Tag Archives: cruyff

David Beckham son Brooklyn joins training at Paris Saint-Germain

First Chelsea, now PSG! Brooklyn Beckham joins dad David in training as his fledgling football career receives another boost

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

17:06 GMT, 19 February 2013

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UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 19 February 2013

With his famous father, Brooklyn Beckham was always going to get his foot in the door at Europe's top clubs.

But, just a month after Sportsmail revealed he had a trial at Chelsea, David Beckham's son got another chance to impress today by joining his dad in training at Paris Saint-Germain.

Brooklyn was on the Under 14 roster at the LA Galaxy academy while his dad played in California, and is approaching the age when top clubs will be able to make a call on his prospects of reaching the top.

That's my boy: David Beckham (centre) took son Brooklyn (below) into training with him on Tuesday

That's my boy: David Beckham (centre) took son Brooklyn (below) into training with him on Tuesday

That's my boy: David Beckham (centre) took son Brooklyn (below) into training with him on Tuesday

That's my boy: David Beckham (centre) took son Brooklyn (below) into training with him on Tuesday

That's my boy: David Beckham (centre) took son Brooklyn (below) into training with him on Tuesday

And Sportsmail revealed last month that Brooklyn had a trial at Chelsea's state-of-the-art training ground.

Beckham on trial at Chelsea! But it's not the superstar former England captain… it's his son Brooklyn

Read how Sportsmail broke the exclusive story of Brooklyn Beckham's trial at Cobham

Players and parents were stunned to
see Beckham on the touchline at Cobham, but he was there not for talks
with Chelsea and instead went to watch his
son in a low-key academy game aimed at giving him a taste of English
football at junior level.

If any of Beckham's sons – Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz, who are on half-term holiday from their new school in London – do make the grade, it will not be the first father-and-son combination to
play top-class football. Other father-and-son professionals include Teddy and Charlie Sheringham; Mark Chamberlain and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; Arnor and Eidur Gudjohnsen and Johan and
Jordi Cruyff.

David Beckham

David Beckham

Building fitness: Beckham is preparing for his PSG debut after joining the French giants in January

Seeing red: PSG crashed to defeat at lowly Sochaux on Sunday and saw their lead in Ligue 1 cut

Seeing red: PSG crashed to defeat at lowly Sochaux on Sunday and saw their lead in Ligue 1 cut

Beckham Snr, meanwhile, was looking to build up his match fitness, with his PSG debut still on hold following his move to the French big-spenders on January transfer deadline day.

The former England captain, who is looking to win the league championship in a fourth different country, started full training with PSG last week and has not played a competitive match since his last appearance for the Los Angeles Galaxy in December.

He is likely to make his bow for Carlo Ancelotti's side at home against title rival Marseille on February 24. PSG hosts Marseille again three days later in the French Cup.

PSG saw their lead at the top of the Ligue 1 standings slashed in half after they suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat at lowly Sochaux on Sunday while nearest challengers Lyon thrashed Bordeaux 4-0 away from home.

Johan Cruyff"s world XI: No Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo

Cruyff's all-time world XI: There's only one Englishman and no Messi or Ronaldo (are you sure, Johan)

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UPDATED:

10:46 GMT, 23 November 2012

England World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton makes it into Johan Cruyff’s all-time World XI alongside Maradona and Pele – but he's amazingly found no room for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo!

Cruyff reveals his greatest team in history in a new book ‘Football, my philosophy’ and Charlton – the only Englishman in the Dutchman's side, who played 106 times for England – lines up in a four man midfield with Alfredo Di Stefano, Piet Keizer and Pep Guardiola.

Speaking at the launch of the book Cruyff also revealed how tough it would be for his protge Guardiola to decide which step to take next in his career.

England's only: Sir Bobby Charlton, here letting fly with a thunderous strike for Manchester United, has been named in Johan Cruyff's all-time XI

England's only: Sir Bobby Charlton, here letting fly with a thunderous strike for Manchester United, has been named in Johan Cruyff's all-time XI

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates scoring during the la Liga match between Real Madrid CF and RC Deportivo La Coruna at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on September 30, 2012

Lionel Messi (R) of Barcelona runs for the ball with Kelvin Wilson of Celtic FC during the UEFA Champions League group G match between FC Barcelona and Celtic FC at the Camp Nou stadium on October 23, 2012

Sorry lads: There's no place for Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Lionel Messi (far right)

He said: 'It is so difficult for him because everybody is going to compare what he does now with what he achieved at Barcelona and he will no longer have all the organisation of the club behind him. He will be practically starting from zero.

'I know how he feels after I had been at Ajax and Barcelona I thought what can I do now, where can I go from here. I was lucky because I only had about ten more years left working; he has only just started out as a coach.'

