Friday, August 31, 2007

Milan triumph again in Monaco - Super Cup 2007



AC Milan came from behind to defeat Sevilla FC 3-1 in Monaco and claim the UEFA Super Cup for a record fifth time on a night which served as a fitting tribute to the memory of Antonio Puerta.
Milan 3:1 Sevilla

Celbration

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Video from UEFA CUP Qualifiers, 2leg

Vojvodina 1 - 2 Atletico Madrid


Hamburger 4-0 Honvend
Sion 3 - 0 SV Ried
Jablonec 1 - 1 Austria Vienna
Lens 5 - 1 Youngboys
Zenit 3 - 0 Zlate Moravce
Galatasaray 2 - 1 Slaven


Marco van Basten - VIDEO

Marco van Basten
Marco van Basten was born on the 31 October 1964 in the Dutch city of Utrecht, where he started his football career at the age of seven. Marco's first club was a local team, UVV. After spending there ten years, he then moved to an other club from Utrecht, Elinkwijk. However, his professional career began in 1981, when seventeen-year-old Marco was spotted by Ajax's scouts. Being aware of great prospects lying ahead, Van Basten agreed to join the famous football club from Amsterdam. Marco's great potential was immediately recognised by Ajax coaches and physiologists. As for a great striker, in his debut (April 3, 1982) Van Basten scored a goal. What's more, in that match he substituted the famous Dutch footballer - Cruyff.During the next season Marco placed the ball in the net nine times. However, the most important event in 1983 was his debut in the Dutch national team, on the 7th of September, in a match against Iceland. Van Basten scored his first goal for Oranjes only three weeks later, in a very prestigious match against the immemorial opponents, Belgium. Marco was unrivalled in the Dutch Eredivisie, unstoppable to the defenders and lethal to the goalies. Being four times the top scorer in domestic league, Van Basten also won the Golden Boot Award in 1986 with 37 goals in only 26 matches! During his rip-roaring stay in Ajax Marco scored 151 goals, appearing in 172 games and that outstanding performance was sealed with the victory in the Cup Winner's Cup. As befits for a champion, he found the way to the net in the final itself as well. Leaving Ajax Amsterdam was now just a question of time. There were plenty of great clubs lining up to sign a deal with Van Basten, including FC Barcelona but Marco decided to move to AC Milan, which was being rebuilt by Italian mogul, Silvio Berlusconi. The transfer was a dream-deal for Via Turati club which paid only 800 000 dollars for the 22-year-old Oranje megastar. In the end, two other Dutch superstars, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard also became Rossoneri. At that time nobody could expect the trio would rule the European football for the next five years. Although The Flying Dutchman scored a goal in his debut against Pisa (13.09.1987), the first season was far from a dream-one. Marco appeard in only 11 matches, scored just 3 goals and spent most of the season recovering from an ankle injury. The same injury turned out to be lethal to his career a few years later. The club, however, succeded winning for the first time since 1979 the Italian Championship. The Rossoneri also suceeded in the Italian Super Cup However, the best was still to come. Having skipped most of the season matches, Van Basten was only a substitute in Holland's squad for the Euro 1988 held in West Germany. In the first match Oranje team played a rather poor football which resulted in a defeat to USSR team. Dutch coach, Rinus Michels decided to shift Marco to the starting eleven for the next group match against the English and with this decision he hit the bull's eye! The Swan of Utrecht played one of the best matches in his career, scoring a hattrick and sending England back home. And that was just the beginning of the one-man show! In the semi-final match against the host Germans Marco scored an incredible goal, literally sliding the ball into the net. That was the 88th minute of the match and thanks to that strike Holland made it through to the final of the Euro where they met USSR again. Contrary to the group match, this time Oranjes showed great football and surpassed their opponents. The duel ended with the 2:0 result and one of the most outstanding goals in the history of football. In 54th minute of the game Marco struck a looping volley at an incredible angle and beat the Russian goalie.The strike is still considered the most beautiful goal ever scored in the final of any football competition! With 5 goals on his account, Van Basten became not only the top scorer of the Euro '88, but was also named the best player of the competition. Van Basten returned to Milan as an even greater star that he had been before the European Championship. In the autumn of 1988 he won the two most prestigious awards, France Football's Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) and World Soccer's World Player of the Year title. What is more, he ended the 1988/89 season with 32 altogether and the three most importent titles in the club football - Eurpean Champion's Cup (scoring the double in the final match against Steaua Bucharest), European Supercup and Intercontinental Cup. Furthermore, Marco Goalo once again was awarded the European Footballer of the Year by France Football (1989). In the season that followed, Marco repeated the number of 19 goals scored in the Serie A, however, this time it was enough to become the top marksman of the competition. What is more, the Flying Dutchman once again was successfull in the European and International club competitions. Unfortunately, the national team career turned out to be completely the opposite. The Dutch were named one of the favourites in the World Cup race. The reality, however, was completely different. Oranjes did not win a single match and were knocked out of the tournament after the infamous match against the Germans, lost 1:2. Milan were on their track to win the third conseuctive European Champions title in 1991. Unexpectedly, the team decided not to continue the semi-final game against Olympique Marseille after a floodlights failure. UEFA banned the Italian team from the European competitions for a year. Marco ended the season with only 11 goals and no trophy on his account.After winter must come spring and after a poor season came a supreme 1991/92 one for San Marco. His hunger for winning and scoring resulted in the second Capocannoniere title, this time with 25 golas in only 31 matches! AC Milan once again won the Italian Serie A and were again ready to conquer the world of football. Marco wanted to seal that great time of his career with the Dutch national team during the 1992 European Championship. In the end, Holland reached the semi-final in which they lost to Denmark after the shootout competition. Marco, one of the best penalty takers of the team, missed from the spot and Oranjes were forced to watch the final from the stand. The saddest thing is the fact that it was the last international tournament for the great footballer.Van Basten started the next season with an impressive 4-goal matches against Napoli in Serie A and IFK Goeteborg (including an incredible bicycle kick) in the competetion that was from then on named Champions League. Moreover, at the end of 1992 Marco was granted the Golden Ball award for the third time in his career and was also named the World Player of the Year by both, FIFA and World Soccer magazine! Scoring 12 goals in only three months meant another great season, full of trophies and individual achievements. It all ended suddenly and unexpectedly... The ankle injury that was his nightmare a few years ago reappered, only this time it was to beat Marco and end his wonderful career. Being operated for the fourth time in 1993 Van Basten had the feeling it was the farewell this time. Although he appeared in the Champions League final against Olympique Marseille he did not resemble the great footballer he used to be. Milan was defeated 1:0 but what is worse lost one of the greatest players of the world. Marco tried fighting the injury another two years but eventually was forced to end his career on 18 August 1995, during a Trofeo Berlusconi match. Over 70 000 supporters, including crying Capello, gave him a standing ovation while Van Basten was doing his lap of honour.
van basten compilation

