Tag Archives: derbies

How Nolberto Solano convinced Harrogate Town goalkeeper Mark Cook to move to Peru

From Harrogate to Peru… How Nobby Solano lured Mark Cook to a land of beaches, jungles and needles in unspeakable places!

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Think of the more peculiar transfers in British football over the past 12 months, and Barnet signing Edgar Davids or Robert Earnshaw going on loan from Cardiff to Maccabi Tel Aviv might spring to mind.

But it’s fair to say the deal that saw Mark Cook, a goalkeeper with non-league Harrogate Town, join the biggest club in Peru takes some beating.

The link in this rather unlikely scenario is Nolberto Solano, the former Newcastle United midfielder, who until recently was manager of Club Universitario de Deportes, Peru’s most successful team and one that fills its 80,000-capacity Estadio Monumental for local derbies in Lima.

Tall order: Mark Cook is not certain he will stay in Peru

Tall order: Mark Cook is not certain he will stay in Peru

Solano knew Cook from his time as reserve-team keeper at Newcastle and a brief spell together at Hartlepool. Still, moving to South America was the last thing on Cook’s mind when he received a call while training at a gym in Newcastle in July.

'Nobby was in Peru,’ he recalls. ‘He was looking for a goalkeeper and wanted to know my situation. He said it was a hot country with nice beaches, nice weather and nice food. I thought, “that’ll do me!” ‘Obviously I was bit anxious about what Peru was going to be like — I knew absolutely nothing about Peruvian football — but I said yes straightaway even before I’d asked my girlfriend.

'Harrogate are a brilliant club but I wanted to be playing full-time football again.’ Within a month the 24-year-old Geordie had swapped the Blue Square Bet North for Peru’s Primera Division. However, even though Solano and his friends had taken care of the paperwork, they forgot to warn Cook about what to expect at the airport.

A far away land: Cook training with Nobby Solano in Peru

A far away land: Cook training with Nobby Solano in Peru

'Nobby’s very famous in Peru and knows everyone in Lima,’ says Cook, who played under Shay Given and Steve Harper at Newcastle. ‘So some guy tapped me on the shoulder and took me through passport control and customs. Visa stamped, straight through.

'But when I came out of the doors I was surrounded by about 40 reporters. I couldn’t see a thing because there were that many flashes.

'At Harrogate the most media attention I got was from the club’s website guy and one or two local papers.’

It was a similar story when Cook accompanied two of his new teammates to a signing session at a supermarket in Lima.

‘It was crazy. There were thousands of fans surrounding me and the other lads. I had to escorted back to the car by eight security guards which I found weird.’ North Shields-born Cook made his debut in front of 35,000 in a 1-0 defeat to Sport Huancayo at the beginning of September, the first of two Primera Division appearances for Universitario. The second, away to Cobresol, taught him what it was like to play at altitude.

A new start: Cook shows off his Universitario shirt

A new start: Cook shows off his Universitario shirt

‘It’s hard to breathe and the ball moves around really quickly because the air’s thinner,’ says Cook. ‘If you play outside Lima it’s like going to a different country. One time we landed and had to drive three hours through desert, another it was through a jungle.

AND HE’S NOT THE ONLY BRIT TO GO ON AN ADVENTURE…

ROHAN RICKETTS

After spells at Arsenal, Tottenham and Wolves, Ricketts embarked on a world tour in 2009, taking in clubs in Canada, Hungary, Moldova, Germany and Ireland before moving to Dempo SC in the Indian I-League in August.

GRANT HOLT

The Norwich frontman has spent most of his career at various English clubs, but in 2001 he made a brief trip to the far east. Holt signed for Singapore side Sengkang Marine before returning to play for Barrow.

LEE HENDRIE

Hendrie made his name playing in midfield for Aston Villa. But after a series of short spells at clubs in the midlands, he moved to Bandung in the Liga Primer Indonesia.

JLLOYD-SAMUEL

After playing for Aston Villa, Bolton and Cardiff, the 31-year-old signed for Esteghlal in the Iranian Pro League.