Yashin

Yashin

Carlos Alberto

Carlos Alberto

Beckenbauer

Beckenbauer

Krol

Krol

Guardiola

Guardiola

Di Stefano

Di Stefano

Keizer

Keizer

Pele

Pele

Garrincha

Garrincha

Star man: Diego Maradona terrorises the England defence at the 1986 World Cup

Star man: Diego Maradona terrorises the England defence at the 1986 World Cup

Cruyff tipped Leo Messi to keep on beating Cristiano Ronaldo to the top individual awards and suggested it was the little man’s stature they gave him the edge; capturing people’s imagination by doing what he does inspite of his size.

He said: 'These awards are all subjective. Messi is tiny and so very quick with the ball and everything he does seems to have more magic about it because of that. It is only logical that he comes out on top.'

CRUYFF'S ALL-TIME XI (3-4-3)

Yashin (USSR); Carlos Alberto (Bra), Beckenbauer (Ger), Krol (Hol); Guardiola (Sp), Charlton (Eng), Di Stefano (Arg/Col/Sp), Keizer (Hol); Maradona (Arg), Pele (Bra), Garrincha (Bra)

Dutch of class: Johan Cruyff found no room for Messi or Ronaldo in his best XI

Dutch of class: Johan Cruyff found no room for Messi or Ronaldo in his best XI

Barcelona v Celtic preview – Johan Cruyff on Tito Vilanova and Lionel Messi

Judge Vilanova when something goes wrong, says Barca legend Cruyff ahead of Celtic's date with Messi

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UPDATED:

07:17 GMT, 22 October 2012

Celtic have certainly made an impression. Not enough for Johan Cruyff to give them much of a chance against his beloved Barca, mind. But they’ve definitely registered a blip on the great man’s radar.

Pleased initially by their return to the Champions League proper, he has noted with some pleasure their first ever away win in the richest club competition on the planet; victory in Moscow is hailed as a real sign of progress.

If Cruyff is just being polite, the niceties stop at the prospect of Celtic emerging unscathed from Tuesday night’s fixture at the home of a Barcelona team who still make the famously arch-Dutchman break into a smile of unbridled joy. ‘Always,’ he says, flashing a grin to emphasise the point.

Unstoppable: Lionel Messi celebrates after completing his hat-trick against Deportivo La Coruna

Unstoppable: Lionel Messi celebrates after completing his hat-trick against Deportivo La Coruna

High fives: Messi celebrates with Cesc Fabregas in Barcelona's latest triumph

High fives: Messi celebrates with Cesc Fabregas in Barcelona's latest triumph

Cruyff, the free spirit whose revolutionary genius remains imprinted on the soul of Barcelona, has certainly not fallen out of love with the Team That Pep Built.

Is there just a flicker of darkness, though, when the old King of the Nou Camp is invited to shower praise upon the new heir to the throne Might there be a suggestion that Barca boss Tito Vilanova, the former right-hand man promoted to replace Cruyff protg Pep Guardiola in the summer, is yet to convince the most keen-eyed critic in Catalonia If so, it will be pounced upon as a sign of hope by all seeking something — a miracle, preferably — to lift Scottish football out of its current gloom and misery.

Declaring his admiration for the work done by Neil Lennon to date, Cruyff seems almost overjoyed at Celtic’s return to the big league, telling Sportsmail: ‘It is good, first of all, for a Scottish team to be playing at this level. Seriously, that is a big step for a country that has struggled for a long time.

So far, so good: Tito Vilanova has guided Barcelona to the top of the table

So far, so good: Tito Vilanova has guided Barcelona to the top of the table

‘I have watched as Scottish teams did just what the Dutch clubs did, wasting money on foreign players who did not improve the league, did not improve the competitive environment — and then they wondered why the European success did not always follow.

‘Now, I know Celtic have bought wisely and they have developed some of their own players. That is why they are back at this level.

‘And it was a big result in Moscow. A lot of very big clubs would struggle with that fixture away to Spartak — but they showed something by going to Russia and winning.

‘It’s impossible, of course, to say how they will progress from here. Barcelona are the favourites but, beyond that, the group is open.

‘Normally, Barcelona has a much better team than Celtic. If everything is as it should be, then Barcelona win every time.

Job well done: Scott Brown and Celtic celebrate their win in Moscow

Job well done: Scott Brown and Celtic celebrate their win in Moscow

‘But there are things a coach can do, things players can do, to make the gap less. Celtic have to work very hard and believe that they can achieve something.’

Informed that former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan had joked about visiting the nearest church as the best pre-match plan when facing Barca, Cruyff laughed as he replied: ‘Maybe he’s right! But there is always something you can do as a player or as a manager to close the gap.’

The importance of the manager is a subject under much discussion at home and abroad these days, with some arguing that his influence is almost entirely dependent on the players at his disposal.

