Tag Archives: energy

Welsh fly-half Ceri Sweeney will join Exeter at the end of the season

Sweeney to swap Cardiff for Exeter in bid to make his mark on Premiership

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

10:36 GMT, 10 March 2013

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UPDATED:

10:36 GMT, 10 March 2013

Former Wales fly-half Ceri Sweeney will join Exeter at the end of the season, his current club Cardiff Blues have announced.

Sweeney has made over 100 appearances since joining the Blues from Newport Gwent Dragons in the summer of 2008, guiding them to the EDF Energy Cup in 2009 and the Amlin Challenge Cup the following year.

'I've really enjoyed my time with the Blues, they are a fantastic club and the supporters have been outstanding,' he said.

Talent: Ceri Sweeney played in the 2003 World Cup for Wales

Talent: Ceri Sweeney played in the 2003 World Cup for Wales

'For me, it's my home region and with the young players they have coming through the ranks, the future of the club certainly looks very bright.'

The 33-year-old will bring a wealth of experience with him to Sandy Park.

He made his debut for Wales in the 2003 Six Nations against England and also featured in two World Cups, winning a total of 35 caps for his club – the last of them in 2007.

Key man: Sweeney won 35 caps for his country in his international career

Key man: Sweeney won 35 caps for his country in his international career

Sweeney is now excited to make his mark in the Aviva Premiership.

'Exeter are a fantastic club and as soon as I heard they were interested in me, I was keen to talk to them and have a look around the place,' he added.

'Like a lot of people, I've watched how they have risen over the last few years and how they've made a real name for themselves, not just in the Premiership, but in Europe as well.

Longevity: Only the career of Stephen Jones prevented him from more caps

Longevity: Only the career of Stephen Jones prevented him from more caps

'It's an exciting move for me and my young family and it's a fresh challenge.

'I know it will be the first time I've played club rugby outside of Wales, but the thought of testing myself in the Premiership is something I'm really keen to do.'

Forest Green Rovers: Welcome to the greenest football club on the planet!

Welcome to the greenest club on the planet! (No red meat, an organic pitch and Mowbot the lawnmower is solar powered…)

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 7 December 2012

The clue is in the football club’s name: Forest Green Rovers. Or else it is in the address: The New Lawn, Another Way, Nailsworth. Welcome to the home of Forest Green, third in the Blue Square Bet Premier and the greenest football club on the planet.

From the solar panels on the roof of the main stand, to the meat-free menu and the electric car driven by owner Dale Vince, the credentials are there for all to see.

With a solar-powered lawnmower that sends text messages to the groundsman when it is broken and an organic pitch to boot, Vince is using football to spread his message. And why not

Flying the green flag: Dale Vince, the club's owner, is building football's most eco-friendly club

Flying the green flag: Dale Vince, the club's owner, is building football's most eco-friendly club

The 51-year-old was laughed at when he decided to sell green energy. After building 53 windmills, the first of which overlooked the club’s stadium, he now employs 300 people in Ecotricity, a business that turns over 50million.

And, after winning over a sceptical audience, Vince is clearly on to something. But why Forest Green, a club based four miles south of Stroud, Gloucestershire

‘It’s a combination of three things,’ said the club’s owner, ‘First, Forest Green had a need. They were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Second, it was local, they employed around 100 people and we were able as a company to find the sums of money they said they needed which, as it turned out, were gross under-estimates.

‘And third, it was the chance to promote our message.

No burgers: But there's solar panelling at the ground

No burgers: But there's solar panelling at the ground

‘We look at energy, transport and food as the big three. We began with the windmills. Now we have constructed an electric car with charging posts on motorways. We call it the electric highway to encourage people to use electric cars.

‘The third is food. Red meat was the first thing we banned. Well, we didn’t actually ban it, but everyone has labelled it like that, so I’ve just fallen into using that term.

‘We just stopped supplying it to our players. I suggested that red meat wasn’t actually good for our players, our athletes.

‘The manager, Dave Hockaday, agreed to do it. During the course of the conversation, we said, “Well, if we are not feeding it to our players, then we shouldn’t really feed it to our staff or our supporters”. So we took it off the menu altogether.’

Vince added: ‘We took some flak for it but red meat is bad for us. It’s also unsustainable. And it takes 10 grammes of vegetable protein to produce a gramme of beef. You have diminishing returns. The rough analysis is that you can feed 10 vegetarians or one meat-eater.

‘It seemed wrong to me to be involved in the meat trade. I held it to be a bad product. And anyway, the burgers we sold at the time were s***e — or so I was told as I’m a vegan…

‘A few unreasonable people said I was a dictator, saying I was imposing my principles on them. But, if you flip it around and I was forced to sell them red meat, something I abhor as a practice, then they are imposing their principles on me.

