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Bradley Wiggins: Highlight was playing with Paul Weller

Winning the Tour de France and another Olympic gold medal was great, but highlight was jamming with Weller, admits Wiggins

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 29 December 2012

A spectacular 2012 was brought to a fitting conclusion for Bradley Wiggins when he received a knighthood in the New Year Honours – but nothing compared to being on stage with his hero Paul Weller.

Highlights of the 32-year-old's year have included being the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France and winning his fourth Olympic gold medal, while earlier this month he was the runaway winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Scroll down to watch Wiggins and Weller

In the spotlight: Wiggins has had a year to remember after adding Olympic gold to his Tour de France win

In the spotlight: Wiggins has had a year to remember after adding Olympic gold to his Tour de France win

Wiggins is almost as famous for his
love of mod culture as he is for his exploits on two wheels, with
spectators at the Olympic time trial donning fake sideburns in his
honour.

Last week he joined Weller to perform The Jam classic 'That's Entertainment' during a charity concert at Hammersmith Apollo.

And asked for his highlight of 2012, Wiggins said: 'For me it's probably the obvious one, apart from Sports Personality, playing at Hammersmith Apollo with Paul Weller last Wednesday was incredible.

'That topped it for me, and that's not a joke. It was amazing. Playing a Jam song as well, I mean how many people get to do that'

The irreverent personality that has captured the public's imagination perhaps sits oddly with a knighthood, awarded for services to cycling, but Wiggins believes it sends a good message in the age of celebrity culture.

Pleased to meet you: Wiggins with music icons Paul Weller (above) and Liam Gallagher (below)

Pleased to meet you: Wiggins with music icons Paul Weller (above) and Liam Gallagher (below)

Bradley Wiggins

Sir Dave salutes team

Dave Brailsford has paid tribute to the collective effort of those he oversees at British Cycling and Team Sky after he was knighted in the New Year Honours list.

The 48-year-old has received the honour at the end of a year in which he led Great Britain to eight cycling gold medals for a second successive Olympics and Team Sky to an historic one-two in the Tour de France.

On his knighthood for services to cycling and the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, Brailsford, who is British Cycling performance director and principal of Team Sky, said: 'It is a bit surreal really.

'It is quite humbling and it really is something to try to get my head around.

'I'm very lucky and aware that the sport of cycling has grown and that we have had great success because it is a team effort over a long, long period of time.'

He said: 'It's quite something really. I never imagined that I would ever become a knight so it's an incredible honour but there's a slight element of disbelief, and it will take a while to sink in.

'There was never any doubt whether I'd accept it or not, it was more a case that I never saw myself as a Sir, and I probably never will.

'I don't like profiting from status so it's more for my family. It's nice for my parents and grandparents to be able to say I'm a knight, and for my kids in the future.

'To be deemed good enough to have a knighthood by the establishment is quite nice really, because I've continued to be myself through most of the fame.

'Not all of it's been good, a couple of swear words and things, so it's nice to be able to receive this after everything, it shows you don't have to have a stiff upper lip and say all the right things all the time.

'It's a nice advertisement for our culture I think because so much of it is based on being something you're not with celebrity, so it's reassuring in a way.'

Wiggins had been widely tipped to receive the honour after his superb achievements this year, but he admitted he thought he may have missed out as time ticked by before he finally received notification two weeks ago.

'I was in Spain on a training camp so it came quite late,' he said. 'I actually thought, early December, you normally hear by now, so I thought maybe it wasn't going to happen this time so when it finally did come I thought, “Blimey”.'

French fancy: Wiggins leads team-mate Mark Cavendish on the final stage of the Tour de France

French fancy: Wiggins leads team-mate Mark Cavendish on the final stage of the Tour de France

Here Wiggo! The Brit was then cheered home to win the Olympic Time Trial

Here Wiggo! The Brit was then cheered home to win the Olympic Time Trial

Wiggins admitted he initially struggled for motivation as he thought about trying to follow 2012, but he has thrown himself back into training and is planning to ride both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in 2013.

There is still uncertainty about whether he will bid to defend his Tour crown or support team-mate Chris Froome, who finished second this year.

Wiggins said: “It's about setting new goals and going out and doing something else. It might not top it, it might not ever top it, but you have to go back to work at some point.

'Initially motivation was an issue but you actually crave going back to that routine and that structure. I really enjoyed being in camp again with the team and going back to what got you there in the first place. There are things I still want to do within the sport.

Another one for the collection: Wiggins was also named Sports Personality of the Year

Another one for the collection: Wiggins was also named Sports Personality of the Year

'I'm doing the Tour of Italy and the Tour de France as a new challenge, and that's very much what we're training for at the moment.

'The priority is the Tour of Italy and then we go to the Tour and it could be in a support role to Chris Froome, it could be both of us, it could be me again, it really depends on how the season pans out, on results and form and even whether both of us make it to the Tour.'

Looking further into the future, Wiggins has his sights set on an Olympic swansong in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, where he hopes to return to the track.

'I'd love to go to Rio,' he added. 'That would be an incredible way to finish it all with a fifth gold medal, and I would like it to be back on the track in the team pursuit where it all started in Sydney for me.'

BRADLEY WIGGINS FACTFILE

1980: Born April 28 in Ghent, Belgium before growing up in London. Son of Australian former racing cyclist Gary Wiggins.

1992: Begins track cycling at Herne Hill Velodrome, London.

1997: Wins individual pursuit gold at Junior World Track Championships in Cuba.

2000: March – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester.
October – Bronze in team pursuit at Olympic Games in Sydney.

