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New York Knicks 102-87 Detroit Pistons: Premier League stars old and new flood to glitzy NBA game in London

New York Knicks 102 Detroit Pistons 87: Premier League stars old and new flood to glitzy NBA game in London

By
Laurie Whitwell

PUBLISHED:

22:51 GMT, 17 January 2013

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UPDATED:

00:04 GMT, 18 January 2013

A host of Premier League stars past and present sat courtside as the NBA brought its unique brand of razzamatazz to London tonight.

The New York Knicks beat the Detroit Pistons 102-87 in a regular-season game in front of a sell-out 18,689 crowd at the O2 Arena in North Greenwich.

Thierry Henry was
joined by former team-mates Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira, while QPR’s
Shaun Wright-Phillips, Anton Ferdinand and Armand Traore took a break
from fighting relegation to attend. Darren Bent, out of favour at Aston
Villa, saw some rare action too.

Thierry Henry and film director Spike Lee pose for a photo before the game

Connected: Thierry Henry and film director Spike Lee pose for a photo before the game

Ashley Cole

David Luiz

Donning the hats: Chelsea stars Ashley Cole and David Luiz sit courtside

Clint Dempsey, Jack Butland, Ryan Bertrand, Sylvain Distin, Tim Howard and Marouane Chamakh were all in the stands too.

Ashley Cole was here courtesy of his
friend Dave Hancock, the Knicks’ English director of training and
conditioning who was once physio at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho.

The England left-back proved an
unwelcome spectator however, with loud boos emanating when cameras
projected his image onto the big screen midway through the third period.
Think George Osborne at the Paralympics.

Spurs Clint Dempsey (centre) along with Everton's Tim Howard (left) and Sylvain Distin (right)

Night out: Spurs Clint Dempsey (centre) along with Everton's Tim Howard (left) and Sylvain Distin (right)

Cole kept his capped head bowed, though, and carried on his conversation, ignoring the jeers.

To be fair, Bacary Sagna was also moderately booed when cameras picked him out, so maybe it was simply pantomime season extending into January.

We were treated to Alexandra Burke
singing the national anthem with full X-Factor gusto beforehand as well
as Jake Whitehall and James Cordon shooting free-throws poorly at an
interval.

On the court Carmelo Anthony was once
again the Knicks stand-out performer, scoring a game-high 26 points to
show why he takes home $20million (12m) a year in wages.

Recently retired Fabrice Muamba (centre) enjoys the action

Cheeky grin: Recently retired Fabrice Muamba (centre) enjoys the action

Detroit Pistons (white) attempt a shot in front of the packed stands

Where's the ball gone: Detroit Pistons (white) attempt a shot in front of the packed stands

Aside from the eye-catching
three-pointers, the most memorable moments were Austin Daye’s mid-air
take-out of Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert’s astonishing miss when
striving for a slam dunk.

This is the third time in three years the NBA has come to England in a bid to widen its appeal.

But David Stern, the 70-year-old NBA
commissioner, gave a blunt appraisal of basketball’s chances when asked
if it could ever rival football for popularity. ‘In England Are you
kidding No chance’, he said.

‘We’re trying to work our way up to
somewhere underneath cricket and rugby. We have a wonderful amount of to
learn from the EPL. We met with Richard Scudamore and swapped stories
and the like to get smarter.

Pistons' cheerleaders prove the star pre-match entertainers

Crowd-pleaser: Pistons' cheerleaders prove the star pre-match entertainers

‘We have so much room to improve and
grow by leaps and bounds and then it would be some small fraction of the
love that the British have for football.’

He
did, however, add he was ‘confounded’ by UK Sport’s decision to cut
8.6m funding from British basketball following London 2012.

‘If
I were an enterprise deciding where to invest, I would think of
basketball. Our game is welcoming, inclusive, progressive and very
diverse.’

Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny (right) watches on

Relaxing: Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny (right) watches on

Pistons center Andre Drummond (left) comes in underneath Knicks center Tyson Chandler

Giant leap: Pistons center Andre Drummond (left) comes in underneath New york Knicks center Tyson Chandler

Darren Bent puts his league form behind him to make a public appearance

Day off: Darren Bent puts his league form behind him to make a public appearance


Anton Ferdinand fails to be inconspicuous

Eager beaver: Anton Ferdinand with Alan Hansen peeking from the foreground

Henry explains the basic to Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna

Deep in conversation: Henry explains the basic to Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna

Sagna takes the presenter role as he laps up the attention

Reporter: Sagna takes the presenter role as he laps up the attention

Gareth Bale tweeted a picture of him watching the NBA

What a TV! Gareth Bale tweeted a picture of him watching the NBA

The cheerleaders certainly weren't feeling the chill of the British winter

Not a bad start: The cheerleaders certainly weren't feeling the chill of the British winter

A full-house at the o2 arena watch the third NBA regular-season game in Europe

Get set: A full-house at the o2 arena watch the third NBA regular-season game in Europe

The ref takes a hasty back-step away from the jumping players

Tip off: The ref takes a hasty back-step away from the jumping players

New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony goes inside Pistons Tayshaun Prince

One-on-one: New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony goes inside Pistons Tayshaun Prince

Pistons' Rodney Stuckey (white) attempts a 2-pointer watched by Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire

Slam dunk: Pistons' Rodney Stuckey (white) attempts a 2-pointer watched by Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire

Kincks head coach Mike Woodson reacts to a referee decision

Not just in football: Kincks head coach Mike Woodson reacts to a referee decision

