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Pele, Serena and Bellaghy: It's the week's best sportswriting

It’s a lockdown Sunday in Lent, treat yourself to some great sports stories.

Image: PA

1. “To those who knew Fashanu, he appeared to be somebody in need of an emotional crutch, particularly after being placed in care as a child. Viv Anderson shared a room with Fashanu at Forest and remembers one night when he awoke to the sound of a huge commotion during a pre-season tour in Spain. Anderson wrote in his autobiography: “A thick strong door had a huge hole in it. I heard the sound of sobbing in the bathroom. Justin was bathing his hands — covered in blood — in the sink, and he was moaning. He had smashed through the door with his fist.”

For The Athletic, Adam Crafton tries to shed light on the life of Justin Fashanu

2. “One would think that pressure would ultimately foil her, but on Thursday, it was Osaka who was the breaker. It does not take an expert to see that she used Williams’s bag of tricks against her. Osaka’s serve was blistering, her movements quick, and her returns precise. Facing another opponent Williams may have held on after losing her grip; she could have clawed back. But against Osaka’s barrages—rips, daggers, a steely resolve—there was nothing she could do.”

Lex Pryor looks at Serena Williams’ battle against time, and Naomi Osaka, for The Ringer.

3. When you have lived as eventful and celebrated a life as Pelé has, memory becomes a vague and splintered thing. Pelé didn’t simply create his own lore out of thin air, even if for the most part he happily went along with it. He’s not sitting there on Wikipedia diligently amending his own goal record. Pelé buys wholeheartedly into his own myth because over 60 years the course of his life led him inexorably in that direction.

In The Guardian, Jonathan Liew delves into the mythology of Pele.

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4. Ronnie Moran, the legendary coach famous for his ferociousness, went eyeball to eyeball with Grobbelaar. “It was getting out of control, I thought it was going to end in a fight,” Molby recalled. Dalglish, meanwhile, tended to wait until a post-match meeting a couple of days later to deliver his thoughts. On this occasion, he detached himself from the inquest, leaning against a wall using his back and his foot. His eyes were fixed to the floor and he stroked his chin.

Simon Hughes goes inside the dressing room after Everton 4 Liverpool 4, 30 years ago, for The Athletic.

5. “Not only had Bloody Sunday occurred a short distance away in Derry, civil rights marches had become a common occurrence nearby, events which threw Bellaghy straight into the eye of the maelstrom during the conflict’s early years. And if they needed an incident to bring them down from whatever clouds they were riding on in the aftermath of their victory in Croke Park, it promptly arrived.”

Aonghus Ó Maicín looks back on the dark days that lay behind Bellaghy’s glory days in the Irish Times.

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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