Pre-Season Classics: Mario Balotelli Tosses It Off With A Backheel Only To Be Immediately Substituted, 2011 (Video)

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Pre-season is a time for experimentation, a time for frivolity, and yet Mario Balotelli famously found himself chastised for both during Man City's meaningless friendly Herbalife World Football Challenge match against LA Galaxy in July of 2011.

Balotelli opened the scoring with an early penalty at the Home Depot Center, then shortly thereafter found himself presented with a routine chance to double both his and City's tally.

Retro Football: Henrik Larsson Gets Celtic Career Off To An Absolute Bloody Stinker, 1997 (Videos)

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Photo: Alamy (via Celtic FC)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the day Henrik Larsson first pitched up at Celtic Park with a glint in his eye and a head festooned with matted off-beige tendrils.

Celtic paid just £650,000 to purloin the Swedish striker from Feyenoord and, by the time he left for Barcelona in 2004, he'd arguably just about paid for himself.

Retro Football Sponsorship Deals: Arsenal Hard-Arse Steve Bould Models For ‘Arrow’ Boots, 1992 (Photo)

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The year was 1991; Anthony Hopkins was knee-deep in Hannibal Lecter, Vanilla Ice was bringing Caucasian hip-hop to the masses, Arsenal were First Division champions and all the cool kids wanted to be Steve Bould.

After the Gunners took the title while losing just one game all season, sportswear brands were queuing around the block to snap up their stars on endorsement deals.

Retro Football: FIFA 97 Soundtrack Featured A Secret Hidden Song – John Motson Commentating/Rapping Over Thumping Techno Track (Video)

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By Mof Gimmers

John Motson has been commentating on football matches since 1971, and in all those hours, he's inevitably said some daft stuff.

However, buried in his gigantic CV is an almost-rap that he did for one of EA's FIFA franchise games.

If you popped your FIFA '97 disc into your stereo, there was an audio track which was only spoken about in the back pages of gaming magazines in the cheats section.

Classic Moments: Goalscoring Goalie Paul Robinson Glances Home Dramatic 90th-Minute Equaliser For Leeds, 2003 (Video)

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Former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson has announced his retirement from professional football today at the grand old age of 37.

Having spent last season on the books at Burnley, Robinson has decided to pack it in after once again succumbing to chronic back pain.

Unfortunately, my back problem returned towards the end of last season and has prevented me being ready for the start of the new season.

Philistines: Italian Magazine Declare Glorious Burst Of Action From Man City-QPR In 1993 As ‘Ugliest Football Ever Played’ (Video)

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An Italian magazine are claiming to have witnessed the ugliest passage of football ever offered forth in the entire history of the beautiful game.

After happening across the clip on social media, L'Ultimo Uomo have declared that the following 20-second burst of action taken from Man City's exciting 2-1 win over QPR in 1993 is the most risible, error-strewn, irredeemable example of football they've ever witnessed.

Retro Football: 17-Year-Old Antonio Cassano Opens Bari Account With Brilliant Winning Goal Against Inter Milan, 1999 (Video)

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Antonio Cassano didn't have the easiest of childhoods, but he just about managed to keep himself on the straight and narrow long enough for his hometown club, Bari, to pluck him from the streets of the old town and give him a shot in their academy.

Despite regular transgressions and a volatile temperament, Cassano more than repaid Bari's faith, quickly graduating from the youth sides to make his senior debut for theGalletti at the age of just 17 his grizzled face already belying his tender years, even back then.

Fowl Play: Celebrating The Anniversary Of Blackburn’s Paradigm-Shifting Venkys Chicken Advert, 2011 (Video)

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When we talk about momentous, paradigm-shifting moments in modern football, they don't come much more seismic than thecontribution made to the pantheon by Blackburn Rovers onJune 28th, 2011.

Having taken over the previous year, Blackburn's new poultry-peddling owners Venkys decided to use their glamorous Premier League asset to help promote their fowl wares.

Classic Moments: Claudio Bravo Scores Match-Winning Freekick For Real Sociedad, 2010 (Video)

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Photo: Pablo Gomez (via Mundo Deportivo)

After becoming something of a punchline for his error-strewn handling at Man City last season, Claudio Bravo gave his flagging reputation a much-needed shot in the arm with a heroic display at the end ofChile's tenseknock-outvictory over Portugal in the Confederations Cup.

England 1-2 Iceland: Celebrating The One-Year Anniversary Of Steve McClaren Making Himself Look Like A Right Prat (Video)

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Image: Sky Sports

Today marks the one-year anniversary of what just might be the absolute nadir of the England national team in a decade or so positively crammed full of them.

We are of course talking about the Three Lions' moribund, gutless, and utterly galling performance against Iceland in the group stages of Euro 2016.

