Tag Archives: adventure

Graham Chadwick"s video blog: Chelsea"s Club World Cup adventure ends in failure

Graham Chadwick's video blog: Chelsea's Club World Cup adventure ends in failure

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UPDATED:

10:15 GMT, 17 December 2012

Sportsmail
photographer Graham Chadwick has travelled to Japan with Chelsea as they
take part in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Watch Graham's latest video blog of the Blues in Yokohama.

Chelsea's Japanese adventure ended with disappointment on Sunday morning as they were beaten to Club World Cup glory by Brazilian side Corinthians.

As he has been for every step of the trip so far, our man was pitchside as Rafael Benitez's team were undone by Paulo Guerrero's header, and then when Gary Cahill was sent off.

Watch the video…

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David Beckham farewell ends with victory for LA Galaxy over Houston Dynamo

From cynicism to people's champion, Beckham heads back to Europe after his American adventure more acclaimed than ever

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UPDATED:

00:23 GMT, 2 December 2012

What began amid cynicism and courted controversy and suspicion along the way, ended here in California tonight with a standing ovation. David Beckham’s American journey is over and he heads back to Europe as a winner.

It was six years ago that Beckham moved to Los Angeles at the age of 31 to play football. It seemed a peculiar thing to do for a man still with so many years ahead of him. The MLS was not a great league and LA Galaxy were a club – or a ‘franchise’ – in a bit of a mess.

But as Beckham took his leave a minute before the end of his team’s 3-1 win in the MLS Cup Final here today, few would contest his own view that America has been as good to him as, eventually, he has been to America.

Fond farewell: David Beckham has crowned his six year spell in the United States and the Los Angeles Galaxy with another MLS Cup victory, after they beat Houston Dynamo 3-1

Fond farewell: David Beckham has crowned his six year spell in the United States and the Los Angeles Galaxy with another MLS Cup victory, after they beat Houston Dynamo 3-1

Here's the punchline: Beckham celebrates after Omar Gonzalez had brought the match level at 1-1 early in the second half

Here's the punchline: Beckham celebrates after Omar Gonzalez had brought the match level at 1-1 early in the second half

Family man: Beckham lines up with his sons, Brooklyn (left), Romeo (middle) and Cruz before kick-off

Family man: Beckham lines up with his sons, Brooklyn (left), Romeo (middle) and Cruz before kick-off

Trailing by a goal at half-time, it looked for a while as though Beckham’s big day was about to collapse around his sparkling pink football foots. Galaxy had been the better team but had been hit by a sucker punch from Houston just before the interval.

In the second half, though, Beckham wrote his name all over this contest. He was the game’s best player and by full-time he had made many of the decisive contributions.

Beckham may not be able to run like he once could. It will be this, in all likelihood, that ultimately prevents him landing a contract at one of Europe’s bigger clubs as he looks to extend his remarkable career yet further in the coming weeks.

As a football technician, though, he remains almost unparalleled. Here today, some of his passing was reminiscent of his salad days at Manchester United and Real Madrid. Playing deep in the centre of midfield, the 37-year-old found the time and space to deliver telling passes with familiar regularity.

Still got it: Beckham produced a number of superlative, hallmark passes during the final

Still got it: Beckham produced a number of superlative, hallmark passes during the final

Hair-raising: Beckham challenged Houston's Ricardo Clark to the ball

Hair-raising: Beckham challenged Houston's Ricardo Clark to the ball

Indeed the one 80-yard first-time pass he played with his right foot to Robbie Keane on the hour will not be bettered anywhere this weekend. It was classic Beckham.

With the Home Depot Center awash with Beckham t-shirts and banners – “Take us with you, Becks” read one popular shirt – this day was somewhat different to the difficult early ones when the former England captain’s commitment to his team was questioned by supporters and colleagues alike.

Ultimately, it was just a shame that he was denied a fitting finale.

