Ronaldinho’s letter, Darren Fletcher on Roy Keane and more of this week’s best sportswriting
1. “Wednesday marked 10 years since David Beckham confirmed he would leave Madrid and head to California to sign with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Then football’s most recognisable star, he arrived in Major League Soccer with the goal of improving the American game. Beckham promised to “make a difference” Stateside, but where did he fail and where did he succeed?”
In the Guardian, Kristan Heneage examines whether David Beckham’s time in America has made any difference to the MLS.
2. “Dear eight-year-old Ronaldinho, Tomorrow, when you come home from playing football, there will be a lot of people in your house. Your uncles, friends of your family and some other people you won’t recognize will be in the kitchen. At first, you’ll think you’re just late for the party. Everybody’s there to celebrate the 18th birthday of your brother, Roberto. Usually when you come home from football, mom is always laughing or joking around. But this time, she’ll be crying. And then you will see Roberto. He will put his arm around you and bring you inside the bathroom so you can be alone. Then he will tell you something you won’t understand. “There was an accident. Dad is gone. He died.””
In a letter to his eight year old self, former Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho writes about his illustrious career.
3. “I was thrown in on the right wing but it was the same. Ronaldo doing tricks and not running back and frustrating everyone. And I am there running back, working, doing what I am told. But I was playing with amazing players like Paul Scholes and Roy Keane and you realise you have to find a niche for yourself. So that’s what I did. I worked.
‘Roy said to me once, “I could play for 10 years with you doing all my running, Fletch”. You can’t understand how much that meant. For me, it’s worked and I have loved it. I still love it.”
In an interview with Ian Ladyman in the Daily Mail, Darren Fletcher on working under Sir Alex Ferguson, playing with Roy Keane and the illness which almost ruined his career.
4. “Craig Harrison rolls up his trouser leg to show the scars. “That’s after plastic surgery as well, believe it or not,” the former Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough defender says, picking up on the sharp intake of breath from across the table. “You don’t become squeamish when you see your own leg hanging off.”
That horrific career-ending injury, which happened almost 15 years ago to the day, frames Harrison’s colourful life story. He went to hell and back after sustaining compound fractures to the tibia and fibula in his left leg, and endured some dark and lonely moments before rediscovering his love of football through a “drunken conversation” with a guitarist.”
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The brains behind The New Saints’ world record 27 consecutive wins in all competitions — manager Craig Harrison — talks to Stuart James in The Guardian about his return to football.
5. “Serena Williams is poised to make history. With one more Grand Slam win, Williams will hold more Grand Slam titles than any other player in the Open era. To do so once, a player must win seven matches over two weeks on the sport’s greatest stages. With a win at the Australian Open, which begins Monday, Williams, 35, will have done so 23 times in 29 Grand Slams and will surpass Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22. It is no longer a question of if, but of when, whether it be in Australia, at Wimbledon, the French Open or the US Open. Once she reaches 23, the buzz will turn to Margaret Court’s all-era record of 24, and history will beckon again.”
Writing for ESPN, Alyssa Roenigk provides an oral history of Serena Williams’ journey to the cusp of history.
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