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FA 150th anniversary: Fabrice Muamba, Olly Murs and Fabio Capello join in celebrations

Stars come out to play as FA celebrates 150th anniversary with glitzy bash in London

caused by the John Terry racism case.

He said: 'One hundred and fifty years ago a group of people met on this site and they changed the world by producing the first laws of the game.

'Throughout that extraordinary journey the FA continued to sit at its heart.

Positive sign: Former England manager Fabio Capello stops for a few autographs

Positive sign: Former England manager Fabio Capello stops for a few autographs

'Despite occasional frustrations we have always and will continue to our play our full part in influencing the development of football in UEFA and FIFA.

'Even after 150 years there remains a simple beauty to the universality of football – from Wembley to parks football a single unbreakable thread runs through.

'The bedrock of English football are the more than 2million people who play football every week.

'Women's football is third biggest participation sport in the country, disability football is the seventh biggest.

Game for a laugh: Terry Venables (centre), Lawrie McMenemy (right) and Peter Reid share a joke

Game for a laugh: Terry Venables (centre), Lawrie McMenemy (right) and Peter Reid share a joke

'We have experienced terrible tragedies including Hillsborough and Valley Parade and these events, their victims and their lessons must never be forgotten. They are an indelible part of our story.

'We are also committed to equality and inclusion.'

Earlier in the day, John Barnes was one of the first stars to arrive, signing autographs for young fans and asking if they've done their homework.

Sir Trevor Brooking was one of many wearing a 150th gold badge and former England manager Fabio Capello, looking dapper, accidentally walked into the press room! That was quite amusing, maybe he has some points to make!

VIDEO: History of FA in 150 seconds narrated by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

President Prince William was not there but in a video message he said: 'Football part of very fabric of our society.

'Hope 150th year shines light on
incredible grass roots, especially 400,000 coaches, refs and
administrators up and down the country.'

Hodgson was joined on stage by Michael Owen and blind footballer Dave Clarke.

Owen's stunning goal against Argentina
at the 1998 World Cup was shown and the Stoke striker said: 'When you get
older, you realise how good a time that was.'

Three Lions tamers: (l-r) Roy Hodgson, Fabio Capello, Sven Goran Eriksson, Terry Venables and Graham Taylor

Three Lions tamers: (l-r) Roy Hodgson, Fabio Capello, Sven Goran Eriksson, Terry Venables and Graham Taylor

England skipper Steven Gerrard said it is a 'huge honour to be captain of country' in his video message. The Liverpool midfielder apologises twice for not being there.

Barnes and Mark Chamberlain are up. Barnes' goal against Brazil in 1984 is shown and the former Liverpool star says: 'I was looking for someone to pass to.'

David Beckham – who is on a pre-planned visit to hospital patients and is also appearing on video – recalls getting up early at weekends to go to football practice in London then Manchester.

'I owe my family a great deal for taking me to matches,' said the former England captain, who represented his country 115 times.

He says stepping out a England captain is 'the proudest moment an Englishman can have.'

Singer Olly Murs was also on stage, not performing but he will be at Wembley later in the year, apparently.

FACTS ON THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world.It is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in England.The FA oversees the England national teams at all levels for men and women.Its competition, the FA Cup, began in 1872 and is the longest-running association football competition in the world.Aristocrats and Royals have dominated the list of past FA presidents – the current president is Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.The longest-serving FA secretary or chief executive was Stanley Rous, from 1934-62. He then became FIFA president and was later knighted.The FA's current headquarters is at Wembley Stadium. For 71 years, until 2000, its offices were at Lancaster Gate before it moved to Soho Square for only nine years until the move to the new national stadium took place.The current FA independent chairman is David Bernstein, and the general secretary is Alex Horne.The FA board is split between the professional game and the national (amateur) game. Since last year there are also two extra independent members including Heather Rabbatts, its first female board member.

Star of the screen: David Beckham sent a message as the FA launched the 150th anniversary celebrations

Star of the screen: David Beckham sent a message as the FA launched the 150th anniversary celebrations

FIVE PEOPLE WHO MADE THE FA WHAT IT IS TODAY

1 Sir Stanley Rous
Unquestionably, the man who has had the biggest influence over English football.
Rous was FA secretary from 1934-1961, he re-wrote the laws of the game in 1938, and championed England's entry into FIFA in 1946. He left in 1961 – to become FIFA president.

2 Ebenezer Morley
A solicitor and who was first inspired with the belief that football should have a set of rules in the same way the MCC had for cricket.

It was his initiative that led to the formation of the Football Association in 1963 and the became the FA's first secretary and later its president.

He also drafted modern football's first rules.

3 Sir Denis Follows
Although some commentators have suggested Follows' era as FA secretary between 1962 and 1973 was uninspired, he did oversee two significant events – though with much influence from his predecessor Rous, who was the FIFA president.

The first was England hosting and winning the 1966 World Cup; the second was in 1971 rescinding the ban on women's football being played at Football League grounds, a rule which had stood since 1921.

4 Ted Croker
FA secretary between 1973 and 1989, he transformed the finances of an organisation via sponsorship and realised the potential of TV income.

He has the misfortune to be in charge during an era when the game was bedevilled by hooliganism, and with three terrible disasters: Bradford, Heysel and Hillsborough.

He defended football in the face of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's attempts to sideline it, telling her famously: “These people are society's problems and we don't want your hooligans in our sport.”

5 David Bernstein
He has only been FA chairman for two years, but has done much to restore it from an all-time low point after the humiliation of the 2018 World Cup bid defeat in 2010.

He persuaded the FA council to agree to reforms to modernise the organisation, including independent board members and the first woman on the board.

He also confronted some painful issues, apologising for the FA's role in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and the organisation's approach to racism following the John Terry abuse case.