In which case, Vilanova should have no problem in repeating the success of former boss Guardiola. With the same team, more or less, as his predecessor, the same results and performances should follow. It’s a nice theory.

Despite the hammer blows they suffered at home and abroad last season, their Liga title lost to Real Madrid, while the blunt instrument of Chelsea did for their Champions League hopes, it still feels almost heretical to question Barcelona.

The man they need to stop: Lionel Messi is the dangerman for Barca

The man they need to stop: Lionel Messi is the dangerman for Barca

Two wins out of two at the start of this Champions League campaign suggests that all is well with the greatest team in history, a team back on top in the domestic table and well clear of putative challengers Real.

Even ahead of Saturday night’s shipping of four goals in a 5-4 victory at Deportivo, those who study the minutiae of performance have become alarmed by a perceived easing of the pressing game as vital to Barca as their famed passing carousel.

There is a lack of width, Vilanova’s failure to by a central defender in the close season has been exposed as reckless, while Lionel Messi is said to be indulged to a potentially dangerous degree. Although it has to be said that the latter doesn’t appear to be affecting the wee genius, not going by his hat-trick against Deportivo.

Cruyff, the man who lifted Barca to great heights as first the greatest player of his era and then as a manager touched with a kind of dramatic genius, says of Vilanova: ‘Everything is going great for him now, just as we all expected. He knew the players, he knows the club very well, he helped Guardiola and was a part of a successful management team.

In good form: Celtic striker Gary Hooper helped his side to a 5-0 win away at St Mirren

In good form: Celtic striker Gary Hooper helped his side to a 5-0 win away at St Mirren

‘But this is not the time to judge him as a manager. The time to judge him is when something goes wrong. When things don’t work out, when there is a crisis, that’s when you know if the coach is capable.’

If you detect a lack of warmth there, you’re not imagining things. The way in which Vilanova took the job, initially having promised to leave with Pep — who was believed to be considered by the English FA at one point — will rankle with Cruyff, whose own experience of seeing assistant Charly Reixach stay on when the Dutchman was himself sacked, remains a sore point; he still doesn’t speak to his former friend.

Neither is Cruyff a supporter of Barca president Sandro Rossell, to put it mildly. The pair are as close as you’d find to sworn enemies, so Vilanova — who left Barca as a player when the Dutchman was boss, having received an unsatisfactory answer to a ‘play me or sell me’ plea — won’t earn many points for throwing his lot in with the new regime.

Last time out: Barcelona beat Celtic twice in the group stages of the Champions League in 2008

Last time out: Barcelona beat Celtic twice in the group stages of the Champions League in 2008

But mostly the gloriously gifted Cruyff, whose arrival as the world’s first million-dollar footballer in 1973 inspired a generation, seems concerned about the football.

A man whose favourite sayings include: ‘If I wanted you to understand I would have explained it better’, had to change the entire philosophy of Barca when he returned as manager in 1988, implementing a tweaked version of the total football that still holds sway today. Any possibility of change to that is bound to provoke a reaction.

For all of the whispered doubts and hints of concern, though, Cruyff — who spoke to Sportsmail during his recent appearance in the Dunhill Links Championship — still gets a kick out of watching this group of players do their thing.

Asked if they still make him smile, the man who inspired his own ‘Dream Team’ to Liga and European Cup glory, says: ‘Always. Always they make me smile, make me very happy.

No comparison: Cruyff won't compare the Barcelona of today with the side he managed in the 1990s

No comparison: Cruyff won't compare the Barcelona of today with the side he managed in the 1990s

‘There is no point in comparing them with the team I managed — I never compare, it is silly to try. All I can say is we had some fantastic players doing incredible things — and this team has some fantastic players doing incredible things.

‘Messi is the star, of course. But he only plays so well because he has Iniesta, Xavi or Fabregas to help him — look at the difference when he plays with Argentina, when the supporting quality is not there. But Messi is in a different league, on a different planet.’

Earthbound sides are occasionally allowed to visit Planet Barca, with the recent changes to the Champions League — making it easier for national champions from smaller markets to make the group stages — opening up the opportunity for more to experience the exquisite agony of taking on the best in the world.

‘It’s difficult to say that changing something like this makes it immediately possible for teams from smaller countries to succeed,’ said Cruyff, addressing the revamped qualification system.

‘So much depends on the individual clubs. Are they ready to make the jump It is one thing being given an invitation to play in the Champions League, another thing to make an impression once you get there.’

Lennon’s men have put a dent in the competition already, their four points from the opening two fixtures giving them a decent platform. Even if most expect them to be stuck on the same total after match days three and four, with Barcelona fancied to beat Scotland’s champions home and away.

Get so much as a point from those two fixtures, and they’ll have more than impressed one keen, cultured and indisputably qualified observer already taking admiring notice of their efforts.