2001: September – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.

2002: July – Silver for England in team pursuit and individual pursuit
at Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Gold in individual pursuit at Track
Cycling World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

2003: August – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
September – Wins opening stage of Tour de l'Avenir.

2004: August – Olympic gold in individual pursuit at Athens Olympics.
Also wins silver in team pursuit alongside Steve Cummings, Paul Manning
and Rob Hayles and bronze in Madison alongside Rob Hayles to become
first Briton since 1964 to win three medals at one Games.

Bradley Wiggins

2005: September – Wins stage eight of Tour de l'Avenir.

2006: July – Makes Tour de France debut, riding for French team Cofidis.

2007: March – Wins gold in the individual pursuit and team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Palma, Majorca.
June – Prologue victory in Dauphine Libere.
July – Finishes fourth in Tour de France prologue in London behind Swiss
winner Fabian Cancellara but his team, Cofidis, later withdraw after
team-mate Cristian Moreni fails a drugs test.

2008: January – Wiggins' estranged father, Gary Wiggins, is discovered unconscious in New South Wales and later dies.
March – Wins individual pursuit, team pursuit and Madison gold at Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester.
August 16 – Successfully defends Olympic individual pursuit title with gold at the Laoshan Velodrome.
August 18 – Olympic team pursuit gold alongside Ed Clancy, Geraint
Thomas and Paul Manning in a world record of three minutes 53.314
seconds.
August 19 – Favourite for Olympic Madison alongside Mark Cavendish but
ninth-placed finish results in Manxman suffering the ignominy of being
the only member of GB's track team to leave the Laoshan Velodrome
without a medal and has a public falling-out with Wiggins.

Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish

October – Releases autobiography titled 'In Pursuit of Glory' detailing his struggle with alcohol after Athens Games.

2009: July – Secures fourth place in Tour de France, matching highest-ever placing by a British rider.
September – Wins British Time-Trial Championship.
October – Wins stage five time-trial and overall title at Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia.
December 10 – Signs four-year deal with Team Sky, the BSkyB-backed road
team which is being led by British Cycling performance director Dave
Brailsford.

2010: February 7 – Makes Team Sky debut at Tour of Qatar, helping squad to victory in the race's opening team time-trial.
March – Finishes third overall in the Tour of Murcia.
May – Wins Giro d'Italia prologue to become second Briton to wear race
leader's pink jersey, the maglia rosa. The victory gives Team Sky a
Grand Tour stage win at the first attempt.
July – Finishes 24th on Team Sky's Tour de France debut, upgraded to
23rd after Alberto Contador is stripped of the title for a doping
offence.

2011: March – Finishes third overall in Paris-Nice stage race.
May – Wins fourth stage of Bayern-Rundfahrt as team-mate Geraint Thomas wins overall.
June – Wins traditional Tour de France warm-up Criterium du Dauphine. Wins British Championships road race.
July 8 – Abandons Tour de France after fracturing collarbone in crash on
seventh stage. Wiggins was sixth overall, 10 seconds behind race leader
Thor Hushovd, entering the stage.

Bradley Wiggins is carried into an ambulance

September – Finishes third overall at the Vuelta a Espana, with Team Sky
colleague Chris Froome second. Finishes second in World Championships
time-trial before helping Cavendish win the road race.

2012: February: Wins stage five of Volta ao Algarve.
March – Wins Paris-Nice overall, completing victory with win on stage eight.
April – Triumphs in Tour de Romandie, winning stages one and five.
June – Successfully defends his Criterium du Dauphine title and wins
stage four time-trial for an unprecedented series of results.
July 7 – Takes the Tour de France yellow jersey after stage seven.
July 9 – Enhances hold on maillot jaune ahead of the first rest day with
a first Tour stage win, on the stage nine time-trial to Besancon.
July 21 – Wins the time-trial on the Tour's penultimate day to all but secure victory.
July 22 – Confirmed as Britain's first-ever winner of the Tour de France.
August 1 – Claims gold medal for Team GB at London 2012 in Olympic road time-trial.
November 7 – Taken to hospital after a collision with a car near his
home in Lancashire. Wiggins suffered bruising, a fractured rib, a
bruised lung and a dislocated finger.
December 16 – Wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, finishing
ahead of second-placed Jessica Ennis and third-placed Andy Murray.
December 28 – Awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours list.

Bradley Wiggins wins Sports Personality of the Year and celebrates like a rockstar

Ace racer to rockstar! Wiggins swaps Tour de France for tour de force on party scene

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UPDATED:

23:19 GMT, 17 December 2012

Asked how he would celebrate being voted the nation’s Sports Personality of the Year, Bradley Wiggins winked.

‘I will go home and have a cup of tea,’ he said before breaking into a smile. ‘It’s a free bar so it would be rude not to give it a hiding.’ That sounds more like it.

Seven hours later a bleary-eyed Wiggins was photographed in a McDonald’s; his blue velvet double-breasted suit from a Soho tailor looking more than a tad dishevelled.

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

King of swing: Bradley Wiggins celebrated in his own special style after winning SPOTY

He had already treated the guests at the BBC’s after-show party to a rendition of The Jam’s That’s Entertainment and Wonderwall by Oasis and then carried on celebrating with his wife, Cath, at a central London nightclub. Not bad for Great Britain’s first winner of the Tour de France, surely one of the fittest athletes on the planet.

But then Wiggins, as Lord Coe put it on Sunday night, has ‘that rock star quality’.

