1978. The most successful team at penalty shoot-outs is Germany with four wins, and unfortunately England is the worst with three losses without any wins.

6. How many people does the Maracana stadium seat..?
The famous Maracana Stadium in Brazil will host the final of the World Cup and can seat 73,531 people. The stadium opened in 1950 to host the World Cup, and a record-breaking 173,850 people paid for a ticket to watch the final match between Uruguay and Brazil, but the actual attendance to the match was around 210,000 – a record for a team sports match that still remains today.

5. How many countries have hosted the World Cup twice..?
This is the second time that Brazil has hosted the world cup. The first time was in 1950. Only five countries have ever hosted the World Cup twice.

4. Which country has played the most matches at the World Cup..?
Before the start of the 2014 tournament, Germany had played 99 World Cup matches, more than any other nation, with Brazil coming a close second with 97. Germany played their 100th match against Portugal on 16 June.

3. Which country has won the World Cup the most..?
Brazil is the most successful national football team in the history of the World Cup with five championship wins under their belt. Brazil has also qualified for every World Cup without the need for playoffs.

2. When did the World Cup first start..?
The first ever World Cup match was played in Uruguay in 1930. Thirteen teams from around the world competed and the host nation Uruguay became the first ever nation to win the world cup with a 4-2 triumph over Argentina.

1. Why do Brazil play in a yellow kit?
The Brazilian team originally played in a white kit, until they lost the World Cup at home in 1950. The kit was then seen as “cursed” and a campaign was launched to design a new one.

An 18-year-old named Aldyr Garcia Schlee came up with the winning design of yellow and green shirts with blue shorts. The kit was nicknamed the “Canarinha” which means canary.


Premier League Rules

English football rather than the England team can still claim to have had a good World Cup.

The Premier League had by far the highest number of players amongst the eight quarter finalists with 43.

Next was the Bundesliga with 25, Serie A 23, La Liga 15, Ligue 1 15, Erdevise (Holland) 11, and Primera Liga (Portugal ) 7.

The rest of the 45 players were spread across 13 other leagues.


Brazil Do It Wimbledon Style

The argument that Brazil are bruisers rather than Samba stars seems to be backed up by the fact that in their quarter final they committed 31 fouls over 90 minutes – which is the not just the most at this World Cup finals but since Ukraine committed as many against Italy in 2006.

Brazil have also received 10 yellow cards, Costa Rica top the foul play league at the moment with 10 yellows and one red.



Given the level of expectation Brazil have delivered in terms of getting this far – even if it has not been pretty to watch in the way most of us associate them.

In many ways the pragmatic tactics of Big Phil Scolari have been understandable.

David Luiz has said it is unthinkable, at least in the eyes of Brazil fans, not to reach for the final.


It was certainly unthinkable they didn’t get out of their group – and there were some wobbles at that stage – and too most of us it was unthinkable they would not reach the semi-finals.

But what would really be unthinkable is if, now they have reached this far, they set about trying to kick Germany off the park to reach the final.

Surely it must be hoped that having reached this far they attempt to turn on the Samba soccer..?

If not then the notion that this World Cup would be about a Rio carnival of Jogo Bonito would become hokum.

But I suspect it is unthinkable in the mind of Scolari that he would change tactics now, especially in the absence of Neymar.

In his eyes if he is hung on the alter of principle rather fantasy then so be it.

Yet In that respect this is where Brazil, and certainly Scolari, could well finally come unstuck this evening.

Germany, first under Jurgen Klinsman and now Joachim Low, have since losing to Brazil in the 2002 final (amazingly the only previous World Cup meeting between these superpwers) developed a far more expansive, attractive style of play from their old tradition of Vorsprung Durch Technik. It’s now more Uber Fussball if you like.

There is though still plenty of mettle in the German DNA. Don’t underestimate the fact they can still mix it with the best of them when push comes to shove.

If Brazil want to cut up rough again tonight then they are likely to find that Germany have an iron fist behind the velvet glove.


