Tag Archives: compatriots

Cristiano Ronaldo has massive birthday cake

Still a cut above: Ronaldo handed massive cake to celebrate his 28th birthday with Portugal pals

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

20:21 GMT, 6 February 2013

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UPDATED:

07:53 GMT, 7 February 2013

If Cristiano Ronaldo wants to overtake Lionel Messi as the world's best player, he better not eat all of this cake.

Ronaldo turned 28 on Tuesday and was given a huge treat to enjoy ahead of Portugal's clash with Ecuador.

With everyone in the room looking at Ronaldo and the cake, he'd have needed to be a brave man to refuse to share it with his compatriots.

Birthday boy: Ronaldo with his cake, decked out in Portugal colours

Birthday boy: Ronaldo with his cake, decked out in Portugal colours

Om nom nom: Ronaldo

Om nom nom: Ronaldo

Cut the cake: Ronaldo starts slicing the magnificent creation before him

Pretty good, but not quite the finest…

Ronaldo may be a global megastar and nobody outside of England may have heard of Southampton midfielder Richard Chaplow,

But Chaplow, who also turned 28 last week, had an even more delicious looking birthday cake.
Best not tell Ronny!

Richard Chaplow's delicious looking cake

Who voted for Rooney in the Ballon d"Or?

Messi can't bring himself to vote for Ronaldo in tactical Ballon d'Or picks while Rooney is popular only in Georgia and North Korea

-bycountry.pdf” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”>Click here to see how the international captains, coaches and media voted

With an astonishing and record-breaking 91 goals in the calendar year, it was perhaps a foregone conclusion that Lionel Messi would collect a fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d'Or last night.

But that didn't stop international captains and coaches employing some political voting tactics to try and get their friends, compatriots or teammates further up the leaderboard – or at least block their rivals from winning.

With national team captains, coaches and a selected journalist from each FIFA nation eligible to vote, the annual award seems to have become football's answer to the Eurovision Song Contest in terms of tactical voting.

Scroll down for video

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Messi had a vote as captain of Argentina and picked Andres Iniesta as his first choice, Xavi as his second and Radamel Falcao as his third pick.

This could be interpreted as returning the favour to his two Barcelona teammates after setting up so many goals for him this year, but it's interesting that his closest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, is left out.

Ronaldo is Portugal captain but chose to hand over responsibilities to Bruno Alves, perhaps as a way of getting round the rule that voters can't pick themselves.

Ronaldo is on record as saying that he would vote for himself if he could. 'I am what I am,' he said in the run-up to the award announcement.

But he could rely on Zenit St Petersburg defender Alves to exclude Messi from his voting and put the Real Madrid star, naturally, at the top.

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella
had no room for Ronaldo though and went for Messi and his international
teammate Sergio Aguero, with Falcao, the third choice for quite a large
number of voters, completing his selection.

Paulo Bento, the Portugal manager, was a little more sporting, giving Messi his third pick.

The international coaches are proud and parochial, with many selecting players from their own squad despite them having little chance of scooping the main prize.

Germany's Joachim Low was pretty left-field with his picks, choosing Mesut Ozil first, Manuel Neuer second and Xavi third, while Italy's Cesare Prandelli opted for Andrea Pirlo, who was admired by a number of coaches around the world.

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low (left) picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Spain's Vicente del Bosque can be excused for picking Iker Casillas, Xavi and Iniesta but it's a damning indictment of the state of the English team that Roy Hodgson just went for Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao.

Wayne Rooney's only two votes came from Georgia and North Korea, suggesting he has quite a following in those countries, while Mario Balotelli wouldn't have been too happy to learn his only vote came from Palestine.

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

And Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have scored one of the goals of the year, with his audacious propeller kick for Sweden against England, but just two voters – the captain of Djibouti and the Niger coach – thought him worthy of the top prize.

There are also plenty of examples of players going for teammates, former teammates or even those who play in the same position.

Hugo Lloris, of France and Tottenham, selected Casillas as his first choice and, randomly, had Didier Drogba third.

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas

Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas (right)

Dutchman Wesley Sneijder opted for free-scoring Robin van Persie for his first pick, while Gianluigi Buffon and Casillas also went for national unity with Pirlo and Sergio Ramos respectively their first choices.

Scotland skipper Darren Fletcher chose former Manchester United man Ronaldo ahead of Messi and also included Van Persie third.

Lionel Messi
Marco van Basten
Michel Platini
Johan Cruyff
Ballon d'Or
4
3
3
3
League titles
5
7
3
10
Domestic cups
7
7
2
7
European Cups
3
3
1
3
World Cups
0
0
0
0
Career Games
430
431
504
568
Career Goals
319
300
265
326
Strike rate
0.74
0.70
0.53
0.57

VIDEO: Messi's boot supplier, adidas, team up with illustrator Richard Swarbrick to celebrate the Argentina ace's latest Ballon d'Or success

Lionel Messi didn"t vote for Cristiano Ronaldo in Ballon d"Or 2013 – full voting analysis

Messi can't bring himself to vote for Ronaldo in tactical Ballon d'Or picks while Rooney is popular only in Georgia and North Korea

-bycountry.pdf” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”>Click here to see how the international captains, coaches and media voted

With an astonishing and record-breaking 91 goals in the calendar year, it was perhaps a foregone conclusion that Lionel Messi would collect a fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d'Or last night.

