Tag Archives: illustrious

Everton captain Phil Neville set for 500th Premier League game, the seventh ever

500 club! Everton captain Neville set to become seventh man in illustrious group

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Phil Neville will add his name to an illustrious group on Boxing Day when he becomes only the seventh man to make 500 appearances in the Barclays Premier League.

During a career that spans 19 years, Everton’s captain has won almost every honour in the game and represented England on 59 occasions but his ambition and determination to make the most of every day means he is reaching the landmark figure quicker than expected.

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

NEVILLE IN NUMBERS

19: Seasons in the Premier League… 11 at United and eight at Everton

3: Red cards 82: Yellow cards 9: Goals scored
263: Matches for United 444: starts

MILESTONES

First game: United v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

100th: United v Middlesbrough (May 9, 1999)

200th: United v Southampton (November 2, 2002)

300th: Everton v Tottenham (August 26, 2006)

400th: Everton v Aston Villa (April 12, 2009)

TOP 10 IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Ryan Giggs 607
David James 572
Gary Speed 535
Frank Lampard 531
Emile Heskey 516
Sol Campbell 503
PHIL NEVILLE 499
Paul Scholes 495
Jamie Carragher 491
Mark Schwarzer 486
*Brother Gary played 400

Neville, after all, only had surgery to correct a knee problem in November that should have meant he was laid up for eight weeks.

However, when he returned to Everton’s starting line-up at West Ham on Saturday, it was only 36 days after his operation.

Though he will be 36 in January, Neville’s enthusiasm remains undiminished and it has prompted Everton manager David Moyes — whose side will be aiming to consolidate their grip on a place in the top five with victory against Wigan — to label him as the model professional.

‘People would be amazed by the amount of work and conditioning Phil has put in to get himself right,’ said Moyes.

'He continually works hard. He is in every morning at 8.30am, he doesn’t leave until late. The rehabilitation work he puts himself through — never at any stage does he complain.

'He just continually pushed himself to try and get back. The biggest impact that it should have on everyone is the manner of what he has done.

'They might not say it but I think they would all have to have admiration for how he continually prepares himself and the way he goes about playing.

'It has helped him recover from this injury. We will have to look after him. He has had a bit of cartilage taken away, so we will have to be careful that it is not bone on bone in his knee. I might need to try to calm him down a bit!'

Cheers, bro: Neville remains close with his brother Gary, with whom he broke through at United

Cheers, bro: Neville remains close with his brother Gary, with whom he broke through at United

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

Very few players have left Old
Trafford during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign and gone on to enjoy
successful careers elsewhere but Neville has been an integral part of
Everton’s development under Moyes, who hugely appreciates his captain’s
achievement in reaching 500 appearances.

'It
says a lot about what he’s done,’ said Moyes, who has certainly got
value for money from Neville since signing him for 3.5million in August
2005.

'But it doesn’t
surprise me because his mentality and his attitude to the game have been
great since he came from Manchester United.'

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

Neville has six months remaining on his current contract and Moyes added: 'He’s been a great signing. The best person to talk about (the future) is Phil because I’ve already spoken to him and he just wants to see how his body is.

'He's just back from a knee operation and he would be the first one to say that we should just see how his knee is. I don’t think he sees any great panic in it at this moment in time.'

SPORTSMAIL'S FIVE FAVOURITE NEVILLE MOMENTS
Phil Neville's Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Neville played at right back (right) in the fabled defence that included Bruce, Pallister and Schmeichel, as Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Andy Cole secured a 3-0 win.

Setting up Eric Cantona at St James’ Park (March 4, 1996)

His surge down the left flank and cross for Cantona led to United beating Newcastle 1-0 and the victory gave Ferguson’s side the impetus to go on to win the Premier League title. It was the first of Neville’s six gongs.

Winning goal at Chelsea (February 28, 1998)

Neville has only scored nine goals in his 499 appearances to date but this, in a 1-0 victory, was the pick of the bunch, a bending right-foot effort that gave Dmitri Kharine no chance.

Everton debut v Manchester United (August 13, 2005)

If there were any doubts Neville would
struggle to adjust to life after Old Trafford, they were banished in
his first Everton game. Everton may have lost 2-0 but he was
outstanding.

