Tag Archives: consecutive

Aussie super-horse Black Caviar to retire after 25-race unbeaten run

We want her to bow out at the top! Aussie super-horse Black Caviar to retire after 25-race unbeaten run

PUBLISHED:

06:21 GMT, 17 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

06:53 GMT, 17 April 2013

Unbeaten Australian mare Black Caviar will retire after winning 25 consecutive races, with her trainer Peter Moody admitting that the super sprinter 'has done everything we asked her to do.'

Moody, appearing at a news conference in front of Caulfield race track on Wednesday, where the six-year-old mare will make a farewell appearance for race patrons on Saturday, said he and the ownership group led by Neil Werrett had discussed Black Caviar's future over the past few days and 'we decided at lunch today' to announce her retirement.

Fond farewell: Black Caviar is paraded in front of the media with strapper Donna Fisher

Fond farewell: Black Caviar is paraded in front of the media with strapper Donna Fisher

Emotional: Trainer Peter Moody announces retirement of Black Caviar

Emotional: Trainer Peter Moody announces retirement of Black Caviar

Race team: Black Caviar and her connections at the press conference

Race team: Black Caviar and her connections at the press conference

'She has done everything we have asked her to do,' trainer Peter Moody said.

'We
thought long and hard about racing on but believe she has done
everything we asked of her and felt it was the right time to call time
on her wonderful career.

'She's in great shape and that's the way we wanted her to bow out. We just thought the time was right – it was a hard decision.

'She brought interest to our sport that hasn't been there for decades.'

Final flourish: Black Caviar, ridden by Luke Nolen, wins the TJ Smith Stakes

Final flourish: Black Caviar, ridden by Luke Nolen, wins the TJ Smith Stakes

Stunner: Black Caviar (left) wins the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2012

Impressive: Black Caviar (left) wins the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2012

Black Caviar, purchased by Moody for
$225,000, won $8 million in prize money, including an Australian-record
15 Group One wins, most over distances around 1,200 meters.

She'll now have some time being spelled in a paddock before being bred.

'We hope that in three years, Peter
Moody will be training a progeny of Black Caviar,' said Werrett, his
voice breaking at times during the retirement announcement.

Black Caviar, ridden by her regular
jockey Luke Nolen, won her 25th race last Friday in the T.J. Smith
Stakes at Royal Randwick by two lengths. It was the sprinter's third win
since coming back in February from an eight-month injury layoff.

Storming finish: Luke Nolen rides Black Caviar to victory in the TJ Smith Stakes at Royal Randwick

Super horse: Black Caviar claimed a Australian-record
15 Group One wins

No stopping her: Black Caviar again showed who's boss in the Sydney showdown

Money spinner: Black Caviar won $8 million in prize money

Black Caviar narrowly won the Diamond
Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, England last June and faced possible
retirement after tearing a quadriceps muscle at Ascot.

But laser therapy and exercise
enabled her to return to the track for another – and what turned out her
final – abbreviated season.

There were suggestions as recently as
the weekend that she'd race again at tracks in Brisbane or Adelaide, or
perhaps return to Royal Ascot.

'Black Caviars don't come along every day,' said Moody. 'It's time to call it a day.'

Triumph: Jockey Nolen celebrates the win - making it 25 out of 25 victories

Triumph: Jockey Nolen celebrates making it 25 out of 25 victories

That's my girl! Black Caviar trainer Peter Moody celebrates with and strapper Donna Fisher

That's my girl! Black Caviar trainer Peter Moody (centre)

BLACK CAVIAR'S VICTORIES

2yo Hcp Restricted, Flemington (18 Apr 2009)

Blue Sapphire Stakes, Caulfield (2 May 2009)

Crockett Stakes, Moonee Valley (22 Aug 2009)

Daneholl Stakes, Flemington (5 Sep 2009)

Australia Stakes, Moonee Valley (22 Jan 2010)

Schillaci Stakes, Caulfield (9 Oct 2010)

Schweppes Stakes, Moonee Valley (23 Oct 2010)

Patinack Farm Classic, Flemington (6 Nov 2010)

Lightning Stakes, Flemington (19 Feb 2011)

Newmarket Handicap, Flemington (12 Mar 2011)

William Reid Stakes, Moonee Valley (25 Mar 2011)

T J Smith Stakes, Randwick (9 Apr 2011)

BTC Cup, Doomben (14 May 2011)

Schillaci Stakes, Caulfield (8 Oct 2011)

Schweapped Stakes, Moonee Valley (22 Oct 2011)

Patinack Farm Classic, Flemington (5 Nov 2011)

Australia Stakes, Moonee Valley (27 Jan 2012)

C F Orr Stakes, Caulfield (11 Feb 2012)

Lightning Stakes, Flemington (18 Feb 2012)

Robert Sangster, Morphettville (28 Apr 2012)

Goodwood Handicap, Morphettville (12 May 2012)

Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Ascot (23 Jun 2012)

Lightning Stakes, Flemington (16 Feb 2013)

William Reid Stakes, Moonee Valley (22 Mar 2013)

TJ Smith Stakes, Royal Randwick (13 April 2013)

Jose Mourinho misses Ballon d"Or gala to watch son play in Madrid

So, why did Mourinho snub Spanish football's big night at the Ballon d'Or gala

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

15:41 GMT, 9 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:52 GMT, 9 January 2013

Amidst the glitz and glamour of the Ballon d'Or gala night, one of football's most famous faces was missing.

But Jose Mourinho's absence wasn't a calculated snub in protest at the Barcelona dominance, as many have been speculated.

The Real Madrid boss, who missed out on coach of the year to Spain's Vicente del Bosque, claimed initially that he would miss the event in order to swat up on Celta Vigo, his team's next opponents.

Keeping it real: Jose Mourinho missed the Ballon d'Or gala to watch his son play

Keeping it real: Jose Mourinho missed the Ballon d'Or gala to watch his son play

Prize guy: Vicente del Bosque won coach of the year, while Messi was the player of the year for the fourth consecutive year

Prize guy: Vicente del Bosque won coach of the year, while Messi was the player of the year for the fourth consecutive year

Prize guy: Vicente del Bosque won coach of the year, while Messi was the player of the year for the fourth consecutive year

However, Spanish newspaper AS has revealed that Mourinho was in fact in Madrid, watching his son in action for CD Canillas.

According to the report, the former Chelsea and Inter Milan manager arrived at around 7.45pm and was accompanied by two bodyguards.

It was about that time in Zurich that Lionel Messi was being awarded his fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or, ahead of Barca team-mate Andres Iniesta and Real star Cristiano Ronaldo.

