Tag Archives: glaswegian

Nathan Cleverly v Robin Krasniqi and Dereck Chisora v Hector Avila – LIVE

LIVE BOXING: Nathan Cleverly v Robin Krasniqi and Dereck Chisora v Hector Avila

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

03:00 GMT, 20 April 2013

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UPDATED:

19:17 GMT, 20 April 2013

Nathan Cleverly fights on home soil for the first time in 14 months when he takes on his mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi over 12 rounds at Wembley Arena.

The WBO light-heavyweight champion is joined on a stacked card by Dereck Chisora, Liam Walsh and Scott Harrison along with a number of promising young fighters.

Email your thoughts on the big fight to [email protected] or via @martin_domin

8.15pm: Harrison's punches are beginning to carry an air of desperation as Walsh slips and slides his way out of trouble while landing his own to the body. He has extended his lead as we enter the penultimate round.

8.05pm: Halfway through this 10-round contest and I have Walsh just in front. He's landing more accurately, even if Harrison looks to be throwing more punches.

8pm: The saying goes that a boxer's power is the last skill to go and if that is the case, Harrison could be heading for the retirement home. He lands a left hook flush in the fourth but Walsh laughs it off.

I get the feeling that Walsh will be happy to take this into the later rounds when his superior stamina should come into play.

Early action: Liam Walsh (right) misses with a right against Scott Harrison

Early action: Liam Walsh (right) misses with a right against Scott Harrison

7.50pm: Harrison started well in the opening round and looked to land the right hand. Walsh's left eye was cut after a clash of heads but the Scot did enough to take the session.

Walsh was livelier in the second and Harrison was admonished by the referee for failing to stop when requested. The champion then had the better of the exchanges.

7.40pm: Welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of a packed card at Wembley Arena in London.

Scott Harrison has just made his entrance ahead of his clash with WBO European champion Liam Walsh.

The Glaswegian takes on the unbeaten 26-year-old in his third fight since returning from a near seven-year absence.

Great Britain's Nathan Cleverly (left) is pulled away as he faces his challenger Germany's Robert Krasniqi

Owen Coyle poised for Burnley return after agreeing Bolton compensation deal

Coyle poised for Burnley return after agreeing Bolton compensation deal

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UPDATED:

22:32 GMT, 13 October 2012

Owen Coyle's return to management with
his former club Burnley is likely to be confirmed next week. Coyle,
sacked by Bolton last week, will be welcomed back to Turf Moor when a
compensation package with his former employers is finalised.

His appointment will complete a
remarkable turnaround of managers, with Coyle taking over from Eddie
Howe who followed him into the hot seat at Burnley after the 48-year-old
Glaswegian was put in charge at the Reebok Stadium.

On his way: Owen Coyle

On his way: Owen Coyle

Coyle was unable to repeat the success he had at Wanderers' Lancashire neighbours, where his successes included reaching the semifinal of the 2008-09 League Cup.

He took Burnley into the Premier League, beating Sheffield United in the 2009 promotion play-off after recruiting such players as Steven Fletcher from Hibs for a club record 3million.

Paul Lambert starting to get grip of Aston Villa

Lambert starting to get a grip of Aston Villa after point at Newcastle

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 2 September 2012

Opener: Lambert salutes Clark's goal

Opener: Lambert salutes Clark's goal

January 21: the last time Aston Villa won away in the Barclays Premier League.

March 10: the last time Aston Villa won a Premier League game anywhere.

It is scarcely a wonder then that Villa avoided relegation by two points in May. Nor that they went to the North East bottom of the early table with speculation mounting after just two league games that this season relegation could be for real.

They left still not having won a Premier League game since Andreas Weimann scrambled a 90th-minute effort against Fulham. But Villa on Sunday looked like a team. Considering what has gone before, over years rather than months, Paul Lambert would take that. Villa deserved their point.

As Alan Pardew said: ‘My God, they worked hard today. I don’t think we’ll see many teams work as hard.’

It is the ultimate compliment for a manager in Lambert’s situation. The Glaswegian does not ‘do’ delighted in a skippy way, but understandably he was full of praise for his players.

In turn the small band of fans who travelled from Birmingham will be delighted with their manager. Lambert made some big calls – not least dropping Shay Given for Brad Guzan – but they paid off. Guzan made a flying save five minutes into added time at the Gallowgate End of which Given would have been proud.