Johan Cruyff says Tito Vilanova will be judged by Barcelona when something goes wrong

EXCLUSIVE: 'The time for us to judge Vilanova is when something goes wrong', says Barca legend Cruyff

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UPDATED:

22:50 GMT, 21 October 2012

Celtic have certainly made an impression. Not enough for Johan Cruyff to give them much of a chance against his beloved Barca, mind. But they’ve definitely registered a blip on the great man’s radar.

Pleased initially by their return to the Champions League proper, he has noted with some pleasure their first ever away win in the richest club competition on the planet; victory in Moscow is hailed as a real sign of progress.

If Cruyff is just being polite, the niceties stop at the prospect of Celtic emerging unscathed from Tuesday night’s fixture at the home of a Barcelona team who still make the famously arch-Dutchman break into a smile of unbridled joy. ‘Always,’ he says, flashing a grin to emphasise the point.

Impressed: Johan Cruyff praised Celtic for their win over Spartak Moscow

Impressed: Johan Cruyff praised Celtic for their win over Spartak Moscow

Cruyff, the free spirit whose revolutionary genius remains imprinted on the soul of Barcelona, has certainly not fallen out of love with the Team That Pep Built.

Is there just a flicker of darkness, though, when the old King of the Nou Camp is invited to shower praise upon the new heir to the throne Might there be a suggestion that Barca boss Tito Vilanova, the former right-hand man promoted to replace Cruyff protg Pep Guardiola in the summer, is yet to convince the most keen-eyed critic in Catalonia If so, it will be pounced upon as a sign of hope by all seeking something — a miracle, preferably — to lift Scottish football out of its current gloom and misery.

Declaring his admiration for the work done by Neil Lennon to date, Cruyff seems almost overjoyed at Celtic’s return to the big league, telling Sportsmail: ‘It is good, first of all, for a Scottish team to be playing at this level. Seriously, that is a big step for a country that has struggled for a long time.

So far, so good: Tito Vilanova has guided Barcelona to the top of the table

So far, so good: Tito Vilanova has guided Barcelona to the top of the table

‘I have watched as Scottish teams did just what the Dutch clubs did, wasting money on foreign players who did not improve the league, did not improve the competitive environment — and then they wondered why the European success did not always follow.

‘Now, I know Celtic have bought wisely and they have developed some of their own players. That is why they are back at this level.

‘And it was a big result in Moscow. A lot of very big clubs would struggle with that fixture away to Spartak — but they showed something by going to Russia and winning.

‘It’s impossible, of course, to say how they will progress from here. Barcelona are the favourites but, beyond that, the group is open.

‘Normally, Barcelona has a much better team than Celtic. If everything is as it should be, then Barcelona win every time.

Job well done: Scott Brown and Celtic celebrate their win in Moscow

Job well done: Scott Brown and Celtic celebrate their win in Moscow

‘But there are things a coach can do, things players can do, to make the gap less. Celtic have to work very hard and believe that they can achieve something.’

Informed that former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan had joked about visiting the nearest church as the best pre-match plan when facing Barca, Cruyff laughed as he replied: ‘Maybe he’s right! But there is always something you can do as a player or as a manager to close the gap.’

The importance of the manager is a subject under much discussion at home and abroad these days, with some arguing that his influence is almost entirely dependent on the players at his disposal.

In which case, Vilanova should have no problem in repeating the success of former boss Guardiola. With the same team, more or less, as his predecessor, the same results and performances should follow. It’s a nice theory.

Despite the hammer blows they suffered at home and abroad last season, their Liga title lost to Real Madrid, while the blunt instrument of Chelsea did for their Champions League hopes, it still feels almost heretical to question Barcelona.

The man they need to stop: Lionel Messi is the dangerman for Barca

The man they need to stop: Lionel Messi is the dangerman for Barca

Two wins out of two at the start of this Champions League campaign suggests that all is well with the greatest team in history, a team back on top in the domestic table and well clear of putative challengers Real.

Even ahead of Saturday night’s shipping of four goals in a 5-4 victory at Deportivo, those who study the minutiae of performance have become alarmed by a perceived easing of the pressing game as vital to Barca as their famed passing carousel.

There is a lack of width, Vilanova’s failure to by a central defender in the close season has been exposed as reckless, while Lionel Messi is said to be indulged to a potentially dangerous degree. Although it has to be said that the latter doesn’t appear to be affecting the wee genius, not going by his hat-trick against Deportivo.

Cruyff, the man who lifted Barca to great heights as first the greatest player of his era and then as a manager touched with a kind of dramatic genius, says of Vilanova: ‘Everything is going great for him now, just as we all expected. He knew the players, he knows the club very well, he helped Guardiola and was a part of a successful management team.

