Monthly Archives: March 2012

Merlin’s Premier League Stickers of the Week: Brits & Irishmen Abroad… Italy (Part 1)

Today it’s a selection of Premier League players who have also plied their trade in Italy…

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If you have a bit of time then take a look at this piece I wrote last year:

Mountain’s Blog – Football Italia: The all-time XI British & Irish footballers to play in Italy

or for a whole website based on English footballers playing abroad see Gav Stone’s Les Rosbifs.

From 1993/94: Ian Rush (Juventus 1987/88)

From 1995/96: David Platt (Bari 1991/92, Juventus 1992/93, Sampdoria 1993-95), Mark Hateley (AC Milan 1984-87)

From 1997/98: Paul Ince (Inter Milan 1995-97)

From 1999/2000: Robbie Keane (Inter Milan 2000/01)

[All these (and more…) can be found in the Sticker Archive]

Categories: Brits & Irishmen Abroad…, Italy, Merlin Premier League Stickers of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peter Crouch, Wonder Goals & Trevor Sinclair‽

There can be no doubt that Peter Crouch’s goal against Man City on Saturday was something special. Goal of the season? Almost definitely, it was sublime. The best he’ll ever score in his career? Quite possibly but it is certainly not the first ‘wonder goal’ he’s ever scored.

*Click on the pic for a gif of the goal

This is mostly due to the fact that Crouch is something of a specialist when it comes to the holy grail of finishes: the overhead kick, memorably producing this piece of magic (or it’s close relation the scissor kick) for Liverpool in the Champions League against Galatasaray as well as against Bolton and even against current club Stoke City during his time at Portsmouth. (Just don’t mention the air shot against Egypt… Although on the topic of Crouch for England you should really read this piece: The Peter Crouch Myth by Liam Ferry.)

Limbs everywhere! (and Rigobert Song!!!)

Overhead kicks are simply excellent, they exist in a world parallel to all other types of goal requiring perfect technique, concentration and athleticism as well as confidence and audacity. (Not to mention the fact that they’re almost impossible to recreate on concrete playgrounds!)

The video linked to below (because they won’t let me embed it) contains not only Crouch but a selection of the very best overhead kicks ever scored such as a ludicrous goal from Mauro Bressan against Barcelona. Unsurprisingly many are the work of some of the greatest goalscorers the world has ever known such as a top corner finish from Van Basten or some unbelievable improvisation from Ronaldinho (less so from Zlatan…). I am a purest however: the ‘overhead’ kick is not in fact the pinnacle at all, what is even better is a true bicycle kick.

For this there are only a couple of contenders. Firstly Rivaldo’s flawless goal against Valencia, the work of a true Brazilian great but by setting himself up, however brilliantly, he detracts from the technique required for the bicycle kick itself.

This leaves the greatest overhead kick of all time…

Possibly the greatest goal ever…

as the work of one Trevor Sinclair of Queens Park Rangers (1996-1997 season)

Textbook execution. Outside the box. Take a bow son:

YouTube: Overhead Kicks – Some of the greatest and the best in the world of Football

(apologies in advance for the OC soundtrack)

1995/96 (QPR were relegated to Division 1 for 1996/97)

(For just the Sinclair goal, with a much more amusing Babylon Zoo soundtrack, click here)

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Merlin’s Premier League Stickers of the Week: I Remember When You Played… Pundits (Part 1 – Sky Sports)

This week it’s a look back at the glory days of some of Sky Sports’ finest…

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From 1993/94: Paul Merson, Tony Gale, Alan Smith, Iain Dowie

From 1994/95: Jamie Redknapp, Paul Walsh,

From 1996/97: Gary Neville

[All these (and more…) can be found in the Sticker Archive]

Categories: I Remember When You Played..., Merlin Premier League Stickers of the Week, Pundits | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You just couldn’t write it: PSV vs Ajax 2006/07

It is 18th March 2007 (five years ago this Sunday) and as half time approaches Edgar Davids catches a volley so sweetly that it nearly knocks out Heurelho Gomes after rebounding off of the post. From the resulting corner Wesley Sneijder is able to cut inside from the wing and blast it past a probably still dazed Gomes to make it 0-2 to the away side in the derby.

Final score that day? PSV 1-5 Ajax!

It was drama topped spectacularly by the title race itself however between these two giants of Dutch football and Louis van Gaal’s AZ.

This was an Ajax squad featuring Stekelenburg, Stam, Vermaelen, Grygera, Heitinga, Emanuelson, Davids, Gabri, Sneijder, Babel and Huntelaar and even some fledgling performances from Gregory van der Wiel.

