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Soccer players never get tired of playing the game.

That’s what this page is all about.

Where your FIRST TOUCH SOCCER book ends, the FREE KICK page begins.

It’s a chance for you to learn more about Manchester United … and for me to talk about some of the great stories I couldn’t squeeze into the book.

Scroll down to get the latest news … and to learn more about English soccer. And check out some of the cool collectibles I have in my home.

If you have any questions about my work, please EMAIL me and I’ll be happy to answer them.

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Paul Pogba
© Topps, Inc.

 

What’s up with Manchester United

May 24, 2017: Manchester United defeated the Dutch club AFC Ajax in the 2017 Europa League championship final. Midfielder Paul Pogba played brilliantly and scored one of the team’s two goals in a 2–0 victory. Ander Herrera played his best game ever for ManU and was named Man of the Match.

     
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FA Cup
Photo by Carlos Yo

 

Manchester United plays in England’s Premier League. The Premier League has 20 clubs. Each club plays 38 matches—one home and one away against each of the other 19 clubs. At the end of each season, the team with the best record is crowned champion. The teams with the worst record are moved down (or “relegated”) to the English Football League Championship, the second-highest level of play. These teams are replaced by the top-finishing clubs in the English Football League Championship, which are promoted to the Premier League.


Every team in England is invited to enter the Football Association Challenge Cup, or FA Cup. It is soccer’s oldest tournament. The FA Cup was first played during the 1871–72 season. The tournament is held all season long. The final is played in Wembley Stadium.

 

     
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Duncan Edwards
© Fax Pax

 

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Denis Law
© Manchester United/Wolff Evans Photography

 

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Cristiano Ronaldo
© The Upper Deck Company

 

More treasures from the author’s collection!


Duncan Edwards — Midfielder
1953–1958
Duncan Edwards was the club’s most gifted player in the late-1950s. He was big, fast, and smart, with great passing and shooting skills and a love of playing defense. His life was cut short at age 21 when the team’s plane crashed in a winter storm.


Bobby Charlton — Midfielder
1956–1973
Few athletes in any sport have earned more love and respect than Bobby Charlton. He led Manchester United to victory in the 1963 FA Cup and the 1968 European Cup. He was also the star of England’s World Cup champion in 1966. Charlton scored 199 league goals in 606 games for ManU. In 1994, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and is now known as Sir Robert Charlton!


Denis Law — Forward
1962–1973
When a soccer player is as good as Denis Law was, he deserves more than one nickname. Law was called The King, The Lawman and Denis the Menace. He scored an amazing 46 goals in 1963–64—the most of any player in the world. Most experts agree that he is the best player ever to come from Scotland.


George Best — Forward
1963–1974
George Best joined ManU’s youth team at the age of 15 and was playing for the senior club at age 17. He quickly showed that he was one of the world’s most talented and creative players. Best was also wildly popular with young soccer fans because he looked like one of The Beatles. He was ranked #8 on World Soccer magazine’s 100 Greatest Football Players of the 20th Century.


Eric Cantona — Forward
1992–1997
Eric Cantona was a big and physical player who led ManU to four Premier League titles in five seasons. Before he arrived, the club had gone 26 years without a first-place finish. Cantona had a special talent for scoring dramatic goals in close games.


Cristiano Ronaldo — Forward
2003–2009
Long before Cristiano Ronaldo became a star of Real Madrid, ManU fans watched him blossom into an amazing player. In 2007–08 he scored 42 goals and led the club to the Premier League championship and Champions League title.


Wayne Rooney — Forward
2004–
Wayne Rooney joined ManU as a teenager and soon became a team leader. He was named club captain and also captain of England’s national team. Rooney’s attacking style and tough-guy attitude made him popular with fans.

     
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Gary Bailey
© BBC

 

 

Did You Know?

• In 1956, Manchester United won the league title with one of the youngest lineups ever. The average age of the players on manager Matt Busby’s team was just 22 years old. Soccer fans nicknamed them “Busby’s Babes.”

• On February 6, 1958, a plane carrying Manchester United players crashed trying to take off in a winter storm from the airport in Munich, Germany. Twenty-three passengers and crewmembers died. Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards were badly injured the crash; Charlton lived but Edwards died 15 days later. In all, eight players lost their lives.

• In a 1980 match against Ipswich Town, goalkeeper Gary Bailey did the impossible when he stopped three penalty kicks. Unfortunately, ManU still lost the game.

• In a 1996 game against Wimbledon, David Beckham scored a goal from behind the midfield line. He was voted Young Player of the Year at the end of the 1996–97 season.

• In 2016–17, Wayne Rooney passed Bobby Charlton as the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. Charlton scored 249 times for ManU—199 in league games and 50 more in FA Cup and other competitions.

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