Johan Cruijff - VIDEO

Johan Cruijff
Cruyff was born in Amsterdam in 1947 close to the Ajax ground. His mother worked as a cleaner at the club and it was she who persuaded the coaches to admit her son to their youth development system at the age of 12.

It was the English coach Vic Buckingham who recommended that the club sign him on a contract and Cruyff made his senior debut when he was 17. Naturally, he scored. Two years later he was playing for Holland, grabbing the last-minute equaliser in his first match - a 2-2 draw against Hungary.

Dutch football, traditionally, had been largely amateur. But by the mid-1960s it was beginning to make the change to a professional game. The most influential man in the development of the country's football was Rinus Michels who became manager of Ajax in 1964. Within seven years his team was the best in Europe.

Bill Shankly's Liverpool suffered an early taste of what was to come, losing 5-1 to Ajax in Amsterdam in a European tie. By 1968 Ajax had won a hat-trick of Dutch Championships and the following season reached the final of the European Cup. They lost 4-1 to AC Milan, but were on the brink of achieving greatness.

Cruyff had grown into a powerful, long-striding athlete. He had wonderful balance, deadly speed and breathtaking ball control. But his greatest quality was vision, based on an acute sense of his team-mates' positions as an attack unfolded.

The sports writer David Miller believed Cruyff superior to any previous player in his ability to extract the most from others. He dubbed him "Pythagorus in boots" for the complexity and precision of his angled passes and wrote: "Few have been able to exact, both physically and mentally, such mesmeric control on a match from one penalty area to another."

His one fault was a questionable temperament which, at times, threatened to undermine his ability. His outspoken nature often led him into trouble, such as when he was sent off against Czechoslovakia in only his second international match and suspended from the Dutch team for a year. p>Cruyff's team-mates at Ajax included Piet Keizer, Wim Suurbier and Barry Hulshoff - all of whom were to play in four European Cup Finals. But there was no doubting who was the star among stars.

