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Sunday, 20 November 2011

Borussia Dortmund 1997 - No.18 Ricken.


Led by Ottmar Hitzfeld, the nineties were a golden age for Ballspielverein Borussia Dortmund.
In a memorable 1997 UEFA Champions League Final in Munich, Dortmund faced a Juventus team featuring Zidane. Riedle put Dortmund ahead and then made it two with a bullet header from a corner kick. In the second half, Del Piero pulled one back for Juventus with a back heel, and it seemed momentum was with the reigning champions.


Then 20-year old substitute and local boy Lars Ricken latched on to a through pass by Möller. Only sixteen seconds after coming on to the pitch, Ricken chipped Peruzzi in the Juve goal from over 20 yards with his first touch of the ball.
"When I was sitting on the bench, I saw that Perruzzi had been standing too far out of his goal," Ricken revealed. "I then said to myself that the first ball which comes to me, I will shoot it blindly towards goal".

Dortmund lifted the trophy with a 3–1 victory, then went on to beat Brazilian club Cruzeiro 2–0 in the 1997 Intercontinental Cup Final.
Ricken was told by Johan Cruyff he could "play a big role in the Italian or Spanish league in the years to come" but never fulfilled his potential and remained with Dortmund until his retirement in February 2009.


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Palermo.


Unione Sportiva Città di Palermo is currently the top-ranked football club from the island of Sicily.
Following its return to Serie A in 2004, the club has become one of the most prominent in Italy, also providing four players to the Italian team that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It has gained a UEFA Cup place in each of the past three seasons, narrowly missing UEFA Champions League qualification in 2007 and 2010, and losing its third Coppa Italia final in 2011.

The official team colours are pink and black, giving rise to the nickname rosanero; a prominent founding member of the club defined pink and black as "colours of the sad and the sweet", a choice he asserted to be a good fit for a team characterized by "results as up and down as a Swiss clock".

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France 1998 - No.10 Zidane.


Zinedine Zidane was the leading figure of a generation of French players that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship.
Despite being the first French player to ever be sent off in the World cup finals, the Juventus maestro became an instant national hero when he scored two identical goals, both headers from corner kicks, in the final to smash Brazil. It cemented his reputation as the best player in world football at the time.

He is one of only 3 players to have been FIFA World Player of the Year three times (Brazilian striker Ronaldo and Lionel Messi being the others) and in 2011 Uefa.com asked players and journalists to crown the best player in the UEFA Champions League of the past 20 years, 'Zizou' topped the poll ahead of Messi.


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Lazio 1992 - No.8 Gascoigne.


In the Nineties Paul Gascoigne was generally recognised as one of the greatest talents English football had ever produced.
At the peak of 'gazzamania' he joined Lazio for a fee of £5.5 million, making his debut in Sept 1992 in a match against Genoa which was televised in Britain as well as Italy.

A fans favourite, he scored his first goal in the 89th minute to equalise during the Rome derby against AS Roma. But he failed to fully settle in Italy and, beset by media interest and injury, moved to Rangers in 1995.
'The pitch was the only place where I felt safe, secure and good about myself. I knew I was better than anyone else playing that day. I really did.'


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Saturday, 19 November 2011

Santos 1958 - No.10 Pele


Santos Futebol Clube is based in São Paulo and has become a symbol of 'Joga Bonito' - The Beautiful Game - in Brazilian football culture. It is also notable for having featured Pelé as its main player between 1956 and 1974.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento 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 Santos, "This boy will be the greatest soccer player in the world."

An average-sized man, he was blessed with speed, great balance, tremendous vision, superb ball control and the ability to shoot powerfully and accurately with either foot and with his head.
Pelé's statistics are staggering and at club level he shattered records. In his career he played in 1,363 matches and scored 1,282 goals. His best season was 1958, when he scored 139 times.


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Lazio.


The Derby della Capitale, the Rome derby, between Lazio and their main rivals AS Roma and is amongst the most heated and emotional footballing rivalries in the world. Both teams despise the arrogance from the Northern teams of Milan and Turin but they hate each other more.

AS Roma is the team supported in the popular roman districts while Lazio support is more from the richer districts of the city. The political differences between the fans used to be one of the reasons for this rivalry. The 'Biancocelesti' in general had right-wing idea's while the Roma fans were more left-wing orientated.

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Sporting 1994 - No.7 Figo.


Luis Figo is one of the greatest footballers to emerge from Portugal. He was a playmaker with amazing dribbling abilities during a golden generation of Portuguese football. Figo won the European footballer of the year and FIFA World Player of the year in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

Before going on to legendary status at Barcelona and Real Madrid, Figo honed his football skills at Sporting Club in Lisbon. Figo made his senior debut in 1989 and helped them to win Portuguese cup in 1995. Figo scored 20 goals for Sporting CP in 169 appearances.

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River Plate.


Based in Buenos Aires, Club Atlético River Plate are one of the most successful football teams in Argentina, having won the Primera División a record 33 times. In addition, the club have won five international titles, including the Intercontinental Cup.

River's success has led IFFHS to name it ninth in its All-Time Club World Ranking (and first in the Americas), which has led to supporters using the moniker 'El Más Grande'- the Greatest.



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Dynamo Kiev.


Before the breakup of the Soviet Union, Dynamo's kit was yellow shirts and blue shorts. That kit at the time carried a symbolic meaning, representing the national colours of the yet-not-adopted Ukrainian national flag.
Dynamo's home is the 16,873 capacity Lobanovskyi Dynamo Stadium in Kyiv, with a few bigger games played at Olimpiysky National Sports Complex.


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Benfica 1994.


Founded in Lisbon in 1904, it is one of the "Três Grandes" (Big Three), football clubs in Portugal, with Porto and Sporting Clube de Portugal being the other two, Benfica's biggest rivals.
The emblem is composed of an eagle, a shield in the club colours of red and white, and the acronym SLB for "Sport Lisboa e Benfica" over a football, all superimposed over a bicycle wheel, which was taken from the Grupo Sport Benfica emblem. The club motto is "E Pluribus Unum," Latin for "Out of many, one".
Before every home match, an actual eagle flies around the Estádio da Luz and lands on top of Benfica's club shield, creating a real life version of the club's emblem.

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Italy 1996 - No.3 Maldini.


As a symbol and legend for club and country, he played for 14 years for the Azzuri, making his debut in 1988 before retiring in 2002 with a record 126 caps and four World Cup participations. He has also worn the captains armband a record 74 times for his country.

Maldini was a very technical player, his timing in the tackles were perfect and he had great pace for defender. He had the ability to play as both a left back as well as a centre back.
He won the 1994 world player of the year award of World Soccer Magazine, with a unique distinction of being the first defender to do so.

During his two-decade-old career, he played only for AC Milan and holds the record number of appearances in Serie A and won seven titles.
He participated in eight UEFA Champions league finals, winning five.
Few have drawn such widespread admiration from team-mates and opponents alike. "Quite simply the best there is" was the description used by the Juventus striker Alessandro Del Piero.

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