Pablo Prigioni of the Knicks tries to block the shot from Pistons' Will Bynum

Reaching for the basket: Pablo Prigioni of the Knicks tries to block the shot from Pistons' Will Bynum

Pistons' Stuckey shows off some very unfashionable leggings

Tights Pistons' Stuckey shows off some very unfashionable leggings

Knicks point guard Iman Shumpert smiles on his return from injury

No laughing matter: Knicks point guard Iman Shumpert smiles on his return from injury

James Corden and Jack Whitehall demonstrate just why they aren't basketball players

On court: James Corden and Jack Whitehall demonstrate just why they aren't basketball players

James Corden

James Corden

Future pro Corden gives it a go during a break but seems to suffer from the pressure

J.R Smith and Steve Novak of the Knicks have a cheeky barge

Celebration: J.R Smith and Steve Novak of the Knicks have a cheeky barge

Knicks' Carmelo Anthony salutes his fans

World famous: Knicks' Carmelo Anthony salutes his fans

Stoke interested in Bolton midfielder Lee Chung-yong

Pulis turns to South Korean Lee as he bids to add some craft to Stoke midfeld

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 18 December 2012

Stoke are showing interest in Bolton midfielder Lee Chung-yong.

The 24-year-old South Korean has scored three goals in 17 games this season after battling back from injury.

Meanwhile in his homeland, Jeonnam Yeonggwang want Sunderland striker Ji Dong-won. German side Augsburg have also asked for the 21-year-old on loan.

Stoked: Bolton's Lee Chung-yong is being tracked by Premier League Stoke

Stoked: Bolton's Lee Chung-yong is being tracked by Premier League Stoke

Sir Bobby Charlton: Manchester City may have to suffer at Manchester United"s hands

Sir Bobby: This City side have not yet suffered pain at our hands… but they may have to

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

It's the evening of May 14 this year and the occasion is Manchester United's player-of-the-year dinner.

The day before, the club had been beaten to the Barclays Premier League title by the last kick of Manchester City's season.

Sir Bobby Charlton takes the microphone and delivers an address that lifts the mood a little.

Beloved: Manchester United great Sir Bobby Charlton spoke to Sportsmail's Ian Ladyman ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby

Beloved: Manchester United great Sir Bobby Charlton spoke to Sportsmail's Ian Ladyman ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby

'City don't concern me,' said Sir Bobby. 'This is just a blip. We have the tools, the resolve, the determination to come back.

'Having said that, yesterday was horrific. It will take a while before the pain goes away.' It seems only appropriate to ask, then, 199 days later, as we talk in the build-up to the first Manchester derby of the 2012-13 season, whether the pain has indeed gone away.

'Yes, it has,' smiles England's most famous footballer. 'I have got over it but it took a while and it's been tough.

'We are not stupid at our club. They won it. It doesn't matter that it was right at the end of the game. We lost and it was a hard pill to swallow. Yes, it hurt. It hurt a lot. You feel it inside.

'City are a strong team. I don't like to compliment them too much, it doesn't come easily to me, but they have strong players and financially they don't have anything to worry about.

'They have enjoyed it so much being in the limelight. They are still enjoying it. We have just had to cope with it.

'But I have seen strong City teams before in my time. I have seen strong City players: Lee, Bell, Summerbee. You are not telling me that those lads wouldn't be able to take part in the City team now. Of course they would.

'The footballers at City at the moment haven't had the pain yet, have they The current lot haven't had to suffer at the hands of United's results.

'They may have to.'

Gearing up: Manchester City players, including captain Vincent Kompany, were in training on Friday ahead of the derby

Gearing up: Manchester City players, including captain Vincent Kompany, were in training on Friday ahead of the derby

Test: Sir Bobby says he is not too concerned about Manchester City, as Yaya Toure (right), Javi Garcia (centre right), Samir Nasri (centre left) and Mario Balotelli (left) train at Carrington

Test: Sir Bobby says he is not too concerned about Manchester City, as Yaya Toure (right), Javi Garcia (centre right), Samir Nasri (centre left) and Mario Balotelli (left) train at Carrington

Sir Bobby – as they call him at Old Trafford – sits at a table drinking coffee in a meeting room at the headquarters of his charity called 'Find A Better Way'.

We are here to talk about its work finding and removing land mines in war zones such as Bosnia and Cambodia.

And we are here to talk about Sir Bobby's first love, football, too.

Immaculately dressed in a grey blazer, Sir Bobby wears a maroon tie fastened with a perfect knot.

If he did that himself then he should give lessons. Now 75, United's first and most important ambassador plays and looks the part. He always does.

'It's a problem with City for us,
physically, though. They are a physically strong, big team and that
causes us problems. But I am not worried about them'

– Sir Bobby Charlton

As the talk turns to football and, specifically, his beloved United, he knows what is coming.

'It's a game everybody tries to play with me,' he says. 'The one about how long Alex Ferguson will stay. As soon as I finish talking to someone, they always ask it. It doesn't matter who they are.

'How long will he go on for When will he turn it in The answer is that I just don't know. The other clubs are hopeful that it will be soon, no doubt. But he's a genius the way he handles the players and looks after the players. He's unique.

'I go to every match and I'm amazed at the number of times that a player does something that Alex has taught them. These players, they don't forget. Everything Alex tells them, they take it in.

'If I was going out of the trenches he is the one I would want beside me. Nobody else. He has something inside him that everyone else wants.'