TERRY COOKE

After struggling to break through at Man Utd, Cooke moved to Manchester City before finding success in the MLS playing for Colorado Rapids. In 2010, he teamed up with manager Tony Adams at Azerbaijan club Gabala.

NICKY BUTT

The former Man Utd and Newcastle midfielder headed to Hong Kong in 2010, signing for South China FC.

ROBERT EARNSHAW

After falling out of favour at Cardiff, the Wales striker joined Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv on loan in September 2012.

PAUL IFILL

The former Millwall man plays his football in New Zealand. The 33-year-old left Crystal Palace and signed for Wellington Phoenix in July 2009.

The fans are the best I’ve seen and that’s saying something coming from Newcastle.
'Every game they sing for 90 minutes non-stop, jumping up and down behind the goal, setting off flares and banging their drums.

'Until then, the biggest crowd I’d played in front of was 4,000 for Newcastle reserves.’ Universitario finished the regular season in mid-table but faded after the Primera Division split into two separate leagues for the last 14 games.

'They make the rules up as they go along, to be honest with you,’ says Cook.

'I played about six or seven games altogether including friendlies but I only played twice for the first-team before injuring my finger which meant I couldn’t train for two or three weeks.

'As soon as you get any kind of injury they stick an injection in your bum to make you better. Every time. I don’t know what it was. If you were tired, they stuck a needle in your bum. To be fair, the next day you felt brilliant.’

It was after an exhibition game against fierce rivals Alianza Lima in Miami earlier this month that Solano told his players he might be leaving the club. Shortly after returning to Peru, he was gone.

Solano’s departure has cast doubt over Cook’s future at Universitario. He has flown home to the north-east for Christmas unsure whether he will go back for the new season which starts in February.

'I was massively shocked when Nobby went,’ says Cook. ‘He pulled them out of trouble because they were second bottom and struggling, and then all of a sudden it came out that he wasn’t going to be there any more. I’m not sure if he got sacked or he walked away.

'I still have year left on my contract but they’ve got a new manager in now so I need to speak with him and find out what their plans are for me.

'I’m just enjoying Christmas with my family and then we’ll see what happens.’ Cook and his girlfriend Sarah are already missing their 14th floor apartment in the upmarket area of Miraflores, just two minutes’ walk from the beach.

'I always wanted to be a footballer and I thought I would play in the Football League but nothing massive. It never crossed my mind I’d end up in a place like that in Peru.’

Manchester United and City posters ahead of the derby

Welcome to Manchester's new poster boys! Ahead of Sunday's big derby, check out this brilliant collection… and see how they have immortalised Maradona, Pele, Messi and Ronaldo

PUBLISHED:

11:11 GMT, 6 December 2012

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UPDATED:

14:56 GMT, 6 December 2012

Sunday's derby between Manchester United and City brings together some of the world's best players on the same pitch – Robin van Persie and Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and David Silva to name just a few.

And in the build-up to the title tussle at the Eithad Stadium, Sportsmail is showcasing these superb pieces of art that celebrate those involved in the big match.

Van Persie, Rooney, Tevez and Silva are among the Manchester stars immortalised in these stunning pieces from Bosnian designer Zoran Lucic.

He doesn't stop at Manchester, however. Lucic has also designed posters for the game's greatest names – and you can see the best of them below.

Lucic's series – Sucker for Soccer – will form part of an exhibition called Fantasista to be held in London next year. Click here for more details.

Robin van Persie

David Silva

Head to head: Robin van Persie and David Silva will square up in Sunday's derby at the Etihad Stadium

Carlos Tevez

Wayne Rooney

Friends reunited: Carlos Tevez (left) and Wayne Rooney once played together in red… but these days they line up on opposing sides

Safe hands: Joe Hart, one of the world's best goalkeepers, will line up for City on Sunday

Safe hands: Joe Hart, one of the world's best goalkeepers, will line up for City on Sunday

Nemanja Vidic

Ryan Giggs

Red legends: Nemanja Vidic (left) and Ryan Giggs have both experienced plenty of Manchester derbies during their years at United

