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 By Andy Mitten
7 days ago

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...

 By Andy Mitten
Oct 9, 2014

Away fans deserve more consideration from football's authorities

Only a select number of fans were fortunate enough to be in attendance for CSKA Moscow's home Champions League match versus Bayern Munich.
Only a select number of fans were fortunate enough to be in attendance for CSKA Moscow's home Champions League match versus Bayern Munich.

David Sykes, 49, follows Manchester City and England home and away. He's watched City in 30 different countries, one of their hardcore fans who will travel to watch their team if they play a friendly in Abu Dhabi (as they did in May) or a League Cup game in England. One reason Sykes started watching England was because City seldom travelled abroad.

"That has all changed now," he laughs. He's enjoying City's current successes but he still watches England. The former British Army combat medic, who...

 By Alex Shaw
Oct 9, 2014

Roy Keane's book launch - LIVE

A fight with Peter Schmeichel and details of his departure from Manchester United are covered in Roy Keane's second autobiography.

Join ESPN FC's Alex Shaw and Kevin Palmer on the day of Roy Keane's official book launch in Dublin. Kevin's there at the Aviva Stadium ahead of the official launch and will provide the best lines from what promises to be an intriguing afternoon. Give him a follow: @kpsundayworld.

While Keane gets in early, Sir Alex Ferguson is due to speak as well so he's bound to have a pop back at his former skipper, with their once strong bond in tatters.

Get involved -- comments are at the bottom while you can...

 By Andy Mitten
Sep 25, 2014

Burnley's strange history of fisticuffs between players and managers

It may not be the most famed ground in the world, but even Burnley's Turf Moor has its share of fascinating tales.

Football journalist is a glamorous job, right? You may have read my recent dispatches from Chicago, Los Angeles and Barcelona. Well, try this one, which is being written sitting in a rental car outside Burnley Football Club. I have a deadline to meet, and journalists don't miss deadlines.

A persistent drizzle is obscuring the view of the hills that surround the town, the smallest in England with a Premier League team. People walk past every few minutes looking in and probably thinking that I'm an...

 By Andy Mitten
Sep 22, 2014

Manchester United fans left in disbelief after capitulation at Leicester

ESPN FC analyst Craig Burley questions Louis van Gaal's tactics, Liverpool's struggles and the lack of defence in La Liga.

Twelve hours and 10 minutes after setting off, I've just returned to Manchester after driving to Leicester and back. There's no point trying to forget about the 5-3 defeat. How can anyone forget a 5-3? Elderly Athletic Bilbao fans still recall a 5-3 victory over Manchester United in 1957 as one of their greatest games. Pictures of it are prominent in their club HQ.

- Brewin: Van Gaal's work is far from done
- Patterson: United back to the drawing board
Player Ratings: Is Rooney really...

 By Andy Mitten
Sep 20, 2014

Transfer talks between managers and journalists benefit both sides

Journalists aren't always the ones trying to track down football managers for information. Quite often, it's the managers calling the journalists.

The transfer window is closed until January, but transfer-related activity hasn't stopped. There's always a grapevine of information, as clubs never stop looking at players. They build up as much intelligence on potential players as possible. There's far more to it than merely scouting a talent and making an offer for him, which is what the official protocol would suggest. A buying club would be far happier knowing the player wants to join them before they put a bid in.

I've lost count of the number...