Brazilliant: John Barnes scored a famous goal against the Samba superstars in 1984

Brazilliant: John Barnes scored a famous goal against the Samba superstars in 1984

FA TIMELINE

1863 – First meeting of the Football Association at the Freemason's Tavern on October 26 to agree common rules.
– Ebenezer Cobb Morley appointed first FA secretary and was responsible for drafting the first set of rules.
– First game with the new rules played at Mortlake on December 19 between Barnes and Richmond. It finished 0-0.

1872 – The first FA Cup tournament, involving 15 teams, concludes when Wanderers and Royal Engineers meet at The Oval on March 16. In front of 2,000 spectators, Morton Betts scores the only goal for Wanderers.

– England play their first full international match, against Scotland at Partick. Game finishes 0-0.

1873 – England play first home game at The Oval, beating Scotland 4-2.
William Kenyon-Slaney (2), Alexander Bonsor and Charles Chenery get the goals.

1877 – The three different sets of rules – Sheffield Rules, London Rules and Mixed Rules – are amalgamated.

1886 – First meeting of the International Football Association Board held in Holborn.

1908 – England play first match overseas. Beat Austria 6-1.

1923 – Wembley Stadium opens. Becomes the permanent home for the England team and the FA Cup final. Bolton beat West Ham 2-0 in the first final. The attendance is recorded as 126,047, although it is thought many more were present.

1924 – England play at Wembley for first time. Draw 1-1 with Scotland.

1930 – The FA decline FIFA's invitation to enter the first World Cup, also snubbing the 1934 and 1938 tournaments.

1934 – Stanley Rous named secretary. Remains in position for a record 28 years.

1947 – Join FIFA and agree to share a permanent vice-presidency position with Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

1950 – England compete in a World Cup for the first time, losing 1-0 to the USA in the process.

1953 – First home defeat to overseas opposition – other than Ireland – as England are beaten 6-3 by Hungary with Nandor Hidegkuti getting a hat-trick and Ferenc Puskas getting two more.

1954 – England lose 7-1 to Hungary in Budapest, their heaviest defeat.

1955 – Duke of Edinburgh named president.

1959 – Billy Wright captains England for a record 90th time. Is equalled by Bobby Moore in 1973.

1966 – England hosts World Cup, beating opposition from West Germany and Spain to hold the event.

– England win tournament, beating West Germany 4-2 after extra-time at Wembley.

1981 – Bert Millichip becomes chairman, a post he holds for 15 years.

1990 – England record their best World Cup performance overseas, reaching the semi-finals in Italy where they are beaten on penalties by West Germany.

– Peter Shilton wins a record 125th cap in the third-place play-off defeat to Italy.

1992 – The Football Association takes control of the newly-created Premier League.

1996 – Hosts Euro 96.

2000 – Wembley Stadium closed for rebuilding work, done at a cost of 798 million by Australian firm Multiplex.

2000 – Loses to Germany in the contest to stage the 2006 World Cup.

2001 – England gets its first foreign manager as Sven-Goran Eriksson is appointed as successor to Kevin Keegan.

2003 – Mark Palios named chief executive. His brief tenure includes banning Rio Ferdinand from playing in a Euro 2004 qualifier with Turkey after the Manchester United defender fails to take a drugs test. Resigns in 2004 after media revelations of an alleged affair with Faria Alam.

2006 – Prince William named president.

2007 – Wembley re-opened in time for FA Cup final.

2008 – Signs a record 425 million deal with ITV and Setanta for England and FA Cup games. Setanta goes into administration during the 2008-09 campaign.

2010 – Chairman Lord Triesman forced to resign after alleging Spain and Russia had tried to bribe referees during 2010 World Cup.

– FA embarrassingly receives only two votes – including its own – in voting to host 2018 World Cup, which Russia wins.

2012 – National Football Centre at St George's Park opens.

2013 – Launches 150th anniversary celebrations at Connaught Rooms in central London.

Neil Lennon relishing Celtic v Juventus in Champions League

Lennon looks back on Juve thriller as Celtic draw Italian giants in Champions League

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UPDATED:

12:32 GMT, 20 December 2012

The draw for the Champions League has brought back fond memories for Celtic boss Neil Lennon after pairing the Hoops with Juventus.

Lennon played against the Italian giants twice in 2001-02 but it is the home game at Celtic Park he will look to draw inspiration from.

Martin O'Neill's side won a thrilling match 4-3 and Lennon, after the draw for this season's last 16 set him up for the first leg at home in February, tweeted: 'Boooooom…..absolute beauty of a tie…very tough but then they all potentially were..brings back great memories.'

Bring it on: Neil Lennon (right) watches the Champions League draw with Garry Parker (left) and Danny McGrain

Bring it on: Neil Lennon (right) watches the Champions League draw with Garry Parker (left) and Danny McGrain

That night over a decade ago was a glorious failure for the Scottish side as they just failed to qualify from their group, but it was another European cracker at Celtic Park.

The SPL leaders qualified behind Barcelona, unbeaten at home after drawing with Benfica and seeing off the Catalans and Spartak Moscow.

Hoops dreams: Chris Sutton (2nd left) scored twice as Celtic beat Juventus 4-3 in Glasgow in 2001

Hoops dreams: Chris Sutton (2nd left) scored twice as Celtic beat Juventus 4-3 in Glasgow in 2001

Lennon said: 'The home game is pivotal. We’ll have to take some sort of advantage to Turin. Celtic Park is a very special arena and I’m sure the fans will raise the roof again.

'In terms of glamour it's a beauty. Juventus are one of the great traditional European teams. They're current Italian champions and finished the group stage very strongly. So in terms of glamour it's great, in terms of qualification it is going to very tough, but it could have been any of the other teams and it would have been just as tough.

No fear: Celtic got the better of Barcelona in Glasgow during the group stage of the Champions League

No fear: Celtic got the better of Barcelona in Glasgow during the group stage of the Champions League

'We believe over two games anything is possible. Juventus are littered with world-class stars and have been very consistent over the last 18 months and have got a great winning mentality, but so have we.

'To come through the group as impressively as we did, you just never know where you'll be in a month or two's time in terms of fitness and form.'