They reached their second European Cup Final in 1971. This time their opponents were the Greek Champions Panathinaikos. Ajax, inspired by Cruyff, won 2-0 and the Flying Dutchman became the first player from his country to be voted European Footballer of the Year.

It was the first of three successive triumphs in the European Cup for Cruyff and Ajax. Next Internazionale and later Juventus were to feel the awesome blast of their power in the final of Europe's premier club competition.

Soccer: The Ultimate Encyclopaedia says: "Single-handed, Cruyff not only pulled Internazionale of Italy apart in the 1972 European Cup Final, but scored both goals in Ajax's 2-0 win.

"The next year in Belgrade, he inspired one of the greatest 20-minute spells of football ever seen as Ajax overcame Juventus 1-0."

In that 1971-72 season, Cruyff had been the top scorer in the European Cup competition with five goals and he was also the leading marksman in Holland with 25 League goals.

Ajax had now added Johan Neeskens and Rudi Krol to their galaxy of talent and had won the World Clubs' Cup, beating the South American Champions Independiente 4-1 on aggregate, and the first European Super Cup with a 6-3 aggregate victory over Glasgow Rangers.

Cruyff was voted European Footballer of the Year for the second time in 1973, but at the end of the season he left Ajax to join his former manager Rinus Michels who was now in charge at Barcelona. Cruyff cost a world record £922,300 and would be followed by his Ajax team-mate Neeskens.

The Spanish season had already started by the time Cruyff arrived in Barcelona and the Catalans were struggling down the table. The effect of Cruyff's influence was extraordinary. They finished as Champions and their victories included a 5-0 humiliation of arch-rivals Real away in Madrid.

The World Cup of 1974 in West Germany saw a Dutch team, led by Cruyff, at the height of their majestic powers. Nonetheless they had faced difficulties in qualifying. Belgium had held them to goalless draws at home and away, there were rivalries in the camp - Ajax players did not get on with those from bitter enemies Feyenoord - and they were mercenary in their demands for huge payments for appearing in the competition.

Still, they had made it to their first world finals since 1938 and a warm-up 4-1 win over Argentina convinced many that it was to be Holland's year.

Holland's first opponents were the ruthless Uruguayans who attempted to kick Cruyff all over the park. They failed. The young master was too elusive and orchestrated a comfortable 2-0 win.

Surprisingly, in their next group match, Holland were held to a 0-0 draw by Sweden, but then Bulgaria were dispatched 4-0.

If anything the Dutch were even more sensational in the second round, again played in groups. They overran Argentina 4-0 in a game in which Cruyff was electric, scoring two of the goals. East Germany were next, easy 2-0 victims.

So far Holland had played five games, scored 12 goals and concede just one. They seemed light years ahead of any of the opposition. Could anyone stop them?

Next to try were Brazil, the reigning World Champions and three-times winners of the Jules Rimet trophy. It was an unusual Brazilian performance. The swashbuckling image of adventurous, attacking football had undergone a character change.

Brian Glanville writes in his book, The Story of the World Cup: "The Brazilian defence kicked, chopped and hacked from the first; and it must be said that the Dutch, thus provoked, returned the treatment with interest . . . In the first half, Neeskens was knocked cold by Mario Marinho. In the second, he was scythed down by Luis Pereira.."

Cruyff then, as so often, took control of the game. A swift passing movement between the captain and Neeskens saw the latter gain revenge for his brutal treatment. And Cruyff settled it by thundering home a volley to put Holland in the final 2-0.

Their opponents were West Germany, playing in front of their own supporters in Munich's Olympic Stadium. The game was billed as the showdown between the Germans' calculating, clinical efficiency and the imaginative flair of the Dutch. Personified, it was Franz Beckenbauer v Johnan Cruyff.

Bertie Vogts, the present-day German manager, was chosen to mark Cruyff on the basis that he had once played the Dutchman out of the game in a long ago youth tournament.

Be that as it may, in the opening minute Holland broke away. There were 15 consecutive passes before Cruyff went round Vogts as if he were invisible. He raced into the box where Hoeness lunged and brought him down. Penalty. 1-0. The Germans hadn't even touched the ball. It was the most amazing start ever to a World Cup Final.

For half an hour, the Dutch did much as they pleased. But then Vogts began to shackle Cruyff and the Germans scored two goals, the first a penalty and the winner from the boot of Gerd Muller.

It was a bitter disappointment for the Dutch who undoubtedly were the most gifted team in the competition. It was only the second time they had been beaten in a run of 24 matches stretching back three years.