HERE'S SOME UNITED LEGENDS IMMORTALISED BY THE ARTIST…

Eric Cantona

Roy Keane

Red Devils: Eric Cantona (left) and Roy Keane both captained United under Sir Alex Ferguson

Duncan Edwards

Dennis Viollet

Heroes: Duncan Edwards (left) and Dennis Viollet are also part of the United legends depicted in the series

Denis Law

Bryan Robson

Stars of the show: Denis Law (left) and Bryan Robson

Bobby Charlton

George Best

Busby Babes: Sir Bobby Charlton (left) and George Best are two of Manchester United's greatest ever players

AND HERE'S SOME OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST PLAYERS ON SHOW…

Ronaldo

Pele

Diego Maradona

Zinedine Zidane

Ferenc Puskas

Johan Cruyff

Romario

Gerd Muller

Dennis Bergkamp

Write caption here

MESSI AND RONALDO ARE BATTLING FOR BALLON D'OR… BUT WHO'S GOT THE BEST POSTER

Lionel Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo

Write caption here

North London derby – the best of recent history

Goals, goals, goals! Sportsmail looks back on a London derby date that rarely disappoints

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UPDATED:

17:08 GMT, 16 November 2012

Arsenal host Tottenham in one of the most eagerly-anticipated fixtures in the domestic calendar tomorrow – the north London derby. It rarely disappoints.

Since Tottenham ended a run of more than a decade without a win against their fierce rivals, no-one has managed to lay claim to being the dominant force.

And you can almost always guarantee goals, goals, goals. IN the last two seasons alone, there have been 26 goals spread across five meetings, and in two of those the team who led 2-0 went on to lose.

So Sportmail cast their mind back over the last 20 years and picks out the most memorable North London derbies. And we don't even have space the not-so-memorable but enormously significant meeting at White Hart Lane in 2004, when Arsenal secured the point needed to claim the title.

February 26, 2012 – Arsenal 5 Tottenham 2

Where better to start than last season's clash at the Emirates Stadium.

Bragging rights: Arsenal produced a stunning comeback in the last meeting

Bragging rights: Arsenal produced a stunning comeback in the last meeting

Bragging rights: Arsenal produced a stunning comeback in the last meeting

Bragging rights: Arsenal produced a stunning comeback in the last meeting

Tottenham, brimming with confidence after a run of excellent form under Harry Redknapp, swaggered on to the pitch and went 2-0 up thanks to a deflected Louis Saha strike and penalty from former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor.

Things soon started to unravel for Redknapp's men, however. Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie took just eight minutes to make it 2-2 and the floodgates then opened in the second half.

Tomas Rosicky's strike and a brace from Theo Walcott gave the Gunners a three-goal cushion and Spurs were lucky that the margin of defeat remained at three as Arsenal romped home to victory.

Cup kings: Paul Gascoigne orchestrated a stunning FA Cup semi-final win at Wembley

Cup kings: Paul Gascoigne orchestrated a stunning FA Cup semi-final win at Wembley

April 14, 1991 – Tottenham 3 Arsenal 1

Already crowned champions after losing just one match all season, Arsenal went in to the first FA Cup semi-final between the two teams as clear favourites.

Paul Gascoigne had other ideas, however. Despite having just undergone a double hernia operation, the midfielder put on one of the most outstanding performances of his glittering career. He clipped a wonderful 30-yard free-kick beyond David Seaman to put Spurs ahead before Gary Lineker doubled the lead.

Alan Smith pulled Arsenal back in the game but Lineker scored again to seal Tottenham's progress to the final, which they won after beating Nottingham Forest in extra-time.

November 20, 2010 – Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham

Spurs had failed to win at Arsenal for 17 years, but the away team that turned up at the Emirates two years ago were clearly cut from a different cloth.

Fresh from having trounced Inter Milan at White Hart Lane, Tottenham headed in to the meeting in Islington full of confidence, but they soon found themselves 2-0 down, with Marouane Chamakh and Samir Nasri both on target.