Top performance: Guzan (centre) impressed in goal for Villa

Top performance: Guzan (centre) impressed in goal for Villa

It was a decision that may become an emblem of claret change. One of those away games post-January was here in February. No fewer than eight of the Villa starting XI then did not start on Sunday. There were five changes from the side who lost to Everton last week. But it all gave Villa a change of gear.

Having driven Norwich from League One to the Premier League in two seasons, Lambert spoke with disdain beforehand about players who think money is an indication of success. The word, the mantra, Lambert wants to instil at Villa is ‘hunger’. It took a while, but once the visitors settled that is what Lambert got.

In the eighth minute alone, he saw Ron Vlaar, Brett Holman and Karim El Ahmadi gain possession only to pass the ball directly to a black and white shirt. Lambert turned to the away dugout and swore loudly. It was not for the last time. Vlaar clearly sees himself as a ball-playing centre half, a concept Lambert may seek to persuade him to review.

Earful: Vlaar felt Lambert's wrath after giving the ball away

Earful: Vlaar felt Lambert's wrath after giving the ball away

Vlaar continued to get an earful, but Lambert had much else to console him. His team were displaying the required hunger and the surprise for many was that Stephen Ireland was leading the hounds in midfield. Ireland had a few games at Newcastle on loan two seasons ago and the reception he was given did not reflect affection. He was invigorated rather than bothered by this, though, and along with Holman and El Ahmadi began to harass Jonas Gutierrez and Yohan Cabaye. Suddenly Aston Villa were winning 50-50s. It is an under-rated quality.

Ireland also reminded everyone he can pass the ball with the fluency of a natural. ‘They played well technically,’ added Pardew.

Ireland knitted and shaped it all, Darren Bent outjumped defenders and Matthew Lowton, signed from League One Sheffield United, was at ease as a Premier League right back. Ciaran Clark’s headed goal was Villa’s first away since April and honest reward for the collective effort.

There were still brittle moments – Holman failed to close down Hatem Ben Arfa on the stunning equaliser – but this felt like a day when Lambert got a grip on Villa.

Wimbledon 2012: Jamie Baker loses to Andy Roddick

British No 3 Baker falls at first hurdle after straight-sets defeat to Roddick

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UPDATED:

18:55 GMT, 27 June 2012

Andy Roddick snuffed out Jamie Baker's Wimbledon dreams as the American finished off the plucky Scot in three sets.

Resuming a set and a break up after a rain delay from Tuesday, Roddick clinched the second set of this first-round match with ease before edging a nervy third to run out a 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 7-5 winner.

Too strong: Former finalist Roddick (left) advanced in straight sets

Too strong: Former finalist Roddick (left) advanced in straight sets

Despite losing in straight sets, Baker,
who was diagnosed with a deadly blood disorder four years ago, will take
heart from his performance.

The 25-year-old was Roddick's equal for much of the encounter, trading
powerful blows with the three-time champion to earn five break points
that he could not ultimately convert.

Baker, ranked 161 places below Roddick, started off confidently when the
players returned to Court One this evening, but he could not prevent
the American moving 2-0 ahead, the 30-year-old clinching the set with a
fine ace.

Yanks very much: Roddick shows his full array of shots

Yanks very much: Roddick shows his full array of shots

Yanks very much: Roddick shows his full array of shots

Baker double-faulted but still managed to hold his serve at the start of
the deciding set and the Glaswegian then engineered a break point in
the fourth game.

He was unable to convert it, though, clearing the baseline after a powerful serve from Roddick.

The British No 3 had another two break points in Roddick's following
service game but his opponent upped his game and used all his experience
to see off the threat to leave the set at 3-3.

Not to be: Baker reacts after losing another point

Not to be: Baker reacts after losing another point

Roddick moved in for the kill in the ninth game but Baker dug deep and
survived three break points, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.

Baker offered Roddick a break point in the 11th game after going long
with a forehand and the Scot collapsed under pressure, failing with a
cheeky drop shot after a long rally.

Serving for the match, Roddick showed his class by holding to love to set up a second-round clash with 19th seed Kei Nishikori.