Much loved: Beckham's departure was mourned by LA Galaxy fans, who made a number of tribute banners for his farewell

Much loved: Beckham's departure was mourned by LA Galaxy fans, who made a number of tribute banners for his farewell

Memento: This Galaxy fan wanted the shirt of Beckham's back

Memento: This Galaxy fan wanted the shirt of Beckham's back

With Galaxy awarded a penalty with seconds remaining, Beckham and team-mate Landon Donovan – the regular taker – seemed to agree that the Englishman would take it. He seemed set to end his career here with a goal.

Keane had other ideas, however, and the Irishman didn’t even look at his team-mate as he placed the ball and slotted it in to the net for the third goal.

As Keane celebrated, though, it was Beckham who was mobbed. Moments earlier he had sunk to his knees. His final mission had been accomplished.

As he left the field soon after, 30,000 people rose to applaud him. He merely waved to his three sons in the crowd and took his place on the bench.

Beckham’s visit to America is over and he ends it with another trophy. Has he been a success over here Try telling the Galaxy otherwise.

Brendan Rodgers: Liverpool were "terrific" in Anzhi Mackhachkala defeat

'Terrific' Liverpool display deserved more than defeat, moans Rodgers after Anzhi loss leaves Reds in Europa League scrap

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UPDATED:

20:52 GMT, 8 November 2012

Brendan Rodgers hailed a 'terrific' team performance even as his Liverpool team came away from their Russian adventure 1-0 losers to Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League.

A terrific goal from Lacina Traore on the stroke of half-time was a rare moment of quality in the match, and proved decisive as Liverpool failed to really test the home goalkeeper despite carving out a number of chances.

'I feel for the players tonight, I thought they were outstanding,' Rodgers told ITV4. 'The first half we were tactically terrific for 44 minutes and 50 seconds but then switched off and made a mistake right at the end.

Heads down: Liverpool walk off after defeat to Anzhi Makhachkala at Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow

Heads down: Liverpool walk off after defeat to Anzhi Makhachkala at Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow

Matchwinner: Lacina Traore (second right) celebrates scoring with his Anzhi team-mates

Matchwinner: Lacina Traore (second right) celebrates scoring with his Anzhi team-mates

'The second half was more of the same. The game opened up a wee bit, they had chances as we went for it. But we had chances throughout the game.'

Rodgers named a young team, including the likes of Conor Coady, Adam Morgan and Jon Flanagan while Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and others remained on Merseyside, and Rodgers was impressed by his young charges.

'Coady came in and was outstanding in his first start, playing against top players, and for Flanagan it was his first game in a long time,' he said.

Close quarters: Rasim Tagirbekov (right) attempts to stop a cross from Jon Flanagan (left)

Close quarters: Rasim Tagirbekov (right) attempts to stop a cross from Jon Flanagan (left)

Midfield battle: Jonjo Shelvey (centre) fights for the ball against Anzhi's Odil Ahmedov (right)

Midfield battle: Jonjo Shelvey (centre) fights for the ball against Anzhi's Odil Ahmedov (right)

'It was a terrific team performance against players of top quality on a difficult pitch, but at this level you get punished when you make mistakes.

'It was a much-changed team but we still deserved something out of the game. We just need to be more clinical.'

Opposite number Guus Hiddink was impressed with the Liverpool performance and happy to take three points that keep them in charge of their own destiny at the top of Group A.

Calm down: Referee David Fernandez Borbalan tells Shelvey to cool it on a frustrating night

Calm down: Referee David Fernandez Borbalan tells Shelvey to cool it on a frustrating night

Head in hands: Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole (centre) reflects on a tough night after being hauled off

Head in hands: Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole (centre) reflects on a tough night after being hauled off

'They had a young side but that does not mean they were not experienced as some of those players play frequently in the Premier League.

'They were good players, skilful players who were tactically good. They tested us but we also have some young players so it's a good result for us.

