Tag Archives: euphoria

Montenegro mayhem is nothing new for England

Montenegro mayhem is nothing new for England as Roy's boys return to Podgorica

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Back again: England have played in Podgorica before, in a qualifier for Euro 2012…

Back again: England have played in Podgorica before, in a qualifier for Euro 2012...

A picture of Bent in action features prominently in the programme for tomorrow's game but these days he cannot hold down at place at Aston Villa and among Roy Hodgson's big decisions ahead of his big night is who to pair with Rooney.

The stadium will rattle with noise. Pictures have been painted of a hostile reception from the local fans but if the last visit is anything to go by this will be nothing more sinister than a spirited reception for a newly-independent nation.

...and the home fans celebrated on the pitch after watching their team secure a draw

…and the home fans celebrated on the pitch after watching their team secure a draw

As so often in this part of the world, the football team has given the former Yugoslav states a platform to show who they are and what they stand form.

The people of Montenegro provide a warm welcome. The fervour inside the stadium is because this little team is proudly punching above its weight.

Scoring for fun: England will find it much tougher in Montenegro than they did in San Marino on Friday

Scoring for fun: England will find it much tougher in Montenegro than they did in San Marino on Friday

Teams emerge from a tunnel in the corner of this 12,000-capactiy ground, beneath the noisiest of the supporters.

The game in October 2011 culminated in a pitch invasion but this was due mainly to the euphoria of the team's progress into the play-offs.

What Hodgson can be sure of is that it will be uncomfortable and many of those in his team were not on the pitch the last time.

Red mist: It was in Montenegro in 2011 that Wayne Rooney was sent off for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovoic

Red mist: It was in Montenegro in 2011 that Wayne Rooney was sent off for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovoic

Red mist: It was in Montenegro in 2011 that Wayne Rooney was sent off for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovoic

Branko Brnovic's team will be disciplined and tight at the back, reliant upon the star strikers Stevan Jovetic and Mirko Vucinic to provide the magic up front, perhaps pinch a goal which will turn the pressure on England.

How can they can cope That will be the test.

Rooney's red is a warning to them all. They must manage their frustration and they must think clearly amid the din.

Sepp Blatter blasts UEFA on Euro 2020 that will lack "heart and soul"

Euro 2020 will lack heart and soul… we may as well not call it the Euros! Blatter blasts Platini over plan to host finals in 13 different countries

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

11:41 GMT, 14 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:52 GMT, 14 March 2013

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has denounced Michel Platini’s plans to stage the 2020 European Championship across the entire continent and called on UEFA to change the name of the tournament.

Euro 2020 will be held in 13 cities across the continent with the semi-finals and final being played in the same stadium, UEFA announced in January.

But Blatter isn’t impressed with the plans and believes one host country is the best way to deliver
the event.

Wrong: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticised Michel Platini's plans to use more than one country for the 2020 European Championship

Wrong: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticised Michel Platini's plans to use more than one country for the 2020 European Championship

Euro 2020 details so far

12 cities will host three group stage matches and one knockout round

One stadium will host the semi-finals and final

There will only be one venue per country

In the frame to host the final are Wembley, the Olympic Stadium in Istanbul and the Allianz Arena

He told Kicker magazine: ‘A tournament should be played in one country. That is how you create identity and euphoria.

‘They have fragmented the 2020 tournament. So it is not a European Championship any more. It has to have a different name.’

‘I do not know what name. Such a Euro lacks heart and soul.’

UEFA said that 12 cities would be
awarded a package of three group games plus one knockout-stage game,
either from the round-of-16 or quarter-finals.

A
special 13th package would be awarded, consisting of the two
semi-finals and final with UEFA eager to split the costs for the bigger
tournament and celebrate its 60th anniversary across Europe.

The Swiss sports administrator also said
he planned to end his stint at the top of the world soccer’s governing
body in 2015 if FIFA was strong and stable.

Coming home: Wembley is one of the favourites to host the final after the FA said they would bid

Coming home: Wembley is one of the favourites to host the final after the FA said they would bid

First class: The Allianz Arena in Munich hosted the Champions League final last season

First class: The Allianz Arena in Munich hosted the Champions League final last season

Close contest: The Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul is also thought to be in with a chance

Close contest: The Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul is also thought to be in with a chance

Blatter, who took over the FIFA presidency in 1998, added: ‘I want to push through the FIFA reforms at our congress in Mauritius in May, then we go to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014 and after that everything is open.

‘When it is secured that FIFA will
continue to be led like that, that it will remain global and the pyramid
will not collapse then I will gladly hand over the sceptre to a new
president.'

UEFA chief Michel Platini is seen as a possible successor to Blatter.

‘I do not know if he wants to,’ said Blatter. ‘He has an idea about the future of FIFA which he has to explain to the continents at some point. But he has not decided yet.’

