Bolstering the left-wing dimensions

I recently saw an interview with Gabriel Kuhn, whose book, ‘Soccer and the State’, was part of the inspiration for me to write the Political Footballers XI posts last year. If you haven’t read the book I recommend it wholeheartedly. Kuhn highlights some of the key stories and people from football’s prickly relationship with politics. Here…

Political Footballers XI: Striker Cristiano Lucarelli

In recent weeks football has demonstrated once again that is has now come a tremendously long way from its beginnings as a public school method of transforming the weakling children of the British upper classes into gentlemen ready for the trials of Empire.  Even its second and more influential incarnation as a pastime and escape from…

Political Footballers XI: Striker Didier Drogba

I first became aware of Didier Drogba in the spring of 2004.  He was playing his one season for Olympique Marseille, and terrorising defenders in Ligue Un and the UEFA Cup.  My team, Liverpool FC, were in the final throes of the Gerard Houllier era, his team was imploding on the back of a few…

Political Footballers XI: Centre-Forward Matthias Sindelar

‘He was endowed with such an unbelievable wealth of variations and ideas that one could never really be sure which manner of play was to be expected.  He had no system, to say nothing of a set pattern.  He just had…. genius.’  Friedrich Torberg (Wilson, 60:2008) Matthias Sindelar came from a family of Moravian immigrants. …

Political Footballers XI: Midfield Zvonomir Boban

Some of the leading Liberal International Relations theorists hold that wars are created by militaristic and undemocratic governments and rulers for their own gain.  Kant famously wrote in, ‘Zum Ewigen Frieden’ that: ‘…under a nonrepublican constitution, where subjects are not citizens, the easiest thing in the world to do is to declare war.  Here the ruler…

Political Footballers XI: Midfield Paolo Sollier

‘Triste come un Consiglio di fabbrica in un pomeriggio d’inverno tra un palleggio e un collettivo politico sogni dittature proletarie e coi gol richiami alla lotta di classe. Sotto le curve dei popolari, composto esulti e nelle domeniche  di pioggia é più efficace  il tuo pugno chiuso’ La solitudine dell’ala destra – Fernando Acitelli (quoted…

Political Footballers XI: Midfield Sócrates

When the news broke last week that Sócrates, the legendary Brazilian midfielder, had been rushed to hospital for an emergency operation, I feared the worst.  O Doutor has been a committed fan of alcohol and cigarettes for many years, I assumed his illness was related to his lifestyle choices.  But he has been released from…

Political Footballers XI: Central Defence Lilian Thuram

In a recent Guardian article Jonathan Wilson writes about the possible longevity of Spain’s dominance of world football.  That Spain have been able to produce skilful, intelligent players like Xavi, Iniesta and Silva, all who are 5 foot 7, has been attributed to a different focus in junior football.  He says that perhaps the obsession…

Political Footballers XI: Right-back Javier Zanetti

Going in at right-back in the Political Footballers XI is Internazionale defender Javier Zanetti.  Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1973, Zanetti began his football career at Talleres de Remedios de Escalada.  He played in the second division for one season before being sold to Banfield. He was recommended to Inter by scout and legendary…

Political Footballers XI: Left-back Paul Breitner

‘I can really identify myself with this [McDonald’s advertising] campaign, I was born for this commercial.  I have travelled with my family since 1978 to America and have been a McDonald’s fan since then.’  This was Paul Breitner speaking to the ‘Sales and Advertising’ features section of Süddeutsche Zeitung in 2010.  The same Paul Breitner…

Political Footballers: Central Defender Oleguer Presas

Oleguer Presas i Renom is an easy choice for centre-back in this Political Football XI.  After Javi Poves quit football, I can’t think of many other current players (although he has just been released by Ajax) who take politics and their political beliefs as seriously as Oleguer. Oleguer Presas is a remarkable footballer in many…

Political Footballers XI: Goalkeeper Volker Ippig

The goalkeeper has always been a special member of a football team.  Legend has it that you have to be a little crazy to do it.  And certainly many goalkeepers have had an interesting approach to the game and life in general.  Every other player on the team depends on and works with others.  But…