Let's get physical: Sir Bobby believes the likes of Vincent Kompany (centre) can provide a problem for them with their physicality

Let's get physical: Sir Bobby believes the likes of Vincent Kompany (above) and Yaya Toure (below) can provide a problem for them with their physicality

Let's get physical: Sir Bobby believes the likes of Toure can provide a problem for them with their physicality

Sir Bobby's relationship with Ferguson – the man he describes as 'my pal' – goes back to the start of the United manager's time at Old Trafford.

Sir Bobby was one of the three-man delegation that drove to Aberdeen in November 1986 to hire him. Sometime soon, though, Ferguson will retire. He will have to. Sir Bobby admits to some apprehension.

'It's something that's got to happen and yes, it will be a problem for us,' he says. 'It's a problem but we'll just have to try to solve it when it happens.'

Understandably, Sir Bobby is reluctant to talk about prospective replacements. The exchange we have about Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho, however, is interesting enough to be reproduced verbatim.

Did some of the things Mourinho do last season affect his chances I can't imagine a Manchester United manager doing some of the things he did.

'No,' says Sir Bobby. 'A United manager wouldn't do that. Mourinho is a really good coach but that's as far as I would go.'

You see some of the arguments he gets into. I can't imagine a United manager being allowed to get away with that.

'I think you are right,' comes the hesitant reply. 'In fact, you are right. I think he pontificates too much for my liking. He's a good manager, though.'

Your current manager likes him, doesn't he

Not yet: Robin van Persie has yet to gel fully with Wayne Rooney, accoring to Sir Bobby

Not yet: Robin van Persie has yet to gel fully with Wayne Rooney, accoring to Sir Bobby

'He doesn't like him too much though.' The last answer is accompanied by a laugh but the point has been made.

During a charity visit to Sarajevo five years ago, Sir Bobby began fully to comprehend the impact that land mines have on communities in countries affected by the fallout of war.

Seeing a football coach explain to children what to do if they suspected there was an explosive device on their pitch convinced him to get involved.

'That soldier was the first one that I saw who was actually trying to do something,' Sir Bobby recalls.

'If he could find a patch of ground and give the kids some coaching, he had to sit them down and tell them what to do if they came anywhere near a mine.

'It's horrific for kids and, of course, the victims. They're coming up to you to say hello. They've lost limbs.'

Sir Bobby's interest grew stronger when he visited projects in Cambodia and Vietnam.

He says: 'I can't tell you how horrific it is when you get close to a load of mines and see them going off. I'm coming back on the plane and I thought, “There must be a better way of doing this”.

'If you had to take all the mines out using current methods it would take you about 1,000 years. It was ridiculous.'

Bouncing back: United were beaten by FC Cluj on Wednesday

Bouncing back: United were beaten by FC Cluj on Wednesday

'I was really sick when Ronaldo left us. He wanted to be the biggest player in the world and didn't think he would get that from Manchester United. He would have, though'

– Sir Bobby on Cristiano Ronaldo

In fact, current estimates say there are 110million active land mines in place across the world. Using current technology, it would cost 19billion and 1,000 years to detect and clear them.

The aim of 'Find A Better Way' is self-explanatory. As well as improving the lives of victims, its primary aim is to find a more effective method of detecting and removing the mines.

'I wanted very much to do something and I was really taken aback when I went to Sarajevo,' he adds.

'It means that because of who I am some politician or whoever may be kind enough to back what we're saying. We've got a fantastic team and everything ready to go to start a process that, if it works, will be unique.'

Currently the charity is funding three research projects at Manchester University and one in Barrow.

Sir Bobby had been to Cumbria the day before our meeting. The encouraging news is that they believe they have developed a prototype probe that will be able to cut detection times by as much as 50 per cent.

This is clearly a space worth watching. Sir Bobby is listed on his Wikipedia page as 'the greatest English player of all time'.

'I don't agree with that,' he says. During the 28 years he has served as a board member at Old Trafford he has seen some players he believes to have been superior. In an interview with a magazine a few years ago, for example, he was asked to put together a team of all-time greats and, along with Moore, Beckenbauer, Platini and Di Stefano, he included former United captain Roy Keane.

'There are certain players that are talismen and when they go on to a football field they take everybody with them,' he explains.

Devastated: Sir Bobby said he was 'sick' when Cristiano Ronaldo left the club for Real Madrid

Devastated: Sir Bobby said he was 'sick' when Cristiano Ronaldo left the club for Real Madrid

'I go to every match and I'm amazed at
the number of times that a player does something that Alex has taught
them. These players, they don't forget. Everything Alex tells them, they
take it in'

– Sir Bobby on Sir Alex Ferguson

'Roy Keane just had that thing. He could change the game with the timing of one tackle. I played with some good players but I think I missed out by not playing with him.'

Keane's days as a player are long gone, of course. As for those current stars Sir Bobby would perhaps like to see back at Old Trafford, one name stands out.

'I was really sick when Ronaldo left us,' he says. 'He wanted to be the biggest player in the world and didn't think he would get that from Manchester United. He would have, though.

'He is scoring goals like I have never seen. He is just sensational. He shoots, he heads, he scores. He does all the things that anybody who loves football would like to see. He's magic. Who knows, maybe we would one day have the opportunity to get him back here.

'We played one game at Chelsea and he scored from 40 yards. The goalkeeper saw the ball from off his foot but it moved about three or four ways and the goalkeeper just couldn't get in position.

