Tag Archives: health

Beach volleyball initiative launched by Zara Dampney

Give it a go! Team GB star Dampney gets behind new beach volleyball initiative

Olympics, the British public are being given the chance to try it for themselves.

The sport was one of the highlights of the Games as crowds flocked to the Horse Guards Parade last summer.

And Team GB star Zara Dampney is hoping a new initiative can encourage more people to take the fast-paced, action-packed discipline.

Zara Dampney

Zara Dampney

Best of British: Zoe Dampney was part of Team GB and the beach volleyball squad at London 2012

The Go Spike Big Weekend, which runs from May 25-27, offers the chance to take part in beach, indoor, outdoor and sitting volleyball at various venues across England.

'I’m incredibly excited about the Go Spike Big Weekend and think it will be a fantastic showcase of everything volleyball has to offer,' Dampney said. 'Everyone from kids to retired people should experience the enjoyment and the health benefits of volleyball.

'People don’t realise just how accessible volleyball is – there are facilities for all versions of the sport right across the country, and I hope that once people give it a go they will join up and make volleyball a regular part of their lives and enjoy it just as much as I do.'

Popular: Beach volleyball was introduced to a whole new set of fans last year in London

Popular: Beach volleyball was introduced to a whole new set of fans last year in London

Popular: Beach volleyball was introduced to a whole new set of fans last year in London

Popular: Beach volleyball was introduced to a whole new set of fans last year in London

For further information on the Go Spike Big Weekend and details of events across England visit www.gospike.net

Eric Abidal: PSG tried to sign me, I won"t leave Barcelona

I wouldn't leave Barcelona, not even for PSG's megabucks, says Abidal

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UPDATED:

15:35 GMT, 23 December 2012

Eric Abidal has revealed that not even money-flushed PSG could lure him away from Barcelona.

The Frenchman admitted the Qatari-owned club wanted to sign him earlier this year, but says Spain is his new home.

After making a return to training last week for the first time since his liver transplant in April, Abidal reiterated he is determined to make a full recovery and remain with Barcelona until the end of his career.

Road to recovery: Abidal is back in training for Barcelona

Road to recovery: Abidal is back in training for Barcelona

'(PSG have) Maxwell and Mamadou Sakho who play as central defenders, so I think of them and I prefer to stay in Barcelona,' he told Olympique Lyonnais's TV channel.

'It's not just about me, it's a decision I've made for my family too. My wife feels good here and my children have settled into the town.'

The 33-year old's contract expires in the summer, but vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said a new contract will be drawn up as soon as he returns to playing.

Abidal's improved health has been a source of strength for his Barcelona team-mates, who are struggling with the news that coach Tito Vilanova requires further cancer treatment.

Barca for life: Abidal wants to see out his career with the Catalans

Barca for life: Abidal wants to see out his career with the Catalans

Ali Carter has UK Championship title in his sights after beating Mark Joyce

Ali has diet for success: Carter has his eyes on UK Championship title

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UPDATED:

00:45 GMT, 5 December 2012

Ali Carter reached the World Championship final in May on a diet fuelled by carrot juice, but curry and beer could carry the Crohn's disease sufferer to UK glory in York.

The 33-year-old Essex man has been struggling to stay on top of his condition for the last decade, and has recently ditched pills due to the fear they would cause him long-term health problems.

However, Carter has no problem sinking pints, providing they are low in wheat and gluten, and mild curries go down a treat with the two-time Crucible runner-up.

Going through: Ali Carter on his way to victory over Mark Joyce

Going through: Ali Carter on his way to victory over Mark Joyce

Now he has the williamhill.com UK Championship title in his sights after knocking out world No 1 Judd Trump's conqueror Mark Joyce 6-2.

Former world champion Shaun Murphy, in-form Basildon potter Stuart Bingham and Welshman Matthew Stevens were also winners at the Barbican Centre as the quarter-final line-up began to take shape.

Going by the wayside and out of the tournament were a despondent Graeme Dott and his fellow Scot Stephen Maguire, along with Marco Fu.

With a curry house just over the road from the tournament venue, Carter, a trim cueman who is also a keep-fit fanatic, does not need to look hard for a curry fix.

Inspired by Peter Ebdon, who has committed to a strict vegan diet in recent seasons, Carter downed glass after glass of carrot juice in Sheffield this year, and reported it had a hugely positive impact on his well-being.

