Tag: throwback thursday

Throwback Thursday – John Harkes

Captain for life, at least that is the title of his biography, John Harkes is an American soccer legend. When I think of a legend, I think of a player that did something first, a player that was transformative in his time and a player that broke a lot of preconceived notions along the way. Harkes was just that player.

A son of Scottish immigrants, Harkes was a first generation American. As a Kearny, New Jersey native, Harkes had the luxury of growing up in a footballing paradise. Harkes excelled through the youth ranks and ended up at the University Virginia, under current LA Galaxy head coach, Bruce Arena, where he won the Hermann Trophy, which designates the best college player in the country. Upon graduation Harkes began his career in Albany, NY but transferred after a season to Sheffield Wednesday in the English Football League.

Then this happened:

They say all players have a marquee moment. Well, here it is. It was this thunderbolt that earned Harkes, the league’s goal of the year. Beyond that, Harkes became the first American player to play in the Premier League when Sheffield Wednesday gained promotion. He also became the first American to score in a cup final, when Wednesday lost to Arsenal 2-1 in the League Cup Final.

Harkes would play another season in the Premier League with Derby County and West Ham United. During that season, the MLS announced that it was to have its inaugural season in 1996 and Harkes signed with DC United later that year.

harkes dc untited

Harkes played with DC United, the New England Revolution and the Columbus Crew during his time in the MLS.

He also had a stellar international career. He was part of the 1990 and 1994 World Cup squads but was famously cut from the 1998 team just weeks before the World Cup was to begin. The head coach at the time, Steve Sampson, cited “leadership issues” as the reason Harkes was removed from the squad. In his book, “Captain for Life,” Harkes criticized Sampson for lacking “credibility to a group of guys who had hundreds and hundreds of caps among them” and “putting a huge amount of pressure on young, internationally inexperienced players”, and concluded, “I can’t think of one thing that Steve did right in the months leading up to the World Cup.”  The USMNT lost all three games during that World Cup and ended up finishing last overall in the tournament. Harkes would be called up again to the national team in 1999 by his former college coach, Bruce Arena and would finish his career with 90 CAPS.

harkes usmnt

Harkes has been a youth director, a color commentator, and an assistant coach since his time playing.  In 2005, he was inducted into the US Soccer Hall of Fame. He is one of the of the most accomplished American players ever and one that broke many borders for future American players. Player’s that are able to push the limits of what those have done before are true leaders and inspiration for all those to follow. We thank John Harkes for his incredible contribution to the game and that is why is this week’s Throwback Thursday Player of the Week!

Advertisements

Throwback Thursday – Ronaldo

Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima aka Ronaldo aka Fat Ronaldo is arguably one of the greatest players of all-time. Not one to shy away from the media and the flashy, Ronaldo is known for the elegant & explosive playing style, as well as his shoes and hairstyles. Known as the “phenomenon,” he won Fifa World Player of the Year three times, the Ballon d’Or twice, two World Cup titles and numerous domestic championships.

fat ronaldo
Questionable Hair Styles but Undoubtable Talent

 

One of the best dribblers of all-time, Ronaldo was known for his mazy runs and acrobatic finishes. He is the second leading goal scored in Brazilian National Team history and held the World Cup all-time scoring record with 15 goals his four trips to the tournament. (German, Miroslav Klose, recently broke this record) If you have 15 minutes to witness some majestic brilliance, check out the video below:

Let’s run down some stats on this prolific goalscorer:

Cruzeiro: 14 appearances – 12 goals

PSV: 46 appearances –  42 goals

Barcelona: 37 appearances – 37 goals

Inter Milan: 68 appearances – 49 goals

Real Madrid: 127 appearances – 83 goals

AC Milan: 20 appearances – 9 goals

Corinthians: 31 appearances – 18 goals

It is safe to say that in whichever country Ronaldo played in he scored goals. His completeness was always something admired by other attackers as Zlatan Ibrahimovic says, “”The best opponent of my career? Ronaldo, Il Fenomeno. Why? Because he was my idol and because, as a football player, he was complete. There will never, in my view, be a better player than him.” He was also feared by defenders as legendary Milan defender, Allesandro Nesta states here, “Ronaldo is the hardest attacker I’ve ever had to face. He was impossible to stop.” Even Messi had something to say about the mercurial Brazilian. “He was the best striker I’ve ever seen.”