But that didn't stop international captains and coaches employing some political voting tactics to try and get their friends, compatriots or teammates further up the leaderboard – or at least block their rivals from winning.

With national team captains, coaches and a selected journalist from each FIFA nation eligible to vote, the annual award seems to have become football's answer to the Eurovision Song Contest in terms of tactical voting.

Scroll down for video

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Messi had a vote as captain of Argentina and picked Andres Iniesta as his first choice, Xavi as his second and Radamel Falcao as his third pick.

This could be interpreted as returning the favour to his two Barcelona teammates after setting up so many goals for him this year, but it's interesting that his closest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, is left out.

Ronaldo is Portugal captain but chose to hand over responsibilities to Bruno Alves, perhaps as a way of getting round the rule that voters can't pick themselves.

Ronaldo is on record as saying that he would vote for himself if he could. 'I am what I am,' he said in the run-up to the award announcement.

But he could rely on Zenit St Petersburg defender Alves to exclude Messi from his voting and put the Real Madrid star, naturally, at the top.

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella
had no room for Ronaldo though and went for Messi and his international
teammate Sergio Aguero, with Falcao, the third choice for quite a large
number of voters, completing his selection.

Paulo Bento, the Portugal manager, was a little more sporting, giving Messi his third pick.

The international coaches are proud and parochial, with many selecting players from their own squad despite them having little chance of scooping the main prize.

Germany's Joachim Low was pretty left-field with his picks, choosing Mesut Ozil first, Manuel Neuer second and Xavi third, while Italy's Cesare Prandelli opted for Andrea Pirlo, who was admired by a number of coaches around the world.

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low (left) picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Spain's Vicente del Bosque can be excused for picking Iker Casillas, Xavi and Iniesta but it's a damning indictment of the state of the English team that Roy Hodgson just went for Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao.

Wayne Rooney's only two votes came from Georgia and North Korea, suggesting he has quite a following in those countries, while Mario Balotelli wouldn't have been too happy to learn his only vote came from Palestine.

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

And Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have scored one of the goals of the year, with his audacious propeller kick for Sweden against England, but just two voters – the captain of Djibouti and the Niger coach – thought him worthy of the top prize.

There are also plenty of examples of players going for teammates, former teammates or even those who play in the same position.

Hugo Lloris, of France and Tottenham, selected Casillas as his first choice and, randomly, had Didier Drogba third.

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas

Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas (right)

Dutchman Wesley Sneijder opted for free-scoring Robin van Persie for his first pick, while Gianluigi Buffon and Casillas also went for national unity with Pirlo and Sergio Ramos respectively their first choices.

Scotland skipper Darren Fletcher chose former Manchester United man Ronaldo ahead of Messi and also included Van Persie third.

VIDEO: Messi's boot supplier, adidas, team up with illustrator Richard Swarbrick to celebrate the Argentina ace's latest Ballon d'Or success

Lucas Piazon blasts Chelsea teammates after Club World Cup disappointment

You're not bothered like us Brazilians! Piazon blasts Chelsea teammates as Cahill's out of Leeds clash after red card

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UPDATED:

23:03 GMT, 16 December 2012

Chelsea teenager Lucas Piazon today launched a scathing attack on his team-mates for their ‘unacceptable’ lack of effort during the defeat by Corinthians.

The 18-year-old forward, voted the club’s young player of the year in May, said only his Brazilian compatriots demonstrated any will to win the Club World Cup.

Piazon, an unused substitute in Japan, was reported on Brazilian website UOL Esporte as saying: ‘We didn’t have desire to be champions. I think only David Luiz and Ramires, the Brazilians, showed willpower. That’s why they’re sad.

Scathing attack: Lucas Piazon blasted his Chelsea teammates for their 'unacceptable' lack of effort in the Club World Cup final with Corinthians

Scathing attack: Lucas Piazon blasted his Chelsea teammates for their 'unacceptable' lack of effort in the Club World Cup final with Corinthians

Smiling no more: The Brazilian (left), pictured arriving in Japan with compatriot Ramires, didn't get off the bench in the tournament

Smiling no more: The Brazilian (left), pictured arriving in Japan with compatriot Ramires, didn't get off the bench in the tournament

‘The team went to the pitch with no desire. It’s unacceptable. I noticed David was sad. He was one of the few players that showed something in the game.’

Both Ramires and Luiz, who was named as second best player of the tournament, were in tears after the game as the Brazilian side became the first South American team to win the Club World Cup for six years.

Benched: Piazon (second left) could only watch as Chelsea were beaten 1-0 by the South American champions Corinthians

Benched: Piazon (second left) could only watch as Chelsea were beaten 1-0 by the South American champions Corinthians

Piazon, the inspiration behind Chelsea’s FA Youth Cup win last season, has started both of the club’s Capital One Cup matches this season but it remains to be seen if he will feature in Wednesday’s quarter-final against Leeds — little more than 24 hours after the squad return to England.

Ruled out of the Leeds game is defender Gary Cahill, who was seething at the play-acting of Qatari-Brazilian Emerson, which led to the England defender being sent off in the 90th minute yesterday.

‘I am angry,’ said Cahill. ‘I’m disappointed in myself for my reaction but also because it’s OK for someone to lash out at you, but you do something back and it’s deemed a red card.

