(December 15) – On 19 December 2009, Pep Guardiola stood and wept in the middle of Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The 38-year-old Barcelona manager clasped a hand across his face as his body gave way to huge, shoulder-heaving sobs. Zlatan Ibrahimović, the club’s towering Swedish striker, wrapped a tattooed arm around Guardiola’s neck and then gave him a vigorous push in order to jolt him out of it. But Guardiola could not stop. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Spain
On June 21st, 1964, an ecstatic crowd of 120,000, awash in a sea of red and yellow, cheered and applauded Generalissimo Francisco Franco as he stood up to leave the Madrid summer evening gathering. This was no mass rally of political affirmation that the dictator was leaving, but a football match. Spain had just beaten the Soviet Union in the Final of the European Nations’ Cup; so much more than just a football victory: a triumph for international co-operation over Cold War hostility, but, conversely, perhaps also a triumph over the old Red enemies of the Civil War.
(April 22) – Juan Antonio Samaranch, who has died aged 89, led the International Olympic Committee to its greatest prosperity and its worst corruption scandal. He took control as commercial sponsorship turned to sport for new marketing opportunities and reoriented the games into a marketing vehicle for the world’s best-known consumer products. Continue reading