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Blog - The Football Writer

 By Uli Hesse

Wrestling, rejection & unemployment: A tale of three Bundesliga keepers

Timo Hildebrand, Tim Wiese and Michael Rensing had the world at their feet, but the three Bundesliga goalkeepers have seen their careers go in a different direction.

In Monchengladbach back in May 2007, a 22-year-old goalkeeper by the name of Michael Rensing made his first league appearance of the season for Bayern Munich. The regular No. 1, Oliver Kahn, was nearing the end of his career and Rensing was being groomed as his successor.

On 50 minutes, you could see why the club had such high hopes. A great Peer Kluge strike from 16 yards should have made it 1-1, but Rensing was there and turned the shot around the post. At the same time 250 miles away, VfB Stuttgart's...

 By Andy Mitten

From Warrington to Blyth, nonleague clubs retain FA Cup dreams

Trafford FC, a semiprofessional football club that plays three miles from Manchester United Old Trafford in the Premier Divisions of the Northern Premier League, England's seventh tier, send a monthly newsletter out to 34 people.

The latest one contained a message from one of their directors: "The success of Warrington Town in the FA Cup and the 200,000 pounds plus they have made so far makes me tremendously envious," wrote David Law, "particularly as they defeated us in an earlier round when the...

 By Andy Mitten

On the trail of Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is looking forward to a return to the Nou Camp after his Paris Saint-Germain side overcame Ajax 3-1 in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

PARIS -- Bonjour from the French capital, where I've spent the last few days while travelling for a week from Barcelona to Manchester over land and sea.

On Tuesday, I was at the Parc des Princes to see Paris Saint-Germain beat Ajax 3-1 in the Champions League.

In the mixed zone after the game I spoke to PSG's David Luiz, who was very helpful and bright, plus Edinson Cavani, about the club.

I'd really hoped, though, to speak to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He's a fascinating interviewee when he's in the mood...

 By Andy Mitten

Recalling Lee Sharpe's heroics as Man United thumped Arsenal 24 years ago

ESPN FC's Mark Donaldson breaks down how Manchester United will line up given their recent run of injuries.

Manchester United's game at Arsenal on Saturday is the latest chapter in one of English football's greatest rivalries and, for the visiting fans, will conjure memories of a famous night almost 24 years ago to the day.

On Nov. 28, 1990, Alex Ferguson's United side visited Arsenal's old Highbury ground for a League Cup fourth-round tie ... and won 6-2.

Lee Sharpe, then a 20-year-old winger, was the Highbury hero, scoring a hat trick that put him on the fast track to stardom and celebrity as a "pop...

 By Andy Mitten

From a Wembley Q&A to catching up with Ryan Giggs and David Moyes

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti doesn't believe David Moyes will be joining Real Sociedad any time soon.

"Have you ever had a price put on your head?"

I had just done an hour's talk at Wembley Stadium to 150 students from the University College of Football Business degree course. One of its leaders is Richard Flash, who was once a young professional at Manchester United and is now in academia.

While the Wembley pitch was being prepared for an NFL game on one of the warmest October days recorded, I spoke to the students about journalism, travel and sportswriting.

They enjoyed the tales about being abducted...

 By Andy Mitten

Footballers never forget their first-team debuts

Relive some of the most memorable moments from Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi's 10-year career at the Camp Nou.

Lionel Messi made his Barcelona debut a decade ago, on Oct. 16, 2004. I remember it well, sitting in the main stand at Barcelona's Olympic Stadium during a derby against Espanyol. Barca's No. 30 replaced Deco for the last eight minutes; Barca won 1-0. He sported a heavy fringe and wore a shirt that looked too big for him as it flapped in the wind of the exposed stadium atop the hill of Montjuic. Messi saw a lot of the ball, but not everyone was happy for him. His teammates in Barca B had hoped that...