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Tony Greig dies: Patrick Collins tribute

Brash and tactless he may have been but Greig was also cricket's saviour

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 29 December 2012

The MCC flag on the clock tower at Lord’s is flying at half-mast in memory of Tony Greig.

The former England captain, who died aged 66 following a heart attack at his home in Sydney on Saturday, would have smiled at this tribute from Official England. For no cricketer ever attracted such vituperation from those who ruled the game. Yet no cricketer ever succeeded so completely in transforming the game they once ruled.

Brash and combative, truculent and tactless, Greig will be recalled as much for his role in celebrated controversies as for his status as one of cricket’s finest all-rounders.

66 and out: Former England captain and popular television commentator Tony Greig has died in Sydney at the age of 66

66 and out: Former England captain and popular television commentator Tony Greig has died in Sydney at the age of 66

Job well done: Greig, then captain of England, relaxes with a pint after a Test match at Old Trafford in 1972

Job well done: Greig, then captain of England, relaxes with a pint after a Test match at Old Trafford in 1972

There was his foolhardy promise to make
the 1976 West Indies tourists ‘grovel’. It was a crassly offensive term
in any circumstances; spoken by a white South African at a time when
apartheid still oppressed that benighted country, it was catastrophic.

There was the day in Trinidad when he threw down the stumps of Alvin
Kallicharran as the West Indies batsman walked off the field at the
close of play. Greig appealed, the umpire raised his finger and a major
riot ensued. On the following morning, the appeal was revoked. But the
memory lingered.

Then there was Packer. Most of all, there was Packer. Some 35 years on, it is impossible to convey the depth of the outrage.

All-rounder: Greig scored 3,599 Test runs at an average of 40.43 and was also more than handy with the ball, claiming 141 wickets at an average of 32.20

All-rounder: Greig scored 3,599 Test runs at an average of 40.43 and was also more than handy with the ball, claiming 141 wickets at an average of 32.20

Mentor: Greig offers some words of advice for players of the future during a match for Brighton and Hove CC at Basingstoke in 1978

Mentor: Greig offers some words of advice for players of the future during a match for Brighton and Hove CC at Basingstoke in 1978

Leaders: Deposed England cricket captain Tony Greig (right) and his successor, Mike Brearley, during practice prior to the 1st ODI against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester on 22nd June 1977

Leaders: Deposed England cricket captain Tony Greig (right) and his successor, Mike Brearley, during practice prior to the 1st ODI against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester on 22nd June 1977

In 1977, cricketers were seen as being fortunate to play the game. Their
wages were meagre, their financial prospects precarious. Greig had been
captain of England for two years, a popular figure who seemed capable
of regenerating English cricket. But he had signed a secret agreement
with Kerry Packer, the owner of Nine Network in Australia, to set up a
‘rebel’ troupe of international cricketers.

He then — while still captain — began to recruit English and foreign cricketers for the Packer ‘circus’.

The plot became public and, within a week, Greig had lost the captaincy.
He was retained for an Ashes series as an England player, but his
international career then expired. He threw his energies behind Packer’s
successful attempt to popularise the game, especially the one-day
version with its coloured clothing and tumultuous crowds. The sport was
truly transformed.

Meeting of minds: Greig chats with Pakistan cricketer of the sixties Saeed Ahmed in the United Arab Emirates in 1997

Meeting of minds: Greig chats with Pakistan cricketer of the sixties Saeed Ahmed in the United Arab Emirates in 1997

Controversial times: Greig as captain of the World Series Cricket World XI in the 1979 Supertest Grand Final match with Australia in Sydney

Controversial times: Greig as captain of the World Series Cricket World XI in the 1979 Supertest Grand Final match with Australia in Sydney

It all tended to obscure the fact that he was a blissfully talented
cricketer. Six feet six inches in height, he scored 3,599 Test runs at
40.43 and took 141 wickets at 32.20. Once in the West Indies, with
England needing to win to save the series, he experimented with
off-spin. He took 13 wickets, scored a six and three-quarter-hour
century and England won by 26 runs.

An extraordinary talent.

He later moved to Australia and built a career as a commentator on
Packer’s television channel. The energy never dimmed until these last
few weeks, when he was diagnosed with lung cancer and his health swiftly
failed.

Memorabilia: Greig studies the ball used by Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh when he became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket at an auction in Bangalore in 2003

Memorabilia: Greig studies the ball used by Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh when he became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket at an auction in Bangalore in 2003

He has received a number of glowing obituaries, but many years ago his
former England colleague, Pat ‘Percy’ Pocock, wrote: ‘When the whole
Packer business erupted, the popular cry was that Tony Greig had
betrayed the game. I never believed that, and I think history will be
kind to him. Far from betraying it, I fancy he may just have saved it.’

Tony Greig would have appreciated the MCC flag on the clock tower. But I
suspect that Percy’s tribute would be the one he valued most of all.

WORLD OF CRICKET UNITES TO PAY TRIBUTE TO GREIG

England wicketkeeper, Matt Prior: 'Can't believe one of my heroes Tony Greig has passed away. One of the greatest voices in cricket and will be sorely missed. #RIPGreigy.'