John Greechan – chief sports writer at the Scottish Daily Mail says…

This is a draw suffused with history and laden with potential.

Neil Lennon’s memories of playing against Juve 11 years ago – when a blatant dive by Nicola Amoruso saw Celtic robbed in Turin, then a remarkably dramatic 4-3 win back in Glasgow couldn’t prevent elimination in the group stages – will certainly drive the manager on.

Believe it or not, Lennon cheekily quizzed legendary Juve boss Marcello Lippi about that infamous Amoruso tumble when the Italian was delivering a Hampden lecture recently; the Irishman is not one to forgive and forget.

But this draw is as much about the present as the past. And what an opportunity this presents for a Celtic team to test themselves against one of the most glamorous clubs in the game, the current Serie A champions and leaders.

Veteran midfield magician Andrea Pirlo, who apparently has covered more ground than any other player in the Champions League this season, up against monstrous man mountain Victor Wanyama – plus the terrier-like Scott Brown – stands out as a key confrontation already.

England goalkeeper Fraser Forster’s boyhood hero was Gigi Buffon, so the big Geordie was grinning from ear to ear after the draw, which left the Celtic squad dreaming of making their own history.

Watch video highlights of Celtic 4 Juventus 3

Euro 2020 to take place in several countries

Wembley put forward for Euro 2020 final after UEFA confirm championship will be played all over the continent

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UPDATED:

22:50 GMT, 6 December 2012

The FA will campaign to host the Euro 2020 final at Wembley after UEFA confirmed their controversial plan to stage the tournament in up to 13 cities across the continent.

Scotland, Wales and Ireland will bid to be involved in the tournament but Wembley — with its 90,000 capacity, modern design and corporate facilities — is a strong contender to stage the final.

The stadium also has the perfect platform to remind UEFA president Michel Platini of its quality when it hosts the Champions League final at the end of this season.

Champions: Spain are the holders of the European crown after beating Italy in the final in Kiev

Champions: Spain are the holders of the European crown after beating Italy in the final in Kiev

2020 vision – the key points

Move is a one-off to mark 60th anniversary of the Euros

Bidding proces starts in March next year and decisions on hosts will be made in early 2014

Host cities will not automatically qualify

That game will be preceded by a
week-long UEFA congress in London, due to be attended by the same
dignitaries who will select the Euro 2020 host cities in 2014.

The bizarre format, including the selection process for the cities, has
yet to be revealed but FA chairman David Bernstein said last month, when
Platini’s idea was mooted, that he wanted Wembley to play a major role.
He also flatly rejected a beauty-contest style bidding war after the
failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

‘Wembley is incredibly highly thought of by UEFA and it is something we
will probably push for,’ said Bernstein. ‘UEFA want to host a semi-final
and the final on the same ground or in the same city and I think we
will be on their shortlist, although there will be some strong
competition.

Spreading the joy: Michel Platini and UEFA confirmed Euro 2020 will be played across the continent

Spreading the joy: Michel Platini and UEFA confirmed Euro 2020 will be played across the continent

‘In a pan-European competition, the focus needs to be on the semi-finals
and the final. We would not want to be involved in a World Cup-style
process. We do not want to spend a lot of money on something that fell
flat.’

Platini first aired his proposal after Euro 2012, suggesting it was a
solution to soaring costs and claiming that the European economic crisis
made the financial burden upon one host nation too great.

A more cynical view is that Platini is fuelling his ambitions to succeed
Sepp Blatter as FIFA president by spreading wealth around Europe to
attract support.

What a summer: Wembley saw plenty of top-class action during the 1996 European Championships

What a summer: Wembley saw plenty of top-class action during the 1996 European Championships

Wanderlust: Platini unveiled his plans

Wanderlust: Platini unveiled his plans

The only one of 53 member countries to vote against the idea was Turkey, who originally bid to host the tournament.

‘Instead of a party in one country, you will have a party all over
Europe,’ said UEFA’s general secretary Gianni Infantino after an
executive committee meeting in Switzerland on Thursday.

The selection process for host cities will start in March and will take
about 12 months, with decisions expected in the spring of 2014. Teams
from the countries chosen as venues will have to qualify.

Infantino said: ‘Euro 2020 will be staged across the continent in
various major cities. It is a decision only about 2020. It is not going
forward for ever. Everything is open.’

Scotland, Wales and Ireland, whose original combined bid was not well
received, will promote Hampden Park, the Millennium Stadium and the
Aviva Stadium.

They will find it difficult to compete with Wembley for the final,
however. Platini has already proved how much he admires the stadium by
bringing back the Champions League final two years after it staged
Barcelona’s win against Manchester United in 2011.

Sachin Tendulkar struggles to work out Jimmy Anderson: Nasser Hussain

Sachin just cannot work paceman out as Anderson gets the better of him again

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UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 5 December 2012

Losing another toss like that must have been a real kick in the teeth for England, so to respond the way they did by taking seven wickets on the first day was an outstanding effort.

There really wasn’t much in the Eden Gardens pitch and it is to Alastair Cook’s credit that he has quickly learnt from his mistakes in the first Test and has used his bowlers intelligently.

Cook made sure Jimmy Anderson was fresh enough for when the ball was reversing and still had enough energy to strike late on with the second new ball.

Not up to the pace: Sachin Tendulkar struggled against Jimmy Anderson

Not up to the pace: Sachin Tendulkar struggled against Jimmy Anderson

Anderson was excellent. Long gone are the days when we used to say that he was only the man for the job if the ball swung conventionally. Now he has great control and variations and gave us a reverse-swing masterclass.

Jimmy is all over Sachin Tendulkar at the moment and not many people have been able to say that over the years. He’s almost playing with the great man and the ball he got him with in Kolkata was an absolute beauty.

What is his secret in getting Tendulkar out eight times Well, Sachin likes to work bowlers out. He’s a thoughtful cricketer and he just seems to know what most are going to bowl at him. But with Anderson I just think he has no idea whether the ball is going to swing into him or away from him.