Celtic boss Lennon in the frame to replace mentor Lambert by taking reins at Norwich

Celtic boss Lennon in the frame to replace mentor Lambert by taking reins at Norwich

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UPDATED:

23:32 GMT, 31 May 2012

Norwich City have placed Celtic manager Neil Lennon on a shortlist of candidates to replace Paul Lambert.

Former Parkhead captain Lambert tendered his resignation from Carrow Road and, despite frantic efforts from Norwich to retain his services, the Glaswegian was finally lured to Aston Villa by the promise of a 15million transfer budget.

Another former Celtic player, Malky Mackay, is the early frontrunner for the vacant Norwich post, with Chris Hughton and Steve Bruce also in the running.

Title winner: Lennon

Title winner: Lennon

However, Lennon — who took his title-winning side to East Anglia for a testimonial game last week — will be the subject of recommendations from both close friend Lambert and mentor Martin O’Neill.

Lennon was in Ireland for talks with major shareholder Dermot Desmond over Celtic’s summer plans earlier this week.

The Northern Irishman has expressed no immediate desire to leave Glasgow and, despite a long-term wish to manage in England one day, it’s far from certain that a move to Norwich would hold greater appeal than leading Celtic into a Champions League campaign.

Operating on a one-year rolling contract, however, Lennon’s compensation would amount to a modest 800,000. His backroom staff are also in current negotiations over new contracts and have yet to put pen to paper.

Lambert, meanwhile, tendered his Norwich resignation amid suggestions he was growing increasingly frustrated by the transfer budget being offered for next season.

Despite the club raking in 24m from TV revenue alone, Lambert had been told the money available to him would be largely the same as last season.

Resignation: Lambert (left)

Resignation: Lambert (left)

Lambert’s arrival at Villa is now down to a compensation figure being agreed for his services. That should be a year’s pay on the 1m rolling contract that he had been working under in Norfolk.

The former Champions League winner resigned in the wake of interest from Villa late on Wednesday night.

That offer was rejected by the Norwich hierarchy, although a statement released by the club appeared to accept the manager’s decision to quit for pastures new as inevitable.

It read: ‘We have worked hard to keep Paul and will not accept his resignation while discussions with another club are taking place.

‘Whatever happens, we want to record our sincere gratitude for everything Paul has done for the club over the past three fantastic seasons.

‘When Paul joined us in August 2009, we were in 66th position in the football pyramid and the club was on the verge of financial meltdown.

‘Today, we are a Barclays Premier League club on a sound financial footing and with a stadium full to capacity.

‘Discussions with Paul have been friendly and amicable. Paul has earned his place in the club’s history and, whatever happens, will always have a friendly welcome at Carrow Road.’

WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP 2012: Ali Carter through to final

Comeback kid Carter into second Crucible final with win over Maguire

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UPDATED:

16:48 GMT, 5 May 2012

Ali Carter completed his journey from the brink of retirement to a place in the Betfred.com World Championship final as he inflicted a painful defeat on Stephen Maguire.

Essex cueman Carter was suffering so badly with Crohn's disease, the bowel condition he was diagnosed with nine years ago, that he considered walking away from the snooker tour.

The World Championship would have been his last tournament but instead it could be the making of Carter.

Second coming: Carter is into another Crucible final

Second coming: Carter is into another Crucible final

Out of luck: Maguire resigns himself to defeat

Out of luck: Maguire resigns himself to defeat

The 32-year-old turned a 14-10 lead into a 17-12 triumph over Maguire, for whom the match appeared to be a miserable experience from start to finish.

Rarely did the run of the balls favour the Glasgow potter, who lost to John Higgins in his only previous Crucible semi-final five years ago.

Maguire also failed to produce the form which saw him send Stephen Hendry into retirement after a 13-2 quarter-final triumph, and when he lost a dramatic opening frame on Saturday his hopes effectively were over.

Carter, with a 21-point lead, was put in a clever snooker behind the black, which was by the side rail near the yellow spot.

Carter tried six times to strike the final red and failed, and on the final occasion referee Leo Scullion elected not to call a miss. Carter had been a whisker away from hitting the ball, so Scullion's judgement meant his fellow Glaswegian, by that stage three points ahead, had to play from where the white finished.

