The latest segment in the “Magazine Archive” series takes us back to a time when Ibrahim Ba was the future of French football and Glenavon fans were unhappy, because their team “only” won the Irish Cup. It was a strange world in August 1997.
That month’s edition of World Soccer had Ibrahim Ba as it’s cover star. Back then, Ba was the biggest rising star in French football tipped for a move to a major European side and to be one of the leadcing lights of the following year’s World Cup, which was to be held in France.
Also on the cover was Marc Overmars, who had recently signed for Arsenal, to highlight a feature on football’s biggest transfers that summer. Other headlines on the front cover include reviews of the World Youth Cup and Copa America.
Editor Keir Radnedge takes a look at the new-look Champions League, which now featured 2nd placed teams from selected countries, pointing out that of the clubs benefitting, only Barcelona and Parma had a realistic chance of winning the trophy. Both teams were eliminated in the group stage.
The following season, however, both finalists qualified for the competition by being 2nd in their league the previous season.
A round-up of the qualification for France 98 so far is featured in the magazine, taking a look at the hosts France and their preparation, which included Le Tournoi, a 4 team group competition featuring England, Brazil and Italy, which was won by England.
When looking at old reviews of youth events, it’s always fun looking at the line-ups to see who made it as a professional footballer in adult life. The team line-ups for the 1997 World Youth Cup includes Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen, Thierry Henry, and Trevor Molloy.
There is a picture of Cambiasso celebrating a goal wearing Argentina’s away kit, in a similar pose to when he scored his iconic goal against Serbia in the 2006 World Cup.
In the round-up from various countries, cover star Ibrahim Ba gets a full page dedicated to him.
Not long afterwards, he signed for AC Milan before suffering a dip in form which saw left left out of France’s squad for the 1998 World Cup.
Ba is probably best known to UK fans for a brief spell with Bolton Wanderers during the 2003-2004 season.
The four countries of the UK get a double page spread with the England piece looking at England’s Le Tournoi success and a look at the new signings in English football, with the accompanying picture being of Teddy Sheringham, signed to replace Eric Cantona at Manchester United.
In manager news, Southampton were unable (and some could say had a lucky escape) to persuade David Platt to be their player-manager, while Everton were rejected by Bobby Robson, and Andy Gray, who couldn’t be persuaded to leave Sky.
The offer of managing Everton couldn’t get him to leave Sky, but off-mic comments about a female official did, although not on his accord.
In Northern Ireland, the lack of signings at Linfield, Glentoran, Glenavon and Portadown grabbed the headlines, as these clubs had endured disappointing 1996-1997 seasons by their standards.
Ironically, it was a signing during the season which grabbed the headlines, as Glenn Ferguson moved from Glenavon to Linfield for an (still standing to this day) Irish League record of £55,000
Choice quote from the article “Even though top scorer Garry Haylock is at Portadown, one wonders if his club’s supporters rate him worth the £1,000 a week he is reputedly paid” – Though Haylock no doubt rates himself worth it ………. and then some more.
“Brian Glanville’s Last Word” focuses on the TV commentary debut of Jonathan Pearce, who had covered the World Cup Qualifier between Poland and England for newly formed terrestrial channel, Channel Five, and had suffered negative criticism for his performance, though Glanville’s article was very supportive of him.
Pearce eventually got a big move to the BBC, although, it was to commentate on Robot Wars, before eventually joining Match Of The Day.
Glanville also remarked that Paul Gascoigne wasn’t good enough to play international football anymore, and that Paul Scholes should now be the centrepiece of the England team.
This proved to be prophetic, as just under a year later, Gascoigne was left out of England’s World Cup squad, while Scholes was included, scoring the decisive 2nd goal in the 2-0 opening match win against Tunisia.