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The ego of Zlatan, dogs at Old Trafford and losing streaks; the best sportswriting of the week

There are also excellent articles on gambling addiction and a PGA Tour caddie’s child, who was born with Down syndrome.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

1. “You know those stories about a wise coach who inspires a group of plucky overachievers to overcome the odds and win state, or whatever?

“This is not one of those stories.”

Writing for Sports Illustrated, Chris Ballard tells the intriguing story of a team from a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania who embarked on a harrowing streak of form in the early 1990s. It’s a longform piece, but this kind of sportswriting is well worth your time.

2. “For some reason an Afghan hound came to mind. No idea why, it just did. This image nagged since, to be perfectly honest, I have no idea what an Afghan hound really looks like. It just sounded quite good.

“In the diligent pursuit of accuracy I used a well known search engine to check photographs of an Afghan hound. My instincts were right. Fellaini bore no resemblance. So then, what dog? Ah, there it is. A poodle. Fellaini, with that bushy head, resembled a poodle on steroids. An overgrown poodle. That’s it. That will do.”

On the pages of The Telegraph, Chris Bascombe reveals the reason he was caught looking at photos of dogs while at a match in Old Trafford, rather than watching Man United’s clash with Bayern Munich.

3. “What separates Ibrahimovic from these others is that he appears to be quite conscious of the legend he has built, even as he is building it. This is a man who watches his old goals on YouTube, who reads his own press voraciously, who plays as himself on computer games.

“This is not an awareness that he has always possessed. When he first came to prominence as a teenager for second-division Malmo in the early 2000s, the onrush of publicity and acclaim caught him by surprise.”

Jonathan Liew, writing for The Telegraph, investigates why Zlatan Ibrahimovic craves attention and how the reality of the player is beginning to catch up with the myth he has created around himself.

4. “I heard a good story at a meeting once. A girl who is an alcoholic was worried about going to her Christmas party for fear she might have a drink. A man at the meeting advised her not to go. He then asked her, “is there any person that you work with, that you feel would risk their life for you?”. When she replied “no”, he said, “then why would you risk your life for them”.

On Grand National weekend, Niall McNamee writes about his recovery from gambling addiction.

5. “That first night in the hospital was rough. Letting go of Isaiah, that tiny soul connected to those great big monitors, was the hardest thing Paul and Michelle had ever had to do. Less than 24 hours old, and Isaiah was already confined to a place, the NICU, that Michelle and Paul had never been to, nor knew what it was like.

“Was he just laying in the incubator by himself wondering where his mom is and where his dad is?” Michelle asked.”

Writing for the PGA Tour website, Helen Ross tells the tale of tour caddie Paul Tesori and wife Michelle, whose baby was born with Down syndrome.

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