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.

Enjoy this site, check back whenever you like, and contact me with any questions or comments.

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Breaking News

Paul Pogba
(© Topps, Inc.)

What’s up with Manchester United

June 3, 2023: After winning the FA Cup semifinal on penalty kicks, United faced Manchester City in the first “Manchester Derby” FA Cup final. ManU allowed a goal 12 seconds into the match and never recovered, losing 2–1.

April 30, 2023: United edged Aston Villa 1–0 on a goal by Bruno Fernandes. It was the 100th league goal of his career, playing for top-flight clubs in Italy, Portugal, and England.

April 16, 2022: Cristiano Ronaldo scored all three goals in a 3–2 victory over Norwich City. It was his second hat trick in 25 days. He would score his 100th Premier League goal against Arsenal the following week.

January 19, 2022: ManU defeated Brentford to become the first Premier League club to win 300 “away” matches.

August 27, 2021: Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer’s all-time international goal-scorer, joined ManU from the Italian club Juventus. The transfer fee of 25 million Euros is one of the highest in history.

May 26, 2021: ManU fell just short of winning the UEFA Europa League championship. A 1–1 tie with Villareal went to a thrilling penalty kick phase, but the Spanish club won, 11–10.

May 23, 2021: A 2–1 win over Wolverhampton sewed up a second-place finish in the Premier League. It was ManU’s highest finish since 2013. Bruno Fernandes led the team with 18 league goals.

March 18, 2021: Paul Pogba scored the lone goal in a thrilling 1–0 victory over AC Milan, as ManU advanced to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Europa League tournament.

February 2, 2021: ManU equaled the biggest home win in their history with a 9–0 win over Southampton. Eight different players scored during the match.

January 24, 2021: Midfielder Bruno Fernandes came off the bench to break a 2–2 tie with a goal against arch-rival Liverpool in the FA Cup tournament. It was ManU’s first win over Liverpool in almost three years.

August 16, 2020: For the first time in a long time, Manchester United finished a season without some sort of league or tournament trophy. Their last hope ended with a loss to Spanish club Sevilla in the semifinals of the Europa League tournament. ManU’s top scorer in 2019–20 was Frenchman Anthony Martial, with 23 goals. He and Marcus Rashford tied for the team lead with 17 goals in Premier League play.

July 26, 2020: Manchester United defeated Leicester City 2–0 in the final match of the regular season. One of the goals came on a penalty kick. It was the 14th one of the season awarded to the club, which set a new Premier League record.

July 9, 2020: ManU beat Aston Villa 3–0. With victories by scores of 3–0, 3–0, and 5–2 in their previous three matches, the club became the first in Premier League history to win four games in a row by three goals.

August 11, 2019: Marcus Rashford scored twice in a 4–0 shutout of Chelsea to open the 2019–20 Premier League season.

February 3, 2019: 21-year-old forward Marcus Rashford scored the lone goal in an away victory over Leicester City. It was his fourth game-winning goal of the season.

November 11, 2018: Anthony Martial scored against Manchester City, finding the net for the fifth match in a row. He joins ManU legends Eric Cantona, Dwight Yorke, Robin Van Persie, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo as the only players in team history to score in five straight.

April 21, 2018: The club defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2–1 to qualify for the FA Cup final against Chelsea. Newcomer Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera scored for ManU.

April 18, 2018: Goalkeeper David de Gea was named to the Professional Football Association’s Team of the Year.

January 20, 2018: Anthony Martial scored in his third straight game during a 1–0 victory over Burnley FC. He was the first ManU player to score in three straight wins during the 2017–18 season.

September 27, 2017: Romelu Lukaku scored twice against CSKA Moscow to give him 10 goals in his first 9 games with ManU. That broke a record set by legendary Bobby Charlton, who scored 9 times in his first 9 games.

September 23, 2017: Striker Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal in a 1–0 victory over Southampton. It was his 6th goal in 6 games to start the 2017–18 season.

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.

Premier League & FA Cup

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.

Collector’s Corner

Duncan Edwards
(© Fax Pax)

Denis Law
(© Manchester United/Wolff Evans Photography)

Cristiano Ronaldo
(© The Upper Deck Company)

More treasures from the author’s collection!

  • Duncan Edwards — Midfielder
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.

Fun Facts

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 crew members 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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