Not going to plan: Mark Joyce looks on as he goes out to Carter

Not going to plan: Mark Joyce looks on as he goes out to Carter

'But I wouldn't necessarily go out and buy myself some carrots and stick it in a juicer,' Carter said. “It was just something Peter was doing, I was part of it and we were all having a laugh and it was good.

'I've stopped red meat, which I like, dairy, wheat and gluten. When I'm at home I eat well, salads and fish. I eat curries if they're not too spicy and not too much cream, but it's just a nightmare.

'A curry and a lager, yeah. But I try to get in the gym and keep myself trim. I don't live on curry and lager, believe it or not.'

Such an indulgence would make Carter sound like a caricature of an old-school snooker player, yet life on a busy sporting tour inevitably means he spends much of his year living out of a suitcase and eating in restaurants.

It makes dealing with Crohn's disease, which also afflicts Manchester United and Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher and causes inflammation of the bowels, particularly difficult.

Carter thought about retiring a year ago, and said after seeing off Joyce: “I don't feel that well presently.

Eyes on the ball: Carter on his way to victory

Eyes on the ball: Carter on his way to victory

'I'm looking forward to better days to come with my stomach.'

In the quarter-finals, Carter will tackle Bingham, who was terrific in seeing off Maguire 6-4 this evening, firstly going 4-2 ahead before being hauled back to 4-4 and then responding with a break of 120 followed by a match-clinching 54.

Bingham, due to marry fiancee Michelle at the end of the season, has taken the Australian Open and Premier League titles this year and amassed over 150,000 in prize money.

This is an outstanding opportunity to land silverware in one of snooker's premier events, and Bingham said: 'A lot of my success has been overseas and to do it in the UK is massive.

'I'm very happy with my game. I came up against a really good opponent today and came through. I'm over the moon with the result.'

Stevens was also a 6-4 winner, surviving a gruelling match against Hong Kong's Marco Fu.

Stevens, now 35, won the UK title in 2003 but had not reached the quarter-final stage again until now. He will face John Higgins or Mark Davis next.

He said: 'I'll have to play a lot better than that if I'm to go any further.'

Murphy impressed this evening in a 6-2 win over his fellow former world champion Dott.

The 30-year-old world number four had a total clearance of 130 in a victory that sets up a quarter-final against Mark King or 17-year-old Luca Brecel, who knocked out Ricky Walden last night.

Dott was dismayed by his own performance, with the 35-year-old Scot saying: 'I just don't think I'm the same player I was. I don't think there's anyone else in the top 16 that can play as badly as I can play.

'It's not good enough.'

Dott, Crucible champion in 2006, added: 'Hopefully it's not just because of my age. I'd don't know if I've had it. Maybe I'm finished.'

The Larkhall man was quick to stress that did not mean he would be retiring, adding: 'Maybe it's just a bad patch but it doesn't feel that way.'

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood recovering after heart attack

Arsenal chairman Hill-Wood recovering after suffering heart attack

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UPDATED:

10:56 GMT, 2 December 2012

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood is recovering in hospital after suffering a heart attack.

The 76-year-old had suffered from pneumonia and was taken to hospital on Friday after complaining of feeling unwell.

Arsenal released a statement saying: ‘Everyone at Arsenal Football Club sends their support and best wishes to Chairman Peter Hill-Wood who is recovering after suffering a heart attack, following a bout of pneumonia.

Recovering: Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood (right) is in hospital after suffering a heart attack

Recovering: Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood (right) is in hospital after suffering a heart attack

‘Peter was taken ill at home on Friday and is currently being treated in hospital. He is making a good recovery.

‘The Club wishes Peter a full and speedy return to health and our thoughts are with him and his family at this time.’

Hill-Wood has been chairman of the club since 1982, and is a former vice-chairman of the Hambros Bank.

He is the third member of his family to serve as Arsenal chairman, following on from his father Denis (1962-1982) and his grandfather Samuel, who had two separate spells in the role between 1929 and 1936 and from 1946 to 1949.

Sir Bobby Charlton allays Sir Alex Ferguson Manchester United quit fears

Charlton allays Fergie quit fears, saying: Sir Alex will be with United for as long as he wants

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UPDATED:

20:52 GMT, 21 November 2012

Sir Bobby Charlton has told Sir Alex Ferguson to carry on as Manchester United manager as long as he wants.