One to Watch:
Sebastian Schweinsteiger. In many ways he is up there with Iniesta and Xavi as the ultimate modern midfielder. Perpetual motion, tenacious, yet blessed with sublime touch and vision.

He has criticised Brazil’s aggression and now it is down to him to prove he has the courage to match and then let his finesse make the difference.

If Schweinsteiger is on top of his game, and he dominates Fernandinho, Germany can beat Brazil.


Beat the Bookie:

Given that Brazil and Germany are two giants of the World Cup it seem incredible that their semi-final clash will only the SECOND time in World Cup history the two superpowers have met at a finals since the tournament began in 1930.

It was in 2002 when Brazil (five times winners) went toe-to-toe with Germany (three times champions) in the final in Nagoya, Japan.

Michael Ballack who was the talisman of their team was suspended for Germany and Brazil, with their three R’s Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho, won 2-0.

The same outcome tonight is 12/1.

Think it’ll be a bruising encounter..? Any Brazil player to be sent-off is 6/1.

Brazil to win and both teams to score in 90 minutes is 6/1.

The match to go to penalties is 11/2.

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Corals also put up an enticing 11/1 for Germany to win 2-1 in 90 minutes.

William Hill offer 20/1 for David Luiz to be top scorer.


World Cup moment:

In 1970 it could have been the first meeting between Germany and Brazil at a World Cup finals.

Having beaten England, Germany were heavily fancied to beat Italy in the semi finals.

But at 90 minutes the game was deadlocked 1-1.

Gerd Muller put Germany into an early lead in extra time and it seemed they would prevail. What unfolded next was extraordinary;

Italy shook of the shackles of their rugged Catanaccio system and it became a nail biting end-to-end clash of Titans.

It reached 3-3. Penalty shoot-outs were not introduced until 1978 so the outcome of the game was heading for the toss of a coin. Really.

So both teams just kept attacking.

German star Franz Beckenbaur had dislocated his shoulder yet was playing with his arm in a sling. Really.

Then with the clock ticking down Gianni Riviera – the pin up of Italian football at the time – scored a winner.

Italy won 4-3 but would lose 4-1 to Brazil in the final.

The match between Italy and Germany though was dubbed “Game of the Century” (as in the 20th century).


Modern Classics..?
Friday’s World Cup Quarter Finals Preview + We Recall ’82 Semi

World Cup sensation James Rodriguez

World Cup sensation James Rodriguez

Brazil and Germany are odds-on favourites to progress from the quarter-finals of The World Cup but BOBBY’S BETS has a hunch that they can both be turned on their head…

Talisman Neymar insists he has the shoulders to carry the weight of the nation but carrying the Brazil forward line – which he has done brilliantly so far – could well prove too much against this talented and spirited Columbia team.

And in James Rodriguez Columbia have a player who can unlock a well-drilled Brazil defence. Rodriguez is 13/2 to score first and 15/8 as anytime scorer.

A victory in normal time may be beyond them but a 1-1 draw at 90 minutes is 6/1 – Columbia can then go onto win on penalties (which on its own is 12/1).

France v Germany has the making of a modern classic – and if it comes close to matching the drama of that incredible semi-final encounter from 1982 then we’ll all be happy!

So stick your neck out and trust Karim Benzema to keep on scoring. Benzema is 6/1 to open the scoring, 9/1 to score 2 or more and 7/4 anytime scorer.

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Is a 3-2 France win in 90 minutes at a tasty 50/1.

If you believe that history repeats itself you can back Germany to triumph on penalties at 10/1, just as they did in that crazy semi-final from 32 years ago. You can relive that game by clicking on the below link where you can see all the action complete with the thoughts of two of the chief protagonists; West German goalkeeper Harold ‘Toni’ Schumacher and France’s Patrick Battiston.

Odds courtesy of Coral.

Sterling Red a Bonus!
PLUS Italy Game Set for Draw & Long Way Yet for Ladies

by Rob Shepherd.