Season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)

Everton were in the doldrums when they
faced his old side, and losing 1-0, but a thundering challenge on
Ronaldo (below) altered the course of the game – Everton drew 1-1 – and sparked a
run that carried them to fifth.

Phil Neville's season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)

Ronaldo sheds an incredible 37lbs on reality TV show

(Not so) Fat Ronaldo sheds an incredible 37lbs in three months to play in former Real team-mate Zidane's charity football match

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UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 19 December 2012

Since the emergence of Real Madrid superstar Cristiano, as a point of distinction, one of the great strikers of our time became harshly known as ‘Fat Ronaldo’.

But not only has the Brazilian legend of the game lost over two-and-a-half stone, he should also have shed this cruel moniker.

Since September, Ronaldo shifted a remarkable amount of weight after taking part in a reality television show to repair his ‘bad relationship with the scales’.

VIDEO: Take a look at Ronaldo's new slimline frame

Ronaldo, who stepped onto those pesky scales once more live on TV on Sunday, spent three months rigorously exercising on the Medida Certa show and lost 37 pounds as a result.

His fitness regime included three months of Gangnam Style dancing and topless pilates, helping him slim down from 18st 6lbs to an incredible 15st 9lbs.

He has also cut a few inches off his waitline, trimming his 42 inches to 36 in the 12 week period.

Ronaldo, who has won the FIFA Player of the Year award three times, wanted to shift the weight in time for former Real Madrid team-mate Zinedine Zidane’s charity match in Porto Alegre on Wednesday.

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months to be fit for a charity football match

Paunch: Ronaldo had a protruding belly before he lost some of the weight

Paunch: Ronaldo had a protruding belly before he lost some of the weight

Svelte: Ronaldo showed off his new figure in Cesar Sampaio's farewell match

Svelte: Ronaldo showed off his new figure in Cesar Sampaio's farewell match

In the latter years of Ronaldo’s illustrious career, and after his retirement, the two-time World Cup winner simply ballooned.

This, coupled with the rise to prominence of his namesake at United and Real Madrid, meant that football fans used his now incongruous nickname to distinguish between the Brazilian and Portuguese Ronaldos.

Most notable was during his farewell match for Brazil in 2011. Ronaldo, sporting a huge paunch, played for his country one last time against Romania in Sao Paolo.

A trimmer Ronaldo played in another farewell match last week for Cesar Sampaio in his final game between past and present Palmeiras club players.

David Beckham: Is it really the end now his time is up in America?

With his time in America drawing to a close, Sportsmail asks: 'Is it the end for Beckham'

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UPDATED:

00:43 GMT, 18 November 2012

David Beckham, set to quit LA Galaxy
next month at the end of the current Major League Soccer season, has
been swamped with offers from clubs around the world hoping to provide
him with the chance to extend his playing career.

The 37-year-old former England
captain will not seek to renew his contract in Los Angeles when his
current deal ends on December 31 but feels he still has plenty to offer
at the highest level.

That's news to me: David Beckham said the rumours were unfounded

That's news to me: David Beckham said the rumours were unfounded

He will decide within the next few weeks whether to take up one of the offers from France, Italy, Russia, the Far East and the Premier League — or bring his illustrious career to an end.

One career move that he has apparently ruled out is a short-term move to play in Australia’s A-League. Football Federation Australia claimed on Friday that the player’s management had approached them about a move Down Under, but Beckham himself said he had no knowledge of the talks until informed by Galaxy coach Bruce Arena.

‘No, definitely not true,’ he told reporters at Galaxy’s Home Depot Center on Friday. ‘Bruce told me that this morning — it’s the first I’d heard about it.’

Head boy: A spokesperson for Beckham has dismissed the story

Head boy: A spokesperson for Beckham has dismissed the story

Beckham is determined to leave a
lasting memory of his five years at Galaxy by helping the team to their
fourth MLS title. Galaxy travel to Seattle Sounders tonight for the
second leg of their Western Conference final with a three-goal advantage
from their first meeting at the Home Depot Centre last weekend, when
Robbie Keane continued his scoring form by notching two goals.

