Sunday, March 31, 2013

Brazilian side admit fielding two players wearing same shirt number in deliberate ploy to confuse opponents

Brazilian side Uniao Barbarense have admitted deliberately fielding two players wearing the same shirt number in a bid to confuse their opponents.

Having played the first half of their recent fixture against Linense wearing his usual No.7 jersey, Uniao Barbarense (who play in the second tier of Sao Paulo's regional Campeonato Paulista) sent midfielder Claudio Britto out for the second half wearing the same number as defender Rafael Silva.

That meant that Barbarense were playing with two No. 5s on the field for 26 minutes of the second half until the referee noticed the ruse, ordered Britto to change his shirt and showed him a yellow card for his troubles.

Triestina use fake vinyl supporters

When Triestina’s match was scheduled for TV coverage, their owner decided that he was embarrassed by the fact that there were low attendances in their 32,000 seater stadium.

General Manager Marco Dernaz made the decision to place vinyl posters over 10,000 seats in order to make the ground look full on television.

GIF : Bale goal vs Swansea

Manchester United Hired "A Fleet Of Private Jets" To Shuttle Its Players Back From International Competitions

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed how Manchester United have hired a fleet of private jets to ensure their players away on international duty are back in time for this weekend's action.

"Freshness is the name of the game now as we come towards the end of the season and the intensity of vital games coming in quick succession," Ferguson remarked in United's most recent match programme. "My role becomes even more important in selecting the right teams, with freshness the operative quality. It's not necessarily putting out your best team, it's picking the freshest.

"This will be a real problem when the players come back at the end of the international break after playing two games involving long flights, particularly with Chicharito in Mexico [to play USA] and Shinji Kagawa with Japan [who have a World Cup qualifier in Jordan on Tuesday].

"In fact, we're making arrangements for some players to fly home by privately hired jet after their matches, to make sure they get home as quickly and smoothly as possible.

"Tiredness is a great leveller but we will do our utmost to make sure we field the freshest possible teams. Private planes are going to cost the club an awful lot of money, but it is something we feel we have to do.

Japanese Bicycle Football

Edgar Davids claims FA are trying to get Barnet relegated

Edgar Davids has accused the FA of trying to drive League Two Barnet to relegation.

Bees boss Davids made the astonishing claims after referee Keith Hill red-carded Kyle De Silva and Barry Fuller in the 0-0 draw at home to Dagenham yesterday.

Dutch legend Davids, who was sent off himself in the loss to Accrington Stanley two weeks ago, blasted: “The referees lately are not fair to Barnet.

"Do they want us to fail? We have a difficult game ahead at Wimbledon but you never know how the referee is going to do the match.

"I don’t know what instructions he’ll get from the FA.

"Enough is enough. I don’t like this that they are focused on Barnet.

"We already have a tough period ahead but we can’t have this influencing our team as well."

Barnet finished the match with 10 men after sub De Silva was dismissed for a foot-up challenge on Luke Wilkinson.

Then skipper Fuller saw red after the final whistle for directing a volley of abuse at ref Hill.

A furious Davids added: "The referee said Barry insulted him but I don’t believe that.

"De Silva’s challenge could have been a red card but Wilkinson’s earlier challenge on Jon Nurse was much worse."

PSG boss wants Becks to stay on for another year

Carlo Ancellotti wants David Beckham to be offered a new one-year deal to stay at Paris Saint-Germain.

The former England captain’s hopes of remaining in the French capital have been given a massive boost with the news that PSG boss Ancelotti is firmly on his side.

Beckham, 37, arrived from LA Galaxy in January and was given a contract until the end of the season although his wages are all being given to charity.

Ancelotti said: "Extend his contract for another year? The decision has to be taken by the club, the player and the coach. But I am for it."

Blackpool fan gets thrown out for taunting Blackburn owners in chicken suit

A rogue Blackpool fan enjoyed a far from egg-cellent Good Friday after his jibe at Blackburn’s chicken farm owning directors went badly wrong.

The supporter ended up getting ejected from the ground by police and stewards after turning up in a chicken costume in a bid to taunt Blackburn’s madcap owners Venky’s.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A goal against Celta by Messi will complete stunning scoring circle against every side in Spain

If he scores this weekend, Messi will become the first footballer in history to net in consecutive matches against every team in the league.

He has scored 29 goals in his last 18 La Liga games and, if he puts one past Celta Vigo on Saturday, he will have scored against every opponent in a row.

Barcelona prepare for Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final against David Beckham's Paris Saint-Germain with a trip to Celta, and they have a commanding 13-point lead at the top of the table. 

George Weah's son gets Chelsea trial

Chelsea are giving a trial to the 13-year-old son of AC Milan legend George Weah.

Weah Snr, who won two Italian titles, played on loan at Stamford Bridge in 2000, scoring three goals in 11 appearances.

And now son Timothy Weah hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps and has been given the chance to impress at Chelsea.

George said: "He is talented.

"We just wanted to give him the opportunity and we also want him to enjoy the game he has passion for so I brought him to Chelsea just for a trial and for a different experience.

"When I left London, I kept ties with Chelsea and when my son wanted to come to England to play, the first person I called was the club’s liaison officer Gary Staker.

"Gary made it happen and Timothy is enjoying it. He has started training already and he is happy."

Most England caps without ever starting a game

Carlton Cole has won the most England caps without ever starting a game, playing seven times with an average of 17.17 minutes per cap, and unusually was involved in even more substitutions than he played matches, having come on for Emile Heskey in the 15th minute of a home friendly against Slovakia in March 2009, and gone off again for Peter Crouch 20 minutes later.

Crouch himself was replaced by Michael Carrick with 16 minutes to go, meaning that four people filled what was theoretically the same outfield slot in a single game.

Deportivo goalkeeper training drills

American Soccer Fans Get Pelted By Beers At U.S.A.-Mexico World Cup Qualifier

Windsor FC And Flackwell Heath Thrown Out Of Berks & Bucks Cup After Both Fielded Ineligible Players Against Each Other

Both Windsor FC and Flackwell Heath have both been expelled from the tournament after it came to light that both sides attempted to play ineligible players against each other in their semi-final on March 6th.

Flackwell Heath won on the night, snatching a 3-2 victory with a goal deep in stoppage time, though it all emerged in the week following the fixture that both sides had tried to get away with fielding ringers.

This from the Maidenhead Advertiser:

“[Flackwell] ‘keeper Craig Garrett played the full 90 minutes even though he should have been cup-tied having played for Harefield earlier in the season in the Middlesex County Senior Cup.
“And it was a similar story for Windsor who played midfielder Jason Sheehan who was also cup-tied having played for Chalfont St Peter in the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup.”

Apparently both sides filed formal complaints and counter-complaints to the Berks & Bucks FA a fortnight ago and yesterday both clubs received identical letters telling them they had both been fined £1,000 and thrown out of the cup.

Sylvie Van Der Vaart Launches Lingerie Range

Gerard Depardieu to play Jules Rimet in film about history of FIFA

Gerard Depardieu is to play former FIFA president and World Cup creator Jules Rimet in a new film about the inception and history of football’s governing body.