**Click here to see video of Mourinho at the match in Madrid

Friedel to fight Lloris at Tottenham after signing new deal to 2014

Friedel chooses fight over flight after signing to stay at Tottenham until 2014

|

UPDATED:

09:44 GMT, 26 December 2012

Brad Friedel has signed a new contract to extend his stay with Tottenham until 2014.

The United States goalkeeper had been linked with a return to Blackburn after being deposed as first-choice by summer signing Hugo Lloris but now appears set to fight for his place.

Friedel, the only player in Premier League history to have made over 300 consecutive league starts, arrived at Spurs from Aston Villa in 2011.

Commited: Despite interest from former club Blackburn, Friedel wants to stay at White Hart Lane

Commited: Despite interest from former club Blackburn, Friedel wants to stay at White Hart Lane

His commitment to the club leaves manager Andre Villas-Boas with four goalkeepers – the other two, Heurelho Gomes and Carlo Cudicini, are both big earners and could be set for exits

Lloris, meanwhile, says he cannot wait to have his first taste of Boxing Day tension, even though it has meant sacrificing his usual extravagant dining.

The France captain is preparing for their visit to Villa today but admits he usually “feasts” over Christmas and is not used to showing restraint from gorging on fine food.

Down but not out: Lloris' arrival has not convinced Friedel he needs to leave the club

Down but not out: Lloris' arrival has not convinced Friedel he needs to leave the club

Players in Ligue 1 are handed a two-week break from football over the festive period, before the campaign resumes on Friday, January 11.

‘Usually it was a period where I lay around, enjoying many feasts,’ he told L’Equipe.

‘I heard someone shout from the stands, “these aren’t holidays, so watch your line”.’

Safe hands: Lloris is looking forward to facing Aston Villa

Safe hands: Lloris is looking forward to facing Aston Villa

Taking it in good humour, the former Lyonnais stopper admits to having chuckled at this, but knows the importance of staying focused.

‘It is a family event and it shows all the passion of football in England. I can’t wait to see it for myself.’

Nathan Cleverly to get home advantage in world title defence against Robin Krasniqi

Cleverly to get home advantage in world title defence against Krasniqi

|

UPDATED:

16:38 GMT, 19 December 2012

Coming home: Cleverly will not have to travel to Germany to defend his title

Coming home: Cleverly will not have to travel to Germany to defend his title

Nathan Cleverly has avoided a daunting trip to Germany to defend his WBO world light-heavyweight title against Robin Krasniqi.

Cleverly, 25, missed out on a mouthwatering clash with American legend Bernard Hopkins after being ordered to face his mandatory challenger.

The Welshman will face Krasniqi on home soil on March 16 at a venue yet to be confirmed.

‘This fight is very motivating for me because it’s been hanging over me for a while so I really want to get this guy out of the way,’ Cleverly said.

‘I’ve got to make sure I’m on my game and put him to the sword.
‘I know that after this, the big fights are out there for me.

'I am pleased with the final decision. Now I have a schedule and can concentrate fully on the preparation.'

Cleverly was originally scheduled to face Serbian-born German last February at the Royal Albert Hall but had to pull out through illness.

Krasniqi, 25, has not been defeated since losing two of his first three fights over six years ago. Since then he has won 36 consecutive bouts, stopping 14 of his opponents.

Megafight: The Welshman still hopes to face American legend Bernard Hopkins

Megafight: The Welshman still hopes to face American legend Bernard Hopkins

Will Bradley Wiggins be allowed to defend his Tour de France crown?

Will Bradley Wiggins be allowed to defend his Tour de France crown

|

UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 15 December 2012

Bradley Wiggins would be the first to admit that his year of awesome achievement would not have been possible without the methodical mind of the man who has become the most influential figure in British cycling.

But now Dave Brailsford faces one of the most difficult decisions of his sporting life: does he encourage Wiggins to fulfil his dream of consecutive victories in the Tour de France — or ask the man who is clear favourite to lift the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award to follow team orders to play second string to Chris Froome’s attempt to win the most gruelling event in sport

Bradley Wiggins

Champion: Bradley Wiggins has had a sensational year but now is the time huge decisions will be made on next year's Tour

This summer, Brailsford presided brilliantly over Team Sky’s militarystyle campaign which enabled Wiggins to ride triumphantly along the Champs Elysees as the first British winner in the 109-year history of the Tour de France.

For his encore, Wiggins won an Olympic gold medal nine days later against the backdrop of Hampton Court Palace and Brailsford, as British Cycling’s performance director, had confirmed his status as a linchpin in Wiggins’s life for the past dozen years.

Now, with Wiggins talking for the first time last week of wanting to defend his Tour de France title rather than concentrating on the Giro d’Italia and playing a support role to Froome on the 2013 Tour, Brailsford knows he must manage the expectations of two of road racing’s greatest exponents.

Bradley Wiggins

Golden boy: Just nine days after becoming Britain's first ever Tour champion, Wiggins stormed through the streets of London to take Olympic gold

‘We haven’t finalised our plans for next year,’ said Brailsford, speaking last week from the warm weather camp in Majorca where Wiggins has been getting back to work in the afterglow of his phenomenal summer.

‘Bradley’s had a taste of celebrity but he has relished getting back the structure in his life and he is in great shape. Brad loves normality.’

Froome, thought to be marginally favoured by the route of next year’s Tour, which includes four mountain summit finishes and fewer stage miles in the time trials, and Wiggins have both publicly pledged to abide by the decision Brailsford arrives at with his trusted right-hand man, Australian Shane Sutton. Yet, briefly, there was tension between the two riders this summer, if swiftly managed.

Bradley Wiggins

Champion team: Wiggins celebrates with team-mates on the Champs-lyses

On Stage 11, Froome risked leaving Wiggins, leading the Tour by two minutes, exposed on the road when he made an unscheduled break on a climb.

‘It looked worse than it was,’ insisted Brailsford last week.

‘Through Froomey’s eyes, Brad was going really well and had a big buffer and he was thinking about his own position in relation to (Vincenzo) Nibali.

‘It was a brief bit of exuberance from Chris. If his intention had been to attack Bradley, he’d have kept going but, once he realised Brad was not on his wheel, he played his team role. There was no malice or going against team orders.’ Even so, he had to be told to back off.

Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain and Team SKY chats to Team Principal Dave Brailsford

Team talk: Sky team principal Dave Brailsford will soon decide who will lead his team in next year's Tour. Will it be Wiggins or Froome… or even both

At the time, Wiggins was distinctly unamused. ‘From that moment, through the rest of the Tour, I didn’t quite know what to expect from Chris when it got into the heat of battle,’ Wiggins wrote in his autobiography.

For Brailsford, the incident is consigned to history; a small blip during a Wiggins- Froome blitz of the world’s best riders.