Approaching his 71st birthday, and with over 26 years' service as United boss behind him, Ferguson's achievements at Old Trafford will be acknowledged on Friday with the unveiling of a statue of the Scot outside the stand that also bears his name.

Amid other little signs, including the health scare Ferguson suffered in May, it has been suggested it could be part of the end of his reign, and this season will be his last.

In the dugout: Sir Alex Ferguson has been urged to remain at Manchester United for as long as he likes

In the dugout: Sir Alex Ferguson has been urged to remain at Manchester United for as long as he likes

But those who know him best do not give that impression.

And Charlton, who travelled back from Turkey with Ferguson after defeat to Galatasaray, is putting no timescale on the departure, knowing just how difficult he is going to be to replace.

'When we made the decision to go for him we didn't in our wildest dreams think that it would last as long as this,' said Charlton.

'But from the beginning he obviously made people aware of what he did and how he did it with regard to controlling players and how to work with [the club] management which is also very, very important.

'I won't see his like again, I'm certain of that. We're really lucky, and people are really envious of us. He was born to do this job and he's going to be with us as long as he wants.

'He's just a sensational manager, I keep repeating it, [but] others must look on in envy.'

One of a kind: Sir Bobby Charlton knows how tough it will be to replace Ferguson

One of a kind: Sir Bobby Charlton knows how tough it will be to replace Ferguson

As someone whose entire professional career has been played out under the guidance of one man, midfielder Paul Scholes is aware the time is drawing near when a change has to be made.

Some of the game's most famous names have been linked with the job.

However, Scholes accepts, no matter who it is, they have enormous boots to fill.

'Somebody's going to have to come in one day and manage this team and if they do half as well as he does they'll be successful,' said the former England man.

'There's nobody like him I know that – but somebody's got to give it a go. He has been brilliant for every single player that's worked for him.

'There is such a hunger and desire about him that really drives his players on – he knows how to keep you motivated throughout a season, it's something that he's managed to do for the last 20 years and I'm sure he'll carry on doing it for the next few years as well.'

Paul Gascoigne to miss Lazio v Tottenham

Gazza to miss Lazio v Spurs clash despite invite to return to his old stamping ground

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UPDATED:

14:58 GMT, 19 November 2012

Paul Gascoigne looks unlikely to attend Thursday's Europa League clash between two of his former clubs, Lazio and Tottenham.

Gascoigne became a cult hero at Spurs after four successful years at White Hart Lane and he then went on to achieve similar status at Lazio after moving to the Italian capital in 1992.

Legend: Gascoigne at Lazio (above) and at Tottenham (below)

Legend: Gascoigne at Lazio (above) and at Tottenham (below)

Legend: Gascoigne at Lazio (above) and at Tottenham (below)

The affection with which he is remembered by the Italian club prompted the club's general manager Maurizio Manzini to immediately invite the 45-year-old to this Thursday's encounter between the two sides when they were drawn together in Group J in August.

But Gascoigne looks set to miss the game as he has already been booked to speak at an event at the Concorde Club in Eastleigh, Southampton, the day after the match.

Rare sighting: Gascoigne appears on TV back in May of this year

Rare sighting: Gascoigne appears on TV back in May of this year

A spokesperson for Gascoigne's management company A1 said: 'As far as we know he is not going (to the match).

'He is working for us on the 23rd at a public speaking function in Southampton so we don't think he will go (to Rome).'

Gascoigne declined an invite to September's reverse fixture at White Hart Lane due to 'personal reasons'.

Remember this Gascoigne volleys home as England beat Scotland at Euro 96

Remember this Gascoigne volleys home as England beat Scotland at Euro 96

Remember this Gascoigne volleys home as England beat Scotland at Euro 96

Gascoigne, who played 57 times for his country, was regarded as the most skilful English player of his generation.

The former Newcastle and Rangers star has struggled to deal with alcohol problems since retirement but his agent said this summer that he had embarked on a health drive.