According to Reuters, the film – tentatively titled “F2014″ and which “aims to uncover the human story of the creation of the largest sports federation in the world” - is being written by novelist Jean Paul Delfino and director Frederic Auburtin and is due to start shooting in June of this year.

Retiring football player substituted for his 5-year old son in his last game

1897 Football Oldest Footage

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Barcelona U9 scores after five seconds

Corinthians draw world record low crowd

After recent crowd trouble at Brazilian side Corinthians games, the South American side were forced to play their Copa Libertadores game against Colombian team Millionarios behind closed doors.

However, four fans claimed to a court that they should be allowed to attend the game because they could prove that they had nothing to do with any crowd trouble.

Surprisingly, the court ruled in favour of the fans, and therefore four individuals had a court order to go to the match.

Therefore, Corinthians had just four supporters in the stadium, a new record low attendance.

AS Roma’s Twitter feed goes a little Francesco Totti mad

OFI Crete’s floodlights fall into the club’s car park

World’s oldest football

New evidence suggests that the beautiful game could be around 350 years older than previously thought.

Historians have discovered documents which suggest that early games were taking place in Britain’s royal courtyards as early as the end if the 15th century. A manuscript from the financial accounts of King James IV of Scotland show that the king paid no less than two shillings for a bag of ‘fut ballis’, in a transaction dated 11th April, 1497.

There have also been several diaries discovered which appear to confirm these royal games, as well as an early football ball.

The old leather ball was discovered within the walls of a bedchamber used by Mary, Queen of Scots, which also appears to be dated back as far as the mid-16th century, confirming the link with royalty.

Other early references to football have previously been found in football betting records, made long before the modern online.

However, these more recent discoveries are the oldest historical references to this sport to be discovered yet, and will certainly alter the way in which football is currently thought to have developed.

However, it seems still to be the case that the first football clubs were not formed until 1824, when a student at Edinburgh university put together his own club, know simply as ‘The Football Club’.

It wasn’t until some years later that an official set of rules were put together for the game, with professors at Cambridge University laying down the original playing guidelines for the game.

The early style of playing which is now believed to have taken place within the royal courtyards is thought to have had significant variations for these later, more official games.

The original fat footballer

The quintessential fat footballer, once-capped England goalkeeper William "Fatty" Foulke weighed 275.8lb (125.1kg) during his time at first club Sheffield United and, by the time he signed for Bradford in 1906, he was up to 350lb (158.7kg).

Stories about Foulke abound, though some must be apocryphal.

He is said to have once eaten all his team-mates' breakfasts at a hotel; in the 1898-99 season, he apparently picked up Liverpool's George Allen and stood him on his head; at the 1902 FA Cup final, the referee reportedly hid in a broom cupboard to escape an incensed, and stark naked, Foulke after the award of a controversial goal; in 1907, he was forced to wear a sheet because there was no jersey to fit him.

For obvious reasons, the 'Fatty' nickname stuck, and it was Foulke who inspired the creation of the 'Who ate all the pies?' chant, but as he famously once said: "You can call me what you like - just don't call me late for dinner."

Referee scores a goal

The Football Association suspended referee Brian Savill for seven weeks after he intervened to help out Wimpole 2000 when losing 18-1 in a Great Bromley Cup game away to Earls Colnes' reserve team.

"The ball came over from a corner, the Wimpole forward headed it and it came to me," Savill told BBC Radio Five Live. "I chested it down, or armed it down, and the ball bounced up and I just volleyed it into the net."

He added: "I went roaring up the field, blowing the whistle and signalling a goal. There were about 20 or 30 people watching. Half were standing there in bewilderment and the other half were clapping and laughing. An Earls Colne player shook my hand and said, 'Well done!' It was done in a good humour - Wimpole were getting thrashed."

Wimpole eventually lost 20-2 and Savill, accusing the authorities of having "no sense of humour", resigned in protest at his suspension.

Snakes on a pitch in India

A match in the Indian I-League narrowly missed the invasion of over a dozen poisonous snakes after Mohun Bagan took on Arrows on Sunday.

The Kalyani Stadium near Kolkata saw the reptiles slither their way onto the field shortly after a 3-2 win, while they were also spotted near the dressing room as the players were engaged in the game.

No-one was injured, but I-League CEO Sunanda Dhar told The Indian Express when asked if the venue would be banned: "No, we haven't taken such a decision yet. But we have instructed the authorities to take proper measures to ensure that snakes are removed from the premises of the stadium."

Kalyani Municipality chairman PK Sur revealed that the local area had become infested with snakes due to the recent hot weather, while Bagan midfielder Rahim Nabi told the paper: "I for one would be afraid of playing there again."

Ukraine’s Stepanenko sees red

Italy seeks Argentina friendly dedicated to pope

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli would like to see Argentina playing Italy in a friendly dedicated to newly elected Pope Francis

"We've played friendlies with all the best national teams, only Argentina is missing," Prandelli said Wednesday, a day after Italy's 2-0 win over Malta in a World Cup qualifier.

"If we could arrange it, it would be nice to have an audience with the pope, who comes from Buenos Aires and loves football, and then go all together with both squads on one bus to the stadium. I couldn't dream of anything better."

The hypothetical friendly would likely be held at Rome's Stadio Olimpico, a short drive from Vatican City.

While no match is scheduled yet, Italy does have an open friendly date in August.

More video of ‘Fat Freestyler’ Andrew Cassidy

'Toilet roll, lighter, pen and water bottle thrown at England players'

Joe Hart has said he was hit by a toilet roll and that other objects including a lighter, marker pen and bottle of water were thrown at England players by Montenegro fans during Tuesday's draw in Podgorica.

Fifa is waiting for official reports before deciding if Montenegro has a case to answer.

The Football Association will be sent documentation from its own personnel at the match before deciding if it wishes to make a complaint.

Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard were also targeted, alongside Joe Hart, who said of being hit by a toilet roll: "It pinged off my head and wrapped round my shoulder - but it's not going to kill you, is it? It's not ideal, but that's the beauty of football."

Regarding what else was flung at the players, Hart said: "You get all sorts of things thrown at you. It was a lighter. There was a marker pen. All sorts. Anything they have to hand. A big bottle of Evian."

Soccer balls lost at sea

A number of balls were lost during the 1941 Rio State Championship final between Fluminense and Flamengo.

Fluminense only needed a draw and went 2-0 up, but then Flamengo got level in the 83rd minute.

Fluminense's players then took to hoofing balls into a nearby lake until they had run out altogether.

The ruse nearly backfired as Flamengo's directors sent their rowing team to retrieve the balls, and a considerable amount of time was added on, but in the end Flamengo couldn't find another goal and Fluminense retained the title.

FA stands to lose up to £26 million if England fail to reach 2014 World Cup

England’s 1-1 draw in Podgorica on Tuesday has left Roy Hodgson’s men with an uphill task to secure their place in Brazil next summer.

