No doubt about it Ajax have been the surprise team in this season's Champions League. After three years away from Europe's leading club competition, few expected the Dutch champions to reach the quarter-finals at the expense of other, wealthier sides such as Arsenal and Roma.
After next year's summer interval, association football in West Germany will be completely reorganised.
How many more times can the tattered reputation of Internazionale of Milan be called into question before the Italian federation take special powers to investigate in depth this most controversial of European clubs?
Gianni Rivera’s 89th minute winner against Brescia at San Siro on March 31, 1968, secured for AC Milan the ninth Italian championship in their history, for this win gave them a nine-point lead at the top of the league and with only four games left to play they could not be caught.
Not many years ago "talent" was everything, and given reasonable fitness and the will to win, a talented player could be relied upon to win matches and pull in big crowds.
Since the great Kocsis, Hidegkuti, Puskas team of the nineteen-fifties broke up; Hungarian football fans have been looking to young stars to re-establish Budapest among the Continent's football centres.
David Beckham lingered longest on the Old Trafford pitch after Manchester United's aggregate defeat by Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals. He will have no doubt been reflecting on his role in a most remarkable European Cup tie. But he may also have been reaching the inevitable conclusion that his lifelong love affair with Manchester United is coming to a close.
It seems fairly certain now that FIFA will bring in legislation during 1966 to prohibit charging the goalkeeper. In effect, an unwritten law to this extent is already in force throughout the Continent and South America. Thus, Britain alone will be affected.
Somewhere along the line there had to be a calming influence, for the draw for the World Cup Finals in London early in January threw the domestic soccer season into something of a panic.
Barcelona’s Camp Nou is as awesome as ever, its tiers rising endlessly, obliterating a clear, winter's sky. The place exudes prosperity and arrogance, seemingly challenging the world to match its majesty. But linger here, mingle with the customers, listen to the players and watch the football. Then the senses communicate an entirely different story of this enormous club.
It has been said by the critics that one man cannot make a team, yet when Argentina-born Alfredo Di Stéfano flew the Atlantic to join Real Madrid in 1953, it marked the beginning of an era in which the blond centre-forward led the club to real greatness. Champions eight times in eleven seasons, Real became the most famed and most feared club side of all time, and at the height of their power between 1956 and 1960, set up what will probably remain an all-time record by taking the European Cup five times in a row.
During the last two or three years it has become increasingly apparent that sooner or later Santos would wrest the ‘World's-best’ tag from Real Madrid, and now that it has happened only those who wear blinkers will be surprised.
By now we should be accustomed to English failure. By now we should have learned the lessons from a decade of disappointment. Alas, nothing changes.
It’s early 1971 and the footballing world is still coming to terms with the god like genius of current World Champions, Brazil. As the curtain comes down on an illustrious career, Dima Istow, for World Soccer magazine, catches up with the legendary USSR goalkeeper Lev Yashin to talk football and the future.
Lothar Matthaus, 28, the midfield ace and captain of the West German national side looks back on a splendid year. In his first season with Italy's lnternazionale he won the league championship, and with the national team he is on course for the World Cup finals next year.
When, in the customary steaming heat of summer, the French began their championship in Lyon last July, Chris Waddle and Mick McCarthy, the new arrivals from Britain, found themselves in direct and contrasted opposition.
If one player symbolises the renaissance of lnternazionale then that young man is Nicola Berti. While the media glare focuses on Giovanni Trapottoni, free-scoring Aldo Serena and imported German stars Lothar Matthaus and Andy Brehme, 22-year-old Berti has captured the hearts of Inter's 'tifosi' with his driving midfield play and ability to score vital goals. Not only has Berti played an instrumental part in Inter's first 'scudetto' since 1980, he has also laid claim to a permanent spot in an Italian team among the favourites for next year’s World Cup.
John Toshack, team boss of Real Madrid, is a fully paid-up member of the European managers' society.
The checking-in booths at Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport seemed unusually crowded on that sunny morning when our intrepid party gathered to 'vene, vide', and if possible, 'vici' in Rome.