It was also the first and only time that Cruyff was to appear in a World Cup final tournament. He had been named European Footballer of the Year for the third time, but he would prematurely retire before the 1978 World Cup in Argentina where Holland were, for a second time, beaten finalists - once again losing to the host nation.

Cruyff had played 48 games for Holland and had scored a record 33 goals.

Having quit to concentrate on business, Cruyff changed his mind in 1979 and joined Los Angeles Aztecs in the North American Soccer League. Unsurprisingly, he was named that season's most valuable player in the league.

Next stop was Washington Diplomats before returning to Europe in 1981 to play for Levante, a minor Spanish club, and then rejoining Ajax for a spell which included two more Dutch Championships.

Then Cruyff did the unthinkable. He left Ajax and joined Feyenoord. It was as if the Pope had become a Jehovah's Witness.

Feyenoord had been Holland's top team. They had become the first Dutch club to win the European Cup and the World Clubs' Cup. But they hadn't won a Championship for 10 years and lived in Ajax's shadow. In 1984, led by Cruyff, they achieved the League and Cup double.

The next year he was off again, back to Ajax for the third time and this time as coach. It was a unique situation, because Cruyff did not have the necessary examination qualifications required for the job in Europe. He had scored 215 League goals in Holland, but drew a blank on coaching certificates. No matter, under his direction Ajax won the 1987 European Cup Winners' Cup, beating Lokomotiv Leipzig 1-0. Shortly afterwards, however, that volatile temperament got the better of him and he walked out in a huff.

Back at Barcelona, England's future manager Terry Venables was having a disastrous season. He was fired and Cruyff was appointed to replace him. By the summer of 1989 they had beaten Sampdoria 2-0 to win the European Cup Winners' Cup.

For Barcelona, however, only one thing mattered. The stigma of being Spain's second most famous club after Real Madrid would only be lifted by winning the European Cup. It was Cruyff who would deliver the prize. Again the opponents in the 1992 final were Sampdoria, this time the winning margin only 1-0 and it took extra time to see them off. But Barcelona had achieved their dream. Cruyff was King of Catalonia.

The strain, however, was telling. He had undergone surgery after suffering a heart attack and the impatience of Barcelona's bosses meant they were not content with their European victory. They demanded continuous success.

Cruyff added the European Super Cup to the trophy cabinet with a 3-2 aggregate win over Werder Bremen in 1992 and by 1994 Barcelona had won four successive Spanish Championships.

Then it all went sour. Cruyff was in secret negotiations with the Dutch to manage their 1994 World Cup team in the finals in America but he could not agree terms. Then in the 1994-95 season, with an ageing team, his Barcelona were knocked out of the Spanish Cup at the Nou Camp by Second Division Betis. This was followed by a 3-2 home defeat in the League by Atletico Madrid. In six seasons in charge, Cruyff's team - which included stars such as Stoichkov, Romario and Koeman - had never lost successive games at the Nou Camp.

The knives were being sharpened. He survived for two more years, but in 1996 with Barcelona out of the running in the Championship for the second consecutive season the Barca bosses felt they had had enough of Cruyff's autocratic ways. He was sacked in favour of former England manager Bobby Robson.

Cruyff, whose son Jordi played for him at Barcelona and was later to join Manchester United, collected a £1,25 million pay-off.

His combined record, as player and manager, is probably second to none. To add to his glories with Ajax and Feyenoord, he had won 11 trophies in eight years in charge of Barcelona.

Few great players have become outstanding managers. Cruyff, however, was an innovator. At Barcelona, most of his training sessions consisted of playing two-touch football, six against four, in an area half the size of the penalty area.

Cruyff explained: "In a small area, the movement is necessarily fast and the passes must be pinpoint. Two of the six play wide and change team whenever the other four gain possession. It is always six with the ball against four trying to retrieve it.

"This possession principle should operate in any area of the normal field of play, so our training is intense and is the basis of our game. You can close down space more effectively by accurate passing when you have the ball, forcing opponents into certain positions, than you can by man-marking without the ball."

As a passer of genius, Cruyffalso believes it vital that the player receiving the pass should be able to turn away from or past his marker.

"This ability," he says, "is controlled not by the receiver but by the passer. The passer can see the field in a way the receiver cannot. If the receiver has his back to goal, the passer should send the ball to the foot on the side where the receiver should turn, reducing the arc through which he must control the ball to move."These were the techniques used by Barcelona when they stunned Manchester United 4-0 in a European Champions League match in 1994.