They are currently two points behind leaders Montenegro with only four Group H games remaining.

Aside from the national humiliation, failure to reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 1994 would have serious implications for the FA’s bank balance.

Just by making it to Brazil, the FA would be guaranteed £8 million in prize money - the minimum amount for teams eliminated in the group stage based on Fifa’s recent announcement of a 33 per cent increase in the prize-money pot from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The figure rises to £16 million for reaching the quarter-finals, a reasonable expectation for England based on past tournaments, and £26.5 million for winning the World Cup outright.

van Persie says Manchester United will be his last club

Robin van Persie has declared that Manchester United will be his last club.

Van Persie, 29, has been a revelation in his first season at United following his £24million move from Arsenal last summer.

The Holland striker has scored 23 goals in 38 games for Sir Alex Ferguson's side and said he intends to finish his career at Old Trafford.

Speaking to Voetbal International, van Persie said: "The coming years it's Manchester United. And maybe longer. United would be my last club.

"You have a number of clubs in Europe where older players can find it good, where they are valued. You used to have that at Juventus and AC Milan, Manchester United today is a good example. So who knows how long I stay at the club.

Messi's 91 record-breaking goals immortalised in a unique poster

To celebrate Messi's magic year, graphic artist Dave Williams has produced a stunning poster, depicting each and every one of the Barca star's 91 goals from 2012.

Williams is producing a limited print run of this iconic poster, with just 91 copies - one for each goal scored - up for grabs.

Two-goal Mario Balotelli puts it all down to his new romance

Mario Balotelli says falling in love with new girlfriend Fanny Neguesha has helped him settle down following his move to AC Milan.

Balotelli was involved in a series of controversies during his time at Manchester City but has flourished since leaving the Premier League for £19million in January.

The 22-year-old striker has seven goals in six games for AC Milan and scored both goals in Italy’s 2-0 win in Malta last night. The result keeps the Italians top of Group B, three points ahead of Bulgaria.

"Am I in love? Yes," said Balotelli of Neguesha, whom he met last year.

"She is determined, confident and generous. In a short space of time she found herself in sync with me. I could spend my whole life with someone like this. Thanks to Fanny I have rediscovered the balance that I need in my work.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mourinho back at Chelsea

Hiding behind his hooded top, these are the pictures that show Jose Mourinho back inside his old Stamford Bridge fortress on Monday night.

The former Chelsea boss was pictured sneaking into the ground to watch the friendly between Brazil and Russia.

Keen to avoid the waiting photographers, Mourinho pulled a dark hoodie over his head in an attempt to avoid being recognised.

It adds further fuel to the belief that Real Madrid coach Mourinho will make a dramatic return to Chelsea this summer.

World's oldest season ticket

The world's oldest season ticket has been handed back to Burnley FC by the great-grandson of its former holder.

The document, which dates back to the 1884-85 season, was issued by Burnley to Leonard Metcalfe, who had also played on the team.

It was referred to then as a members' card, and was presented back to the club by David Metcalfe, after it was passed down through the generations to him.

Morrissey joins ‘cousin’ Robbie Keane

Morrissey last month revealed he was the long-lost cousin of Robbie Keane, and now it seems the pair are making up for lost time by getting to know one other.

The former Smiths frontman and LA Galaxy striker were pictured at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, where the Republic of Ireland faced Austria in a crucial World Cup qualifier.

The Football Association of Ireland tweeted the great man’s arrival, accompanied by the following message: ‘Look who just made an appearance in the tunnel of Aviva Stadium! #morrissey #cousins #COYBIG

Israel's £500 thermal shopping spree

Northern Ireland’s World Cup hopes are in ruins this morning after their secret weapon was nullified by an Israeli shopping spree for thermal underwear.

Manager Michael O’Neill was convinced plunging temperatures in freezing Belfast would come as such a shock to the system to Israel’s players that his side would catch them cold in their qualifier at Windsor Park.

His theory looked well founded when Israel’s squad left behind clear blue skies and near-80 degree heat in Tel Aviv, after their 3-3 draw with Portugal, and touched down on Monday in sub-zero temperatures made to feel even colder by bitter gale-force winds.

But the cunning plan began to unravel when Israel coach Eli Guttman saw his players shiver their way through training at Windsor hours later and heeded their call for an antidote to the Arctic conditions.

The wily Guttman despatched his kit man into Belfast city centre the following morning, armed with £500 and under orders to buy enough knitwear and thermal accessories to ward off the cold.

With snow cleared from the pitch but a chill still in the air, Israel’s players duly took to the pitch, sporting blue woollen tights under their shorts, thermal vests beneath their shirts and the obligatory gloves.

After a sluggish start, they warmed to their task and scored two late goals to wrap up a 2-0 win and effectively end Northern Ireland’s faint hopes of figuring in next year’s finals in Brazil.

Bolivia are the team Messi just can't score against

Lionel Messi drew a blank again against Bolivia as the Argentine goal machine struggled with the rigours of playing at high altitude.

The forward, who has scored 51 goals for Barcelona this season and two goals behind Diego Maradona in Argentina's all-time scoring list, was reportedly sick on the pitch during half-time as he struggled in the thin air of La Paz, more than 13,000 feet above sea level.

Team-mate Angel Di Maria had to be given oxygen on the pitch during the 1-1 draw.

Chelsea left powerless as embarrassing Torres banner returns

Chelsea have been left powerless after a billboard poking fun at Fernando Torres outside Stamford Bridge returned this week - despite the Blues winning a legal battle to get it removed.

The banner suggesting misfiring striker Torres should give up football to work in a burger van instead was erected last month and left Chelsea fuming, especially as it was embarrassingly placed just yards from the entrance to Stamford Bridge.

The Blues took legal action over its placement, insisting it damaged Torres’ image rights, and the local council agreed and pulled it down.

But bookmakers Paddy Power, who paid for the advert as part of their ‘second jobs for subs’ campaign, have taken vengeance by finding a clever way around keeping their banner live.

Directly underneath the old billboard placement, the company have placed the same advert but on a van parked across the road from the stadium.

And it seems the mischievous plan has worked - Chelsea are powerless to remove the van.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Soccer playing human-like robot

Scientists have designed a human like robot named "NimbRo-OP," with contrasting white head and black body, which is adept in playing soccer.

Although chess computers have beaten humans, "humans are still clearly better at soccer than robots", said Sven Behnke, professor of computer science, who led the Autonomous Intelligent Systems working group at the University of Bonn.

Behnke's working group has created the most successful team worldwide at the RoboCup, a soccer tournament for robots, with wins in 11 individual competitions, the journal Psychology and Sociology reported.

RoboCup is being used to experiment with complex challenges for bipedal robots that can potentially be used in many practically relevant environments beyond soccer, according to a Bonn statement.

Soccer-robos have to perceive environmental conditions via cameras and inclination sensors, detect the goal posts, opponents and obstacles, and make and implement decisions involving their team members.

"There is still much to do to solve all the problems out on the pitch," said Behnke.