Comeback: Younes Kaboul scored the winning goal in Tottenham's first win over the Gunners in N5 for more than 17 years

Comeback: Younes Kaboul scored the winning goal in Tottenham's first win over the Gunners in N5 for more than 17 years

Redknapp's words of wisdom ensured that Spurs came out a completely different team in the second half, however. Gareth Bale's fine finish put Tottenham on the path to recovery and Rafael van der Vaart scored from the penalty spot after Cesc Fabregas' handball.

Then with five minutes to go Younes Kaboul glanced home Van der Vaart's free-kick to give Tottenham the spoils.

October 29, 2008 – Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham

Having inherited a team in the relegation zone, Redknapp may have expected a drubbing in his first game in charge, but his team took the lead with one of the greatest goals in the history of the derby – a 35-yard looping volley from David Bentley.

Arsenal hit back with a vengeance, with William Gallas, Emmanuel Adebayor and Mikael Silvestre all finding the target to give the hosts a two-goal cushion. The game was not over for Redknapp's men, though as Jermaine Jenas and Aaron Lennon scored in the final two minutes to level the scores.

Stunner: David Bentley scored one of the best North London derby goals

Stunner: David Bentley scored one of the best North London derby goals

November 13, 2004 – Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal

Martin Jol was probably wondering what he got himself in for after this – his first league game since taking over from Jacques Santini.

The highest-scoring north London derby in history began with Noureddine Naybet scoring his first – and last – goal in a Spurs shirt, but Thierry Henry equalised on the stroke of half-time.

Lauren's penalty and Patrick Vieira's strike put the Gunners ahead, only for Jermain Defoe to pull one back for the hosts.

Freddie Ljungberg and Ledley King were both on target before Freddie Kanoute set up a tense finale by scoring two minutes from time. Spurs threw everything at the visitors, but they could not find an equaliser and Arsenal claimed victory.

Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny suffer injury setbacks for Arsenal

Wenger's keeper crisis deepens as Fabianski and Szczesny suffer injury setbacks

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UPDATED:

21:59 GMT, 17 October 2012

Arsene Wenger is facing a goalkeeping crisis with news Lukasz Fabianksi could face another three months out with ruptured ankle ligaments.

The Poland goalkeeper was hoping for a recall to the squad after being out since February with shoulder injuries but he damaged his ankle during training on Tuesday.

The latest setback for the 27-year-old means Vito Mannone, who began the season as third choice, will continue in goal with Argentinian Damian Martinez, 20, and James Shea, 21, as back-up.

Wishful thinking! Wenger watches as Joe Hart begins training for England at Arsenal's London Colney training ground

Wishful thinking! Wenger watches as Joe Hart begins training for England at Arsenal's London Colney training ground

First choice Wojciech Szczesny is still three weeks short of full recovery from his ankle injury.

The Gunners will be on tenterhooks as they head intoa jam-packed run of fixtures heading into winter.

On Saturday’s the face a Barclays Premier League trip to Norwich, followed hotly by Wednesday’s Champions League match against Schalke.

There follows a brace of London derbies, home domestic fixtures against Fulham and old foes Tottenham.

The news comes as a blow after the continued excellent progress of midfielder Jack Wilshere who played 90 minutes for the first time since his return to action.

The midfielder has been sidelined for 17 months with knee, ankle and foot problems but took part in a friendly defeat to Chelsea on Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Arsenal, who are watching Boca Juniors' 18-year-old striker Leandro Paredes, may consider sending defender Johan Djourou out on loan in January.

Pressure's on: Mannone is now the only recognised goalkeeper in the Arsenal team

Pressure's on: Mannone is now the only recognised goalkeeper in the Arsenal team

Pressure's on: Mannone is the only recognised goalkeeper in the Arsenal team

QPR v Chelsea will be playing on referee Andre Marriner"s mind – Graham Poll

QPR v Chelsea will be playing heavily on ref Marriner's mind

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UPDATED:

10:22 GMT, 14 September 2012

Refereeing appointments are eagerly pored over each week. Some officials will be delighted with the matches they've been chosen to officiate, but there will be others who are disappointed and some that are daunted by the potential difficulties they face.