If Galaxy go through, they will face
the winners of the Eastern Conference, where DC United will today try to
overturn a 3-1 deficit at home to Houston Dynamo.

Although it was feared that Beckham’s
decision to quit mainstream football when he left Real Madrid to join
Galaxy in 2007 signalled the end of his career as a dominant figure, he
has remained one of the most famous figures in world football.

While playing with Galaxy, he has also
had two spells on loan with AC Milan. But a permanent multi-million
pound move to the Italian club, which Beckham favoured as a possible
stepping stone to selection for England’s 2010 World Cup squad, was
aborted when the two clubs failed to agree on a transfer fee.

Centre of attention: Beckham was described as a 'fantastic commodity'

Centre of attention: Beckham was described as a 'fantastic commodity'

A career-threatening achilles tendon injury, suffered while playing for
Milan, kept him out for five months, forcing him to miss the tournament
in South Africa as well as most of Galaxy’s next MLS season.

But his recovery was underlined by what was generally rated his best
ever season in the US last year, which ended when he joined a select
group of players to have won league titles in three different countries.

Landon Donovan’s winner against Houston, following a Beckham assist,
guaranteed Galaxy the MSL Cup and meant the former Manchester United
midfielder had collected championship medals in the US, England and
Spain.

He is determined to emulate that success by saying goodbye to Galaxy
with yet another title. The question then will be what will there be
left to achieve before he hangs up his boots.

As well as a return to Serie A, in recent years he has been linked with
moves to Tottenham — the club he supported as a boy growing up in
Leytonstone — and there would be a number of Premier League teams
falling over themselves to try to persuade him to join them.

But, having expressed a reluctance to tarnish the memory of his days at
Old Trafford by playing for any other English club, it is more likely
that he will consider offers from wealthy clubs abroad.

Leicester 1 Brighton 0 match report: Kasper Schmeichel saves Foxes perfect home record

Leicester 1 Brighton 0: King takes lead but Schmeichel saves perfect home record

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UPDATED:

21:39 GMT, 23 October 2012

It took a stunning penalty save from Kasper Schmeichel to protect Nigel Pearson’s unblemished home league record at the King Power Stadium.

The keeper, who has struggled manfully to step out of the shadow of his illustrious father, pulled off a superb stop to deny Ashley Barnes on an evening when the Championship leaders almost proved their own worst enemies.

Leading thanks to Andy King’s tenth-minute goal, Leicester became complacent and allowed Gus Poyet’s Seagulls a route back into a game that should have been put beyond them.

Regal: Andy King (right) nets against Brighton

Regal: Andy King (right) nets against Brighton

Match facts

Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet (Moore 56), Morgan, Whitbread, Konchesky, Knockaert, King, Drinkwater, Dyer, Waghorn (Marshall 71), Nugent (Vardy 68). Subs not used: Logan, James, Schlupp, Futacs.

Booked: De Laet.

Goals: King 10.

Brighton: Kuszczak, Saltor, Greer, El-Abd, Bridge, Bridcutt, Dicker (Dobbie 59), Crofts (Hammond 77), Buckley, Barnes, Mackail-Smith. Subs not used: Ankergren, Dunk, Calderon, David Lopez, LuaLua.

Booked: Bridcutt.

Att: 25,726.

Ref: Neil Swarbrick.

Latest Championship results, fixtures and table

And it seemed that Poyet’s team were
about to stop a run of four matches without victory by becoming the
first team this season to earn a point from a trip to the east Midlands.

But Schmeichel had other ideas,
blocking Barnes’s effort as Leicester looked to build on a top spot
gained after last weekend’s draw against Birmingham at St Andrew’s.

But while the Dane did his job at one
end of the field, it was left to King to separate the sides with a
strike that will have left Poyet fuming.

The midfielder’s effort owed a debt to
forward David Nugent. The former Portsmouth forward has looked a
different player since his goal-drought came to an end last month.

The striker, famously capped once for England by Steve McClaren, turned Liam Bridcutt on the left touchline.

Brighton’s defence stood statically on
the edge of the area. With King at his shoulder, Nugent powered
forward, leaving Bridcutt in his wake.