On the rocks: Blatter and Michel Platini have usually had an amicable relationship

On the rocks: Blatter and Michel Platini have usually had an amicable relationship

Chris Foy: England must build on New Zealand victory

England's stunning victory over All Blacks must not be a glorious exception

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UPDATED:

23:39 GMT, 2 December 2012

The teams were in a meeting with broadcasters in the countdown to kick-off at Twickenham when a member of the All Blacks staff asked a question.

Where should they stand when collecting the Hillary Shield for winning the Test

'When' rather than 'if' certainly jarred with England. Victory had been assumed. Hours later, the tourists had an answer they weren't expecting.

Showmanship: Manu Tuilagi made two tries and scored one

Showmanship: Manu Tuilagi made two tries and scored one

Flying high: Chris Ashton goes over in typically exuberant fashion

Flying high: Chris Ashton goes over in typically exuberant fashion

Over: Ashton

The New Zealand players found
themselves standing on the grass at HQ, looking up into the stand as
Chris Robshaw raised the shield which England had wrenched from Kiwi
clutches.

A week after being booed at the same
stadium, the captain and his team-mates were swamped by euphoria, having
delivered a performance from the heavens and a result to sit high in
the pantheon.

There have been few days like it, certainly not against these opponents.

In a year when British sporting
triumph has become almost routine, here was one last instalment to set
among the golden highlights from 2012.

Put aside for now the magical,
startling numbers – a scoreline from English fantasies – it was the
manner in which the hosts shattered the All Blacks' aura of
invincibility which generated such joy.

This was not a wild and wonderful fluke, although only time will tell if it is truly a watershed.

Stuart Lancaster's team systemically
and thrillingly dismantled the world champions. In the post-match search
for an explanation, it became apparent that the backs-to-the-wall
mind-set of the squad after defeats against Australia and South Africa
was a factor.

They had stood by their embattled
skipper and challenged themselves to deliver a stirring riposte, without
perhaps ever imagining it would be quite as stirring as this.

On the charge: Brad Barritt breaks away before going over for England's first try

On the charge: Brad Barritt breaks away before going over for England's first try

On the charge: Brad Barritt breaks away before going over for England's first try
5 KEY ISSUES FOR LANCASTER

Thinking it over: Stuart Lancaster

RETURNING STARS
If the injuries clear up in the New Year, Stuart Lancaster (right) has plenty to ponder, with Ben Foden, Tom Croft and Dylan Hartley trying to force their way back into the team, but perhaps finding their positions taken, judging by Saturday's performance.

THE SKIPPER'S CASE
Chris Robshaw suffered in the defeats by Australia and South Africa, then led with distinction against the All Blacks. It fortified his case for captaining the side in the Six Nations but Hartley and Tom Wood remain contenders.

DEPTHS DISCOVERED
Tom Youngs prospered at hooker to offer an alternative to Hartley, and lock Joe Launchbury showed stunning potential. There is ample tight-five cover, and England are well stocked with flankers and scrum-halves, but reserves are thinner at No 8 and on the wing.

PERFECT EXECUTION
England varied their game but, until Saturday, the execution let them down. The midfield axis was better used against New Zealand, forward runners did not clog up the line too much, and a better chase justified the in-field kicking.

LOGICAL SELECTION
Lancaster and his assistants kept a logical selection policy, even when making six changes before the South Africa game. Failings were fixed between games, hinting at good work in training. The set-up didn't panic under pressure.

The spirit was willing, but there was
no secret formula underpinning English exploits. They simply did all
their jobs with that much more precision.

A week earlier, Lancaster had lamented an absence of composure and this time that precious quality was evident in abundance.

Take the build-up to Chris Ashton's
try. When the marauding Manu Tuilagi blasted through Dan Carter, Richie
McCaw and Aaron Smith and burst clear towards the 22, he shaped to pass
to his supporting wing but delayed for a second.

That made all the difference in
clearing space for Ashton's gallop to the corner. It showed that, in the
midst of a tumultuous encounter, Tuilagi had used his head.

That was the composure his coach
wanted to see. There were various clues to England's state of mind and
their intent to be positive against the world's leading team.

In the first minute, deep in his own
half, Mike Brown shaped to clear his lines but instead chose to swerve
past Cory Jane and scorch clear.

Shortly after half-time, that sense
of adventure from the players in white was writ large again when the
ball was shipped down the line in their own 22 and Alex Goode stormed
clear.

He released Ben Youngs and although
the scrum-half 's off-load went forward, this was England using the
weapons at their disposal.

They had the courage of their
convictions. Conservatism was chased out of town. There was a familiar
hallmark of Lancaster's England in there, too: character.

In the closing seconds, when the
game was up, New Zealand's Charlie Faumuina rumbled towards the home
line but was resolutely held up by Courtney Lawes and Dan Cole.