Getting the rewards: Anderson took the wicket of Tendulkar (file picture)

Getting the rewards: Anderson took the wicket of Tendulkar (file picture)

Tendulkar was waiting and waiting for the big inswinger yesterday but it didn’t come and Jimmy got him prodding at one he held out there.

All respect to Sachin, though. He was far from at his best again but he showed that he doesn’t just rely on his huge natural talent to score runs. He was gutsy and displayed a lot of heart and character to get to 76. I have rarely seen him so resolute in defence.

I would have liked him to get a century just to prove to everyone that sometimes even the greats have to get their heads down and work hard for their runs. He deserved one for the way he applied himself when he was so out of nick. As it is, this was very much England’s day.

Michael Clarke better than Sir Donald Bradman?

Better than Bradman High-flying Clarke is in the form of ANY Test batsman's life

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UPDATED:

14:21 GMT, 22 November 2012

It's no longer enough to say that Michael Clarke is merely in the form of his life. After Thursday's undefeated 224 against South Africa at Adelaide, there is an argument for saying he is in the form of any batsman's life in the history of Test cricket – including Don Bradman.

Clarke's 243-ball beauty pageant, part of Australia's first-day Blitzkrieg of 482 for 5 – the most they have scored in a day's play since 1901 – made him the first player to score four Test double-hundreds in a single year.

Bradman managed three of the blighters in 1930. It's only fair to point out that he batted only eight times that year to the 12 innings Clarke has managed so far in 2012. Even so, a fourth double eluded him.

Flying high: Clarke is in the form of any Test batsman's life

Flying high: Clarke is in the form of any Test batsman's life

Top Spin

As Bradman himself would have pointed out: facts are facts. You just don't outdo the Don, especially not in Australia, and especially not at Adelaide, Bradman's home for most of his career.

But Clarke is redefining records that have stood untouched for years, and have thus been regarded as untouchable.

It all starts with Bradman's Test average of 99.94, which cricket aficionados generally accept won't ever be beaten over the course of a lengthy career. And it goes from there. No one can rival Bradman. If they do, we know we are witnessing something special.

Take bat: Clarke has scored 1,265 Test runs this calendar year

Take bat: Clarke has scored 1,265 Test runs this calendar year

Clarke now averages 75 in his 17 Tests as captain of Australia, which began so unpromisingly with an innings defeat to England at Sydney in January 2011. In 2012, that figure rises to 140.

This calendar year alone, he has scored 1,265 Test runs, which is 361 runs more than the next man, Alastair Cook. But Cook averages 43, nearly 100 fewer.

Quite simply, no one can live with Clarke – except, it seems, Kyly Boldy, who married him in May and is presumably enjoying what must feel like the longest honeymoon in Test history. For there is a joy about Clarke's batting right now that weds confidence and technique and fearlessness.

Legend of the game: Don Bradman's Test average of 99.94 is unlikely to be beaten

Legend of the game: Don Bradman's Test average of 99.94 is unlikely to be beaten

South Africa's attack may have been weakened by injuries to Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn, but Clarke was still in the mood to take five fours in an over off the fearsome Morne Morkel. A lofted drive over extra-cover was followed by two cuts backward of point, a drive past a flailing mid-off, then – the piece de resistance – a glorious on-drive.

In January, Clarke scored 329 not out against India at Sydney, but declared before he could go past Australia's record of 334, shared by Mark Taylor and Bradman. The time feels right to rectify that show of modesty in Adelaide tomorrow.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic"s mental agility was the real skill – Martin Samuel

Mental agility was the real skill as Ibrahimovic stunned England with that fourth goal

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UPDATED:

22:55 GMT, 15 November 2012

It isn’t the kick. It’s the thought that precedes it. That is what makes Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s incredible fourth goal against England a thing of beauty.

Anyone can make the shot. Well, not anyone, obviously. There are several billion people who would end up in traction if they even thought about it too hard, but for a professional footballer, certainly one of elite standard, the most fantastically ambitious manoeuvres do occasionally come off.

Trevor Sinclair scored a goal for QPR against Barnsley in the FA Cup in 1997 that he can probably still dine out on today. Think Nayim from the halfway line. It happens.

Beauty: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his fourth goal against England

Beauty: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his fourth goal against England

So a player with Ibrahimovic’s breathtaking technical range — and there is probably no better striker of a ball on the volley — can be blessed with the perfect moment in which execution, instinct, timing and a helpful pinch of luck combine to produce something quite stunning.

What sets Ibrahimovic’s goal apart, however, is the intelligence that inspires it. His athleticism, his balance, his control, his skill, all would be meaningless if he had not worked out that England goalkeeper Joe Hart was about to make a big mistake. The assist is in Ibrahimovic’s mind.

/11/15/article-2233678-16082054000005DC-990_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Pure delight: Ibrahimovic led Sweden to victory over England ” class=”blkBorder” />

Pure delight: Ibrahimovic led Sweden to victory over England

Slowed down, the shot looks more precise than it could have been. We have seen similar attempts before. It could have gone in, it could have missed by inches, it could have come to rest on the roof, Ibrahimovic no more knew the outcome in that split second than you or I.

He waits until the ball is in the net before he starts celebrating because he has no clue where it will land when it leaves his foot (although his outstanding technique gives him a superior chance of pulling it off).

Good fortune plays no part in the build-up, however. That is about one man, in a split second, assessing a situation quicker than any player around him. It is, for that reason and quite a few more, a simply brilliant goal: spectacular in thought as much as in action.

Des Kelly: Just man up like Rod Stewart and let your teardrops explode

Just man up like Rod and let your teardrops explode

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UPDATED:

23:55 GMT, 9 November 2012

There he was, sat at the front of the box, blubbing his eyes out and dabbing away the tears as if the cinema house lights had suddenly come up at the end of a double bill of The Bridges of Madison County and Kramer vs Kramer.

