Thursday, 26 September 2019

Gabriel Martinelli wants the world and he wants it now

Even in his first weeks at Ituano FC, his coaches were aware that Gabriel Martinelli had lofty goals for his career.

“When he arrived here, we were told that he was 'the boy with the project,'” says Luiz Antonio. He describes a young man who was “very focused, very determined” in his approach, despite his tender years.

“He was very ambitious and showed that element of his personality in so many ways. He likes to push himself to the maximum, straining for excellence at all times. He would be annoyed to lose a training game, for example. Some players in Brazil still have a lot to learn when it comes to competitiveness and high standards, but not Gabriel.”

Read my piece on Arsenal's young starlet on The Athletic.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Burnt by his first European adventure, Gabigol is restoring his reputation in Brazil, the only way he knows how

If you've watched Flamengo recently, you'll have notice the placards, lovingly whipped up at kitchen tables around the city with felt-tip feeling.

Hoje tem gol do Gabigol,” they read. Gabigol is going to score today.

He probably is, you know, but we’ll return to that in a moment. Because chances are that you’ve heard that name before. Maybe you played Football Manager five or six years ago. Maybe you really, really wanted to know who the next cab off the Santos academy rank was going to be.

Chances are, too, that you lost sight of his immense potential shortly afterwards. That would be perfectly excusable. For a while, he lost sight of it himself.

Now, though? Now he's back in the groove.

Read my piece on Gabigol's renaissance at Flamengo on The Athletic.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

A brief history of the 'Olympic goal'

In broad, layman’s terms, you should not be able to score from a corner.

You cannot see more than the thinnest sliver of the goal from your starting position. Even if you manage to direct an effort on target, the penalty box is full of players who are keen – indeed, often desperate – to interrupt the ball’s trajectory. One of them is allowed to use their hands to do so and really, really doesn’t want to be embarrassed.

To say the odds are stacked against the taker is to understate things by an order of magnitude.

That's why the 'Olympic goal' club is so exclusive. It's full of transgressors and mavericks – men and women who have looked common sense in the face and laughed.

Read my piece on this delicious skill – inspired by Leandro Carvalho of Ceará – on The Athletic.