Premier League wages five times more than Championship

Top-flight earnings have shot up by more than 200 per cent since 2000 despite a world recession, leaving everyone else behind and reaching a level which has raised questions about the game’s financial sustainability.

The new figures show that:

    - Average Premier League wages have reached £22,353 a week - before lucrative bonuses - or £1.16million a year.

    - Average Championship earnings are £4,059 a week (£211,068 a year), less than a fifth of players one division above.

    - In the bottom division, League Two, their weekly pay of £747 is not much more than the national average.

    - League Two earnings are also 30 times smaller than those in the Premier League.

Top 25 soccer quotes

25.) One of Jose Mourinho’s first comments when he introduced himself to the English press after arriving from Porto in summer 2004:

"Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one."

24.) Jose Mourinho on leading the title race at Chelsea - February 2005:

"We are on top at the moment but not because of the club’s financial power. We are in contention for a lot of trophies because of my hard work."

23.) Jose Mourhino during Chelsea’s winning streak - October 2005:

"Everybody was waiting for Chelsea not to win every game and one day when we lose there will be a holiday in the country. But we are ready for that."

22.) Jose Mourinho on Arsene Wenger - October 2005:

"I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea."

21.) Arsene Wenger on English people:

"I think in England you eat too much sugar and meet and not enough vegetables."

20.) Arsene Wenger after the Arsenal fans booed a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough - November 1998:

"If you eat caviar every day it’s difficult to return to sausages."

19.) Answering to criticism from John Carew that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s moves are pointless. (VG, April 2002):

"What Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange."

18.) Bobby Charlton replied when soccer players were referred to as slaves:

"Some people tell me that we professional players are soccer slaves. Well, if this is slavery, give me a life sentence."

17.) Ronaldo on Brazil’s defeat to France in the 1998 World Cup final:

"We lost because we didn’t win"

16.) Bobby Robson after playing Cameroon at the 1990 World Cup:

"We didn’t underestimate them. They were just a lot better than we thought."

15.) Phil Woosnam, Welsh football player and manager:

"The rules of soccer are very simple, basically it is this: if it moves, kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it until it does."

14.) Mike Gray:

"Well Kerry, you’re 19 and you’re a lot older than a lot of people younger than yourself."

13.) Ugo Ehiogu on his happiness:

"I’m as happy as I can be, but I’ve been happier."

12.) Ruud Gullit explaining a defeat:

"We must have had 99 percent of the game. It was the other three percent that cost us the match."

11.) Former England Captain Terry Butcher:

"The beauty of Cup football is that Jack always has a chance of beating Goliath."

10.) Gordon Strachan referring to Wayne Rooney:

"It’s an incredible rise to stardom. At 17 you’re more likely to get a call from Michael Jackson than Sven Goran Eriksson."

9.) Mark Viduka:

"I would not be bothered if we lost every game as long as we won the league."

8.) Gary Lineker:

"There is no in between- you’re either good or bad. We were in between"

7.) Arigo Sachi on being a manager:

"You don’t have to have been a horse to be a jockey."

6.) Metro Radio, Football:

"Julian Dicks is everywhere. It’s like they’ve got eleven Dicks on the field."

5.) Bill Shankly, Liverpool manager on football:

"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

4.) Bob Paisley advising his players:

"If you’re in the penalty area and don’t know what to do with the ball, put it in the net and we’ll discuss the options later."

3.) Gerard Houllier on Liverpool:

"You can’t say my team aren’t winners. They’ve proved that by finishing fourth, third and second in the last three years."

2.) Gary Lineker after losing the 1990 World Cup semifinal to Germany on penalties:

"Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win."

1.) John Lambie, Patrick Thistle manager, when told a concussed striker did not know who he was:

"That’s great, tell him he’s Pele and get him back on."

George Best quote

‘I used to go missing a lot...Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World.’

Southend United sack manager Paul Sturrock, invite him back to take charge for Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final

On Sunday afternoon Paul Sturrock was sacked as manager of Southend United with the club a mere six points outside the League Two playoff spots though, with The Shrimpers having won just one of their last six games, chairman Ron Martin's itchy trigger finger got the better of him and the ever-affable Sturrock was out on his ear.

Martin then issued a flimsy club statement to announce Sturrock's departure, listing in great detail the many, many ways in which the club were failing, also including the bizarre claim that Southend "are not a League Two club".

The very next day, Southend appointed Phil Brown as Sturrock's successor, announcing that the former Hull City manager would officially taking charge of The Shrimpers for their league fixture against Bradford City this coming Friday night.

However, in the interest of being "fair and just", chairman Martin then offered Sturrock a one-time-only "privilege" to come back and take charge of Southend one last time for the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final against Crewe the week after the Bradford game, seeing as though it was the Scot who put in all the hard yards guiding The Shrimpers to Wembley in the first place.

FIFA rejects Costa Rica protest

FIFA has dismissed Costa Rica's protest against losing 1-0 to the United States in a World Cup qualifying match played in a snowstorm because team captain Bryan Ruiz did not complain to the referee during the match.

FIFA says the Costa Rican football association failed to meet the requirements of filing a valid protest of Friday's match in Commerce City, Colo.

In a statement published Tuesday, FIFA refers to a clause in its 2014 World Cup regulations.

It states that when a field becomes unplayable during a match, the protesting team's captain "shall immediately lodge a protest with the referee in the presence of the captain of the opposing team."

FIFA says "therefore, the result of the match played on March 22 stands and is considered as valid."

Ipswich fan banned from collecting autographs from players

An Ipswich Town fan who collects club memorabilia says players have been warned NOT to give him shirts or sign autographs for him.

Mark McBurney, 37, insisted that he has acquired kit and signatures from the Championship outfit's stars for his own collection and not to sell on.

But the Portman Road club claims the season ticket holder has asked for several autographs at the same time and has now asked him to stop making requests.

Mark, who regularly follows Ipswich away from home with his eight-year-old son Lewis, said:  "I have about eight or nine shirts that I have bought personally and got them signed, and about four or five that the players have given me themselves.

"I was approached by a steward after a game this season when two players had given my son and I their shirts and he said 'I need to have those two shirts back.'"

Dutch Soccer Player Released From Team For Being A "Wildpoeper"

Jeffrey de Visscher was kicked off of FC Emmen after police reportedly discovered him in the middle of the night, squatting outside of his car, trying to drunkenly take a dump in the woods.

De Visscher reportedly told police that he had not been driving the car, but rather his friend - who had subsequently disappeared - had been behind the wheel.

Burnley Fan Submits Joke Application For Blackburn Manager Job, Sent Reply Saying He’s Been Shortlisted

Avid Burnley fan James McDonagh threw his name into the hat and applied for the freshly-voided Blackburn Rovers vacancy on the basis that he once managed a Sunday League side and that he had put in countless hours on Football Manager over the years - the bedrock of any aspiring managerial prankster’s CV - promising to guide the club to "back-to-back relegations".

The reply, supposedly from Blackburn’s much-maligned global advisor Shebby Singh, reportedly read:

"Having checked your application and your credentials from your CV, we would like to shortlist you for the vacancy. We formally invite you to interview."