Eventually, one of Poyet’s defenders sensed there might be some danger and Nugent off-loaded the ball to his team-mate.

The first shot by the Wales
international was blocked. The ball bounced untidily back into the
midfielder’s path and he claimed his third goal of the season, rapping
home from close-range.

Top man: Andy King is grabbed by Lloyd dyer and Danny Drinkwater

Top man: Andy King is grabbed by Lloyd dyer and Danny Drinkwater

Martyn Waghorn blazed over at the near
post and then Anthony Knockaert forced Tomasz Kuszczak into a fine stop
after a well-struck drive from distance.

It was too easy for the Foxes and they
lost urgency, allowing Brighton back into the game. They should have
heeded the undoubted warning from boss Nigel Pearson at the interval.

But Zak Whitbread was guilty of a rash
decision in the 52nd minute when he ploughed into Will Buckley as the
Brighton man attempted to reach the byeline.

Ashley Barnes shouldered the responsibility but Schmeichel was equal to the task, saving to his left.

Right-back Ritchie de Laet bravely
threw himself at the rebound, injuring himself in the process, and was
substituted for his trouble.

Leicester almost grabbed a second goal
after a cross from Lloyd Dyer found substitute Jamie Vardy, but his
headed effort was wide.

The Seagulls kept the pressure up, attackingly strongly in the closing ten minutes.
Striker Craig Mackail-Smith came close in the 87th, but his effort was comfortably saved by Schmeichel.

Barnes then fired off a hopeful shot outside the area, but it was to no avail.

Edgar Davids takes part in Barnet training

Davids back in orange… but this is Barnet, not Holland! Legend starts life at League Two basement side

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UPDATED:

13:49 GMT, 12 October 2012

Edgar Davids was all smiles as he took part in his first training session at The Hive as Barnet's new joint head coach on Friday.

The Dutch legend, who had spells with Ajax, Juventus and Barcelona, joined the Football League's bottom club on Thursday night and hopes to also feature as a player within two weeks.

Davids will link up with incumbent manager Mark Robson who has yet to taste victory after 13 games in charge.

Listen up: Edgar Davids (third left) has joined Barnet as joint head coach

Listen up: Edgar Davids (third left) has joined Barnet as joint head coach

Edgar Davids

Edgar Davids

On the ball: Davids is planning on appearing as a player for the club

The 39-year-old has been out of football since a brief playing stint with Crystal Palace in 2010.

Davids
told the club's website: 'I'm happy to explore my possibilities and
share my knowledge and experience with Barnet Football Club. I am very
excited about the challenge ahead.'

Davids

Davids

Tough competitor: Davids is ready to take the football league by storm

Davids first announced the news on Twitter, where he also stated his intention be part of the playing squad at Underhill.

He said: 'Happy to say I will join my local football club Barnet fc as a player/coach.'

Robson was relishing his partnership with Davids, who played 74 times for Holland.

Concentration: Davids is hoping Barnet can benefit from his experience

Concentration: Davids is hoping Barnet can benefit from his experience

Davids

'I am delighted to welcome Edgar to our club,' said Robson. 'His experience as a player throughout his illustrious career will be a massive benefit to all our players and I look forward to forming a strong partnership with him.'

Barnet have struggled under Robson. They sit at the foot of the League Two table, with no wins and just three points from their 11 games this season.

Edgar Davids during training

Edgar Davids with John Oster

In charge: Davids hopes to combine his coaching role with some playing time for Barnet

Robson was placed in charge of Barnet back in June, taking over from Martin Allen, whose short-term contract expired after the Bees stayed up on the last day of last season.

He was put in control of first-team matters as well as aiding the development of academy football at Barnet in what was described as a 'comprehensive transformation of the club's footballing strategy'.
Results have not followed, though, leading the club to turn to Davids.

High profile: Davids is an amazing capture for Barnet

High profile: Davids is an amazing capture for Barnet

Director of football Paul Fairclough said: 'The capture of Davids is a statement of intent by our club to improve results and lay further foundations for the future.

'Edgar is a world renowned footballer and will be a great example to all our young players.'