Chelsea auction signed poppy shirts on ebay

Chelsea put signed poppy shirts on ebay in bid to raise money for club's foundation

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UPDATED:

12:45 GMT, 14 November 2012

UP FOR GRABS

You can get your hands on one of the special poppy shirts by bidding on ebay CLICK HERE

Chelsea's first-team squad have signed and put their poppy embroidered shirts worn for Remembrance Sunday on ebay.

From goalscorer John Terry to Oscar and everyone else who featured in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge have made their special shirt available to the 'Chelsea Foundation' account.

The account says it 'is a registered charity which uses the power of football to provide sport, health, education and environmental initiatives throughout our communities.'

Up for grabs: Chelsea have signed and made their poppy shirts available on ebay

Up for grabs: Chelsea have signed and made their poppy shirts available on ebay

Over the weekend, all 20 Premier League clubs supported the British Legion's Poppy Appeal with the logo either ironed on or embroidered on the chest.

It had been agreed that all clubs would put the shirts up for auction with the proceeds being donated to the Poppy Appeal.

The British Legion have made themselves available to list the items on their own site, though are happy for clubs to undertake their own promotional activity around the shirts.

Chelsea have listed all 21 shirts, with one of the most popular of – Juan Mata's – reaching almost 2,000 by midday on Wednesday.

The move comes just 24 hours after chief executive Ron Gourlay admitted the club had to improve their image after a series of race rows cast a shadow over Stamford Bridge.

He said: 'There are things that have happened that damaged the image. There are bullet prints in our armor. We have learned from the mistakes we have made.

'Hopefully the football club is in a
good position to push forward now. I think people like the way they are
seeing Chelsea play football now, and that’s very important because it
portrays itself as the image of the club.'

Support: Oscar and Eden Hazard were among the vast Premier League contingent to wear shirts embroidered with the British Legion logo

Support: Oscar and Eden Hazard were among the vast Premier League contingent to wear shirts embroidered with the British Legion logo

Support: Oscar and Eden Hazard were among the vast Premier League contingent to wear shirts embroidered with the British Legion logo

Across London, the shirt worn by Lukas Podolski when he scored in Arsenal's draw with Fulham, has also been made available in a silent auction.

The British Legion expect to top the 46million poppies distributed in 2011, and hope to raise 42m, 2m more than the record set last year.

The money raised is spent on direct, practical care and support for military families, with 165,000 people expected to be affected this year.

Not for me: James McClean

Not for me: James McClean

Controversial Sunderland winger James McClean refused to wear a poppy in the 2-1 defeat at Everton, despite his club's leading the way in acknowledging the annual event.

The Londonderry-born Republic of Ireland international asked to wear his usual shirt when he was recalled by Martin O'Neill.

Sunderland manager O'Neill, who was also born and brought up in Derry, and played for Northern Ireland, wore a poppy on his post-match suit but did not wear one on his training kit during the defeat.

A club spokesman said: 'As a club Sunderland AFC wholeheartedly supports the Remembrance Commemorations. It was James’ personal choice not to wear a shirt on this occasion.'

Charlie Beljan has three stroke lead in Children"s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic

Beljan overcomes health scare to take three stroke lead in Florida

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UPDATED:

01:16 GMT, 10 November 2012

Charlie Beljan defied a health scare to take a halfway three-stroke lead in the the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in Florida.

The American, who suffers from asthma, had to rest on several occasions during his round after battling shortness of breath and an elevated heart rate.

Out in front: Charlie Beljan leads the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals golf tournament in Lake Buena Vista

Out in front: Charlie Beljan leads the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals golf tournament in Lake Buena Vista

The 28-year-old was expected to be taken to hospital after recording a magnificent 64, which moved him to 12 under par overall.

'I think he's scared,' Beljan's caddie Rick Adcox told the Golf Channel. 'He kept saying he thought he was going to die.'

'I've got to give Charlie credit for what he did. I thought he was going to quit out there a few times. Unbelievable.'

'A couple of times I thought he might pass out,” Adcox added.

'He just said, 'I'm gonna keep going until I pass out or they take me off,' and I kept saying 'it doesn't matter to me, it's only a golf tournament'.'

Beljan was reportedly struggling throughout, with medical personnel keeping a close watch on him for much of his back nine.

He was eight under for his round after 11 holes, carding two eagles and four birdies.
He then bogeyed the par-four 12th before picking up back-to-back shots on his next two holes although he dropped back to eight under for his round at the 17th.

