Much of the language of football is derived from warfare: an ‘aerial bombardment’ in the last few minutes, a quick burst of goals being described as a ‘blitz’, or bringing the ‘big guns’ or ‘cavalry’ on from the bench.
Very rarely though do the two worlds overlap. Football tries its best to steer clear of external politics, while war has more prevalent worries than a mere game.
Sometimes though it is impossible to keep the two separate: we all know about El Salvador and Honduras’s ‘Football War‘, or Uday Hussein‘s misuse of the Iraqi national side.
However, while these examples made some minor waves in the international arena, there is one recent example that led to revolution, and the dissolution of an entire country. And it’s much closer to home.
So far, I’ve written at length about foreign footballing people who have had a big impact on the game across the world, ones who are all but forgotten within our borders in the United Kingdom.
It may seem that England, the great originators of the game, were arrogantly standing still while the rest of Europe progressed and advanced ‘our’ sport. That is broadly true: the authorities in England didn’t really embrace the need for change until that fateful day in 1953 when the Magical Magyars destroyed 90 years of misplaced confidence.
However, there were several individuals who were far ahead of their time working in football throughout the formative years of the game. One such character was responsible for many of the advancements off the pitch we see today: including the introduction of what could be termed the original footballing doping programme.