He manages to be the last man standing after five hours of cycling on brutal terrain or a long drinking session in the pub; looking equally at home in his racing Lycra or with a bottle of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

‘He just cuts it,’ said Coe. ‘Bradley is where it is at the moment. I think it is an unbelievable year that he has had but he is just edgy, isn’t he Sporting characters have got to capture the public imagination and he does that.’

Wiggins might have a penchant for Paul Weller but he was certainly not buying into the suggestion he has reached rock-star status by wearing the yellow jersey and winning seven Olympic medals, four of them gold.

Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London

Pub talk: Bradley Wiggins kisses the iconic trophy last night (left) and (right) thanks his nan in his speech

Over to you, Sue: Sue Barker (left) chats to Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London last night

Over to you, Sue: Sue Barker (left) chats to Bradley Wiggins during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL London last night

the Farmers Arms in Heskin

The Farmers Arms in Heskin will be the first pub that the Tour de France winner takes his award to

‘I won the Tour de France,’ said
Wiggins. ‘Without this award I would still be me. I am just very
grateful to everyone who has helped me. There’s only the knighthood to
come, isn’t there, really’

Few knights of the realm, though, would give their Sports Personality of the Year award to their nan for safekeeping.

Even fewer would then take it on a
tour of the pubs near their home in Lancashire: the Farmers Arms in
Heskin and the Original Farmers Arms in Eccleston. Their hosts told
Sportsmail yesterday they would be delighted to look after the famous
trophy.

‘It would be
absolutely great,’ said Ann Rothwell, landlady of the Farmers Arms. ‘He
lives in between the two pubs and he does pop in here now and again, but
he’s an athlete, isn’t he He doesn’t frequent the pub that often.’

When he does, you imagine Wiggins might indulge in more than one glass of his favourite tipple: vodka and tonic.

Dave Brailsford, performance director
of British Cycling, recognised Wiggins’s talent as soon as he saw his
body shape and the ‘fluid’ way he pedals, but there was something else
that showed ‘this young lad was special’.

Support: Barry Newton, landlord of the Original Farmers Arms, said that Wiggo had a lot of support in the pub

Support: Barry Newton, landlord of the Original Farmers Arms, said that Wiggo had a lot of support in the pub

‘Once he decides he wants to do something — like all the greats — he really does make it,’ said Brailsford.

‘There’s something reminiscent of
David Beckham practising free-kicks, of Jonny Wilkinson (practising his
kicking) in Brad. It’s that type of obsession he has.’

The desire to achieve remains, too.
Wiggins has repeatedly stated he wants to win another Tour de France,
forcing Team Sky into a difficult decision as to whether the defending
champion, Chris Froome or both lead the team next year.

But the ‘obsession’ remains for
Wiggins, who needed a search party to track him down during a training
camp in Majorca last week, such was his eagerness to do ‘just that
little bit more’.

Suits you: Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins shows off the trophy

Suits you: Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins shows off the trophy

‘Bradley’s capacity to work hard is
unbelievable,’ said Brailsford. ‘It’s off the scale. But he’s learnt how
to manage himself and his sport and he’s become an extremely coachable
rider.

'He was up at 7.30 in the gym in
Majorca. He did five hours (on the bike) then went out on his own and
did another couple of hours.

‘Two days ago we actually sent
somebody out to look for him because it was starting to get dark and we
thought, “Where’s Brad” He had gone just that bit more.’

Perhaps we should all raise a glass to that.

David Beckham: Next move for the former Manchester United star

Ageing icon for hire… but where will former England captain Beckham land next

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UPDATED:

00:29 GMT, 21 November 2012

David Beckham's announcement that the Major League Soccer Cup final on December 1 will be his last match for LA Galaxy created headlines around the globe.

Even after his five-and-a-half years in the States playing 'soccer' in a developing league, the world sat up and wondered what a 37-year-old footballer does to 'experience one last challenge'.

Clubs in Russia, China, Australia, South Africa and Brazil are hankering for his signature, as are Paris Saint-Germain, who have expressed interest before.

Centre of attention: Beckham will play his final game for LA Galaxy next month

Centre of attention: Beckham will play his final game for LA Galaxy next month

Centre of attention: Beckham will play his final game for LA Galaxy next month

Beckham is still box-office. Did he worry the big three – American football, basketball and baseball Definitely not. But he brought increased credibility and profile to a league still in its infancy.

As Tim Leiweke, chairman of entertainment giants AEG, who own Galaxy, said last year: 'David's brought a lot of heat, attention and buzz back to this organisation. There aren't many players in this sport who can do that.'

Brand Beckham: The former England captain announced his decision to leave LA Galaxy on Monday

Brand Beckham: The former England captain announced his decision to leave LA Galaxy on Monday

BECKHAM'S IMPACT ON THE MLS

In 2006 — the year before Becks joined — the MLS total attendance was 2.98million. , this had more than doubled to 6.07m. In his first season, the average away attendance for LA Galaxy games jumped from 19,929 to 28,035. Their strip was adidas’s most popular shirt of 2007, with more than 300,000 sold.

Arguably, there is nobody else who could have done it. There are better, younger players, but nobody bar Beckham could have brought such attention.

When the former England captain jetted off into the footballing wilderness at 31 in 2007, he said he wanted to 'grow the world's most popular game in a country that is as passionate about its sport as my own'.

Followers of the 'world's most popular game', it's fair to say, laughed, wondering quite what it was about Beckham's 20million, five-year contract that had attracted him to the States.