You're off: Gary Cahill (foreground) was sent off late in Chelsea's loss for kicking out at Corinthians' Emerson

You're off: Gary Cahill (foreground) was sent off late in Chelsea's loss for kicking out at Corinthians' Emerson

‘I tackled him, we tangled up and he lashed out with his arm and hit me in the face. I thought that was out of order but I reacted in a bad way. Looking back there are two different stories.

‘Someone’s smashed me in the face but I didn’t roll around on the floor for five minutes holding my head. I got up, reacted and tapped him in the shin. He felt the need to go down, roll around on the floor for about five times holding his face.

‘I suppose that’s the story of the game really. In the context of the game it was disappointing.

Overreaction: 'It wouldn't have been enough to knock over my one-year-old daughter' says Cahill (left) of the kick that got him sent off

Overreaction: 'It wouldn't have been enough to knock over my one-year-old daughter' says Cahill (left) of the kick that got him sent off

‘It was late on. It wasn’t as if it was in the 60th minute. I could have got him sent off if I’d rolled around for five minutes after he hit me. It probably is a red card but the reaction of the guy is totally out of order for what I did if you see the impact.

‘It wouldn’t have been enough to knock over my one-year-old daughter. I’m still angry.’

Cahill will automatically miss one game — against Leeds — and FIFA’s disciplinary department will decide this week whether it will be extended to more.

‘I have a heavy heart,’ added Luiz, a Corinthians fan as a boy, after the defeat. ‘I cried. I wanted to win. I dreamed one day of playing in the Club World Cup final. I say congratulations to Corinthians but I cannot be happy.

‘You can cry one night. Tomorrow is another day. Life continues. I say thanks to God for my life always, in good and bad moments.’

Luiz produced another excellent performance in central defence and added: ‘Three months ago, two months ago, other people spoke bad about David Luiz and tried to kill me but I have confidence in my life.

‘I think I played well. I just try to help Chelsea. I came to Chelsea two years ago and many people didn’t know who David Luiz was. In the first month, second month, I did a great job and won some titles. Some people like you, some don’t.

‘What I want to do is put my head in the pillow and say I worked hard, did my best and I can sleep.’

Frank Lampard returned to the side as captain and insisted nobody had underestimated the competition.

Defeated: David Luiz (foreground) looks on as he watches his boyhood club Corinthians celebrate winning the Club World Cup

Defeated: David Luiz (foreground) looks on as he watches his boyhood club Corinthians celebrate winning the Club World Cup

‘We’re disappointed,’ said Lampard. ‘It was certainly a meaningful competition.

‘There was a great crowd for the final. The Chelsea fans have followed us well and as a club we wanted to win it.

‘It was always going to be a tough game. They’re a physical team as well as one with ability.

Once you give Brazilian teams a goal they’re adept at sitting back and counter-attacking. It was difficult to break them down. We didn’t play at our best.’

West Ham fans" anti-Semitic chants at Tottenham disgraced football

Chanting 'can we stab you every week' and mocking the Jews killed in Nazi gas chambers… West Ham fans' despicable behaviour at Tottenham disgraced football

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UPDATED:

11:59 GMT, 26 November 2012

The bile-spewing West Ham fans who baited their Tottenham Hotspur rivals because some of their number had been stabbed by a Nazi mob could take a couple of lessons in history.

First, they could acquaint themselves with the famous image of Bobby Moore and Pele embracing in 1970.

The icon of West Ham and England was rated by the greatest footballer in history, the man with whom he is pictured swapping shirts, as the finest defender of them all.

Disgusting: Sections of the West Ham support brought shame on their club with their chants at White Hart Lane

Disgusting: Sections of the West Ham support brought shame on their club with their chants at White Hart Lane

What the West Ham fans were chanting

'Viva Lazio'

'Adolf Hitler, he's coming for you'

'Can we stab you every week'

Joy, warmth and respect abound.

Second, and more gravely, they may wish to consider the horrors of the Holocaust, the mass extermination of two-thirds of Europe's nine million Jews.

They were men, women and children for whom there were no tomorrows. Many arrived on trains to be gassed to death.

Forgive the stark reminder but what other recourse is there for those too young to know – or perhaps too callous to care – among the latest group of football fans to besmirch the name of a proud club and our national sport

Too young to know We are perhaps being too kind here because only last week – not in the middle of the last century – Ashley Mills, a 25-year-old Tottenham fan, was the most severely injured of 10 compatriots who were subject to an unprovoked act of violence while drinking in the Drunken Ship pub in Campo de Fiori, Rome, ahead of his club's Europa League tie with Lazio.

Heard around the world: West Ham fans' chants were highlighted by Sky Sports News

Heard around the world: West Ham fans' chants were highlighted by Sky Sports News

Heard around the world: West Ham fans' chants were highlighted by Sky Sports News

No gas chambers this time but knuckle-dusters, knives, baseball bats and broken bottles. How we have moved on since Hitler committed suicide.

The Ultras – renowned hooligans in the Eternal City – had come 50 strong to make an anti-Semitic attack against Tottenham, with their traditionally Jewish heritage.

Two men, both fans of Lazio's neighbouring club Roma, were arrested and charged. In celebration of the foregoing hate-crime, West Ham fans, who were said to number hundreds rather than dozens yesterday, chanted 'Viva Lazio'.

They hissed during the game, imitating the Holocaust gassing.

They chanted: 'Adolf Hitler, he's coming for you.'