Red is Good!


Sterling can’t believe it

Most seemed to think Raheem Sterling was hard done by with the red card he suffered in England’s 2-2 draw against Ecuador. But much ridiculed American referee Jair Marrufo could well have done England a favour…

The incident when Sterling brought down Antonio Valencia highlighted the restraints players will be under at the World Cup. They simply cannot afford to go diving in with the flying feet.

Even if Sterling did get a bit of his foot on the ball his follow-through did catch Valencia. Yes, Valencia’s reaction seemed to make the situation worse.

But ref Marrufo will have viewed that Sterling’s challenge endangered the opponent, regardless of whether he got some of the ball or not.

Make no mistake refs, certainly in the early stages, will be under pressure from FIFA guidelines to show red for such tackles.

Over the years England players have fallen foul of strict guidelines over certain incidents that are regarded as “soft” in this country.

Take Ray Wilkins in 1986 then David Beckham in 1988. And of course Wayne Rooney saw red in 2006.

So Roy Hodgson should use the Sterling incident as a foot-on-the-ball warning to his team – not least because players don’t need to be making such lunging tackles by the touchline in the first place.

And whiles he’s at it remind Jack Wilshere if he gets seen by an official losing his rage like that he’ll be shown red too!


Anyone For A Nil-Nil…?

A bloody Ince organises England

A bloody Ince organises England

England’s last two meaningful matches versus Italy have ended in goal less draws.

Two years the 0-0 was regarded as a dire display as Italy won the penalty shoot out 4-2 to knock England out of the European Championships.

Agreed, Italy were the superior side but in the end the margins came down to the cruel cut of pens.

In October 1997 England played a 0-0 draw with Italy in Rome to clinch a place at the 1998 World Cup finals and force Italy to get their the hard way via a play-off.

The 0-0 draw was deemed a triumph. True, England inspired by the head-bandaged Paul Ince and disciplined Paul Gascoigne produced one of a tactically stoic display under Glenn Hoddle, but it could easily have ended in tears.

In the final minute after Ian Wright had hit a post Italy should have snatched a last gasp winner but Chrstian Vieiri headed a fraction wide.

Again the slimmest of margins.

One suspects it will be very tight and tense once again in next Saturday’s opening game.

But if England needed any added inspiration they could do no worse than watch a re-run of that game in the Rome nearly 17 years ago.


Lady Maybe..?

It was great to be a guest of FootballFanCast and Strongbow last Wednesday who hosted a TV link of the England – Ecuador match and the results of their RioChallenge competition at Riley’s sports bar in Pimlico.

In a nutshell the winners of a Strongbow male five aside competition went over to Rio in Brazil to take on a ladies team.

Former footballer now Sky pundit Chris Kamara was a speaking guest and he suggested that in the near future a woman would be in the squad of a Premier League team.

I disagreed with “Kammy” who coached the chaps in Brazil. That caused some waves with the PC crowd.

But despite their skills I can’t ever see women competing with men physically at the top level. That’s not sexist.

Besides, why undermine the growing sport of Ladies football..? Woman’s tennis, golf, cricket, hockey, athletics etc all get on in their own right .

Indeed after a good start the skillful Vasco Ladies eventually lost 7-1 to a team from the Royal Navy (footage below).


Cafu The Inspiration for Johnson
PLUS: England Full-Back Warns “Suarez Not The Only Threat!”

Cafu won 125 caps for Brazil

Cafu won 125 caps for Brazil

by Rob Shepherd.

Glen Johnson grew up wanting to be like Brazil World Cup legend Cafu.

Now the England star will get the chance to do just that when he goes to his hero’s homeland in search of World Cup glory.

Johnson is expected to be one of the first names on Roy Hodgson’s team-sheet when the Three Lions open their Group D campaign against Italy in the Amazonian city of Manaus on June 14.

