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Dublin: 2 °C Friday 15 November, 2019

'The end is really the beginning' and more of 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.

1. “Thousands of mourners tied their purple Fiorentina scarves tight against the chill and crowded together in the piazza outside the Basilica of Santa Croce. Workers started building the church in 1294, and for more than 700 years now, this is where Florence says farewell to someone who has earned a place in the city’s parochial heart. Santa Croce is where secular saints are canonized. The funerals of Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli were held here, and at 10 a.m. on Thursday, a white Maserati hearse carrying the body of the Fiorentina football captain Davide Astori stopped at the foot of its marble stairs.”

On ESPN, Wright Thompson describes the day Fiorentina said goodbye to its captain, Davide Astori.

2. “This week I’ve been reminded of a game at Grimsby’s Blundell Park, for Lincoln City. I was stood at the side of the dugout and, for the whole of the game, a middle-aged man proceeded to shout abuse at me. Not just shout, but foam at the mouth. The whole game. Imagine the worst thing someone could call you and you’ll get an idea.”

In a week when Jamie Carragher was suspended by Sky Sports for spitting, former professional footballer David Preece on how provocation comes in many forms.

3. “Jessica Harrington is explaining how a naked Kate Moss ended up in her kitchen. Down the hall, entries are being checked in the office. Head lad Eamonn Leigh is waiting outside with the next lot to be worked. Willow the four-month-old dog is weaving through legs, chairs and tables, full of puppy power. Every so often the smart watch on Harrington’s wrist rings with a phone call or a message from the yard, the gallops or the vet.”

In the build-up to Cheltenham, David Coughlan spent a day with Team Jessica Harrington. 

4. “Dear Jamie,

It’s me. Well, it’s 34-year-old you.

You’re reading this in 2004 – at the very beginning – having just been nominated for Junior World Player of the Year.

You don’t win. (Tell Jerome Kaino, “We’ll always have Chicago.”) There’ll be plenty more nominations but our name never gets called.

Don’t worry, I have plenty of medals to show you.

Bad news first… It’s over.”

The Players Chronicle was launched this week and its first article was a letter from Jamie Heaslip to his younger self following his retirement. 

5. “With another limp performance and a Champions League exit, Sanchez’s move to Old Trafford has not been the blockbuster move that he had hoped for when he left Arsenal.”

What’s wrong with Alexis Sanchez? Jonathan Liew attempts to explain his early struggles at Manchester United.

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