Tottenham, who won 3-1, asked: 'Can we play you every week'

The tasteless response from the away end: 'Can we stab you every week'

Aftermath: The Drunken Ship pub in Rome where Spurs fans were attacked this week

Aftermath: The Drunken Ship pub in Rome where Spurs fans were attacked this week

Y-word: Spurs fans call themselves the Yid Army

Y-word: Spurs fans call themselves the Yid Army

The morons may be a minority in football crowds, as apologists always tell us, but they are too big a minority to be waved aside as an unimportant sideshow. The lessons of the last few weeks and months tell us that.

For all the immense progress that has been made over the last 30 years to dispel the worst of the right-wing hooligan element from our stadia and to welcome women and children into what was once an intimidating machismo bastion, the fact is that a base element who would not be tolerated in other walks of life find expression in the anonymity of the football crowd.

I stress the word football deliberately. You would not find this kind of racist conduct from the striped blazers in the Lord's Long Room to the hooped shirts at our rugby league grounds, even though much drink is regularly consumed at both ends of sport's class spectrum.

I would also emphasise that this is not a total evisceration of football. Many, many thousands cheer their clubs on passionately while never contemplating any sort of race or religion-based barbarism.

Indeed, many West Ham fans will curse Sunday's offenders, whose thuggish antics appal their sense of innate decency.

We are talking about the kind of
decency that is not of the headline-grabbing variety generated by the
Society of Black Lawyers, who are in danger of making a mockery of the
situation by objecting to Tottenham fans calling themselves the Yid
Army.

I would rather those supporters did not use the Y-word but that is their business and, anyway, I detest political correctness.

But back to football. We only need to look at recent events to know that the game is apt to throw up anti-social chants.

Derby day: Not all West Ham fans at White Hart Lane were involved in the offensive chanting

Derby day: Not all West Ham fans at White Hart Lane were involved in the offensive chanting

There
are Liverpool fans goading Manchester United fans with aeroplane
gestures. That last happened at Anfield on September 23, 2012.

The 21 who died in the Munich air disaster perished on February 6, 1958.

United
fans retorted with: 'Always the victims – it's never your fault' just
as they had the previous week in their 4-0 win over Wigan.

The background to the victims ditty was the Hillsborough tragedy of 1989, when 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death.

But what gave this oh-so-witty exchange topicality was the release a few days earlier of the Hillsborough files that incriminated the police and finally exonerated Liverpool fans of being complicit in their own demise by being drunk and ticketless.

Not always off the pitch: The Premier League has been rocked by race rows such as the one between Chelsea captain John Terry (right) and Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand

Not always off the pitch: The Premier League has been rocked by race rows such as the one between Chelsea captain John Terry (right) and Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand

In vain, Sir Alex Ferguson had led the calls for the long-awaited report to mark an end to the unsavoury chanting excesses that have long accompanied one of football's great tribal rivalries.

We are also aware of Manchester City's Munich runway song. And of Liverpool fans booing the National Anthem at Wembley before the FA Cup Final in May.

And of John Terry, the then England captain and still captain of Chelsea, calling Anton Ferdinand a black ****.

Arsene Wenger, the cerebral Arsenal manager, is so regularly taunted by paedophile chants that he has learned to block them out.

In light of this background are we surprised by yesterday's anti-Semitism

Well, Michael Henderson, the prominent sports writer, quoted in his book Fifty People Who Fouled up Football a prison doctor-turned-writer called Anthony Daniels, who observed the worst kind of football fan supporting England in Rome, of all places: 'They think of their savagery as a kind of democratic virtue, a proof that they do not hold themselves above the common man.

'Hence their surprise, outrage and disbelief when they are treated by foreigners as the most degraded specimens of humanity they have ever encountered.'

Seems so long ago: But this picture of Bobby Moore and Pele at the 1970 World Cup is much more recent than some of the things the West Ham fans were singing about during the match at White Hart Lane

Seems so long ago: But this picture of Bobby Moore and Pele at the 1970 World Cup is much more recent than some of the things the West Ham fans were singing about during the match at White Hart Lane

What to do beyond the well-meant but inadequate tactic of placing a phone number in match-day programmes and inviting people to phone in anonymously to report misbehaviour they witness

One answer is to dock points from the offending fans' team. It might work but is that unfair on the clubs who themselves scorn the rogue elements among their supporters as much as any of us

Still, it may be worth a try, not least because levying a fine is a largely meaningless sanction in a sport oozing with monopoly money.

Requiring the police to do their job properly would seem another massive advance. Why did they not make a few hundred arrests yesterday

Of course, we know the practical impediments to doing so, but should not a new standard, intolerant of craven misbehaviour, be imposed

Or perhaps we should just show the morons that picture of Moore and Pele. Hopeless romanticism, no doubt.

Failing that, let us explain to them the horrors of Auschwitz and Dachau and tell them about Himmler and Heydrich and Eichmann.

And ask them if they still find their little joke so hilariously funny.

Juventus and Newcastle chasing Moussa Sissoko

Juventus ready to pip Newcastle to Sissoko as deal for Toulouse midfielder stutters

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UPDATED:

08:37 GMT, 8 November 2012

Juventus are ready to hijack Newcastle’s move for Moussa Sissoko as the Italian giants weigh up a bid for the Toulouse midfielder.

It had appeared that the 23-year-old was set to join the Toon, causing Premier League rivals Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton and Fulham to miss out on the highly-rated star.

