It’s time for yet another Life After Football magazine to be constructed and as such, it’s time to reveal the new theme; SPORTS.
With football in our name, this may seem an obvious choice of theme. However, we’re gonna be going above and beyond sport in our search and creation of content and showing that sports are so much more than just games.
Sports are escapes, free from politics and the admin of everyday life, they offer a realm of freedom for those who play and those who watch. Sports are the blank pages on which stories are written. They are the platforms that can make people become legends. They can lift the spirits of a nation, and they can be some of the best ways to express ourselves as human beings.
To bring in the new theme, here are five sportsmen and women that have proved that sport can be so much more than just what happens on the pitch, track or court…
By 1998, MJ had already left more than just a legacy on basketball. He had become an icon of the sport, a hero to kids all over the world and evidence that those who work hardest at achieving their dreams really can live them. So when it came to what was meant to be his final game of basketball in a career that spanned two decades, you’d think he had little left to prove.
But with a championship on the line, seconds on the clock and just a couple of points needed for the Chicago Bulls, Jordan, like something out of a movie, saves the day with a crossover and shot that secured his 45th point of the game. Oh, and the title in what was (supposed) to be his last ever shot taken on an NBA court. Greatness.
No words are needed but we’ll try to do the man justice. Johan entered football as a scrawny, cheeky chap who was just as likely to be sneaking off for a cigarette as he was running an extra mile in training. He left the game as one of the greatest to ever kick a ball, taking his local club, Ajax to heights they had never imagined before during his glorious spell in their number 14 shirt. Three European Cups and plenty more league titles were picked up, only for him to leave more than just a sporting legacy both in Amsterdam and Barcelona.
When Cruyff moved to Spain, it was a nation divided and his new home, Catalonia, was outcast by Franco’s lasting effects on the country. Real Madrid represented this power, the King who had outlawed speaking Catalan and the team that had kept FC Barcelona quiet, leaving them without a title in years. The arrival of Cruyff brought new hope, new titles and a new sense of pride to be from this historic part of Spain. One of many great footballing legends that the great man left behind. Sterkte, Johan.
The phrase ‘swaggy’ gets thrown around a lot these days but for this man, the term doesn’t even do justice. Rarely has such a character graced the sport of world with such skill, athleticism and charisma in unison. With the casuals’ movement bringing sports brands into the fashion world, Bjorn Borg was wearing all the right labels and making them his own with his trademark looks.
With that headband around his flowing locks and an icy composure even in the heat of summer grand slams, Borg embodied cool and was one of the first to prove that sportsmen can be famous for more than just their work as athletes. The Swede was a former world number one when on the tennis court, winning 11 grand slams, and was a fashion icon off of it – a swaggy legend.
‘Pele in a skirt,’ she has been nicknamed by Pele, himself. Sounds like something of a slur from the great man, but what such odd praise really means is that Marta, the greatest ever in the female game, can do whatever the hell she wants with a football. You’ll find her more often in the famous yellow of Brazil rather than in a skirt, though, turning defenders inside out with unnerving skill and smashing in goal after goal at the heights of the game.
Fifa female world player of the year five consecutive times, Marta also won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot at the 2007 Women’s World Cup and is the competition’s all-time scoring leader with 15 goals. It seems she has been around forever but only turned 31 this year – one of the leading lights in women’s football, she has been at the forefront of the rise of the female game and has done as much for women’s sport as she has for herself.
The 1936 Olympics in Berlin will be remembered as one of the most historic sporting events ever, set amongst one of the darkest backdrops imaginable. With Adolf Hitler’s propaganda machine in motion, these games were meant to be the opportunity for the dictator to show his fascist regime as the supreme race. The horrors were hidden for a brief spell in the summer of 1936 as the world visited Nazi Germany.
Such scenes were the perfect occasion to prove that sport can give us a platform to overcome such adversity. Jesse Owens, the black US athlete, would take to the track and win four gold medals. FOUR. Four gold medals for America, for gold medals for himself, and four gold medals for equality and diversity. Bigger than sport.