"The great strength of the English game, which worries all foreigners, is its pace, the quick movement of the ball forward," says Cruyff. " But midfield carries the balance of every match. Control the midfield and you control the game. So long as English teams allow themselves to be outnumbered in midfield they will not exploit their advantages.

"But the main problem in Britain is that there are too many competitions and too many games. There is no time to prepare properly for Europe or to introduce new ideas because there is far too much emphasis on domestic football."

Another part of the Cruyff creed is to make players work on their weaknesses. For example, right-footed players have more difficulty heading left-to-right than they have with the more instinctive right-to left. That kind of co-ordination could be crucial if the match-winning chance comes on the "wrong" side for a player.

And so, Cruyff would spend long hours with individual players striving to help them overcome their inabilities, in this case endless practicing of standing near the far post meeting crosses coming in from the left. Such individual skill classes are still rare in British footballHe goes further. He is adamant that the key stage of a footballer's career comes at 12. "At that age, you know whether or not a boy is going to be a player," says Cruyff. "There are fundamental skills, which you have or don't have, which cannot be taught after that age."

As a lad about whom such a decision was made at that age, he should know.


Johan Cruijff de Film

Eric Cantona - VIDEO

Eric Cantona is a soccer player. A French player of immense talent, but one whose temperament was unable to find its true home as he played for numerous teams in France during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Despite his difficulties, and his frequent brushes with the French football authorities, Cantona was acknowledged to be a truly brilliant player. He became established in the French national team, and won the French Championship with Olympique Marseille and the French Cup with Montpellier before his deciding that he could not pursue his art - for he is a true artist - in his homeland.

He came to England (where as a French international he was initially offended at Sheffield Wednesday's offer of a trial), and in a brief stay at Leeds made a big impression as he helped them snatch the 1992 Championship. For Manchester United supporters this was a blow - the Championship had looked secure after a wait of 25 barren years. We knew Cantona had been the crucial factor - signed by Leeds as the season reached its deciding stage - and we knew he was a great player; but he was their player, he had destroyed our dreams, and we wished he had remained in France.
His first ever appearance for Manchester United was against Benfica in Lisbon, in a friendly match to mark the 50th birthday of Eusebio.
His first competitive appearance was as a second half substitute against Manchester city at Old Trafford, on December 6th, 1992.
His final competitive game came against West Ham on 11th May 1997. His final appearance before retiring was five days later on Friday 16th May. In a testimonial for David Busst against Coventry City at Highfield Road, Eric scored twice in a 2-2 draw.
Cantona is still featuring in Nike ads today - nearly ten years after his retirement, he fronted their Germany 2006 advertising campaign. www.soccercommercials.com.
He was married to Isobel and has two children but is now divorced.
His brother Joel was also a footballer and played for Marseille, Újpesti TE and Stockport County.
He became captain of the French National Beach Football team and won the beach soccer world championship in Rio de Janeiro.
Cantona joins the company of fellow Manchester United players George Best and Ryan Giggs along with Alfredo Di Stéfano, who have never played in a World Cup

Diego Armando Maradona - VIDEO

Diego Armando Maradona (born October 30, 1960) is an Argentine former footballer. He played in four World Cups and received a FIFA award: FIFA Player of the Century, after being voted, in 2000 in an international internet fan poll organized by FIFA, the best football player of all time.[1]

Maradona won many trophies with Boca Juniors, FC Barcelona and SSC Napoli over the course of his career. During an international career that included 91 caps and 34 goals, he played in four FIFA World Cup tournaments, leading the Argentina national team to its victory over West Germany in 1986 World Cup, in which he collected the Golden Ball award as the tournament's best player. His second goal against England in the quarter-finals of the '86 tournament -- a spectacular 60-meter weave through six England players -- is commonly referred to as "The Goal of the Century." or, in Argentina, "The Cosmic Kite" (El barrilete cosmico in Spanish).

He is also considered one of the sport's most controversial figures. Maradona was suspended for 15 months in 1991 after a failed doping test for cocaine in Italy, and then again for ephedrine during the 1994 World Cup in USA.

After retirement from professional football on 30 October 1997,[2] he suffered ill health and weight gain, along with ongoing cocaine abuse. However, a stomach-stapling operation helped control his weight gain. Since overcoming his cocaine addiction, he has become a TV host in Argentina.[3]

Read more... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diego_Maradona

Edson Arantes "Pelé" Nascimento - VIDEO

Edson Arantes "Pelé" Nascimento
Born Edson Arantes Do Nascimento (better known as Pelé) is known as a legend and the best soccer player to ever play the game. He was raised in a very poor family in Tres Coracos, Brazil and his parents, Dondinho and Celeste Nascimento called Edson "Dico," growing up.