'The first thing in his mind when he gets the ball is, “Can I score” He doesn't think, “Can I pass it to somebody else”

'Maybe he would have frustrated me if I had played with him but as long as you are winning you can't criticise him, can you

'When we win at Old Trafford, Alex encourages the directors to go into the dressing room and speak to the players. I sometimes used to go in at that time but there wasn't much I could tell Ronaldo. I just used to say, “Well done”.

'I don't really give the players that much advice but Alex certainly doesn't ban me from doing it. If I say that I may mention something to a particular player he will say, “Yeah, go on”.'

Sir Bobby remains confident that United will regain their title this season.

'Matt Busby used to say to us that if we were six points from the lead at Christmas then we would win the league,' he recalls.

'This time we are not only there before Christmas but we will get better. It makes me confident.'

Despite this, Sir Bobby laments the recent absence of central defender Nemanja Vidic and has some interesting observations on the Wayne Rooney-Robin van Persie partnership.

Diminutive: City aren't all power and pace, as David Silva will look to create chances at the Etihad

Diminutive: City aren't all power and pace, as David Silva will look to create chances at the Etihad

'Our central defence has suffered,' he explains. 'Vidic is the one who controls everybody at the back. We have missed him.

'As for Wayne, somewhere down the line he will really bite the bullet and he will explode, in a good way.

'At the present time he seems to have a tiny thing about playing with Van Persie. The two of them maybe aren't gelling as well as everybody would have liked. But Wayne is a great player and he has everything at his fingertips. Why not go the whole hog and be the very best'

As our chat closes, Sir Bobby offers some general thoughts on English football. He worries about our reputation in the wake of recent events. He also offers little hope about our chances at the next World Cup.

'You can't sit here and say that it looks like we have a great chance, can you' he adds.

'We have to have some physically strong players to cope out there in Brazil and I have to say that I'm not hopeful.

'But I'm like everybody else. I will have been talked into it by the time it comes round.'

On Sunday Sir Bobby will be at the Etihad Stadium to witness the latest event in what has become a remarkable tussle between the two Manchester clubs for supremacy in the Premier League.

Genius: Sir Bobby admits that it will be a problem when Sir Alex Ferguson leaves Old Trafford

Genius: Sir Bobby admits that it will be a problem when Sir Alex Ferguson leaves Old Trafford

I ask him if events across town sometimes look a little chaotic.

'Yeah, that sums it up well,' he says. 'It's hard playing in this league. You need togetherness and that's what we have here. I don't know if others have that. We leave all that to Alex. He looks after it.'

On the field, though, Sir Bobby sees the threat. 'I think we knew they were improving their team,' he adds. 'The ownership of the club meant that at least financially they were going to build a good side. How could they not

'It's a problem with City for us, physically, though. They are a physically strong, big team and that causes us problems. But I am not worried about them.

'I watch us play and sometimes think that other teams have it all on to beat us. It's a hard life in the Premier League and last season was a hard pill to swallow.

'But we will be there at the end. We always are.'

Once quoted as suggesting that City's wealthy owner Sheik Mansour had bought the wrong Manchester club by mistake, it seems appropriate to ask if he really did say that.

Deadpan soon gives way to a smile. 'No, of course I didn't,' he says. 'Well, I might have done.'

To donate to Sir Bobby's charity or to find out more, go to: www.findabetterway.org.uk

On Wayne Rooney: Wayne has yet to gel with Van Persie, but he can be the very best

On Wayne Rooney: Wayne has yet to gel with Van Persie, but he can be the very best

On Jose Mourinho: He's a really good coach, that's as far as I would go

On Jose Mourinho: He's a really good coach, that's as far as I would go

On Cristiano Ronaldo: I was really sick when he left, he's just sensational

On Cristiano Ronaldo: I was really sick when he left, he's just sensational

WHEN CITY RULED MANCHESTER

When Manchester City won the title in 1968, it took rivals United three years and six games before they beat their neighbours again in the league.

In Sir Matt Busby's last match as manager, having taken over as a caretaker after Wilf McGuinness was sacked, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best were all on the scoresheet as United won 4-3 at Maine Road.

But Sir Bobby will be hoping it doesn't take Sir Alex Ferguson's side six matches to topple Roberto Mancini's champions.

August 17, 1968 Man City 0-0 Man Utd

In the first Manchester derby after City won the title – and United the European Cup – 63,052 watched a goalless draw at Maine Road, with the home side's Colin Bell going closest when he hit the post.

March 8, 1969 Man Utd 0-1 Man City

United goalkeeper Alex Stepney clawed out Mike Summerbee's lob but could not stop the forward from tucking in the rebound to give City supporters bragging rights from a win at Old Trafford.

November 15, 1969 Man City 4-0 Man Utd

Two goals from Bell, another from Neil Young and a David Sadler own goal saw City thump Sir Bobby's United side in the mud at Maine Road (below).

No cigar: Sir Bobby played in the 1969 match at Maine Road when United were hammered 4-0

March 28, 1970 Man Utd 1-2 Man City

Brian Kidd equalised for United after Franny Lee had scored from the spot before Mike Doyle smashed in the winner for City from just inside the area.

The blue half of Manchester was able to celebrate again.

December 12, 1970 Man Utd 1-4 Man City

Doylr opened the scoring for City and Lee scored a hat-trick in a match that also saw Glyn Pardoe suffer a broken leg after a tackle from George Best.

May 5, 1971 Man City 3-4 Man Utd

At last… after five attempts United finally beat City, racing into a 4-1 lead thanks to a Best double and goals from Sir Bobby and Law. Lee and Ian Mellor closed the gap but United held on to end a painful run for their fans.