Premier League manager nationalities

4 - Scotland (Steve Clarke, Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Paul Lambert)

3 - England (Sam Allardyce, Harry Redknapp, Alan Pardew)

2 - Spain (Roberto Martinez, Rafa Benitez); Republic of Ireland (Chris Hughton, Eamonn Dolan), Northern Ireland (Martin O’Neill, Brendan Rodgers)

1 - Italy (Roberto Mancini), Denmark (Michael Laudrup), Wales (Tony Pulis), France (Arsene Wenger), Holland (Martin Jol), Argentina (Mauricio Pochettino), Portugal (Andre Villas Boas)

Tartan Army digs in to help clear pitch

Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Serbia is set to go ahead, despite continuing heavy snowfall. Gordon Strachan's side are due to play tonight in Novi Sad.

England prepare to play in Umbro kit for the final time

Tonight's must-win match against Montenegro is not only significant for potentially deciding England's World Cup destiny - it also marks the end of an era.

The Three Lions will walk out at the Podgorica Stadium dressed head to toe in Umbro strip for the final time, ending an association with the kit manufacturer dating back to 1954.

It will be a sad moment for Umbro, the brand more closely associated with the immortal moments of English football than any other, as Nike prepare to take over kit supply from next month.

England will wear their new Nike strip for the first time in their friendly with the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on May 29.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How Game Developers Tackled the Soccer Slide in FIFA 13

What makes a soccer player’s slide-tackle realistic in a videogame? Newtonian physics.

"In old FIFA titles, we had player models and a collision-detection system that tested whether any of these intersected," says Aaron McHardy, EA Sports’ senior gameplay producer for FIFA 13.

"Now, each player has a mass and a velocity. When they collide, we let physics handle it."

EA Sports collected data on actual footballers’ physical statistics for the game. Developers closely monitored the torque, force and mass of each part of the player before a U.K.-based team of EA physicists used the data to generate counter-forces.

"There’s a certain amount of resistance to each collision," explains McHardy.

We harvest information in order to deduce when a player’s body has bent in an abnormal way."

Of course, the game’s realistic collisions lead to more realistic injuries - and McHardy should know, having played football for Jamaica at international level himself.

"It works a lot more like it does in the real world."

Top soccer players are smarter than you

Elite soccer players are smarter than you are, and the sharpest of them score more often than dimmer teammates.

Top-tier players think more clearly, quickly and flexibly than non-players, and there is a correlation between cognitive ability and the number of goals and assists a soccer player scores, Swedish researchers found.

The study, published in the journal PLoS One, says measuring cognitive skill could predict a player’s potential.

"Our data suggest that measures of executive functions with validated neuropsychological tests may establish if a player has the capacity to reach top levels in soccer," the researchers wrote.

"Thus, the present study may change the way ball-sports are viewed and analyzed and how new talents are recruited."

It is generally accepted that performing at the highest level requires as much intelligence as strength and skill.

The best footballers have an innate ability to read a play and be in the right place at the right time.

Think of it as a sixth sense. Some call it "game intelligence."

Clarence Seedorf shown a red card - for walking off the pitch the wrong way

Gateshead face epic 368-mile round trip – for a home match

Non-league Gateshead are facing an epic 368-mile round trip next week - in order to play a HOME match.

The Blue Square Conference side are used to travelling long distances to games, being based in the north east of England, but their clash against Newport County on March 28 takes the biscuit.

Gateshead are forced to make the trip in order to complete their fixture against Newport, that has already been cancelled three times due to pitch problems at their International Stadium.

The league now hope moving the tie to Boston United’s York Street ground will finally get the game on - but it will require a huge amount of travelling for a fixture that is supposed to be a home clash for Gateshead.

However, it will prove to be anything but, with even Newport around one hundred miles closer to Boston than Gateshead - putting the south Wales side at a big advantage.

It doesn’t stop there though - Gateshead’s trip to Lincolnshire is just the start of a mad schedule that sees them play 11 matches in the following 29 days due to the number of their games called off earlier in the season.

Football skills from big guy

Gillingham chairman buys dinner for 28 travelling Accrington Stanley fans

When the chips are down, sometimes you need a little bit of kindness to make everything seem all right.

And when you’re one of 28 frozen Accrington Stanley fans who have seen their team end up on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat a long way from home, anything will do.

Enter Gillingham chairman Paul Scally, who had just watched his men emerge victorious courtesy of Matt Fish’s first-half stunner yesterday, strengthening their lead at the top of League Two.

While the small but perfectly-formed band of Accrington followers shivered in the away end, Scally decided to take pity on them and offer them all burger and chips each - on the club.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bride surprises groom with Champions League anthem at wedding

Keeper hitches ride back downfield on motorbike

Mourinho drops Chelsea hint

Jose Mourinho has suggested he may return to Chelsea, claiming his future after Real Madrid "could be a destination where I have coached before".

Mourinho appears set to leave Spain at the end of the season, and has previously indicated that "after Real Madrid, England will be my next step".

The Portuguese has now given the strongest indication yet that a return to Stamford Bridge - where he spent a successful three-year period before joining Inter Milan - is in the offing.

"Everyone knows I have an adventurous spirit," Mourinho is quoted as saying.

"It's not easy for my family. We'll see what happens. After England, Portugal, Italy and Spain, it's not easy to find a new destination.

"It could be a destination where I have coached before. There are things that may be about to happen no one could imagine."

Costa Rica ask Fifa to void USA match played in snowstorm

Costa Rica have appealed to Fifa to void their World Cup qualifying round defeat to the United States this week because the match took place amid a snowstorm.

The Costa Rican FA has written to Sepp Blatter in a bid to get the 1-0 defeat overturned, believing it was unfair of the referee to force play to continue during a blizzard.

Clint Dempsey scored the only goal of the match in Colorado in treacherous conditions.

The blizzard grew so intense at one point that the referee was forced to halt the game in the second half as rapidly falling snow covered the markings on the pitch and made it extremely difficult for the ball to be seen.

But despite protests from the players, the match was restarted - despite the weather not improving - and Dempsey went on to score the winner.

Costa Rica are furious about the outcome and have written to Fifa to request the game be declared null and void, while manager Jorge Luis Pinto told local media that the referee was an ‘embarrassment to football’ for allowing the fixture to continue.

It is not yet clear if Fifa plan to do anything about the decision, but given that both teams have packed schedules in the next few months a replay looks to be unlikely.

Unknown Chelsea kid will earn £1.7m before he turns 20

Chelsea are locked in a contract row over teenager Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

The Blues have been accused of breaking an agreement with agent Joseph Donkor, who is taking his case to an FA tribunal in a bid to win £1.3million in unpaid fees from the player, his parents and the club.

Loftus-Cheek, 17, is one of the ­hottest young talents in English football. But the size of the ­contract Chelsea have promised the teenager is ­astonishing.

They were willing to ensure ­Loftus-Cheek gained millionaire ­status ­before his 20th birthday in a deal that had to be personally ratified by owner Roman ­Abramovich.