He first learned the game of soccer from his father, Dondinho, who was a decent center forward until his career was halted by a fractured leg.

Pelé began playing soccer for a local minor-league club when he was a teenager. When he wasn't playing soccer he shined shoes for pennies. He was discovered at the age of 11 by one of the country's premier players, Waldemar de Brito. When Brito brought Pelé to Sao Paulo he declared to the disbelieving directors of the professional team in Santos, "This boy will be the greatest soccer player in the world."

He was right! Pelé's impact was immediate! On his first appearance for the team, against Corinthians F.C., he scored a goal right away. He was only 16.

Pelé went on to play in four World Cups with Brazil's National Team. At the 1958 World Cup in Sweden -- one he nearly missed because of a knee injury -- Pelé stunned the world scoring six goals, including two in the championship game to help Brazil win its first World Cup 5-2 over Sweden. He was only 17 years-old, but a legend was born.

An average-sized man, he was blessed with speed, great balance, tremendous vision, the ability to control the ball superbly, and the ability to shoot powerfully and accurately with either foot and with his head.

Four years later he played on Brazil's World Cup team at in the finals in Chile, but an injury suffered in the first game of the tournament prevented him from helping Brazil win its second title.

Wealthy European clubs offered massive fees to sign the young player, but the government of Brazil declared Pelé an official national treasure to prevent him from being transferred out of the country.

At the 1966 World Cup in England, Pelé was the victim of some brutal tackles from Bulgarian and Portuguese defenders and left the finals injured and in tears. But the best of Pelé was still to come.

At the 1970 finals in Mexico, the 29-year-old Pelé, led one of the greatest teams ever assembled to win Brazil's third World Cup. In the 4-1 title triumph over Italy, Pelé, scored a glorious goal. It was Brazil's 100th World Cup goal, and the one he remembers the most.

"I have a special feeling for that goal because I scored it with my head," he said. "My father was a soccer player and once scored five goals in a game, all with his head. That was one record I was never able to break."

Pelé's statistics are staggering. During his career he scored 1,280 goals in 1,360 games, second only to another Brazilian, Arthur Friedenreich, who recorded 1,329 goals. He scored an average of a goal in every international game he played--the equivalent of a baseball player's hitting a home run in every World Series game over 15 years.

At the club level he shattered records in Brazil. He scored 127 goals for Santos F.C. in 1959, 110 in 1961 and 101 goals in 1965, and led the club to two World Club championships.

Pelé also holds the world record for hat tricks (92) and the number of goals scored on the international level (97). His statistics are all the more amazing when compared to today's top players who can barely score more that 30 goals in a season.

He retired from the game in 1974, but came out of retirement the following year to play in the North American Soccer League for the New York Cosmos for just over two seasons. A reported 7-million-dollar contract for three years made him the highest paid soccer player of the North American Soccer League.

His appearance in the NASL gave the American League instant credibility and made millions of Americans aware of the sport, he dubbed the "beautiful game." He said he came out of retirement, not for the money, but to "make soccer truly popular in the United States."

During his career he played in 93 full internationals for Brazil and in all first class matches scored a remarkable 1,280 goals, second only to Artur Friedenreich, another Brazilian, who holds the world record with 1,329.

In many ways, Pelé was the complete athlete. With his skill and agility, he could have played in any position on the field, but he chose on wearing the number-10 shirt as an inside-left forward. He had great balance, which enabled him to dribble effortlessly around defenders, and his heading ability was remarkable.

On Oct. 1, 1977, Pelé's mission in the NASL ended. His last match, an exhibition game between the Cosmos and Santos, was sold out six weeks beforehand, covered by 650 journalists and broadcast in 38 nations.
Muhammad Ali embraced him in the locker room before the match and said, "Now there are two of the greatest." In a speech to dignitaries, celebrities and more than 75,000 fans, Pelé urged his audience to pay attention to the children of the world. At his request, the assemblage shouted, "Love! Love! Love!"
Then he went out and played the first half for the Cosmos -- scoring a goal on a rocket from 30 yards out -- and the second half for Santos.