Even at that late stage, shattered from the effort, they had a fierce determination to quell the last resistance.

Setting nerves jangling: Kieran Read went on the charge for the All Blacks' second try

Setting nerves jangling: Kieran Read went on the charge for the All Blacks' second try

On the charge: Julian Savea scores the first of his two tries to give New Zealand a foothold after half-time

On the charge: Julian Savea scores the first of his two tries to give New Zealand a foothold after half-time

So many aspects of this herculean
achievement warrant so much credit, but the fundamental issue which has
been spectacularly enhanced is England's breakdown work.

Man of the match Tom Wood, along with
Robshaw and the likes of Cole and Geoff Parling, annihilated the All
Blacks in the contact areas.

The usually peerless McCaw could do
nothing to stem the tide and in being reduced to mere mortality, he was
joined by fellow Kiwi icon Carter, who missed kicks and tackles, and was
hounded to oblivion.

England established a 15-0 lead just
after the break, founded on a relentlessly swarming defence, Owen
Farrell's kicking and that breakdown ascendancy, allied to a distinct
edge in the set piece.

What happened next was remarkable.
The All Blacks, a champion team raging against the dying of the light,
hit back with tries from Julian Savea and Kieran Read.

Twickenham practically trembled with foreboding of a New Zealand onslaught, but instead the mayhem unfolded at the other end.

Under pressure: England were 12-0 up at half-time, the first time New Zealand have failed to score before the break since 1998

Under pressure: England were 12-0 up at half-time, the first time New Zealand have failed to score before the break since 1998

Metronomic: Owen Farrell's right boot accounted for 20 points

Metronomic: Owen Farrell's right boot accounted for 20 points

In the space of eight minutes,
England scored three tries. First, their derided midfield pair ripped
the visitors apart, Brad Barritt dashing through a hole on the left and
passing out to Tuilagi, who flipped the ball back infield for his centre
partner to cross from close range.

Then came the 'Ash-Splash', courtesy
of Tuilagi, before Leicester's Anglo-Samoan wrecking ball claimed a try
of his own by intercepting a pass from Read on halfway and first
sprinting clear, then jogging and finally walking over to touch down.

'I looked into the eyes of my
opposite number and said, “I accept your challenge, now let's play some
rugby”.'

– Manu Tuilagi on the Haka

Perhaps the All Blacks should have feared the worst when England's No 13 watched the Haka and responded with a big grin.

'I really enjoyed it,' said Tuilagi.
'It was the first time I had faced it. I looked into the eyes of my
opposite number and said, “I accept your challenge, now let's play some
rugby”.'

Boy, did he play some rugby. They all did.

England were sensational and the upshot was one of the greatest victories, not just of the professional era but of any era.

They spoke later of the need to use
this win as a launchpad for improvement in the Six Nations and beyond,
which is just the right tone to adopt.

This cannot be an isolated success. It must become the norm, rather than a glorious exception.

But for now, a fanfare is fully justified.

ROB WILDMAN'S PLAYER RATINGS FROM ENGLAND'S DAY OF GLORY:

Player ratings

Player ratings

Celtic 2 Barcelona 1: Rod Stewart"s in tears… should men really weep when a football result is too much?

Have I told you lately, this looks silly! Rod Stewart's in tears… should men (women and children) really weep when a football result is too much

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UPDATED:

13:05 GMT, 8 November 2012

Births, deaths and marriages – and not even marriages, really – are the only acceptable times for a man to shed a tear.

At a football match Do me a favour, Rod Stewart.

Possibly if you’re actually playing in a match and you’ve taken one in the unmentionables… and it’s below freezing… then yes, I’ll forgive a watery eye.

Scroll down for video

Rod Stewart in tears

Rod Stewart crying

Rod Stewart in tears

We are wailing: Rod Stewart finds beating Barcelona a bit too much

The rest of the time man up. It’s football, we love it, it matters. But not to the extent it should cause an emotional meltdown.

Your team lose, your team win;
whatever, they’re playing again in three day’s time. You should be more
disappointed if they draw. Draws are of little use to anyone. No one
leapfrogs five teams into a play-off spot after gaining a point.

But, let us imagine your team flukes a
result over the mighty Barcelona – or even better, beats Lazio away
(Dec, 2000) – this is a time for euphoria, mild man-o-man embracing and
wild drinking.

A Manchester United fan in tears as Manchester City win the title in 2012

A Scotland fan shows his emotion as they fail to qualify for Euro 2008

A Manchester United fan sees the title slip away and a Scotland fan suffers a loss

An England football fan cries after a 2010 World Cup second round defeat against Germany

England draw 0-0 with Algeria at the World Cup in 2010 - enough to make anyone cry

To be an England fan you need to have a degree in crying

It’s not the realisation of a life’s
work or the emotional outpouring of achievement having witnessed the
birth of your first child.