Only Rod Stewart didn't bother to pretend he was coughing or try to claim something had lodged in his eye like most men would.

He sobbed openly, taking great, heaving breaths and not caring a jot who saw the snot dangling from his distinctive nose.

Blubbering: Rod Stewart burst into tears after Celtic beat Barcelona at Parkhead

Blubbering: Rod Stewart burst into tears after Celtic beat Barcelona at Parkhead

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Celtic had beaten Barcelona and the singer showed the world what it meant to the legions following the club. Some scorned him for the outpouring, of course.

They laughed at how any grown man could shed tears at a football match. It happened with Paul Gascoigne at Italia 90, David Beckham in 2006 and John Terry in Moscow in 2008.

But they all had one thing in common; they cried for themselves in defeat. Stewart was not weeping in the stands at Parkhead because Celtic had lost.

Crying over a sporting setback is a fairly pathetic exhibition in self-pity,particularly by any supporter. Instead, he was weeping with uncontrolled joy.

Rodders was shedding tears of happiness because one of his life's ambitions was being realised right before his red-rimmed eyes.

This isn't a man who has been denied his share of excitement over the years. Stewart has had No 1 singles, he's had starlets and beauty queens.

But even so, he was able to appreciate that this was a truly special moment in his life.

He had seen the football club he passionately supports beat the best team in the world, arguably one of the best of all time, too, despite being given an ice cube in hell's chance beforehand.

And he was simply overcome. There was a period when fans only cried at a football match when riot police fired a few rounds of tear gas canisters into the away end.

But we've moved on and Stewart's burst of waterworks was an indication of soul and passion, rather than emasculating embarrassment.

Consoled: A friend grabs Rod as the jubilation gets the better of the pop legend

Consoled: A friend grabs Rod as the jubilation gets the better of the pop legend

Those tears were prompted by a mixture of shock, delight and regret that his Celtic-supporting father wasn't there to share it.

I dare say he'd had a glass or two as well to lubricate the senses.

Either way, he reacted as any proper bloke would do. Flinty-hearted critics argued that births, deaths and marriages are the only acceptable occasions when a man can justifiably weep.

Since Stewart has had eight children, three wives and is already past 67 years of age, I would say that watching Celtic triumph in Europe would rank as a vastly more unique emotional experience than seeing Baby No 8 squeeze into the world.

And yes, of course I'm joking. Seeing Celtic triumph was probably more emotional than the arrival of everything from Baby No 2 on.

Remember too, that although you love your family, the average football fan takes the vow of allegiance to their club way more seriously than any 'I do' muttered at an altar.

A marriage pledge can be sincere, but in your heart you know that your spouse is never going to win a Champions League group match, not even if Europe's top clubs are hampered by a tough domestic fixture schedule, financial fair play rules and a crippling injury list.

No real fan swaps teams. Stewart is on his third wife. Case proven. Besides, the stereotypical characteristics of masculinity are vastly overrated.

Historic: Tony Watt scored the second goal on a momentous night in Glasgow

Historic: Tony Watt scored the second goal on a momentous night in Glasgow

'Being a man' leads to dumb, unfortunate aberrations such as war, DIY and rugby league.

But negotiating the emotional template expected from the modern male is like tiptoeing through Stewart's bedroom in the dark after a lingerie party.

Something always trips you up. A regular complaint is that men are not particularly adept at expressing their innermost feelings.

This is based on the rather rash assumption that they have any. Don't be fooled. That was not the 'real Rod' at Parkhead.

When Stewart sings 'Wake up Maggie I think I've got something to say to you,' it is complete fiction. No bloke ever wakes up a woman to say something other than 'stop snoring', or 'give me back the duvet'.

It's a basic truth that men just do not feel comfortable expressing their innermost thoughts. Women can talk through every intimate detail of a relationship, often in telephone calls that last for several days.

Blokes do not. Probe beneath the small talk about the weekend's football results, delve right down into the deeper male psyche and you'll find heartfelt, passionate emotion for – the weekend's football results.

Some women even mistake silence for emotional depth. A couple can be travelling in the car, and, as the final scores come in, she will say: 'Do you know we've been going out for a year now'

Composed: Rod was a little calmer before Watt slotted in Celtic's second

Composed: Rod was a little calmer before Watt slotted in Celtic's second

This revelation will be met by a long pause. She'll think 'have I scared him Does he think I'm trying to push him into a relationship

Is he wondering where this is all going Maybe he's angry What have I done' At the same moment he's thinking: 'Arsenal lost. And a whole year Wow. I must get a new MOT for this car.'

She will rush home, call four friends and analyse what the silence meant.

He will turn on the TV, watch Gary Neville analyse the Gunners' leaky defence and make a note to ring the garage.

So let those tears flow, Rod. Words are never enough and weeping is the only manly way to express yourself.

Perils of pedalling must be resolved

Cycling is the most dangerous sport most of us will ever participate in. Anyone who has risked Millbank roundabout in central London at rush hour, or navigated Lower Thames Street will surely agree.

If any good comes of the unpleasant coincidence that Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and his coach Shane Sutton suffered separate road accidents within a day of one another, it is that the peril of pedalling on Britain's roads is back on the agenda.

The main problem seems to be that many drivers seem to regard cyclists as an obstacle, to be impatiently swept aside.

Sort it: Shane Sutton (right) was knocked off his bike in Levenshulme on Thursday

Sort it: Shane Sutton (right) was knocked off his bike in Levenshulme on Thursday

Equally, a proportion of cyclists openly defy road regulations. The solutions require a fundamental change in the law and our road-using culture.

Here's how it can happen: 1 Any incident between a car and a cyclist should be considered the car driver's fault, unless it can be proved otherwise. That changes the duty of care and protects the vulnerable.

2 Any cyclist who hits a pedestrian should face the same sanctions for the same reason. Cyclists, too, have a duty of care.