Instead he remembers how Wiggins, a man who already possessed six Olympic track cycling medals, three of them gold, turned his career around two years ago to enable him to win the greatest bike race in the world after 21 glorious days in July.

According to Brailsford, Wiggins’s road to glory on the Tour de France began in a private — and uncomfortable — meeting at the end of a disappointing first season for Team Sky.

‘Bradley had to look hard at himself in the mirror at the end of 2010,’ he said. Brailsford acknowledged that mistakes had been made — ‘We over-complicated everything,’ he admitted — but Wiggins also faced a personal crisis.

His performance dipped and his mind wandered as he mourned the death of his beloved grandfather, George — his role-model after his father, Gary, a professional cyclist, walked out on him and his mother, Linda, when he was a child. Wiggins’s world crashed. He turned off his phone and could not be contacted. Patience within Team Sky was close to being exhausted.

Bradley Wiggins, winner of the 2012 Tour de France cycling race, celebrates as he crosses the finish line of the last stage of the the Tour de France

Magic moment: Wiggins crosses the finish line in Paris, but many say next year's route would be better suited to the mountain climbing strengths of Chris Froome

At one low moment, Wiggins later learned the crisis ran so deep that Brailsford asked team psychiatrist Steve Peters: ‘What should we do with Brad He’s a bloody nightmare.’

Eventually Wiggins, with the support of his wife, Cath, realised he had to address his problems. At a team summit with Brailsford, Sutton agreed to Wiggins’s request to coach him.

Last week Brailsford recalled: ‘We had words and we had some honest feedback with Brad. But after that first year, as a team, we went back to the drawing board.

 Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome

Team tension: Chris Froome congratulates Wiggins on his gold medal but was itching to break free from his supportive role in this summer's Tour

'We had clarity of purpose with everyone thinking the same way. But Brad deserves a lot of credit for his unbelievable hard work and the maturity that now makes him easy to coach.’

Never had a man on a bike travelled so far, or so fast, into the consciousness of the public than Wiggins.

‘The first week of the Tour is all about not losing any time, but it’s also about not crashing,’ said Brailsford. ‘The safest place is at the front of the bunch — but every other team is trying to do the same, so it becomes like a scene from Ben Hur.’

 (L-R) Silver medallist Tony Martin of Germany, gold medallist Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain and bronze medallist Christopher Froome of Great Britain

National treasure: Bradley Wiggins is joined on the podium by German silver medallist Tony Martin and Britain's Chris Froome, who finished third

On the third stage, Kosta Siutsou, a key support rider for Wiggins, broke a leg.

‘That shook everyone in the team and the mood was pretty fraught,’ admitted Brailsford.

‘Of course, for Brad it brought back memories of how his Tour had been ended by a broken collar-bone the previous year. It was quite a jolt because, at the time, we didn’t know how the story was going to unfold.’

From that moment, Team Sky had to combat their rivals with eight men rather than nine. And Brailsford had to gather the riders and staff together to restore morale as fast as possible.

Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins

Power house: Wiggins is the best time trialist in the world but next year's Tour will have fewer time trial miles

‘It is a mini-grieving process,’ he said. ‘Anger surfaces and then there is an acceptance that life is not fair, that the goalposts get moved.’

Brailsford’s management style is fastidious and he leaves nothing to chance.

‘We take our own beds from hotel to hotel and everybody has their same pillow every night,’ he said. ‘We vacuum and dust every room before the riders arrive and we install airconditioning and de-humidifiers.’

The team travel with their own chef and the team bus is a haven of luxury. Wiggins excelled as each day came and passed.

He earned the Yellow Jersey on stage seven and wore it all the way to Paris, where he was greeted by thousands of ecstatic British supporters, many wearing fake sideburns as a tribute to their laid-back hero.

‘For me, there was a feeling of elation and pure joy at Brad getting that jersey,’ said Brailsford.

‘It was a perfect performance from the team — one of my best days in cycling. ‘Brad is a connoisseur of the sport, he knows its history. You had only to look at him to see how much it meant. Fundamentally, he is a family man, a decent man and a very funny man.

He’s a colourful character, strongminded like all champions, and someone who occasionally courts controversy — but Brad has a heart of gold.’

Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins of Sky Pro Racing (yellow jersey), followed by team mate Mark Cavendish, during Stage 20 between Brambouillet and Paris, France.

Leading the pack: Team Sky's strategy of leading from the front worked spectacularly well during the summer

On returning from Paris, Wiggins was given the honour of ringing the bell at the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, symbolically declaring the Games had commenced.

Four days afterwards, he was receiving an Olympic gold medal after destroying all-comers in the road time trial, the race of truth.

‘To make history in the Tour de France was a big deal but then to take Olympic gold so soon afterwards makes what Bradley did this summer exceptional,’ said Brailsford, who will be in the audience at the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards tonight.

Brailsford’s own day of judgment — whether to throw his support behind Wiggins or Froome on the 2013 Tour — lies ahead this winter.

Arsene Wenger backs club blocking Alisher Usmanov bid for Arsenal board place

Wenger backs board over Usmanov ban from Gunners' top table

|

UPDATED:

23:45 GMT, 14 December 2012

Arsene Wenger has backed the club’s decision to block billionaire shareholder Alisher Usmanov’s attempts to win a place on the Arsenal board.

Usmanov has seen his plot to secure a place on Arsenal’s top table blocked by majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, so despite owning 29 per cent of the club, the Russian has no say in how Arsenal are run.

The bilionaire oligarch, who is worth more than Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, has been critical of the board’s running of the club.

Denied: Alisher Usmanov wants a place on the Arsenal board

Denied: Alisher Usmanov wants a place on the Arsenal board

Usmanov says he would seek to pay off the remaining debt from building the Emirates Stadium, with making large transfer funds available.

However, when asked about whether he would like some of Usmanov’s money to spend in the transfer market, Wenger replied: ‘I’ve always said the same, which is that we want to produce the money from our own resources.

‘Because we are in the Champions League, we can produce the money.’

Wenger’s comments show that he still backs the club’s self-sustaining financial model, despite the temptation of Usmanov’s bank balance.

Nevertheless, the Arsenal boss will go on a January spending spree as he looks to breathe fresh life into his faltering side.

Arsenal are facing up to an eighth consecutive season without a trophy, and growing numbers of supporters feel it is time for Wenger to walk away.

However, the Frenchman came out fighting at the club’s London Colney HQ yesterday, issuing a staunch defence of himself and his side.

Wenger has the total backing of Kroenke and has always insisted that he will not resign.

And when questioned about the level of criticism he has received this week, the Frenchman responded: ‘I am here for that, and [I get criticised] very well.