Roderick David Stewart, I put it to
you that – ever the showman – you were putting it on for the cameras. I
mean, you’re not even Scottish, for goodness sake. Your dad is.

VIDEO: Rod's tears of joy as Celtic beat Barcelona…

DM.has('rcpv1954801493001','BCVideo');

But Matt Fortune has a different view…

There is no way this can end well for me. Admitting crying at anything – even Forest Gump – for a man of my age simply isn't acceptable. But why is it not It's only a game, after all.

Though it's more than that. It's a habit, an emotional and financial investment (like a wife, though this one will be there long after the divorce papers have been signed)

.

Manchester City fan John Millington finds losing to Swansea too much

Manchester City fan John Millington finds losing to Swansea too much

A Leeds fan finds it too much after they lose to Doncaster in the 2008 play-off final.

A Leeds fan finds it too much after they lose to Doncaster in the 2008 play-off final.

A West Bromwich fan sees her team relegated in 2003

A West Bromwich fan sees her team relegated in 2003

Football keeps us ticking over when converstions run dry, when we
meet the boyfriend of your own partner's best friend, and when we've got
little else profound to say on Facebook.

It's a common ground with everyone the world over.

Football is a shoulder to cry on, the chance to switch off from the
rest of your worries for 90 minutes, without any idea of journey you'll
be taken on.

Middlesbrough fans after they were beaten 2-1 by West ham and relegated from the top flight in 2009

Middlesbrough fans after they were beaten 2-1 by West ham and relegated from the top flight in 2009


Arsenal fan at the end of the Carling Cup Final defeat to Birmingham

Arsenal fan at the end of the
Carling Cup Final defeat to Birmingham

On matchday, I buzz off the feelings of thousands upon thousands of
those in close proximity. What better joy is there than the mutual
thrill with others The highs are astronomical, enough to make your eyes
water.

But what goes up, must come down and down and down. No wonder football breaks your heart, as well.

Distressed: England lose 4-1 to Germany in Bloemfontein in 2010

Distressed: England lose 4-1 to Germany in Bloemfontein in 2010

David Weir interview

Weir humbled after Paralympic heroics which have changed his life forever

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UPDATED:

13:01 GMT, 16 September 2012

Having tried in vain, among the hysteria which followed his Paralympic triumphs, to make sense of things, it was eventually a moment of calm which spoke loudest to David Weir.

'I came back from doing a TV thing, late on Wednesday night, and my little boy, Morgan, who's one, had a cold and couldn’t sleep. So I sat on the sofa with him, just the two of us, and had a cuddle and a bit of a chat about what I'd been doing.'

He smiles at the memory – father and son, away from the noise and euphoria, sharing a unique moment. Then he looks down at the four gold medals around his neck, as if to confirm it really happened.

Gold standard: Weir has been on a rollercoaster ride of emotion since the summer

Gold standard: Weir has been on a rollercoaster ride of emotion since the summer

'When you’re in the village it's like being in a bubble, so when I came out and saw what was going on, I was stunned. I half expected someone to nudge me and say 'wake up, you're dreaming, you've got to go and race”.'

Weir's greatness, as with many of the summer’s heroes, is matched only by his ordinariness. At the victory parade he was struck by shyness when about to ask Jessica Ennis if she would pose for a picture with him When he did, she admitted she too had been plucking up the courage to ask the same of him.

Pondering the last fortnight, Weir also admits to being stunned at what he found, as he explored the further limits of his potential.

'Honestly I thought it was impossible to get four gold medals. But I did, and I did it in the best town in the world, in front of the greatest crowd at the greatest Paralympics ever.'

He intersperses grins with shakes of the head. It may yet take more than a late night with his infant son to properly make sense of it all. The impact of last Monday, when a million people crammed London’s streets to greet their heroes, is still clear.

'People like Chris Hoy and Ben Ainslie said I was an inspiration. That’s the sort of thing I’ll never forget.'

And through it all, he refuses to lose sight of the bigger picture.

Hero: weir bagged four golds during a memorable Paralympic summer

Hero: weir bagged four golds during a memorable Paralympic summer

Hero: weir bagged four golds during a memorable Paralympic summer

'For the first time, Paralympic sport has been properly viewed as equal. Not just “didn’t they try hard”, but the world watching what we did for the sake of the sport.

'People have said my 1500m was the best race they’d ever seen, Olympic or Paralympic. The best sporting moment they’ve ever experienced. When you see and hear that, you so start to think ‘What have we done here’ We’ve changed something really, really big.”

That fourth gold arrived, fittingly for a man whose first success was London’s mini-marathon, on the capital’s streets.

For the first few miles of the marathon Weir 'thought I was going to die' but his major challengers lacked either the pace or belief to make a move which he admits, could have broken him.

'I just clung on and didn’t let them know how much I was suffering.'