Despite clearly struggling, he courageously carried on and managed to hit a brilliant up-and-down for par on the final hole before bursting into tears.

'He was trying to keep upright,” playing partner Ed Loar said. 'Hopefully he'll be all right. It was pretty bizarre.'

Overnight leader Charlie Wi was among seven players three strokes behind Beljan.
The Korean, without a win on the PGA Tour, failed to build on yesterday's magnificent 64 after recording a one-under-par 71.

He enjoyed mixed fortunes on the Magnolia course with five birdies and four bogeys.
Australia's Matt Jones put himself into contention with an excellent round of 64 to join Wi, Ryuji Imada, Harris English, Charles Howell III, Mark Anderson and Henrik Stenson on nine under overall.

Santi Cazorla exclusive: The making of Arsenal"s mini marvel

Cazorla, the mini marvel! Arsenal lost their crown jewel when RVP left, but they unearthed another gem

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 1 November 2012

At the small school on the outskirts of the village of Lugo de Llanera in northern Spain, there was recently some news which shocked pupils and teachers alike: football had been banned.

The official reason was that the health-and-safety brigade thought too many children were getting hurt during their kick-abouts in the concrete playground that surrounds the Colegio Publico Lugo de Llanera. The real reason, no doubt, is that they have given up trying to produce another Santiago Cazorla.

Cazorla was a football-loving short kid who always had a football tucked under his arm. Now he is Arsenal’s ball carrier too, a brilliant midfielder with enough talent to have dampened the despair at Robin van Persie’s departure and to give Arsene Wenger’s side hope ahead of their trip to Old Trafford on Saturday.

Mini marvel: Santi Cozorla fell in love with football from an early age in Lugo De Llanera, northern Spain

Mini marvel: Santi Cozorla fell in love with football from an early age in Lugo De Llanera, northern Spain

Progression: Cazorla (bottom right) was snapped up by Oviedo before Villarreal, Recreativo and Malaga

Progression: Cazorla (bottom right) was snapped up by Oviedo before Villarreal, Recreativo and Malaga

Top Gunner: Now Cazorla is at the heart of all the good things Arsenal are trying to achieve

Top Gunner: Now Cazorla is at the heart of all the good things Arsenal are trying to achieve

Arsenal have lost their crown jewel, but they think they have found another gem who can give them an unlikely win against the team who beat them 8-2 last season.

That short kid is now the 5ft 6in footballer who has quickly built a reputation for sublime control, the ability to pass and shoot with both feet and an eye for goal. He’s the quintessential skilful midfielder that reminds England of what they don’t have.

Most of the village will watch the game against United in the bar which carries Cazorla's name. They adore him, still marvel at his ambidexterity and raise a glass of their beloved local cider with each goal he scores.

Cider is at the heart of everything in Lugo de Llanera. It is the drink of the Asturias region in north-western Spain and is generally accompanied by no shortage of ham, chorizo, black pudding and white beans. They pour the cider from above their heads so it lands in the glass below at a pace and with fizz. Once poured, the glass doesn’t touch the table and the cider is downed in one big gulp.

This is a routine Cazorla knows only too well and one he still enjoys when he comes back to the bar, which is run by his best friend Fran Ribero.

‘We have been best friends since we were nine,’ says Ribero, buzzing text messages to his London-based friend in between answers. ‘We preferred football to schoolwork. Our school used to win every tournament in the area because of him. He always had a ball under his arm — and I mean always.

Favourite son: His best friend, Fran Ribero, runs a bar in Cazorla's hometown, adorned with the Arsenal star's memorabilia and still frequented by his brother and mother (below)

Favourite son: His best friend, Fran Ribero, runs a bar in Cazorla's hometown, adorned with the Arsenal star's memorabilia and still frequented by his brother and mother (below)

Favourite son: His best friend, Fran Ribero, runs a bar in Cazorla's hometown, adorned with the Arsenal star's memorabilia and still frequented by his brother and mother (below)

Favourite son: His best friend, Fran Ribero, runs a bar in Cazorla's hometown, adorned with the Arsenal star's memorabilia and still frequented by his brother and mother (below)

‘It’s a quiet life here — although we’re Spanish so we like to party too. After Euro 2012, we had a huge surprise party for him with thousands of people. We shut off all the roads and the police had to come along.