Time's up: Beckham wants to 'experience one last challenge' before hanging up his boots

Time's up: Beckham wants to 'experience one last challenge' before hanging up his boots

Where next for Becks

Australia

The A-League are desperate for more high-profile signings to follow the likes of Emile Heskey and Alessandro Del Piero. Seven of the 10 top-flight clubs have been linked with the midfielder.

Brazil

The Becks factor would be a massive PR boost in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup finals and the 2016 Olympic Games.

China

Another country looking to promote their domestic competition. The signings of Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba show they mean business.

Paris St Germain

The money-bags French club thought they had signed Beckham 12 months ago after agreeing to pay him 670,000 a month but the deal was never signed.

so his wife can pursue her fashion career Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2227502/David-Victoria-Beckham-ready-quit-LA-New-York-pursue-fashion-career.html#ixzz2CkRDlDPH
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook so his wife can pursue her fashion career Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2227502/David-Victoria-Beckham-ready-quit-LA-New-York-pursue-fashion-career.html#ixzz2CkRDlDPH
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Leyton Orient

Could his last challenge be to try and take his hometown club to the Premier League

But Beckham's timing was significant.
He wasn't a washed-up old has-been: he was on his way to winning the
Spanish title with Real Madrid. There were two loan spells at AC Milan
and much flirtation with leaving Galaxy before winning his first MLS Cup
– his eighth league title in three countries – last November, but he
extended his deal for 12 months.

Beckham
will leave a legacy if players move to the MLS in their 20s rather than
towards the end of their careers. Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane have
made the move and Frank Lampard still could with Galaxy having expressed
serious interest in the Chelsea midfielder.

MLS
commissioner Don Garber said: 'There is no doubt that MLS is far more
popular and important here and abroad than it was when David arrived. He
will always be an important part of our history.'

Attendances
are increasing, with an average 18,807 fans at each game, but they come
from white, well-heeled families and Hispanic communities. This may
explain why the burgeoning popularity of soccer has not been translated
to TV.

Galaxy agreed a
43m, 10-year deal to show their games on English and Spanish cable
channels in California but they are watched in only around 16,000 homes –
less than one per cent of the available audience.

The suggestion Beckham has achieved 'great things' on the field is an
exaggeration. He has been picked three times in the MLS All-Star XI and
could sign off with a second league title next weekend, but injuries and
loan spells have left him with insufficient playing time for it to be
considered 'great'.

Landmark signing: Beckham has enjoyed five seasons with the LA Galaxy celebrating the MLS Cup in 2011 (below)

Landmark arrival: Beckham has enjoyed five seasons with then Galaxy celebrating the MLS Cup in 2011 (below)

Landmark signing: Beckham has enjoyed five seasons with the LA Galaxy celebrating the MLS Cup in 2011 (below)

American Dream: Beckham has helped change the face of the MLS

American Dream: Beckham has helped change the face of the MLS

Famous faces: The former England skipper meets US president Barack Obama

Famous faces: The former England skipper meets US president Barack Obama

Proving
people wrong has been as much a part of Beckham's DNA as changing his
hairstyle and he looks set to do it again with one final 'challenge'.

'Retirement is not something I'm thinking of yet. I still feel I have
something left in me. I'd like to take on another challenge but what
that will be, I don't know,' said Beckham.

'Right now my focus is on the final. Once that's out of the way, we have an (exhibition) tour to deal with, and then it's Christmas, which we always spend in London, so I'll be there and I'll make the decision then.'

Start of it all: Beckham on loan at Preston North End in 1995

Start of it all: Beckham on loan at Preston North End in 1995

National service: Beckham made his England debut in 1996

National service: Beckham made his England debut in 1996

Talent: Beckham was PFA's young player of the year in 1997

Talent: Beckham was PFA's Young Player of the Year in 1997

Infamous: David Beckham sent off against Argentina at 1998 World Cup

Infamous: David Beckham sent off against Argentina at 1998 World Cup

Beckham wasn't specific about where
he might end up next, deflecting questions about every destination from
Australia and China to France and England.

While discussing his future in the most oblique terms, Beckham only confirmed he won't move to New York or any other MLS team.

Sportsmail understands,
however, that the 'challenge' will not be in Australia, despite the
interest of five A-League clubs. 'If David goes to Australia it will
only be on his holidays,' said a source close to the player.

But,
whichever corner of the globe Brand Beckham lands in, the midfielder
will sign off in the States after playing a significant role in the
growth of soccer. After all, we're still talking about it.

Real deal: Beckham signing announced in Madrid in 2003

Real deal: Beckham joined the Spanish giants in 2003

Champion: Beckham has won titles in England, Spain and America

Champion: Beckham has won titles in England, Spain and America

Italian job: Beckham had two stints on loan at AC Milan

Italian job: Beckham had two stints on loan at AC Milan

Family guy: Beckham with wife Victoria Beckham and sons (L-R) Cruz, Romeo and Brooklyn

Family guy: Beckham with wife Victoria Beckham and sons (L-R) Cruz, Romeo and Brooklyn

Damon Hill: Lewis Hamilton had to quit McLaren

Lewis had to quit McLaren… they'd managed him to within an inch of his life

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UPDATED:

21:15 GMT, 29 September 2012

Lewis Hamilton's gamble of committing the prime years of his career to Mercedes, rather than McLaren, has won the approval of former world champion Damon Hill.

'Lewis has been like a caged bird at McLaren,' said Hill. 'He'd been managed to within an inch of his life. I can't blame him for looking to move elsewhere.'

Time to move on: Lewis Hamilton will bank at least 60m from his move to Mercedes

Time to move on: Lewis Hamilton will bank at least 60m from his move to Mercedes

At Mercedes, Hamilton will receive the freedom to capitalise on his own commercial value as well as banking as much as 60million from the three-year contract that has persuaded him to abandon the team that nurtured him from childhood.