The Frenchman also described Alan Pardew’s Newcastle as a ‘fantastic team’ that is ‘attractive to any player’.

Target: Moussa Sissoko (centre) looked set to join Newcastle but Juventus may beat them to the Frenchman's signature

Target: Moussa Sissoko (centre) looked set to join Newcastle but Juventus may beat them to the Frenchman's signature

But now the Italian champions are hoping to convince Sissoko to choose Turin over Tyneside, according to TalkSport.

It is believed that Beppe Marotta, the club’s director general, has already made initial enquiries about buying the France international.

A powerful defensive midfielder, Sissoko would be joining compatriots Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye should he choose to join Pardew’s team, but the allure of Champions League could persuade him to choose Juve.

Battle: Sissoko has attracted interest from a number of Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham

Battle: Sissoko has attracted interest from a number of Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham

US Open 2012: Andy Murray not surprised by Laura Robson"s success

Murray not surprised that Laura's shining in limelight after Clijsters scalp

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UPDATED:

22:27 GMT, 30 August 2012

Andy Murray could see the potential in Laura Robson long before they won silver together at the Olympics this summer.

So he was among those less surprised after a day of second-round matches at the US Open which had you pinching yourself at the sight — unprecedented in the modern era — of two British players winning matches on the main Arthur Ashe Stadium one after the other.

Within a few hours of Robson seeing off three-times champion Kim Clijsters in sensational fashion, Murray had marched into the last 32 of the men’s singles with an extremely sharp 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 dismissal of Croatia’s Ivan Dodig.

Shocked: Laura Robson celebrates after beating Kim Clijsters on Wednesday

Shocked: Laura Robson celebrates after beating Kim Clijsters on Wednesday

With a ranking of 89 already guaranteed to be heading into the seventies, Robson is the highest placed 18-year-old in the world.

And Brad Gilbert, coaching guru and Sportsmail columnist, believes that with further work on her fitness she has top five potential.

Murray, too, is full of praise for Robson. It is rare to find him overshadowed at a Grand Slam by the exploits of one of his compatriots but Robson managed it by hurrying Clijsters into singles retirement and setting up a meeting with Li Na.

You suspect Murray found it a welcome change to the status quo, and rather than focus on his approaching evening match he watched her second set.

Big win: Robson beat Clijsters in straight sets

Big win: Robson beat Clijsters in straight sets

Murray, 25, first got a good look at her when they represented Great Britain at the Hopman Cup mixed event in Australia two and a half years ago, and quickly identified the key to any future success.

‘Even when I first played with her I saw she has the potential to move fairly well,’ said Murray, whose own court coverage is phenomenally good.

‘She moved very well against Clijsters, and at the Olympics she was getting a lot of balls and she was moving much better than she had in the past.

‘You need to want to chase balls down and believe that you can get to them. She hits the ball great when she is in the right position. If she keeps improving then she’s going to be a very, very good player. She’s very good already, but she will get to the top quicker.

‘It’s going to take a bit of time to get the consistency but you saw when she was playing against some of the guys in the Olympics that she was returning the serve with ease sometimes.

At the double: Robson and Andy Murray won a silver medal in the mixed double during the Olympics

At the double: Robson and Andy Murray won a silver medal in the mixed double during the Olympics

‘She’s got very easy power and great timing, and if you look at how many teenagers there are in the top 100 compared with what there used to be she’s right up there with the best in the world.’

A crucial reason for her strong form is that Robson is finally on a run when she has not been laid low by injury. This is the first summer that she has been able to compete virtually uninterrupted by ailments that have usually been growth-related.

And there is unlikely to be any slacking on the fitness front with her demanding new coach Zeljko Krajan, the Croatian Davis Cup Captain who in his time with former charges Dinara Safina and Dominika Cibulkova, showed he can make quick gains.

Easing through: Murray eased into the third rounds after beating Ivan Dodig

Easing through: Murray eased into the third rounds after beating Ivan Dodig

Whether Robson can now meet last year’s French Open champion Li Na is an entirely different question.

The Chinese No 9 seed is having a fine hard court season and has already knocked out Heather Watson here, who was passing on any intelligence gleaned to the Robson camp.

Murray now has an encounter with old foe Feliciano Lopez, who has never beaten him.

Lopez was in good form yesterday in beating fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-1 check and this will be a repeat of last year’s US third round, which the Scot won for the loss of just seven games.

Meanwhile, Johanna Konta was trying to join her fellow Brits Murray and Robson at the same stage as she took on the world No 67 Olga Govortsova of Russia.

London 2012 Paralympics: Will these Games capture the nation"s imagination?

Revolution games: Will we fall in love with the Paralympics… who knows

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UPDATED:

22:51 GMT, 29 August 2012

At 9am on Thursday, a brave new world unfolds in east London. The first competitive action of the 2012 Paralympic Games begins, with the Great Britain men’s goalball team among the first athletes to compete inside the Olympic Park.

Three members of the British team wearing eye masks will take on world champions Lithuania and try to roll a ball containing bells into their opponents’ net.

Who knows what will happen after that.

The stage is set: The Paralympic Games opened on Wednesday night in a glitzy ceremony

The stage is set: The Paralympic Games opened on Wednesday night in a glitzy ceremony

London calling: Following the success of the Olympic Games, the capital will play host to the Paralympic alternative

London calling: Following the success of the Olympic Games, the capital will play host to the Paralympic alternative

Star attraction: Professor Stephen Hawking played his part in the Opening Ceremony

Star attraction: Professor Stephen Hawking played his part in the Opening Ceremony

Races and matches will be held,
medals will be won and lost, records will be broken and injuries
suffered. But we don’t yet know how these events will be received.

