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"I've had a lot of good advice throughout my career but one thing that has stayed with me is 'A good player makes his team-mate stand out'." So says Luís Figo, the Real Madrid CF wide man who is renowned for his inch-perfect passes.
The third issue of Champions magazine continues to offer unparalleled access to the great and good in the UEFA Champions League, and kicks off with an in-depth interview with Madrid's own Lion King, Luís Figo.
At 31, there is still a lot more football in the midfield wizard: his lightning footwork has made him the scourge of defenders and the most fouled player in the Champions League's group stage this season. But when asked which opponents he fears, he barks: "Fear? I'm not afraid. There's an old Portuguese proverb which goes, 'If you are afraid, buy a dog'." However, he does confess to one or two weaknesses: "I'd like to be better with headers, I'd like to have a better left foot. I could go on."
In a rare interview with Marcello Lippi, the Juventus FC coach shares with Champions his knowledge of how to get the best from a team of young multi-millionaires, and how to cultivate the winning mentality. He takes a sideswipe at AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti's priorities: "Your priority could be the Champions League once you've won the Italian title two consecutive seasons. But when you've never won the title..." And he talks of the warm friendship he has with Sir Alex Ferguson and their shared passion for sweets. Both hard men with soft centres, Lippi confesses to liking cakes, while Ferguson declares: "Everyone's got one weakness in life and mine's chocolates."
Enigmas, managers and superstars
Champions features the ten greatest Champions League enigmas, from Alessandro Del Piero to Rivaldo, and an investigation into 'whatever happened to English managers?'. Polish great Zbigniew Boniek talks about Italian football going from strength to strength, there is a look at the people who have influenced Andriy Shevchenko's rise, Manchester United FC's John O'Shea describes how it feels to nutmeg Figo, and RC Deportivo La Coruña's Walter Pandiani reveals that Uruguayans are born with a ball under their arm.
The Italian way
In an extended piece on how to defend Italian-style, Champions asks whether defence is the best form of attack. From the 'crafty butcher' to the great backlines now at Milan and Juve, the magazine examines the Italians' glorious art. Also on the subject of repelling attacks, goalkeepers Dida, Timo Hildebrand and Iker Casillas describe the fine balance of method and madness that is vital for survival between the sticks.
With the 24th African Cup of Nations opening this month, Champions reflects on the past, present and future of the game in Africa, including an exclusive interview with Olympique de Marseille's Didier Drogba.
Champions also turns the spotlight on 25 years of heroic failure for Luxembourg's FC Avenir Beggen, the least successful participant in European club football's premier event. All this and previews of the Champions League first knockout stage; Ludovic Giuly on where to go out in Monaco; a guide to football in Rome; the shrine of Old Trafford; a picture report of the highest-scoring game in Champions League history; and a potted history of club strips. You cannot ask for any more.
Champions appears in English, French and German, and is available at newspaper kiosks as well as at Europe's major stadiums.
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