3 Police should penalise any cyclist running a light as they would a motorist. Police must fine cyclists who do not make themselves visible with lights at night, as a driver without lights would be.

These laws already exist – so they should be enforced. It's not perfect. It's a long, uphill climb. But it's a start.

Jury is definitely out on Herbert’s race agenda

Legal joke. Here's a question: How many lawyers does it take to change a lightbulb

Answer. Lightbulbs should only be changed by fully qualified electrical engineers in line with current health and safety legislation.

Any breach of these guidelines will lead to a claim for punitive damages. You have to laugh at the tangles lawyers can wrap us up in. They do fine work when they defend the rights of the oppressed. At other times, they go too far. Take Peter Herbert. Please.

Too far: Peter Herbert reported Mark Clattenburg to the Met for a 'hate crime' after Chelsea alleged he racially abused players

Too far: Peter Herbert reported Mark Clattenburg to the Met for a 'hate crime' after Chelsea alleged he racially abused players

He just loves football, this fellow. Well, I'm not sure he does. But he certainly must love the notoriety it brings.

As I mentioned last week, the chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers seems intent on hitching a ride on any bandwagon associated with the national game.

This is the man who reported referee Mark Clattenburg to the Metropolitan Police for a 'hate crime' after Chelsea alleged that the official racially abused players, even though the lawyer was nowhere near Stamford Bridge. Now Herbert has put himself in the papers again by threatening to report Spurs to the police if fans chant the phrase 'Yid Army' – even when they are using it to describe themselves.

So if I call myself a white, Catholic, plastic Paddy, am I supposed to take offence at myself

It's a strange one. Comedian David Baddiel's opposition to the chant expressed on these pages was very lucid.

But if we spend our entire lives looking to find something to take offence at we will never be disappointed.

Just ask any comedian. Genuine racism is a problem. Since Spurs is run by a Jewish chairman, the previous chairman also happened be Jewish, and nobody attending White Hart Lane seems to take offence at the club's blunt self-parody, there doesn't seem any enormous 'wrong' to right here.

Herbert is stirring up trouble and it gets him noticed. But if his wider aim is to highlight the ridiculous nature of prejudice, it is failing.

He is actually making his own association look narrow-minded, intolerant and ridiculous. He is distracting attention from far more important issues and pushing himself to the margins.

Newcastle United v Manchester City

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Newcastle v Man City and five other key clashes

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UPDATED:

13:16 GMT, 6 May 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Newcastle United host Manchester City in one of six Sunday fixtures. The result will be key in determining who wins the title, with City currently level on points with Manchester United – who entertain Swansea City at 4pm. Elsewhere, there are key games in the European and relegation battles as Tottenham travel to Aston Villa, Bolton welcome West Brom, and QPR take on Stoke at the Britannia Stadium. Email me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @JoeRidge87.

LIVE SCORES

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Newcastle 0 Man City 0

Aston Villa 0 Tottenham 0

Bolton 0 West Brom 0

Fulham 1 Sunderland 0

QPR 0 Stoke 0

Wolves 0 Everton 0

Click here for the live Premier League table

2.13pm: More drama at St James' as Newcastle survive a frantic goalmouth scramble. There were a couple of heroic blocks in there from Coloccini and Santon as Barry twice looked certain to score.

GOAL! Fulham 1 Sunderland 0

Clint Dempsey has given Fulham the lead at Craven Cottage, an absolute beauty from long range. What a season he's had.

2.12pm: I haven't heard an atmosphere as electric as the one today at St James' Park all season. The game is living up to its billing as well with challenges flying in left, right and centre. I make that five bookings already.

2.06pm: Close! Double chanced for City as first Clichy blocks brilliantly from Cisse at point-blank range before Hart makes a smart save from the follow-up from Ben Arfa. The stadium is rocking after that, the natives smell blood.

2.03pm: Newcastle are starting to grown into the game… Demba Ba has had their first meaningful effort on goal and Barry has just been booked for cynically pulling back Cabaye when he was through on goal, Clichy was covering though so he avoids the red.

2.00pm: Interesting to see that both James Collins and Chris Herd start today for Villa today despite the recent well-publicised scuffle involving the pair and Fabian Delph.

1.53pm: Aguero nearly cashes in on a mistake from Krul as he comes rushing out. It's looking like just a matter of time for City at the moment but the longer Newcastle hold out the more belief they will gain… The other five games are all kicking off soon.

Argie bargy: International team-mates Coloccini and Aguero do battle

Argie bargy: International team-mates Coloccini and Aguero do battle

1.49pm: Another save from Krul, this time from Aguero. That one was a bit easier for the Dutchman but City are carving Newcastle apart with relative ease – they have had 77 per cent possession with 18 minutes gone.

1.47pm: It's all City at the moment, they're passing it crisply and the movement of their front four has been sharp. Newcastle are harrying well though.

1.42pm: Tim Krul makes the first save of the day low to his left from David Silva. City have been on top in the last few minutes.

1.40pm: Gareth Barry has just taken a boot in the face from Yohan Cabaye. A challenge symptomatic of a very attritional start up in the north east.

1.38pm: Not much to report from Newcastle so far. Neither side have been able to string a spell of possession together.

1.35pm: The key battle today at St James' could well be between two Ivorians – Cheick Tiote and Yaya Toure. Both have had excellent season for Newcastle and City respectively and Tiote has overcome a nasty cut to line up against his international team-mate today.

In the hot seat: Mancini takes his place in the dugout

In the hot seat: Mancini takes his place in the dugout

1.32pm: They're under way in Newcastle.

1.27pm: The players are out on the pitch in Newcastle. The atmosphere is befitting the huge occasion… game on.

1.22pm: And finally from Villa Park…

Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Cuellar, Dunne, Warnock, Lichaj, Herd, Clark, N'Zogbia, Ireland, Heskey. Subs: Guzan, Collins, Delfouneso, Bannan, Weimann, Gardner, Carruthers.

Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Gallas, Kaboul, Rose, Lennon, Sandro, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart, Adebayor. Subs: Cudicini, Parker, Saha, Giovani, Defoe, Livermore, Nelsen.

1.21pm: Loftus Road…

QPR: Kenny, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Taiwo, Barton, Derry, Buzsaky, Mackie, Taarabt, Zamora. Subs: Cerny, Hall, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Traore, Cisse, Wright-Phillips.

Stoke: Sorensen, Huth, Shawcross, Upson, Wilson, Walters, Whelan, Delap, Jerome, Crouch, Fuller. Subs: Begovic, Jones, Whitehead, Etherington, Shotton, Woodgate, Palacios.

Geordie legend: The new Sir Bobby Robson statue outside St James' Park

Geordie legend: The new Sir Bobby Robson statue outside St James' Park

1.20pm: And from Craven Cottage…

Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, John Arne Riise, Duff, Murphy, Diarra, Dempsey, Dembele, Pogrebnyak. Subs: Stockdale, Baird, Kasami, Senderos, Frei, Kacaniklic, Trotta.

Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Turner, O'Shea, Kilgallon, McClean, Colback, Cattermole, Gardner, Sessegnon, Ji. Subs: Westwood, Bridge, Campbell, Meyler, Bramble, Elmohamady, Bendtner.

1.18pm: Here are the teams from the Reebok Stadium…

Bolton: Bogdan, Boyata, Wheater, Ream, Ricketts, Eagles, Reo-Coker, Mark Davies, Petrov, Kevin Davies, Ngog. Subs: Jaaskelainen, Alonso, Knight, Klasnic, Lee, Miyaichi, Vela.

West Brom: Foster, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Brunt, Mulumbu, Andrews, Dorrans, Fortune, Long. Subs: Fulop, Morrison, Allan, Shorey, Dawson, Cox, Scharner.

1.14pm: The Wolves v Everton teams are in…

Wolves: De Vries, Zubar, Stearman, Berra, Ward, Kightly, Henry, Edwards, Hunt, Doyle, Fletcher. Subs: Ikeme, Elokobi, Ebanks-Blake, Johnson, Milijas, Jonsson, Forde.

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, McFadden, Cahill, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic. Subs: Mucha, Stracqualursi, Gueye, Barkley, Coleman, Duffy, Baxter.

Day of destiny: Mancini steps out at St James' Park

Day of destiny: Mancini steps out at St James' Park

1.12pm: I'll have the team news from all the grounds here as soon as it breaks.

1.07pm: This
isn't the only important game on today, remember. Half an hour after we
kick-off at St James' Aston Villa and Spurs get under way at Villa
Park. A win for Spurs will move them into pole position for a Champions
League place while it will also drag Villa further into the relegation
battle, especially if Bolton and QPR can pick up home wins against West
Brom and Stoke respectively.

12.56pm: Here are the subs for the City Newcastle game… Newcastle: Elliot, Gosling, Ryan Taylor, Marveaux, Shola Ameobi, Obertan, Ferguson. City: Pantilimon, Richards, Milner, Dzeko, Johnson, Kolarov, De Jong.

12.53pm: Arsenal's draw against Norwich yesterday means that an outside chance of Champions League football has become a very real possibility for Newcastle. They will not be lying down today and City have about a tough a task as they could wish for to try and get one hand on the title.

12.47pm: So both sides are unsurprisingly unchanged then from their impressive wins last week. This is an absolutely massive game.

12.40pm: Team news has landed from St James' Park. Here are the starting line-ups…

Newcastle: Krul; Perch, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez; Ben Arfa, Cisse, Ba.

Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Clichy, Kompany, Lescott, Barry, Yaya, Nasri, Silva, Aguero, Tevez.

WEEKEND PREVIEW SPLIT:

You beauty! World open water champion Payne in the swim after Windermere trip

You beauty! World open water champion Payne in the swim after Windermere trip

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UPDATED:

10:35 GMT, 25 April 2012

Impressed: Keri-Anne Payne

Impressed: Keri-Anne Payne

World open water champion Keri-anne Payne says Lake Windermere is the perfect place to go for gold.

The Stockport swimmer has experienced all sorts of grisly encounters in murkey waters around the world but it was the beauty of Cumbria waterway that really took the Olympic silver medallist's breath away.

While doing a practice session ahead
of the British Gas Great Swim in Windermere, the Stockport ITC swimmer
stopped to absorb the scene around her.

As the Olympics count down, Payne's preparations include a trip to race
in Israel before she returns to take part in the Great Swim Series in
London as well as a return to Windermere, for her a poignant moment.

Payne said: 'There are not really any extremes in Britain. I've not
really done that many because it's a bit cold here and I've only really
done the Great Swims and one 5k by City Airport in London.

'More the absolute beauty of Lake Windermere means it has been the best swim for me in Britain.

'Swimming around the course the day before, having a look at it, stopping and looking at the beautiful countryside. It was probably one of the most memorable swims I have done in Britain. I took a second to take it in.'

Last Wednesday marked 100 days to go until the Olympics. Much was made of the landmark but for the Johannesburg-born swimmer it had little impact.

Keri Anne Payne of Great Britain

She said: 'It probably doesn't have as much meaning.

'For us it's just another training session, it's just another day, another piece of the puzzle.

'Wednesday last week for me was just another day, another training session.

'It doesn't mean that much, probably because every year we are used to having a trials and then a major championships.

'We don't really count down the days until those kind of competitions so there is no point in hyping up the Olympics too much because then you will start getting too nervous about it.

'So it's a case of doing the same thing we've done for the last 10 years, getting into that routine again and knowing what works best for us.'

Payne also expects the hype to increase around the country in the build-up to the Games in which she will look to at least replicate her silver medal from Beijing.

She said: 'It's still a long way away and there are major things like the Premier League still happening.

'I am sure when we get closer to the Games things will start happening more and more.

'I wouldn't expect everybody to be running around talking about the Olympics every day from now until then because they'll get bored of it before the Olympics comes.'