In good form: Celtic striker Gary Hooper helped his side to a 5-0 win away at St Mirren

In good form: Celtic striker Gary Hooper helped his side to a 5-0 win away at St Mirren

‘But this is not the time to judge him as a manager. The time to judge him is when something goes wrong. When things don’t work out, when there is a crisis, that’s when you know if the coach is capable.’

If you detect a lack of warmth there, you’re not imagining things. The way in which Vilanova took the job, initially having promised to leave with Pep — who was believed to be considered by the English FA at one point — will rankle with Cruyff, whose own experience of seeing assistant Charly Reixach stay on when the Dutchman was himself sacked, remains a sore point; he still doesn’t speak to his former friend.

Neither is Cruyff a supporter of Barca president Sandro Rossell, to put it mildly. The pair are as close as you’d find to sworn enemies, so Vilanova — who left Barca as a player when the Dutchman was boss, having received an unsatisfactory answer to a ‘play me or sell me’ plea — won’t earn many points for throwing his lot in with the new regime.

Last time out: Barcelona beat Celtic twice in the group stages of the Champions League in 2008

Last time out: Barcelona beat Celtic twice in the group stages of the Champions League in 2008

But mostly the gloriously gifted Cruyff, whose arrival as the world’s first million-dollar footballer in 1973 inspired a generation, seems concerned about the football.

A man whose favourite sayings include: ‘If I wanted you to understand I would have explained it better’, had to change the entire philosophy of Barca when he returned as manager in 1988, implementing a tweaked version of the total football that still holds sway today. Any possibility of change to that is bound to provoke a reaction.

For all of the whispered doubts and hints of concern, though, Cruyff — who spoke to Sportsmail during his recent appearance in the Dunhill Links Championship — still gets a kick out of watching this group of players do their thing.

Asked if they still make him smile, the man who inspired his own ‘Dream Team’ to Liga and European Cup glory, says: ‘Always. Always they make me smile, make me very happy.

No comparison: Cruyff won't compare the Barcelona of today with the side he managed in the 1990s

No comparison: Cruyff won't compare the Barcelona of today with the side he managed in the 1990s

‘There is no point in comparing them with the team I managed — I never compare, it is silly to try. All I can say is we had some fantastic players doing incredible things — and this team has some fantastic players doing incredible things.

‘Messi is the star, of course. But he only plays so well because he has Iniesta, Xavi or Fabregas to help him — look at the difference when he plays with Argentina, when the supporting quality is not there. But Messi is in a different league, on a different planet.’

Earthbound sides are occasionally allowed to visit Planet Barca, with the recent changes to the Champions League — making it easier for national champions from smaller markets to make the group stages — opening up the opportunity for more to experience the exquisite agony of taking on the best in the world.

‘It’s difficult to say that changing something like this makes it immediately possible for teams from smaller countries to succeed,’ said Cruyff, addressing the revamped qualification system.

‘So much depends on the individual clubs. Are they ready to make the jump It is one thing being given an invitation to play in the Champions League, another thing to make an impression once you get there.’

Lennon’s men have put a dent in the competition already, their four points from the opening two fixtures giving them a decent platform. Even if most expect them to be stuck on the same total after match days three and four, with Barcelona fancied to beat Scotland’s champions home and away.

Get so much as a point from those two fixtures, and they’ll have more than impressed one keen, cultured and indisputably qualified observer already taking admiring notice of their efforts.

Oscar Pistorius to compete in Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Man of many talents: Blade Runner Pistorius set to compete in Dunhill Links Championship

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UPDATED:

17:45 GMT, 28 September 2012

'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius will compete in next week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Fife.

The South African Olympian and Paralympian, who runs on carbon fibre blades, plays off an 18 handicap and will feature in the team competition which sees amateurs competing alongside professionals.

Many talents: Oscar Pistorius is an adept golfer and plays off 18

Many talents: Oscar Pistorius is an adept golfer and plays off 18

Pistorius, who won two gold medals and a silver at the London Paralympics, said: 'I am a big golf fan and love the game.

'I have never played St Andrews, Carnoustie or Kingsbarns before, so playing them in a world-class event is a unique opportunity.

'There is so much history at St Andrews, every golfer longs to play there.'

Other amateurs featuring along with 10 Major winners include actor Greg Kinnear, musician Huey Lewis and former Dutch footballers Ruud Gullit and Johan Cruyff.

Ernie Els and Paul Lawrie are among the professionals who will tee off on Thursday, along with holder Michael Hoey.

Blade Runner: Pistorius competed at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London

Blade Runner: Pistorius competed at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London

Jack Taylor dies age 82 – Jeff Powell looks back on his life

Jack Taylor, the fearless man in black: Jeff Powell looks back at the charismatic referee's life

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UPDATED:

22:22 GMT, 27 July 2012

Jack Taylor, a referee so firm and fearless that they should have made a template in which to cast the officials of today, died on Friday at the age of 82.

