Out now: World Soccer March 2024

Jamie Evans
Jamie Evans

The latest issue of World Soccer is now available to buy online and in shops

From the editor

In an Adidas advert, released during the 2006 World Cup, two kids on a Barcelona street agree to a game of football. When it comes to picking their team-mates, there are no limits. “Kaka,” says one. “Zidane,” responds the other. As the two Ballon d’Or winners jog over, the team building continues:


Sure enough, Franz Beckenbauer, in a pristine white 1974 West Germany shirt with number five on the back, joins the makeshift pitch.

The technology of the time didn’t quite allow the Kaiser’s digital image to be imposed into the match action, yet even that brief cameo manages to capture something of his magic. Here was a footballer that left an indelible impression on the game and those that love it, far beyond Bavaria where he spent much of his playing career and long after his retirement. Even today, in streets, playgrounds and parks around the globe, a player dribbling the ball out from the back will still be greeted with cries of “Beckenbauer!” It is a name synonymous with adventurous, attacking football.

There are a handful of footballers in history whose names truly echo down through the ages, and Beckenbauer is undeniably one of them. If a footballing Mount Rushmore were commissioned today, his face would be carved into it.

In one of life’s harsh coincidences, Beckenbauer’s death came just days after the passing of a man with whom he shares an incredible record. Brazil’s Mario Zagallo was the first man to win the World Cup as both a player and manager, a record that Beckenbauer matched in 1990.

As an individual, Zagallo does not have quite have the same global acclaim as Beckenbauer. Yet his role in making Brazil the undisputed kings of the World Cup — first as a player, then as a coach and finally as an assistant — is arguably greater than any other individual, including Pele. As Tim Vickery puts it in his tribute to Zagallo, the  Selecao icon helped make Brazil “the country that everyone wanted to be for a month every four years.” The mastermind of the 1970 World Cup triumph, Zagallo can claim huge credit for that. With his and Beckenbauer’s passing it is no exaggeration to say that football has lost two of its most influential figures of all time. We pay tribute to them in the March 2024 edition of World Soccer.

Jamie Evans, Managing Editor


4 In pictures
11 The month in numbers
14 Keir Radnedge How Der Kaiser defined an era
16 Jonathan Wilson Zagallo and Beckenbauer
17 Reports we couldn’t make up
18 Obituaries Luigi Riva
20 Ins & Outs
21 January Transfer Window

24 Der Kaiser
Franz Beckenbauer
28 O Profesor Mario Zagallo

22 Japan New J.League season
26 Palestine The beleaguered nation’s Asian Cup run

44 Girona
La Liga’s surprise package
46 Ventofret Kofu
The second-division team shocking the Asian Champions League
48 Andriy Shevchenk 
The new president of the Ukrainian FA

40 Turn Back The Clock Iraq’s 2007 Asian Cup victory
49 UEFA Champions League Knockout rounds preview and stats
62 Club Focus
Bayer Leverkusen
60 Europa League & Conference League 
Stars to watch in the final rounds
70 Special Feature The fall of Jose Mourinho at Roma
74 6 of the Best MLS stars to watch in 2024
76 Spotlight RB Leipzig Women

80 2024 Olympic qualifiers

86 Asia Champions League knockout stage preview
88 USA MLS Preview
90 South Korea K-League preview
92Republic of Ireland League of Ireland preview
94 St Helena Reconnecting with the sporting world

98 Hannes Halldorsson

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