Their indecision proved fatal as Weir, hardened by endless hours training alongside cyclists on the hills of Richmond Park, threw down the gauntlet, four miles from the finish.

'I just thought “Right, let's get at it and give it a real go from here. Let’s see who fancies this”. Once I did that, the whole pack just split up, blew apart.'

Four of the best: Weir made himself a household name during the Paralympics

Four of the best: Weir made himself a household name during the Paralympics

Four of the best: Weir made himself a household name during the Paralympics

Even the absence of a banner at the finishing line – 'LOCOG told the organisers they didn’t have a tape and they weren’t going to provide one for Health and Safety reasons!' – couldn’t stop his surge to Paralympic immortality.

'I just kept going until I was sure it was the end. If I didn’t smile, it’s because I didn’t know I’d finished.'

With it safely won, his attentions now turn to a holiday, the arrival of his third child, and some time with the people who matter to him the most.

'I’m so happy to be back around my family again. They're the people you really celebrate with – the ones who know how much you put into it.'

He glances at his medals again, their golden clinking a constant reminder of his triumphs. Only a few might fully understand what David Weir put in, but an entire nation continues to celebrate what he brought back.

Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake dodge duel at Lausanne Diamond League

Sprint titans Bolt and Blake dodge a duel in Lausanne as showdown proves too costly

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 22 August 2012

Following the euphoria of London 2012, Olympians from across the globe are competing again on Thursday night in a Diamond League meet in Switzerland.

Sprint sensation Usain Bolt will race in the 200 metres in Lausanne — but has avoided fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake who will run in the 100m.

The pair contested Olympian tussles that more than matched the occasion over the 100m and 200m — Bolt wining both — before combining to help break the 4x100m world record.

Raring to go: Usain Bolt is set to race again for the first time since his remarkable Olympics

Raring to go: Usain Bolt is set to race again for the first time since his remarkable Olympics

But the value of a race involving the two has soared since the Games and not even the Diamond League — the most lucrative meet in athletics — can afford it.

Blake said: ‘I love to race against Usain but I leave that to my manager. He has chosen some great races for me and he knows what he is doing.’

The pair are also scheduled to avoid each other at Diamond League meets in Zurich and Brussels before they finish their season.

Blake’s manager Cubie Seegobin said: ‘Maybe if there is some rich guy who wants to put the money up for this race it can happen.’

Signature: Bolt strikes his famous pose during a conference at IMD Business School in Lausanne

Signature: Bolt strikes his famous pose during a conference at IMD Business School in Lausanne

Blake will face Tyson Gay in the 100m who came fourth in the Olympics with a time of 9.80sec, only five hundredths of a second behind Blake.

Gay is still the second fastest man of all time — a record set when he ran 9.69 in 2009 — and his form has improved steadily in the past year.

The Beast: Yohan Blake in Lausanne

The Beast: Yohan Blake in Lausanne

Away from the track, Great Britain’s
Robbie Grabarz, who won bronze in the high jump, will get the chance to
test himself against gold medal winner Ivan Ukhov from Russia.

It was Grabarz’s bronze that took Great Britain’s medal total to 48, surpassing Beijing four years previously and making London 2012 the biggest medal haul in 104 years.

The former European gold medal winner jumped 2.29 metres but he has some way to go to beat Ukhov whose winning jump of 2.38 was the second highest jump in Olympic history.

Fellow Brit Lawrence Okoye has not given up on discus after coming last in the final at the Games. The 20-year-old giant, who is 6ft 6in and weighs 20st, has an offer to read law at Oxford University and was considering returning to play professional rugby.

Martyn Rooney and Conrad Williams run in the 400m against Kirani James who became the first person to win an Olympic medal for Grenada when he took gold. And Steve Lewis, competing in the pole vault, completes the Brits taking part.

The women who won gold, silver and bronze in the 100m will face each other again. Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won her second consecutive Olympic gold — the third woman to retain the 100m title.

She races Carmelita Jeter from USA, who won Olympic silver, and Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown, who won bronze.

London 2012 Olympics: Dai Greene fourth in 400m hurdles as Felix Sanchez wins

No medal for Greene as veteran Sanchez storms to hurdles gold

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UPDATED:

06:36 GMT, 7 August 2012

Olympics 2012

After a valiant but belated charge, Dai Greene was slumped on the stadium floor, leaning on his hands, surveying his broken dream.

He had come fourth, beaten by men who for 300 metres of the 400m hurdles final were simply in another race.

The title went to the Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez, the 2004 gold medallist, with a season’s best 47.63sec. That is faster than Greene has ever run.

Sinking feeling: Greene (left) could not win a medal

Sinking feeling: Greene (left) could not win a medal

This was a dose of harsh reality after
the euphoria of the glory that had gone before. Nobody could think that
Super Saturday with its three track and field gold medals could be
repeated. That was a one-off. People spend whole lifetimes waiting for
that.

