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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 29 September 2020

The man who revolutionised goalkeeping, Dennis Rodman's genius and the week's best sportswriting

It’s Sunday morning and you know what that means… stick the kettle on and feast your eyes on some brilliant long reads.

Dennis Rodman features in this week's best sportswriting.
Dennis Rodman features in this week's best sportswriting.
Image: Jeff Widener/PA Images

1. “THE GREATEST GOALKEEPER of them all, Lev Yashin revolutionised his position and became a hero of the Soviet Union. This summer, the image of him flying high will be seen by millions of people because it is Yashin who is on the 2018 Fifa World Cup poster.

“He was an international star and an iconic figure, famous for his black outfit and flat cap. But he had his childhood torn away in a country ravaged by war and died aged 60 after a retirement plagued by ill health that led to him losing a leg.”

In Yashin,Patrick Jennings and the BBC take a closer look at the poster boy for this year’s World Cup in Russia.

2. “When you hear Dennis Rodman’s name, what—or more accurately, who—do you think of?

“Perhaps you remember Rodman the basketball player. That man—tireless, relentless, owner of elite basketball IQ—sprinted off the Delta Center Court 20 years ago this month, arms raised, having logged 39 minutes in the Bulls’ clinching Game 6 NBA Finals win over Utah, the last title of the Jordan era. Despite coming off the bench, the 37-year-old Rodman was the primary defender on Karl Malone and led the playoffs in rebounds.”

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard examines the complicated legacy of Dennis Rodman and how his post-career antics have shaped our memories of him as a player.

Soccer - FA Cup Final - Everton v Watford Neville Southall during his Everton glory days. Source: EMPICS Sport

3. “Doubt settles over Neville Southall like a brooding cloud on an otherwise sunny afternoon in Liverpool.

“Before he begins talking animatedly for two hours about sex workers, mental health, skeletons, transgender issues, Theresa May, the agony of Loris Karius, the hounding of Raheem Sterling, why Piers Morgan is “a massive cock”, how to annoy Vladimir Putin, the World Cup and his dream of uniting disenfranchised people, Southall is on the brink of cancelling this interview.”

One of the best in the business, Donald McRae has a fascinating chat with Neville Southall in The Guardian.

4. “At a few minutes past 5:30 on the afternoon of June 9, 1973, Charles (Chic) Anderson raised binoculars to his eyes and prepared to call the 105th running of the Belmont Stakes. He was 41 years old, married with five children, living an itinerant life that took him away from the family home in Evansville, Ind., for weeks at a time, but one which he clearly loved.

“He had been calling races since the late 1950s; in 1961 he became the regular caller at Churchill Downs and eight years later was hired by CBS to call the Triple Crown races on its telecasts. He was at the pinnacle of his career. Yet he couldn’t have known in that instant—because who does?—that words he spoke in the ensuing two-and-a-half minutes would outlive him by decades and help frame one of the seminal moments in sports history.”

Tim Layden breaks down one of the most famous pieces of horse racing commentary for Sports Illustrated.

FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier - France v Netherlands Could Mbappe be one of the stars of Russia 2018? Source: Liewig Christian/ABACA

5. “Speak to those who saw Kylian Mbappé as a child, who watched him take the first steps in his skyrocket of a career, and they will tell you the same thing: All they needed was one glimpse. That was enough, even then, to know.

“When Jean-François Suner, the general manager of A.S. Bondy, the first club on Mbappé’s journey to Monaco, Paris St.-Germain and the World Cup, first saw him play, he simply said, “Wow.” The sensation, he said, must have been the same for those who, a decade or so earlier and an ocean away, first watched Lionel Messi.”

French sensation Kylian Mbappé gets the New York Times treatment from Rory Smith and Elian Peltier ahead of the World Cup.

6. “The four-star Forrestmix Hotel just outside St Petersburg, where England’s footballers will be based during this summer’s World Cup 2018, boasts 107 plush rooms, gym facilities, a pool, a VIP spa, three restaurants and a helicopter pad. The players will be able to fill their downtime with myriad forms of entertainment – laptops, tablets, games consoles, box sets – whilst theoretically keeping in touch with the rest of the world via their smartphones.

“When Gary Lineker and his England team-mates travelled to Mexico for the 1986 World Cup, they were only allowed to make one phone call a week, which had to be done from the main reception, the location of the only phone in the hotel. The only entertainment inside the rooms was a television with a couple of unintelligible channels on it. And so, the players would make their own fun. Some played cards. Others would set up a pool and have a bet on the football. It was, as Lineker puts it, “a bit like prison”.”

The second part of Jonathan Liew‘s sit-down interview with Gary Lineker went live this week in The Independent.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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