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Stars reunite as past, present, future meet at History of Football

By Christian Okpara, who was in South Africa
28 May 2018   |   3:44 am
It was advertised as one of the biggest appetisers to the FIAF World Cup scheduled to kick off in Russia on June 14 and at the end of the day guests at the sprawling Multichoice complex in Randburg, South Africa agreed that within the next 14 days football fans would be in for an offering…

It was advertised as one of the biggest appetisers to the FIAF World Cup scheduled to kick off in Russia on June 14 and at the end of the day guests at the sprawling Multichoice complex in Randburg, South Africa agreed that within the next 14 days football fans would be in for an offering never before seen in the run up to the world’s biggest sports event.

It was the launch of the History of Football, a documentary on the World Cup produced by A+E Networks, which will air in Africa as a dedicated pop-up channel on DStv channel 187 from today to June 10, 2018

Among the guests at the event were football icons, including retired players, journalists and many others affiliated one way or the other with the beautiful game.

The event gave the promoters of History Of Football the opportunity to present to the audience its brand ambassadors, who include, home boy Lucas Radebe, Dwight Yorke of Trinidad and Tobago and 2010 World Cup winner, David Villa, as well as many icons of the game who made their marks on its biggest stage.

Aided by slides from different ages in World Cup football, the organisers gave those preset at the launch snippets of what awaits the football faithful from today to the next two weeks.

Coming just before the first game of the Russia 2018 World Cup, it was agreed that there was no better way to prepare for the World Cup than going through the evolution of the game.

Legacy format detected for design:

Explaining the choice of Lucas Radebe and David Villa as the programme’s spokespersons, A+E Networks Africa General Manager, Yusuf Nabee said the ambassadors were picked based on their contributions to the game.

“We’re honoured to have a football player as celebrated as Lucas Radebe as the local ambassador of this exciting television event.

During his prolific career he established himself as one of the best central defenders in the English Premier League, was part of the Bafana Bafana team which won the African Nations Cup in 1996 and led the national team in its first ever FIFA World CupTM appearance in France in 1998 and again in Japan/South Korea in 2002.

He has a long history with football and is a fitting local ambassador for the History of Football.

“History of Football will air in over 160 territories around the world in the build-up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Supported by a number of football heavy weights, including Spanish footballer David Villa as the global press spokesperson, it promises to offer a deep exploration of the sport from multiple perspectives.”

Also in the talent line-up for History of Football, according to Nabee, are “Brazil’s Pelé, who is the only player to win three FIFA World Cups; Ryan Giggs, the most decorated player in British history and current manager of the Wales national team;

Gary Lineker, England’s record holder for goals scored in finals; internationally renowned sports broadcaster, Louis Van Gaal, former manager of Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Ajax Amsterdam and Holland; Philipp Lahm, captain of Germany during the 2014 FIFA World Cup and current Bayern Munich player;

Claudio Ranieri, former manager of Leicester City, during their 2016 English Premier League win and current head coach of Nantes; Roy Hodgson, current manager of Crystal Palace in the English Premier League and former manager of England; and Michael Owen, former striker for Manchester United and the England national team;

together with a number of players from the FIFA World Cup winning teams of 1970, 1978, 1990, 1998 and 2014, including the likes of Rivellino, Mario Kempes, Lothar Matthaus, Paul Breitner, Toto Schillaci, Emanuel Petit, Christian Karembeu, Manuel and Philip Lahm.”

According to Nabee, during the 14-day pop up channel, HISTORY will air a slate of original, globally-focused premium documentary series, short form specials and a selection of FIFA World Cup films.

He added that the channel would also broadcast locally-sourced television series and documentaries that will offer a unique lens into Africa’s passion for football.

Nabee was emphatic that the History of Football pop-up channel will showcase the event that will capture the anticipation and excitement of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

Outside of Africa, HISTORY OF FOOTBALL will air in over 160 territories around the world. Every major territory will see over 40 hours of content which will be a blend of global and local programming.

Giving an insight into the thinking behind History of Football, V ice President, Programming/Head of History and H2 A+E Network, U.k, Daniel Korn said the outfit wanted to do an event that would resonate around the world and football is one of those subjects that attract people.

“We wanted do something different, to tell a story that nobody else had done. It gave us the opoortunity to look at different cultures, histories and different persoinalities that had contributed to what the game is today. We started from the 1950 when Brazil first hosted the World Cup and Uruguay won it that year.”