England batsman Jonny Bairstow: 'Today we lost a fabulous man, a family friend and someone who was respected by all not only as a cricketer but a true gentleman RIPTonyGreig'

England opener, Nick Compton:
'Sad day – RIP Tony Greig a fantastic player and a good man, loved his
commentary was one of the best! Cricket world will miss u.'

Legendary Aussie fast bowler, Brett Lee: 'OMG Poor Tony Greig. I feel so sad and shocked right now. Can't believe it.'

England all-rounder, Luke Wright: 'Gutted to hear that Tony Greig has passed away. A legend on and off the field. Our thoughts are with his family and friends #RIPGreigy.'

Australia captain Michael Clarke on www.cricket.com.au: 'I was only speaking with Tony a couple of days ago so news of his passing is absolutely devastating.

'Tony has a long and decorated history with international cricket both as a player and commentator and cricket will be much poorer for his loss.

'Personally, he has also been a great mentor for me, providing great advice through the good times and the bad.'

Former Australian paceman Glen McGrath: My thoughts are with Tony Greig's family today. RIP Tony Greig'

Long-serving Nine Network cricket commentator and former Australia captain Richie Benaud recalled Greig's 'fearless' reaction to the English public following his decision to join the Packer team in 1977.
'There was an enormous amount of pressure on him,' Benaud told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'He was captain of England at the time and played against Australia at Lord's. The English people turned against him.

'He wasn't just a fearless cricketer but a fearless thinker as well. He would not just jump in boots first, but it wouldn't matter how much pressure it put on him, he would stick with it.'

Former Australia fast bowler Dennis Lillee told the same publication: 'Tony was a tough opponent who took on all opposition with aggression and a determination to win.

'We will not forget the way he stirred the viewers in a similar vein to the way he did to opposition teams.'

ICC chief executive David Richardson: 'This is extremely sad news for cricket and the ICC send their condolences to Tony's family and in particular his wife Vivian.

'Tony played a significant part in shaping modern cricket as a player in the 1970s and then provided millions of cricket lovers with a unique insight as a thoughtful and knowledgeable commentator – primarily for the Nine Network in Australia.

'I met with him on several occasions during the recent ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka where he was a senior commentator for our broadcast partner ESS.

'He was also a regular visitor to the ICC offices in Dubai when commentating for Ten Sports.

'I am sure that I will not be alone in saying that he and his wise words will be missed by cricketers, administrators and spectators around the world.

'His figures in Test matches show that he was one of the leading all-rounders of his generation with a batting average of above 40 and a bowling average around 32.'

Tony Greig dies: Former England cricket captain passes away after of heart attack

Former England cricket captain and TV commentator Tony Greig dies of a heart attack at 66

PUBLISHED:

08:33 GMT, 29 December 2012

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UPDATED:

09:33 GMT, 29 December 2012

Former England captain and television commentator Tony Greig has died of a heart attack at the age of 66 after being diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year.

South Africa-born Greig, who played 58 Tests for England, was initially diagnosed with bronchitis seven months ago, with further tests showing a lesion at the base of his right lung.

He became synonymous with world cricket as a commentator for Australian television network Channel Nine following his retirement.

66 and out: Former England captain and popular television commentator Tony Greig has died in Sydney at the age of 66

66 and out: Former England captain and popular television commentator Tony Greig has died in Sydney at the age of 66

Job well done: Greig, then captain of England, relaxes with a pint after a Test match at Old Trafford in 1972

Job well done: Greig, then captain of England, relaxes with a pint after a Test match at Old Trafford in 1972

'Beloved Tony Greig, former England cricket captain, has passed away today at the age of 66,' a Channel Nine statement read.

'Initially diagnosed with bronchitis in May, the condition lingered and testing revealed he had lung cancer.'

Greig scored 3,599 Test runs at an average of 40.43 and was also more than handy with the ball, claiming 141 wickets at an average of 32.20.

He finished playing for England at the age of 30 to take up a position in Kerry Packer's breakaway World Series Cricket competition, where he was one of the star recruits.

All-rounder: Greig scored 3,599 Test runs at an average of 40.43 and was also more than handy with the ball, claiming 141 wickets at an average of 32.20

All-rounder: Greig scored 3,599 Test runs at an average of 40.43 and was also more than handy with the ball, claiming 141 wickets at an average of 32.20

Mentor: Greig offers some words of advice for players of the future during a match for Brighton and Hove CC at Basingstoke in 1978

Mentor: Greig offers some words of advice for players of the future during a match for Brighton and Hove CC at Basingstoke in 1978

Leaders: Deposed England cricket captain Tony Greig (right) and his successor, Mike Brearley, during practice prior to the 1st ODI against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester on 22nd June 1977

Leaders: Deposed England cricket captain Tony Greig (right) and his successor, Mike Brearley, during practice prior to the 1st ODI against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester on 22nd June 1977

The Channel Nine statement continued: 'Tony Greig is a name synonymous with Australian cricket – from his playing days as the English captain we loved to hate, to his senior role in the revolution of World Series Cricket, his infamous car keys in the pitch reports and more than three decades of colourful and expert commentary.

'To his family and friends we pass on our best wishes.'