‘I said to our fans, those who were upset, “Bring in a ham sandwich if you want, it’s only two hours every other week when you won’t have access to it on our menu”.

‘Most restaurants set their own menu. Italian restaurants serve Italian food. But they set the menu. That’s all we have done, set our own menu. Now we have offerings such as the Badger pastie — it’s a vegan pastie, braised tofu is the main ingredient. It’s got a meat-like texture, quite salty and it’s our halo product. It’s hand-made here on the morning of the game.

Green, green grass of home: Vince and the Mowbot, the lawnmower that sends a text to the groundsman

Green, green grass of home: Vince and the Mowbot, the lawnmower that sends a text to the groundsman

‘The players have been good. We have a nutritionist and he has been able to explain to them. We have moved things considerably. We feed them before and after games. Quorn is the principal source of protein we give them.

‘I’ve had fans come up to me and say it has changed their lives. One said she had lost a stone in weight.’

Vince spent a decade living as a New Age traveller. ‘I fought the law from time to time,’ he says. But then he hit upon wind energy and, due to the deregulation of the industry in the mid-Nineties, spotted a way to make it pay. And now he wants to spread the word.

‘We are already the greenest club on the planet,’ he said. ‘We have an organic pitch — no fertilisers and pesticides. It creates an enormous challenge for our groundsman because you have to control weeds and pests and still promote growth.

‘We have a solar-powered lawnmower. We call it the Mowbot. It’s GPS-controlled and if it breaks down it sends our groundsman a text.

He's Red Nev, but Gary's green too

Gary Neville: Manchester United legend, dressing-room lieutenant, respected pundit…and eco-warrior.

But,
according to Vince, the two-time Champions League winner is so serious
about the subject he has even set up a charity called ‘Sustainability
in Sport’ with the owner of Ecotricity. ‘I read in the paper that he was
planning to build a house with an emphasis on the environment,’ said
Vince.

'I asked someone to send him an email asking whether there was anything we could help with — and we hooked up.

Dream: Neville's eco-house

‘He’s tried to build windmills. So
here was a footballer trying to get into wind energy, just as a company
built on wind energy was trying to get into football.

‘We
have a joint venture going on building windmills. We powered his
testimonial match against Juventus. We have our Ecotricity banners
everywhere. It was live on television. He wanted a seriously green
outcome for his testimonial and so he gave us some solar panels for the
roof of our stand.

‘He’s a good guy and very passionate about this. In fact, I was surprised how knowledgeable he was about the whole issue.’

‘It has saved him 150 hours per year. The grass is so finely cut that we don’t collect it, we leave it on the pitch, so we don’t remove any of the nutrients. We have electric-powered leaf-blowers and strimmers, so we are not burning petrol. We are building an electric tractor.

‘We have put in a system of drains and ring main, so that we can collect rainwater. We put it back into a tank and use it again. We have a wildflower meadow, we have habitats all around the ground, newts and slow-worms, orchids.

‘We want some LED floodlights. Our next big aim is to get the manager (Hockaday) into an electric car. And to get charging points at our ground, so that you could come here in an electric car.

‘We recently achieved EMAS, it’s like the gold-standard of environment management. Manchester United, by comparison, have just been granted ISO 14000. I mention that because that’s League One standard, though we applaud what they have done. We, however, are in the Champions League…

‘We are going to be recognised as the greenest football club on the planet. We would like to be promoted a few leagues because the higher we go, the more impact our message has.’

Vince won’t say who he supports, but went to watch England play Portugal in the European Champioship, saw Rui Costa in action and named his son after the playmaker.

‘The football culture surprised me. The attitude, the way the managers and players were treated by the board… well, it was Victorian.

‘One of the things I rail against is boardroom dress code. I want to go to an away game. I’m a big boy, I can dress myself, yet I have to discover beforehand what I can and can’t wear.

‘We have considered imposing a reverse dress code. If they insist we have to wear a suit and tie at their place, we will ban it at ours. We will insist on trainers! Swindon came to play in pre-season. Their directors loved it, they turned up in shorts and flip-flops.

‘We like to challenge the culture and convention of football,’ he adds with a smile.

After tackling the big electricity companies, leading the way on a football field should be child’s play.

Sex with Madonna would not be as good as beating Aston Villa, says Paolo Di Canio

In bed with Di Canio! Passionate Paolo says Swindon beating Villa would be better than sex with Madonna

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UPDATED:

09:58 GMT, 30 October 2012

Paolo Di Canio reckons a Swindon win over Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup would be better than having sex with Madonna.

Di Canio welcomes Villa to the County Ground on Tuesday night and the Robins boss cannot wait to get stuck in to Premier League opposition.

Like Material Girl singer Madonna, Villa produced their best work in the 1980s and Di Canio fancies his chances of an upset.