The double was on but the red wriggled out of the jaws. Carter produced an outstanding pot to the far left corner and soon took the frame.

Maguire's head dropped and he soon lost the next frame, Carter having an outrageous fluke red in the process. The red Carter was playing clipped off another and dropped in. Maguire could only laugh.

Maguire got to 56 in the next frame before missing a straight red to the centre pocket, but it did not cost him.

The Scot made it back-to-back frames, aided by a break of 53.

But once they returned from a mid-session interval, Carter leapt at an opportunity which presented itself after Maguire potted a long red but followed it into the pocket with the cue ball.

He rifled in a break of 70 and Maguire offered his hand.

Job done: The players shake hands after the match

Job done: The players shake hands after the match

Carter looks likely to face Ronnie O'Sullivan on Sunday – the man he lost to in his other final appearance back in 2008.

O'Sullivan and Matthew Stevens take to the table at 7pm on Saturday night, with 'the Rocket' leading 15-9 and needing just two more frames to win.

Carter admitted reaching the final had surpassed his expectations.

'I'm as surprised as you are,' he said.

'I'm delighted to be through. The job's not done yet though.

'I'm not just happy to just be in the final, so we'll see what happens.'

Maguire admitted he had underestimated Carter, saying: 'I think in the first session I didn't give him enough respect.'

And Carter saw that from the early stages of their exchange on Thursday.

'Stephen tried to stamp his authority and I think he thought he was going to beat me quite easily, the way he started the match,” Carter said.

'I wasn't having any of it. I was up for it.

'I played some really solid stuff, there weren't any fireworks, and I got the job done.'

Liverpool v Everton: Merseyside pride at stake

Merseyside pride at stake: Heat's on Kenny, will Moyes up the ante

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 13 April 2012

When Kenny Dalglish and David Moyes stride out side by side at Wembley on Saturday lunchtime, to be hit by a wall of sound and confronted by a sea of red and blue shirts, neither will need reminding of what is at stake in this fascinating FA Cup semi-final.

Having emerged from the latest extraordinary week at Anfield with his position safe for now, Liverpool manager Dalglish cannot afford for his side to fall short against their oldest rivals. Certainly not after the events of the past 48 hours when Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool's owners, have shown how ruthless they can be.

All smiles: Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy and Steve Gerrard appear relaxed in training on Friday

All smiles: Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy and Steven Gerrard appear relaxed in training on Friday

To settle nerves and assuage anxieties on the red half of Merseyside, Dalglish needs a win. This has been a chaotic campaign and so deep have been Liverpool's troubles, their victory in the Carling Cup seven weeks ago has almost been forgotten. They must deliver.

The same, though, is true for Moyes. Last month, when celebrating the 10th anniversary of his appointment as Everton manager, the impressive Glaswegian said how embarrassed he was that a decade had passed without him delivering silverware. For all the outstanding work he has done to revive one of English football's great institutions, there is a glaring absence on his cv.

Moyes has done his best to deflect attention from Everton in the build-up but he knows – as do many others – that this is a huge game.

Pressure's on: Moyes knows the importance of Saturday's FA Cup clash

Pressure's on: Moyes knows the importance of Saturday's FA Cup clash

'Everton may want to use that tactic of there being no pressure on them, but they know there's pressure going into a semi-final,' said Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher.

'It's been a long time (1995) since they won a trophy. They know that. This is not just another derby game. For both of us, it's about winning the FA Cup. For a club with Everton's support, history and tradition, it's probably been too long. There is pressure on them.'

That, inevitably, will lead to an intense atmosphere. When you mention Liverpool, Everton and Wembley in the same sentence, the memories flood back: between 1984 and 1989, they met at the national stadium on five occasions.

United in grief: The 1989 FA Cup final was played shortly after the Hillsborough tragedy

United in grief: The 1989 FA Cup final was played shortly after the Hillsborough tragedy

The first one – the 1984 Milk Cup final – was notable for the two sets of supporters singing 'Merseyside' together while in 1989, following the Hillsborough tragedy, Everton were really the only opposition Liverpool could have played in the FA Cup final. The city was united in grief.

Liverpool v Everton

During the past two decades, however, the notion of the 'friendly derby' has disappeared. A changing society has led to the atmosphere in these games becoming poisonous at times, and some of the chanting has been despicable.