He revealed that the programme is divided into chapters of diifferent eras, adding, “we go from 1970s to 1980s through Maradona’s career to the present day.

“It is in chapters where we try to focus on all the great stories and the players, coaches and managers that have conributed in making football and the World Cup the number one event in the world.”

Korn refused to be dragged on the old debate of which era played the better football, adding, however, that the different eras made unique contributions to the growth of the game.

“It is so difficult to say that football has improved or deteriorated because if you look at the Brazil team of 1990, which is a brillaint bteam. I cannot imagine any other team playig more bgrilliant footbalol, mthan that team.

“But then, the ganme has become faster, the players have become fitter and I think technical ability may have improved. But is it better to waycg now? I am not sure.”

Elated by the opportunity to contribute to the pre-World Cup event, Radebe said he was proud and honoured to have been named the local ambassador for the History of Football television event, adding, “I was privileged to lead Bafana Bafana to its first ever World Cup, and I understood the gravity of that moment for our country, and for its relevance in the global context of the beautiful game.

Local fans, many for the first time, will watch this essential chronicle, not only on the History Channel itself, but on a dedicated pop-up channel leading up to the tournament in Russia.”

David Villa, a World Cup Winner and one of the most decorated players in the world, who is History’s global press spokesperson, said he is fortunate to be among the icons chosen for the project.

Villa added, “As a passionate football player, I have been lucky enough to see first-hand how much football means to so many people and how it affects people’s lives.

HISTORY OF FOOTBALL, told so comprehensively by such a well-loved and highly respected global brand as HISTORY, is a remarkable initiative.

I am thrilled and honored to work with HISTORY on this fantastic television event, because it gives my fellow players, coaches, and myself, an opportunity to talk about what the game means to us and to re-live so many incredible memories.”

As part of the 14-day programming event, HISTORY will air a slate of original, globally-focused premium documentary series, short form specials and a selection of FIFA World Cup films.

HISTORY channels around the world will also broadcast locally-sourced television series and documentaries that will offer a unique lens into each country’s passion for football.

Supported by Villa and many other established players, coaches, journalists and experts, HISTORY OF FOOTBALL will be a deep exploration of the sport from multiple perspectives.

According to Yolisa Phahle, CEO for General Entertainment for MultiChoice, “The story of football is great family entertainment and we’re delighted to be part of HISTORY’s global event.

This pop-up channel is exclusive to DStv customers in Africa and is the perfect build-up to the full-on action that will unfold during the football World Cup tournament that we’ll be broadcasting in June, on several dedicated SuperSport channels.”

The series include History’s Greatest Moments in Football, which chronicles the teams and players in recent World Cup history.

Football Godfathers presents five powerful documentaries delving into the minds and strategies of the world’s greatest and most revered club managers, revealing how they rose – often from relatively undistinguished playing careers – to become the global superstars of the sport we know today.

Football’s Greatest: Head to Head matches up the greatest players of yesteryear with the greatest of today, to find out once and for all, who is the greatest of them all. Every generation has an opinion on who is the world’s greatest player.

With an expert panel of World Cup players and winners, and using hard science of statistics, as well as the romance of style and passion, this series will set out to resolve the most vexing question in sport.

A document of the project reveals that a 48-minute documentary on the History of Football in Africa explores the origins of the beautiful game on the African continent.

“It captures how a sport forced on the people by their colonial masters became a tool for nation building and developed into the most popular game on the continent, giving rise to some of the world’s most renowned footballing greats, and spoiling audiences with some of the most memorable moments the greatest game has had to offer.”

Making World Cup History is another short take, a 24-minute special event that tells the story of the first ever FIFA Soccer World Cup to be held on the African continent.

“Exploring the turbulent political and sporting past of the host nation, South Africa, with key insights from those involved in dragging a new democracy from the fringes of sporting obscurity and thrusting it into the glare of the world’s greatest show, successfully pulling off the best FIFA World Cup in history in spite of the magnitude of the task.”

The project also looks unveil “short form original specials which will focus on everything but the game…from the origin of the ball to the insanity of the superfan, the acumen of photographers and so much more. The shorts will provide deeper insights into the sport of football.

“The Greatest African Rivalries focuses on some of the greatest African football rivalries as talked about by some of the players involved through the years.