She shoots, she scores: Madonna or victory over Aston Villa - it's a tough choice

She shoots, she scores: Madonna or victory over Aston Villa – it's a tough choice

The Italian scored the winner for West Ham against Manchester United in the FA Cup in 2001 and is looking forward to being the underdog once more.

He said: 'When I scored against United it was very exciting to look around and see 9,000 people celebrating away from home.

'Sending Manchester United out was amazing. It was like having sex with Madonna and beating Villa as a manager would be just as good.

'Better than having sex with Madonna Let me try it and I will give you an honest answer.'

Di Canio has been basking in 'positive energy' ahead of the game.

The Robins head into the fourth-round tie on the back of a convincing 4-0 victory at Stevenage and Di Canio insists he is calmness personified.

'You can't wait to start when you have time to wait and I don't know why but I feel positive, I feel happy, I have a positive energy,' he said.

Up for the cup: Paolo Di Canio is looking forward to facing Aston Villa

Up for the cup: Paolo Di Canio is looking forward to facing Aston Villa

'I was thinking more about it (at the weekend) but I am getting close to the match and I am more relaxed.

'If we can do something more it would be a dream but I don't feel the pressure. I think there would be more pressure if there were some details I could use to prepare my players better.

'What we have done already is fantastic and there will be a fantastic atmosphere at the County Ground.'

Di Canio's Wiltshire side are not short of confidence for the sold-out visit of Villa, who have only won one league match this season.

Swindon have already eliminated Championship sides Brighton and Burnley as well as Stoke at the Britannia Stadium – their best run in the League Cup since reaching the semi-finals 17 years ago.

Tester: Aston Villa head for Swindon on the back of a 1-1 draw with Norwich

Tester: Aston Villa head for Swindon on the back of a 1-1 draw with Norwich

And despite scoring three goals or more in every Capital One Cup tie so far this season Di Canio is well aware chances will be at a premium at a ground where Swindon have lost just twice since August 2011.

'Even if we have one chance to win the game, we will try to make the one chance a big chance,' Di Canio said.

'The first half hour is crucial, every first half-hour is crucial. This kind of game is really important tactically but if you stay one versus one and if you cut out silly mistakes in the middle of midfield, then the players can make a difference.

'It's easy to prepare for this game because the players have 200 per cent commitment to prove their quality. If you are not an intelligent manager you can fall in a trap because you can make mistakes because there is too much enthusiasm.'

The Robins will be without one of their star performers in the victory over Stevenage on Saturday after on-loan Tottenham playmaker John Bostock hobbled off with a groin injury.

The Italian's options could be boosted by a return to the squad for striker Andy Williams, who has not featured since October 6 because of a calf injury.

Lucozade to end Premier League sponsorship – Charles Sale

Premier League loses its fizz for sponsor Lucozade

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 22 October 2012

The Premier League are to lose their longest-running sponsor at the end of the season even though the profile of top-flight football has never been higher.

Lucozade, who have been official energy drink suppliers since the League started in 1992, have decided to end their 21-year association.

The company say the move follows a change of strategy that will see them invest more on research into the nutritional impact on athletes' performance.

End of an era: Lucozade will end their 21-year association with the Premier League

End of an era: Lucozade will end their 21-year association with the Premier League

More from Charles Sale…

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Charles Sale: No purple patch for quirky Mancini as Manchester City boss ditches unlucky colour
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Charles Sale: Why the blazers ousted FA chairman Bernstein
18/10/12

Charles Sale: No extra time for FA chief Bernstein's regime
17/10/12

Charles Sale: England's hot date with Brazil at the new Maracana
16/10/12

Charles Sale: Liverpool PR man Chang faces internal probe over Duncan Jenkins claims
15/10/12

Charles Sale: Liverpool see red over Chang bullying claims
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Charles Sale: Tottenham back on Olympic track in bid to solve stadium problem
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

But the rising cost of the sponsorship, plus the need to negotiate deals with the big five clubs who opted out of the central deal, will also have played a part in the decision.

Lucozade agreed individual contracts with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool but have no deal in place with either Manchester team. A spokesman said: 'We are shifting our focus to develop more advanced products that better support the needs of athletes across the UK.'

The decision could benefit UK Athletics, who are chasing a Champions League-style roster of sponsors following the loss of Aviva.

Meanwhile, there is likely to be minimal promotional activity in future from England cricket sponsors Brit Insurance, having announced two years in advance that they will not be renewing their contract in 2014. The company are now owned by venture capitalists and those responsible for the cricket investment have left.

Cash-rich QPR turn to FA

The money being thrown around at QPR on and off the pitch is reflected by FA chief financial officer Mark Donnelly being prepared to leave a comparatively safe job at Wembley for the precarious post of chief operating officer at a club propping up the Premier League who could well be in the Championship next season.