Without even breaking into the first team, Loftus-Cheek would bank more than £1.7m. His basic salary over the two-and-half years of his deal was worth £912,000. Chelsea also agreed to pay him a signing-on fee of £375,000, in three instalments, while three loyalty bonuses would have totalled a further £350,000.

Donkor, the agent, was scheduled to be paid £1million by Chelsea for arranging the contract.

The other £300,000 in his claim is down to his commission on the player’s contract, a potential boot sponsorship deal and legal fees plus interest.

Newcastle fans will go to any lengths on Europa League travels

Alan Pardew is praying that the Toon Army’s incredible 15,000-mile march across Europe will be rewarded with a dream trip to Amsterdam for the Europa League Final on May 15.

The Magpies manager admits that the ­loyalty, sacrifice and fanaticism of the club’s most devoted followers has ­astounded him on their European ­marathon.

Next up, taking the mileage beyond the 17,500-mark is a quarter-final trip to Lisbon to face Benfica on April 4, and Pardew hopes it is just a dummy run for the ultimate Geordie party in the Dutch capital a month later.

Pardew said: "Our supporters deserve this big day. Their backing has been tremendous.

"They will love Lisbon - it is is one of my favourite cities. If we can get a result there, then who knows what can happen.

"The deserved reward for our fans would be the Final in Amsterdam, and that is what we will aim for."

Michael Owen Accuses Newcastle United Of Lying to Fans During Twitter Rant

The veteran striker is clearly not happy about the way he has been portrayed by the media in relation to his time at St James’ Park.

San Marino FA rants on Twitter over ‘rude’ ITV coverage of England thrashing

San Marino may be ranked the world’s worst international team, but they proved they are still a proud bunch after their official FA Twitter account ranted at ITV’s patronising coverage of the match against England.

despite the ease of the rout, the San Marino Football Association was not happy at the disrespect shown by ITV, who were broadcasting the match live in the UK.

Prompting particular chagrin appeared to be host Adrian Chiles and pundits Gareth Southgate, Lee Dixon and Roy Keane - who mocked the principality’s status as Fifa’s 207th and lowest ranked team while also questioning whether they should even be allowed to compete.

The pundits also appeared to know very little about the opposition players - leading to a torrent of abuse from the official Twitter page.

‘ITV should think it more wisely while mocking San Marino. Shame on you ITV, this is just disgraceful,’ read the first tweet.

ITV or the English FA are yet to comment on the tweets.

Cheating On His Wife Has Led to Edinson Cavani Hitting Goal Drought According to Italian Press

There can be few more prolific goalscorers plying their trade in Europe than a certain Uruguayan international by the name of Edinson Cavani.

The 26 year old netted 66 goals in his first two Napoli campaigns and was scoring even more regularly this term, until he was hit by an inexplicable run of poor goal-scoring form, form that may well have cost the San Paolo side any hope of a Serie A title.

Cavani went a full eight games without a goal, a drought that followed a run of nine goals in his previous eight appearances.

Now Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport has uncovered a possible reason for this alarming drop in form, it turns out that the former Palermo forward has been having an affair with a 22 year old Neapolitan waitress.

One would perhaps assume that his wouldn’t be a direct reason for his poor form on the field of play but when you consider that Cavani’s wife, who had only recently had their child, found out and then filed for divorce one can then see how this transgression could be the root of his lack of success in front of goal.

Goldenballs ends up on his behind

David Beckham was left red-faced today after he slipped over showing off one of his trademark free-kicks in front of a group of young Chinese footballers.

The England legend is in the Far East on tour as part of his his five-day ambassadorial visit to China.

Dressed in a luxury grey suit and black shoes, the Paris St Germain veteran lined up to swing in a free-kick in front of starstruck players from Wuhan Zall club in the Hubei province.

But it all went horribly wrong when he lost his balance and ended up flat on his back - although Beckham appeared to take the fall in good spirits.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Northampton's Akinfenwa is 16 stone and world's strongest footballer

In a busy gym in east London, the world’s strongest footballer is showing why he’s known as ‘The Beast’.

Having bench pressed 120kg, 140kg and 175kg with minimal trouble, Northampton striker Adebayo  Akinfenwa is readying himself to press 180kg, almost double his body weight.

He slowly lowers the bar to his chest before pushing it back up. He pauses, lowers it again and attempts to push. The bar barely moves.

For a brief moment The Beast seems to have finally been defeated, but younger brother Dele, part training buddy, part coach, has the words to inspire him: ‘Come on, ain’t nobody in the Football League or Premier League stronger than you, push. PUSH!’

It works; Akinfenwa gets a second burst and lifts the bar skyward. He sits up and invites Sportsmail to try. The offer is kindly declined; he is, after all, lifting nearly treble my weight.

‘Man, if I got a good grip, I could probably throw you across the room and out the window,’ he laughs.
No need for a demonstration this time.

It’s an impressive display, and not without purpose. Akinfenwa, 30, is 16st, 5ft 10in and with 16 goals to his name in League Two this season.

I was right to snub England - Rio defends himself during Qatar TV appearance

Rio Ferdinand has claimed that Roy Hodgson has told him he has a future with England.

Defending his decision to fly to Qatar and act as a TV pundit rather than travel with the squad to play San Marino, he said: ‘The manager made it very clear that he’ll consider me for the next squads and that will be fantastic.’

Speaking from Al Jazeera’s studios in Doha, where Ferdinand watched England's comfortable 8-0 demolition of their opponents, he said: ‘This isn’t something I’m doing differently. I know what I’m doing is right.’

Ferdinand also suggested English football needs radical reform if the national team is to succeed.

‘Maybe we need to go back to the drawing board and have a good look at ourselves from the bottom all the way to the top in terms of the coaching and the way we’re bringing our players through, how we’re preparing for tournaments.’

The United defender was the subject of derisive chants by England fans that attended the game.

Speaking before the game, the United star stood firm over his reasons for pulling out of the squad.

He said: 'I spoke to the manager and I think it's down to him. I met the boss in London and we spoke about my regime and what I’ve done at the last few international breaks.

'This is the same. I’ve been pencilled in to have certain treatments, had them then I’ve come away to have some rest time and to recuperate and get myself ready.

'I think obviously the situation with myself and the national team is well documented.

Jose Mourinho’s Fifa awards conspiracy grows as Goran Pandev backs rigging claim

Macedonian captain Goran Pandev has backed Jose Mourinho’s claims that the Fifa award for coach of the year was rigged.

The Real Madrid boss refused to attend the glitzy gala in Zurich last year, originally citing a lack of time.

Spain’s Euro 2012 winning manager Vicente del Bosque scooped the main coaches’ prize ahead of the Special One and Pep Guardiola, but the Portuguese tactician has recently revealed his scepticism over the legitimacy of the voting process.

Speaking in an interview on Portuguese TV, Mourinho said: ‘More than one person, two or three people, phoned me to say they’d voted for me and that their vote ended up going to someone else. So I decided not to go.’