Paul Gascoigne: Sportsmail"s favourite Gazza stories

The good, the bad and the ridiculous – Sportsmail's favourite Gazza stories

PUBLISHED:

11:14 GMT, 22 November 2012

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UPDATED:

12:57 GMT, 22 November 2012

Paul Gascoigne will always have a very special place in the hearts of Tottenham and Lazio fans and with the two squaring up in the Europa League, the former England star has been invited to watch the action in Rome's Olympic Stadium.

It's 20 years since Gazza swapped White Hart Lane for the Italian capital and here, Sportsmail writers and photographers share their favourite memories of one of the best midfielders and brightest characters to have graced the game.

Lazio lad: Paul Gascoigne

Spurred on: Paul Gascoigne

When in Rome: Paul Gascoigne is set to watch two of his former clubs in action in the Europa League

……………………………………………………………………………..

LEE CLAYTON
I went to Botswana with him and I
can’t tell all the stories, but he was brilliant company, dazzled on the
pitch, scored a couple of goals past me and made me wish him all the best.

He once threatened to send me ‘back in a box’ when I approached him for an interview in Portugal a few years back.

But on a trip to Africa in 2006, to
promote the FA’s work abroad (including visiting an orphanage and a
hospital specialising in treatment for children with AIDS ) he was in good form.

In the wild: Our man Lee Clayton with Paul Gascoigne and a couple of friends they met in Botswana

In the wild: Our man Lee Clayton with Paul Gascoigne and a couple of friends they met in Botswana

We parted at Heathrow with a kiss (him, not me) and stayed in touch after.

The kids loved seeing him and so did the cheetahs during a visit to a wildlife centre.

In company, he was fine. He even overcame his hatred for flying. His demons were never far away, but he seemed happy.

He said he had lost his love for English football because it was ‘dull’. He wasn’t dull.

MATT BARLOW
The fondest memories are of those gliding runs and explosions of pace and the trail of bodies he would leave in his wake.

The most shocking memory, the tackle that wiped out his knee in the FA Cup final.

I will never tire of hearing the thousands of (perhaps slightly embellished) stories from his career. Climbing into a tumble dryer at Newcastle and emerging so dizzy he couldn’t stand.

Appearing naked on the front seat beside Dino Zoff when the team bus came out of a tunnel and into daylight.

Emotional: Gascoigne in tears was one of THE images of Italia 90

Emotional: Gascoigne in tears was one of THE images of Italia 90

Covering himself in ketchup and lying beneath Bobby Robson’s balcony at the team hotel during Italia 90.

Or when Matt Holland asked him why he had 'Holland 8' written on the back of his hand and was told it was because he had been told to mark him at corners.

But my favourite memory is when my mate Steve copied his hairdo, around 1990, the one with it
all brushed forward with a little fringe, and unwittingly revealed for
the first time how abnormally large his head actually was. Good old Gazza.

DOMINIC KING
I sadly never covered Everton when Gazza was playing there but I do know several stories about him.

One which springs to mind is when he entertained
a packed restaurant one Sunday afternoon by letting a parrot that had
been bought for him by his erstwhile sidekick Jimmy Fivebellies out of its cage. The squawking was apparently deafening.

As for his football, the goal he scored against Scotland at Euro 96 epitomised his genius. What a crying shame his demons prevented him reaching astral heights.

Thirsty work: Gazza's celebration after scoring against Scotland is also unforgettable

Thirsty work: Gazza's celebration after scoring against Scotland is also unforgettable

CHRIS WHEELER
It was rude and it was wrong, but it
has to be the moment before England’s World Cup qualifier with Norway in
October 1992 when Gazza was asked by NRK network reporter Thor Eggen if he would like to send a message to Norway.

‘Yes,’ replied Gazza. ‘F*** off Norway!’

LAURA WILLIAMSON
I know it’s predictable, but it’s that goal against Scotland at Euro ‘96. I was still at primary school and I remember watching it in awe…and then laughing.

I can appreciate the vision, talent and audacity now, but back then it was the sheer joy of a wonderful sporting moment – and fact Gazza seemed just as happy and excited as me.

GRAHAM CHADWICK
My favourite picture is the one of him and Vinnie Jones taken when Newcastle played Wimbledon at Plough Lane in 1988.

Taken by the great Monte Fresco, it gave me the inspiration to get into sports photography.

Ouch: Vinnie Jones gets to grips with Gazza in one of the most famous photgraphs in football

Ouch: Vinnie Jones gets to grips with Gazza in one of the most famous photgraphs in football

KEVIN QUIGLEY
My personal favourite was when I was working for The People and was sent to do a feature with Gazza and Jimmy Greaves.

They were doing a stand-up Q&A and when I got there Jimmy didn’t really like my idea of a head-to-head picture.

Gazza being Gazza shoved his face up to Greavsie's nose… then said: 'Hope you've got it.'

Really nice guy for such a big star.

What a pair: Gazza and Greavsie were entertainers on and off the pitch

What a pair: Gazza and Greavsie were entertainers on and off the pitch

And finally….Adam Shergold says:

'My favourite Gazza memory will be totally different from the others here – it was the extraordinary six weeks he spent at my club, Boston United, in the summer of 2004.

United were by this time established in the Football League and evidently had ambitions of a kind and a whole load of persuasive power to entice Gascoigne to south Lincolnshire.

