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Dublin: 8 °C Saturday 20 April, 2019

The Italian George Best who was killed at 24 and more of the week's best sportswriting

Here’s what we enjoyed reading over the past seven days.

Journeyman Photocall - 61st BFI London Film Festival 'Journeyman' star Paddy Considine. Source: Dave J Hogan

“One moment Considine’s character, Matty Burton, is celebrating retaining the belt with his wife; the next he is dabbing at his head before crashing to the floor unconscious. And, at a stroke, his life’s roulette wheel has spun from glory to tragedy, with no sense it will find equilibrium again. The movie took Considine nearly 10 years to develop and shoot. But it has timed its moment exquisitely. Boxing in Britain is enjoying another of its sporadic golden ages, despite three deaths in the ring in the last five years, and growing research about the dangers of traumatic brain injury across many contact sports. Considine’s depiction of a slurring, stumbling former fighter prone to flashes of violence as he tries to rediscover his identity, lingers in the mind.”

– Paddy Considine’s ‘Journeyman’ is fiction but it has lessons for boxing, writes Sean Ingle for The Guardian.

“The existence of the investigation and its extraordinary findings have not been previously reported. Investigators believe what they uncovered was a trafficker who sat at the center of one of the broadest sports doping networks in American history, with tendrils that extended to Europe and Asia. In one year, he shipped parcels containing performance-enhancing drugs to more than 8,000 people, they determined. His substance of choice was peptides, a newly popular (though banned) substance among athletes that is essentially a building block for protein. His clientele included a dozen pro football players and coaches; pro baseball players and a major league batting coach; and top track and field athletes. There were Olympians and potential Olympians, from discus throwers to sprinters to pole-vaulters to weight lifters to wrestlers.”

Michael Powell of the New York Times on an Arizona man who was distributing performance-enhancing drugs on a global scale, yet no
charges have been filed.

Luigi Meroni With A Pair Of Sunglasses Gigi Meroni in May 1965. Source: Mondadori via Getty Images

“Meroni was also a cultural icon, a splash of colour from the Swinging Sixties in an otherwise austere post-war society and fiercely Catholic nation. He refused to conform, sparking one scandal by living with his married girlfriend and another by refusing to cut his hair before the World Cup in 1966. As many tutted their disapproval, he casually poked fun at his critics by taking a hen for a stroll on a lead near Lake Como and trying to get the creature into a bathing suit. Meroni was the original rebel of Italian football, long before Mario Balotelli or Antonio Cassano.”

– The Daily Mail’s Matt Barlow on the story of Gigi Meroni, Italy’s answer to George Best who at just 24 was killed after being hit by a car driven by an adoring teenage Torino fan — who then became club president.

“A player who can’t shoot, whose driving and passing lanes are cut off, should have nothing to work with. Simmons should have hit the rookie wall hard. Instead, he’s become even more efficient in the second half of the season than the first. Since the All-Star break, he’s averaging 14.1 points (on 56.9 percent shooting), 8.6 rebounds, and 10.1 assists. He’s had as many triple-doubles in the past two weeks (four) as he did in the previous three months. Simmons has come to understand the way defenses gear up for him. He’s turned the conventional wisdoms about himself into a mind game for his opponents. In other words, Simmons knows you know he can’t shoot, and to take advantage of that perception in the interim, he’s leaned even further into the bit…”

– A no-range game, even in today’s 3-centric NBA, hasn’t stopped the ascension of Sixers rookie Ben Simmons, writes The Ringer’s Danny Chau.

Leaders Sport Business Summit 2016 - Day One West Ham United CEO Karren Brady. Source: Eamonn M. McCormack

“At 48, and a quarter of a century after becoming Birmingham City’s CEO, she is still known as ‘the first lady of football’. But, of course, there is much more to Brady than football — numerous business interests (last July, she became chair of Philip Green’s Taveta retail empire); her position as a Tory peer in the House of Lords; an outspoken column for the Sun; aide to Lord Sugar on The Apprentice; mother of two grown children; and champion of women in the workplace. It is in this last capacity that we meet.”

– Embattled West Ham CEO Karren Brady says she is a champion of women’s rights. So The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone asks why is she happy to work with men who are notorious for undermining them?

“I went home. I looked at the junk food in my cupboards and at the running shoes I hardly ever wear anymore. I also read over the final report from my day with Everton, the hardest of hard numbers. The blood results, as Shaheir had predicted, had been the last to arrive. He sent me a gentle note, saying I should give him a call to discuss them. My liver and thyroid might need a closer look. I had two choices. I could give up, a body too far gone, or I could see that I have so much room to improve. We’re all damaged. We’re not all beyond repair. I remembered when Shaheir told me that.”

ESPN’s Chris Jones suffers through a player medical at Everton.

Liverpool legend places Salah on the same level as Messi and Ronaldo

‘I was fully convinced in my head that it was just a job and it would be okay. That was naive’

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