'We didn't finish it off in the second half, we had two big opportunities, but it was an interesting game on a very bad pitch. They tested us so we have to be happy with this result.'

Demba Ba interview: Striker turned down by Watford and Barnsley, always has to prove himself

EXCLUSIVE: All my life I have had to prove people wrong, says Toon hero Demba Ba

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 2 November 2012

It reads like a Who isn’t Who of European football: Montgaillard, Le Havre, Frileuse, Mountrouge, Olympique Lyonnais, Auxerre, Foligno, Watford (twice), Barnsley, Amiens, Rouen, Mouscron. Even Stoke City.

All clubs who could have signed Demba Ba and cashed in on the full potential of one of the most explosive strikers to play in the Barclays Premier League.

Ba is hot property right now. He is Newcastle United’s top scorer again, following the 16 goals he scored last season with six more in this campaign. Saturday’s opponents Liverpool are among the clubs who may be tempted to spend 7.5million to trigger the clause in the contract Ba signed last summer when he left West Ham.

Trigger man: Demba Ba is one of the league's most explosive strikers

Trigger man: Demba Ba is one of the league's most explosive strikers

No wonder manager Alan Pardew and Newcastle are desperate to renegotiate his deal. Ba, 27, is an essential part of a team which could reach the knockout phase of the Europa League in Bruges next week.

It’s a very different European adventure for the Paris-born Senegalese who kicked a ball around with his pals every day until he joined a sports and studies school for his secondary education. He was a defensive midfielder when he started his desperate journey to win a contract somewhere, anywhere.

‘I was like Patrick Vieira,’ he says when asked for a comparison. ‘I was technically good, natural, big and strong, but I didn’t like a tackle. I have never really liked defending, chasing people. Tackling like Cheick (Tiote), for example. I couldn’t do that. I was 18 when I became a striker — it was late, not even 10 years ago when my agent and my best friend convinced me. I’ve learned fast.’

He trained with the pros at Watford and was on the brink of signing when manager Ray Lewington was sacked. It was such a blur that Ba gets Watford mixed up with Barnsley, where he also had a fruitless week.

‘We started training and then they sacked the manager the next day so then no training for two days and we just went back to the hotel and waited.

‘We met the manager one day, shook hands with him and the next day he was gone. Wow. Welcome to Barnsley. Welcome to professional football.

‘I just loved kicking a ball but I was determined to be a footballer and I wanted a professional contract, I would go to any professional club to get one. From 15, all I wanted was to be a footballer.

‘I had no clue who Barnsley or Watford were. All I knew was they were professional clubs and I said to myself, “If you make it you will have a professional contract”. It did not matter where it was, from there I could start proving what I can do. I just had to be patient.

Near the top: Ba, after being rejected by numerous teams, has proved them all wrong

Near the top: Ba, after being rejected by numerous teams, has proved them all wrong

On the ball: Ba got injured at Bologna

On the ball: Ba got injured at Bologna

‘And I have done everything. I went to France, Italy, Belgium. I had a trial with a team in the fourth league near Bologna. They wanted to sign me and I did well there but I got an injury and I couldn’t train for weeks so I had to go home. Maybe it was a good thing. I had proved I could play.’

Life changed in Rouen. Although he was to break his shin, he did enough to alert scouts from Mouscron in Belgium, who signed him, and eventually sold him to Hoffenheim for 2.5m. And then he really took off.

Speaking at the Gateshead International Stadium, where he had done three interviews and a photo shoot for adidas, pausing only for time to pray, Ba was amused by the change in his circumstances. He likes events like this, he says, ‘once in a while’.

‘When I went to Rouen I got a little contract, earning less than 1,000 a month. I was living in a flat that is smaller than this,’ he points at a typical sports hall changing room and laughs. ‘Wow. You know I was so happy because I was playing football, and my team-mates at Rouen were absolutely brilliant, some good dudes.