‘I’d been with him in Madrid celebrating and then we came straight here. We didn’t sleep for 48 hours. He still comes to the bar when he’s back. He was here during the last international break.’

Cazorla’s family also go to the bar, which is a five-minute walk from the sports centre named after the Arsenal midfielder.

His mother Loli and older brother Nando pass by while we are there, both immensely proud of Santi and both painting a picture of a determined, happy boy whose inner strength helped him overcome the death of his father from a heart attack almost six years ago.

‘He and Nando were just football, football, football,’ says Loli, a warm woman with a smile that gets bigger every time she mentions her son’s name.

‘We had a small house and my husband worked in the mines, then when they closed down he was a builder. Santi was a shy boy, they both were and they played football all day long, even in the house.

‘They broke windows so I took away the balls but then they’d just roll up some socks and play with those instead.’

She laughs and puts her head in her hands when the topic of school arises.

International pedigree: The Spaniard has more than 50 caps for his country, despite the wealth of talent

International pedigree: The Spaniard has more than 50 caps for his country, despite the wealth of talent

International pedigree: The Spaniard has more than 50 caps for his country, despite the wealth of talent

‘He didn’t like anything. Maybe PE. All
the teachers used to say to me that he was a lovely boy but he just
wasn’t interested in working. So they told me, “Take away what he enjoys
— don’t let him watch TV”.

'But I told them he wasn’t interested in the TV, it was football he was crazy about. So they said there was no way I could deny him that.’

Nando, himself once a very talented player, remembers the same boy.

‘At home, all we did was play football. There were no books. We broke a lot of windows and ornaments. We shared a bedroom and the main man for us was Michael Laudrup. I liked Hristo Stoichkov too. We had lots of posters and of course we had lots of trophies too.’

Nando was a striker who some argued had more talent than his brother but who all agree did not have the same drive to succeed.

‘As a boy, I scored the same number of goals — 32 — as David Villa in one season,’ says Nando, with not a hint of regret. ‘But it never quite happened.’

‘Nando was amazing,’ recalls Juanjo Beltran, who worked with both boys at their first club, Covadonga. ‘He could do everything. But he didn’t want to be a footballer deep down. David Villa went off to Sporting and Nando didn’t move on. One game his attitude was so bad that I took him off and played with 10 because it was better than having him on the pitch.’

Young Santi had no such problems, first taking part in training with his brother’s group because there was no team for seven-year-olds and then moving to the indoor five-a-side teams that children up to 10 years old compete in.

It’s only when they are 13 that they play on a full-sized pitch for the first time, so the ability to keep control of the ball in tight situations comes as no surprise.

With his incredible ability to use both feet equally well, Cazorla excelled, scoring 170 goals in one season and soon catching the eye of Real Oviedo, one of Spain’s big clubs.

Always going to happen: Cazorla's talent was spotted by Juanjo Beltran, as well as at his school (below)

Always going to happen: Cazorla's talent was spotted by Juanjo Beltran, as well as at his school (below)

Always going to happen: Cazorla's talent was spotted by Juanjo Beltran, as well as at his school (below)

/11/01/article-2226497-15B700CF000005DC-142_634x447.jpg” width=”634″ height=”447″ alt=”Friends in high places: In Mikel Arteta, Cazorla has a buddy from his childhood at Arsenal” class=”blkBorder” />

Friends in high places: In Mikel Arteta, Cazorla has a buddy from his childhood at Arsenal

‘It’s so sad that Jose died before he could see Santi play for his country,’ adds Beltran. ‘His family had tough times before that too. When they shut the mines, his dad had no job for a while. I took them a whole load of our clothes to help them through.’

They are happier times now, with Cazorla thriving in the Premier League with two goals and three assists so far for his new club.

Fifty caps for Spain and successful spells at Villarreal, Recreativo and Malaga show you he is valued highly back home during a vintage period for Spanish midfielders.

‘He’s so happy in England,’ says Loli with another smile. ‘The people at the club are nice and he’s only worried about learning English.

'He was worried he wouldn’t be able to chat to people so he’s busy learning. But he has Mikel Arteta to help him for now. I spoke to him after the Norwich defeat and he was so upset. I told him not to worry, that even Barcelona have bad games, but he was inconsolable. He has always been like that.