Meeting of minds: Greig chats with Pakistan cricketer of the sixties Saeed Ahmed in the United Arab Emirates in 1997

Meeting of minds: Greig chats with Pakistan cricketer of the sixties Saeed Ahmed in the United Arab Emirates in 1997

Controversial times: Greig as captain of the World Series Cricket World XI in the 1979 Supertest Grand Final match with Australia in Sydney

Controversial times: Greig as captain of the World Series Cricket World XI in the 1979 Supertest Grand Final match with Australia in Sydney

Greig, a right-handed middle-order batsman and medium-fast seamer, made his Test debut for England against Australia in 1972, and captained the national team from 1975-1977 after succeeding Mike Denness as skipper.

He lived in Sydney from the late 1970s and commentated on cricket for Channel Nine for 33 years.

Memorabilia: Greig studies the ball used by Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh when he became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket at an auction in Bangalore in 2003

Memorabilia: Greig studies the ball used by Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh when he became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket at an auction in Bangalore in 2003

Reports in Australia today indicated Greig suffered a heart attack at his home in Sydney and died around 1345 AEDT (0245 GMT).

'He was rushed into St Vincent's hospital. The staff of the emergency department worked on Mr Greig to no avail,' St Vincent's spokesman David Faktor was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

WORLD OF CRICKET UNITES TO PAY TRIBUTE TO GREIG

England opener, Nick Compton: 'Sad day – RIP Tony Greig a fantastic player and a good man, loved his commentary was one of the best! Cricket world will miss u.'

Legendary Aussie fast bowler, Brett Lee: 'OMG Poor Tony Greig. I feel so sad and shocked right now. Can't believe it.'

England wicketkeeper, Matt Prior: 'Can't believe one of my heroes Tony Greig has passed away. One of the greatest voices in cricket and will be sorely missed. #RIPGreigy.'

England all-rounder, Luke Wright: 'Gutted to hear that Tony Greig has passed away. A legend on and off the field. Our thoughts are with his family and friends #RIPGreigy.'

Australia captain Michael Clarke on www.cricket.com.au: 'I was only speaking with Tony a couple of days ago so news of his passing is absolutely devastating.

“Tony has a long and decorated history with international cricket both as a player and commentator and cricket will be much poorer for his loss.

“Personally, he has also been a great mentor for me, providing great advice through the good times and the bad.'

Former Australian paceman Glen McGrath: My thoughts are with Tony Greig's family today. RIP Tony Greig'

Long-serving Nine Network cricket commentator and former Australia captain Richie Benaud recalled Greig's 'fearless' reaction to the English public following his decision to join the Packer team in 1977.
'There was an enormous amount of pressure on him,' Benaud told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'He was captain of England at the time and played against Australia at Lord's. The English people turned against him.

'He wasn't just a fearless cricketer but a fearless thinker as well. He would not just jump in boots first, but it wouldn't matter how much pressure it put on him, he would stick with it.'

Former Australia fast bowler Dennis Lillee told the same publication: 'Tony was a tough opponent who took on all opposition with aggression and a determination to win.

'We will not forget the way he stirred the viewers in a similar vein to the way he did to opposition teams.'

ICC chief executive David Richardson: 'This is extremely sad news for cricket and the ICC send their condolences to Tony's family and in particular his wife Vivian.

'Tony played a significant part in shaping modern cricket as a player in the 1970s and then provided millions of cricket lovers with a unique insight as a thoughtful and knowledgeable commentator – primarily for the Nine Network in Australia.

'I met with him on several occasions during the recent ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka where he was a senior commentator for our broadcast partner ESS.

'He was also a regular visitor to the ICC offices in Dubai when commentating for Ten Sports.

'I am sure that I will not be alone in saying that he and his wise words will be missed by cricketers, administrators and spectators around the world.

'His figures in Test matches show that he was one of the leading all-rounders of his generation with a batting average of above 40 and a bowling average around 32.'

Arsene Wenger should stay at Arsenal: Gary Neville

Yes, Arsenal are struggling but sensible people should be defending Wenger now

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UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 16 December 2012

When I started out as a pundit I was
given a piece of advice from someone in whom I place an awful lot of
trust. ‘The key to being good in the media is to ensure you don’t get
embroiled in every single little piece of comment and opinion,’ he said.
‘Don’t spend the day listening to the talkshows. Don’t read every
single paper. Keep your opinions fresh.’

Of course, I have to be across news
stories like never before but you can get distracted by the noise of
football and it can start to warp your thinking.

It has been an enormous change for me
to be inserted into that fast-moving, frantic media world when, at the
club where I played, I was working in a dressing room that was like a
sanctuary, protected from the whirlwinds and thunderstorms of the
outside world.

Why always him Mario Balotelli storms off at the Etihad after being hauled off by Roberto Mancini

Why always him Mario Balotelli was one of the talking points this week, storming off at the Etihad after being hauled off by Roberto Mancini

And the past week has been full of
those types of storms. On Sunday we were talking about diving yet again
after Santi Cazorla against West Brom. On Monday the headlines were all
about Mario Balotelli and his performance the day before against
Manchester United, when other players were much worse than him.

It was that or the issue of netting at
games because Rio Ferdinand had been struck with a coin in that
Manchester derby. Then we moved on to Bradford beating Arsenal and the
fact that Arsene Wenger has to go … again. On Thursday, racism reared
its ugly head again, with the verdict on the Serbian FA.