Typically of the large, charismatic, man from Wolverhampton, Taylor’s most controversial moments came in the biggest match of a career spanning an extraordinary 33 years.

In 1974, in the very first minute, Taylor blew for the first penalty to be awarded in a World Cup final.

Final man: Jack Taylor the 1974 World Cup final

Final man: Jack Taylor the 1974 World Cup final

And that was in Munich, against West
Germany, in defiance of the angry thousands. Holland’s Johan Cruyff had
been pulled down and Johan Neeskens converted. West Germany captain
Franz Beckenbauer told Taylor: ‘You are an Englishman.’

Twenty-five minutes later, the
official penalised the Dutch in like manner and Paul Breitner equalised.
At half-time, Taylor was confronted by Cruyff, who accused him of
levelling it up and was booked for his pains.

Taylor strenuously denied there was
any element of compensation in the decision, just as he always explained
his verdicts frankly to the media after matches whether the authorities
liked it or not.

West Germany went on to win the World
Cup, Taylor to referee more than 1,000 English league games and 100
international matches.

His other honours included the 1966 FA Cup final and the 1971 European Cup final at Wembley in which Ajax beat Panathinaikos.

Jack the giant brooked no argument on the pitch, famously keeping the fiery likes of Billy Bremner under firm control.

World Cup ref: Jack Taylor took charge of over 1000 games

World Cup ref: Jack Taylor took charge of over 1000 games

Taylor, a true gentleman

Born: Wolverhampton, April 21, 1930.

Career: 33 years, refereeing more than 1,000 games and 100 internationals in 60 countries.

Most memorable match: 1974 World Cup final between Germany and Holland, where he awarded two penalties.

Favourite anecdote: After being struck by a coin thrown from the crowd at Luton, Eric Morecambe visited him to ask if he was OK and to see if he was going to report his club. When Jack said no, the comedian replied: ‘Good, now can I have my penny back’

It would have been interesting to see
him deal with the frothing likes of Joey Barton. There would have been
only one winner there, with Taylor standing over the little upstart and
making him look ridiculous.

Yesterday Football League chairman
Greg Clarke said: ‘Jack Taylor set the benchmark for refereeing, not
just in this country but across the world and in later life he applied
the same levels of integrity, commitment and sheer love of the game to
his other roles.

‘Very few people in football can match
the contribution he made and fewer still have managed to do it whilst
retaining the respect and admiration of absolutely everyone they have
come into contact with.’

Taylor was a man for the big occasion
and it is so characteristic of him that he should pass away hours before
the flame was lit last night at the opening ceremony for the London
2012 Olympic Games.

Football in general and refereeing
associations here and around the world will be lighting a candle to the
archetypal man in black.

Jan Molby backs Michael Laudrup at Swansea

Molby says fellow Dane Laudrup taking over Swansea is a 'match made in heaven'

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UPDATED:

08:43 GMT, 15 June 2012

Former Swansea manager Jan Molby believes his old club and compatriot Michael Laudrup are a 'match made in heaven'.

The Dane has emerged as the front runner to become Brendan Rodgers' replacement at the Liberty Stadium and an announcement could be made later.

Molby believes the 47-year-old's playing career – with spells at Barcelona and Real Madrid – has heavily influenced his management style, and his footballing philosophy dovetails nicely with that started by Roberto Martinez and continued by Rodgers before he joined Liverpool.

Heading to Wales: Michael Laudrup is expected to be the new Swansea manger

Heading to Wales: Michael Laudrup is expected to be the new Swansea manger

'He was strongly influenced by Johan Cruyff when he was at Barcelona in the late 1980s, early 90s,' Molby told BBC Sport Wales.

'That's how he wants to play his football, that's how Swansea played last year under Brendan Rodgers, so if it happens I think it's a marriage made in heaven.

Support: Fellow Dane Jan Molby says Laudrup will be a success

Support: Fellow Dane Jan Molby says Laudrup will be a success

'They've put a squad together capable of playing exactly like they want to play.

'They're brave and it's worked well for them, they've proved they can do it in the Premier League.

'That's very important for Michael, he won't have to start from scratch with a group of players that maybe aren't comfortable having the ball, being in possession.

'This group of Swansea players are. He will maybe add one or two players he might know from Europe but of course there won't be great changes, because they don't need to.

'I think Michael is a bit like Brendan Rodgers, likes a settled squad, likes to work with the players, feel that he can improve the players.

'So I don't think he's one of those managers who is going to be knocking on the chairman's door every other day saying they need more players.'

Laudrup won five Spanish league titles in the early 1990s and was one of the players of his generation, but has yet to replicate that success as a manager with spells at Brondby, Getafe, Spartak Moscow and Mallorca.