On Pelé's retirement, J.B. Pinheiro, Brazil's ambassador to the U.N., said Pelé had "spent 22 years playing soccer, and in that time he has done more for goodwill and friendship than all of the ambassadors ever appointed."

In addition to his great accomplishments in soccer, he published several best-selling autobiographies, starred in several documentary and semi-documentary films, and composed numerous musical pieces, including the entire sound track for the film 'Pelé' (1977). He was the 1978 recipient of the International Peace Award, and in 1980 he was named athlete of the century.

In 1993, Pelé was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame and is the former ambassador of sports in Brazil. He has also done extensive work for children's causes through UNICEF.

In 2000, Pelé was named second for the "Sportsman of the Century" award. The legendary Muhammad Ali got the honors.

Michel Platini - VIDEO

Michel Platini
Michel François Platini (born June 21, 1955) is a French former football manager and midfielder, and current president of the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations).

Platini was part of the French national team that won the 1984 European Championship, a tournament in which he was the best player and top goalscorer. He participated in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups, reaching the semi-finals in the latter two. Platini, Alain Giresse, Luis Fernández and Jean Tigana together made up the "carré magique" (French for "magic square"), the group of players that formed the heart of the French national team throughout the 1980s.

He was a notable free kick taker, as demonstrated by his numerous goals from dead-ball situations with the national team and with Juventus, where Platini played for five years and won most of his club career honours.

Platini was named Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honour on April 29, 1985 and became Officier (Officer) in 1988. He was the French national team coach for four years, and was the co-organizer of the 1998 World Cup in France. He has also been the chairman of the FIFA Technical and Development Committee, and vice-president of the French Football Federation
[edit] Platini's club career

[edit] Platini at Nancy (1972-1979)
Platini was quick to make a big impression at his new club, scoring a hat-trick in a reserve team match against Wittelsheim. Further outstanding displays put him in contention for a place in the Nancy first team. His introduction to the first-team squad was inauspicious. On the substitutes' bench for a match against Valenciennes, Platini was spat on and hit by various objects thrown from the crowd when a fight broke out in the stands. Playing for the reserves a few days later, a hefty challenge from an opponent left Platini with a bad ankle injury. His season would finish on a more positive note, and he would go on to make his league debut against Nîmes on May 3, 1973.

In March 1974, he suffered a setback when he sustained a double fracture of his left arm in a match at Nice. Platini missed the remainder of the season as a result, unable to assist Nancy in an unsuccessful bid to avoid relegation from Ligue 1. The following season saw Nancy win promotion back to the French first division with ease. Platini became the team's most important player, scoring 17 goals, a number of which were scored from free-kicks, as was becoming Platini's speciality. Saint-Étienne, the then reigning French league champions, were knocked out of the French Cup with two goals from Platini free-kicks. Platini practised his free-kicks with the help of his friend, goalkeeper Moutier, and using a row of dummies to form a defensive wall of sorts.

With Nancy back in Ligue 1, Platini's military service reduced his availability for matches, but he continued to make himself available to play when possible. In a match away to Laval, Platini, angered by the taunts of the home supporters, scored a hat-trick, but unluckily sustained another injury. Press reports claimed that Platini's season was over and that he would require a knee operation, but neither claim proved to be correct. Instead, Platini returned to first-team football two weeks later for Nancy's French Cup semi-final against Marseille at the Parc des Princes. Platini headed the only Nancy goal in their 4-1 loss and was forced to leave the field injured.

Following his participation in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Platini signed a two-year contract with Nancy, his first professional contract.

Before travelling to Argentina for the World Cup, Platini won the first major trophy of his playing career, captaining Nancy to victory in the 1978 French Cup final against Nice and scoring the only goal of the game. President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing presented him with the trophy. However, with the World Cup scheduled to start two weeks after the cup final, there was little time left for preparation.

Although Platini was not disgraced by his performances at his first World Cup, fans held him responsible for the French team's failure to progress in the tournament, and in the season that followed he was a target of jeering crowds. The situation came to a head in a match away to Saint-Étienne. Spurred on by booing fans, Platini competed for every ball, and he picked up a bad ankle injury in a tackle. As a result, he was ruled out of Nancy's Cup Winners' Cup campaign. His contract with the club expired in June 1979, and Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, and Saint-Étienne emerged as the clubs most likely to sign him, although the Nancy club president had been unwilling to let Platini leave the club. Having set his mind on a transfer to Saint-Étienne, he signed a three-year contract with les Verts.