After all, Boston hardly has the nightlife he might be used to and is miles from anywhere.

It had been two years since he played in England – at Burnley – and a year since he joined Gansu Tianma in China, purely for the sake of an accompanying ITV documentary I might venture.

No tea party: Gazza had a brief spell at Boston in 2004

No tea party: Gazza had a brief spell at Boston in 2004

He rocked up about a month before the start of the League Two season and, to be fair to the 37-year-old, looked in good shape.

I later heard from friends in and around the club that he was on a strict regime of going to the gym three times a day and subsisted exclusively on Bran Flakes.

With hindsight, he looked too fit – all skin and bone with a pale complexion.

You could kind of tell this wasn't going to be a permanent change of club by the fact Gazza holed himself up in a suite in the New England hotel, rather than look for a property in the area.

Unsurprisingly in such a sleepy town, Gazza was pretty bored. My dad, who works at the nearby Toyota dealership, had the surreal sight of Gazza walking in and asking for a test drive on a new model to pass the time.

On the pitch, it seemed Gazza was knuckling down to the hard graft but his performances, frankly, tallied with those of a faded diamond.

I remember three things – a pre-season match with a youth team from his old club Newcastle in which he sprayed magic 60-yard passes without a second thought, having put another 1,000 on the gate and attracted all the regional news crews to York Street.

Steve Evans, our manager at the time, brought him off the bench in the derby with Lincoln at Sincil Bank – and he immediately put in two pin-point crosses to earn us a 2-2 draw.

And in a game against Chester, he actually avoided a second yellow card by kissing the referee.

But after just four league appearances, Gazza had checked out of the New England, handed back the keys to his hire car and left the club.

Allegedly it was because United wouldn't allow him to appear on 'I'm a Celebrity.'

But it was probably 'I'm a star in a small backwater… get me out of here!'

All in all, a very strange, if exciting, episode.

Lee Westwood watches Golden Hoof win on his phone

Ryder Cup hero Westwood watches Golden Hoof win on debut at Kempton

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UPDATED:

19:47 GMT, 5 November 2012

Golfer Lee Westwood watched his Golden Hoof make a winning debut over hurdles at Kempton via his phone.

His manager Chubby Chandler, who part-owns the four-old-gelding trained by Nicky Henderson, said: ‘Lee’s out in Shanghai at the moment and was watching on his phone.

Debut win: Andrew Tinkler rides Golden Hoof to victory at Kempton

Debut win: Andrew Tinkler rides Golden Hoof to victory at Kempton

‘He (Golden Hoof) is a big baby. Nicky didn’t give us that much encouragement but everything turned out well. It’s terrific fun and we just enjoy the day out.’

Golden Hoof, sent off at 7-2, cruised through much of the race under jockey Andrew Tinkler before scooting clear to beat Rysbrack four and half lengths.

The big disappointment of the race was smart Flat performer Ransom Note who jumped sloppily throughout and eventually finished a well beaten seventh.

Sunderland"s Lee Cattermole signs deal until 2016

Captain Cattermole commits future to Sunderland with new four-year deal

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UPDATED:

09:39 GMT, 29 October 2012

Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole has signed a new three-and-a-half year deal.

The 24-year-old midfielder, who was due to be out of contract at the end of this season, has agreed a deal until 2016.

Cattermole returned to the Sunderland side on Saturday after serving his latest three-match ban for a sending off in the Capital One Cup at MK Dons.

Captain careful Lee Cattermole has signed a new deal at Sunderland

Captain careful Lee Cattermole has signed a new deal at Sunderland

He will play against his former club Middlesbrough on Tuesday night in the same competition.

Cattermole joined Sunderland from Wigan three years ago and was given the armband by Steve Bruce in 2010.

Despite his latest indiscretion, the
former England Under 21 international has kept the captaincy under
Martin O'Neill, who has negotiated and rubber-stamped his latest deal.

Cattermole said: 'I'm absolutely delighted. It feels like it's taken a bit of time
but the gaffer made it clear to me at the end of the season that he
wanted to keep me at the club so it took a bit of time but I'm glad it's
been sorted in the end.

'If you look at our signings in the
summer I think you can see that we have made some big signings and I
think it's the best place for me at the minute.'

Stephen Lee threatens to sue Judd Trump over fix claims

Snooker scandal as Lee 'to sue' Trump over fix claims

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UPDATED:

23:16 GMT, 12 October 2012

Stephen Lee has threatened to sue fellow snooker star Judd Trump for comments he made on Twitter questioning his performance against John Higgins.

Lee went 2-1 up in the Premier League match on Thursday only for Higgins to take three frames in a row and win 4-2.

Judd Trump

Suspended: Stephen Lee

Scandal: Stephen Lee (right) has threatened to sue Judd Trump (left)

The sixth frame went down to the pink and black and Lee had a chance to tie but missed it with the rest, allowing Higgins to win the match.

Lee, 38, has been suspended from the game while there is a probe into unusual betting patterns.

Trump tweeted to more than 90,000 followers questioning Lee’s effort.

Top star: Stephen Lee is ranked No 7 in the world

Top star: Stephen Lee is ranked No 7 in the world

Five-time ranking event winner Lee earlier this month saw the threat of criminal prosecution dropped for a match he played in 2009.

Lee said: ‘If Judd wants to go shouting off like that then I will get my lawyer involved. He obviously has a chip on his shoulder about something.’