'Lewis needed to leave McLaren to stretch his wings,' argued Hill.

Hamilton had become disillusioned with the culture at McLaren defined by company chairman Ron Dennis, who had steered Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, the late Ayrton Senna, and Mika Hakkinen to world championships before grooming Hamilton to stardom.

Despite their success, Lauda, Prost and Senna all felt compelled to break with McLaren, as Hamilton has done.

McLaren drivers are required to make more personal appearances for a host of sponsors than their rivals.

The space on their racing suit is owned by the team, as are the trophies they win.

Hamilton was not the first to try, and fail, to change that policy; but, ultimately, he felt the restrictions on him had become claustrophobic, a sentiment echoed by his manager, Simon Fuller, whose XIX Entertainment company held up star client David Beckham as an example of what opportunities could be open to a man with global appeal.

Good deal: Damon Hill says teams and drivers have conflicting priorities

Brokered deal: Niki Lauda

Different ideas: Hill (left) says teams and drivers have conflicting priorities, while Lauda (right) brokered deal

Mercedes principal Ross Brawn acknowledged the part Fuller played in moving Hamilton from McLaren.

'Lewis's management expressed interest, wanted to know what our plans were and it grew from there,' said Brawn.

Hill believes McLaren's inflexible approach to drivers through the ages contributed to Hamilton's decision to leave the team.

'I could never get my head around the logic that the team takes the driver's trophy,' said Hill, who won 22 Formula One races.

'It's the principle, not the trophy, that is at stake. After you have won a championship, and jumped through a lot of hoops, there is a point when you think: “This is my life”. You can have a bellyful of becoming a performing seal. You don't want to be on probation for your whole career.

'Of course, you still have to fight inside the car; but there is a time when, surely, you have proved you can motivate yourself. These are things Lewis has tried to balance.

'This is quite a shift in the power balance in Formula One. It shows a driver is a more important ingredient in the sport than the teams like to think.

'Formula One would do well to remember the public relates to a driver's career path more than any team with the exception of Ferrari. The rest are just operations. To the public, the sport is about the drivers.

'There is a huge disconnect between the philosophy of a team and a driver. Drivers just want to race, they don't see Formula One as a marketing exercise or product development. To a team, a driver is a hired hand. But drivers have a right to a career path. They don't belong to a team.'

Hill engaged in talks with McLaren at one period in his career, after winning the world championship for Williams in 1996.

Replacing Hamilton: Sergio Perez steps in with a monster deal at McLaren

Replacing Hamilton: Sergio Perez steps in with a monster deal at McLaren

He departed for Arrows, a team at the wrong end of the grid, on a reported 3 million salary in the year he declined the new contract he was offered by Frank Williams.

'I feel very close to Williams but they didn't always feel close to me,' said Hill, who provided Eddie Jordan's team with their first grand prix win before he retired.

Brawn, who masterminded seven world titles for Michael Schumacher, at Benetton, then Ferrari, has persuaded Hamilton that the introduction of new engine regulations, introducing 1.6 turbo power plants in Formula One from 2014, will shift the axis of power towards the German car giants.

The jury is still out, however.

In the past three years, Mercedes have won just one grand prix while McLaren have won 16.

Yet the intervention of Lauda, invited by Mercedes' main board to broker a deal with Hamilton, finally persuaded the 27-year-old to accept the challenge of making the team champions.

Mexican Sergio Perez, 22, will replace Hamilton at McLaren on a three-year 20 million contract.

'Of course, Lewis has taken a risk,' said Hill.

'Mercedes don't have a track record like McLaren but, as a driver in Formula One, you have to look at what's coming down the track a couple of years ahead. It will be interesting to see how Mercedes up.'

Chelsea Academy players dance for John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and co in annual competition

Put your skills on show! Chelsea Academy players dance for Terry, Cole and co in annual contest

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UPDATED:

12:00 GMT, 20 August 2012

There was a time when a young Academy player would earn his keep by cleaning the first team's boots and laying out their kit.

Now it seems they have to keep them entertained as well.

At European champions Chelsea, one bizarre initiation is the annual Academy dance-off, where the youngsters queue up nervously to put their best moves on show in front of the entire first team squad.

Scroll down to watch the video

Nervous laughter: The Chelsea Academy players line-up before performing their routines

Nervous laughter: The Chelsea Academy players line-up before performing their routines

Building a bright future: Dabo shows off his best moves as the first team players look on

Building a bright future: Dabo shows off his best moves as the first team players look on

Their stage is daunting – a changing room at the club's Cobham training ground, lined with the seniors laughing, joking and judging.

In a video of the event, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole are seen rating every move as dance tunes pump out the stereo.

They seem to approve of the winner, 16-year-old Fankaty Dabo, responding with broad smiles to a routine in which he shows off the fluidity that has earned him recognition at Under-17 level for England.

Reaching for the first team: Smiles all round as Dabo works towards his big finale

Reaching for the first team: Smiles all round as Dabo works towards his big finale

That's entertainment! (From left) John Terry, Frank Lampard, Josh McEachran and Ashley Cole enjoy the show

That's entertainment! (From left) John Terry, Frank Lampard, Josh McEachran and Ashley Cole enjoy the show

Aiming high: Dabo took the honours in the annual competition

Aiming high: Dabo took the honours in the annual competition

Dabo joined the Chelsea Academy as an Under-12 and made his debut for the Under-18 team three years early.

