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Commonplace Book Football/Soccer

Beppe Furino – The Timeless Water Carrier


Every team needs this player.

State side we call them defensive midfielders, or holding midfielders. Back in my U-10 parks and recreation soccer days we called them stoppers.

In Italy they’re called the Mediano, the water carrier.

John Foot describes the Italian interpretation of this player in his book Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer:

In order for the skillful players to have the space with which to work, somebody had to get the ball, and give it to them. The playmakers couldn’t be expected to do the running that was needed, the dirty work, the pressing. Every team had at least two players of this type, if not three.

Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer, John Foot. pg 146, 147

Juventus of course, had whom many consider to be the greatest mediani of all – Beppe Furino.

Beppe, to the right, in the black and white Juventus stripes

Juventus specialized in mediani, and the greatest of all was Beppe Furino in the 1970s and 1980s. Little Furino, from Palermo in Sicily, ran himself into the ground in order to get the ball to a succession of playmakers such as Franco Causio, Liam Brady and Michel Platini. Yet Furino was not a one-dimensional player. Team-mate Marco Tardelli called him ‘the most tactically intelligent player I have ever seen. He was always close to the ball.’

Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer, John Foot. pg 148

A mediano doesn’t revel in personal glory. But their trophy cabinets are flush with silver.

The life of a mediano was thus a melancholic one. They were always destined to be the supporting act, straight men, water carriers. They could never be stars and would remain forever in the shadow of their more skillful colleagues. Furino won a record eight titles with Juventus in the 1970s and 1980s, but is rarely mentioned in accounts of those years.

Winning at all Costs: A Scandalous history of Italian Soccer, John Foot. pg 148

Beppe Furino and water carriers like him are tactical survivors. No matter the era, they remain relevant.

Categories
amreading Commonplace Book Football/Soccer

Pro-Paul Pogba

Pogba might naturally be tall, powerful, and rangy, but you can find hundreds more across Europe’s top leagues with those attributes. What marked him apart, even as a kid was his work ethic. “I remember telling the group at training one Monday to juggle the ball 50 times with their right foot, 50 times with their left, and 50 times with their head,” recalled another of his coaches at Roissy, Mamadou Papis Magassa. “Paul couldn’t do it. But he spend the next two days with a football, practicing constantly. He came back Wednesday and did it perfectly.”

8by8 Magazine issue 8, All Eyes on Paul. By Paolo Bandini.

How did Nicki Bandini (then Paolo) scoop this tale of Paul Pogba? Can you picture young Paul in the back garden practicing his juggling?

Even the gifted need to put in the work.

Categories
Football/Soccer Poems

Just Blaise

Matchstick legs ignite

a Parisian son. Midfield

light illuminates.


Blaise Matuidi is my favorite midfielder to watch right now.

He doesn’t pirouette, or flash a thousand step-overs. You won’t see a croqueta, or metronome passing.

But his tackles, endless running, headers, and enthusasim for football gives an aging amateur midfielder an example to aspire to.

Categories
Football/Soccer

Ajax – Amsterdam’s Artists

TURIN

Watching Ajax unravel Juventus in the Champions League second leg quarter final was like watching Bob Ross paint a landscape in real time.

Each Schöne wallpass a brushstroke, each Neres dribble a happy accident. All culminating into a final rendering of football joy.

An encouraging reminder that art, on occasion, can overcome commerce.

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Uncategorized

Mandžukić’s Chilena

Episode #5

Morning Journal,

I was thinking of my favorite football moment of 2017.

It wasn’t Monaco winning Ligue 1. An incredible achievement, but that was more of a story than a single moment.

Totti retiring, the actual day. His final goodbye at the Stadio Olimpico (which got killer reviews on Google by the way) came to mind. Tears and tears. A tearful Totti is a Totti worth remembering. But alas…

Then there’s the US men’s team not qualifying for the World Cup. A bit of shock and joy.  A hope that rot will stop, which may only happen if Eric Wynalda is elected as the USSF president. But that’s another journal entry for another day.

But the moment that rose to my hippocampus’s surface was Mario Mandžukić’s Champions League final chilena:

Mandžukić, Juventus’s alleyway brawler, displayed his technique and audacity to lift the hope of Juventus supporters around the world.

It wasn’t enough.

Mandžukić’s goal, his match tying goal. His momentum shifting goal. His glimmer of hope goal, will likely be forgotten. Real Madrid’s 3 second half goals turned brilliance into a consolation.

Football supporters just don’t sit around in pubs discussing all the amazing consolation goals they’ve witnessed.

But when it was executed, in that that moment, the Croatian’s chilena wasn’t a consolation goal. It was a celebration.

Here’s to more chilena’s in 2018.

Jack