Something to read during the off-season…?

Many of you will be aware that this used to be a weekly, if not daily blog.

That was until I decided to take three months off to write a book.

A year and a half later, it is finally finished, and I can get back to my blogging ways.

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I don’t think I’ve missed too much in the meantime: just the downfall of Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and FIFA, (almost); Spanish football dominating European competitions, with 3 out of 4 finalists in the two biggest competitions on the continent, and 2 of the 2 winners, (whoever wins the upcoming repeat of the 2014 Champions League Final between the two Madrid teams, after Sevilla won a ridiculous third straight Europa Cup, and their fifth in ten years!); and my beloved Benfica winning their third straight league title, and 35th ever, a point ahead of city rivals Sporting.

Oh, and the greatest shock in British footballing history, with Leicester City defying the odds to win the Premier League.

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Looks like I have some catching up to do.

But in the meantime, you can pick up a copy of my book, ‘Benfica to Brazil’, detailing my travels following the World Cup across the globe for the past 19 years. It’s full of history, culture, comedy and tragedy, and a fair bit of footie too.

You can order it now from any major book seller, (from AMAZON to BARNES&NOBLE to THE BOOK DEPOSITORY, and even on KINDLE), and if you would like a PDF or a version for another eReader, just let me know.

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Also, I can arrange for discounted copies to be delivered anywhere in the US of A (where I find myself now living; yet another minor change over the past 18months), and these copies will come signed, dedicated, and possibly even featuring a special gift.

It’s good to be back: I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labour! 

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65. Benfica to Brazil the Book: UPDATE!

Over a year has passed since the glory days of Brazil 2014, and with FIFA falling apart around our ears, (although not quite enough yet); Benfica falling apart around the League, (although not in the Champions League); and José Mourinho and Chelsea falling apart in pretty much everything, I have been keeping busy turning my experiences in Brazil, and across the world and through the years, into a book.

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This week, I finished the first draft of ‘Benfica to Brazil,’ and for the next few weeks I will be editing, polishing, cutting and extending it to make it the best book you have ever read about football, travel, sports, Benfica, and life.

Check out the update here, and if you haven’t signed up for a copy in advance, there will be copies available when it is published, in physical and e-book form, in a few months: just drop me an email to reserve yours!

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64. Champions of Bi…

I know what you’re thinking:

“Where did I leave my car keys?”

I can’t help you with that right now.

You are also probably thinking that this, my first football blog in months, will be about the seismic events which have taken place in FIFA over the past week or so.

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But that blog will be coming soon.

For now, I want to tell you about what happened on Sunday, May 10th 2015.

“You’re going out to celebrate a 0-0 tie?!” my Canadian friend asked me in disbelief after Benfica struggled to a dire 0-0 draw away to Guimarães.

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I know that draws, and scoreless ones even more so, are the bane of most of my North American sports-loving friends, but there was a special reason for celebrating this particular one.

Because when you draw, but your closest rival also draws, giving you the league title, for the second year in a row, with millions of fans across the country and the world biting their nails as the minutes tick by until the edges of their fingers bleed the same colour as their team’s shirt, then yes.

Yes, you celebrate that.

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And she joined me and two other friends to celebrate with around 499,996 other Benfica fans as the traditional evening gathering took place around the Marquês de Pombal roundabout, closing the main dual carriageway of downtown Lisbon for the evening.

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Benfica have now won their 34th league title, (and, almost as importantly, rivals Porto didn’t win, thanks to a late equaliser from Benfica’s neighbours Belenenses against them in that penultimate round of matches).Two weeks later, they won the League Cup, again for the second year in a row.

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I sure chose the right team to support when I arrived in Lisbon 18 months ago…

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50. World Cup Semi-Final Preview: Brazil vs Germany…

So it’s come to this.

After all of the (c)upsets, near-knockouts and fun and games, there are four teams left, two from Europe, two from South America, three former World Cup winners who are in the top five ranked teams in the world, and one almost-team hoping to be the second successive first-time winner.

Brazil face Germany today, and Argentina take on Holland tomorrow to decide whether or not there is any chance whatsoever of me getting a ticket to Sunday’s final.

These Mexicans haven't forgotten how Holland got to the final...

These Mexicans haven’t forgotten how Holland got to the final…

(If Brazil make it, I give myself a 0.01% chance: if they don’t, but Argentina do, it won’t be much better, except that maybe the suicidal Brazilians would rather sell/give their ticket to me than to Continue reading

49. World Cup Live Match Report, pt.VI: Holland vs Costa Rica…

A sad day for me: my final live match here in my home for the past five weeks, Salvador de Bahía.
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It wasn’t the blockbuster match-up I had hoped for, (Brazil could have been here had they finished second in their group), and I was hoping to see one of the most fun teams in the tournament, Mexico, but had to settle for Holland vs the surprise of the cup, Costa Rica, who not only survived one of the Groups of Death, they were the killers, knocking out both England and Italy.
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I forgave the plucky Ticos for knocking out England…and rocked my new Peru jersey!

I joined up with my Spanish buddies, Andreas and José, and we caused trouble all the way to the stadium: meeting fans from around the world, (from Spurs fans loving my Lilywhites jersey, to hundreds of ‘Ticos‘ which I think we all learned is the slang for a Costa Rican), enjoying a few drinks (and the match-day cups that we would be collecting for possibly the last time), and generally enjoying the bubbling atmosphere.

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45. World Cup Live Match Report V: USA vs Belgium…

A gorgeous, sunny day; an old friend visiting from NYC who happened to show up for a USA match; another old friend racing back to see her country play; and yet another old friend back from his travels, all to be reunited in the gorgeous, gleaming Salvador stadium.

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Back where I belong…

Another friend didn’t have a ticket, but details like this didn’t seem to matter on this magical day: walking to the stadium three hours early to soak up the atmosphere, (and the Continue reading

41. World Cup Day Who Even Knows Anymore…

Finally, a final round of games which produced some excitement!

The late kick-offs were mildly tense, although sadly I was stuck watching the wrong match, The Red Devils of Belgium yet again proving to be horribly tedious, yet winning by a single goal, this time down to ten men against a South Korea side who proved to be even more dismal. Belgium next take on the USA, and will have to show a lot more devilry if they are to go any further in the tournament.

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The boys will have been wearing these jacket-jerseys with pride tonight…

That meant I was missing the Russia vs Algeria game, which saw Continue reading