Select group match officials are emailed on a Monday every week with the upcoming appointments. Only then can they confirm, or all to often, postpone social arrangements with wives and friends. Yes, referees have social lives, too.

The ref and the smooth: Officials are given their schedule for the weekend's fixtures every Monday

The ref and the smooth: Officials are given their schedule for the weekend's fixtures every Monday

Most supporters will look at the back page of their programme to see who they can blame should their team lose and, heaven forbid, if it is 'that ref who cost us last time.'

Here, Graham Poll, assesses this weekend's appointments.

The big game

In charge: Marriner will oversee Chelsea's explosive clash at QPR

In charge: Marriner will oversee Chelsea's explosive clash at QPR

QPR versus Chelsea is the stand-out appointment for the referees this weekend. It isn't a live game, nor a 'golden game' – one of 20 identified each season as the best games to get, such as top four encounters or derbies – but the big game because of the attention it will receive. Top referee Andre Marriner has the game.

As we all know, Anton Ferdinand accused John Terry of racially abusing him on the field, a charge Terry was cleared of in the law courts but still awaits the pedestrian FA verdict on.

Their spat has caused the traditional handshake to be changed and then abandoned. What happens on Saturday ill be playing heavily on Marriner's mind as he settles into his hotel room near Heathrow on Friday night.

He will play through all of the possible scenarios, the crowd reaction and possible police intervention.

Other appointments

Norwich v West Ham: Chris Foy Arsenal v Southampton:
Kevin Friend
Aston Villa v Swansea: Lee Mason Fulham v West Brom: Roger East Reading v Tottenham:
Howard
Webb
Everton v Newcastle: Mike Jones

Best of the rest

Manchester United v Wigan – Michael Oliver

A further step in the education of
the most promising referee in the country who returns from UEFA duty in
Ukraine after taking charge of a vital Under 21 game against Slovenia. Fans might remember Michael Oliver after he dismissed appeals for a late Fulham penalty at Old Trafford last season.

Stoke City v Manchester City – Mark Clattenburg

No love lost between these two teams or their managers and the clash of styles can lead to problems for referees, hence the appointment of Mark Clattenburg.

The Geordie official is in top form having controlled the Olympic final last month and Israel v Russia last week.

Sunderland v Liverpool – Martin Atkinson

On beach ball watch will be Leeds referee Martin Atkinson who is returning to his best form after some poor performances last season. He was excellent in the 2-2 draw between Bulgaria and Italy last Friday and is the only select group referee to have been appointed to a Premier League game every fixture list.

The season so far
RefereePremier League appearances
Yellow cardsRed cardsMartin Atkinson 3130Mark Clattenburg 120Mike Dean 350Phil Dowd261Roger East121Chris Foy 230Kevin Friend 271Mark Halsey 111Mike Jones 140Andre Marriner 240Lee Mason
240Jon Moss150Michael Oliver 211Lee Probert290Antony Taylor20
0Howard Webb 170

*Neil Swarbrick was appointed to Sunderland v Reading which was called off

Rangers in crisis: Neil Lennon expects absence to hurt Celtic

Best of enemies: Lennon expects Rangers absence to hurt Celtic

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UPDATED:

13:45 GMT, 6 July 2012

Celtic manager Neil Lennon expects the collapse of Rangers to hit his club financially but his budget for next season is unaffected by the absence of their Old Firm rivals in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Celtic were among 10 clubs who voted against the Ibrox newco's application to join the SPL, with their future now uncertain.

SPL clubs face a shortfall of revenue next term with huge uncertainty if the new Rangers have to start life in the Third Division.

Firm interest: Lennon thinks Rangers' struggles will impact Celtic financially

Firm interest: Lennon thinks Rangers' struggles will impact Celtic financially

Celtic have consistently insisted they do not need Rangers to flourish but Lennon expects some sort of impact.

'Financially and commercially it will bite us a bit but the club has its own financial structure and strategy in place and we'll move ahead regardless,' Lennon said.