The youngster took to Twitter afterwards, asking Cole if his moves were memorable.

Cole replied that he was 'very good' but thought the overall standard of the team's dancing 'awful'.

Now watch the best bits

London 2012 Olympics: Brazil 3 Belarus 1

Brazil 3 Belarus 1: Neymar and Oscar turn on the style to sink spirited Belarusians

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UPDATED:

17:37 GMT, 29 July 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

As Brazil came from behind to beat Belarus 3-1, Chelsea new boy Oscar showed his potential by bagging a late goal. But it was compatriot Neymar who stole the show – proving he is the finished article.

This week Barcelona made it clear they want Neymar to join them after the Olympics and it is easy to see why.

His dazzling skills wowed all 66,212 spectators at Old Trafford throughout this Group C match, with the crowning glory coming in the 65th minute when the 20-year-old bent a peach of a set-piece over the wall and past the sprawling Aleksandr Gutor.

The dynamic duo: Neymar (right) and Chelsea's Oscar lit up Old Trafford as Brazil beat Belarus

The dynamic duo: Neymar (right) and Chelsea's Oscar lit up Old Trafford as Brazil beat Belarus

Brazil have now qualified for the last eight with one match to spare, but they were given a stern test by Belarus, who opened the scoring through Renan Bardini Bressan.

Neymar crossed for Alexandre Pato to equalise and also set up Oscar for Brazil's third after his brilliant effort had put them ahead.

After the drab 1-1 draw between Egypt and New Zealand that preceded this game, the flamboyant crowd inside Old Trafford were looking for some top-class entertainment from Brazil and they got it in abundance early on.

Not a bad start: Chelsea's new signing, Oscar, capped a solid performance with a neat finish

Not a bad start: Chelsea's new signing, Oscar, capped a solid performance with a neat finish

A class above: Neymar stole the show at Old Trafford with a beauty of a freekick

A class above: Neymar stole the show at Old Trafford with a beauty of a freekick

The Selecao started confidently, with Rafael, Hulk and Pato sending over teasing crosses, but the carnival atmosphere was punctured after seven minutes when Belarus scored.

Aleksei Kozlov of Torpedo Zhodzin raced down the right flank and found Bardini Bressan at the back post where the midfielder directed a downward header past Neto.

Brazil soon had their equaliser. Neymar came in from the left flank and curled a wonderful cross to the back post where the AC Milan man out-jumped his marker to head past Gutor.

Brazil dominated possession, but Belarus still looked dangerous. Bardini Bressan went close with a fierce drive and Neto had to frantically back-pedal to tip over the midfielder's free-kick shortly afterwards.

Come here lads: Thiago Silva hugs the two star men as he congratulates them

Come here lads: Thiago Silva hugs the two star men as he congratulates them

Not a bad lineup: Alexandre Pato also got in on the act as Brazil dismantled their opposition

Not a bad lineup: Alexandre Pato also got in on the act as Brazil dismantled their opposition

After the break Gutor pulled off an athletic save to palm away a drive from Marcelo and Sergi Politevich threw himself in front of Oscar just before the new Chelsea man could pull the trigger.

Bardini Bressan's cross-shot almost slipped past Neto at the back post during a rare Belarus attack, and the Europeans were looking good value for a draw until Neymar's moment of brilliance.

Stanislav Dragun tripped the Santos forward 20 yards out and Neymar took the free-kick himself, curling his shot over the wall and into the far corner.

Neymar was desperate for a second but was denied by a forceful challenge after beating three Belarus defenders to break in to the box.

Another moment of Neymar brilliance sealed the win in injury time. The forward drifted in from the left flank and skipped past two defenders before backheeling in to Oscar's path and he made no mistake from close range.

Medal contenders Brazil look likely to get a place on the podium

Medal contenders Brazil look likely to get a place on the podium

Brazil have won five World Cups, but have never claimed gold at the Olympics.

Neymar was cautious when asked about his team's chances of going all the way at London 2012, but was happy with their performance on Sunday.

'It was a perfect game, not for me, but for the whole team,' he said.

'I scored and made two assists so for me it was perfect, but I don't know if we can win the competition.

'It is a difficult tournament with so many good teams in it, but we will try our best to win it.'

Sea of stars: Brazil's squad boasts players from some of the world's top teams including Real Madrid, Chelsea, Porto, Santos and Milan

Sea of stars: Brazil's squad boasts players from some of the world's top teams including Real Madrid, Chelsea, Porto, Santos and Milan

Brazil head coach Mano Menezes was reluctant to single out Neymar for praise but was still happy to see his team come from behind to win.

'I was happy with all the players' performances,' he said. 'The most important thing was that we won and that we qualified from this group with one match to spare.

'The (CBF) president Jose Maris Marin has already received a call from the ex-president Lula congratulating the team on qualifying.

'Our supporters are also happy and we have taken an important step in these Olympics today.'

Birmingham sign Peter Lovenkrands

Clark begins Birmingham rebuilding job with Lovenkrands capture

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UPDATED:

10:29 GMT, 9 July 2012

Peter Lovenkrands has become Lee Clark's first signing as Birmingham boss, subject to a medical.

The 32-year-old Danish forward has agreed personal terms on his Bosman free transfer to St Andrew's and is due to report for training on Monday as Blues kickstart their pre-season preparations under Clark, who took the reins from Chris Hughton towards the end of June.

Spot on: Peter Lovenkrands joins Birmingham after his release from Newcastle

Spot on: Peter Lovenkrands joins Birmingham after his release from Newcastle

Lovenkrands' move has been made possible after City's transfer embargo was finally lifted by the Football League last Wednesday, having been placed on the club in March for not filing their 2010/11 accounts on time.

