From the Jaws of Victory - Contributors, Part 3
We're beyond excited to announce the launch of 'From the Jaws of Victory', our new book about football's glorious nearly men.
You'll be able to get it on pre-order from this site from 2 November, at a pinch of a price (£8.99), with the full beans launch in a couple of weeks.
This book wouldn't be what it is without the phenomenal team of writers that have contributed to it - and before our pre-order period we'll be listing them here so you can get a taste of what's on offer. Here's Part 3!
Terry Duffelen - Bayer Leverkusen (2001-02)
"Given the season Leverkusen had, it’s easy to allow bitter memories to overpower the sweet. It is worth emphasising that the 2001-02 season was mostly gravy for Leverkusen fans. This is a team that fought back from 2-0 down to draw 3-3 and deny Schalke a win in their first Bundesliga match in their fancy new stadium. There were satisfying wins against local rivals FC Koln in the league and in the semi-final of the DFB-Pokal, plus a thumping 4-0 defeat of Borussia Dortmund, the eventual champions. Of the 19 Champions League nights, wins over Barcelona and Juventus were among the most memorable. The best of them was the comeback win at the BayArena in the second leg of the quarter-final where Ballack (twice), Lucio and Berbatov saw off Liverpool by virtue of a 4-2 win."
Nicky Bandini - Arsenal (2005-06)
"No English club had ever beaten Madrid on their own turf. The hosts, meanwhile, had won all seven games they had played at the Bernabeu to start 2006. Arsenal’s run of four victories in 12 matches looked a little less impressive — especially when you considered that one of those came in the second-leg of the League Cup tie with Wigan, and failed to save them from an aggregate defeat.
"This is all a long-winded way of saying that the game in Madrid should have been a rout. And at first, it looked like it might be. Just not for the team everyone expected."
John Nicholson - Middlesbrough (2005-06)
"Physicists say time travel is not possible, but I’ve long felt it happens at football. I was up celebrating that winning goal before the Italian had struck the ball. It was as though I went forward in time by two seconds, saw it hit the net, and was already celebrating the goal when it actually did hit the net. He struck it clean and true beyond the diving keeper.
"When the final whistle went, we were shocked as much as overjoyed. This didn’t happen to Middlesbrough FC. This was the sort of heroic performance we always dreamed of but never saw. It went against the grain. It was the football equivalent of brushing a cat’s fur up the wrong way. There was something unnatural about it.
"Legendary local radio commentator Ali Brownlee called it “the greatest comeback since Lazarus”."
Marcela Mora y Araujo - Argentina (2006-14)
"That Messi might be unveiled in Germany 2006 was a tale foretold — more by the sponsors than the football connoisseurs, as massive billboards and murals on the sides of buildings announced his impending presence. But Pekerman had a carefully orchestrated symphony to play out, and a labour of love and many years was delicately timed. The seeds he had harvested were flowering, and he gave Messi and Tevez their first minutes of play on a World Cup stage almost at the same time, a few games into the tournament."
Brooks Peck - Ghana (2010)
"A month before the 2010 World Cup began, FIFA announced the different slogans that would adorn the team buses for each of the 32 participating nations. They ranged from the charmingly cheesy (New Zealand’s “Kickin’ it Kiwi style”) to the vaguely morbid (Slovenia’s “With eleven brave hearts to the end”), but Ghana’s transport rallying cry was particularly unique; “The hope of Africa.” It was the only one that invoked the spirit of not just a single country, but an entire continent. It was the only one that carried as much expectation as it did optimism."
Filipe d'Avillez - Benfica (2013-14)
"I sat in a restaurant and watched FC Porto easily defeat Nacional, from Portugal’s other archipelago, Madeira. I had been hoping our northern rivals would drop points in what is usually a tricky away game, but no luck. I texted my friend Lazar, from Serbia, about the result, but told him that it was ok: we were still five points clear provided we beat Estoril at home on Monday evening, which should not be complicated. This meant we could even afford to lose to Porto away in the second last game of the season, and we’d still clinch the title if we won our last game at home against modest Moreirense. Our main concern at the moment was getting our hands on tickets for the Europa League final in Amsterdam against Chelsea. With the Taca de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) final to look forward to as well, we could end the season with three new pieces of silverware."
Neil Atkinson - Liverpool (2013-14)
"When Mignolet saved the penalty on his Liverpool debut, the ground exploded. A point against Stoke City on the first day of the season would have killed us. Gerrard grabbed him by the throat after. It is possible Simon never entirely recovered. Steve Graves says out loud: “We can win this league, you know.” He makes his case. It is almost as good as Kolo’s.
It’s a punch in the face, the realisation that, yes, we could win this league, you know. A punch in the face I’m glad I got early. A punch in the face that every Liverpool supporter would get between August 2013 and April 2014. For the first time since April 2009, it is valid to say: “We can win this league, you know,” and that is the only sentence ever worth saying."
In the meantime, if you want to know any more, drop us a tweet @magicspongers (long story). We'd love to hear from you.