The Liverpool defender has cemented his place as Hodgson’s first choice right-back following an impressive season in the Premier League. Now he has revealed his attacking game is modelled on Cafu and he is hoping Hodgson gives him the freedom to do his best impression of the man who won a staggering 145 caps and captained Brazil to World Cup triumph in 2002.

Johnson said: “They’ve had many attacking full-backs over the years in Brazil so I’m sure the fans would appreciate seeing other full-backs do similar stuff.

“You love to watch all the attacking players but Cafu, obviously, who played in the same position, was probably best right-back there has ever been.

“It was great to see players like that. It was just the way he carried himself, he was brilliant going forward, good on the ball and could defend very well.

“He had a bit of swagger and played in plenty of World Cups.

“It’s always been a big part of my game, to attack when I can, get forward and support the lads. I like to try and cause a few problems for the other side. I’ve always liked to get forward and hopefully that will continue in Brazil.”

“They are going to have good players and Luis won’t be the only one to worry about”

Get Forward

Johnson didn’t get much chance to express himself under Fabio Capello at the last World Cup in 2010 – but is hoping things will be different this time round.

Johnson, who has won 50 caps, said: “The coaches encourage you to get forward but obviously how and when is your decision because you’re playing the game.

“But sometimes when you end up on the other side of the field it’s because certain things have unfolded and you’ve seen more room and are trying to exploit that.

“Obviously the coaches wouldn’t be encouraging me to run across to the left wing too often, but once you cross that white line you’ve got to play that game and try and put into practice what you’ve been doing in training.

“I’ll probably get a bit more freedom, because Roy definitely encourages full-backs to get forward and join in.

“We’ve got to be as dangerous as we possibly can when we have the ball.”



Johnson won his 50th cap against Denmark

Despite being keen to showcase his attacking skills on the biggest stage of all, Johnson knows a major part of the challenge will also be to stop club team-mate Luis Suarez when England clash with Uruguay in Sao Paulo in the second group game on June 19.

Suarez is expected to be fit despite having knee surgery last week and Johnson knows better than most how dangerous the striker can be.

But he has warned the Three Lions not to become obsessed with Suarez and look at the bigger picture.

Johnson added: “I’ve not seen the papers for a while so I don’t know what people think the injury is, but he doesn’t seem to think it’s too bad. He thinks he’ll be fit.

“I certainly don’t want him to be injured. You don’t ever want to see your mates or team-mates injured.

“He’s one of the best strikers I’ve ever played with and I’ve played with a few good ones.

“He’s the sort of player who can create things out of nothing and causes everybody problems. You’ve seen it just as much as I have – he’s clearly not one of the players you want to play against in the World Cup.

“He’s just the same in training as in the games. He always wants to win and gets the hump if he doesn’t.

“But we’ve got some fantastic players ourselves who will cause them problems.”


1966: World Cup Goes Cold for Pele

Soccer - World Cup England 1966 - Group Three - Portugal v Brazil - Goodison Park

The Great Pele is inextricably linked to Brazil’s greatest World Cup moments. Over the years we’ve become accustomed to seeing his face and his flair gracing hundreds of photos and clips as Brazil won three World Cups between 1958 and 1970.

This one is a bit different however; Here an injured Pele trudges off the Goodison Park pitch as his side are defeated 3-1 by Portugal during the 1966 World Cup. It was Brazil’s final group game and having been beaten by the same scoreline by Hungary four days earlier they had to win against Portugal to stay in the tournament.

This day belonged to another legend though, Eusebio, who scored twice as the Brazilians were eliminated at the group stage – their worst ever performance at a World Cup.




A World Cup Squad Needs Attacking Options Not Defensive Cover! History proves it’s true…

by Rob Shepherd.

On the day Sven Goran Eriksson named his squad for the 2002 World Cup final squad, I bumped into his assistant Tord Grip at Marble Arch and we shared a cab for the short hop to the hotel where the 23 names would be revealed.

En route, Grip told me Eriksson had decided to include Martin Keown as extra cover in defence rather than gamble on the exciting wildcard option of Blackburn forward Matt Jansen.