But, still, Greene’s defeat was a blow for the British contingent
because he is a talisman: champion of Europe, champion of the world and
champion of the Commonwealth. He is also the team captain, a defiant
figure who prides himself on leading from the front.

Intermittently this season he had said he was fresh and always believed
himself to be the strongest finisher. Yet America’s Michael Tinsley was
second with Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson, who was previously unbeaten all
year, third. Greene had to dip for the line to pip Angelo Taylor to the
first non-medal place.

On the line: Sanchez (third left) celebrates as he crosses the line

On the line: Sanchez (third left) celebrates as he finishes

‘I’m just bitterly disappointed,’ said Greene. ‘I missed a lot of
training at the start of the year because of injury. I’ve run a personal
best this year but I guess when it comes to dealing with qualification
rounds in a championship it can be tough and that’s when it finds you
out. It may have cost me the two-10ths of a second I needed to get a
medal.

‘But I’m happy with the way the last few months have gone. I couldn’t have done any more. I gave 110 per cent tonight.

‘The crowd was fantastic. All my family were here somewhere. I hope, in
my role as captain, that everyone saw I gave 110 per cent. It’s been a
brilliant Olympics and I am proud to be part of it.’

Not to be: Greene reflects on a missed opportunity

Not to be: Greene reflects on a missed opportunity

Not to be: Greene reflects on a missed opportunity

The shaven-headed Greene has been described by Lord Coe as looking as if
he has just come out of solitary confinement when he steps on to the
track. He would not have been distracted by the myriad flashbulbs that
recorded Usain Bolt’s medal ceremony as the seconds ticked by to his
race.

He prowled along his lane, hands on hips. He was announced to the crowd.
He normally waves to them but this time he just swigged water and
stared ahead. It was business time. But, as he later admitted, he had
felt ‘tired in the warm-up area’.

The grey cloudy sky was turning black, the white triangles of the
stadium lights piercing ever stronger, as Greene settled into his blocks
in lane three. He was sandwiched by Americans – double world champion
Kerron Clement inside him and Taylor outside. The tall Culson, with that
languid stride, was in lane five.

Greene was slow starting – he is never the fastest – and was lying last
as they went round the bend. He surely had too much to do to get on
terms.

Second coming: Sanchez won the title in Athens in 2004

Second coming: Sanchez won the title in Athens in 2004

In truth, we knew he would struggle after watching him finish fourth in
his semi-final on Saturday night. He scraped through as one of the
fastest losers but his dejected state told of his deep fears about a
serious absence of winning form.

After that, how could we have expected more than he delivered last
night Disappointingly, he ran slower in the final, 48.24sec, than in
the semi, 48.18sec. He could not match Sanchez, who at 34 – yes, 34 –
ran the same time that won him the Olympic title eight years ago, before
breaking down in floods of tears on the podium.

Really, the road ran out for Greene long ago, except that he rightly
refused to accept the fact. He had surgery on his left knee last
December, though news of it remained a secret for months because he did
not want his rivals to know about his problems.

Because we worked together on his Sportsmail column, he told me on the
condition that I did not breathe a word. I did not. Nor did he. Malcolm
Arnold, his legendary coach, finally let the secret out. ‘I’m pleased in
a way,’ said Greene of Arnold’s revelation. ‘Malcolm would only have
said that in the press if he thought I was doing well.’ Up to a point,
it seems.

Tall order: Greene left himself with a lot to do in the final 200m

Tall order: Greene left himself with a lot to do in the final 200m

Arnold’s admiration for Greene is shared by his head coach. Charles van
Commenee said, when he made him captain: ‘Dai is everything you want. He
is a brilliant athlete, has a cast-iron mindset and a good sense of
humour.’

The laughter was in short supply last night but he is still a fierce competitor.

Greene, 26, immediately turned his attention to the future. ‘I’m not
ready to retire,’ he said emphatically. ‘It’s my first Olympics.

‘Four years ago, when I was watching Usain Bolt win in Beijing, I was
running 49.5sec. Look at the ages of the guys who have beaten me
tonight. I will go on to Brazil, definitely. I will come back stronger
from this.’

So on to Rio 2016 and redemption.

London 2012 Olympics: Football: Stuart Pearce says Tom Cleverley and Daniel Sturridge will play regularly for England

England calling for Sturridge and Cleverley as Pearce sees bright future for Team GB's football stars

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UPDATED:

22:59 GMT, 5 August 2012

Great Britain men's team boss Stuart Pearce expects to see Tom Cleverley and Daniel Sturridge develop into regular members of Roy Hodgson's England squad.

Hodgson is due to announce which players will face Euro 2012 runners-up Italy in Bern on August 15 this Friday.