The FA advert for Donnelly's successor mentions a significant six-figure salary plus bonus and benefits.

Arise, Sir Davids

Barnet's League Two footballers have been left in no doubt that Holland star Edgar Davids, who has arrived at Underhill as joint head coach, belongs at a different level of the game.

According to one member of the Barnet squad, Davids wants the players to call him either 'Sir' or 'Mr Davids'.

Suit you, sir: Davids has made a big impact following his arrival at Barnet

Suit you, sir: Davids has made a big impact following his arrival at Barnet

Keys and Gray maintain talkSport rise

Richards Keys and Andy Gray, forced out of Sky Sports after the sexism furore at the start of 2011, have re-established their careers to the extent they now receive top billing on talkSport on the station's big outside broadcast football nights.

This means Talk's previous No 1 presenter-pundit pairing of Mark Saggers and Stan Collymore have to make way for Keys and Gray, who will be behind the microphones for the Ajax v Manchester City Champions League game on Wednesday night.

RFU's poppy power

The RFU have ensured there will be no repeat of the fiasco last year when FIFA didn't want England's footballers to wear a poppy on their shirts for a Wembley international against Spain the day before Remembrance Sunday.

A Sportsmail campaign supported by David Cameron and Prince William eventually led to FIFA climbing down and allowing England to sport the symbol on armbands.

England's rugby team play Fiji at Twickenham on November 10 and both sides will have the poppy embroidered on their shirts.

Birthday celebrations cut short

The short-sightedness of the FA council refusing to extend David Bernstein's term as chairman past his 70th birthday in May will be highlighted today when the FA begin unveiling their 150th anniversary programme, which Bernstein will have to leave halfway through.

Waving goodbye: Bernstein is set to end his tenure as chairman of the FA

Waving goodbye: Bernstein is set to end his tenure as chairman of the FA

It starts on November 7 with a re-enactment at The Oval of the first FA Cup final held there in 1872 between Royal Engineers and Wanderers.

Another 150th initiative instigated by England fans is the restoration of the resting place in Paddington Old Cemetery of Cuthbert Ottaway, the first England captain.

A new headstone will be unveiled next August in the week of England's match against Scotland at Wembley – no doubt with the new FA chairman in attendance.

Wayne Rooney: Manchester City overhead kick was mad rush of power

Rooney: THAT overhead kick against City put our noisy neighbours in their place!

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UPDATED:

07:25 GMT, 6 September 2012

Wayne Rooney has revealed that scoring the famous overhead kick that settled the Manchester derby at Old Trafford last February gave him a 'mad rush of power'.

The Manchester United and England striker hit one of his most brilliant goals in the 77th minute of a pulsating derby that put 'our noisy neighbours – the other lot – in their place', according to Rooney.

The goal had extra spice due to the fact that Rooney had only months earlier threatened to quit United, whose ambition he had questioned, and looked set to join City, suddenly flush with Sheik Mansour's billions.

Rooney then performed a dramatic U-turn, snubbing City and choosing to sign a new deal at United in November. Then came that match – and that goal.

Wonder goal: Wayne Rooney scores his winner against Manchester City

Wonder goal: Wayne Rooney scores his winner against Manchester City

In an extract of his new book 'Wayne
Rooney: My decade in the Premier League', which is being serialised by
The Mirror, the 26-year-old forward explains what it feels like to score
such an important goal.

He says: 'Bang! Everything goes dead mad, dead quick.

'Then that feeling kicks in – an unbelievable feeling of satisfaction I get from scoring a goal in the Premier League. Like the sensation I get when I’ve smashed a golf ball flush off the face of the club and watched it trickle on to the green.

'It’s a high, a mad rush of power. It’s a wave of emotion – but it takes me over like nothing else.

'This feeling of putting one away for Manchester United is huge. If I could bottle the buzz, I’d make the best energy drink ever.

'A heartbeat later and I’m at normal speed again, I’m coming round. Everything’s in focus: the sound, a roar loud enough to hurt my ears, the aching in my legs, the sweat running down my neck, the mud on my kit.

'More and more noise; it’s so big, it’s right on top of me. Someone’s grabbing at my shirt, my heart’s banging out of my chest.

'The crowd are singing my name: ‘Rooney, Rooney, Rooooo-neeee! And there’s no better feeling in the world. Then I look up and see the scoreboard:

FEBRUARY 12, 2011: United 2 City 1

GOAL! Rooney, 77 minutes

'Who I am and what I’ve done comes back to me in a rush, a hit, like a boxer coming round after a sniff of smelling salts.

Taking it all in: Rooney celebrates his brilliant goal at Old Trafford last February

Taking it all in: Rooney celebrates his brilliant goal at Old Trafford last February

'I’m Wayne Rooney. I’ve played Premier League football since 2002 and I’ve just scored the winning goal in a Manchester derby – probably the most important game of the season to fans from the red half of town.