Will we witness the first sold-out
day in Paralympics history because patriotic punters want to paint their
faces red, white and blue again and tour the venues where the Olympians
performed, like a lap of honour on a day out Or is there a genuine
desire to see this country’s Paralympians sustain — or even better — the
phenomenal achievements of their Olympic compatriots; to watch some of
the world’s finest athletes attain supreme success and then look back
with pride and think, ‘I was there.’

Nobody really knows. There is
potential excitement and exhilaration in this sense of the unknown, but
it’s nerve-racking, too. As the opening ceremony showed us in
borrowing heavily from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, this is a brave new
world after all.

The choice of theme was apt. When it
comes to the Paralympics, it is hard not to feel that same
disorientating sensation of suddenly being thrust on to a strange
island; a landscape littered with beings with which we are not familiar.

Even a multiple gold medallist such
as Great Britain’s equestrian star Lee Pearson, who will surpass Dame
Tanni Grey-Thompson if he wins his 12th gold in London, is not a
household name.

5 paralympians to watch

5 paralympians to watch

Boccia could as well be a type of
Italian bread as a game of tactics and skill, similar to boules. Is
sitting volleyball really a discipline that will have you shouting and
screaming when points are won and lost

There has been much talk about the
Paralympics ‘coming home’ to the country where the first organised
competitions for disabled people were held in 1948, yet the concept is
still very much uncharted territory.

As the Olympics showed, however, the
rules and regulations of this strange new world should not be a barrier
to revelling in it. Few could confidently explain the intricacies of
Charlotte Dujardin’s performance in winning dressage team and individual
gold, or exactly how Jade Jones fought her way to become Britain’s
first taekwondo gold medallist, but that did not stop us enjoying and,
crucially, sharing in the experience.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Britain’s judokas noted the crowd’s
reactions in the ExCeL Arena were much more delayed than on the Grand
Prix circuit as they waited for scores to appear on the board rather
than celebrating a successful ippon as it happened. But none of that
seemed to matter. It was still sport — glorious and emotional, with
winners and losers, triumph and disaster.

But will this brave new world of the
Paralympics be a sporting one, too That’s the Utopia, but the potential
reality carries a nagging, underlying uncertainty about the next 11
days: we really don’t know what to expect.

Wednesday night’s opening ceremony
was about challenging perception, not celebrating the British platform
on which the best athletes on the globe had their opportunity to be the
very best they could be.

Interest: More than 2.4 million tickets for the Paralympic Games have already been sold, including half a million to overseas visitors

Interest: More than 2.4 million tickets for the Paralympic Games have already been sold, including half a million to overseas visitors

Interest: More than 2.4 million tickets for the Paralympic Games have already been sold, including half a million to overseas visitors

Interest: More than 2.4 million tickets for the Paralympic Games have already been sold, including half a million to overseas visitors

Is the Paralympic movement, then,
about increasing awareness around disability or is it actually about
‘hardcore sport’, to borrow a phrase from Oscar Pistorius Can it ever
be both

Sometimes it doesn’t seem as if it is
particularly sure; it’s just happy to be here and to enjoy its moment
in the spotlight. Yet, sport has to be at the heart of this Paralympics
if it is to be a genuine success — with a genuine legacy.

When Britain’s world record-holder
Jonnie Peacock takes on world champion Jerome Singleton and defending
Paralympic champion Pistorius in the final of the men’s T44 100metres on
Monday night, we must look past the prosthetic legs and see the
sporting spectacle: three men aiming to be the quickest in their field, a
Paralympic gold medallist.

Flying the flag: All eyes will be on London for the Paralympic Games which runs over the next fortnight

Flying the flag: All eyes will be on London for the Paralympic Games which runs over the next fortnight

Flying the flag: All eyes will be on London for the Paralympic Games which runs over the next fortnight

Flying the flag: All eyes will be on London for the Paralympic Games which runs over the next fortnight

We have to see the competitors as
athletes, not just inspirational role models or uplifting individuals
who have overcome extraordinary obstacles, but athletes; sportsmen and
women gunning for gold medals.

They want to be discussed not in
terms of the limbs they have lost or never had, but the hundredths of
seconds they shaved off their personal bests, the points they scored and
the metres they gained.

If we don’t talk about them in those
terms then it’s just one big show: very nice for a week and a half but
offering little to tell the grandchildren. We will start to become
hardened to the stories of bomb raids, car crashes and genetic
conditions, which would be the biggest disappointment of all. The
Paralympics will never have a better opportunity to break through the
glass ceiling in this country, just like actress Nicola Miles-Wildin,
playing Miranda, did physically inside the Olympic Stadium.

Pack your umbrella: Although the wet weather eased for the opening ceremony

Pack your umbrella: Although the wet weather eased for the opening ceremony

Stat's interesting: 18,000 LED lights were included in the performers' hat brims, while 23 sway poles featured in the opening ceremony

Stat's interesting: 18,000 LED lights were included in the performers' hat brims, while 23 sway poles featured in the opening ceremony

The British team is backed by almost
50million of funding and will perform in front of packed crowds and a
free-to-air TV audience, offering nearly 500 hours of action on Channel
4. This is the Paralympics’ opportunity to show its brave new world is
an exciting sporting place to be.