In the immediate aftermath of his own side's last-eight penalty shoot-out defeat to the Azzuri in Kiev, Hodgson said he intended to use the match to experiment ahead of a World Cup qualifying campaign that begins in Moldova next month.

England calling: Stuart Pearce see regular places in Roy Hodgson's squad in years to come

England calling: Stuart Pearce see regular places in Roy Hodgson's squad in years to come

There are plenty of options from his fringe men in Poland and Ukraine, with Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson amongst those who might hope for a more meaningful role.

However, Sturridge and Cleverley have both been selected for England squads before too.

And, having expanded their international experience by taking on central roles in Great Britain's Olympic campaign, Pearce believes the pair are ready to make the step up on a more permanent basis.

'I certainly think they'll be around the squad,' said Pearce.

'With the way Tom Cleverley can handle the ball and Daniel Sturridge's eye for goal, they are two individuals who can be in and around the senior England team.

'They have both benefited from this tournament and they will go back to Manchester United and Chelsea with something to prove.'

It was Sturridge's turn to be the fall guy in Cardiff last night as GB followed England's lead in failing in a quarter-final shoot-out.

It's over: Daniel Sturridge missed the penalty which sent GB out

It's over: Daniel Sturridge missed the penalty which sent GB out

Dejected: Cleverley (right) and Team GB went out to South Korea on penalties in the Olympics

Dejected: Cleverley (right) and Team GB went out to South Korea on penalties in the Olympics

Not even the groundswell of euphoria that had travelled across the M4 as news of the extraordinary feats taking place in the Olympic Stadium could filter through, allowing South Korea to claim a semi-final meeting with Brazil at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

'We weren't good enough. That is the bottom line,' said Ryan Giggs, who in experiencing the first major international tournament of his career met with exactly the same fate as so many Manchester United team-mates have suffered down the years.

'We were unbeaten, and anyone can lose on penalties, so it is not a chance missed as such.

'We are just disappointed not to go through and get a bit further in the tournament.'

Like most of his fellow Olympians, Giggs will now await a call from his manager to see what part he is to play in the remainder of a pre-season programme that has taken Manchester United to Scandinavia.

For Joe Allen, he has a future to sort out, with new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers keen to be reunited with a midfielder who was such a star at Swansea.

'Because he is Welsh, Joe is someone I have taken a close interest in,' said Giggs.

'He is such a talented player and the way he played at Swansea last season was fantastic.

'He fitted right in there and I am sure he will go on to have a very good career.'

Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo has Manchester City in his sights

Chelsea boss Di Matteo has Manchester City in his sights

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UPDATED:

21:23 GMT, 20 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Roberto Di Matteo wants Chelsea to forget about being kings of Europe and concentrate on becoming rulers of England again.

In his first in-depth interview since
being appointed permanent manager, the Italian spoke about the 12 weeks
that changed his life last season, when he led Chelsea to an FA Cup and
Champions League double after the turbulent tenure of Andre
Villas-Boas.

Still got it: Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo and Frank Lampard in training

Still got it: Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo and Frank Lampard in training

'Those weeks were the craziest and most amazing of my life,' said Di Matteo. 'We were fighting for fourth place, the FA Cup and the Champions League. We had to switch from one competition to another and the pressure was so intense. It was just crazy.'

But he is refusing to bask in the euphoria of that special night in Munich. The 42-year-old said: 'Manchester City have raised the bar. That is our challenge, to make up the 25-point gap in the league.

'They are doing what Chelsea did in 2004, in terms of how they have come on to the scene, signed a lot of players and tried to build a foundation. That's the challenge.'

All stars: Chelsea's Frank Lampard, Ross Turnbull, Petr Cech, Paulo Ferreira meet Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis

All stars: Chelsea's Frank Lampard, Ross Turnbull, Petr Cech, Paulo Ferreira meet Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis

Di Matteo will have John Terry in his squad this weekend for the first time since the defender was found not guilty of a racial offence involving Anton Ferdinand.

And the Chelsea manager said: 'JT just wants to play football. He never once looked fazed by having the court case hanging over him. But he is a strong character.'

Euro 2012: England players take break after Ukraine heroics

The fans are loving it… so are we! Hodgson happy Three Lions are inspiring supporters once again

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UPDATED:

15:54 GMT, 20 June 2012

Roy Hodgson has taken a unique approach to managing expectation surrounding his England Euro 2012 hopefuls – he has chosen to embrace it.

Hodgson has not come out with the kind of grandiose 'we can win it statements' delivered by his predecessors, and even Wayne Rooney when he spoke to the media on Sunday.

Instead, the 64-year-old has opted to ride the growing wave of euphoria, believing it reinforces the spirit that has built up within his squad.

Captain fantastic: Gerrard looked relaxed as he headed out of the team hotel

Captain fantastic: Gerrard looked relaxed as he headed out of the team hotel

Euro 2012 email button

'I don't mind the expectation getting greater,' he told BBC Sport. 'I am really pleased about it. We have been very buoyed by the news from home and the people we meet here.

