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Friday, 25 July 2014

Yugoslavia 1998 - No.10 Stojkovic.


Long time captain of the Yugoslavia national football team and Red Star Belgrade, Dragan Stojković is considered one of the best players in the history of Yugoslavian and Serbian football. He starred for Yugoslavia at the 1990 - where he was named in the All-Star Team - and 1998 World Cups.

Usually a playmaker, Stojković was especially famed for his vision, technique and passing ability, and was a penalty kick specialist.
He is one of the five players to be awarded the title Star of the Red Star, although he was a losing Marseille player when Red Star won the European Cup in 1990, after he refused to take a penalty against his former side in the shoot-out.

He is widely considered to have never shown his true potential in Europe as injury prevented him from fully establishing himself at Marseille over the long term. Despite this, there is general consensus among critics that he displayed extraordinary ability throughout his career in spite of his chronic injuries, being most renowned in Japan.
Stojković made 84 career international appearances, scoring 15 times.
His final international match was against the country he spent much of his playing career in, Japan, in July 2001.

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Valencia 2001 - No.21 Aimar.


A young Pablo Aimar began his ascent to stardom with River Plate, whose first team he joined in 1997 and with whom he quickly established himself as one of the best young players in Argentina.

An attacking midfielder with a vast array of skills, he was signed by Valencia as a direct replacement for the outgoing playmaker Gerard for €24 million in January 2001.


The purchase proved justified as he helped lead the team to a first place finish in La Liga in 2002 as well as a runner-up finish in the previous seasons's Champions League, being defeated by Bayern Munich; he also won a domestic and European double in 2004 with Valencia again winning La Liga and the UEFA Cup, beating Marseille in the final.
It was a golden period for Valencia and no coincidence Aimar was at the heart of it.

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Sunday, 6 July 2014

Holland 2014.


The Dutch hold the record for playing the most World Cup finals without ever winning the tournament.
They finished second in the 1974, 1978, and 2010 World Cups, losing to West Germany, Argentina, and Spain respectively.
At the 2014 finals they avenged their loss from four years earlier with an incredible 5-1 beating of Spain in their opening match, on their way to another semi-final.

With a balance of solid defence and the attacking flair of Sneijder, van Persie and Robben they had hopes of yet another final appearence but in a tight and tense game they finally succumbed on penalties to old rivals Argentina.

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France.


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Inter Milan 1997 - No.9 Ronaldo.


Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, commonly known as Ronaldo, is rightly regarded by experts and fans to be one of the greatest football players of all time. He is one of only three men to have won the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times or more, along with Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi.

Popularly dubbed "the phenomenon", he is considered by many the most complete striker in the past thirty years. In 2007 he was named a member of the best starting eleven of all-time by France Football magazine.

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Ronaldo adapted to the Italian style of the game in his first season, finishing second on the league's scoring charts. Ronaldo started to develop into a complete forward, began racking up assists, became first-choice penalty taker, taking and scoring freekicks, and captaining the team at the end of the season. 

What had fans on the edge of their seats, and devastated the opposition, was his amazing dribbling skills and his direct running at goal, the likes of which the game had never seen before.

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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Fiorentina 1984 - No.8 Socrates.


In 1984, aged 30, the sublimely talented Sócrates had his first experience abroad, playing in Serie A with Fiorentina.
His supreme ability with a football, visually accentuated by his languid style, had allowed him to shine at Corinthians but it never really suited the Italian game.
Moments of genius, his trademark backheels and audacious chips were enough to create a cult following among some supporters yet others were left frustrated with his nonchalant approach.

His former teammate Giancarlo Antognoni recalls 'He struggled to adapt to our football but he was an authentic champion, full of refined class, great charisma and character.'
He returned to Brazil after that sole season, representing Flamengo, Santos and former club Botafogo-SP, before retiring in 1989.

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Away.

Socrates embodied the romantic side of the beautiful game and never took his profession too seriously.
"The way of life is so correct and organised in Europe. It's not like that in Brazil, where things are more spontaneous," Socrates told an interviewer in 2010.
"I was in Florence for a year with Fiorentina and sometimes I didn't want to train, but to hang out with friends, party or have a smoke. There's more to life than football."

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