Welcome to Manchester, Mata
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It’s official. Whether we wanted to see this one happen or not, Juan Mata leaves London for nearly £40m to play for Manchester United. It’s time to forget those two and a half illustrious seasons at The Bridge and set a new stage alight, the Theatre of Dreams. Juan, the audience is all yours.
Art by Dan Leydon. The Mata print is available for purchase here.

Welcome to Manchester, Mata

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"It’s A Beautiful Game"
As we welcome in 2014, we collaborated with Dan Leydon to take a step back and reflect on the simple joy of kicking a ball.
Paying homage to the wonderful It’s A Magical World comic, Calvin and Hobbes became Carles (Puyol) and Leo (Messi).
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While headlines rightfully focus on revealing FIFA’s 8 circles of corruption or the insanity of footballers begging for an extra £15,000-a-week in wages, it’s important to remember why we love this game. Whether it was staying out to play until the sun disappeared or grabbing a ball with a friend and hitting free kicks in six inches of snow, these are the roots of the game, and they’re worth remembering.
Thank you all for your support in 2013. Here’s to a New Year!

- Eric and the entire AFR Team

Oh, and you should follow Dan Leydon on Twitter & Tumblr.

"It’s A Beautiful Game"

As we welcome in 2014, we collaborated with Dan Leydon to take a step back and reflect on the simple joy of kicking a ball.

Paying homage to the wonderful It’s A Magical World comic, Calvin and Hobbes became Carles (Puyol) and Leo (Messi).

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"The American Dream" by Dan Leydon
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The United States were handed a tough group during this month’s World Cup draw, but when you break it down, the US only has to overcome a historic rivalry with Ghana, Cristiano Ronaldo, a pack of hungry Germans, and well, a slew of the world’s best to reach the promised land. 
A gargantuan task? Sure. Impossible? Well, we’ll leave that for you to decide. [Find more of Dan’s work here and get it at Dan’s Etsy shop here, which coincidentally, is finalizing shipments for the holiday season. Get on it. Posted by Maxi.]

"The American Dream" by Dan Leydon

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The Holiday Gift Guide for Football Fans
If there’s anything we learned from Arsenal fans after Mesut Özil moved to North London, it’s that buying nice things is the key to happiness. With the holiday season fast approaching, we’re just days away from that time of the year where people rush to malls and shove strangers. As much as you may enjoy that pastime, you could do better than that gift card.
To make the hunt for gifts a bit more digestible, we’ve compiled a list of a few of our favourite things. From art prints to books and gear, if you can’t find a present here, well, you might be tough out of luck.
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Art and Design


Does the fan in your life have a bit of empty space on their walls? If so, an art piece might fit the bill. Thankfully, there are an incredible amount of talented artists who love the beautiful game and make their art available for purchase. From Wong Wong’s World Cup-themed Thirty Two prints to Mark Yesilevskiy’s “Teams, Not Players" series, to Steve Welsh’s “A through Z” collection, Meen Choi’s collected portraits or Dan Leydon’s 1matchaday series, the options are plentiful, no matter what team or player you’re looking for. Also check out…
1. Chinatown Branch’s paintings of Old Trafford
2. Football Type: An in-depth look at typography in football
3. Daniel Nyari’s Neymar Print
4. Stanley Chow’s Scholesy
5. Luke Barclay Design’s World Cup Group Poster
6. DINKIT’s Football Coordinates Prints
7. David Sparshott’s World Cup jerseys
8. Ty Palmer’s Best XI Series
9. 11cannons’ Bergkamp in a Winter Wonderland

Books and Magazines


Is the fan you’re hunting for not an art lover? Do they already have their walls plastered over with David Beckham posters like we do? In that case, going the intellectual route and picking up a few books might not be a bad idea. Amongst our favorites this year were Robert Andrew Powell’s “This Love is Not For Cowards,” which chronicles a season with Ciudad Juarez’ Indios and simultaneously tells the story of modern Mexico, and Chris Anderson’s book, The Numbers Game, which offers an in-depth look at the developing field of statistical analysis in the game. Also check out…
1. Sid Lowe’s Fear and Loathing in La Liga
2. Chuck Korr’s Football v Apartheid
3. David Winner’s Brilliant Orange
4. Joe McGinniss’ The Miracle of Castel di Sangro
5. Eduardo Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow
6. Guillem Balague’s Messi

Of course, it’s not a bad idea to go the magazine route either. Over the past year or so, a number of grassroots magazines have come to life, each offering a staggering amount of quality content. We’re big fans of Howler, The Blizzard, and Rabona Magazine.