Support: Arsene Wenger backed the ban

Support: Arsene Wenger backed the ban

‘I am responsible for results. It is my job to take criticism, so I do it. I would prefer it if everyone says I am fantastic. I cannot say we were fantastic when we lost on penalties at Bradford.

‘Am I the right man to lead I have already answered this question. We are top professional people. What is important is what happens tomorrow, not what happened yesterday.’

Meanwhile, Arsenal will battle Manchester United for Stoke’s Asmir Begovic in January. Wenger has made a new keeper a top priority and Begovic is the prime target.

The Bosnia star, 25, has been scouted by spies as Arsenal work on an 8million bid.

But Wenger will be forced to battle it out with Sir Alex Ferguson. Sportsmail exclusively revealed United’s firm interest in Begovic last Saturday. Wenger wants competition for Wojciech Szczesny as No 1. Liverpool’s Pepe Reina and Swansea’s Michel Vorm are also on the shortlist.

Lionel Messi"s record-breaking 2012 – month by month, game by game

Month by month, goal by goal… The diary of Messi's extraordinary record-breaking year

|

UPDATED:

21:27 GMT, 9 December 2012

He's done it! Lionel Messi needed just 25 minutes of Barcelona's match at Real Betis to surpass Gerd Muller's long-standing record for goalscoring in a calendar year.

The Argentine magician needed to reach the magic number of 86 strikes for club and country and he wasted little time in achieving it.

In this Sportsmail special, we take a look back at a wonderful year for the little wizard.

Record breaker! Messi celebrates scoring against Real Betis, on the night he beat Gerd Muller's 40-year-old goalscoring record

Record breaker! Messi celebrates scoring against Real Betis, on the night he beat Gerd Muller's 40-year-old goalscoring record

JANUARY

Goals for Barcelona – 7

With 27 club goals already under his belt in the first half of the season, Ballon D’Or winner Messi entered 2012 in irresistible form and officially the best player in the world. And he wasted little time in finding the net in the New Year, with a double against Osasuna in the Copa Del Rey.

Barcelona weren't exactly struggling to make an impact in the tie, but Messi was introduced for Pedro on the hour. The tempo was cranked up and up after his introduction and he scored first with a header after ghosting into the six yard box and then with a left-foot curler from just inside the box.

He scored five times in La Liga during the month as Barca kept snapping at the heels of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, but didn’t manage to net in the two-legged Cup Clasico.

ACCOLADE! Messi collected the Ballon D'Or for the third consecutive year at the start of the year.

Officially the best: Lionel Messi started 2012 on a high after being voted the FIFA Ballon D'Or winner for the third consecutive year. Here, he parades the trophy before the Copa Del Rey match with Real Madrid at the Nou Camp

Officially the best: Lionel Messi started 2012 on a high after being voted the FIFA Ballon D'Or winner for the third consecutive year. Here, he parades the trophy before the Copa Del Rey match with Real Madrid at the Nou Camp

JANUARY GOALS AND APPEARANCES

4th – Two goals vs. Osasuna in Copa Del Rey (4-0)

8th – vs. Espanyol (1-1)

12th – vs. Osasuna in Copa Del Rey (2-1)

15th – Two goals vs. Real Betis (4-2)

18th – vs. Real Madrid in Copa Del Rey (2-1)

22nd – Three goals vs. Malaga (4-1)

25th – vs. Real Madrid in Copa Del Rey (2-2)

28th – vs. Villarreal (0-0)

FEBRUARY

Goals for Barcelona – 7 Goals for Argentina – 3 Running total – 17

Another prolific month, which saw ten goals for club and country. The highlights included a four-goal haul in a 5-1 win over Valencia and a hat-trick for Argentina in a friendly match against Switzerland.

His quartet against Valencia was masterful – first, he squeezed the ball in from a seemingly impossible angle to bring Barca level, then a couple of poacher's finishes delivered him a hat-trick. The best, however, was saved until last with a burst clear and delicious chip.

LANDMARK! The 5-1 win over Valencia was Messi's 200th La Liga appearance.

The match against Switzerland showed that Messi is equally adept in front of goal for his country as for his club. He created and finished his first goal, running diagonally towards the penalty area, exchanging passes, and then finding the bottom corner.

The second saw Messi drive at the heart of the Swiss defence, work a shooting position and chip in off the crossbar, with the third a perfect penalty.

Four-some! Messi celebrates one of his quartet of goals in the La Liga match against Valencia

Four-some! Messi celebrates one of his quartet of goals in the La Liga match against Valencia

FEBRUARY GOALS AND APPEARANCES

1st – vs. Valencia in Copa Del Rey (1-1)

4th – One goal vs. Real Sociedad (2-1)

8th – vs. Valencia in Copa Del Rey (2-0)

11th – vs. Osasuna (2-3)

14th – One goal vs. Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League second round, first leg (3-1)

19th – Four goals vs. Valencia (5-1)

26th – One goal vs. Atletico Madrid (2-1)

29th – Three goals vs. Switzerland (3-1)

MARCH

Goals for Barcelona – 13 Running total – 30

Messi started March in magnificent style, scoring five goals in the second leg of Barcelona’s Champions League second round match with Bayer Leverkusen as part of a 7-1 rout.

Two of his goals were sumptuous chips which left the Bayer goalkeeper red-faced, while the last of his five was a great blast into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

RECORD! The feat meant he was the first player to score five goals in a Champions League match since the tournament’s re-branding in 1992.

Five stars: Messi destroyed Bayer Leverkusen with five goals in the second leg of their Champions League meeting in March

Five stars: Messi destroyed Bayer Leverkusen with five goals in the second leg of their Champions League meeting in March

It was a phenomenally prolific month in La Liga too, as Barcelona tries to keep pace with Real – he scored eight goals in just five matches and the only time he failed to hit the target was in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final in Milan.

MARCH GOALS AND APPEARANCES

7th – Five goals vs. Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League second round, second leg (7-1)

11th – Two goals vs. Racing Santander (2-0)

17th – One goal vs. Seville (2-0)

20th – Three goals vs. Granada (5-3)

24th – One goal vs. Real Mallorca (2-0)

28th – vs. AC Milan in the Champions League quarter-final, first leg (0-0)

31st – One goal vs. Athletic Bilbao (2-0)


APRIL

Goals for Barcelona – 9 Running total – 39

He made amends for the blank in the first leg by scoring a double at the Nou Camp as Barcelona reached the last four 3-1 on aggregate.

His first was a testament to perseverance, initially stealing the ball to sprint clear on goal and then turning sharply to win a penalty, which he converted. The reasons for the second spot-kick were less clear but again Messi made no mistake.

RECORD! This took his Champions League tally to 14 goals in the season, enough to make him the competition’s top goalscorer for a fourth consecutive season.