Roberto Di Matteo takes Chelsea back to old-school away days with Benfica win: Martin Samuel

Back to the old-school away days for Roberto

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UPDATED:

23:28 GMT, 27 March 2012

Pep Guardiola, Laurent Blanc, the beauty parade that is Chelsea’s search for a manager continues. Quietly, though, the job being done by fireman Roberto Di Matteo is increasingly impressive.

Interim manager is the fashionable term for it these days. Sounds better than caretaker with its mental image of a man in soiled overalls sweeping up the debris and fixing the mess left by others.

Di Matteo is Chelsea’s interim appointment, meaning he minds the shop following the sudden departure of Andre Villas-Boas and is not expected to remain in a senior position for long when the season ends.

Going back to what you know: Chelsea players toast a well-earned away victory

Going back to what you know: Chelsea players toast a well-earned away victory

Little is likely to have changed, despite this result. Aside from the time when a bizarre personal allegiance installed Avram Grant where Jose Mourinho had once been, the preference of owner Roman Abramovich has always been for the marquee names.

European champion Mourinho, world champion Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti, even Villas-Boas arrived on the back of unprecedented first season success at Porto. He was the best young manager in Europe when he went to Stamford Bridge; it was only Chelsea’s peculiar brand of madness that saw him leave in the manner of an over-promoted office boy.

So Di Matteo is nobody’s idea of the future of Chelsea; but maybe he should be. A club who were going nowhere save out of every major competition they entered are now a semi-final win away from an FA Cup final appearance and a home draw with Benfica from the last four of the Champions League.

Pointing the way Roberto Di Matteo has been impressive in his leadership

Pointing the way Roberto Di Matteo has been impressive in his leadership

That is where, by just about every estimation, the luck runs out. The winners of this tie will in all likelihood face Barcelona and one would have to fear for Chelsea in the Nou Camp, where the second leg is scheduled to take place.

Yet only Mourinho’s Inter Milan have come closer than Chelsea to humbling Guardiola’s Barcelona in Europe, and this display in Estadio da Luz had the germ of that resilience under Guus Hiddink three years ago.

Safe hands: Petr Cech kept Chelsea's first clean sheet in Europe this season

Safe hands: Petr Cech kept Chelsea's first clean sheet in Europe this season

Di Matteo has gone back to basics with Chelsea. He has recognised that the basis for success in recent seasons remains resolute defence and that Villas-Boas’s biggest error was his attempt to alter those principles with a high line that failed to make the best of the ability of captain John Terry.

He was outstanding again, and when Terry is good, and confident, he brings the best out of the man by his side. David Luiz enjoyed arguably his best defensive performance of the season, in surroundings he knew well. That was another away win for Di Matteo. Whereas Villas-Boas gambled on an unusual selection against Napoli, and lost. Di Matteo pulled it off in Lisbon.

Top man: John Terry was in imperious form in Portugal

Top man: John Terry was in imperious form in Portugal

He wanted players that felt at home here, that knew the territory, so included almost all of his Portuguese, the natives and adopted sons: Paulo Ferreira, Luiz, Ramires, Raul Meireles. It worked. Ramires was Chelsea’s best player, Luiz not far behind.

He always looks susceptible to a brainstorm and probably always will, but some defenders are like that; usually those that can momentarily juggle the ball off the knee facing goal in his own six-yard box before volleying clear, as Luiz did here.

Nobody would compare Benfica to Barcelona. Indeed, on this evidence quite how they helped orchestrate Manchester United’s exit from this competition at the group stage remains something of a mystery, yet they still needed to be resisted. So this was a start. Chelsea deserved their win for both a staunch defensive display and some excellent work on the counter attack, another quality that endures.

Clincher: Salomon Kalou pounces to give Chelsea the advantage heading into next week's return leg

Clincher: Salomon Kalou pounces to give Chelsea the advantage heading into next week's return leg

This was old school Chelsea, once more. Resilient yet with the wit to break hard at Benfica and eventually take a chance when it mattered, Salomon Kalou having missed a sitter earlier in the second-half.

Importantly, it wasn’t just the old-school players who dragged them through this time, though. Ramires was quite magnificent, tireless and energetic, his running the key to the goal. Fernando Torres, too, continued his recent resurgence. No goals, the critics will say, but he made Kalou’s winner in fine style and we are beginning to witness glimpses of the forward Abramovich hoped to have obtained from Liverpool for 50million.

This was another good night for him (and he was better at Manchester City than he was given credit for in many quarters, too).

On the right track: Fernando Torres is showing signs of making a return to form

On the right track: Fernando Torres is showing signs of making a return to form

Results vindicate decisions, or otherwise. Villas-Boas made big changes in Napoli, lost and was sacked. Di Matteo left out Frank Lampard here and emerged a winner (although Lampard had been introduced as a substitute by the time Chelsea scored).

The plan, he said later, was to get as much energy into the game as possible, hence his preference for the hard-running Torres over Didier Drogba, too, and it worked. Chelsea matched an experienced, lively Benfica group stride for stride and reduced them to desperate, direct football by the end. When a Portuguese team get a late free-kick and the goalkeeper charges upfield to hoof it hopefully into the mixer, a manager knows his work is done.

Frustration: Juan Mata reacts after hitting the post in the first half

Frustration: Juan Mata reacts after hitting the post in the first half

Yet the biggest bonus for Chelsea and Di Matteo was at the back. Chelsea haven’t kept a clean sheet beyond Stamford Bridge in Europe all season, although they have also scored in every away game. Managers don’t like those tit-for-tat exchanges, though. Too much uncertainty, too much left to chance.

What managers like is 1-0, particularly away from home in Europe. Obviously, they aim higher at Barcelona, but having seen Chelsea leak three in Naples, Di Matteo will have been delighted with this. Tight, tidy, it was Chelsea as they used to be, and how they will need to be if a match-up with Lionel Messi is what Di Matteo’s future holds.