Although Jansen was uncapped he was in the sort of form we have been seeing from Raheem Sterling recently, who as a consequence looks to have secured a late ticket. Jansen had even been measured for his suit.


Jansen was in fine form for Rovers back in 2002

However, they wanted the insurance of an extra defender.

But it didn’t make sense for a tournament England needed to go on front foot and win, given they had the tools to do just that.
As well as Jansen, Frank Lampard was also overlooked.

Given that Eriksson has cautiously only selected four forwards, the England squad needed more attacking bodies in midfield not a stalwart defender. After all, you’re not picking a squad for a 60-game season. It’s seven games if you go all the way the World Cup final – that’s cup football.

England could have done with more attacking options when trailing 2-1 to 10-man Brazil in the quarter-finals but the ageing Teddy Sheringham and Darius Vassell failed to offer the requisite spark when they came off the bench.

I’m not saying Jansen – who that summer suffered a motor bike accident that ruined his career – would have turned the tide. Or Lampard. But either could have done.

It just seems a waste of resources to overload a squad with defenders, when as history shows, defences tend not to change that much over such a short space of time at a tournament.


Sterling is in fine form

So it seems perfectly sensible for Roy Hodgson to load his squad with the ‘crackerjack’ wingers that have emerged over the last year.

And I would go further: Hodgson should now abandon 4-3-3 and really go for it with a full out 4-2-4 formation rather than a cautious 4-4-2. Don’t clip the wingers’ wings, let them fly!

And I would also take both Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll, providing he gets some games and goals under his belt for the rest of the season.

So what if Defoe is playing the next couple of months for Toronto?

Physically and mentally it could mean he will actually turn up sharper.

Both Defoe and Carroll offer obvious alternatives to Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney.

Here is the squad I think Hodgson should select;

Goalkeepers: Hart, Foster, Ruddy.
Defenders: Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Jones, Smalling, Baines, Shaw.
Midfielders: Lallana, Townsend, Gerrard, Lampard, Milner, Henderson, Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling.
Forwards: Rooney, Sturridge, Carroll, Defoe.

My starting line up (4-2-3-1): Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard, Henderson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rooney, Sterling; Sturridge.


A 15 year old Gordon Banks joins Chesterfield FC

England goalkeeper Gordon Banks leads the team out at Wembley

Banks spent 10 years as England’s No.1 and was only on the losing side 9 times

“What a save!”
A seminal moment of pure genius

by Richard D J J Bowdery

Some footballers’ lives are defined by a seminal moment in their careers: Gazza shedding tears following a yellow card in the Italia ‘90 World Cup semi-final which ruled him out of the final, if England had overcome Germany; and Beckham’s audacious 60-yard lobbed goal from the halfway line beating Wimbledon keeper Neil Sullivan, in a Premiership match on 17 August 1996 which announced Spice boy’s arrival on football’s world stage.

For the subject of this week’s column that moment occurred on 7 June 1970.

England faced Brazil in Group 3 of the Mexico World Cup. It was a daunting task as the Brazilian’s fielded a side of such sublime talent which included Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, Rivelino and Pelé.

A ball from Alberto sent Jairzinho racing down the wing. He surged past Terry Cooper, England’s left-back that day and crossed the ball into the penalty area where it was met by the head of Pele. Before his feet had returned to earth Pelé shouted “Golo!”

Gordon Banks instinctively dived low to his right and tipped the ball over the bar. No one on the pitch, in the stadium or the millions watching on TV could believe what they had just witnessed.

What followed was a memorable exchange between three gladiators in the heat of battle.

Pelé: “I thought that was a goal.”
Banks: “You and me both.”
Bobby Moore: “You’re getting old, Banksy, you used to hold on to them!”


Banks pulls off his incredible save as Bobby Moore and Brian Labone look on in disbelief

The laughter that followed Moore’s humorous comment displayed a joie de vive which transcended the importance of the game.