So will the apples we were all encouraged to bite into on Wednesday night
symbolise Sir Isaac Newton’s moment of inspiration or the poisoned fruit
eaten by Snow White

Nobody knows. But let’s hope the
closing ceremony on September 9 heralds not a fairytale ending, but a
new beginning for Paralympic sport.

GAME ZONE:

Holmes honoured
Nine -time Paralympic gold medallist Chris Holmes will be inducted into the Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame. Holmes, who lost his sight as a teenager, competed at four Games and was made an MBE for his services to sport. He is the director of Paralympic integration at LOCOG.

Class Distinction
British swimmer Ellie Simmonds will avoid her main rival for the S6 100m and 400m freestyle after American Victoria Arlen was reclassified. Arlen, 17, returned to swimming last year after a neurological virus left her in a vegetative stage for two years.

Playing hardball
Simon Munn wants the wheelchair basketball to be the fiercest test he has experienced in six Paralympics. 'If it's not worth winning then why go out there It's got to mean something, it's got to be tough,' he said.

Dancing Queen
British dressage rider Sophie Wells is taking inspiration from the GB Olympic gold medal team. 'We realised how captivating dancing horses could be this summer and our para-dressage riders should remind us all over again,' she said. 'The able-bodied team did really well, and that inspires us.'

Peacock: I'm loving it
Jonnie Peacock is enjoying his first Games. The 19-year-old British sprinter, who will race Oscar Pistorius in the T44 100m, tweeted a picture of the 'pretty big' food hall at the athletes' village and wrote: 'Look what will be waiting for me after the final! ;)' Needless to say, it's a McDonald's.

BY LAURIE WHITWELL

Usain Bolt no plans to retire – London 2012 Olympics

Sprint legend Bolt still gunning for gold at Rio 2016… but in the long jump!

|

UPDATED:

13:56 GMT, 10 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

There can be no doubt that Usain Bolt is now, in his own words, a living legend, but what the future holds for the Jamaican superstar remains open to debate.

While Bolt insisted he had no intention of retiring after becoming the first man to win the sprint double in successive Olympic Games, he did admit he would need to find a new goal to remain motivated.

And the 25-year-old also claimed he would find it hard to defend his titles once more at Rio 2016 with the compatriots he led home in last night's 200m final – Yohan Blake and Warren Weir – both only 22.

'I think it's going to be a hard
mission,' Bolt said. 'Both these guys are 22. They are going to be 26,
I'm going to be 30 (his birthday is August 21, the day of the closing
ceremony in Rio).

Moving forward: Usain Bolt, seen here with British gold medal winner Nicola Adams, says he wants a fresh challenge to keep him motivated following his sprint triumph in London

Moving forward: Usain Bolt, seen here with British gold medal winner Nicola Adams, says he wants a fresh challenge to keep him motivated following his sprint triumph in London

Moving forward: Usain Bolt, seen here with British gold medal winner Nicola Adams, says he wants a fresh challenge to keep him motivated following his sprint triumph in London

'Both these guys are running extremely well right now. I think I've had my time. It's going to be hard. In life everything is possible, but for me this is going to be a hard reach because there's going to be a lot more talent coming up and these guys have really stepped up already.

'For me I'm not looking that far. I've made myself a legend, I'm just going to enjoy it right now. To have set a goal for yourself for years to become a legend and then to accomplish that goal is just a wonderful feeling.

'You can't explain the happiness in that because it's not going to hit you until you get home, sit down and reminisce and you are talking to your friends and they say ''Remember when you got injured here and you got injured there, remember Yohan beat you here''.'

Pretenders to the throne: Yohan Blake and Warren Weir are both just 22

Pretenders to the throne: Yohan Blake and Warren Weir are both just 22

'Those are the things that will bring tears to your eyes because you've got to remember the journey that you've pushed through and then the happiness will come out.

'I know that when I sit down and think about the struggles that I've been through over the seasons…I'm not saying I'm going to cry, but I'm going to be really happy.'

Such comments prompted a question about whether Saturday's 4x100m relay final – assuming Jamaica qualify – could even be his last race, but Bolt insisted that was still some way in the future.

'No, no, no, I'm not ready to retire yet,' he added. 'I love this sport, I have got all my success through this sport, all my fans through this sport, so I'll always continue to run.

'I think when I get to 30 I've got to be thinking about retirement because track and field is way too hard. It's rough day in and day out.

'Yohan Blake is running 19.4 already, his personal best is 19.2, so in the next four years he's going to be firing. I think I'd like to get out early, before he starts running too fast, so for me 30 yes, I definitely think I'll retire about that time.'

Bolt's dream of playing for Manchester United as a speedy winger would appear rather unlikely even for a man of his talents, so where does he go from here

The subject of the 400m was quickly slapped down – 'No to the 400m, no. Please do not ask any more questions about the 400m' – as was a conversion to the Winter Olympics and the Jamaican bobsleigh team, but the long jump could be a possibility.

American Mike Powell said last year that Bolt should wait until after London 2012 before giving the long jump a go, and believes the world record holder over 100 and 200m could add the long jump mark – Powell's record is 8.95m – to his collection.

'That's something I've always wanted to try,' Bolt said of the long jump, adding: 'I made a goal, to become a legend, so I need to sit down and find something that's going to really motivate me to go out there and do great things.