In spite of his injuries and the boos that would greet him, Platini maintained his pranksterish sense of humour. On away trips, he would set off firecrackers in public places and then pretend to be dead, inevitably drawing a crowd. While in Argentina for the World Cup, he would squeeze tubes of toothpaste into his team-mates' beds.


[edit] Platini at Saint-Étienne (1979-1982)
Platini's three years at Saint-Étienne were a mixed success. The club had signed him with a view to success in the European Cup, but despite some excellent results (including a 6-0 win over PSV Eindhoven in the 1979-80 UEFA Cup and a 5-0 win at Hamburg in the UEFA Cup the following season), the club were unable to surpass the feats of the Saint-Étienne side that had reached the final of the 1976 European Cup.

Platini won a French league title in 1981, but was on a losing Saint-Étienne side in two French Cup finals, against Bastia in 1981 and against Paris Saint-Germain in 1982, in what was his last match for the club before joining Juventus.


[edit] Platini at Juventus (1982-1987)
At Juventus, in a team featuring numerous members of Italy's victorious World Cup squad, Platini had a difficult introduction to Italian football. He was a target in the demanding Italian sports media, and even came close to leaving Italy in the winter of his first season. Platini and team-mate Zbigniew Boniek successfully called for a change in tactics, and in the second half of the season Juventus saw an upturn in their fortunes. They reached the European Cup final, losing to Hamburg, and won the Italian Cup, the first of many club honours to follow for Platini in the coming seasons. He won the Italian championship with Juventus in 1984 and 1986, the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1984, the 1984 European Super Cup, the European Cup in 1985, and the 1985 World Club Championship. He finished top scorer in Serie A for three consecutive seasons (1982-83, 1983-84 and 1984-85), and won a hat-trick of European Footballer of the Year awards (1983 through 1985). Platini was also voted Player of the Year by World Soccer magazine in 1984 and 1985.

The 1985 European Cup final against Liverpool at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels should have been the crowning moment of Platini's Juventus career. The stadium was not fit to stage a match of such importance, and before the teams had kicked off, a wall collapsed under the weight of Juventus fans rushing to avoid a group of Liverpool fans who had made their way into section Z of the ground. 39 people died, and 600 more were injured. It was decided to proceed with the match in order to avoid inciting any further trouble, and after both captains had appealed for calm, the match began just under an hour and a half beyond schedule, with riot police still engaged in a pitched battle with Juventus fans. (See Heysel Stadium disaster.) Platini scored the only goal of the match from a penalty kick awarded for a foul on Zbigniew Boniek that had taken place outside the penalty box. The fact that the foul was given seemed to suggest that the penalty was used as a means to prevent the match being prolonged any further. In the days following the final, Platini was criticised in some quarters for his lack of restraint in celebrating Juventus' win. In his own defence, Platini maintained that like every other player on the field, he had not been made fully aware of the scale of the disaster.

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Roberto Baggio - VIDEO

Roberto Baggio
Roberto Baggio (born 18 February 1967 in Caldogno, Veneto) is an Italian retired footballer, among the most technically gifted and popular players in the world throughout the 1990s. He played for the Italy national team in three World Cups, and is the only Italian player ever to score in three World Cups. He was the best Italian player of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, carrying his team to the final, and losing the trophy to Brazil on penalties. He won both the European Footballer of the Year (Ballon d'Or) and the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1993.

Born in Caldogno, a small town in Northern Italy near Vicenza on the 18 February 1967. Aside from Roberto, the Baggio family had five other children; Gianna, Walter, Carla, Giorgio and Anna Maria.

As a youngster, Roberto always had a keen interest in the sport of football and played for a local youth club over a period of nine years. After scoring 6 goals in one game; Baggio was persuaded by scout Antonio Mora to join Vicenza.


[edit] Club football
Baggio began his professional career at native club Vicenza in Serie C1 during 1982. Fiorentina snapped him up in 1985, and during his years there, he rose to cult status among the team's fans who consider him to be one of their best ever players. He made his Serie A debut on 21 September 1986 against Sampdoria. He scored his first league goal on 10 May 1987 against Napoli in a match best remembered for Napoli winning the Scudetto for the first time in their history.

He was sold to Juventus amid large fan outcry in 1990 for 25 billion Italian lira (US$19 million), the world record transfer for a football player at the time. Baggio replied to his fans saying: "I was compelled to accept the transfer".

In 1993 he won his lone European club trophy, helping Juventus to the UEFA Cup. His performances earned him both the European Footballer of the Year and the FIFA World Player of the Year titles.

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