Blackpool 1 Huddersfield 3: Terriers up to second

Blackpool 1 Huddersfield 3: Happy return for Grayson lifts Terriers up to second

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UPDATED:

21:03 GMT, 24 September 2012

Simon Grayson returned to Bloomfield Road to scupper Blackpool's chances of moving top of the npower Championship as his Huddersfield side leapfrogged them with their third successive victory.

The Terriers boss, who spent seven years on the Lancashire coast as a player then later a manager, inflicted Blackpool's first home defeat of the season while moving his current team up to second.

Grayson went back to the home of his former employers for the first time since his departure for Leeds in 2008, and it was clear long before Lee Novak's 13th-minute opener that Ian Holloway's men were in for a difficult evening.

Three and easy: Norwood (left) celebrates his strike

Three and easy: Norwood (left) celebrates his strike

MATCH FACTS

Blackpool: Gilks, Eardley (Dicko 78), Baptiste, Evatt, Crainey, Gomes (M Phillips 64), Osbourne, Ferguson (K Phillips 64), Taylor-Fletcher, Delfouneso, Ince.

Subs not used: Halstead, Sylvestre, Martinez, Broadfoot.

Booked: Crainey.

Goal: Taylor-Fletcher 27.

Huddersfield: Smithies, Hunt, Peter Clarke, Gerrard, Dixon, Clayton, Norwood (Woods 85), Southern (Arfield 90), Ward, Novak, Vaughan (Scannell 80).

Subs not used: Bennett, Wallace, Lee, Robinson.

Booked: Vaughan, Dixon, Norwood.

Goals: Novak 13, Vaughan 45, Norwood 48.

Referee: Tony Bates (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 13,886.

Latest Championship table, fixtures and results

A direct approach had troubled
centre-back pairing Alex Baptiste and Ian Evatt from the off so it was
no surprise to see Novak profit from a James Vaughan flick-on to break
the deadlock.

The hosts were back on level terms just 14 minutes later, though, when
the relatively subdued Thomas Ince set up ex-Huddersfield forward Gary
Taylor-Fletcher for the equaliser.

However, Grayson's men found themselves back in front again when Oliver
Norwood's inviting free-kick was headed home by Vaughan.

And Norwood
himself gave Huddersfield a two-goal cushion less than three minutes
after the break with another set-piece which eluded everyone before
flying into the far corner.

Blackpool went into the game having dropped just five points from their
opening six encounters but they failed to seize the initiative on a wet
evening as the visitors took a deserved lead.

Adam Clayton and Daniel Ward had already gone close and the hosts failed
to heed the warning as Vaughan headed the ball into Novak's path and he
coolly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Matt Gilks.

False dawn: Taylor-Fletcher had equalised against his former club

False dawn: Taylor-Fletcher had equalised against his former club

Ince has turned in a series of eye-catching performances to underpin
Blackpool's strong start and he was instrumental in the leveller,
bamboozling Anthony Gerrard before sliding the ball across for
Taylor-Fletcher, who just had to prod home.

Stephen Crainey nearly picked out Nathan Delfouneso moments later as the
Seasiders began to grow into the game, but Grayson's men delivered a
killer blow on the stroke of half-time.

A Norwood free-kick from the right was begging to be thumped home and
Vaughan obliged with a header in front of the stranded Gilks.

Holloway's half-time words were still ringing in his players' ears when
former Manchester United midfielder Norwood curled in a third. The set
piece specialist's centre was aimed towards Vaughan, but the ball evaded
him and Gilks was left grasping air as the ball ended up in his net.

That prompted Blackpool to bring on substitutes Matt and Kevin Phillips,
with the former firing just wide, while Delfouneso should have reduced
the deficit when he blazed wide.

It could have turned into a thrashing, though, had the offside flag not twice denied Vaughan from grabbing his second goal.

But Huddersfield had enough to coast to a victory which will have been
particularly sweet for Grayson, whose Leeds side crashed to a 5-0 home
defeat to Blackpool last season.

Lee Cattermole exclusive: Matured? I think so

Mature Sure… but O'Neill knows he'll never totally calm Captain Cattermole

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UPDATED:

11:40 GMT, 15 September 2012

Has Lee Cattermole matured

'Oh definitely,' says the Sunderland captain. 'On and off the field, although there's work to be done on it.'

Black Cats manager Martin O'Neill had a slightly different take when told of his skipper's response.

'Matured Cattermole will not have grown up when he is 40,' he said. 'I have kept him as my skipper, and I need my head examined.'

O'Neill is only joking, of course. Sort of.

Joy of six: Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole believes he is more mature man on and off the field

Joy of six: Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole believes he is more mature man on and off the field

Helping the 24-year-old grow as player, captain and man is one of O'Neill's many little projects at Sunderland. And he has his own way of doing it.

Cattermole revealed: 'He will say something sarcastic or make a joke among the lads about a booking or challenge and I know he's aiming it at me.

'We have never had a serious one-to-one conversation about it. That is how it has been. So far.'

Curbing the bookings would keep O'Neill at bay. Cattermole has played 76 times for Sunderland and picked up 34 yellow cards and five reds.

Strikers set goal targets in August. So has Cattermole set one for bookings He smiles. 'I might have. I have my aims, hopefully I'll get there.'

O'Neill knows his skipper is a work in process and he wants him to extend the contract which expires this season.

'My acerbic wit has not stopped him from being suspended,' O'Neill said. 'Will he change a great deal Unfortunately not. But I like Cattermole, I do like him.

'And deep down, he is a decent lad, doesn't always show it, but he is. He's done really well for me. I want him to stay and hopefully he feels the same way.'