Many football pundits, journalists and fans claim that Banks save was the greatest ever made by a World Cup goalkeeper. Banks himself has said that people won’t remember him for winning the World Cup (at Wembley in 1966) – “They just want to talk to me about that save.”

It was all a far cry from March 1953 when, as a 15 year-old, he joined Chesterfield FC after being spotted playing for a colliery side in South Yorkshire. He soon established himself as a keeper of some quality and played in the youth team who lost 4-3 to Manchester United in the 1956 Youth Cup Final.

Two years later, in November 1958, he made his first-team debut for the club who were then in the Football League’s Third Division.

His performances between the sticks soon caught the eye of the League’s top sides and it was First Division’s Leicester City who signed him for £7,000 in July 1959.

His performances in the top-flight brought him to the attention of the England set up where he won two Under-23 caps.
Following the appointment of Alf Ramsey as England manager in 1962, Banks found himself replacing the previous incumbent, Ron Springett.

He won his first cap on 6 April 1963 against the ‘auld enemy’ at Wembley which England lost 2-1. Despite the defeat, Banks displayed an assurance in goal that made him Ramsey’s number one choice. And the rest, as they say, is history.

By the 1970 World Cup, and with a winner’s medal from the ’66 tournament in his trophy cabinet, Banks had won 59 caps. When he retired after England’s 1-0 win over Scotland at Hampden Park in May 1972. He had won 73 caps, kept 35 clean sheets and was on the losing side just nine times in his England career.

After Banks hung up his boots he tried his hand at coaching, first at Port Vale and then with non-league Telford United. But his footballing prowess on the pitch never crossed the divide into management.

Sadly he lost the sight in his right eye following a motoring accident in November 1972. He also lost a significant amount of money in a failed business venture, which he covers in his book Banksy: My Autobiography, published in 2002.

The previous year, in 1971, he sold his World Cup winners medal. Though it was a difficult decision for him to make, he explained he did it in order to save his children the burden of deciding what to do with the medal after his death.

Yet despite these post-goalkeeping setbacks the one thing that cannot be taken from him is his place in the pantheon of great footballing memories, gained when he made that wonderful save from Pele’s ‘certain’ goal in 1970.


Click on the photo to see ‘The Save’ from Gordon Banks


Alex Bellos;
Futebol: Soccer The Brazilian Way

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN-13: 978-0747561798


The English invented the game but soccer’s spiritual home is Brazil. That’s what make this summer’s World Cup finals so exciting.

And the countdown has really started in earnest.

We are now within the final 100 days on the road to Rio. Worryingly much of the stadia and infrastructure is behind schedule. There remain profound worries about security issues too.

FutbolBut the prospect of a soccer fest played to the rhythm and syncopation of the samba beat in the background is as intoxicating as several large Caipirinha’s.

For once England’s expectations are so low but that doesn’t seem to matter quite as much as it did.

The cosmopolitan nature of the Premier League means that as an audience there is a greater understanding and appreciation of the global game and it’s players in this country.

Even the most one eyed patriot will still be intrigued and probably enthralled with what Ronaldo or Lionel Messi get up to as much as whether Daniel Sturridge can gel with Wayne Rooney.

And of course how the Brazilians will cope with the pressure of winning on home soil, an achievement they failed to do in 1954 when they were defeated in the final by Uruguay, will be fascinating to watch.

Since then Brazil have become the undisputed masters of the Copa Mundial – The World Cup – having won the Jules Rimet trophy three times and the subsequent trophy twice .

The Brazilian skill and style known as the Jogo Bonito (The beautiful game) is revered.

To fully understand it and how it evolved from the days of Garrincha and Pele through to Zico and now Neymar then have a read of Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life by Alex Bellos.

It is a wise way to warm up for this summer’s finals.

As Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim says on the cover credits: “It vividly captures the romance and passion that we expect from the Brazilians, as well as entertaining us with tales of their occasional absurdity. Immensely enjoyable.”

He might have added: “Go read it; right now!”

BB Rating: 8.5/10

by Rob Shepherd.