'We always try and maintain a level ground on the spending going out and the money that we bring in.

'That hasn't changed and that was the plan going into the season anyway, regardless of the outcome of Wednesday.'

Fixed budget: Lennon doesn't expect his summer spending to be affected

Fixed budget: Lennon doesn't expect his summer spending to be affected

Lennon admits he will miss the Old Firm derbies and the challenge throughout the season.

'There's that competitiveness, that rivalry, you are obviously going to miss the games,' said Lennon as the club held a media conference to mark the permanent signing of goalkeeper Fraser Forster and the launch of their 2011-12 season review DVD.

'It's a great selling point for Scottish football but they are not here and there's nothing I can do about that.

'What I will say is we need our supporters to back the team now more than ever, to come and support us and invest in the club because we are going to be hit financially by the loss of Rangers in the SPL.'

Steven Gerrard hails Luis Suarez"s Merseyside derby impact

Red hot! Hat-trick hero Gerrard is a real Mersey master after emulating Rush

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UPDATED:

23:58 GMT, 13 March 2012

Steven Gerrard ruined David Moyes’s 10th anniversary as Everton manager as he became the first player to score a hat-trick in the Merseyside derby since Ian Rush 30 years ago.

The Liverpool skipper celebrated his 400th Premier League appearance for the club by inspiring a 3-0 win at Anfield that keeps alive their slim hopes of a top-four finish and ended a run of three successive defeats.

Getting shirty: Gerrard exits with the ball stuffed down his jersey after bagging a hat-trick

Getting shirty: Gerrard exits with the ball stuffed down his jersey after bagging a hat-trick

Asked if emulating Rush, who scored
four goals for Liverpool at Goodison Park in 1982, made his achievement
even more special Gerrard said: ‘I suppose it does. Ian Rush is a hero
of mine.

'I looked up to him for a long time and watched many, many
videos of him. But let’s not be stupid, I’m not comparing myself to Ian
Rush. He’s a different breed.’

Gerrard, who became the top scorer in
Premier League Merseyside derbies with seven goals, added: ‘To beat
Everton is special so to get three goals I suppose is a little bit
extra.

High praise: Gerrard singled-out Suarez for a special mention

High praise: Gerrard singled-out Suarez for a special mention

High praise: Gerrard singled-out Suarez for a special mention

'I have to give my team-mates a mention, especially Luis Suarez.
He put two on a plate for me. It was a great team performance and a
clean sheet. Everything we wanted from the game, we got. I haven’t
played with Luis much but when I have we seem to have an understanding.
With Andy Carroll as well, the three of us in the starting XI are always
going to be a threat. Hopefully that continues to get stronger.’

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, who
played alongside Rush in the 5-0 derby win in 1982, paid tribute to
Gerrard after his team’s biggest win of the season.

Mersey magic: Gerrard salutes the Anfield faithful after scoring his third

Mersey magic: Gerrard salutes the Anfield faithful after scoring his third

Mersey magic: Gerrard salutes the Anfield faithful after scoring his third

Dalglish said: ‘Steven has been
fantastic for this club. There’s no way I could extol his virtues and do
him justice but his quality is there for everybody to see. He’s had one
or two bumps this year with injury so to come back and get three in the
derby will put a smile on his face.

‘Steven will get the headlines and
rightly he has been the first to turn around and say his team-mates
helped him. All the local boys were fantastic for us.’

Happy anniversary Moyes marked 10 years in charge at Goodison park with defeat

Happy anniversary Moyes marked 10 years in charge at Goodison park with defeat

Happy anniversary Moyes marked 10 years in charge at Goodison park with defeat

David Moyes, who was hoping to
celebrate his 10th anniversary in charge of Everton today with his first
win at Anfield, said: ‘It’s not about me. That doesn’t make any
difference. I’m hurt because I’m the Everton manager and we’ve lost to
our rivals.

‘We gave away three terrible goals,
all instigated by ourselves. It was a tough game. We’d weathered the
first 20 minutes and looked like the better team but the game turned
around very quickly. Steven Gerrard was a special player before
tonight.’

