“A great attack wins you games, a great defence wins you titles.” That was the mantra of Alex Ferguson, a man who, let’s be honest, knows a thing or two about winning major trophies.
It’s a theory that was surely in Jurgen Klopp’s thinking when he dropped £75 million to take this month’s cover star to Liverpool last January, and the signs are that it was money well spent.
Virgil van Dijk has brought solidity to the Reds’ previously porous backline, and if they do go the distance and finally win the Premier League, his contribution will have been the difference.
We headed to Merseyside to meet the totemic defender, who told us how street football, a mouthy coach and dicing with death have given him the mental fortitude to take him to the very top.
We’ve also taken a moment – and 10 pages – to celebrate the most iconic centre-backs that the game has ever seen, spent an afternoon with Manchester United’s next captain, and visited the home of the most bonkers fans in world football. On that note, we’d like to offer a gentle reminder to the good folk of Athens that the views expressed by PAOK supporters are not those of FFT. Seriously…
Virgil van Dijk
The Dutch defender has turned Liverpool into genuine title contenders just a year on from his world-record switch from Southampton to Merseyside, and even he thinks he’s worth every penny.
Franz Beckenbauer and Bobby Moore are two of football’s most iconic central defenders, but they aren’t alone in personifying the art of stopping teams in their tracks. FFT salutes the greats.
He may not be Mr Popular with supporters of other clubs, but to Manchester United fans his tenacity, loyalty and straight talking have made him a cult hero. Evil? That’s not how we see it…
How WhatsApp changed football
Instant messaging has changed players’ habits and killed the deadline-day fax. Is it all good news?
In a season plagued by injuries, a lack of signings and new stadium delays, Spurs have clung on in the title race – and public transport lover Lucas says their trophy hunger is greater than ever.
Fire United Christian FC
In a corner of east London, and in the depths of England’s 10th tier, Fire United Christian FC treat non-league purists to 100 per cent samba sparkle – well, until things go all ‘2014 vs Germany’…
“It’s funny how fast you integrate with the first team. You’re still a kid, but suddenly you’re sat next to Petr Cech while he reads his breakfast newspaper…” That’s how Ruben Loftus-Cheek felt when he first linked up with Chelsea’s senior pros aged 17. Since then the south Londoner has progressed from promising midfielder to World Cup starter, determined to become a Stamford Bridge mainstay.
He’s not a household name in the 21st century, but 100 years ago, free-scoring, wise-cracking, big-drinking striker Hughie Gallacher was British football’s first icon – before meeting a tragic end.
PAOK vs Olympiakos
For three decades, the Greek championship has been won by a team from the nation’s capital, and don’t PAOK know it. As the club from Thessaloniki target a first crown since 1984/85, FFT enters the Black Hell to see PAOK battle Olympiakos, their most bitter of rivals, in a top-of-the-table clash.
One-on-One: Dion Dublin
The former Cambridge, Coventry and Manchester United striker reveals if he could have matched Eric Cantona, how close he got to France 98, and why he’s now hosting Homes Under The Hammer. We’re sold.
Frank de Boer defends his short spell in charge of Crystal Palace, Peter Crouch lists the games that changed his life, and Grant Holt explains why he’d love to wrestle referee Michael Oliver.
George Best was football’s first pop star, but still lived with his landlady. New digs were supposed to represent the Fifth Beatle turning over a new leaf, but it became a nightmare. Plus, we uncover some classic Celtic programmes, learn Everton’s bizarre history and recall the headline news from 1954.
The latest must-have football clobber, including some snazzy customisable boots, a snug tribute to classic kits and an anniversary strip for a Premier League side (well, at least for a few more weeks).
The April 2019 issue of FourFourTwo is brought to you by Dion Dublin, Peter Crouch, Grant Holt, Frank de Boer, Sylvinho, Virgil van Dijk, Ander Herrera, Lucas Moura, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Brian Deane and more. Go geddit…