Low point: Barcelona's hopes of retaining the Champions League ended in April when they were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Chelsea

Low point: Barcelona's hopes of retaining the Champions League ended in April when they were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Chelsea

He didn’t, however, score in either leg against Chelsea, who dumped Barcelona out 3-2 on aggregate to reach the final with Bayern Munich.

As the league season reached crunch time, Messi netted seven goals but, importantly, he didn’t convert any chances in the 2-1 home defeat by Real which practically handed Jose Mourinho’s side the title on April 21.

APRIL GOALS AND APPEARANCES

3rd – Two goals vs. AC Milan in the Champions League quarter-final, second leg (3-1)

7th – Two goals vs. Real Zaragoza (4-1)

10th – One goal vs. Getafe (4-0)

14th – Two goals vs. Levante (2-1)

18th – vs. Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final, first leg (0-1)

21st – vs. Real Madrid (1-2)

24th – vs. Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final, second leg (2-2)

29th – Two goals vs. Rayo Vallecano (7-0)

MAY

Goals for Barcelona – 8 Running total – 47

The last month of the 2011-2012 saw another sackful of goals and records, but just one trophy to add to the 13 he already had in the Pep Guardiola era – the Copa Del Rey. Barcelona didn't do enough however to prevent Real Madrid winning the La Liga title.

RECORD! His hat-trick against Malaga on May 2
meant Messi surpassed Gerd Muller’s single season goalscoring record
from 1972-1973 with three matches left to play.

Muller scored 67 in that campaign for Bayern Munich, while Messi now had 68. In doing so, he became the highest goalscorer in a European season in history.

End of an era: Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in May, having won 14 honours in four years at the club

End of an era: Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in May, having won 14 honours in four years at the club

RECORD! This then became a world best when a remarkable four goals in the Catalan derby with Espanyol took his tally to 72 and leapfrogged Archie Stark, who scored 70 for Bethlehem Steel in the 1924-1925 American Soccer League.

He showed his set-piece prowess in this one, converting two penalties and a 25-yard free-kick.

TROPHY! His goal in the 3-0 Copa Del Rey final win over Athletic Bilbao helped deliver Barcelona the Cup for the 26th time.

TOTAL! In the 2011-2012 season, Messi managed 73 goals and 29 assists in all competitions. This included 50 goals in La Liga, making him the Golden Boot winner. He was also the league's second highest provider of assists with 16, one shy of Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil.

MAY GOALS AND APPEARANCES

2nd – Three goals vs. Malaga (4-1)

5th – Four goals vs. Espanyol (4-0)

12th – vs. Real Betis (2-2)

25th – One goal vs. Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey final (3-0)

JUNE

Goals for Argentina – 4 Running total – 51

The club season may have finished but Messi was still in the goalscoring groove for Argentina – and June also brought great personal news.

BABY! When he scored in the 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Ecuador, his 23 rd goal for Argentina, he celebrated by placing the ball up his shirt, suggesting his girlfriend Antonella Roccuzzo was pregnant.

She later confirmed the news on Twitter.

International class: June was a month in which Messi showed his class for Argentina

International class: June was a month in which Messi showed his class for Argentina

A week later, Messi's season ended in trademark superlative style with a hat-trick in a friendly thriller with Brazil, capped with an outstanding curling shot into the top corner.

JUNE GOALS AND APPEARANCES

2nd – One goal vs. Ecuador in World Cup qualifier (4-0)

9th – Three goals vs. Brazil (4-3)

AUGUST

Goals for Barcelona – 6 Goals for Argentina – 1 Running total – 58

If anyone thought Messi's predatory instincts had been dulled by a couple of months off, they were very much mistaken.

He started the 2012-2013 season in the same red hot form as before, scoring two against Real Sociedad on the opening weekend, two at Osasuna in the second game and another two across the legs of the Super Cup contest with Real Madrid.

Against Sociedad, he wasted little time getting started afresh, scoring on 11 and 16 minutes, but against Osasuna, he was required to score twice late on to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Barca brothers: Messi celebrates with Alexis Sanchez after scoring against Real Madrid in the Super Cup, first leg at the Nou Camp

Barca brothers: Messi celebrates with Alexis Sanchez after scoring against Real Madrid in the Super Cup, first leg at the Nou Camp

RECORD! Messi's goal in a losing cause in the Super Cup second leg with Real made him Barcelona's all-time top scorer in Clasico matches. In the overall contest, he is behind only Alfredo Di Stefano.

AUGUST GOALS AND APPEARANCES

15th – One goal vs. Germany (3-1)

19th – Two goals vs. Real Sociedad (5-1)

23rd – One goal vs. Real Madrid in the Super Cup (3-2)

26th – Two goals vs. Osasuna (2-1)

29th – One goal vs. Real Madrid in the Super Cup (1-2)

SEPTEMBER

Goals for Barcelona – 4 Goals for Argentina – 1 Running total – 63

/12/04/article-2242647-1622780F000005DC-428_634x499.jpg” width=”634″ height=”499″ alt=”From Russia with Love: Messi scored twice against Spartak Moscow on matchday one of the Champions league group stage” class=”blkBorder” />

From Russia with Love: Messi scored twice against Spartak Moscow on matchday one of the Champions league group stage

SEPTEMBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES

2nd – vs. Valencia (1-0)

8th – One goal vs. Paraguay in World Cup qualifier (3-1)

12th – vs. Peru in World Cup qualifier (1-1)

15th – Two goals vs. Getafe (4-1)

19th – Two goals vs. Spartak Moscow in the Champions League (3-2)

22nd – vs. Granada (2-0)

29th – vs. Seville (3-2)

OCTOBER

Goals for Barcelona – 7 Goals for Argentina – 3 Running total – 73

October was a barnstorming month for Messi, who scored seven goals for his club and three for his country, and was the crucial difference in some thrilling games.

On the 7th, the sixth Clasico of the year, ended in a personal duel between Messi and his nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo. Honours finished even, with both superstars scoring twice in a 2-2 draw.

Nemesis: Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been engaged in a personal duel to be the best player in the world all year

Nemesis: Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been engaged in a personal duel to be the best player in the world all year

Biggest stage: Messi scored twice in the sixth El Clasico of the year, as Barcelona and Real drew 2-2 in La Liga at the Nou Camp

Biggest stage: Messi scored twice in the sixth El Clasico of the year, as Barcelona and Real drew 2-2 in La Liga at the Nou Camp

Then, after his three strikes against Uruguay and Chile helped Argentina a little further along the path to Brazil 2014, he shrugged off the jetlag to bag a hat-trick in a 5-4 rollercoaster with Deportivo.

Barcelona were 3-0 and cruising at the Riazor, but Deportivo fought back to within one goal. Messi then took control, his goals negating the dismissal of Javier Mascherano and ultimately proving the difference.

OCTOBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES

2nd – vs. Benfica in the Champions League group stage (2-0)

7th – Two goals vs. Real Madrid (2-2)

13th – Two goals vs. Uruguay in World Cup qualifier (3-0)

17th – One goal vs. Chile in World Cup qualifier (2-1)

20th – Three goals vs. Deportivo La Coruna (5-4)

23rd – vs. Celtic in the Champions League group stage (2-1)

27th – Two goals vs. Rayo Vallecano (5-0)

NOVEMBER

Goals for Barcelona – 9 Running total – 82

BABY! The month started with another moment of joy for Messi, presumably far greater than any of his goals, as his girlfriend gave birth to baby Thiago on November 2.

And Leo clearly wasn't suffering from too much lost sleep as he continued to bang in the goals at a rate of knots.

RECORD! On the 11th, his double against Real Mallorca took him past Pele's long-standing benchmark of 75 goals in a calendar year set in 1958.

The goals came two-by-two for the rest of the month as he closed in on Muller's world record of 85 goals within 12 months.

NOVEMBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES

3rd – vs. Celta Vigo (3-1)

7th – One goal vs. Celtic in the Champions League (1-2)

11th – Two goals vs. Real Mallorca (4-2)

14th – vs. Saudi Arabia (0-0)

17th – Two goals vs. Real Zaragoza (3-1)

20th – Two goals vs. Spartak Moscow in the Champions League (3-0)

25th – Two goals vs. Levante (4-0)

DECEMBER

Goals for Barcelona – 4 Running total – 86

So, with 82 goals in the calendar year and Muller's record tantalisingly close, Messi made the perfect start to December with another double in the 5-1 home win over Bilbao on Saturday.

RECORD! His two goals also drew Messi level with Cesar Rodriguez as Barcelona's all-time leading league goalscorer.

Closer and closer: Messi moved to within one of Gerd Muller's record with two goals in the 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend

Closer and closer: Messi moved to within one of Gerd Muller's record with two goals in the 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend

STAT ATTACK! Messi has 21 La Liga goals already this season, which would have been enough to give him the Golden Boot in 2001/2002 (Tristan, 21), 1990/1991 (Butragueno, 19) and 1984/1985 (Hugo Sanchez, 19). It also means he has personally outscored 16 of the 19 La Liga teams this season.

RECORDS! His goals against Real Betis on December 9 meant Messi surpassed Gerd Muller's record for goals in a calendar year and he also became Barcelona's leading all-time goalscorer in La Liga, moving ahead of Cesar Rodriguez.

DECEMBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES

1st – Two goals vs. Athletic Bilbao (5-1)

9th – Two goals vs. Real Betis

THE MAN MESSI HAS BEATEN

Gerd Muller scored 85 goals in 60 matches for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972 – a record for the highest number of goals scored in a calendar year that has stood for 40 years.

This is how Muller's record breaks down:

BAYERN MUNICH

Bundesliga: 42 in 34 games

European Cup: 10 in 4

Cup Winners Cup: 1 in 2

DfB Pokal: 7 in 6

DfB Ligapokal: 12 in 5

GERMANY

Euro 72: 5 in 4

Friendlies: 8 in 3

Best scoring run: 16 in 8

Longest drought: 3 games


Swarmed: West Germany's Gerd Muller trying to find a way through the Holland defence during the 1974 World Cup final

Swarmed: West Germany's Gerd Muller trying to find a way through the Holland defence during the 1974 World Cup final

Patrick Collins: England"s miracle workers have everyone believing again

England's sensational miracle workers have everyone believing again

|

UPDATED:

22:50 GMT, 8 December 2012


In control: Alastair Cook's team look set to take a 2-1 lead

In control: Alastair Cook's team look set to take a 2-1 lead

The sporting year of 2012 is the gift that just keeps giving. And we watch in grateful wonder as the miracles descend in delicious profusion.

Never was there such a year, never such an outpouring of glory. From the Super Olympic Saturdays in Stratford to the golden days on lake and velodrome.

From the evening in Munich when European football turned Chelsea blue to the Sunday afternoon at Medinah when the Ryder Cup yielded to Europe's irresistible charge, to the epic at the Etihad when the title was won with the last kick of the season.

Just one week ago, there was the
chill afternoon at Twickenham when the All Blacks were thrashed and we
told ourselves that 2012 had eked out its last, improbable bonus. And
then came Kolkata.

To appreciate how far England's
cricketers have travelled, it is necessary to remember where they
started. In late March, Andrew Strauss sat in a bleak back room in Galle
and attempted to rationalise England's fourth consecutive Test match
defeat.

Whitewashed 3–0 by Pakistan in the
United Arab Emirates, then bemused by Sri Lanka's spinner Rangana
Herath, there was a growing conviction that England's hapless inability
to play spin rendered them hopelessly uncompetitive in sub-continental
conditions.

Spin king: Graeme Swann had a good session after lunch

Spin king: Graeme Swann had a good session after lunch

They chipped out a 1–1 draw in the Sri Lanka series, but come the first Test of this India tour and the roof fell in.

To lose by nine wickets in Ahmedabad was one thing, but to lose in such a clueless, calamitous fashion was quite another.

The statistics read like a long and
darkly threatening letter: India had not lost a Test series at home
since Australia beat them in 2004-05; England had not won a series in
India since David Gower's team came from behind in 1984-85; England had
won only 11 Test matches in India since 1933; India had lost only six
home Tests in a decade.

Had you been looking for a word to describe England's prospects, then 'unpromising' was probably the kindest.

It was at Mumbai that the transformation came to pass. Suddenly, almost irrationally, England began to believe in themselves.

Monty Panesar, happily restored, came
through in a clatter of wickets, Kevin Pietersen played one of
history's finest Test innings and Alastair Cook batted like a prince.

Victory was wholly unexpected and Kolkata was vigorously anticipated. It did not disappoint.

Led once again by Cook in his most
majestic form, England raised their game to another level and now the
questions were being asked of India. What shall we do with MS Dhoni

How long can Duncan Fletcher continue to coach a patently unresponsive team

And, most dramatically, who tells
Sachin Tendulkar that the golden years have run their course None of
which will concern England, whose restoration to form and confidence has
been quite sensational.

In any other year we might have been
speaking in almost disbelieving terms. In this gloriously bewildering
year of 2012, it ranks as just another miracle.