Lifestyle and Gear


Ok, fine. Art doesn’t work, and your target already has a library chock full of textbooks on the 1970 Brazil team and tiki-taka. In that case, awkwardly find out their shirt size, support creative entrepreneurs or order some new gear. Let’s work down the list:
1. The 3nil FC crew and Wunderkind wallet are glorious
2. When your team gets knocked out, support Brazil with this.
3. The LBF Winged Tee will glide you across the pitch
4. Black boots. The Mercurial Vapor IX's do it right.
5. Spain have a nice kit for the World Cup. Clean Sheet Co.’s interpretation is better.
6. The US Soccer Centennial kit. Celebrate 100 years in style.
7. The Brazuca, naturally.
8. The Dos a Cero Scarf from Howler.
9. Modern Anthology’s Foosball Bottle Openers.
If you’re confident, picking up a new jersey is a good shout. Just be sure to do a bit of research on this one, or you might end up giving a Real Madrid jersey to a Barcelona fan. Actually, on second thought, that’s not a bad idea. Just send us the video of your friend’s reaction.

The Philanthropic Option


We’re the first to admit that giving and receiving gifts is a wonderful part of the holiday season, but when you break it down to its core, the holidays are about doing good. Of course, that can accomplished in a variety of ways, and giving a well conceived gift is certainly a good route, but there are few things better than donating time or funds to a charity designed to benefit the less-fortunate. 
And while there are plenty of charities and causes that could use your support, there are a number of soccer-specific groups that are worth taking a look at. Instead of that new jersey, maybe do a solid and donate in your name or a friend’s to any of the following charities:
1. Street Soccer USA, a group using soccer to help the homeless transform their lives
2. Grassroots Soccer. who use the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV.
3. Little Feet, who help develop soccer-based infrastructure around the world
This gift guide is a product of Eric Beard, Maxi Rodriguez, Zack Goldman, Dominic Vieira, and the AFR Voice team wasting way too many hours on the Internet. Did we forget something? Send us your recommendations on Twitter or in the comments.

The Holiday Gift Guide for Football Fans

If there’s anything we learned from Arsenal fans after Mesut Özil moved to North London, it’s that buying nice things is the key to happiness. With the holiday season fast approaching, we’re just days away from that time of the year where people rush to malls and shove strangers. As much as you may enjoy that pastime, you could do better than that gift card.

To make the hunt for gifts a bit more digestible, we’ve compiled a list of a few of our favourite things. From art prints to books and gear, if you can’t find a present here, well, you might be tough out of luck.

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The World Cup is coming, Cristiano
Deep breaths. With Dan Leydon's excitement building as we edge closer to kick-off, he illustrated a moment we're sure to see in Brazil.

The World Cup is coming, Cristiano

Deep breaths. With Dan Leydon's excitement building as we edge closer to kick-off, he illustrated a moment we're sure to see in Brazil.

In 200 Days, World Cup dreams become reality

You know the date. You’ve been waiting for 4 years. On the 12th of June in 2014, it all begins. Today, we’re just 200 days away from the World Cup. Art by Dan Leydon. Photo by Ryu Voelkel

#1MatchADay by Dan Leydon

From Celebrating Solskjaer’s 1999 historic winner to Iniesta’s unforgettable last minute strike at Stamford Bridge.

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AFC vs LFC by Dan Leydon

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Sócrates by Dan Leydon

He was a doctor, “O Doutor” even. He was a world class footballer, and a world class revolutionary who was the heart of soul of Brazil’s 1982 World Cup side. He also brought democracy to his club Corinthians, which had an echo effect throughout the country. 

He helped create a brand of “hypnotic football, football as sorcery, impossibly languid and creative, as louche and seductive as Bowie and Jagger and Richards all rolled into one.” He was Brazilian futebol’s philosopher king, and while he is gone, his spirit lives on in his country. [Find more of Dan Leydon work here, and get it here. Posted by Eric.]

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