And then on Friday I was looking down
my Twitter timeline and there was a question from an Arsenal fan: ‘What
do you think of George Graham’s comments that Arsenal will never win
the title again’ And I’m thinking: ‘That can’t be right’ So I went
online to check and it’s there in the newspaper as clear as day — George
Graham is quoted as saying: ‘Will they [Arsenal] win the league again I
can’t see it.’

The dark side of the moon: Arsene Wenger watches as his side crash out of the Capital One Cup at Bradford

The dark side of the moon: Arsene Wenger watches as his side crash out of the Capital One Cup at Bradford

The speed at which the football media operate today is like a blender that is constantly having food chucked
into it and chopped into a thousand pieces but never has any end
product. There’s never any substance at the end of the process. Or it’s
like a sausage machine that just churns out more mincemeat rather than
sausages.

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Being partly in football as an
assistant coach with England and partly in the media, I can see it from
both sides. And I think football and the media should work more closely
together. I want footballers to be more open.

But the reality inside the changing
room is often totally different to the furore on the outside. I’m not
sure which the public want: the frenzy of the media or a reflection of
the serenity of the dressing room; or a bit of both. But it has got to
the point where we almost need two distinct media: one that deal with
the actual match and one that deal with the issues surrounding it.

Football has become a soap opera,
which, of course, is partly why the Premier League has become so
extraordinarily popular and is one reason why it is beamed around the
world. But the actual football can get lost in the drama. For some
people the main act can become the sideshow.

And so incredible statements come out
like: ‘Arsenal will never win the league again.’ Now I’m not going to
sit here and say: ‘All’s good and well at Arsenal and they shouldn’t
worry about going out to Bradford.’ That’s not the case. They’ve lost a
lot of quality in the past three years and they haven’t replaced it,
like for like. There seem to be some management failures in the number
of players who end up with just one year on their contract but I doubt
that’s Arsene Wenger’s fault. And they definitely need a bit of the
attitude of the 2005 FA Cup final team, the last trophy they won.
Without Thierry Henry that day they struggled but there was such a
resilience about those players that they were prepared to win ugly and
beat Manchester United on penalties.

Halcyon days: A jubilant Wenger holds the Premier League trophy aloft eight years ago

Halcyon days: A jubilant Wenger holds the Premier League trophy aloft eight years ago

But for George Graham, someone who has a greater knowledge of Arsenal than I will ever have, to be quoted as saying they will never win the league again leaves me stunned. I’ll be amazed if Arsenal Football Club never win another title. Honestly, I’d be just as surprised if tomorrow wasn’t Monday. It’s like saying Liverpool will never win another title. Of course they will. It’s a fact. Fifteen years ago who would have said that Chelsea or Manchester City would win a title Things change. They move on.

When I look back at the history of Arsenal, the club went 45 years before they won their first league title. And after dominating in the Thirties and then after the war, they went 18 years between 1953 and 1971 without a league title. And then another 18 years before the next title, which came under George Graham, in 1989. Arsenal are not a club like Real Madrid, Benfica or Celtic who should expect to win the title every year. They never have been.

When Roberto Di Matteo was sacked three weeks ago, the same people who were saying they despised the madness of Chelsea are now saying that we need a change at Arsenal. What do we want We just want a news story. We want more food in the blender.

Nadir: Arsenal's midweek defeat is a low point, but the club will get back to fighting for titles under Wenger

Nadir: Arsenal's midweek defeat is a low point, but the club will get back to fighting for titles under Wenger

There’s nothing to say that if you
change Arsene Wenger you’re going to be more successful. There’s nothing
to say that if you spend 100million, like Liverpool did, you’re going
to win the league.

Manchester
City and Chelsea have done superbly in recent years and between them
have won four out of the last eight Premier League titles. But it has
cost the best part of 2billion between them to do it. Are we saying
Arsenal should do that

Arsenal
are on the right track. They run the club in a sensible way. When I go
there, I watch good players, good football and you sense the history of
the place. There is a drop in quality, especially in forward positions.
They were the best attacking team I played against and, at the moment,
they don’t have that ruthlessness and devastation.

Lack of quality: Gervinho misses a crucial chance in the first half against Bradford

Lack of quality: Gervinho misses a crucial chance in the first half against Bradford

But we should be applauding the fact a club have had a manager for 16 years in a world in which divorce rates get ever higher, in which loyalty isn’t valued and in which everyone demands everything instantly.

Sensible football people should be defending Arsene Wenger and fighting for him to build another great Arsenal team. And we certainly shouldn’t be sat here saying: ‘Arsenal will never win another title.’ To me, that seems absurdly reactive.

Steven Naismith won"t back down in Rangers row

Standing firm: Naismith won't back down in Rangers row as striker battles former club

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UPDATED:

23:15 GMT, 12 December 2012

Steven Naismith has maintained he will not back down from his legal dispute with Rangers and instead insisted he owes the Ibrox club nothing.

The Everton star is one of a posse of former players defending themselves against legal action brought by Ibrox chief executive Charles Green after they quit the club on free transfers in the summer.

Green wants the new clubs of Naismith, Steven Whittaker, Jamie Ness, Sone Aluko and Kyle Lafferty to pay compensation for signing players who walked out after objecting to their contracts being switched from the Rangers oldco to the newco.