In a glittering career, Davids won a vast array of silverware including one Champions League title, one UEFA Cup, three Serie A crowns and three in the Dutch Eredivisie.

He first retired from football when his second stint at Ajax ended in 2008, but had a three-month spell at Palace in 2010.

US OPEN 2012: Laura Robson to play Kim Clijsters in round two

Robson sets up second round clash with soon-to-retire Clijsters after routine win

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UPDATED:

05:20 GMT, 28 August 2012

Laura Robson gave herself a shot at ending the illustrious career of former champion Kim Clijsters by overcoming the awkward challenge of American teenager Samantha Crawford early on Friday morning.

Playing a delayed match under the night sky at Flushing Meadows, the 18 year-old Londoner beat one of the few players in the draw younger than her 6-3, 7-6, with the help of her racket frame when facing set point in the second.

Moving forward: Laura Robson beat Samantha Crawford, one year her junior

Moving forward: Laura Robson beat Samantha Crawford, one year her junior

Moving forward: Laura Robson beat Samantha Crawford, one year her junior

Moving forward: Laura Robson beat Samantha Crawford, one year her junior

The rangey Crawford, a 17 year-old qualifier with a ferocious ball strike, powered down a serve at 6-5 in the tiebreak which flew off Robson’s frame way up into the dark but landed just in her opponent’s side of the court. The American failed to nail the smash, which Robson just about prodded back to draw a forehand error.

Sensing an opportunity, Robson stepped it up to win a long rally and then closed it out 8-6 when her opponent hit a forehand into the tramline.

The prize is not only to defend her second round points from twelve months ago but also to get the chance to end the career of the hugely popular Belgian, who is bowing out of the game once this tournament is over. A big show court is sure to be the stage for the match.

Playing on the more modest Court No 4, where Robson twice lost in the last round of qualifying in earlier years, Crawford made life difficult for her by giving no rhythm whatsoever, mixing up blinding winners with constant unforced errors.

After looking too solid in the first set the 18 year-old went 0-3 down in the second before reining back her opponent and taking it to a tiebreak.

Next up: Kim Clijsters, soon to retire, is Robson's next opponent

Next up: Kim Clijsters, soon to retire, is Robson's next opponent

Struggling to read a truncated service action, Crawford was always ahead in the tiebreak before the fortuitous bit of framing that saved her from a tense decider as the match finished in an hour and 44 minutes.

Clijsters was champion here as recently as 2010 and made the second round with a comfortable win over another American teenager, Victoria Duval.

Darren Fletcher not rushed into Manchester United pre-season return, says Sir Alex Ferguson

Fergie in no rush over Fletcher as United star battles to recover from illness

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UPDATED:

18:24 GMT, 3 July 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson admits it is unlikely that injury-hit midfielder Darren Fletcher will return in time for the start of the new season.

Fletcher is battling to save his career at Manchester United having been sidelined since December with ulcerative colitis, a bowel condition.

But after a spell coaching United’s reserves last season in place of Paul Scholes, manager Ferguson is willing to afford the Scotland international all the time he needs on his road to recovery.

Take your time: Darren Fletcher is battling overcome a bowel condition

Take your time: Darren Fletcher is battling overcome a bowel condition

'We'll wait and see,' Ferguson told MUTV, when asked whether the 28-year-old would feature during pre-season.

'The boy's trying very hard to get back to his level. It's not going to be easy but we'll give him every possible chance and see how he does.

Optimistic: United boss Sir Alex Ferguson

Optimistic: United boss Sir Alex Ferguson

'He kept himself active towards the end of last season. He replaced Scholes as the reserve team coach when Scholes decided to come back into the fold.'

Fletcher's last appearance for United came last November when he scored in the 2-2 Champions League draw with Besiktas.

Yet Ferguson remains optimistic that Fletcher will eventually return.

He added: 'Darren’s a terrific lad and we all hope that he can come back soon.'

Winger Antonio Valencia, meanwhile, will wear United’s iconic No 7 shirt next season after the number was vacated by released striker Michael Owen.

Rio Ferdinand lauded the decision, saying on Twitter: 'Antonio Valencia wearing the No7 shirt next season …follows an illustrious group of players to do so! Love it!'