We are unable to carry live pictures from the third Test in Kolkata due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Man City legend Francis Lee: My top player was on 15 grand a week when I was chairman blimey, academy lads are on that now

Legend Lee who paved way to Etihad reflects on City's incredible journey: My top player was on 15 grand a week – blimey, academy lads are on that now

|

UPDATED:

23:01 GMT, 8 December 2012

Francis Lee can pinpoint the moment he realised being the chairman of Manchester City might send him round the bend. Watching his team thrashed at Old Trafford, Lee was aghast by what he saw when Andrei Kanchelskis scored a fifth United goal in a 5-0 victory.

'A couple of United players were laughing – so were the defenders of Manchester City. I thought “Oh Christ, I can't believe that”,' he said. 'It was a little giggle and a shrug of the shoulders as if to say “Oh, that is five”. Kanchelskis got three that night and our left-back still thought he'd had a good game!

Flamboyant: Former City chairman Francis Lee

Flamboyant: Former City chairman Francis Lee

'They were the bad old days. We spent too much money on a new stand and infrastructure when we should have spent it on players. And our managers weren't very good, although I've got to take responsibility for appointing them.'

Franny on Balotelli

What's he done wrong exactly Plenty of players today do far worse than a few problems with fireworks. I played with a guy called Tony Coleman at City. He'd come into training still in his dinner jacket and tie, smelling of vodka. The manager had to introduce a rule just for TC: any player spotted out after midnight on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday would be fined two weeks' wages.

Nobody packed inside the Etihad Stadium for the Manchester derby between the two best teams in the country knows Manchester City like Lee.

As a barrel-chested, prolific centre-forward, he earned cult status for winning the League Championship, FA Cup and European Cup-winners' Cup in consecutive seasons under manager Joe Mercer and his colourful coach, Malcolm Allison.

Then, having made a fortune in business, he returned to City as chairman in 1994, when they were a financial basket-case rather than Premier League superpower.

Back then, there were no Abu Dhabi millions to spend. Instead, Lee put in charge Alan Ball, whose team shielded the ball when they needed to score to avoid relegation, Steve Coppell, who quit after 28 days, and Frank Clark, whose job was to take City out of the old First Division. Clark succeeded – not by getting the club promoted back to the Premier League but by getting them relegated to the third tier of English football.

Lee, by nature an optimist and extrovert, was moved to say: 'If cups were awarded for cock-ups, you would not be able to move in City's boardroom.'

Legend: Lee in his playing days

Legend: Lee in his playing days

Looking back now to those turbulent times, Lee still has to pinch himself at how the club has changed in little more than a decade.

Franny on City's dream signing

Some fans might not like it
but I'd go out and try to buy
Cristiano Ronaldo. He can win
a game at the drop of a hat
even when he's having a
moan. When you line up
against someone like
Ronaldo, you wouldn't have
a clue how to stop him. He can
play on either wing
and is unplayable on
his day.

'I didn't pay a lot for City because it was completely skint. The top earner in my time was Georgi Kinkladze on about 15 grand a week. Blimey, the Academy lads are on that now. The turnover was 4.5million when I became chairman. When I left in 1998 it was over 30m – now it is 240m.'

On Sunday, Roberto Mancini has the most expensive Premier League squad in history to choose from, part an overall 1billion investment from Sheik Mansour since he bought City in 2008.

Lee's largest single purchase was 3.75m for Portsmouth striker Lee Bradbury, a deal that still gives him nightmares. Bradbury played just 40 matches, scoring 10 goals before being sold to Crystal Palace for half the amount Lee had paid.

Lee recalled: 'I asked our manager, Frank Clark, if he was sure because it was a lot of money. He said ''Yes, this lad could be the next Alan Shearer''. I saw his debut in pre-season at Burnley and he never looked to get into the six-yard box like a lead striker should. I went home afterwards and my wife, Gill, said “What is it, you look fed up” I said “This new striker, I don't fancy him, honestly''.'

It had been different in Lee's playing heyday during the Swinging Sixties when United and City battled for trophies. Once the matches were over, rival players would go out clubbing together.

'Manchester was a fantastic place to go out in,' says Lee. 'There were 10 clubs with world-class cabaret and comedians. You'd go in and Tom Jones might be singing, or Shirley Bassey or Engelbert Humperdinck. The United lads would go to the same places. Besty (George Best) was always in Blinkers or Mr Smiths. He was a prize asset for any club who could have him in there regularly because he used to pack it out with young girls who all fancied becoming his wife, which was a big mountain to climb. Some of the younger players used to follow on, hoping to get a few of his cast-offs.'

Nightmare: City paid 3.75m for Lee Bradbury

Nightmare: City paid 3.75m for Lee Bradbury

The charismatic Allison was as likely to join his players for a night out as punish them, a practice it is hard to imagine current manager Mancini adopting, given his reputation for keeping his distance from his squad. But Lee, who played for the ultimate disciplinarian Sir Alf Ramsey at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, does not see any problem with City's Italian manager.

Franny on England

I'd like to see David Moyes as our next manager. He's done wonders with relatively limited resources at Everton and that's basically the same situation he'd have with England. People say we can't appoint him because he's Scottish. Why not We've had an Italian, a Swede and a half-Dutchman.

'You don't have to be popular with the players to be a good manager or coach,' he insists. 'Alf Ramsey was never the life and soul of the party. He would turn to anybody – no matter how big a name – and say “Look, if you don't start pulling your socks up, you can kiss this bloody international squad goodbye”. If Alf gave you a rollocking, you knew you had been told off.

'He accused me twice of going to the Sportsman's Club in Tottenham Court Road and getting drunk. It wasn't me because I'd never been there in my life – but he said if he ever got proof, he would drop me like a stone.

Impressive: Lee would have liked to have played with Sergio Aguero

Impressive: Lee would have liked to have played with Sergio Aguero

'City haven't lost a League game
since April. They beat West Brom with 10 men this season. That doesn't
happen if the players don't have attitude and spirit. The Champions
League has been a learning curve but it's a higher grade of football.
The tempo is very high and didn't suit one or two of the current
players. It'll take time to readjust.'

Six of the best Manchester derbies

Man United 0 Man Cit y 1
April 27, 1974

United would have gone down anyway, no matter what the result of this game. But defeat by their old rivals confirmed it – and Denis Law scored with a cheeky back-heel that merely twisted the knife a little bit more.

Man Cit y 5 Man United 1
September 23, 1989

Sir Alex Ferguson claimed this was the worst defeat of his career. Under pressure and struggling to make an impact, the Scot's new-look side were dismantled by a rampant, newly-promoted City. David Oldfield scored twice, with Trevor Morley and Ian Bishop also finding the net before Andy Hinchcliffe completed the rout. Mark Hughes was United's scorer.

Man City 2 Man United 3
November 7, 1993

Two-up through a Niall Quinn double, City supporters were in ecstasy at half-time. But Eric Cantona pulled one back straight after the break, then equalised before Roy Keane completed a comeback to remember.