Won't back down: Steven Naismith is involved in a dispute with Rangers

Won't back down: Steven Naismith is involved in a dispute with Rangers

The Ibrox club will learn in January if they have the right to pursue compensation via the SFA. If that is unsuccessful, Green has threatened to pursue the cash via the courts.

Unable to have their international clearance certificates transferred to their new clubs in the meantime, Aluko, Lafferty and Ness are counter-suing the Ibrox club for ‘constructive dismissal’.

Naismith says he wants no part in suing Rangers but is determined to defend himself from legal threats.

And, despite accepting a 75-per-cent wage cut when the club entered administration, he insists he is not after a penny.

‘I think 90 per cent of people that talk about this don’t know half of what happened,’ said Naismith in Glasgow.

New start: Naismith left Rangers to join Everton in the summer

New start: Naismith left Rangers to join Everton in the summer

‘I took legal advice and made the decisions I made.

‘I’m not looking to go after the club for money for 90 days’ pay or anything like that — it’s not something I’ve thought about or been interested in.
‘There’s so much going on, so many different cases.

‘People think it’s one big thing and everyone’s name gets thrown in the pot.

‘People want to say things as they think they know everything. But the people closest to me know what happened — and what’s gone on, on my part anyway.

‘You’re never going to make everyone happy.’

No brainer: Naismith left Ibrox after Rangers were relegated

No brainer: Naismith left Ibrox after Rangers were relegated

Taking advice from lawyers, Naismith admitted the prospect of counter-suing Rangers was raised.

Already unable to walk through the door at Ibrox amid the bitterness, he opted instead to concentrate on his new career at Everton.

And, frustrated that fans rarely mention the financial sacrifices players made when they took substantial wage cuts to keep others in their jobs, Naismith insists he never intended to leave Rangers and would still have been there but for financial meltdown in February.

‘In a couple of years, people will look back and say they did that (wage cuts) for the good of the club,’ he said. ‘People might think there were other agendas or we were only doing it for certain reasons, but the players know what we were trying to do at the outset. That was to try to stop the club from getting liquidated.’

Fabrice Muamba says he could play football again

I could play again: Muamba says he'll make comeback if doctors give him the all clear

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UPDATED:

15:14 GMT, 22 November 2012

Fabrice Muamba has not ruled out playing football again so long as he is given the all clear by heart specialists.

The Bolton midfielder was forced to quit the game in August after suffering a cardiac arrest while playing for Bolton at Tottenham in March.

But now he says there is hope he could kick a ball again if his heart rate returns to normal.

Holding back the tears: Fabrice Muamba says he could play football again

Holding back the tears: Fabrice Muamba says he could play football again

Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester Muamba hopes he could play again.

He said: ‘Maybe in two years, if I go for a check-up and my heart rhythm comes back to normality, we’ll see if anyone wants to take me on.

‘I really don’t know [if it will be possible to return]. It all depends on my heart rhythm and how it heals.

‘If it comes back to normality, we’ll see what the specialist says regarding me playing again. But at this present moment, I just have to take it easy and spend time with my family.’

Back on the pitch: Muamba went back to the spot where he suffered a cardiac arrest a White Hart Lane

Back on the pitch: Muamba went back to the spot where he suffered a cardiac arrest a White Hart Lane

Muamba’s heart stopped for 78 minutes following his collapse on March 17, and the world of football united as the DR Congo-born midfielder fought for his life.

He was released from hospital less than a month afterwards, but Muamba was advised to quit the game on medical advice.

Speaking about the incident at White Hart Lane, Muamba said: ‘On the day, I was fine. There was no heart problem, no irregular heartbeat – there was nothing like that at all. I was in the right condition and I was looking forward to playing the game.

‘Just before the incident, I felt kind of dizzy and couldn’t concentrate. My mind went into a different mode and, all of a sudden, I lost control. My heart just stopped and I fell down.

Horror moment: Bolton and Spurs players watch on as Muamba is treated on the pitch

Horror moment: Bolton and Spurs players watch on as Muamba is treated on the pitch

‘I wasn’t aware of anything at all. It wasn’t until I woke up on the Monday or Tuesday that I understood what was going on. I was very shocked because I wasn’t expecting to be in hospital.’

Muamba acknowledges that he is lucky to be alive, it was the passing of Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini, who collapsed and died during a match in Italy in April, that truly gave Muamba a fresh perspective on his own recovery.

Will he play Muamba says there is hope he could play again

Will he play Muamba says there is hope he could play again

‘I couldn’t believe that could happen to me, but then when it happened to Morosini in Italy, that’s when I realised how big an issue it was,' added Muamba.

‘He didn’t survive and I survived. I just have to be grateful for the life that I’ve got now.’

Despite his career ending prematurely, Muamba is able to reflect on his achievements in the game, including representing England at various youth levels, winning promotion to the Premier League with Birmingham City in 2007 and playing more than 150 times in the top flight.

‘I’ve lived most people’s dream by playing football,” continued the former Arsenal youngster.

‘I’ve played in the Premier League and the Championship. I’ve played for the national team from Under-16 to Under-21, I played at the Under-21 Championship twice and I played in the FA Cup semi-final.