‘But I know Santi will definitely come back here to live one day. He loves it here. He’s very patriotic. He can live normally here.

'And he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s the same boy who left here. It’s odd for me too now. He has played for some big clubs but no-one was ever interested in him before. Now he’s at Arsenal, we’ve had people making a documentary about him.’

Get it right at Old Trafford and there will be many more.

Kauto Star retires tribute

Farewell super Star: Sportsmail's tribute as Kauto Star retires

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UPDATED:

12:38 GMT, 31 October 2012

Kauto Star, one of the best
steeplechasers, of all time has been retired.

A massive question mark had hung
over the future of the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, who won the King George
VI Chase a remarkable five times, since he was pulled up when going for his
third Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March.

Trainer Paul Nicholls In his Betfair
column: ‘We have had nine superb years
with the horse but, after seeing him in his work these past few weeks, myself,
(Head Lad) Clifford Baker and (assistant trainer) Dan Skelton were of the
opinion that the time had arrived to retire him.

Kauto Star, ridden by Ruby Walsh wins the Stan James King George VI Chase in 2008

Kauto Star, ridden by Ruby Walsh wins the Stan James King George VI Chase in 2008

‘Of course, as owner, the final
decision rested with Clive, but he agreed that the horse had done enough.

‘Don't get me wrong, Kauto looks
and feels as vibrant as ever, as those who saw him at our owners' Open Day last
month would testify to. He was mad fresh that day and continues to be as alert
as ever and very, very well in himself.

‘But I suspect Kauto will be like
that when he is 20-years-old.

‘Kauto is signing off in full
health and after a season in which he proved so many people wrong by winning a
fifth King George and a fourth Betfair Chase, to add to his two Cheltenham Gold
Cups and Tingle Creeks.

‘Who wouldn't want to train a
horse of this quality any more He is a once-in-a-lifetime horse, after all.

‘Ever since he won on his debut
for me at Newbury on December 29, 2004, the horse has consistently proved
himself a class apart.

'But sometimes, you have to listen
to your head and your heart, and both told me that retirement was the only
option.’

TRIBUTE BY MARCUS TOWNEND, RACING CORRESPONDENT

THE scale of the affection that the public held for Kauto Star was portrayed in the emotional seconds after he was pulled up in his fifth Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

The remainder of his rivals were still scrapping over the most prestigious prize in steeplechasing, millions of pounds were riding on the outcome, but the Festival crowd rose as one to applaud a steeplechaser who had earned the right to be named in the same list as the greats of the sport.
Some would argue at the top of that list.

Ruby Walsh riding Kauto Star after winning The William Hill King George VI Steeple Chase at Kempton racecourse in 2006

Ruby Walsh riding Kauto Star after winning The William Hill King George VI Steeple Chase at Kempton racecourse in 2006

The cheers that echoed around jump racing’s most famous amphitheatre were in part fuelled by a feeling one of the icons of the game was leaving the stage.

Confirmation came from owner Clive Smith and trainer Paul Nicholls yesterday.

It is the right call. The risk to reward ratio was too unbalanced. With a shot at another Gold Cup ruled out, winning another Betfair Chase was hardly an incentive to carry on.

A sixth King George Tempting, maybe, but best, and safer, to remember the chaser that dominated Kempton on Boxing Day with that resurgent defeat of Long Run last year.

Quite simply, Kauto Star has gone out at the top, even if his last run did not have a fairytale end.
With him go a welter of memories – highs and lows, thrills and some spills and, never to be forgotten moments.

The grey beards might tell you Irish legends Arkle and has no peers in the staying chaser division.

Their sons will marvel at the achievements of Desert Orchid and the emotional connections triple Grand National winner Red Rum made with the wider public.

But, in 87 years time, when racing historians start compiling their pecking order of 21st century steeplechasing greats, Kauto Star’s name will be prominent in that debate.

There may be just over a 10th of the century gone but few will be willing to bet the remarkable record of Kauto Star will be matched, let alone superseded.

Twenty three wins from 41 races. Earnings of 2,375,883, the most ever for a jumper. A unique five King George VI Chases, two Gold Cups and two Tingle Creek Chase. Wins from two miles to three and a quarter.