Yet, on this most poignant weekend, when the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster will be marked, the vast majority of both sets of supporters will do all they can to ensure the occasion is remembered for the right reasons.

'It will be a bit strange having a derby in London but every time we have been there before both sets of fans have been a credit to the city, and I expect that will be the same,' said Dalglish.

'It's poignant having a minute's silence at Wembley when Liverpool are playing Everton. Evertonians were affected by Hillsborough. They had friends, relatives who never came back. Both sets of fans will approach the minute's silence with the dignity they have shown since 1989. The support Liverpool fans have had from Evertonians, and vice versa, has been a credit to the city.'

Once the football starts, all that will matter to those reds and blues is what is going on with their teams.

For Everton, this can be a defining moment in Moyes's reign and they head into the contest in sizzling form. Players like Leighton Baines, Nikica Jelavic and John Heitinga frequently catch the eye. The way they brushed Sunderland aside in a quarter-final replay carried the stamp of a team going places and there is a feeling among Evertonians that this will be the day they win a big one against Liverpool.

Top form: Everton are in great shape ahead of Saturday's eagerly-awaited clash

Top form: Everton are in great shape ahead of Saturday's eagerly-awaited clash

The confidence has unsettled some of a red hue, particularly as Liverpool will rely on third-choice goalkeeper Brad Jones, who has been catapulted into this game because Pepe Reina and Alexander Doni are suspended.

But beneath Everton's bravado, they know they have to show there is not a mental block when it comes to Liverpool. Four weeks ago Steven Gerrard put a much-changed team to the sword with a hat-trick at Anfield and Moyes, who was criticised for tinkering, has only four wins over Liverpool in 22 attempts.

That record, though, is of no concern to Moyes, who said: 'I continually get told I lose quite regularly. I don't feel that way. Games against Liverpool have always been hard. But we will go there as Everton Football Club, knowing we have given ourselves an opportunity to reach a Cup final.

'The team in front of us just happens to be in the same city, have a good history and have had good success in different competitions. But so have Everton over the years. The belief and trust I've got in the players is full – 100 per cent. I have total belief in them. I feel good'.

Alan Davies donates to Hillsborough fund after criticism of Liverpool

Davies donates to Hillsborough fund after upsetting Liverpool fans with spiky comments over April 15 date

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UPDATED:

14:43 GMT, 10 April 2012

Rant: Arsenal fan Alan Davies

Rant: Arsenal fan Alan Davies

Alan Davies has made a 1,000 donation to the Hillsborough Justice Campaign after the backlash over his controversial comments.

The comedian received a backlash from fans after mocking Liverpool's insistence that they never play on the anniversary of the disaster.

The Arsenal fan was speaking on a podcast when he launched into a rant over the Merseyside club’s refusal to stage matches on April 15 in tribute to the 96 fans that lost their lives on that date in 1989.

The 46-year-old, talking on 'The Tuesday Club', was discussing Liverpool's insistence on playing city rivals Everton this coming Saturday in the FA Cup semi-finals.

It means Chelsea must play their semi-final with Tottenham on the Sunday even though this comes just three days before their Champions League first leg clash with Barcelona.

Davies said: 'Liverpool and the 15th – that gets on my tits that s***. What are you talking about “We won’t play on the day” Why can’t they'

The podcast presenter Ian Stone attempted to reason with Davies by saying: ‘Because it’s too sad a memory.’

However, the TV star responded: 'Do they play on the date of the Heysel Stadium disaster How many dates do they not play on

'Do Man United play on the date of Munich Do Rangers play on the date when all their fans died in that disaster whatever year that was – 1971'

Target: Kenny Dalglish was also criticised by Davies on the podcast

Target: Kenny Dalglish was also criticised by Davies on the podcast

He then turned his anger on Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, adding: 'Every interview he’s given this season he looks like he wants to headbutt the interviewer. This tight-mouthed, furious, frowning, leaning forward, bitter Glaswegian ranting, “Liverpool FC do not play on April 15th”.'

After attempting to impersonate Dalglish, Davies admitted his effort was 'terrible because I hate him'.

Gunners fanatic Davies then turned his fire on arch rivals Spurs by saying: 'What vermin run that club. They always have. Absolute vermin. Scum of the earth.'