New arrivals Nick Powell and Shinji Kagawa will wear Nos 25 and 26 respectively.

Miami Heat win NBA title

Hot stuff! Miami Heat claim NBA title as legend LeBron wins first title and MVP crown

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UPDATED:

05:36 GMT, 22 June 2012

LeBron James led the way with a triple-double as the Miami Heat completed a 4-1 series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder to secure the NBA title.

The forward racked up 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds as he collected the first title of his illustrious career.

The Heat won 121-106 on the night to wrap up the best-of-seven series with two games to spare.

The Heat is on: Miami finally got their hands on the NBA title with a series win over Oklahoma City Thunder

The Heat is on: Miami finally got their hands on the NBA title with a series win over Oklahoma City Thunder

The Heat is on: Miami finally got their hands on the NBA title with a series win over Oklahoma City Thunder

The Heat is on: Miami finally got their hands on the NBA title with a series win over Oklahoma City Thunder

Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Mike Miller also scored 20 points or more, with Miller hitting seven of eight three-point attempts on his way to a 23-point tally.

Kevin Durant led the beaten Thunder with 32 points, James Harden and Russell Westbrook adding 19 apiece, but the home side were always in control in Florida.

They led 31-26 after the first quarter and pulled out to 59-49 by half-time.

They were more dominant still after half-time, a 16-0 run in the third quarter taking them 25 points ahead at 88-63.

It was 95-71 by the end of the quarter and the fourth was almost a lap of honour for Miami, with James leading the celebrations on the sidelines as the Heat second string played out the closing seconds.

James was a unanimous choice as series MVP, completing a journey of redemption after he was widely criticised following the Heat's loss to the Dallas Mavericks last year.

Net gains: The Thunder showed plenty of spirit but ultimately came up short against the Heat

Net gains: The Thunder showed plenty of spirit but ultimately came up short against the Heat

Net gains: The Thunder showed plenty of spirit but ultimately came up short against the Heat

Net gains: The Thunder showed plenty of spirit but ultimately came up short against the Heat

'It means everything,' he told ESPN. 'This is a dream come true for me, I've been through a lot the last two years but this is definitely the way that it pays off.

'Losing in the finals last year put me back in place. It humbled me a lot and I was able to go back to the basics.

'I just looked at myself in the mirror and said 'you need to be better'. Both on and off the floor, and I'm happy I was able to put myself and our team in a position to win it.'

Speaking in the post-game presentation, he added: 'The only thing that bothered me is that a lot of people said I was a selfish person and a selfish basketball player.

'I strive on being a team player, doing whatever it takes to help this team win – but at the same time, I used it as motivation.

Deserved: The title was LeBron James' first, and he also scooped the MVP award

Deserved: The title was LeBron James' first, and he also scooped the MVP award

Deserved: The title was LeBron James' first, and he also scooped the MVP award by unanimous decision

'I never had to prove anything to anybody, and last year I tried to prove something to everybody. I played with a lot of hate and that's not the way I play the game. I play it with a lot of love and passion, and that's what I got back to this year.'

It was a second title for both Wade, series MVP in the 2006 win as a 20-year-old, and coach Erik Spoelstra, who was an assistant coach on that occasion and stepped up tonight to win his first as head coach.

'There's a lot more pressure, more grey hairs, but this one was so gratifying,' he said. 'We remember last year, we wanted to make up for it.

'We had confidence in what we could do but (we knew) it would be a tough road to get back here and finally get those four wins.'

Finals fever: Fans packed the streets before and after the game decisive game at the American Airlines Arena

Finals fever: Fans packed the streets before and after the game decisive game at the American Airlines Arena

Finals fever: Fans packed the streets before and after the game decisive game at the American Airlines Arena

Wade added: 'Winning the championship in 2006 was amazing but I hadn't been through anything yet. Now, six years after that, I've been through a lot in my personal life and my professional life and this means so much more.

'We made a decision two years ago to become a team. LeBron, Chris (Bosh) and myself, and the other guys, decided to come together.

'I had a role to play, it might have changed a little bit, but at the end of the day we all had one common goal, and that was to become the champions.'