Another glorious ride at Kempton for the great Star of the show

Another glorious ride at Kempton for the great Star of the show

Like Desert Orchid, whose four-time King George record he beat, Kauto Star was both versatile and durable. Few horses can claim to compete at seven successive Cheltenham Festivals, let alone in the biggest races of the demanding meeting.

But Kauto Star always looked something special, being nicknamed ‘The Extraterrestrial’ by his original trainer in France, Serge Foucher, where he had his first 10 races.

It took an eyewatering bid of 400,000 euros from owner Clive Smith to prize him across The Channel and, even then, Foucher, was a reluctant seller.

He disappeared when bloodstock agent Anthony Bromley arrived with a vet to carry out an inspection, vital with such a high-risk purchase.

So fractious was Kauto Star that it was impossible to carry out a scope test to make sure he had no breathing issues. Smith took the gamble to press on with his purchase and it was a decision he would never regret.

The Nicholls team knew they had a special talent on their hands when Kauto Star made an exhilarating British debut, brushing aside Foreman, a horse good enough to finish fourth in the Champion Hurdle, by an easy nine lengths in a Newbury novice chase on December 29, 2004.

It was performance that made him a leading Arkle Chase but he would never make it to that season’s Festival, picking up an injury when being beaten a short-head by Mistral De la Cour at Exeter in a controversial run when re-mounted by Walsh after falling two out when clear.

Kauto Star pulls away from the first fence at Kempton in 2006

Kauto Star pulls away from the first fence at Kempton in 2006

When he miraculously escaped serious injury when being trampled on in the following season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, a pattern seemed to be emerging of a brilliant horse, liable to catastrophic lapses in concentration.

That reputation only seemed to be emphasised when he successfully stepped up in distance, captured his first King George in 2006 but committed a series of last-fence errors.

The questions over his jumping irritated Nicholls and were brushed aside by Walsh but only served to augment his story.

He was no seat-of-the-pants performer but he kept his fans on the edge of their seats, knowing that his spectacular leaps carried with them a degree of difficulty that left little room for error.

But both questions over his jumping and his stamina, were brushed aside when he beat Exotic Dancer two and a half lengths to land his first Gold Cup three months later.

But, just when it looked like nothing could stop topple him, a challenge emerged from the next-door box in Nicholls’ Somerset stable – Denman.

...and another win at Kempton in 2007

…and another win at Kempton in 2007

Racing suddenly had a rivalry to match other sports, the public lapped it up and the reputation of both horses benefited.

The bundle of muscle that was Denman came out on top in 12 months later in the 2008 Gold Cup with Kauto Star below par only for the placings to be reversed in 2009 as Denman, his season disrupted by a heart problem, could not live with his stablemate.

The 2010 Gold Cup became the War of the Wolds but Kauto Star took a hideous fall and Denman couldn’t live with Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Imperial Commander.

A year on we had a battle to live up to that billing. The feeling was both of Nicholls’ chasers were up against – especially Kauto who had lost his King George crown to Nicky Henderson’s Long Run.

It was the latter who crossed the line in front at Cheltenham, seven lengths in front of Denman and 11 ahead of Kauto Star but only after one of the great Gold Cup battles.

Kauto may not have won but he had picked himself up of the deck and proved his racing heart beat as loud as ever.

It was that quality that characterised his last season and further endeared him to his fans.

Pulled up after a listless performance at Punchestown in May 2011, the pressure was on as Nicholls and Smith resisted call to retire Kauto Star and brought him back to win his fourth Betfair Chase in November.

The subsequent outpouring of emotion has seldom been seen on a British racecourse but it was repeated when he land his sixth King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, avenging his 2010 defeat by Long Run.

Kauto Star in his stable at Manor Farm, Ditcheat, Somerset.

Kauto Star in his stable at Manor Farm, Ditcheat, Somerset.

It set up a potential Gold Cup showdown, only for a training ground fall to disrupt his preparation and, ultimately, lead to his failure to finish.

Kauto Star will now enjoy his retirement but still be in demand for public appearances. Regal gallop-pasts will no doubt be demanded at both Cheltenham and Kempton, where he boasts a record of five wins and a third from six starts.

A horse who helped take the supporters’ scarf from the football ground to the racetrack, and whose name and his performances crossed the normal boundaries of the sport can hardly be expected to slip away quietly.

He’ll be a hard act to follow.