Double your money: Gerrard score goal two of three on a memorable night at Anfield

Double your money: Gerrard score goal two of three on a memorable night at Anfield

Fraizer Campbell hopes to cap dream week with a Sunderland win over Newcastle

Campbell hopes to cap off dream week with win in the North East derby

Fraizer Campbell is hoping good things really do come in threes and in the same week after the birth of his first child on the night he was picking up his first England cap.

The Sunderland striker's daughter Isla Rose was born in the North East on Wednesday, just as he was making his first senior appearance for his country.

The former Manchester United trainee flew straight back to Sunderland after his 11 minutes in the defeat to Holland and is now looking to cap an amazing week with a goal in Sunday's Tyne-Wear derby.

Debut delight: Fraizer Campbell came on for Danny Welbeck for his first England cap

Debut delight: Fraizer Campbell came on for Danny Welbeck for his first England cap

Campbell said: 'Everyone keeps telling me that these things come along in threes, so hopefully the derby can be the third one.

'I've missed three derbies through injury during my time here so I'm looking forward to my first one. It's been tough watching them from the sidelines.

'I was gutted to miss the birth of my first child but at the same time if I'd have left the England squad she might have been born the day afterwards and I'd have been gutted not to have got the chance to play for England.

Stepping up: Campbell chats to Gareth Barry during England training

Stepping up: Campbell chats to Gareth Barry during England training

'I have had 18 months of missing football through injury and I will always be there for my daughter. I could get injured and never have the chance to play for England again and that would have been playing on my mind.’
Sunderland's preparations for the derby were disrupted by Stephane Sessegnon's delayed return from Africa yesterday.

The midfield ace was stranded in Paris yesterday morning after difficulties coming back from Benin's African Cup of Nations qualifier in Ethiopia. He is expected to be back in time to face Newcastle for Martin O'Neill's first Tyne-Wear derby.

O'Neill won his first Old firm derby 6-2 in August 2000 and is hoping for a repeat debut on Tyneside.

Dream week: Campbell, who won his first England cap and celebrated the birth of his daughter, hopes to cap off his week with a win in the North East derby

Dream week: Campbell, who won his first England cap and celebrated the birth of his daughter, hopes to cap off his week with a win in the North East derby

He said: 'That shaped our season because we'd finished 20 points behind the previous year and it gave us a bolt of confidence and belief.

'Those derbies were great preparation for this. If you've been involved in them it can help in terms of trying to settle you and conveying that to the players.

'I also learned never to look behind me at Ibrox. You felt everybody was just ready to gouge your eyes so I stayed focused with what was in front, even when the ball went out of play and behind me.'

Gavin Henson could make Cardiff Blues debut in Heineken Cup

Henson could make surprise Cardiff Blues debut in Heineken Cup

Gavin Henson could be set for a surprise Cardiff Blues debut when they face Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup on Friday, according to backs coach Gareth Baber.

The Wales centre joined the Blues on an eight-month contract in October but has yet to appear for the region as he recovered from the dislocated wrist that ended his World Cup dream.

Flying: Henson playing for Wales

Flying: Henson playing for Wales

The 29-year-old was thought to be likely to make his bow in the RaboDirect Pro12 derbies against the Newport Gwent Dragons and the Ospreys over the festive period, but Baber says Henson has a chance of being in the match-day squad when the Blues go in search of a fourth straight European win at Murrayfield.

Baber said: “He has a little niggle in his hamstring but in terms of his hand he is back to where he needs to be and he will be available going forward.

“He will be in contention for the Dragons game and he is in contention for this week and could possibly be in the 23.

Ambition: Baber posing with the Heineken Cup

Ambition: Baber posing with the Heineken Cup

“He is a quality player and has had the time to get himself together and do his rehab properly, and hopefully when he makes his return he will be right on top of what he needs to do as I am sure there will be a lot of attention around him when he makes his debut for us.”

While Henson is close to a return, former Wales flanker Martyn Williams is two or three weeks away from full fitness after having a plate inserted into the arm he broke against Ulster in September.