Davies took to Twitter to defend his comments, saying Liverpool should be made to play their semi-final on the 15th as it is unfair on Chelsea, but claims he supports the need for a full inquiry into the disaster at Hillsborough 23 years ago.

He said: 'I'm getting tweets from Liverpool fans who have been given the impression that I was disrespectful to those who lost their lives on 15/4/89.

'Many disagree but I feel that the Liverpool v Everton semi-final could be played on Apr 15. Apologies to those upset by that suggestion.

Tragedy: Ninety six Liverpool fans lost their lives on that fateful day in 1989

Tragedy: Ninety six Liverpool fans lost their lives on that fateful day in 1989

'I said the Hillsborough disaster was the worst event in modern peacetime history. I was on a terrace listening to a radio as it happened.

'I agree that there must be a full enquiry into Hillsborough but not playing on the 15th doesn't change anything. It's not fair on Chelsea.'

Pundit Stan Collymore hit out at Davies on Twitter, writing: ‘I support the right of any club not to play on days of tragedy at their club. Any club. Don’t mock others right to commemorate tragedy.

‘United, Rangers, Juventus, Liverpool, Bradford and many more. I respect their right to commemorate their clubs by not playing on those dates.

‘And on a podcast, as a celebrity calling Spurs fans vermin is out of order. Banter, great, vermin, no. Doesn’t matter who chooses to play or not to play. That is THEIR choice.'

WARNING: This video contains strong language…

Celtic family praying for Stiliyan Petrov

Celtic family praying for Stiliyan: Bhoys united behind stricken Bulgarian

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UPDATED:

23:26 GMT, 30 March 2012

In his early days at Celtic, as the walls of his rented Glasgow flat threatened to close in, Stiliyan Petrov was presented with a candle.

Chronically homesick and unable to speak a word of English, he would light it every night and say a silent prayer.

Brothers in arms: Lennon and Petrov celebrate Celtic's League Cup Final triumph at Hampden in 2006

Brothers in arms: Lennon and Petrov
celebrate Celtic's League Cup Final triumph at Hampden in 2006

Things, he told himself, would work out fine. Yesterday, as news emerged of the Aston Villa captain being diagnosed with acute leukaemia, he was no longer alone in striking a match. In the world of football, there were plenty willing to have a quiet word with the man above on behalf of one of the game's gentlemen.

Former Celtic team-mate John Hartson, who overcame testicular and brain cancer in 2009, said on Friday night: 'I was told – and I believe this now – that the power of prayer is very, very strong.

'So many people will be praying for him – I certainly will tonight. Obviously he has to be strong and positive, and we don't know how aggressive this leukaemia is. Family, and knowing so many people are praying for you and thinking of you, gives you strength.'

Fan favourite: Petrov

Fan favourite: Petrov

Petrov has overcome adversity and unhappiness before, but nothing to match the sudden, unexpected brutality of cancer.

A stout performer against Arsenal last week, the 32-year-old developed a fever after the game and was tested by Aston Villa's Scottish doctor Iain McGuinness.

On Wednesday, Villa assistant manager Peter Grant suggested the problem was no more than a virus. /03/31/article-2123075-0082E7791000044C-131_634x426.jpg” width=”634″ height=”426″ alt=”Fighting for life: Messages of support from the Celtic family for Petrov” class=”blkBorder” />

Fighting for life: Messages of support from the Celtic family for Petrov

An older man, the Glaswegian gave Petrov a lift to the East Kilbride hotel where the Parkhead club routinely billeted their new signings at the time.

The two struck up a rapport and, within weeks, Wilson would start sifting through the bills and play a key role in dissuading Petrov from walking out on Celtic and returning to Bulgaria.

Part of the therapy were some unlikely sessions serving on Wilson's burger van in Maryhill, where diners queuing up for their bacon rolls would be startled by the sight of Celtic's new 2.2million midfielder applying the ketchup. From that point, things improved.

There were trophies along the way and a European final in Seville before Petrov left for Villa in August 2006.

If football has taught us anything of late, however, it's in the national game's incredible capacity to throw up heart-wrenching human tales.

From Fabrice Muamba to the death of Kilmarnock midfielder Liam Kelly's father, the mere act of kicking a bag of wind around a green pitch has never seemed more trivial.