‘It went well for three weeks, then I broke my shin and I was out for seven months. But I came back stronger, had a good two months and I scored seven in seven games, and then after that, Belgium. Rouen was the start of the happiness but there was no real sadness then.

Good times: Ba enjoyed life with Rouen

Good times: Ba enjoyed life with Rouen

‘Unfortunately today in football there are times when it all goes wrong. You guys are on us all the time — people, press, media, agents, money, everything comes to a head and you just want to stop playing football.

‘And then you remember why you started and you keep on going. It has not been as dark as that for me but sometimes I do ask, “Why all this work, all these sacrifices”’

Trouble: Ba's life was endangered when Senegalese fans rioted

Trouble: Ba's life was endangered when Senegalese fans rioted

If Ba is willing to express such deep concerns about his profession after all his efforts and personal sacrifices, it is no wonder. Amid all the recent controversies, it has almost been overlooked that the Newcastle striker, along with team-mates Papiss Cisse and Cheick Tiote, were among the Senegal and Ivory Coast players being protected by army and police on the pitch when their Africa Cup of Nations play-off was halted by fans last month.

Days later Ba was the subject of alleged racist abuse during a typically poisonous Wear-Tyne derby at Sunderland. Ba’s late own goal settled the game and he was cruelly mocked by Sunderland fans as he made his way to the team bus afterwards. But after what he had been through in Africa, he was unmoved by the abuse.

‘The military were there, police, state police,’ he said of the riot in Dakar that led to Senegal being disqualified. ‘And this is not the police in Europe. If you go into the lion’s den in Africa you get some serious trouble.

‘When you see police trucks coming on the
pitch and all the players in the middle of the park waiting for half an
hour before we can go to the changing room and you need an escort, it
is a bit different to Sunderland v Newcastle, believe me.

‘It is a football match. But people have
nothing other than football and they put all their happiness in the
sport until it gets to a point where they get disappointed. And because
they have nothing else in their life that can bring them happiness, they
get mad.

‘It is difficult to understand. When you haven’t been to Africa you don’t know how it is. I can understand how it can affect some African players when they go home.

Not like this: The derby against Sunderland paled in comparison with the African Cup game

Not like this: The derby against Sunderland paled in comparison with the African Cup game

‘Was I scared No, not at all. Because we
are Senegalese and they are Senegalese and they won’t hurt us. Senegal
as a nation is very good and unfortunately we saw a very bad image of
them for one week but they are very good people.

‘Football can bring out the best and
worst in people. The bad side saddens me and I was more upset about the
image of the country than anything. It is just a sport and should bring
happiness, not sadness or disappointment. But unfortunately football is
so important in the life of certain people that it becomes their reason
to live.’

Of course there have been successes along the way for Ba, too. After helping Hoffenheim to get into the Bundesliga, he played 97 games for them in nearly four years and scored 37 league goals.

He has fond memories of Germany. ‘It was absolutely magnificent,’ he said. ‘Germany is one of the best countries in the world to live, the football is brilliant, all the stadiums are full every week, and the football is good. But from the beginning, for me, the target was always the Premier League. As soon as I was interested in football, that was the target. Germany has money and full stadiums, they have everything but Premier League is Premier League.’

Hammer time: Ba played well for West Ham during his time there

Hammer time: Ba played well for West Ham during his time there

Stoke City offered the first escape
route after a bust-up with Hoffenheim’s owners over his desire to move
to England, but a 7m move collapsed after he failed a medical. How he
must have savoured his hat-trick for Newcastle at the Britannia last
season.

‘Unfortunately I
can’t stop people talking,’ he said. ‘The only thing I can do is play
every week and prove people wrong but I am not playing football to prove
people wrong.

‘Even if I play 70 games this season
and score 50 goals, people will still talk about it. I am at the point
where it doesn’t matter what they think.’

West Ham stepped in to sign him, and though he scored seven goals in 12 games, they were still relegated.