‘I’m grateful for it all. I can hold my hand up and say I tried my best.’

Craig Levein in legal dispute with SFA

Sacked Scotland manager Levein in legal dispute with his former employers

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UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 13 November 2012

The Scottish Football Association have confirmed they are involved in a legal wrangle with Craig Levein's representatives over his removal as Scotland manager.

Levein last week announced he was seeking legal advice after being 'relieved of his duties' by the SFA, who said they would continue to honour his contract, which has 20 months to run.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: 'Craig is entitled to his opinion. We made it very clear that Craig's contract had not been terminated, that his terms and conditions would be honoured up to the end of the contract in June 2014.

Departed: Levein is seeking legal advice over his removal as Scotland boss

Departed: Levein is seeking legal advice over his removal as Scotland boss

'It's a legally binding contract and that was our position that we set out very clearly last Monday night.

'Craig has taken legal advice which he is entitled to do and the matter is now being dealt with between Craig's lawyers and the Scottish FA's lawyers.'

In a statement issued last Wednesday night, Levein said: 'I note the position as stated by the Scottish Football Association but do not concur and I am currently taking legal advice as to my options.'

Mike Tyson sued for 30,000

Get on a flight, Mike! Tyson ordered to cough-up 30k to Polish boxing organiser… who can claim cash while former champion is in UK

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UPDATED:

15:02 GMT, 9 November 2012

A court in Poland has ordered Mike Tyson to pay 30,000 in compensation to the organizer of a boxing gala for which the former heavyweight champion did not show up last year.

The decision took effect this month after Tyson did not appeal it, and can be executed through European Union regulations on British territory, Judge Igor Tuleya, a spokesman for the Regional Court in Warsaw.

The Polish organizer of the gala, Tomasz Babilonski, sued Tyson in March for 30,000 compensation and interest.

Word of advice: Tyson has been in the UK to visit Freddie Flintoff ahead of his debut bout

Word of advice: Tyson has been in the UK to visit Freddie Flintoff ahead of his debut bout

The Gazeta Wyborcza daily said Babilonski filed the suit because Tyson’s managers were refusing to talk about any compensation.

Tyson has been in the UK to visit Andrew Flintoff who will take to the ring at the Manchester Arena on November 30.

Freddie has revealed a pep talk from former world heavyweight champion has spurred him on as the countdown continues to his boxing debut.

Former England cricketer Flintoff – who has been training under the tutelage of Irish legend Barry McGuigan and his son Shane – will make his debut in the bout.

No show: The Polish event organiser claimed Tyson's no-show cost him money

No show: The Polish event organiser claimed Tyson's no-show cost him money

And a visit from Tyson has inspired the 34-year-old to push himself to the limits between now and fight night.

'It was amazing to meet Tyson because as a kid he was one of my heroes,’ Flintoff said. ‘So to have him come down to the gym – not only that, but to talk to me about it all was amazing.

'He spoke a lot about the emotion of boxing and it was all relevant to how I was feeling. So to hear it from Mike Tyson made me realise it was okay for me to feel like that too.'

Heyday: Tyson is still revered for his exploits in the boxing ring

Heyday: Tyson is still revered for his exploits in the boxing ring

Craig Levein taking legal advice after Scotland sacking

Axed Scotland boss Levein seeking legal advice as fallout from dismissal continues

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UPDATED:

08:41 GMT, 8 November 2012

Former Scotland manager Craig Levein has confirmed he is taking legal advice following his dismissal.

Levein was 'relieved of his duties' by the Scottish Football Association on Monday, who stressed they would honour the remaining 20 months of his contract.

The former Hearts and Dundee United boss was removed from his role four days after the seven-man SFA board first met to discuss his position, with a poor start to the World Cup qualifying campaign cited as the main reason for their decision.

Legal advice: Craig Levein was sacked after a poor start to World Cup qualifying

Legal advice: Craig Levein was sacked after a poor start to World Cup qualifying

In a statement on Wednesday night, Levein said: 'I would like to thank everyone who has supported the team and I during my time as Scotland manager.

'It has been a privilege to have done the job and I would like to thank my backroom staff who have worked tirelessly during my time as manager.

'Most of all I would like to thank the players for their unswerving loyalty, effort and professionalism. I am extremely disappointed by the process of the last week.

'I note the position as stated by the Scottish Football Association but do not concur and I am currently taking legal advice as to my options. I will make no further comment at this time.'

Meanwhile, interim boss Billy Stark is determined to use the friendly against Luxembourg to galvanise a Scotland squad left disappointed by Levein's departure.

Gordon Strachan and Owen Coyle are among those who have been tipped to fill the vacancy and Under 21s boss Stark has refused to rule himself out of the running.

Axe: SFA chiefs Stewart Regan and Campbell Ogilvie confirmed the departure

Axe: SFA chiefs Stewart Regan and Campbell Ogilvie confirmed the departure

But he insists his priority right now is boosting morale ahead of the match on November 14.

Stark said: 'I can say categorically I'm not thinking anywhere beyond this game. I've got enough on my plate trying to get the players lifted because they are disappointed that Craig has left.

'It has been very apparent that there was a real loyalty there to Craig. I've spoken to a few of the senior players and they are old and wise enough to know that we have to move on.

