Saturday, August 30, 2008

Perhaps it is time to reveal my sympathies – football fans are hardly objective creatures and I am no exception. Scandalous may be, but these are the five teams, of particular vintage on top of it, which are my favourites:

1. Levski, Sofia, Bulgaria, 1965. Can’t help it – I am with ‘blue’ blood no matter what. Arguably, the best team in the history of the club. Coached by Rudolf Vitlacil – the Czechoslovakian coach born in Vienna, Austria, who led Czechoslovakia to the final of the World Cup in 1962.
First row (left to right): S. Nikolov, Al. Manolov, G. Sokolov, G. Asparukhov, Chr. Iliev – captain, Al. Kostov
Second row: B. Mikhailov, T. Botev, Iv. Zdravkov, G. Zlatkov, R. Vitlacil, Iv. Vutzov, G. Georgiev, G. Stoyanov, B. Aleksandrov

2. Manchester United. Can’t remember when and why became a ManUnited fan… this is not the famous team of 1968, but the one on the verge of decline and disaster – 1971-72. Still, most of the heroes were there. It was my first photo of United, so sentimentality plays a role. Not to mention the long hairs of Best and Morgan – in Bulgaria long hair was against the law at that time.

First row, left to right: Francis Burns, Brian Kidd, George Best, Denis Law, Pat Crerand, Willie Morgan, John Aston, Carlo Sartori.Second row: John Fitzpatrick, Alan Gowling, Paul Edwards, Willie Watson, Jimmy Rimmer, Alex Stepney, Ian Ure, David Sadler, Tony Dunne, Bobby Charlton-captain.

3.Ajax, Amsterdam – 1972-73. Honestly, the team I enjoyed most, but comes third…subjectivity, you know. Rinus Michels already gone to Barcelona, Velibor Vasovic retired, but Cruiff at his best. Pure magic.
Second row, left to right: Haan, Blankenburg (West Germany), Wever, Suurbier, Stuy, Keizer, Krol, Schilcher (Austria), Arnold Muhren, Neeskens, Hulshoff
First row: Swart, Rep, Kovacs (Romania) – coach, Grijzenhout – assistant coach, Kleton, Mulder, Cruiff -captain, Gerry Muhren.

4. Brazil 1982. I know, I know… a team without a goalkeeper. What joy, though. For me, the ‘beautiful game’ was murdered in 1982…

Standing: Valdir Peres, Leandro, Oscar, Falcao, Luisinho and Junior;First row: Socrates- captain, Cerezzo, Serginho, Zico and Eder.

5. West Germany 1972. The same team as in 1974, but enormous fun to watch in 1972, when they won the European Championship. Breitner and Hoeness were too young for professional contracts yet. (This is a grudging bow to objectivity… I was supporting England and refused to watch the penalty the Germans scored on Wembley at the quarter-final.)

Second row (left to right): Franz Beckenbauer- captain, Helmut Schon – coach, Karl-Heinz Schwarzenbeck, Jupp Heynckes, Gerd Muller, Horst-Dieter Hottges, Gunter Netzer.
First row: Erwin Kremers, Herbert Wimmer, Paul Breitner, Sepp Maier, Uli Hoeness.