Remembering Ivan Turina: One Year Later

Exactly one year ago, our football family suffered a great loss with the untimely passing of Ivan Turina, former AIK goalkeeper, but more importantly, a hero and friend to his local community. Last year, our friend Özgür Kurtoglu wrote a piece on what Ivan Turina meant to him personally. Exactly one year later, here’s Özgür looking at how a heavy weight still remains over Stockholm.

There’s a bronze statue in Miroševac, a torso placed upon a square of what looks like limestone, but it’s a figure not easily distinguishable via a solitary photograph shared on Facebook for someone without a trained eye for that sort of thing. It stands in the corner of a slightly larger than normal burial plot, next to a bench for visitors to rest upon, and a meter or two away from the cold black stone of a grave adorned with a flower arrangement, a scarf and a bottle of Coca-Cola. Another bottle remains placed inside the Friends Arena in Stockholm, within a now unused and semi-vacant booth in the locker room of AIK, in front of a Croatian flag. It will probably never be entirely vacant, in all honesty, but it does stay unused, even though it is still clearly occupied by the presence and the massive absence of Ivan Turina.

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We Are Not You: The AIK Mantra

Some football clubs offer a simple, modest approach to the game and their community. You come to the ground on  weekends, support your side, hope for a win, and then get on with your life.

Well, in Stockholm, that’s not how Swedish club AIK sees the game. Every fan expects a win. They scream for 110% from every player on the pitch. They dream of giving opponents nightmares. United by the fight against an opponent, any opponent, AIK is a family that lives and breathes the idea of one against. As a new season begins, this is their mantra, declared by their English midfielder Kenny Pavey. Make no mistake, supporters want everyone to know exactly what AIK represents. [Sent our way by AIK supporter Özgür. Posted by Eric.]

Lille in the Limelight - AFR Voice Ep. 16

The show has cast a spotlight on a huge collection of leagues this season – La Liga, Serie A, MLS and even the top tiers in Afghanistan and Mongolia. This week, we finally uncork our coverage of Ligue 1 by getting a full lowdown from French football expert, AFR contributor and French Football Weekly editor Andrew Gibney. We’ll find out the latest on the hooliganism that recently blighted the league, salivate over Zlatan, hail the unexpected brilliance of Lille and try to make sense of the zero to hero national team.

The show’s main debate circles around an increasingly beleaguered Jose Mourinho – is ‘The Special One’ no longer special? Read AFR writer Nicol Hay’s fantastic article to find the spark of the discussion. We’ll also be profiling the dramatic rise of 21-year-old Basel centre-back Fabian Schär – from Swiss banker to one of the most promising defenders in Europe in the space of three years. And if you want to hear all about a very unlikely candidate for the most competitive league on the planet, this is the show to tune in to.

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Through Ryu’s Lens: Anything you can do…

There’s only one person more disappointed that Zlatan won’t be in Brazil than Zlatan, and that is Ryu Voelkel. The big man deceives, acting and performing in a way that makes him seem to be more than just that. Camera in hand, Ryu was in Stockholm to witness a  battle between two greats.

Just when Portugal were comfortable, Ibrahimovic put them on the back foot. Just when Sweden were full of hope, Ronaldo silenced the stadium. The Swede did all he could, but could only watch as his counterpart did more.

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick

Portugal are going to the World Cup because of this.

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Thought Trails: Team Cristiano or Team Zlatan?

“The World Cup needs Zlatan more than Ronaldo.” - Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Maxi: With less than a year until the World Cup kicks off in Brazil, we’re at a point where, coincidentally, we’re likely to see one of the most anticipated international games until the knockout rounds of the World Cup itself. Ego vs. Ego. World’s Best vs. World’s Best. International icon vs. International icon. Zlatan vs. Cristiano. While corporate sponsors rub their hands wondering whether their horse will make it to the global stage, one can’t help but think that as Zlatan and Cristiano have excelled as individuals, the fortunes of their respective countries have declined. Shame that one of the two will be forced to watch the World Cup as a spectator, no?

Eric: It is a shame. Sure, Portugal isn’t the power it once was and Sweden has never been guaranteed a spot in the World Cup, but they can only blame themselves (and maybe the system, man) for being in this position. But this is the situation, and Portugal and Sweden probably won’t unify within the next six months. The real question we need to face: Would you rather see Zlatan or Cristiano in the World Cup?

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We’re Surrounded by Playoffs - AFR Voice Ep. 14

The game in America has been bubbling with high-stakes games and news stories of late, so we dialed up Andrew Wiebe, from MLSsoccer.com and the ExtraTime Radio Show, to get his views on some eye-catching surprises in the first set of Playoff games, discover whether he thinks David Beckham’s Miami franchise can give the MLS a foothold in the South East, and question what the USMNT can expect to achieve in Brazil.

Elsewhere, we get out our calculators to try and assess a truly astonishing outlay of cash by a UK sports channel to secure Champions League rights, and we round up a tournament stage that has considerably less cash thrown at it – the humble and endlessly amiable first round of the FA Cup.

All that plus we lick our lips at some rather tasty World Cup qualifying playoff matches set to be served up this week. Forget the headline-hugging teams Portugal, France or Sweden - we’re pushing all of our chips on Iceland to provide a result to remember. Whatever the case, we just can’t wait to finally get up our World Cup 2014 wall chart.

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When the Swedes invaded (and embraced) Dublin

By Anthony Lopopolo, writing from Dublin

The Swedes were everywhere. You could hardly tell that this was Dublin, not Stockholm. They wore the blue and yellow, but they also wore green. The pubs here flew Swedish flags, beacons for the weary travelers looking for a pint. The reason for the occasion, the World Cup qualifier, was always big: Ireland had to win the game against Sweden.

But the people of these two countries greeted each other before the match like old friends, not adversaries. One country simply stood in the way of the other. This wasn’t Bucharest, where riot police had to use tear gas before the game between Hungary and Romania. This wasn’t Belgrade, where Serbia and Croatia played against each other after years of fighting against one another. No, this was celebratory. This was fun.

Some looked upset: About 5,000 Swedes took over the city, after all, and only after the work day ended did the Irish truly reclaim their city. They were hospitable, but the time did come to shut the visitors up.

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Stockholm says goodbye to the Söderstadion

It’s out with the old and in with the new this summer at some of Europe’s finest grounds. First to go was Athletic Bilbao’s San Mamés, and now it’s the Söderstadion in Stockholm, Sweden. Yesterday, Hammarby played its final match at the Söderstadion, and the scenes were unforgettable. The stadium that has been the club’s home since 1967 bids farewell and will be replaced by the more modern Tele2 Arena. As thousands of fans experienced yesterday, it’s never easy to look past 46 years of history. [Images via. Posted by Eric]

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