'A goal that puts our noisy neighbours – the other lot – in their place. A goal that reminds them United have more history and more success than they do right now. A goal that warns the rest of the country we’re on our way to winning another Premier League title.

'As I stand with my arms spread wide, head back, I can feel the hate coming from the City fans behind me, it’s like static electricity. The abuse, the screaming and swearing, is bouncing off me. I don’t give a toss.

'I know how much they hate me; I can understand where they are coming from though, because I go through the same emotions whenever I lose at anything.

VIDEO: Click here to watch Rooney's brilliant strike against City

'This time, they’re wound up and I’m not. I know it doesn’t get any better than this.

'As I jog back to the centre circle, still tingling, I go into rewind. It’s ridiculous, I know, but I’m worried I might never feel this way again. I want to remember what’s just happened, to relive the moment over and over because it feels so good.

'We close out the game 2–1. Everyone gathers round me in the dressing room afterwards, they want to talk about the goal. But I’m done in, I’ve nothing left; it’s all out there on the pitch, along with that overhead kick.

'The room is buzzing; Rio Ferdinand is buzzing. ‘Wow,’ he says.

Arsenal target Ki Sung-Yeung wanted by Atletico Madrid

Atletico force Arsenal into transfer tussle as they prepare to bid for Ki

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UPDATED:

08:17 GMT, 10 August 2012

Arsenal are facing stiff competition from Atletico Madrid for Celtic star Ki Sung-Yeung.

Sportsmail revealed earlier this week that the Gunners were preparing a bid for the 9million-rated midfielder, having been impressed by his performances during the London Olympic Games.

However it has emerged they are not the only ones in the hunt for the South Korean international.

Spot on: Celtic's Ki Sung-Yeung has impressed during the Olympics with South Korea

Spot on: Celtic's Ki Sung-Yeung has impressed during the Olympics with South Korea

Atletico, who have already signed Argentinean defender Cata Diaz, Uruguayan midfielder Cristian Rodriguez and former Newcastle man Emre Belozoglu, are keen to bolster their midfield which suffered with a lack of energy towards the end of last season.

The Spanish club are preapred to offer 6million, the same figure the Gunners expect to settle on.

The 23-year-old has also been tracked by QPR, but talkSport claim he would rather not be in the shadow of fellow countryman Park Ji-sung, who has moved to Loftus Road from Manchester United.

Arsenal's scouting network have kept a close eye on Ki — who has been dubbed the South Korean Steven Gerrard in his homeland — during the Olympic Games and have been suitably impressed.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looking forward to next season

Ready for the next one! Oxlade-Chamberlain looking to improve on outstanding breakthrough season

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UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 26 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hurtles through the summer like a rubber ball.

There’s no suggestion of conserving energy, no vertiginous wobble, no pause to consider the potential for a difficult second season with Arsenal.

There was no talk of managing expectations or reality checks after he bounced back into football in a pre-season game in Malaysia on Tuesday.

No pressure! Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hopes to eclipse last season's numerous achievements this campaign for Arsenal

No pressure! Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hopes to eclipse last season's numerous achievements this campaign for Arsenal

The achievements of the last 12
months – a Barclays Premier League debut, a Champions League debut, an
England cap and inclusion in the Euro 2012 squad – might be hard to
eclipse but the teenager will give it a go.

Having been captivated by Andrea Pirlo’s midfield artistry for Italy against England in Kiev, he is serious about reaching the very top and clear about what is required.

‘The first aim is to make sure I’m fully fit for the start of the season, to get the best chance to get in the team,’ said Oxlade-Chamberlain, who played 45 minutes against a Malaysia XI in Kuala Lumpur this week, his first football since Euro 2012.

‘I know it won’t be easy. The new signings are really good, while we have good talent here coming through. So if I do manage to get into the team, I need to try and stay in there.

‘Being more of an attacking player, I need to score more goals and get more assists. That wins games and people take notice of that.

One of the boys: Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) still feels he has a lot to learn about the Arsenal style of play

One of the boys: Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) still feels he has a lot to learn about the Arsenal style of play

‘I’ll always put my own style on things, which is taking people on and try and be an exciting player to watch.” Oxlade-Chamberlain is only 18 but bursting with self-belief, some may say a little too much.

He was reprimanded by Roy Hodgson for showboating in an England training session during the Euros but cocksure attitude can help the transition into life among elite footballers.

As does an upbringing in a football family. His father Mark was also an England international and his Uncle Neville a professional footballer.

‘You have to have that confidence otherwise you won’t go anywhere,’ said Oxlade-Chamberlain.

‘If you don’t believe in yourself, no-one else will. But you also have to keep your feet on the ground, realise it is a very hard league and that you cannot take your foot off the gas at any time.