Ronaldo was not without his fair share of controversy. He was a bit of a partier and on occasion, he found himself in less than desirable romantic situations. This includes the most public of his misgivings, a scandal involving three transvestite prostitutes which he met in 2008. This occurred while he was engaged to the future mother of this children, Maria Beatriz Antony.

ronaldo with gf
Ronaldo with Maria

The first their third child together would be born later on in that year and the couple continues to live together in Sao Paulo.

Currently, Ronaldo co-owns the sports marketing company 9INE with mixed martial artist Anderson Silva. He recently became part owner of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League and was rumored to want to attempt a comeback by playing with the side. With stints at PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and AC Milan, it is tough to put anything beyond the 38-year-old wonder-striker (including a shock comeback) and that is why he is this week’s Throwback Thursday player of the week.

ronalod barcelona

 

Throwback Thursday – Javier Zanetti

Ok, so this is not a dramatic throwback into the mid-20th century but Javier Zanetti’s career was so long that it feels like I am going back in time to speak of the start. These days, loyalty amongst football clubs is nonexistent. Everyone is looking for the next big money move and every player seems to think that the next club will be better than where they currently are. Zanetti was not one of these players.

His senior professional career lasted an amazing 22 years, 20 seasons of which were played with Inter Milan. His incredible fitness level and consistency on the pitch earned him the nickname “El Tractor.” What I find most amazing about Zanetti is that he looks exactly the same as he did when he started his career. Check proof below:

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - First Knockout Round - First Leg - Inter Milan v Manchester United - Stadio Giuseppe Meazza
Zanetti during his last season with Inter Milan
Olympic Games Atlanta ... Soccer ... Argentina v Portugal
An early shot from Zanetti’s international career.

 

Zanetti stats are unbelievable. He is the most capped player in Argentine history. He played in the 1996 Olympics, five Copa America tournaments and two World Cups. On a club level, he made 715 appearances, netting fifteen goals but what is most impressive is that he holds the record for most ever outfield player appearances, totaling 1123 matches played. He is the only captain to win a treble with an Italian club and is the only non-Italian born player to captain and Italian club.

Zanetti is also well-known for his charity work in Argentina and continues to act as an ambassador for SOS Children’s Villages.Zanetti, along with his compatriot Esteban Cambiasso, founded this charity association to help coach young children with social isolation problems and motor coordination difficulties. Zanetti said that “this spirit lies at the base of all of Inter’s initiatives for youngsters.” He is an incredible human who also has an incredible family seen below:

FC Internazionale Milano v SS Lazio - Serie A

Javier Zanetti is more than deserving of being recognized as one of Inter Milan’s and Argentina’s greatest players of all-time. His contribution to each cause both on and off the field are extraordinary. He is the93rdminute’s Throwback Thursday man of the hour. Check a tribute video to him below.

Throwback Thursday – Eric Cantona

Everyone knows him. Even a generation past this legend’s playing days, Nike brought him back for a few excellently done ad campaigns. See below:

When the collar was up and he was on the field, any kind of magic was possible. This magic could be positive or negative. You could say that many younger people might know him only for his excellent handle of kung-fu and his ability to fly into the stands in a fit of rage. See below:

Or if you’re not into real people…

Either way, Cantona was quite a polarizing figure. The Frenchman was not great at going with the flow and always seemed to be in some kind of rift. The bookends of his club career, Auxerre at the start and Manchester United at the close, were the longest stays of his soccer life, both just lasting five seasons. In between, he was unable to settle in both on and off the field. One moment in particular that sticks out is his first retirement from soccer in 1991. Cantona was upset with how a committee was suspending him throwing the ball at the referee. After telling each member that he was an idiot, his suspension was increased to two months and subsequently, Cantona retired from the game.
Michel Platini was the French National Team coach at the time and convinced Cantona to come out of retirement and continue his career.
4278734384_be209c38a5
And then came Manchester United. Four titles in five years and it all might never have happened. After the kung fu kick, Cantona was stuck amidst rumors that he would leave English football for good. Luckily, Sir Alex Ferguson convinced him otherwise and King Eric went on to be United captain and lead the Red Devils to two more titles.
You will not find a more polarizing character with the touch of class that Cantona had. On the field, a fleeting moment was more like a generation for him and in that time his ability to create and score goals was immense. Who knows where United would have ended up without him?
cantona