'But they are very disappointed and part of the job will be to try to lift morale and get a really positive attitude going into the game.'

On his own interest in the job long-term, Stark said: 'I've been happy in the Under 21s job and I'm honoured and absolutely delighted to have the faith of the board that I can prove myself capable of taking the team next week.

'I don't think you rule anything out in football.'

ATP World Tour Finals: Sportsmail tests out court

As Murray and Djokovic prepare to do battle, Sportsmail takes a swing and a miss at O2

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UPDATED:

18:39 GMT, 4 November 2012

Don’t let the graceful forehand and strapping physique fool you – that’s not Andy Murray, but little old me christening the court at the 02 Arena ahead of the ATP World Tour Finals. Hard to believe, I know.

Murray, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and another five of the world’s best players are descending on London for the third time this week for tennis’s end-of-season spectacular.

At five o’clock on Saturday morning the last lick of blue paint was splashed on to the now familiar hard court in the 15,000-capacity arena. And, just three hours later, yours truly was handed the honour of hitting the first shots on the surface.

Eyes on the ball: Sportsmail's Chris Cutmore sends a forehand back to Mark Petchey at the O2 Arena

Eyes on the ball: Sportsmail's Chris Cutmore sends a forehand back to Mark Petchey at the O2 Arena

Andy must be himself, says Petchey

Mark Petchey is a former coach of Andy Murray and helped the Scot win his first title on the ATP Tour before their partnership was ended in 2006.

Murray has since gone on to win the US Open and Olympic gold medal after an unforgettable summer this year. But the journey to being a major champion has been tough, with Murray losing four grand slam finals, including at Wimbledon in June, before finally beating Novak Djokovic at Flushing Meadows.

So, what is the one piece of advice that Petchey feels was most valuable in helping to put Murray on the path to glory

‘I think it was just to be himself,’ says Petchey. ‘The road wasn’t going to be easy. I tried to prepare the ground that if a major win didn’t come easily, Andy should just prepare for some unfair criticism but should stay true to himself and undoubtedly he has done.

‘He’s come a long way and I sent him a message telling him that (after his US Open victory) and he replied. Being part of the journey with him and knowing what it meant to him, it was an emotional moment. He stayed in my house for eight months, we shared a room, so it meant the world.

‘I feel he’s going to win more majors but it won’t be easy. You’re going to start talking about his rivalry with Novak in the same way that we’ve talked about Roger and Rafa and some of the great rivalries over the years. They both have the potential to create something extra special.’

On the other side of the net was Mark Petchey, who was once ranked inside the top 100 players in the world and reached the third round of Wimbledon in 1997. He also has the honour of having coached Murray during the formative stages of the great Scot’s career. /11/04/article-2227737-15D90951000005DC-4_634x360.jpg” width=”634″ height=”360″ alt=”Sound advice: Petchey, who used to coach Andy Murray, offers up tips” class=”blkBorder” />

Sound advice: Petchey, who used to coach Andy Murray, offers up tips

Sound advice: Petchey, who used to coach Andy Murray, offers up tips

But what is the professional’s opinion on the court and how it will affect the week ahead

‘It looks and feels a lot like last year, it’s a surface that’s fair and you can play all-court tennis,’ says Petchey. ‘The slice keeps low, if you hit that well you’ll get a lot of reward. You’ll see some amazing rallies because of the slowish pace of the court.

‘Trying to predict a winner from the top eight players in the world will almost always leave you with egg on your face. Roger loves playing here, he likes indoor tennis, it suits his game. Andy’s going to have massive home support and Novak’s got a point to prove – he’ll be fit, unlike last year, and highly motivated. But I’ve said Andy will win and I’m going to stick with him.’

Petchey will be commentating for Sky Sports on the tournament, which begins on Monday. Due to its place at the end of the calendar, certain critics insist that the event is little more than a money-making exercise or publicity stunt. Try telling that to Federer, who played some extraordinary tennis on his way to winning the title last season.

Straight and true: Cutmore takes aim with a backhand as he christens the court at the O2

Straight and true: Cutmore takes aim with a backhand as he christens the court at the O2

Federer will defend his crown this week, with Murray, Djokovic, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Juan Martin del Potro and Janko Tipsarevic hoping to dethrone the 17-time major winner. And Petchey is in no doubt that the tournament has been nothing but a roaring success in helping to win over a new generation of tennis fans.

‘Historically British tennis has revolved around one event, Wimbledon comes and goes and it goes into oblivion again,’ he says. ‘But Andy has helped keep tennis in the public’s consciousness and now it’s easier to get tickets for this event than it is at Wimbledon. It’s shown there’s a huge amount of interest in tennis in Britain. From a kid’s perspective, being able to see these champions live and up close, this event’s been an extraordinary success.’

He’s right. Two years ago here I saw Murray and Federer duel over three magnificent sets, and last year was privileged to witness the Swiss at his absolute best, attempting to hit winners at every opportunity and nailing almost every one in an unforgettable win over Nadal.

Drained: Cutmore feels the heat as takes a well-earned break at the side of the newly-painted court

Drained: Cutmore feels the heat as takes a well-earned break at the side of the newly-painted court

If you have a spare afternoon or evening this week, try and get down to the 02 Arena to see these incredible athletes. The first tennis played on the court this year was pretty shocking stuff, but I promise it will be breathtaking come Monday.

