Lionel Messi in action for Argentina during their Copa America clash with Paraguay. Photograph: Yuri Edmundo/EPA

Lionel Andres Messi is 32 today. The little maestro made his Barcelona first-team debut at 16 so has spent half his life competing at the top level. H(...)

USA’s Jordan Spieth (left) and USA’s Xander Schauffele shake hands at the end of their rounds on the 18th during day four of the Open Championship 2018 at Carnoustie. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Could it have ever happened? Kevin Anderson winning Wimbledon. Kevin Kisner or Kevin Chappell winning the Open a week later. Three guys called “Kev”,(...)

 Zinedine Zidane  after head-butting Italian defender Marco Materazzi.  Photograph: Getty Images

The crowd are whistling. Something has happened. Marco Materazzi is on the ground. The match commentators are confused. They think David Trezeguet has(...)

Jean-Philippe Toussaint: ‘I am pretending to write about football, but I am writing, as always, about the passing of time.’ Photographs: Anna Toussaint

In Richard Ford’s novel The Sportswriter, the protagonist of the title Frank Bascombe explains to an intern the key to plying this trade: “learn how n(...)

 Manuel Amoros  is given a marching orders after headbutting Jesper Olsen durin France’s 1-0 win over Denmark at Euro 2000. Photograph: Getty

Euro 1984: France 1 Denmark 0 June 12th, 1984 Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt into the chest of Marco Materazzi in the closing stages of the 2006 World C(...)

Real Madrid’s new French coach Zinedine Zidane. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel sympathy for Rafa Benítez this week: as if receiving the most unceremoniously crude axe imaginable fro(...)

France’s  head coach Didier Deschamps kicks a ball during a training session at the Botafogo soccer club’s Santa Cruz stadium. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

For a man once belittled by Eric Cantona as “a water carrier,” Didier Deschamps has certainly made a habit of carrying lots of trophies. French repor(...)

World Cups are often remembered as much for displays of ill discipline as for moments of great skill by the world’s best footballers. It looks certain(...)

Andrea Pirlo remains the key man for  Italy. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Manager: Cesare Prandelli Best finish: Winners (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006) World Cup record: Played 83, Won 45, Drawn 21, Lost 17 History (...)

West German goalkeeper Toni Schumacher (right) jumps past the ball as he gets ready to collide with French defender Patrick Battiston during the 1982 World Cup semi-final in Stockholm. Battiston was carried off the field on a stretcher while Schumacher, unpunished,  resumed play with a goal-kick. Photograph: AFP

The semi-final stage of the World Cup has, on balance, not been particularly kind to France. In 1958, the free-scoring team of Just Fontaine and Raymo(...)