Wheel Power FC inflict ‘heaviest defeat in British history’, 58-0

It is more goals than Wigan and Wolves have scored between them in the league so far this season, so perhaps the Premier League’s bottom two clubs could learn a thing or two from Wheel Power FC, who scored 58 goals in a single match.

The Torbay Sunday League leaders thrashed Devon rivals Nova 2010 FC 58-0 – believed to be the heaviest defeat in British history.

After conceding 20 in the first 45 minutes, it was all about damage limitation for Nova in the second half. It did not go to plan.

The amateur league’s second-bottom side let in another 38, with brothers Robbie and Stuart Bowker scoring 28 times between them.

‘At 50-0, they’d had enough but the referee told them they must carry on playing or they would risk being fined,’ 21-year-old Stuart explained. 

Nova veteran Lewis Parker, 60, added: ‘A lot of the players didn’t turn up so we expected to lose but not by that much.’

Cornish side Illogan’s 55-0 thrashing of Madron FC in 2010 is thought to be the previous record.

Wheel Power beat bottom club  Applebys 30-0 and 27-0 earlier in the season, helping them notch up 167 goals from 15 games – and leaving little doubt as to which team has the upper hand if the title comes down to goal difference.

Mourinho picks Didier Drogba as his all-time favourite player

Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has snubbed Cristiano Ronaldo and named former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba as his all-time favourite player.

Mourinho was responding to reports that he had criticised Drogba following the Ivory Coast striker’s move to Galatasaray, who Madrid will face in the quarter finals of this season’s Champions League.

The Portuguese knows Drogba well having been his boss at Chelsea where the pair collected five trophies in three seasons, including the Premier League title and the FA Cup.

‘I have had a lot of truly special players, but if I had to choose one I might go for Didier,’ Mourinho told Real Madrid TV.

‘As a player he is out of this world. I would like to have him by my side, so just imagine.’

Asked about the reports that suggested he had criticised his former charge, Mourinho added: ‘Drogba knows who I am and what I feel in my  heart for him.

‘It is impossible that I would talk bad about Drogba.

There is no problem because he knows that the last thing I would do is to say anything negative about my relationship with him.’

Manchester City ban supporter for smoking electronic cigarette

A lifelong Manchester City fan has appealed to the club after they cancelled his season ticket - because the electronic cigarette he was ‘smoking’ was mistaken for a real one.

The unidentified supporter was hauled into a side room by City staff after being snapped on CCTV puffing on the cigarette during the clash with Chelsea at the Etihad last month.

City stewards thought the fag was real and promptly cancelled his season ticket - something that is now being appealed with a letter to the club.

‘I was on the concourse at half-time having a drink with a few mates,’ he explained in the note.

‘I took a drag of it and was asked by security to come into a room. I just thought I was going to be asked to explain what it was.

‘I was told they were banned and asked for my season card which I handed over. I was then escorted out of the ground by police.’

Electronic cigarettes are widely used by smokers who are trying to give up by giving a hit of nicotine whilst not releasing any of poisonous toxins that normal cigarettes contain.

They are not lit by the user, and therefore are exempt from government rules restricting the smoking of lit tobacco in a public place.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tallest soccer player

Kristof van Hout is a Belgian Goalkeeper who plays for the Belgium Jupiler League club, Standard Liege.

He's 6ft10.

5 goals in 5 shots

Danny Welbeck has played 15 times for England, and has had 5 shots.

He's scored 5 goals.

Shortest ever professional soccer player

The shortest professional player ever was captain for the Qatar national football team named Jafal Rashed.

He retired in 2009 and was 5ft 1in tall.

The only San Marino player ever to score against England

Just 8.3 seconds after San Marino kicked off their World Cup qualifier with England on 17 November 1993, Stuart Pearce's under-hit backpass allowed Davide Gualtieri to nip in and prod the minnows into the most unlikely of leads.

Tales that Scottish fans paid for his drinks on a night out when they came over for a European Championship qualifier against San Marino a couple of years later turned out to be an invention, but Gualtieri's brother did benefit from some Caledonian hospitality.

"Over here, nobody really knew what was going on but in England there was a big fuss," Gualtieri explained.

"Even now, some fans from around the world are always coming into my shop with pictures of me and shirts for me to sign.

"And, when my brother went to Scotland on holiday, they found out who he was and bought him drinks and a meal too. But that was my brother, not me."

San Marino stats

P115 W1 D3 L111 GF16 GA465

They are joint bottom of the FIFA World Rankings, in 207th place along with Bhutan and the Turks & Caicos Islands. The highest ranking they have reached is 118, in September 1993.

A 4-0 defeat against Switzerland at home in a Euro 92 qualifier in November 1990.

A friendly at home to Liechtenstein in 2004. Andy Selva scored the winner.

The Germans thumped San Marino Euro 2008 qualifier 13-0 in September 2006.

Selva, San Marino's only professional player, has scored eight in 57 internationals. He earns in a year what Wayne Rooney earns in a day.

Polish keeper Boruc says he threw bottle at Saints fans because he was racially abused

Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc says he threw a water bottle towards Saints fans because he heard 'racist insults' from the stands.

The Polish goalkeeper became embroiled in controversy during his home debut for the Saints last October, when he launched a plastic bottle in the direction of supporters after he had conceded a soft second goal during Southampton’s 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

The incident resulted in former Southampton boss Nigel Adkins dropping Boruc from the first team as the club conducted an in-depth investigation.

But Boruc says that he does not regret his volatile response to taunts from his own supporters, and has told the Polish press that he was reacting to racist insults from the stands.

Speaking ahead of Poland’s World Cup qualifiers, Boruc said: 'I won’t say I regret it, because I heard insults from the stands. Racist ones.'

Toon skipper cheers on beloved San Lorenzo from stands

Fabricio Coloccini's Newcastle future has been plunged into fresh doubt after footage emerged of him watching former club San Lorenzo from the stands.

The wantaway Toon skipper flew to his native Argentina at the start of the month for rehab on his injured back.

And Coloccini was filmed on Saturday singing with travelling San Lorenzo fans during the side's 1-0 Primera Division win at Colon.

Coloccini, 30, was the subject of a transfer enquiry from the South Americans in January after he revealed his desire to leave Newcastle due to personal problems.

Pardew persuaded his captain - whose contact does not expire until 2016 - to stay at Newcastle until at least the end of the season.

Artist paints Messi portrait using nothing but a football

Artist Lenard Art has created a portrait of Lionel Messi using nothing but a football and some paint.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Italian club fined €10,000 after president hurls insults at referee over PA system

Italian fourth division side Nuovo Campobasso have been fined €10,000 by the Italian Court of League Professionals after their club president, one Ferruccio Capone, used the stadium PA system to barrack a referee during a recent game.

Having seen one of his players handed a second yellow card during the latter stages of Campobasso’s 2-2 draw with Arzanese, an irate Capone stormed from his executive seats and into the announcer’s kiosk at their stadium and proceeded to broadcast his ire over the loudspeaker - hurling abuse and insults at referee Gioviani di Grosseto.