Is that the way to the sandpit: Bolt could turn his attention to the long jump, like Carl Lewis

Is that the way to the sandpit: Bolt could turn his attention to the long jump, like Carl Lewis

Is that the way to the sandpit: Bolt could turn his attention to the long jump, like Carl Lewis

'I don't know what I really want to do after this, if I'm going to still run the 100 or the 200 or I want to try something else. I don't know so I'll see.

'All I have to do now is go home and rest, I have got the 4x100m coming up and then on Saturday I will party like it's my birthday.'

And as for the chances of a world record in that relay final on Saturday, Bolt added: 'I think there's a possibility. Last year I wasn't as fast, I'm better now.

'Yohan has ran a personal best this season also. Just the fact that both of us have gone faster this season means that it could be a world record, but you could never say because it's a relay and you never know.

'We are just going to go out there and run as fast as possible. It would be a good way to close the show.'

London 2012 Olympics: Badminton: Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei take gold

Sublime Chinese duo take gold in badminton mixed doubles in wake of fixing scandal which saw compatriots disqualified

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UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 3 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

China made badminton headlines for the right reasons as Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei produced a world-class performance to claim Olympic gold at Wembley Arena.

The top seeds were far too strong for their compatriots and second seeds Xu Chen and Ma Jin as they powered to what could prove the first of five golds in the sport for the Asian powerhouse.

Their 21-11 21-17 victory showed the best of Chinese badminton two days after one of their mixed doubles pairs was expelled from the London 2012 competition in a match-fixing row.

Winners: Gold medalists Zhang Nan (left) and Zhao Yunlei (right) put on a class performance at Wembley

Winners: Gold medalists Zhang Nan (left) and Zhao Yunlei (right) put on a class performance at Wembley

The pair put on a remarkable display and were overjoyed to have taken yet another gold for the Chinese

The pair put on a remarkable display and were overjoyed to have taken yet another gold for the Chinese

It was a result which rarely seemed in doubt as the world champions Zhang and Zhao got off to a superb start, racing into a 12-5 lead.

Zhao, despite apparent trouble from a knee injury, rarely relinquished control at the net while Zhang set up plenty of winners.

Their opponents could not impose themselves and were frequently forced into errors.

Zhang and Zhao led 8-0 in the second game and only had a brief wobble two points from victory as Xu and Ma won four in succession.

Zhao played down the significance of their victory in light of this week's scandal.
She said: 'Everybody is doing their best to achieve their best performances.

'I have been training very hard in preparation for this gold medal and this is just the start of our careers.'

The pair restored some credibility to Chinese badminton after their compatriots had been kicked out of the Games for deliberately trying to lose

The pair restored some credibility to Chinese badminton after their compatriots had been kicked out of the Games for deliberately trying to lose

The bronze medal was won earlier in the day by Danish pair Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen, who beat Indonesia's Tonowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir.

Fourth seeds Fischer and Pedersen earned some consolation after their semi-final defeat to Zhang and Zhao by outplaying third seeds Ahmad and Natsir to win 21-12 21-12.

Fischer, who smashed a racket after losing out on a place in the gold medal match, celebrated exuberantly and gave away his racket and shirt.

The result meant that for the first time in Olympic history Indonesia had failed to pick up a badminton medal. At all Games since the sport was introduced in 1992, the country had won at least one gold.

Ahmad said: “There has been too much pressure on from home and from the media.

'I failed to cope with the expectation and under-performed.'

The men's singles final on Sunday will be a repeat of the Beijing showpiece of four years ago between all-time greats and arch-rivals Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan.

Defending champion Lin had little trouble seeing off South Korea's Lee Hyun-il.

The world number two won 11 of the first 12 points of the match and 12 of the last 14 as he powered past the ineffective seventh seed to win 21-12 21-10.

Malaysia's top seed Lee was made to work much harder by third seed Chen Long and looked more impressive for it as he won 21-13 21-14.

Wang Xiaoli (left) and Yang Yu were disqualified from the Games and were unable to compete for the medal positions

Wang Xiaoli (left) and Yang Yu were disqualified from the Games and were unable to compete for the medal positions

The women were top seeds and were likely to rack up another medal for the Chinese

The women were top seeds and were likely to rack up another medal for the Chinese

Despite his superb display, Lee, who came into the tournament with doubts over his fitness after an ankle injury, said: 'I didn't expect to win because my preparation has only been 50 per cent.

'I said to myself, “I have nothing to lose,” but when I saw it was 11-4 in the first game I realised I had to win this match and that's why I played more confidently.'

Lee and Lin produced a stunning spectacle when they met in the final of the World Championships at the same venue last year.

Lin survived match point to win and will again be favourite despite Lee's long-established status at the top of the world rankings.

The Malaysian, a perennial runner-up to Lin, will also carry the pressure of bidding to win his country's first Olympic gold in any sport.

The first women's semi-final proved a disappointing spectacle as top seed Wang Yihan made easy work of India's fourth seed Saina Newhal, winning 21-13 21-13 in 42 minutes.

Wang was joined in the final by fellow Chinese Li Xuerui, who beat another compatriot in Wang Xin.

Third seed Li, a late selection by China for the tournament, continued her impressive progress with a 22-20 21-18 success over the second seed.

China are top of the medals table, with the USA in second place

China are top of the medals table, with the USA in second place