Retro Football: 10 Glorious Minutes Of Zinedine Zidane Dribbling, Swerving And Leaving Suckers In The Dust (Video)

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Largely because there's bugger all else going on this morning, we thought we'd provide you with a welcome break from the close-season monotony.

To that end, here is a 10-minute slab of Zinedine Zidane-flavoured goodness, highlighting the former Juventus and Real Madrid midfielder's masterful control and footwork.

The Black And White Years: How New Signings Used To Be Unveiled Back In The Good Old Days (Photos)

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In the days before rubber lion masks, uncooked supermarket pizzas and social media blow-outs with budgets akin to your average Hollywood blockbuster,the welcomingof a new signing was a much more sedate and earnest affair.

There was minimalpomp, very littlecircumstance and, generally speaking, a surfeitof sturdy handshaking.

Classic Football Adverts: Peter Schmeichel Sings For His Supper In Danepak Danish Bacon Commercial, 1998 (Video)

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The year was 1998 and Danepak had a line of classic dry cure bacon they needed to flog on UK television.

Obviously, the advert in question was for Danish produce and also involved singing so Peter Schmeichel, Manchester United and Denmark goalkeeper and the son of a concert pianist, was the obvious choice.

Retro Football: 25 Brilliant Archive Photos Of Iconic Champions League Final Moments Past

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As you're probably well aware, the Champions League final is due to kick-off in Cardiff in a few hours' time.

So, to wet your whistle for the 2017 edition, Pies thought we'd gee you up with a cavalcade of choice imagery from finals past.

Here they bloomin' well be, presentedin no particular order.

Retro Football: 13-Year-Old Michael Carrick Appears On ‘Live & Kicking!’ During His Wallsend Boys Club Days, 1995 (Video)

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With a testimonial coming up this weekend and a one-year contract extension that will take him beyond his 36th birthday, Michael Carrick is very much approachingthe thin end of the wedge as far as his professional playing daysare concerned.

However, back in 1995, Carrick was 13-years old, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when he appeared in a segment onBBC Saturday morning staple 'Live & Kicking!

Roma Produce Misty-Eyed Compilation Of Francesco Totti’s Top 10 Goals For The Club (Video)

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As you are no doubt aware, Roma bid farewell to their king this weekend as Francesco Totti made his 786th and final appearance for the only club he's ever known.

As part of the ongoing celebrations,the Giallorossi compiled a loving Top 10 of Totti's goals for the club and, by 'eck, there are some absolute beauties in there.

Retro Football: Charlton Narrowly Pip Sunderland In Most Exciting Play-Off Final Ever Contested, 1998 (Video)

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Quite possibly the most exciting, blistering play-off final ever witnessed atWembley took place, 19 years ago to this very day.

Sunderland-born Clive Mendonca scored a famous hat-trick (the first ever in a play-off final) against his hometown team as Charlton Athletic squeezed their way into the Premier League via a synapse-fraying penalty shoot-out.

Bradford City: Remembering The Victims Of The Valley Parade Fire, 32 Years On From That Dreadful Day (Photos & Video)

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Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the tragic day, 11th May 1985, on which a fire gutted the Main Stand and Valley Parade mid-way through Bradford City's final game of the Division Three season.

56 people 54 Bradford fans and two Lincoln City supporters lost their lives and over 250 were injured as the flames swept through the wooden structure after debris underneath the terracing caught light.

Retro Football: Johan Cruyff Discusses Dennis Bergkamp, The Notion Of Greatness And The Perfect Footballer, 1994 (Video)

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Photo: PROSHOTS (via Goal)

On the day of his 48th birthday, we can't help but hark back to the highest praise Dennis Bergkamp ever received, and from Johan Cruyff no less.

Shortly before the 1994 World Cup, Cruyff gave an in-depth interview to Hugo Camps for Het Laatste Nieuws, in which shared his thoughts on a wide array of footballing issues.

Retro Football: Alan Ball Drops Monumental Clanger That Sees Man City Relegated From Top Flight, 1996 (Video)

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'Twas on this day in 1996 that Man City manager Alan Ball suffered a fateful instance ofnominative determinism by dropping a bollock so dense and decisive that it ultimately saw his side jettisonedfrom what was then known as the Premiership.

Having left Southampton in slightly acrimonious circumstances to take over at City the summer previous, cruel fate subsequently ensured that Ball found himself vying against his old team as the 1995/96 relegation battle went down to the wire.

Galactico Gold: Guti Plays In Zidane With Exquisite Back-Heel Through Ball As Real Madrid Spank Sevilla, 2006 (Video)

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The year was 2006, and with mid-January temperatures ebbing down towards freezingand a light flurry of snow in the air conditionsdescribed by Elmundo Deportes as an "unpleasant night for a very attractive party" Real Madrid, in full 'Galactico' pomp, welcomed Sevilla to the Bernabeu.