The Denmark international, a target of both previous Birmingham bosses Hughton and Alex McLeish, was released by Newcastle earlier this summer having scored 26 goals in 85 appearances for the Magpies over two spells since 2009.

In the hotseat: Lee Clark took over from Chris Hughton at Birmingham

In the hotseat: Lee Clark took over from Chris Hughton at Birmingham

He first moved to Britain in 2000 when he joined Rangers, ending a six-year spell north of the border with a switch to German side Schalke, whom he represented for three seasons before linking up with Newcastle.

Elsewhere, Birmingham have announced leisure, entertainment and lifestyle provider EZE Group as the club's official shirt sponsor for the forthcoming npower Championship campaign.

QPR consider ground share for new stadium

QPR consider ground share as they explore new stadium options

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UPDATED:

16:22 GMT, 6 June 2012

QPR hope to make their potential new stadium available for other events, and have not ruled out the possibility of a ground share.

Multi-millionaire Tony Fernandes bought QPR last summer and ordered the club to start planning for a move from their current Loftus Road home, which holds just over 18,000.

Having the smallest ground in the Barclays Premier League is inhibiting the London club's growth and Beard wants to build a new stadium which brings in extra revenue from as many sources as possible.

Plans: Owner Tony Fernandes wants the club to find a new home

Plans: Owner Tony Fernandes wants the club to find a new home

'To have a stand-alone football stadium that only hosts 19 home domestic matches a season would probably not make the numbers work,' chief executive Phil Beard told the London Evening Standard.

'What is important is that it is the home of QPR but it will need to have facilities to do other things as well.

'A full-on ground-share is more challenging, but I am hoping to emulate an entertainment destination model where you roll the pitch away and use it for other things.

'Look at (Arsenal's) Emirates Stadium. They hosted Coldplay for three nights – that is the sort of activity you need to host to generate the revenues to make the club sustainable and ultimately invest in the team going forward.'

Finding a large space to build a stadium of up to 45,000 will not be easy, but Beard was quick to allay fears the club would be moving far away from their west London roots.

Switch: Loftus Road would be traded for a much larger ground

Switch: Loftus Road would be traded for a much larger ground

'The criteria is that we need to find somewhere that hopefully isn't too far from Loftus Road,' he said.

'Our fanbase is a very passionate, loyal and local one. We need to stay in the area if we can. That is almost a must.'

Meanwhile, Rangers announced that defender Bruno Perone has left the club after his contract expired.

The 24-year-old joined from Brazilian side Tombense last summer but only made two appearances for QPR.

Manchester City offer best value in Premier League

City complete double over United as club is rewarded for best matchday experience

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UPDATED:

10:28 GMT, 22 May 2012

Manchester City are celebrating a Premier League double after the club came out on top when it comes to providing value to fans.

The league champions stand at the head of ING Direct Value table which compares club season ticket costs with on-field performance and entertainment value and getting the most points for your pound.

At the opposite end of the table, Queens Park Rangers finished bottom.

Pure delight: Manchester City fans had a season to remember in the league

Pure delight: Manchester City fans had a season to remember in the league

The top three is completed by Wigan and West Brom, sides who finished further down the Premier League table. Manchester United, who missed out on the trophy to their fierce rivals, took fourth spot.

Liverpoo endured a difficult season on the field and there was further bad news as they were ranked second bottom when it comes to the fans' experience thanks to a high season ticket cost and poor scoring record.

Wolves were also 'relegated', as they were in the official league table.

Protest: Blackburn fans had a miserable season as their team were relegated

Protest: Blackburn fans had a miserable season as their team were relegated

The value league was compiled by comparing season ticket prices with points earned, and with a bonus for goals scored, deemed to affect fans’ enjoyment of the game.

Less than 50 per cent of fans felt they received good value for money in the 2011-12 season, and are now considering whether to renew their season tickets.

But 12 of the 20 Premier League sides have frozen or lowered their prices for the new campaign.

Main man: Robin van Persie

Main man: Robin van Persie

Unsurprisingly, relegated Blackburn Rovers have the most disgruntled fans – many of whom have staged protests in the past season against Indian owners Venky’s and manager Steve Kean – with more than half of ticket holders (56 per cent) saying they will not renew.

Aston Villa, who narrowly avoided the drop before sacking manager Alex McLeish, had a third of fans saying they planned to cancel their tickets.

Two-thirds of supporters are in favour of a wage cap for Premier League footballers.

Arsenal captain Robin Van Persie topped the 'best value player' poll, followed by Newcastle United striker Demba Ba and Tottenham’s Scott Parker.

The report’s compilation was overseen by Dr Steve Kelly from the University of Huddersfield, an expert in sports and club finance and structures.

Wolves 0 Everton 0: Fantasy world cheers Wanderers

Wolves 0 Everton 0: Fantasy world cheers Wanderers in dead rubber

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UPDATED:

20:19 GMT, 6 May 2012

Ignore the scoreline — actually Wolves won 2-0, the day after Everton had lifted the FA Cup at Wembley on Saturday. That, according to both sets of fans, was the alternative version of a dull afternoon at Molineux.

Early in the second half the home fans on the South Bank got tired of waiting for something to end their dismal home run and decided to make their own entertainment.

‘Let’s pretend we’ve scored a goal,’ they sang before leaping together in joy. And a couple of minutes later they did it again, before bursting into song: ‘We’re winning two-nil.’

