Vitor Flora – Liverpool’s Unknown Boy From Brazil

Paul Grech Tuesday, January 27, 2015 , , , ,
There is something undeniably romantic in a story of a young player plucked from anonymity by a big club.  This is partly because such stories happen so rarely but mostly it is because it is easy for the rest of us to identify with such a player; to want him to succeed and prove that perhaps there is latent talent in all of us if only someone bothered to look close enough.

It is why many were so intrigued by Vitor Flora when he joined Liverpool in September of 2008.  Apart from the basic facts – that he was an eighteen year old Brazilian striker – absolutely nothing was known about him.  This lack of knowledge wasn’t limited to England because even in his native Brazil very few people had heard of him.

Initially that seemed strange given that his club of origin – Botafogo – is one of the biggest and most titled clubs in Brazil.  Closer inspection, however, revealed that the Botafogo club that Flora had played for wasn’t the one based in Rio de Janiero but rather Botafogo SP, a club based in Ribeirão Preto (in the São Paulo state) who played their football in what is effectively the third tier of Brazilian football.

This article was originally published on The Botafogo Star.

Brief Book Review of Erbstein: The triumph and tragedy of football's forgotten pioneer

Paul Grech Saturday, January 24, 2015 , , , ,
Everyone with more than a passing interest in European football will have heard of the great Torino side that unfortunately perished in a tragedy in Superga. It was truly one of the most impressive sides on the continent and a team that looked set to dominate Italian football for a long time. Sadly, it wasn't to be.

That tragedy was particularly cruel on the man who had overseen their rise, Ernest Erbstein. The Hungarian Jew had managed to live through the holocaust only to perish in the moment when his footballing dreams were being realised.

His story is perhaps less known, a footnote in the Torino tragedy, but it should no longer be the case thanks to this book by Dominic Bliss. Superbly researched and written, this is a fantastic book that is required reading.


Homegrown Saints

Paul Grech Monday, January 19, 2015 , , , , ,
Success in football, in particular the definition of success, can be difficult to measure because it largely depends on the angle from which you approach it.

For outsiders it is hard to identify any form of success at St Mirren.  The club has struggled to stay afloat in the Premier League whilst a win in the Scottish League Cup in 2012-13 offered a rare moment of glory.  Success isn’t something that you typically associate with the Paisley club.

Look closer, however, and you will start to see a different picture.  Their first team regularly features six players – Mark McAusland, Sean Kelly, Kenny McLean, Thomas Reilly, John McGinn and Jason Naismith – who started their careers in the club’s youth teams.  Of that group, four have represented Scotland at Under 21 level.  Many more have either already had a taste of first team football or else are on the periphery of the first team squad.

By any measure, then, that which St Mirren have in place is a hugely successful youth system.

The full article can be read on Blueprint for Football.

Blueprint According To...Joe Smith

Paul Grech Monday, January 5, 2015 , , , , ,
There are a lot of people who get into coaching because their own playing career came to an end.  For many, however, that end was forced either through injury or else through age.  Few actually stop playing because they are disillusioned with the game only to see in coaching a possibility of a kind of redemption.

Joe Smith falls into that latter group.  A creative player, he admits that from a young age he had that creative aspect ‘coached’ out of him to the extent that he eventually decided to stop playing.  However, he eventually took up coaching seeing this as an opportunity to avoid having other suffer the same experiences as him, making creativity very much at the core of his football blueprint.

The full interview can be read on Blueprint for Football.

[Featured Article] December 2014 Twitter Feedback

Paul Grech Thursday, January 1, 2015 , , , ,
Copyright 2010 Paul Grech: Writer