Molby believes his fellow Dane has yet to achieve his full potential but thinks an opportunity at the Liberty Stadium could be the opening he has been looking for.

'If you look at his CV, he did very well with Brondby with a young group of players, got them playing the right way,' the former Liverpool midfielder added.

'Then you look at his next three jobs: Getafe, I thought he did well but fell out with the owner, had a great run in the Europa League, almost knocked out the mighty Bayern Munich.

'Moscow, I think he just landed in a country where it was impossible with language difficulties, they just didn't allow him to do what he wants to.

'And from the moment he set foot in Mallorca they were just beset with financial problems that he never quite got over.

'This is the opportunity now, he has to make a mark as a manager.'

Arsenal stay silent on Robin van Persie talks despite Manchester City interest

Arsenal commit to staying silent on Van Persie talks despite City and Juventus interest

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UPDATED:

23:12 GMT, 5 June 2012

Arsenal will not be rushed into making an announcement on captain Robin van Persie's future, chief executive Ivan Gazidis insists.

Van Persie scored 37 times for the Gunners last season but he could leave the Emirates Stadium this summer if he fails to agree an extension to his current contract, which expires at the end of next season.

Talks over Van Persie's contract ended without agreement last month and Manchester City have vowed to bid for the striker if he becomes available.

Child's play: Robin van Persie at the opening of the Orange Cruyff Court in Krakow on Tuesday

Child's play: Robin van Persie at the opening of the Orange Cruyff Court in Krakow on Tuesday

Van Persie, who is on international duty with Holland at Euro 2012, described another one of his suitors, Juventus, as a 'great team', further fuelling suggestions he could quit London.

But despite the uncertainty over their skipper's future, Gazidis says the Gunners will not be pressured into making a declaration on the matter soon.

'Robin sat down with us at the end of the season and we had a good discussion,' Gazidis told Arsenal's website. 'What we agreed at that meeting was that we would keep all the discussions we had over the summer to ourselves and make announcements when it is the right time.

'We have to respect the fact we have agreed to keep that among ourselves. Robin is clearly focused on the Euros at the moment and we wish him well, and at the right time we will make the right announcements.'

City signed Samir Nasri from Arsenal under similar circumstances last season when the midfielder had 12 months left on his contract. The Frenchman went on to win the Barclays Premier League with his new club, and City could offer Van Persie a bumper contract way above what he currently earns with Arsenal.

Van Persie's value to Arsenal is clear. The Dutchman's 30 Barclays Premier League goals almost single-handedly rescued them from major failure last season as they fought back from a woeful start to finish third.

There were calls for Arsene Wenger's head when Arsenal lost three of their opening five games – one of which was an 8-2 drubbing at Manchester United – but Gazidis is glad the club kept faith with their manager of 16 years.

All smiles: Van Persie looked relaxed during training with his Holland team-mates

All smiles: Van Persie looked relaxed during training with his Holland team-mates

He said: 'This football club was placed under terrific pressure at times and I think, for a different club, there would have been the possibility that we would begin to fall apart, panic and make decisions that would have been bad. That is not what happened.'

Regardless of Arsenal's turnaround, Gazidis still thinks the club underachieved last season and is determined to see them challenging for trophies again next term.

'None of this is cause for popping champagne corks at Arsenal,' the 47-year-old said. 'While it is a creditable performance it is not achieving our ambition.

'We want to win the Premier League. We want to compete to win the Champions League. That is what we are planning for during the course of the summer and everything we do is geared towards that.'

Last summer Wenger dallied on replacements for Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and Gael Clichy, with Andre Santos, Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta all arriving on deadline day.

Talking tactics: Arjen Robben, Van Persie and Holland coach Bert van Marwijk in Krakow

Talking tactics: Arjen Robben, Van Persie and Holland coach Bert van Marwijk in Krakow

The new arrivals were seen as inferior to the men they replaced, but Arteta went on to have an outstanding season.

So far this summer Arsenal have already signed Germany striker Lukas Podolski and are keen on recruiting France midfielder Yann M'Vila, although he has stated he will wait until after Euro 2012 before deciding his future.

Gazidis hinted that Wenger will try to move as quickly as possible to make new additions to his squad.

'We always try and conduct our activity as early as we can,' he added. 'The key for us is not the volume of signings, but that they add something to the squad.

'That is something Arsene thinks extremely carefully about and for all of the pressure he is placed under, he tends to make good decisions.'

Arjen Robben answers critics at Bayern Munich

Robben answers his critics with night of Bernabeu brilliance

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 26 April 2012

In the midst of a contest that even Karl-Heinz Rummenigge would later say was as intense as any he has experienced in 40 years, there were still touching sporting moments to take away from the Bernabeu on Wednesday night. Two involved Arjen Robben.

The first was a clearly respectful chat with Cristiano Ronaldo as the two men, divided by the halfway line, squared up at the beginning of extra time.