It took the hosts just six minutes to open the scoringwhen Guti wafted into the 18-yard box to steer a low Zinedine Zidane cross past Andres Palop.

Retro Football: Steve Palmer Wears Every Single Watford Squad Number In Space Of One Season, 1997/98 (Photo & Video)

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Having started the 1997/98 season on the bench, Watford defenderSteve Palmer was gradually pressed into service all over the pitch as Graham Taylor's Hornets set about hauling themselves up and out of Division Two.

Indeed, such was hisutility that Palmer began racking up an impressive collection of shirt numbers Football League squad numbering not being mandatory as it is today.

Classic Moments: Jamie Pollock Paints His Masterpiece With Majestic Own-Goal Against QPR, 1998 (Video)

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You may not be aware, but today marks the anniversary of one of the most significant matches in the entire 154-year history of association football.

Manchester City 2-2 Queens Park Rangers April 25th, 1998.

Knowing full well that a win and a win alone couldprevent their relegation to the third tier, Man City (21st in the league) met fellow stragglers QPR (22nd) in the penultimate game of the First Division season.

Retro Football: Graeme Souness Plants His Enormous Galatasaray Flag In Fenerbahce’s Centre Circle, 1996 (Video)

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We can scarcely believe it, but it's now 21 years to the very day that Graeme Souness became an eternalGalatasarayfolkhero by driving their club colours into the centre circle at Fenerbahce's stadium.

Having been out of work for over a year, Souness took charge at Gala for the 1995/96 season and promptly guided the side to a fairly disappointing fourth-place finish in the Super Lig, or 1.

Retro Football: Referee Causes Uproar By Allowing ‘Offside’ Jeff Astle Goal And Costing Leeds The First Division Title, 1971 (Video)

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Almost exactly 46 years ago this very day, a refereeing decision sparkeduproar at Elland Road when a controversial offside call (or lack thereof) effectively served to derail Leeds' title tilt.

Desperatelychasingthe win to stay in contention with Arsenal at the top of the table going into the last few games of the 1970/71 season, Leeds found themselves2-1 down against West Bromwhen Jeff Astle scored on the break despite the linesman flagging wildly from the touchline.

Retro Football: Jeremy Clarkson Attends His Very First Football Match – Doncaster Rovers vs Frickley Athletic, 1998 (Video)

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Photos: Getty Images/Press Association

Filminga segment forhis short-lived eponymous chat show, Jeremy Clarkson broke his duck and attended his very first football match in 1998.

Indeed, the Top Gear host paid a visit to his hometown club, Doncaster Rovers (bottom of the Conference at the time), to take in their FA Trophy tie against Frickley Athletic at Belle Vue in deepest, darkest November.

Retro Football: Arsenal Hero David Rocastle Scores Immaculate Solo Goal Against Man Utd, 1991 (Video)

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Seeing as though today marksthe 16th anniversary of David Rocastle's untimely passing, we thought it'd only be right to once again pay tribute to one of English football's most sorely-missed characters.

Despite having terrible eyesight, Rocky was one heck of a player skillful, nimble and intelligent both on and off the ball.

Retro Thuggery: Velez Sarsfield Keeper Gaston Sessa Plants Studs In Rodrigo Palacio’s Face, Can’t Fathom Why He’s Been Sent Off, 2007 (Video)

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In the grandest tradition of South American goalkeepers, former Velez Sarsfield stopper Gaston Sessa was laced with just a soupçon of thinly-concealed lunacy.

On a related note, he's also the man responsible for one of the worst fouls ever seen on a football pitch, having once almost reduced Rodrigo Palacio's face to a plate of blood-spattered mince.

Retro Football: Young Roberto Martinez Demonstrates How To Defend Against Long Throw-Ins, 1996 (Video)

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Photo: Press Association

Having pioneered a slew of innovative systems with Everton (the 'hopelessly isolated frontman' and the 'hideously exposed flat back two' instantly spring to mind) in recent years, it's largely agreed that Roberto Martinez is one of football's greatest tactical minds.

RIP Ronnie Moran: 15 Belting Vintage Photos Of ‘Mr Liverpool’ In His Pomp

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The sad news doing the rounds this morning is that Ronnie Moran, bona fide Liverpool club legend, has passed away at the age of 83.

Moran joined the Reds as a 15-year-old in 1949 and duly spent his entire playing career at the club, making 379 appearances, many of which as captain.

He then moved intocoaching at the behest of Bill Shankly, thus forming part of the iconic 'Boot Room Boys' alongside Shanks, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Reuben Bennett.

Andy Townsend Recalls Moment He Attempted To Console Gareth Southgate After Euro ’96 Penalty Miss, Only To Be Upstaged By Liam Gallagher (Video)

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With England set to take on Germany on Wednesday night, the chatter in the BBC 5Live studio inevitably turned to manager Gareth Southgate's most well-trodden previous dalliancewith Die Mannshaft.