That affection took time to build after a very different response to O'Neill's first day at the Stadium of Light.

Seeing red: Cattermole has developed an unhealthy reputation as a dirty player in his time at Sunderland

Seeing red: Cattermole has developed an unhealthy reputation as a dirty player in his time at Sunderland

Seeing red: Cattermole has developed an unhealthy reputation as a dirty player in his time at Sunderland

After his lengthy introductions to the media, the new boss went to Bob Paisley's birthplace, Hetton-le-Hole to take in a windswept game where he watched James McClean for the first and last time as a reserve.

Cattermole went out drinking with Nicklas Bendtner, then bounced off a few cars in the shadow of Newcastle's stadium. Months later, he was cautioned and ordered to pay 4,000 for the damage. Not a good start.

'It wasn't a great way to make an impression,' he confessed, after bringing the subject up first. 'It was a mistake. There was a lot going on at the time, a lot of pressure and I handled it in the wrong way.

'I had a little hiccup in Newcastle and from then, I thought, I need to improve here.'

It was not the first time his critics and supporters questioned his right to wear the armband. Two red cards in as many weeks under Steve Bruce, and repeated yellow cards, did not help, but the fans sing his name now.

With typical honesty, Cattermole laughs off the 'being stripped of the captaincy' clich. It has never concerned him, he says, but he can't hide the desire to grow into the role.

'I have never, ever worried about
that. It is something you press guys have said since I was made captain
and with everything I have ever done wrong.

'I
don't want to name names but a lot of other lads get booked or sent off
and no one says anything. But if it is Lee Cattermole it is a big issue
and they say, “he is losing the captaincy”.

Pedigree: Cattermole was highly-regarded during his time as an England youth international

Pedigree: Cattermole was highly-regarded during his time as an England youth international

'When I was made captain I thought I didn't need to change because I was captain for what I am but it is a bigger role than I thought at the time. There is so much more to it goes on behind the scenes.

'When I was a kid at Middlesbrough, we had the best captain ever in Gareth Southgate who was absolutely brilliant. When he came into the gym before training and did his routines, I just looked up to him, wanted to be like him.

'I realise now that is what the kids here are like with me but you don't see that initially. It is great and something I am trying really hard at.

'Gareth is a different character to me completely and he came as captain, in his 30s, played for England, bags of experience. I came here at 21 and it was given to me and I am still learning but I do think I'm getting better.'

Cattermole is at the heart of a
Sunderland side, lifted by the summer arrivals of Steven Fletcher, Louis
Saha, Carlos Cuellar and his old Boro pal Adam Johnson.

The
England winger's defection from champions Manchester City may have
raised eyebrows but Cattermole always felt Johnson would not be able to
resist a return to his home-town club.

He
said: 'I thought we had a chance because Johnno is type of lad who
won't accept sitting on the bench and he is too good for that.

Respect: Former skipper Gareth Southgate

Respect: Former skipper Gareth Southgate

'He's not happy to be just in the City squad. I have known him since he was 11 and he hasn't changed. He wants to be a footballer, he loves it and just wants to play every week. He will absolutely love his time here, which I told him before he came. It is not a backward step but it was still a big ask.

'We have gone for quality rather than quality and it is brilliant the manager, owner and people behind the scenes got them in.'

One of Cattermole's tasks as captain this week is to welcome battered fellow Twitterer James McClean back to the fold.

No doubt tired now of the admonishments, the winger needs to feel loved again ahead of Liverpool's visit to the Stadium of Light on Saturday evening.

'He'll be all right,' said the skipper. 'Three years ago Twitter might have been the worst thing ever for me and I still write something and go “oops, better not send that”. He's got good friends here.

'It's important to remember he didn't have an Academy education and that makes a big difference. You learn so much about respect and wider issues you might be confronted with.'

While McClean was sending expletives, Cattermole was keeping his followers up to date with his golfing prowess.

It is his love of golf which has given him a perspective on the role he can play in the wider football community, particularly as a captain.

Cattermole, who has a four handicap, said: 'I played the Old Course at St Andrews, which was unbelievable. Just to be stood there in front of R&A and coming up 18, where there's loads of tourists taking photos.

'That is what I love about golf, you can go play somewhere where all the greats have played. You can't walk and play on Wembley as a football fan and re-enact 1966 but you can stand on the Road Hole tee and say, “right, I'm going to be Sergio today”. That's unbelievable.

'The main reason I went on Twitter was to look at golfers like Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy and see what they are up to. They'd put course planners up and describe how they wanted to play the holes. I love all that.

'When we were in South Korea in the summer the lads were all on it and, with nothing else to do, I opened an account and the reaction of the fans, and the buzz they got from what I was telling them was the same as I'd get looking at Lee Westwood.

'Sometimes you forget that you are people's hero as well. People do look up to you and I'd forgotten that because, to me, I am just a normal lad.'

Lee Wallace signs new Rangers deal until 2017

Wallace commits future to Ibrox as defender signs new five-year deal

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UPDATED:

15:30 GMT, 14 September 2012

Lee Wallace has signed a new five-year deal with Rangers.

The defender put pen to paper on the long-term contract which ties him to the Ibrox club until the summer of 2017.

The 25-year-old was one of a handful of first-team regulars who opted to remain at the club after Rangers were consigned to liquidation in the summer.

New deal: Lee Wallace has committed his future to Ibrox until 2017

New deal: Lee Wallace has committed his future to Ibrox until 2017