Impressive: Andrea Pirlo (left) inspired Oxlade-Chamberlain with his performance against England at Euro 2012

Impressive: Andrea Pirlo (left) inspired Oxlade-Chamberlain with his performance against England at Euro 2012

Impressive: Andrea Pirlo (left) inspired Oxlade-Chamberlain with his performance against England at Euro 2012

‘In one moment, it can go from being good to being bad.

'You have to make sure it doesn’t happen so you have to approach every training session and every game in the same way. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll keep my head down and keep working.’

Should he not, he will have Arsene Wenger on his case. ‘There are always lots of errors he speaks to me about. He wants to fine-tune my whole game and make me a better player.

‘I have to be more assertive defensively to be a better player. I hold my hands up for that.

It’s not a natural side of my game, defending, but it is equally as important, particularly when you’re playing in a league like the Premier League.

‘So, I have to work on defending and improve that. That’s the main aim. And, more crosses, more shots and more goals.

'You know, I’m still a fairly new Arsenal player and I am still learning the Arsenal way.’

A year to remember: Oxlade-Chamberlain made his England debut last season

A year to remember: Oxlade-Chamberlain made his England debut last season

And the youngster was selected to represent England at Euro 2012

And the youngster was selected to represent England at Euro 2012

As Wenger tries to teach defensive awareness without damaging an adventurous attacking spirit, father Mark demands physical dedication.

‘Get fit, just get fit, he’s always going on about getting fit,’ said Oxlade-Chamberlain.

‘The main thing in football is fitness. Quality comes with game-time and with training but if you’re not fit it leaves you behind.’

Arsenal start their campaign against Sunderland but there also lurks a fixture with added sparkle for a player who began his career at Southampton.

‘Fourth game in, isn’t it’ said Oxlade-Chamberlain. ‘I’m delighted Southampton are back in the Premier league which is where they belong.

‘They struggled to get up for a few seasons and it’s good to see them back. I can’t wait. I look forward to all my games but maybe this one is just that little bit extra special. We’ll be looking to beat them.’

He was at St Marys to watch a pre-season tournament between Arsenal, Southampton and Anderlecht before the Gunners left for Asia.

‘I wanted to support the boys and I saw my old team-mates,’ he said. ‘It was weird being back there, being part of Arsenal, but it made me realise how excited I am to be an Arsenal player. It highlighted that.’

An England player, too, and one expected to be in Hodgson’s squad for another meeting with Italy, this time a friendly in Switzerland, and the chance to lessen the pain of that shoot-out defeat in Kiev.

‘For me, it was just horrible, the fact we lost,” said Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was an unused substitute, having featured in three group games.

Two to impress: Roy Hodgson is hoping Oxlade-Chamberlain will develop further

Two to impress: Arsene Wenger is hoping Oxlade-Chamberlain will develop further

Two to impress: England boss Roy Hodgson (left) and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger (right) are hoping Oxlade-Chamberlain will develop even further

‘You could see how hard the boys worked for 120 minutes. But I learned a lot from that game, watching our boys but also watching Pirlo.

‘Maybe some people don’t think I’m a midfielder, some people think I am a winger, but to see quality like that on the pitch was something.

'I will learn a lot from that and how to defend against someone like him.

‘The whole experience was top-drawer. I didn’t expect to go in the first place, to be honest. I’d booked holidays here, there and everywhere.

‘But it was an honour to represent my country and to meet the players I’d watched since I was growing up, interact with them in training and play with them was brilliant.

‘Starting my first game at Wembley was also a big step in my career – a dream come true for every lad – but the France call-up was amazing.

'It doesn’t get any better than that.’

Well, it might. Wenger and Hodgson will be among those hoping it does.

Arsenal unveil new purple 2012/13 away kit

What a load of rubbish… No, really, Arsenal's new kit is made out of recycled waste…

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UPDATED:

22:59 GMT, 11 July 2012

It's official… Arsenal's new away kit is a load of rubbish.

The Gunners have unveiled their striking purple and black hooped design – along with a garish bright pink goalkeeper's strip – and revealed that each set of shirt and shorts has been made using up to 13 recycled plastic water bottles.

Deep purple: Alex Song, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Wojciech Szczesny parade the new kit

Deep purple: Alex Song, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Wojciech Szczesny parade the new kit

Theo Walcott

Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain

Wing men: Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain model the new away strip, which is likely to split opinion

The kit – modelled by Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Song, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Wojciech Szczesny – is manufactured from Nike's ground-breaking recycled polyester, making it their most environmentally friendly kit ever produced, reducing energy consumption by up to 30 per cent compared to traditional polyester.

While Arsene Wenger's men will no doubt be applauded for doing their bit to help the environment, the reaction to their unusual choice of colour remains to be seen.