Man United 5 Man City 0
November 10, 1994

United in their pomp and City beginning their slide to near-oblivion. Russian winger Andrei Kanchelskis scored the first derby hat-trick for 24 years after Cantona and Hughes had put United in command.

Man United 4 Man Cit y 3
September 20, 2009

An extraordinary game, settled by Michael Owen in the sixth minute of stoppage-time. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring after two minutes before Gareth Barry capitalised on a Ben Foster mistake to level. Darren Fletcher and Craig Bellamy each scored twice, with City believing they had earned a share of the spoils – until a Boy's Owen finish in his first start in a United shirt.

Man United 1 Man City 6
October 23, 2011

Mario Balotelli's opener, before revealing that 'Why Always Me' T-shirt, started a rout the like of which had never been seen. The Italian added another, Sergio Aguero put City three up, then, after Darren Fletcher had pulled one back, Edin Dzeko (two, left) and David Silva netted in stoppage-time to condemn United to their

Lee was surrounded by quality in
City's golden era, most notably from his great friend, Mike Summerbee,
and Colin Bell. His own contribution saw him dubbed 'Lee-won-pen'
because of his ability to win and convert penalty-kicks. He would have
relished playing in the current City side, although he has some
interesting advice on how to get the best out of their strikers, who are
well down on last season's huge goals tally.

'I would love to have played with
David Silva,' Lee adds. 'Vincent Kompany is an extremely good player and
the goalkeeper, Joe Hart, is top drawer – in the Peter Schmeichel
class. If you were being pernickety, you might say he could still tidy
up his distribution a bit.

'And I would like to have played up
front with Carlos Tevez or Sergio Aguero. They make life uncomfortable
for defenders but invariably play too close together. I'd like to see
them spread out 20 metres apart, giving defenders nightmares on the
outside and allowing the big feller, Yaya Toure, to bomb through the
gaps in the middle.'

Born and raised in Bolton, Lee was one of the first footballers to break the stereotype that their brains were kept in their boots. He made his first-team debut for his hometown club at 16, thereby putting on hold his training to be a draughtsman.

Encouraged by his father, he pursued an interest in business during his playing days and was rewarded when he sold his toilet-roll manufacturing business, FH Lee, in 1984.

He had not needed the help of an agent to negotiate the contract that made him the best-paid player in England when he joined Derby County in 1976 on wages of 1,000 a week.

The following year he bought the Cheshire home where he still lives, with enough land at the back to run a successful horse-racing stable.

His part in City's history is indelible, and he is proud that he was the chairman at the start of negotiations that would see City leave their Maine Road home for the Commonwealth Games stadium.

'I was at a Premier League meeting and Sir John Hall (Newcastle United's chairman), who was in property, said to me: “You've landed lucky, haven't you”. His information was that Manchester was going to host the Commonwealth Games in the Queen's Golden Jubilee year of 2002, which meant a big, new stadium.

'There was really only going to be one team to go there and it meant City didn't have to spend the same amount as for their own ground. The city council approached us and we worked on that from there.'

The rest, as they say, is history, and at least when Lee walks up to The Etihad today, he will not be worried about another five-goal beating from United.

Justin Rose in contention at Australian Open

Rose in contention in Sydney but blows chance to share lead with Senden

|

UPDATED:

11:28 GMT, 8 December 2012

Justin Rose will head into the final round of the Australian Open two strokes off the lead after a late stumble cost him a share of the overnight lead at The Lakes in Sydney.

Rose had held a two-shot advantage in the afternoon but spoiled his round with consecutive bogeys on the final two holes to finish the day on five under overall.

Despite that the world No 4 remains firmly in contention to end 2012 on a high with his third-round two-under-par 70 leaving him in second place behind local hopeful John Senden.

In with a chance: Justin Rose is two shots behind the leader at the Australian Open

In with a chance: Justin Rose is two shots behind the leader at the Australian Open

It is the second consecutive year Senden has held the 54-hole lead at the tournament and Rose is expecting a tough battle when they are paired tomorrow with high winds expected.

'I hear the wind's going to switch and blow just as hard,' Rose said.

'Whoever literally stands up could win the golf tournament, it could be last man standing.

'I think it's going to be a battle – but I'm excited, as long as it doesn't get out of control and blow too hard, it's going to be a fun day to try and hit some shots.

'It's going to be my last round of the year and I'd like to go out on a high note.'

Senden, who had led after the opening round, had to withstand a shaky start today as he bogeyed his opening two holes to fall behind a cluster of seven players who briefly held the lead.

Leading the way: John Senden is top of the leaderboard going into the final round

Leading the way: John Senden is top of the leaderboard going into the final round

But the 2006 Stonehaven Cup winner made his charge on the back nine, producing an eagle on the par-five 11th and adding consecutive birdies from the 13th to card a two-under 70 and sit at seven under overall.

'It was a day of just trying to do my best to stay up there and it's nice to be leading the golf tournament,' Senden said.

'I thought the last two holes were pretty much close to the edge – it was so windy out there it was hard to hit the ball straight.'

Matt Jones (69), Peter Senior (69) and Kieran Pratt (70) are level in third place a shot behind Rose.

Pratt stole the outright lead with spectacular eagle at the 11th but his stint at the top of the leaderboard ended on the very next hole with a bogey.

Champion in 2001, Stuart Appleby and his American playing partner Kyle Stanley both posted two-under 70s to be three under for the tournament alongside Cameron Percy (72).

Home favourite: Adam Scott ponders his options during the third round

Home favourite: Adam Scott ponders his options during the third round

Pre-tournament favourite Adam Scott is a shot further back among a group of nine players in a share of ninth after posting his second straight 71.

Scott burst out of the blocks with consecutive birdies but had given both shots back by the fifth hole to make the turn in level par.

He mixed two bogeys and three birdies on the way home and will need something special on Sunday to claim his second Australian Open title, trailing by five shots.

Scott Gardiner fired the low round of the day, a four-under 68, to sit a further shot back alongside amateur Cameron Smith (69) and defending champion Greg Chalmers (69).

Geoff Ogilvy is also at one under after carding an adventurous 70 that included an eagle and a double bogey.

Struggling: Tom Watson had a round to forget in Sydney

Struggling: Tom Watson had a round to forget in Sydney

Meanwhile, veteran Tom Watson made a move in the wrong direction with a six-over 78.

'It was ugly out there today for me, very ugly,' Watson said immediately after his round.

'I struggled on the practice area warming up, I didn't have any feel for the club and didn't put the clubface on the ball.

'I'm not blaming anything but I woke up at 3 o'clock this morning and couldn't go back to sleep and I'm jetlagged pretty good coming back from South Africa.'