Called in: Artur Boruc

Called in: Artur Boruc

On Friday, Wilson fielded calls from former team-mates far and wide, including former Celtic keeper Artur Boruc.

He told them he had been taken aback by an increase in the number of calls from Petrov this week. The two speak on a regular basis, but something, he sensed, was unusual and wrong.

There was talk of a virus and medical treatment, but Petrov seemed more worried than usual.

On Friday morning, the reasons for that became clear. Wilson's former business partner Frank Murphy is a FIFA agent and represented Petrov prior to his move south.

He told Sportsmail: 'I have spoken to Brian and he and his wife Irene are absolutely devastated by this news.

'Stiliyan has told him he will fight this. He is a strong lad, a determined lad, and the success he has had proves that.

'They did everything together. Holidays with the kids, days out, everything. It all started because Brian used to have the burger van up in the Maryhill area and, after training, Brian used to pick him up and generally hang around with him.

'Stiliyan always says that was the time which improved his English. Eventually, Brian and I became his agents and did all his commercial stuff.

'He overcame a tough spell. The kid was left to his own devices at first and he would just sit there at home with no knowledge of English. He would watch lots of movies. In fact, I was watching the Titanic programme the other night and I always remember Stiliyan saying he had learned so much from the movie of the same name.

'What he didn't realise at the time was that it was based on real history. He thought it was just a work of fiction. What happened to the Titanic was never part of his upbringing or culture. He would say to us: “No …. big ship sink” And we would be there nodding as he just kept repeating: “No….” Over and over.

'But he was an intelligent lad, a tough character, and he wouldn't let the language situation drive him out. What we know is that he is a fighter to his bootstraps. The news is unreal, to be honest. It takes some absorbing.'

Former captain Tom Boyd echoed that view last night when he said: 'It's absolutely shocking. I just hope he can come through this. John Hartson was seriously ill and managed to come through the other side.

'I remember those days when Stan first came over from Bulgaria. He found it hard to settle in Scotland.

'He was a young lad at the time, his English wasn't the best and he had signed for quite a big fee, so there would have been a lot of pressure on him.

'I remember he was a genuinely nice person. But once he settled down, he held his own in a very good Celtic team.'

To say that Celtic and Aston Villa fans were alone in wishing Petrov well last night would be wrong.

Entering a London hospital for treatment, the Bulgarian had the regards of a nation ringing in his ears. When adversity has knocked in the past, Stiliyan Petrov has generally answered.

George Groves warned over death threat by police

Fears for Groves as police issue warning over threat to kill British fighter in the ring

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UPDATED:

11:18 GMT, 15 March 2012

George Groves has allegedly been warned by police that gangsters have threatened to shoot him during a live TV fight.

Groves, 23, had pulled out of his British and Commonwealth super-middleweight title fight with Kenny Anderson on Friday night due to a back injury.

His management insisted that his decision had nothing to do with 'alleged threats', but police have moved to contact Groves after a tip-off.

Champion: British super-middleweight title-holder George Groves (centre)

Champion: British super-middleweight title-holder George Groves (centre)

Groves and his fiancee, Sophie, who live in Hounslow, west London, are not believed to be under police protection.

A source told the Sun: 'George and Sophie were told by CID officers a threat had been made on his life and they should consider their safety.

'The intelligence said if he wasn't shot before the fight, it would happen in the ring.'

The bout with Anderson was due to take place at Wembley Arena but Groves confirmed he injured his back during training and subsequently failed a fitness test.

Groves said: 'I apologise to everyone who spent money around the fight.

'I suffered a back injury sparring and haven't trained properly since.'

Called off: Groves was due to fight Kenny Anderson (right) on Friday

Called off: Groves was due to fight Kenny Anderson (right) on Friday

A police spokesman said: 'We can confirm a threat to the welfare of a man was made to police in Hounslow.'

Anderson, 29, questioned his opponent's claims, however, suggesting the Londoner withdrew over fears he would lose the fight and so jeopardise a world title bout with Robert Stieglitz.

Groves climbed off the canvas to stop Anderson in the sixth round in November 2010.

Glaswegian Anderson, who won gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, was cleared in November 2010 of assaulting a drug dealer with a hammer.