The second came when that weary half-hour ended, Jose Mourinho grabbing Robben and embracing him in a bear-hug of affection that also contained a nod to the unstinting, skilled 120 minutes the Holland winger had just delivered.

Good to see you! Jose Mouriho and Arjen Robben get reacquainted

Good to see you! Jose Mouriho and Arjen Robben get reacquainted

Robben has not always inspired such feelings, and Mourinho sold him to Real Madrid when at Stamford Bridge. The fee was 24million, so Chelsea did not do badly out of it. In fact, with hindsight, Robben’s time in west London brought plenty.

Robben arrived from PSV Eindhoven in 2004 for 12m and it is easy to forget he was only 20. He had hair. In three seasons at Stamford Bridge Robben won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups. This silverware should be convincing.

Yet unless Blue is your colour, or even if it is, there is an almost equally strong image of Robben hitting the turf all too easily and all too frequently. The English memory is marred by that — though it’s not just here. Johan Cruyff has said of Robben: ‘He’s got a tremendous talent and a beautiful left foot, but his right leg is made of chocolate.’

Instead of expecting Robben, now 28, to thrive back at the Bernabeu — this is a man who has won league titles in Holland, England, Spain and Germany — there was anticipation that he would be overshadowed by Ronaldo and Co.

Spot on: Robben scored Bayern's penalty in normal time against Real

Spot on: Robben scored Bayern's penalty in normal time against Real

Robben maybe merits some complimentary reappraisal from us because, after Ronaldo had given Real that 14th-minute two-goal lead, it was the Dutchman who led the fightback.

Managers often talk about bravery in terms of possession, rather than physical courage, and Robben was brave. He took risks. And he kept going. He had after all played all 120 minutes of the last World Cup final in Johannesburg. Piece together his career and any doubt should fade.

In the concrete depths of the Bernabeu, past midnight local time, Robben mentioned that stamina. ‘I think our physical condition is one of our strengths and we proved that by showing we can play for 120 minutes or more,’ he said.

‘At half-time we said to each other that we could do this. But we also knew we had to take care because Madrid have such great quality. Before extra-time started we had a feeling we had a slight advantage. We felt that some of their players were tired.

‘We can be proud of ourselves after what we have achieved here. We deserve to be in the final. It was a great performance and you have to congratulate our team.’

Up in the air: Robben was known for his theatrics while with Chelsea

Up in the air: Robben was known for his theatrics while with Chelsea

Mourinho did that. Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes revealed that the Real manager had visited the away dressing room to salute Bayern’s achievement.

He recognised the creative resilience on display. It was Mourinho’s Inter Milan who overcame Bayern 2-0 in the 2010 Champions League final. Robben, though, is one of only four players who started on Wednesday and two years ago under Louis van Gaal.

Since then it has at times been a disconcerting period at the club known as FC Hollywood in Germany. Van Gaal has gone, Dortmund have just clinched a second consecutive Bundesliga title. After the first leg against Madrid there was also a dressing- room bust-up between Robben and Franck Ribery, which left the Dutchman with a bruised eye.

Ribery made a point of shaking Robben’s hand after scoring in the next game, but the simmering hint of discontent means there is now a question mark about what Robben will do next.

It would be interesting to know if Bayern’s players intervened to defend him. But his reputation as a superb, inventive, natural winger was easy to defend after Wednesday night.

Johan Cruyff not joining Liverpool

EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool chiefs can forget about hiring Cruyff to drive Anfield revolution

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 13 April 2012

Going nowhere: Cruyff will not be joining Liverpool

Going nowhere: Cruyff will not be joining Liverpool

Liverpool suffered a pre-Wembley setback on Friday after being warned their bold ambition to recruit Johan Cruyff is doomed to fail.

The Ajax and Holland legend is Liverpool’s preferred choice as director of football after Damien Comolli paid the price for their faltering form in the Barclays Premier League.

Concerns were immediately raised about the viability of a partnership between Kenny Dalglish and the strong-minded Cruyff, but it is unlikely to be put to the test after sources close to the Dutchman claimed Liverpool had ‘no chance’ of prising him away from his home in Barcelona.

Cruyff accepted a boardroom role at Ajax 14 months ago but still refused to relocate from the Catalan capital, where, apart from one six-year spell, he has lived since 1973. He flies to Amsterdam for a two-day stay once a month but otherwise relies on telephone contact with coach Frank de Boer for information on club affairs.

An Ajax source said: ‘His children and grandchildren are all with him in Barcelona, where he has lived for the past 24 years. He will be 65 in less than a fortnight. He is not going to uproot now and move to Liverpool.’

Dire straits: Liverpool have struggled in the Premier League all season

Dire straits: Liverpool have struggled in the Premier League all season