Ruud Van Nistelrooy is the cover star of Match as the European Cup is the the Last 4, as Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Leverkusen and Barcelona are aiming to lift the trophy at Hampden Park.
But that’s not the biggest story in football. David Beckham has broken his metatarsal and is in danger of missing the World Cup, so Match gives readers to opportunity to wish him well. Meanwhile, a poll of 7-14 year olds say David Beckham has the hardest job in the world …… so Match photoshops him doing other so called “Hard jobs”
In other news, Michael Owen had just become England’s second youngest captain, after Bobby Moore 40 years earlier.
In competitions, you could “Rio” on VHD or DVD, featuring exclusive interviews with Rio Ferdinand, and him giving a tour of Leeds.
If you did win it, and supported Leeds, you might have been handing it in to your local charity shop a few months later, as he signed for Manchester United in July that year.
Peter Schmeichel, recently signed for Manchester City, gets lampooned in Match’s cartoon “Footy Crazy” for his red nose, as City manager Kevin Keegan makes him stick his head in a freezer so it will turn blue.
Match pulled off a bit of a coup, getting a four page exclusive interview with Sir Alex Ferguson, who had recently made a u-turn on his retirement.
Ferguson tells Match that his family convinced him not to retire, and that his goals for the next three seasons (the length of the new contract he had signed) was to win a major tournament, speaking enthusiastically about the fact that the average age of United’s squad was 26.
He then speaks about his management style, and what he looks for in a player, declaring that his two top managers are Ottmar Hitzfeld and Marcello Lippi.
He describes Zinedine Zidane as the best player in the world, but wouldn’t have been prepared to pay the 50m Real Madrid paid for him in 2001 on account of his age.
When asked if he could sign a player from history for the current United team, he eulogises about Pele and Johan Cruyff (he actually signed his son Jordi in 1996) but chooses Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano.
He’s confident that United can win a 4th successive title, but admits United need Arsenal to drop points, and then United to beat Arsenal to have any chance. Arsenal won every game from February onwards to win the title.
He also praises Sir Bobby Robson for the job he had done with Newcastle (they finished 4th to reach the European Cup) and predicts Chelsea to win the FA Cup (they lost 2-0 to Arsenal) and was upbeat about United’s chance of winning the European Cup in his native Glasgow. They lost on away goals to Bayer Leverkusen.
Match signs off by asking what he wants to achieve in the future, Ferguson simply replies that he wants to maintain the success of the previous 12 years.
Both European Cup Semi-Finals get a double page spread previewing them, and there’s an interview with Butt. Not United’s Nicky, but Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Hans Jorg Butt.
As the World Cup draws closer, Match features England hopefuls each week in a feature called “The Men For Sven”, with Ashley Cole the featured player this week.
Staying on the World Cup theme, Republic of Ireland get a full page preview.
In Ads, you could pop down to Woolworths and buy “David Beckham : Close Up” or “Michael Owen : Close Up” on VHS if you wished.
Eidur Gudjohnsen gets a double page interview about his progress at Chelsea, while also touching other matters such as the World Cup, where he describes France as “Very strong”
They went out in the groups without scoring a goal.
The big match of the weekend is Ipswich Town v Manchester United, vital at both ends of the table.
Match predicts a 2-1 United win. United won 1-0.
In foreign news, Roberto Baggio’s dreams of going to a 4th World Cup have been dashed, while Christian Panucci is at the centre of a transfer battle between Barcelona and Real Madrid. He signed for Roma that summer, the club where he spent the 2001-2002 season on loan.