‘I still do not know how that happened,’ he said. ‘When I came we were bottom, got up to 16th and then started losing. I don’t know how. I didn’t want to leave West Ham but the desire to play in the Premier League was probably higher. After five months in the Premier League and getting the taste for something, you just want to keep it going, so I had to leave.’

No bond: Papiss Cisse (left) and Ba are not best friends despite their shared nationality

No bond: Papiss Cisse (left) and Ba are not best friends despite their shared nationality

The adventure has continued at Newcastle, although it has not all been plain sailing.

After the arrival of his Senegal team-mate Papiss Demba Cisse, who was given the coveted No 9 shirt, Ba only scored one goal, and that was in Cisse’s debut. They may share a name and frontline responsibilities, but not the goals or a close bond.

Ba added: ‘You have ups and downs, that is football. But I am happy at Newcastle and I am with a group of players who are very nice and it is good.

‘There is a good core of people. Our captain is very good as a man and player and we have the Newcastle legend Shola Ameobi. He is our big brother.’

Audley Harrison interview before David Price fight

The 'new' Harrison is still talking a good fight as Price showdown looms large

By
Riath Al-samarrai

PUBLISHED:

19:30 GMT, 11 October 2012

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UPDATED:

19:30 GMT, 11 October 2012

Why does he do it to himself After nearly an hour of brutal self-assessment, with tangents covering the ‘cosmic universe’, womanising and his ‘spiritual awakening’, Audley Harrison comes up with an answer.

‘I grew up in north London and when I was a kid I used to go to this place, Stonebridge Adventure Playground,’ he says. ‘The elders used to beat us up, punch us in the leg 10 times because we used to mouth off at them.

‘I used to be the one who got back up and mouthed off again. They would come back, flatten me, punch me in the same place in my leg. My God, I couldn’t walk. But I would still give it the big ’un. Other people would say, “I’m sorry, please stop”. Not me. That’s how I am. Nothing stops me.’

Not ridicule, not shame. Nor, if you believe his latest claims, David Price, the 29-year-old Liverpool boxer of huge stature and promise whose British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles Harrison thinks he can win. In Price’s home city and at the age of 40, no less.

Out with the old Audley: Harrison in training for his fight with David Price

Out with the old Audley: Harrison in training for his fight with David Price

Of course, we’ve been here before. Almost two years have passed since Harrison stepped into a ring with David Haye after months of hype. He had spoken about his destiny to win a world title, about redemption, about future nominations for Sports Personality of the Year.

He landed one punch.

Today, he talks about ‘shocking the world’, that ‘redemption awaits’. It’s all been said so many times before in a career that has yielded five defeats against some mediocre opponents.

Same old likeable Audley but, then again, as he repeats so often in this conversation, this isn’t the same old Audley. This is the Audley of 2012 and to understand the Audley of 2012 he says you have to revisit the Audley of 2004.

‘I was a monster,’ he says. ‘I had been a playboy, didn’t care whose heart I broke. I was ruthlessly selfish. I realised in the amateurs, in 1996 against Danny Watts, that I had to become a robot. I froze that night so afterwards I stripped away all my emotions. I became a machine and it worked. But then that stuff in 2004 came and destroyed me.’

Get in the ring: Harrison will face David Price in Liverpool

Get in the ring: Harrison will face David Price in Liverpool

He is talking about the BBC’s decision not to renew his 1million contract. Harrison had blazed a trail as a fighter promoting himself and the Beeb did not like the arrangement. Harrison, at a time when he was still unbeaten and considered a genuine world title contender, would not back down.

‘I was such a control freak,’ he says. ‘Then the universe sent me a signal. I lost everything. Losing that deal hurt so much.’

He relocated to Los Angeles. ‘I was broken and needed to escape,’ he says. ‘It was the best thing I did. I had a spiritual awakening. I started becoming a human, thinking about others. Boxing went on the backburner. It has been a journey that helped me meet my wife and let us have our daughter.

‘But it was not an easy journey because, trust me, it is not easy for a fighter to just change like that.’