Ronald Koeman’s PSV meanwhile included the likes of Gomes, Alex, Reiziger, Salcido, Cocu, Afellay, Méndez, Farfán, Koné and Kluivert.

With one match to go, unbelievably, AZ, Ajax and PSV were all on 72 points. AZ had a Goal Difference of +53, Ajax +47 and PSV +46… (if you don’t know what happened you may want to watch the video below without reading any further down):

The final day would see AZ blow it by losing to relegation threatened Excelsior, Ajax poetically win 0-2 against Willem II meaning that PSV would have to have won their match against Vitesse Arnhem by 4 clear goals to have clinched the title. The score in that game? You guessed it: 5-1.

Phillip Cocu had scored the goal that won PSV the league whilst Edgar Davids would score the penalty that would win Ajax the Dutch Cup (against AZ). It was a fitting end for a generation of Dutch stars with Stam, Reiziger and Cocu retiring at the end of the season and Kluivert and Davids following suit shortly afterwards (if you ignore the Crystal Palace cameo) having amassed 393 caps between them for the Netherlands.

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Merlin’s Premier League Stickers of the Week: Are you still playing??? (Part 1)

Merlin Premier League sticker albums 1993-99

Merlin’s Premier League sticker albums were simply brilliant. Starting in the 1993/94 season they were both a hobby and an encyclopaedia for a young kid taking their first steps into football fandom.

I’ll be posting a handful of stickers every week starting with some players who featured in the earliest albums and are still (sort of) going almost 19 years later.

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Featured in 1993/94: Ryan Giggs (still playing for Man Utd – almost 19 years at the very top), Robbie Fowler (after spells in Australia and Thailand was due to play in the IPL style Premier League Soccer before it was postponed – recently on trial at Blackpool March 2012), Nicky Barmby (retired Jan 2012 to become Hull manager), Sol Campbell (released by Newcastle Utd May 2011).

Featured in 1994/95: Paul Scholes (still in the youth team in 1993/94 and had retired in May 2011 but is still going today at the highest level).

Honourable mentions: David James (1994/95 – currently playing for Bristol City), Gary Speed (1993/94 – retired May 2010), Frank Sinclair (1993/94 – currently playing for Colwyn Bay).

[Every player mentioned above can be found in the Sticker Archive]

Categories: Are you still playing???, Merlin Premier League Stickers of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Noel Gallagher met Mario Balotelli

What you want to know:

According to Super Mario he DIDN’T:

  • Give £1,000 of casino winnings to tramp.
  • Take a boy back to school when he turned up at the training ground or speak to any teachers or bullies (He did ask the kid why he wasn’t at school though).
  • Buy everyone at The Tudor pub in Wythenshawe a drink.
  • Pay for everyone’s fuel at a petrol station.
  • Drive around Manchester dressed as Santa.
But he DID:
  • Get sent out for an ironing board and come back with a quad bike, a Scalextric and a trampoline.
  • Go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve and put some money in the collection plate (but not £1,000).
  • Set up fireworks in his house because he was bored (but claims that he wasn’t going to light them and that he’d left the room when they went off – apparently only his curtains were set alight).

See the full interview here:

BBC Sport – The Big Interview: When Noel Gallagher met Mario Balotelli

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The Pod

Click on the image for a gif-tastic moving version!

Yeah! Fist pump! Look how happy Lukas Podolski is. Maybe it’s because everyone’s favourite left-footed German Polish German forward has just agreed to join Arsenal… as long as he passes a medical… and can agree personal terms… and doesn’t decide that he’d rather join Lokomotiv Moscow… or Anzhi… or Schalke… all places where he could earn more money… It’s got to be the Arsenal thing though right?

Apparently we have Per Mertesacker’s text messages to thank for any potential move, he can be quite convincing sometimes.

Not courtesy of News International

One last thing – if you’ve got a second, check out this brilliantly named tumblr:

(I preferred the ‘Bad To The Bone’ video but it was taken down on YouTube :-()

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“Mes amis…

…this is just the beginning, watch this space.”

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Welcome to Mountain’s Short Thoughts and Bits – an extension of Mountain’s Blog ( for less measured musings as well as some footballing flotsam, jetsam and detritus for your consumption..‽ (Yeah, that’s right, an interrobang.)

Over the coming weeks and months I will be adding regular and one-off posts and features slowly transforming these stark pages into a footballing Cabinet of (mild) Curiosity.

Cabinet of Curiosity

“Rome wasn’t built in a day. But I wasn’t on that particular job.” – Brian Clough

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