It's certainly a far cry from the traditional yellow away kit associated with so many Arsenal triumphs over the years, including the one worn by Michael Thomas when he scored a last-gasp title-winning strike at Anfield in 1989.

Wimbledon 2012: Andy Murray praised by David Cameron after reaching final

This is his destiny! PM Cameron and past Wimbledon bridesmaid Henman lead praise for Murray after British ace storms into final

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UPDATED:

19:36 GMT, 6 July 2012

Tim Henman led the praise of Andy Murray after he became the British man to reach the Wimbledon final for 74 years.

The Scot saw off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a nail-biting finale to a four-set contest to become the first British man since Bunny Austin in 1938 to reach the All England Club showpiece.

He will next meet six-time champion Roger Federer, who dethroned reigning champion Novak Djokovic earlier.

Sky's the limit: Andy Murray celebrates after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach the Wimbledon final

Sky's the limit: Andy Murray celebrates after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach the Wimbledon final

Former British No 1 Henman, who lost four Wimbledon semi-finals himself, saluted Murray's effort.

'It was unbelievable,' Henman said on BBC2. 'I just hope he's got enough physical and emotional energy left. It was a draining match.

'Andy will like the match-up with Roger and what an opportunity. He's got one monkey off his back with the nation's first finalist in 74 years, so why not kill two birds with one stone.

'If he can get to Federer's backhand, of course he has a chance, but Federer knows this court better than anyone.

Tearful: Murray looked overcome with emotion after sealing his victory over Tsonga

Tearful: Murray looked overcome with emotion after sealing his victory over Tsonga

'He has lost to Roger in a grand slam final before, but I just feel that it's a great win today, he's been so resilient and he stayed tough. He has to do that on one more occasion.'

A congratulatory message also came from Prime Minister David Cameron.

In a statement, he said: 'It is great news that we have our first home-grown men's finalist at Wimbledon for over 70 years, especially in this exciting Olympics year when the eyes of the world are on the UK.

'I'll be watching the final on Sunday and like the rest of the country, will be getting right behind Andy Murray – I wish him the best of luck.'

Big draw: Fans crowded onto Henman Hill to watch Murray beat Tsonga in four tense sets

Big draw: Fans crowded onto Henman Hill to watch Murray beat Tsonga in four tense sets

Downing Street also confirmed that the Scottish Saltire will fly alongside the Union flag above No 10 on Sunday.

Former Wimbledon winner John McEnroe, covering the match as a broadcaster, added: 'I am really happy for Andy. When I played, I was never under the pressure he was under. It was an amazing effort from him.

'You would think the pressure will be on him in the final because of how long it has been since Great Britain had someone win it, but Federer wants to tie with Pete Sampras (on seven titles) and has put pressure on himself.

'Andy will have to play so well to beat him.'

Home hero: Murray fans react as they watch his semi-final on television at the Dunblane Hotel

Home hero: Murray fans react as they watch his semi-final on television at the Dunblane Hotel

Murray's former Davis Cup captain John Lloyd believes it is written in the stars that Murray will lift his maiden grand slam title on Sunday.

'I always thought that grass would be a good surface for him. It's destiny for him to win it the way that he's played,' he said. 'It was amazing.'

Praise came from Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, who said that Murray had lifted the spirits of the country.

'Congratulations to Andy on reaching the final, which is a fantastic achievement. He has played brilliantly right through the tournament and given the whole country a lift with his performances,' he said.

Brit of alright: Fans go wild as Murray seals his progress into the Wimbledon final for the first time

Brit of alright: Fans go wild as Murray seals his progress into the Wimbledon final for the first time

'The whole of Scotland will be right behind Andy on Sunday, and I'll be there in person to help cheer him on.'

Murray's former coach Miles Maclagan lauded the Scot's nerve, telling BBC Radio Five Live: 'All the hard physical work was the easy part for Andy today. It's the steel backbone that he showed in the tough moments which have left me in awe.'

Maclagan now coaches Marcos Baghdatis, who was Murray's third-round victim.

There was no doubting who he was siding with today though as he roared Murray on.

'I feel emotionally drained,' Maclagan added. 'You could see his relief at the end. It was a big moment for him and he has deserved it.'

Team Andy: Hitting partner Dani Vallverdu (centre), coach Ivan Lendl (right) and mum, Judy, watch on

Team Andy: Hitting partner Dani Vallverdu (centre), coach Ivan Lendl (right) and mum, Judy, watch on

That's my boy: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears was on Centre Court supporting her man

That's my boy: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears was on Centre Court supporting her man

Pat Cash, Wimbledon champion in 1987, hopes the whole of Britain will get behind the 25-year-old when he takes on Federer.

'The country will hopefully be right behind him and cheer him along,' the Australian said. 'He has played Davis Cup before for his country, but this is an individual event. This is for him and I hope the country enjoys it and gets behind him.'