He refers to the night he choked against Danny Williams in his first defeat in 2005: ‘When I was a robot I was so arrogant I thought I could pull it out even if I hadn’t prepared right. That night all these new emotions got to me and I froze.’

Head-to-head: Price (right) will defend his British and Commonwealth titles against Harrison

Head-to-head: Price (right) will defend his British and Commonwealth titles against Harrison

Then came the decline leading up to the Haye debacle. ‘Like I said, it’s all part of a journey,’ Harrison says. ‘How could I become the champion of the world when I wasn’t champion of myself’

Now, after eight years, he says he has that control and believes he can be a ‘top boxer and a top person’.

‘People will think what they want to think, but I am a spiritual person and this all makes sense. I believe there is a reason that in an Olympic year I have been given my motivation back, my drive for boxing. I know there will be a bright sky for me after I fight David Price because I have prepared right. I believe that everything happens for a reason and so I can live with what the media say about me when I have not walked the walk after talking the talk.’

He goes back to the Haye fight. ‘Maybe that was the universe giving my own medicine,’ he says.

‘I was expelled from two schools. The first, Northwood, didn’t have many black people so I became chief bully in my year because that was the only way I knew to deal with it. There will have been a lot of people cheering when they saw me running around the ring scared of David Haye.’

Sorry showing: Harrison is floored by David Haye after three abysmal rounds

Sorry showing: Harrison is floored by David Haye after three abysmal rounds

Those same people might well be cheering a similar sight and others will continue to mock the achievements of an Olympic champion and former European title winner. By his own harsh judgment, Harrison has ‘so far failed as a boxer because the aim is to win a world title’.

But he’s still here taking dead legs for mouthing off.

Nigel Reo-Coker in talks with Dinamo Moscow

Reo-Coker in talks with Dinamo Moscow after interest from Sevilla and Hamburg fades

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UPDATED:

21:57 GMT, 1 October 2012

Nigel Reo-Coker has held talks over a possible move to Dinamo Moscow. The midfielder, 28, has been training with Charlton.

Reo-Coker was hoping to secure a move
abroad in the summer after choosing not to extend his deal with Bolton
but interest from Sevilla and Hamburg did not amount to a firm offer.

Although he has since been training with Charlton, their
manager, Chris Powell, insists he will not be joining the Championship
side.

Russia adventure: Reo-Coker could be heading to Moscow

Russia adventure: Reo-Coker could be heading to Moscow

Meanwhile, Charlton have signed Rob Hulse on a three-month loan from Queens Park Rangers.

Emile Heskey pictured in Newcastle Jets kit

Look who's back! Heskey slips on Newcastle Jets kit for first time as A-League debut beckons

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UPDATED:

11:17 GMT, 25 September 2012

Emile Heskey's Aussie adventure has taken a step closer to launch after the former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker slipped on his Newcastle Jets kit for the first time.

Heskey has signed for the Australia's A-League team and has penned a year-long deal with the New South Wales club for the 2012-2013 season.

The former England international striker will be propelled into action soon with the domestic season Down Under beginning next month.

Getting shirty: Heskey sport the Jets' kit for the first time

Getting shirty: Heskey sports the Jets' kit for the first time

Capped 62 times by England, Heskey scored 110 goals in 516 games in the Barclays Premier League during a 17-year career in England.

These are exciting times for football in Australia after the arrival of Italy legend Alessandro del Piero at Sydney FC.

Former Juventus and Italy forward Del Piero received his favourite No 10 shirt on Sunday as he begins a two-year contract Down Under.

Del Piero, who signed a reported $4 million (2.6m) deal on September 5, was presented with his jersey at a fan day and training session attended by about 2,000 people at Sydney Football Stadium before he spent close to an hour signing autographs.

Getting shirty: Heskey sport the Jets' kit for the first time

Their first home match will be against the Newcastle Jets on October 13, with Heskey in the Jets lineup.