'Everyone seems to be becoming an England fan again. That is so important for us.

'If you are a football player or
coach, you want people to appreciate you and get behind you, you want
people to give you the feeling if I do have a bad game it is not going
to be a catastrophe.

'There is more of that feeling and the players are responding. Long may that continue.'

Meanwhile, just a few hours after
their heroics against Ukraine, members of the England team have been
spotted taking a well-deserved break from football near their hotel base
in Krakow.

Steven
Gerrard and Ashley Young were among the players seen leaving the hotel
in the wake of the hard-fought victory over co-hosts Ukraine on
Wednesday night.

The
players will be making the most of this down time to relax before
preparations begin for the quarter-final clash with Italy on Sunday
evening.

And captain Gerrard has warned England that Italy will be no pushovers in the Euro 2012 last-eight clash in Kiev.

Sign of the times: Young stopped to give autographs and chat with fans waiting patiently outside the Krakow base

Sign of the times: Young stopped to give autographs and chat with fans waiting patiently outside the hotel

Sign of the times: Young stopped to give autographs and chat with fans waiting patiently outside the Krakow base

Roy Hodgson's side avoided a last-eight meeting with world and European champions Spain by finishing top of Group D.

But
Gerrard expects the Azzurri – who showed their quality by holding Spain
to a draw earlier in the tournament – to provide a stern test.

'It
was fantastic to top the group and we need to enjoy it now but then
dust ourselves down because it will be a very tough game against the
Italians,' the Liverpool skipper said.

'They
are a very tough team to beat. They are good defensively, have got a
fantastic keeper in (Gianluigi) Buffon, and they've also got match
winners in the ranks.

'They are similar to us and it will be a very close game. Let's not under-estimate them one little bit. But, if we get that bit of luck and play well, I'm confident we can do well.'

Great Scott! Parker came out to meet the fans - as did Glen Johnson and Phil Jagielka

Great Scott! Parker came out to meet the fans - as did Glen Johnson and Phil Jagielka

Great Scott! Parker came out to meet the fans – as did Glen Johnson and Phil Jagielka

Gerrard's confidence comes from a belief that England are finally realising their potential in a major tournament.

He said: 'When the group came out of the hat at the draw, it was evident that it was a very difficult group.

'But
in previous tournaments we've underperformed and not delivered for our
country. That's why we've gone home early. In this one so far, it's been
good.

'A
lot of credit has got to be given to this team. I don't think it's a
case of us over-performing. We're just performing to the level we're
capable of.

'To do well against the teams you come up against here – 16 fantastic teams – you need to play well.'

Gerrard knows how significant the contribution of Wayne Rooney, who netted the winner against Ukraine, could be during the next 11 days if England are to lift their first silverware since 1966.

We still believe: England fans have renewed faith following England's success in the group stage

We still believe: England fans have renewed faith following England's success in the group stage

We still believe: England fans have renewed faith following England's success in the group stage

Rooney returned after a two-game suspension and converted Gerrard's right-wing cross early in the second period.

'Rooney is a fantastic player,' Gerrard said. 'I know how good he is and how important he is to our country and he showed it against Ukraine.

'There was a lot of pressure on him. He hasn't been playing much lately, and had the suspension, so credit to him for the way he performed.

'With more game time, he can only get even better.'

And Scott Parker has hailed Gerrard as one of the best midfielders in the world and believes their partnership is just beginning to flourish.

The Liverpool skipper has set up three of England's five goals to date including the winner for Rooney against Ukraine.

Parker said: 'I think myself and Stevie have clicked really well this tournament. We're well organised. I know his game pretty well now and I'm sure he knows mine.

Not going home! Hodgson (above) and Gerrard (below) were rightly pleased after sealing their place in the quarter-finals

We're there! Hodgson (above) and Gerrard (below) were rightly pleased after topping Group D

Not going home! Hodgson (above) and Gerrard (below) were rightly pleased after sealing their place in the quarter-finals

'We give the team a good base to work from, and hopefully we can maintain that. Stevie is one of the best midfielders in the world. That's been the case for many years and he's been the best in the Premier League.

'We lost some big players who had to drop out through injury like Frank and Gareth, which was disappointing. But myself and Stevie have taken on the challenge and hopefully we can carry on.'

Parker believes a togetherness and spirit among the players in Hodgson's 23-man squad is a key element to England's success and is optimistic the best is still to come in Poland and Ukraine.

He said: “We've set ourselves up. We have a real togetherness in the camp and a real belief. In life it is crucial to have that belief and positivity and I think we've shown that is what we've got.

'Sometimes it can take you far and get you somewhere. There's a confidence in the group and still hopefully a little bit more to come but only time will tell.'