We are of course talking about the semi-finals of Euro '96, wherein Southgate fluffedthe crucial penalty to send the Germans through to the final.

Retro Football: Ronaldinho Scores First Ever Goal For Brazil (Assisted By Cafu) Against Venezuela, 1999 (Video)

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Ronaldinho is turning 37 years young today, so we thought we'd offer a simple tribute by traipsing right back to the far end of the Brazilian virtuoso's career.

The year was 1999, and theSelecao were playing Venezuela in their opening matchof the Copa America.

With Brazil already 4-0 up, a scrawny young bag of bones entered the fray in the 70th minute and promptly opened his international goal-scoring account just four minutes later.

Retro Football: Presenting The Worst Goal Man Utd Have Ever Scored, Against Sheff Wed In 1991 (Video)

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Despite the best efforts of Paul Warhurst to gift them the win, Manchester United ended up losing 3-2 against Sheffield Wednesday in what might loosely be described as a 'thriller' at Hillsborough in October of 1991.

Having gone1-0 down to an early David Hirst strike, it didn't take long for United to restore parity less than two minutes in fact, thanks to Warhurst's superbly weighted through-ball to Brian McClair.

Retro Football: Giovanni Trapattoni’s Immortal Bayern Munich Mega-Rant Is 19 Years Old Today (Video)

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Amazingly, it's now 19 years to the very day that Giovanni Trapattoni unleashed holy hell on the Bayern Munichpress room in 1998, embarking on a now infamous rant about the lapse attitude of some of his players.

The three-minute diatribe has worked its way into popular culture in Germany due to the fact that, riled upand unable to express himself fluently in a second language, Trap ended up raving in broken German with an Italian accent.

Kits & fashion

Wunderschön: Germany’s Exquisite New 2018 World Cup Kit Is Inspired Their Own Classic 1988-90 Shirt (Photos)

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You might want to position yourself over your antique Victorian fainting couch, because it looks like the new Germany home kit is going to be a thing of overpowering beauty.

According to an image obtained by WAZ newspaper, Adidas' latest creation harks back to the classic kit Der Nationalmannschaft wore at the 1990 World Cup quite possibly the most handsome football shirt ever conceived.

Celtic: Suave New Home Kit Pays Homage To Lisbon Lions On 50th Anniversary Of Famous European Cup Triumph (Photos)

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Photos: Celtic FC

To mark the 50th anniversary of the European Cup being won by a British club for the very first time, Celtic have used their new 2017/18 home kit to pay homage to their most veneratedline-up, The Lisbon Lions.

The Lions, all but one of whom were born within 10 miles of Celtic Park, beat Inter Milan in the 1967 European Cup final in Portugal to complete an unprecedented quintuple of trophies.

Puma Re-Release Iconic ‘Super Atom’ Boot, 65 Years After Original Design Was Put Into Production (Photos)

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Rudolf Dassler (left) demonstrates the new Super Atom, 1952 (Photo: Puma)

The Super Atoms were the first ever football boots to feature screw-in studs when they were originally produced in 1952.

As designedby Puma founder Rudolf Dassler, the Super Atom was developed in collaboration with an array of experts including Sepp Herberger, who was West Germany's national coach at the time.

The Rest

Retro Football: Anti-Fascist Barnsley Supporters Take On The National Front, Terrace Nazis, 1978 (Photo)

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Oakwell stadium, home of Barnsley FC (Photo: Press Association)

With the National Front (NF) on the rise in Britain and right-wing thuggery becoming rifeon the terraces in the 1970s, many groups of concerned football fanstook it upon themselves to make a defiant stand.

Following the creation of the Anti Nazi League (ANL) in 1975, activist supportersof many different football clubs formedtheir own sub-sects to help prevent their respective stadiums beingused asNF recruitment centres on matchdays.

‘You Told Me One Day You’d Win!’ – Youri Djorkaeff Congratulates Henrikh Mkhitaryan On Europa League Triumph By Sharing Childhood Photo Of Man Utd Matchwinner

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After scoring the acrobatic goal that effectively sealed Manchester United's Europa League win, Henrikh Mkhitaryan passed a personal milestone.

Indeed, the 28-year-old Armenian forward won his very first European title a fate that was promised to him long ago by none other than Youri Djorkaeff.

‘It Was Surreal To Be Honest!’ – Robbie Fowler Recalls The Time He Somehow Ended Up On Real Madrid’s Title-Winning Bus Parade

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Robbie Fowler turned out forseveral clubs in his time, having enjoyed stints of varying success atLiverpool, Leeds United, Man City, Cardiff City,Blackburn Rovers, North Queensland Fury, Perth Glory and, most famously, Muangthong United of Thailand.

He did not however, represent Real Madrid at least not intentionally anyway.