Those two international signings have brought worldwide attention to the often struggling A-League, and new franchise the Western Sydney Wanderers are reported to be in talks with former German midfielder Michael Ballack, who has played for Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Bayer Leverkusen.

Ballack, who turns 36 next week, made the last of 35 appearances for Leverkusen in the Bundesliga last season before moving into the commentary box with German television over the last year.

Vincent Kompany: Manchester City relish Champions League Group of Death

Man City's 'Group of Death' is Champions League challenge we relish, says Kompany

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UPDATED:

11:16 GMT, 11 September 2012

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has admitted the club's Champions League 'Group of Death' is a daunting prospect yet exciting prospect this season.

The Barclays Premier League champions begin their quest to land Europe's elite prize against Real Madrid, then face German champions Borussia Dortmund and Holland's top team Ajax.

Kompany told The Sun: 'Games like this are why you are in the Champions League. I thought it couldn’t get more difficult than last year but there you go.

Euro adventure: City will turn there sights on the Champions League in the coming weeks with a clash against Real Madrid

Euro adventure: City will turn there sights on the Champions League in the coming weeks with a clash against Real Madrid

'It's a great challenge. I think we are the sort of team which gets better as the challenges get even greater.

'It's perfect for us. There won't be any moments where we will be surprised. The motivation will be sky-high, the atmosphere great. I couldn't think of a better way to play the Champions League.

'It's all about how far you can get but it's even nicer when you play against the best teams.'

City have made a steady if uninspiring start to the defence of their title, but Kompany believes their unbeaten start should be taken as a positive.

He added: 'I'm happy with things so far. We won the Community Shield and have made a good start, with seven points out of nine.

'If I had one message for the team, it would be “Well done guys”. We've always battled hard and shown how strong we are as a team. We've proved we have plenty of character.

'If we can win games when supposedly not at our best, what will happen if we do hit top form'

'I think this season will be a lot more competitive than last year. I don’t think any sides around us are weaker. They have all strengthened, so getting victories at this stage of the season is the most important thing.'

Captain's job: Kompany is on international duty with Belgium

Captain's job: Kompany is on international duty with Belgium

Alex Zanardi wins gold – London 2012 Paralympics

Ex-F1 driver Zanardi completes incredible journey after storming to Paralympic gold

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UPDATED:

16:45 GMT, 5 September 2012

Motor-racing star Alex Zanardi lifted his bike in one mighty hand in celebration of his first Brands Hatch victory as the Italian became Paralympic champion.

The 45-year-old Italian made 45 appearances in Formula One following his debut in 1993 and competed at Brands Hatch when racing in F3000 early in his career, placing second, and then in the World Touring Car Championship later, placing third.

His more recent appearances in Kent came after he was critically injured in the American Memorial 500 Cart event in Germany on September 16, 2001. A 200mph accident dissected his car and he lost both his legs.

Italian job: Zanardi celebrates winning Paralympic gold at Brands Hatch

Italian job: Zanardi celebrates winning Paralympic gold at Brands Hatch

As well as competing in top-level motorsport since the accident, Zanardi has made a successful transition to hand-cycling, culminating in his London 2012 Games triumph.

He won the 16-kilometre men's H4 time-trial at Brands Hatch before lifting his bike above his head in celebration of a success which included the promise of a ride in one of motorsport's most fabled events.

He said: 'I'm Alex Zanardi, I always have to come up with something at the end of a race – I have a bit of a big head.

'My great friend Jimmy Vasser called me last night and said if you win a gold medal I'm going to put you in a car for the Indy 500, so I will have to call him back tonight.

Need for speed: Zanardi blew away the rest of the field, with a winning margin of 27 seconds

Need for speed: Zanardi blew away the rest of the field, with a winning margin of 27 seconds

'I only collected a second place, a third-placed finish and to win I had to come back with a hand-cycle. It's an amazing feeling.