Franchise president Pat Riley said: 'We believe we've built a team that's going to be around for a while, and our goal is to hopefully come back every year.

'You become a team, become a contender, and then one day you might become something special, and that's what we're shooting for.'

He added: 'I want to congratulate OKC (Oklahoma), we hope to see them again and I'm sure that we will.'

Brendan Rodgers opens Liverpool door for Kenny Dalglish

My door is always open to Kenny… New Kop boss Rodgers unfazed by Dalglish

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UPDATED:

08:10 GMT, 5 June 2012

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has underlined his determination not to be daunted by the shadow of illustrious predecessor Kenny Dalglish.

Rodgers succeeded Dalglish last week with some Liverpool supporters doubting whether the Irishman has the experience of the stature to replace Anfield’s most revered player and coach.

But Rodgers said: 'I have the ultimate respect for Kenny Dalglish. My door is always open for Kenny Dalglish. This is his home.

Open door: Brendan Rodgers says he will alwys welcome Kenny Dalglish to his Liverpool 'home'

Open door: Brendan Rodgers says he will alwys welcome Kenny Dalglish to his Liverpool 'home'

'As the chairman said, he is the heart and soul of this club. His love for this club is unrivalled. He is the best player in the history of this club.

'This is a prestigious club and this is a guy who has a wonderful history here and will continue to have a great future in terms of Liverpool. I can’t worry about that. I can’t say anymore about a man I respect.

'The only way you can overcome that is by winning.

'I am not here to win any race or competition.

'But what I know is history judges you as a manager and hopefully in time people will look back at what I have achieved here and I can walk beside these people.

'But there is no way I can try and overtake someone like Kenny Dalglish. All I can do is be myself.'

Rodgers has been received well by the majority of Liverpool fans but he admits he has head dissenting voices.

Kop idol: Rodgers is desperate to prove himself as a success on Merseyside

Kop idol: Rodgers is desperate to prove himself as a success on Merseyside

'I understand that not everybody will want me here but that’s part of the dance,' said the former Swansea boss.

'I know there are three types of supporters at every club.

'Number one is those who, no matter who the manager is, they love their club and they will love their manager whoever it is because Liverpool is their life and their passion and they love their club.

'The second group is supporters who will accept you but to earn their real respect you will have to be successful. That’s fine.

'The third group are the critics and you never change them ever.

'If you win four nil it should have been five, if you win the league you should have won three.

'I will never worry about that group because you can never affect them.'

Bernand Hopkins hands Nathan Cleverly hope after vowing not to quit

Hopkins hands Cleverly hope of summer showdown after refusing to quit

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UPDATED:

08:39 GMT, 1 May 2012

Bernard Hopkins has boosted Nathan Cleverly's hopes of fighting him for the world championship after insisting he will not quit boxing despite his WBC light-heavyweight title defeat to Chad Dawson.

The veteran 47-year-old former two-weight champion – who once vowed to retire at 40 – is refusing to throw in the towel on his illustrious career and is keen to be crowned champion again.

Hopkins, whose record now stands at 52-6 and two draws – lost a majority decision to Dawson last Saturday in Atlantic City.

Not giving up: Bernanrd Hopkins is refusing to quit despite his defeat to Chad Dawson

Not giving up: Bernanrd Hopkins is refusing to quit despite his defeat to Chad Dawson

But he has rebuffed any ideas of calling it quits, leaving the door open for a lucrative summer showdown – possibly in Cardiff – against WBO champion Cleverly.

'I fought hard Saturday night and feel the fight was closer than two of the scores reflected,' said Hopkins, speaking to Sky Sports.

'I might be older, but I don't feel a decline in my skills or abilities in the ring.

Carrying on: Veteran Hopkins insists he loves to fight, handing Nathan Cleverly hope of a summer showdown

Carrying on: Veteran Hopkins insists he loves to fight, handing Nathan Cleverly hope of a summer showdown

'I love to fight and am still competing at a level where boxing cannot deny me the opportunity to succeed.'

Cleverly was forced to abandon his title defence against Robin Krasniqi at the Royal Albert Hall last weekend due to a virus but is keen to eventually test himself against Hopkins.