Richard Krajicek, who won at Wimbledon in 1996, admits the manner of Murray's win over Tsonga was exhilarating.

'Unbelievable,' the Dutchman said. 'I've got goosebumps. It's amazing.

'It's so nice to see such a great guy do well.

Turned out nice again: Murray beat Tsonga under blue skies at the All England Club

Turned out nice again: Murray beat Tsonga under blue skies at the All England Club

'He gets so much criticism and he has now overcome it.

'There was so much negativity about him and this performance was the only way he could overcome that.'

Goran Ivanisevic beat Henman in the last four on his way to winning Wimbledon as a wild-card entry in 2001.

The 40-year-old told BBC Radio Five Live that Murray must seize his chance.

'It's great for Andy,' Ivanisevic said. 'It's great for British tennis, for Scottish tennis. It's been such a long time, but if he doesn't win the press will hammer him.

'He needs to win somehow. I wish him all the best because he deserves to win a grand slam.'

Never say die: Frenchman Tsonga battled back to take the third set from Murray

Never say die: Frenchman Tsonga battled back to take the third set from Murray

Ivanisevic lost three Wimbledon finals before winning the tournament and he does not want Murray to experience the beaten feeling on Sunday.

'You don't want to lose in the final, believe me. I know what that feels like,' Ivanisevic added.
'But maybe this will be his year. He needs to do whatever he can to win the trophy.'

Golf's world No 1 Luke Donald watched on admiringly from the Royal Box and hopes the Scot can be part of a momentous month for British sport.

'Seeing great players in any sport is inspiring,' Donald said. 'Federer was pretty impressive against Djokovic, but I think everybody is behind Andy.'

Donald, who flew in from America earlier this week, defends the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart next week and then heads to Royal Lytham in Lancashire for the Open Championship.

London 2012 Olympics: Rings unveiled on Tower Bridge

Olympics rings Tower over London! Iconic symbol unveiling on bridge marks one month until Games

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UPDATED:

11:46 GMT, 27 June 2012

Giant Olympic rings became the crowning glory on Tower Bridge to mark the countdown to the London 2012 Games.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe and mayor Boris Johnson were among the VIPs who watched as the rings – 25 metres wide and 11.5 metres tall – were lowered into place on the central London landmark on the River Thames.

The rings, which weigh three tonnes, cost 259,817 to produce and installing them is estimated to have cost 53,000.

One month to go! The Olympic rings are revealed on London's Tower Bridge

One month to go! The Olympic rings are revealed on London's Tower Bridge

All costs have been met from the 32 million Look and Celebration budget, which will be used to back free cultural events across London.

Lord Coe, a two-time Olympic 1500m champion, said: 'The Olympic rings are an iconic symbol, inspiring athletes and uniting people around the world. To athletes they represent the culmination of thousands of hours of training and reaching the highest level in sport.

'With one month to go to the Olympic Games opening ceremony, these spectacular rings on one of London's most famous landmarks will excite and inspire residents and visitors in the capital.'

A light show, complete with beams of changing colours and intensity, is set to bring the rings to life tonight.

Thumbs up: London Mayor Boris Johnson and Games chairman Lord Coe were there at the unveiling

Thumbs up: London Mayor Boris Johnson and Games chairman Lord Coe were there at the unveiling

Thumbs up: London Mayor Boris Johnson and Games chairman Lord Coe were there at the unveiling

It will put into action Tower Bridge's new lighting system, involving 1,800 special energy-efficient LED lights, 2,000 metres of energy-efficient LED linear lights, 5,000 metres of cable and 1,000 junction boxes.

The Yorkshire-made rings are attached to a modular aluminium grid which is 17m by 22m. Together they weigh about 13 tonnes.

Describing the sight as 'glorious Tower Bridge', Mr Johnson said the landmark was the perfect choice to showcase what London has to offer this summer.

He said: 'With just a month to go, we are making our final preparations and want to ensure each and every person in the capital gets a flavour of the celebrations and feels part of the Games.'

Final countdown: The rings were locked up before being released on full show for all to see

Final countdown: The rings were locked up before being released on full show for all to see

Final countdown: The rings were locked up before being released on full show for all to see

Each of London's famous bridges, from Hungerford Bridge to London Bridge, will be lit in 'a dazzling display of colour' during the evenings, according to the mayor's office.

Giant mobile Olympic rings will travel up and down past famous waterfront landmarks.

The Agitos, the giant swirling symbol of the Paralympic movement, will replace the rings on Tower Bridge for the Paralympic Games.

The city-wide Look and Celebration programme for the Games includes free events, shows, entertainment and cultural pieces, designed to show the world the best the city has to offer.

London calling: The best athletes in the world will begin their quest for gold in a month's time

London calling: The best athletes in the world will begin their quest for gold in a month's time