'I'm really, really happy for the result and I knew that this moment was going to bring a little bit of sadness as well.

'This is almost the last day of a great adventure and from Monday I will have to find something different, otherwise life will become a little boring.

'It's at the top of the scale with many other great moments I've been lucky enough to live.'

Recovery: The former Formula One driver was the class of the field at Brands Hatch

Recovery: The former Formula One driver was the class of the field at Brands Hatch

Zanardi clocked 24 minutes 50 seconds but had to watch his rivals finish before being certain of gold ahead of Germany's Norbert Mosandl (25mins 17secs) and Oscar Sanchez of the United States (25:35).

'That was the toughest moment; it was very hard to wait,' Zanardi added. 'I was a little bit emotional, because the prize was very high. I knew I could only do my best and I had to be happy.'

Zanardi played down his personal feat.

'Anybody can be an inspiration for each other,' he said.

Man of the moment: Zanardi's success will be one of the stories of the Games

Man of the moment: Zanardi's success will be one of the stories of the Games

One such inspiration is Gaysli Leon, who sustained spinal cord injures during the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which tragically took the lives of his wife and eight children.

He finished 10th in the H3 race won by Poland's Rafal Wilk.

Leon was granted a late entry to the Games and given a rapturous reception by the crowd.

'I feel like all the biggest athletes in the world,' he said. 'To hear the crowd cheering me on, I was so happy.

Determination: The 45-year-old in action on Wednesday afternoon

Determination: The 45-year-old in action on Wednesday afternoon

'I thank everybody all over the world who helped me. I didn't think it would come true, but by being here I have realised something very, very important.

'It's very hard for people with disabilities in Haiti, but I think I have showed they can do a lot of things.

'This is one of the greatest examples that we can show to them, to inspire them to go further.'

The 45-year-old concentrated on the task in hand while racing, before reflecting on his family afterwards.

'When I'm racing I have to be focused on what I'm doing,' he added. 'If I'm here I'm okay, all my family is okay.'

Thumbs up: Zanardi salutes the crowd at Brands Hatch

Thumbs up: Zanardi salutes the crowd at Brands Hatch

Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka China future in doubt

Boardroom strife set to cut Drogba and Anelka's Chinese adventure short

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UPDATED:

07:53 GMT, 28 August 2012

Former Chelsea pair Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka could be sold by China's Shanghai Shenhua due to an escalating equity stake row among shareholders.

Chairman Zhu Jun, who holds a 28.5 per cent stake, would only pay his share of the club's daily costs if his demands for greater control were not met.

Zhu currently controls the club along with five state-owned enterprises after becoming a shareholder in 2007.

End of the road: Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba could be forced of China

End of the road: Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba could be forced of China

The agreement was that if he invested 15million over two years, his stake would increase to more than 70 per cent.#

Local media say Zhu has ploughed more than 60m into the club in the past five-and-a-half years, while the state-owned companies had spent nothing. The transfer of shares stalled in 2009 and again last year.

'It is annoying and has had a bad effect on many of our tasks,' a club official said. 'The biggest problem is that the operation and financing work of the club cannot be carried out normally.

'The equity stakes issue has become the biggest bottleneck for the development of Shenhua.'

Harder than he thought: Drogba hasn't been able to lift his new team

Harder than he thought: Drogba hasn't been able to lift his new team

If unresolved, Zhu, who has been signing all the cheques, could decide to cough up just 28.5 per cent of the club's expenditure, potentially affecting player salaries.

Colombian Giovanni Moreno missed the match against Shandong Luneng at the weekend amid speculation Shenhua had fallen short on his transfer fee with Argentina's Racing Club.

The futures of Drogba and Anelka could be in the balance if Shenhua fail to make their salary payments. Both earn close to 250,000 a week.

Despite investing heavily in big-name foreign players, Shenhua sit 10th in the 16-team Chinese Super League on 27 points from 23 matches. Leaders Guangzhou Evergrande are on 47 points.