The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals is part of a year round schedule of live tennis on Sky Sports HD, and on mobile devices via Sky Go.

Nick Compton recalls grandad Denis" advice – Alan Fraser

EXCLUSIVE: Grandad Compton's advice He just told me to hit the b!**#y ball!

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 2 November 2012

There will come a time in his England career, perhaps while standing at the crease preparing to receive the next ball, when Nick Compton recalls the words of his grandfather.

‘Oh for heaven’s sake, just hit the bloody thing.’

You only have to be a certain age — not even one of the millions who hero-worshipped England’s most dashing batsman — to imagine the legendary Denis Compton barking out such an instruction.

Nick Compton needs no imagination. He was there. That particular piece of advice was aimed at him, then just a slip of a lad born and brought up in South Africa, during a family holiday at the home of his larger-than-life grandfather.

Run machine: Compton is in contention to open the batting in India

Run machine: Compton is in contention to open the batting in India

Run machine: Compton is in contention to open the batting in India

Legend: Nick's late grandfather Denis

Legend: Nick's late grandfather Denis

‘We were in the back garden,’ Compton told Sportsmail. ‘My dad was throwing balls to me underarm and I was hitting them back to him with a high elbow. Grandad was sitting on the porch drinking a glass of brandy. I remember it so vividly.’

‘And without doubt his advice has come back to me at various stages of my career. Whenever I start to get over-analytical, I think of what he said. I tended to analyse and analyse in my younger years,’ said the 29-year-old right-hander.

‘But there are certainly times you have to remind yourself just to hit the ball. There are occasions when you are trying to do too many things and you just need to let go, to stand there, stand tall, watch the ball, and leave the rest to the gods.’

The gods — if, indeed, they played any part — decreed that grandson should be carved from a very different willow to grandad. Much more Jonathan Trott than Kevin Pietersen in terms of batting style and much more Nasser Hussain than Ian Botham away from the wicket.

‘I am cut from a different cloth,’ Compton stated. ‘I worry about what I eat. I don’t go out at night a lot. I don’t drink that much alcohol. Grandad probably did not give a s***. He had a good time, drank plenty, went to bed at 5am and still went out and scored 100 the same day.’

Comparisons come with the family tree. First as a precocious boy, then as a fledgling professional at, where else, Middlesex, and now as a Test cricketer. There is an inevitability to the comparisons, even if everyone knows the footsteps of Denis Compton can be vaguely followed but never filled.

‘I actually don’t think my grandfather played any part in my playing cricket at all. I did not wake up at five years old and think I want to be like my grandfather.

Cutting it: Compton lashes out for England Lions against Australia A

Cutting it: Compton lashes out for England Lions against Australia A

‘He was living in England, I was in South Africa. I remember him coming over when I was about eight. He saw me score a hat-trick for the football team I was playing for. I can see it now. One from a corner, one from the edge of the box and the third a tap-in.

‘I was 12 when my prep school came over to England. As president of Middlesex — and as my grandfather, of course — he showed me around Lord’s. He gave me a Middlesex shirt. He watched me score something like 28 not out for my school. He constantly had a drink in his hand, regaling my father with old stories in that Peter Alliss-like rich tone of voice. It was great to listen to.

‘But I was quite young and I had other things on my mind. At that age you are not going to ask him about batting in Test matches and that sort of stuff. A shame, really. When I grew up a bit and learned about him, however, it kind of fitted into place.

Duck: Compton failed to trouble the scorers in the warm-up match against India A

Duck: Compton failed to trouble the scorers in the warm-up match against India A

‘I wanted to be as good as him just as I wanted to be as good as Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara. Having heard all the stories about Grandad, however, I thought I would love to be able to tell a few of my own.

‘It took me a long time to accept that I could not play like Lara or Compton. It took me a while to accept that I could not bat like them and that I had to bat like myself. I used to reject who I was. Now I am much more comfortable in my shoes. I am a top-order batsman. I value my wicket. I bat for long periods of time. I don’t like giving away my wicket. These are my qualities.

‘I am not as good as Grandfather. But who was and who is No-one in this country. He played in such a carefree fashion. He was a real entertainer. It was a different era with different pressures. He brought joy to a lot of people at a tough time in postwar Britain.’ Compton is proof that runs in county cricket — he averaged 99 in the first division at No 3 for Somerset last season — can still lead to an England call-up.

Chance to shine: Compton is vying for a starting place against India in the first Test

Chance to shine: Compton is vying for a starting place against India in the first Test

Chance to shine: Compton is vying for a starting place against India in the first Test

And although he fell to a three-ball duck against India A on Wednesday morning, he now has the opportunity to bring some pleasure of his own to England cricket fans. He now has the chance to fulfil the potential shown when three times being named ‘most promising’ player at Middlesex, in 2001, 2002 and 2006. The winner receives the Denis Compton Award. No pressure, as the saying goes.
And, 16 years on, he will again wear the same badge as Pietersen in a throwback to their time at the Natal academy.

‘I was a young teenager. Kevin was 18 or 19. I knew who he was,’ Compton recalled.

Was he the big cheese

‘I think he thought he was,’ Compton replied with a smile.

No change there then.