Apparently Capone wasn’t finished there either, as he continued to reiterate his insults and threats to the referee after the match and even as the official was attempting to leave the stadium. Di Grosseto was then escorted by the police to his car to avoid an altercation with the manic Campobasso president.

One-armed goalkeeper

For a one-armed footballer, goalkeeper isn’t the obvious position to pick - but Robert Lovejoy said going in goal has helped him beat the blues.

Eight months ago, the 46-year-old had the whole of his right arm amputated to end years of pain from a rugby injury.

The loss of his arm sparked bouts of depression, but Mr Lovejoy says a renewed interest in sport has been a release and helped him regain his confidence.

‘It has made me feel brilliant. I thought I’d never play football again so to be asked to play is wonderful,’ said the new number one for Navigo five-a-side.

‘I get so much enjoyment from it. It is great being out on the pitch with all the lads.’

Manchester City sponsor new college

Manchester City is branching out into a new field by supporting the creation of a new sixth-form college.

The club has donated land opposite the Etihad Stadium for the college - so close that there will even be a special footbridge connecting the two.

Italy plane hit by lightning on way to face Brazil

Italy's team plane was struck by lightning on its way to Geneva, Switzerland, where they face Brazil in a friendly on Thursday. Players and staff were stunned at what happened to their charter flight from Florence, Italy, but no damage was caused.

Flight personnel quickly calmed the squad - which included Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo and Stephan El Shaarawy - explaining that it was lightning but that there was no danger.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said: 'It certainly wasn't pleasant, and I challenge anyone to say "I wasn't afraid."

It's happened to me before but never this strongly.'

 Pilot Roberto Andolfato said: 'The situation was always under control.'

Meanwhile Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio tweeted: 'Beautiful plane scare today! We are now in our hotel in Geneva, and tomorrow big challenge against Brazil.'

One million fans apply for tickets to PSG v Barca showdown in Champions League

Paris Saint Germain’s ticket office is creaking under the strain after receiving one million applications for their Champions League quarter-final clash against Barcelona.

The Parisian club have revealed that they have been inundated with requests for tickets, with supporters bombarding the phone lines at a rate of 100 calls per second, as the city eagerly anticipates the home leg against the Catalan giants on April 2.

Cardiff player reveals the footballer’s dilemma of which autograph to use

In his first year with the club, 20-year-old Cardiff defender Ben Nugent speaks about one of these vexing quandaries that is rarely brought to light.

"I’ve never practised signing my signature and found I needed to sort that out pretty quickly this season," said Nugent.

"I’ve settled on one that I’m happy with now, but there are a few early ones out there that look different to each other.

"I was working on which one I wanted to use."

Suarez financial motivation

Luis Suarez has been having a great season, scoring in 21 goals and counting for Liverpool. 

There is financial motivation for him to score. 

His contract stipulated a wage increase from £80,000 to £100,000 per week on crossing a 20 goal threshold. 

Now, Suarez looks a player who needs little motivation but an additional £20,000 a week doesn't hurt.

Reina stars in short film as a Roman soldier

The Liverpool keeper has taken the leading role in a bite-sized flick in Spain called ‘Invictus, el correo del Cesar’.

It is being funded by continental insurance giants Plus Ultra Seguros, who also use Reina for their TV ad campaigns.

Leeds United owners looking to sell club for a profit - just three months after purchase

The Bahrain-based group completed a protracted sale from former Leeds owner Ken Bates in late December for a "bargain" price, but are now in negotiations to sell their stake in LUFC Holdings, the club's parent company, for £7 million more than they paid.

"The group has an active plan to sell its stake in LUFC Holdings," Gulf Finance House said in their financial statements for the year ending Dec 31 2012, released in February. "Subsequent to the year end, [GFH] has commenced negotiations relating to the sale of its stake in LUFC Holdings."

The news brings more instability to the club, whose play-off hopes are hanging by a thread, sitting seven points adrift with eight games to play while manager Neil Warnock has indicated he will leave in the summer if the club are not promoted.

Fifa play down prospect of 2022 World Cup vote re-run

There has been speculation the tournament in nine years' time could be switched from summer to winter due to the oppressive heat in the Middle East at that time of year.

Spanish newspaper AS claim in an interview that Blatter admitted that would "affect the basic conditions of the World Cup" and could prompt the voting process to be re-visited if one of the other 2022 candidates objected.

However, world governing body Fifa dispute the content of the interview and say Blatter said it was a "hypothetical scenario" as the dates of the World Cup will be decided on by the tournament organising committee.

A Fifa statement read: "Fifa would like to remind as communicated previously that in fact the bidding agreement clearly stipulates that the final decision on the format and dates for both competitions (Fifa Confederations Cup 2021 and Fifa World Cup 2022) is vested with the Fifa Organising Committee which may hear recommendations from the LOC (local organising committee). "Therefore, nothing has changed to what we have said previously.

"As it stands today, the 2022 Fifa World Cup is planned to be staged in Qatar in June/July 2022.

"Any potential change would have to be first requested by the competition organisers, ie. Qatar, and then presented to the Fifa Executive Committee for analysis."

Qatar was a controversial choice and, in the same interview, Blatter admitted Fifa's executive committee must accept the criticism which has come their way.

ITV avoid TV blackout for England qualifier

A UK television blackout of England’s crucial World Cup qualifier in Montenegro was avoided today after ITV agreed a fresh deal to secure the rights to show the game.

A senior source said this morning that the broadcaster had reached an agreement with global rights agency SportFive to screen Tuesday’s match, having seen its previous deal with rival agency Kentaro rendered void.
That was after the Football Association of Montenegro terminated its own contract with Kentaro over what was thought to have been a dispute over payment.

Ferdinand defends Qatar trip in light of England squad withdrawal

Rio Ferdinand has defended his decision to fly out to Qatar in the week he withdrew from the England squad in order to follow a pre-planned fitness programme.

The Manchester United defender Ferdinand was called up by the England manager Roy Hodgson for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro but pulled out on Monday, citing the need to follow the fitness plan laid out by his club.

It has now emerged that the 34-year-old will visit the Aspire training academy in Doha and then appear as a pundit for al-Jazeera television in the Gulf state for the San Marino match on Friday night.

Ferdinand wrote on Twitter:

"1) Flown out for some pre-planned downtime ... with a bit of punditry thrown in for a game I would have watched anyway.

"2) No different from what I done on the last 10day international break...thank you guys."

"Haters are gonna hate...also assume everything...although it must be the gospel truth based on assumptions!"

Messi Has Tattoo Of Son Thiago’s Handprints On Leg For Father’s Day

In Spain, Father’s Day (or El Dia del Padre if you’d prefer) falls on March 19th and to mark the occasion Lionel Messi went about getting the handprints of his five-month old son Thiago implanted on his calves.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Flipper soccer

Balotelli's money

Just days after joining Manchester City from Inter Milan, Balotelli crashed his Audi R8 en route to the club's training ground.

Balotelli was found to be carrying £5,000 in cash at the time of the accident and when asked by police why, he reportedly replied: "Because I am rich".

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