Good luck: Everton's Jelavic gives Jagielka a pat before kick-off

Good luck: Everton's Jelavic gives Jagielka a pat before kick-off

MATCH FACTS

WOLVES (4-4-2): De Vries 6; Zubar 5, Stearman 6, Berra 6 (Elokobi 54min, 5), Ward 6; Kightly 5 (Forde 71), Edwards 6, Henry 6, Hunt 5; Doyle 5, Fletcher 5 (Ebanks-Blake 62, 5).

Subs not used: Ikeme, Johnson, Milijas, Jonsson.

EVERTON (4-5-1): Howard 6; Hibbert 7, Jagielka 7, Heitinga 6, Distin 6; McFadden 5 (Stracqualursi 60, 5), Osman 5, Cahill 6 (Gueye 68, 6), Fellaini 7, Pienaar 7; Jelavic 6.

Subs not used: Mucha, Barkley, Coleman, Duffy, Baxter.

Man of the match: Marouane Fellaini.

Referee: Lee Mason 7.

Attendance: 25,466

Two Everton fans later ran on the
pitch to start a lap of honour with a shiny silver paper cut-out of the
trophy that their Mersey rivals Liverpool had failed to collect the day
before. It was so much more lively than the real world.

Interim Wolves boss Terry Connor said: ‘I heard the fans singing for 2-0. I’m glad they enjoyed themselves.’

After the match, however, Wolves
chairman Steve Morgan was signing autographs and chatting with fans when
one supporter came up and insulted him. There was an exchange of views
before Morgan drove off in his car.

The visitors had the better
of the chances and twice had the ball in the back of the net, but
Nikica Jelavic and Denis Stracqualursi were both denied by offside
flags.

Despite the scoreline, it was an open
game with chances for both sides, and arguably the best of the
first-half opportunities came in only the fifth minute when Marouane
Fellaini's flicked header landed at the feet of Tim Cahill 10 yards out
but he shot straight at Dorus De Vries.

Jelavic had scored six goals in his
last four league games and he had his first sight of goal in the 14th
minute when he was found by Phil Jagielka's long diagonal pass, but
Richard Stearman stayed with the striker and did very well to block his
shot.

Fall guy: Everton's Marouane Fellaini (centre) is tackled by Christophe Berra

Fall guy: Everton's Marouane Fellaini (centre) is tackled by Christophe Berra

Kevin Doyle and James McFadden both
snatched at chances while Leon Osman wanted a penalty when he went down
under a challenge from Michael Kightly, but referee Lee Mason was
unmoved.

It would have been a very memorable
day for Tony Hibbert had he netted his first goal for Everton after more
than 300 games, and his fierce volley would certainly have tested De
Vries had Stephen Ward not got his body in the way.

Wolves had their best opening in the
26th minute when Stephen Hunt's free-kick was header just over by
Christophe Berra, but Everton, and Steven Pienaar in particular, were
starting to take a grip on the game.

In the thick of the action: Fellaini under pressure from Wolves' Stephan Ward (left)

Falling for it: Fellaini fells Berra

Centre of attention: Fellaini under pressure from Wolves' Stephan Ward (left) and felling Berra (right)

The midfielder might have done better
than fire over when well placed, while his clever ball found Jelavic
but he was flagged offside as he shot past De Vries in what looked a
marginal decision.

The hosts were living dangerously,
and Ronald Zubar would have been very grateful to see his header from
Hibbert's cross drop just past the post, while at the other end an
isolated Steven Fletcher blazed over the bar.

Wolves threatened right at the start
of the second half as Hunt and Fletcher combined to play in Stearman on
the left of the area but the ball had just too much pace on it and the
defender could not control his cutback.

Frustrated: Everton manager David Moyes saw his side have plenty of possession but goals were hard to come by

Frustrated: Everton manager David Moyes saw his side have plenty of possession but goals were hard to come by

Hibbert had been a real thorn in
Wolves' side down the right and another pinpoint cross should really
have been buried by Fellaini instead of placed over the bar.

De Vries was then forced into his
first real save of the match from a Jelavic free-kick 25 yards out, the
keeper plunging to his left.

Up for the cup: An Everton sends a message to Liverpool. At least they got to Wembley...

Up for the cup: An Everton sends a message to Liverpool. At least they got to Wembley…

Boss David Moyes sent on
Stracqualursi for McFadden and he was into the action immediately with a
shot that was well blocked by Ward, while Sylvan Ebanks-Blake replaced
Fletcher for Wolves.

The Scot, who is likely to be a
target for Premier League clubs in the summer, received a very warm
reception from the home fans.

Wide open: Nikica Jelavic shows his frustration as another chance goes begging

Wide open: Nikica Jelavic shows his frustration as another chance goes begging

There was a real lack of intensity
about the game but a burst from Karl Henry provided a shooting
opportunity for Kightly, who pulled his effort well wide.

Jelavic had been pretty quiet but he
certainly should have tested De Vries in the 72nd minute when he beat
the defence to a long ball only to pull his shot wide of the far post.

Gone: Wolves' David Edwards escapes Leon Osman

Gone: Wolves' David Edwards escapes Leon Osman

The visitors had the ball in the net
for a second time moments later as Jelavic's cross was turned in by
Stracqualursi at the far post but again it was ruled out for offside,
although it was Fellaini, who had also lunged for the ball, who was the
culprit.

Everton continued to press but the Wolves defence held firm to earn their first home point since December.

Heading for a draw: Ronald Zubar (right) is challenged by Everton's Osman

Heading for a draw: Ronald Zubar (right) is challenged by Everton's Osman