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Nani unhurt after crash with police car

Nani unhurt after Man United star's Bentley collides with unmarked police car

By
Ian Leonard

PUBLISHED:

11:04 GMT, 16 February 2013

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UPDATED:

11:04 GMT, 16 February 2013

Manchester United winger Nani escaped uninjured after his luxury Bentley was involved in a crash with a police car.

The 26-year-old’s Bentley Continental careered into a central reservation and smashed into bollards after colliding with the unmarked Ford Mondeo, which was responding to a 999 call.

The crash happened around 6.40pm on Friday on Gatley Road, near the junction of Kingsway, in Stockport.

Unhurt: Nani's Bentley Continental collided with an unmarked police car

Unhurt: Nani's Bentley Continental collided with an unmarked police car

The officer who was driving the police car and Nani were unhurt while another officer, who was a passenger in the Mondeo, received minor injuries.

Both vehicles suffered minor damage.

Police have launched an investigation and an officer has been suspended from driving in line with normal procedures.

Witnesses told how Nani, who was dressed in his United training kit, was led away by officers for questioning.

One told the Manchester Evening News: 'I could see the Bentley had gone head-on into the bollards at the traffic lights and the car had been a bit bashed up at the front.

'I wondered who was driving the Bentley and when I had a quick look in the police car Nani was sat there in his training kit.'

'He looked a bit shocked.'

It’s understood The Portuguese star was travelling to his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, at the time of crash.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesperson said: 'At about 6.40pm on Friday, an unmarked police car responding to an emergency call was travelling along Gatley road at the junction with Kingsway, Stockport.

'As the police car entered the junction it collided with a Bentley, Continental.

'The passenger in the police car received minor injuries and only minor damage was caused to both vehicles.

'The police driver has been suspended from driving duties in line with normal procedure.'

Battle: Nani (right) holds off Fulham's Sascha Riether earlier this month

Battle: Nani (right) holds off Fulham's Sascha Riether earlier this month

Crash: Nani's Bentley Continental, like the car above, was involved in the collision (stock image)

Crash: Nani's Bentley Continental, like the car above, was involved in the collision (stock image)

England need destructive Kevin Pietersen of old to beat India – Martin Samuel

Pietersen's 'reintegration' is complete… but now England need to see the destructive, swashbuckling KP of old

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 13 November 2012

There is a sign on the chaotic roundabout at the Panchvati Cross Roads, central Ahmedabad. 'Educated people,' it reads, 'do not blow horn.' The irony would not be lost on those who have come to the state of Gujarat in India this week to witness the reintegration of Kevin Pietersen.

England's most destructive batsman was considered to be doing rather too much horn-blowing during the series with South Africa in the summer. A few raspberries sounded too, mostly in the direction of then captain Andrew Strauss. So Pietersen and his team-mates parted company, and at one stage it looked as if he would be blowing solo from that point.

Then, after a crushingly disappointing World Twenty20 competition – during which England suffered the humiliation of playing badly while Pietersen commented on their performance as a television analyst – came the peace deal brokered by ECB chairman Giles Clarke. Reintegration was the word of the day. Pietersen was back in the fold but only after grievances had been aired, shared and consigned to the past.

Make or break time: Kevin Pietersen will be back in the England team for the first Test against India

Make or break time: Kevin Pietersen will be back in the England team for the first Test against India

It is fitting that today, the eve of the first Test here in Ahmedabad, is also the start of the Hindu new year. Diwali, the festival of lights, passed with many fireworks and explosions on Tuesday. It is to be hoped it was quieter at the Marriott hotel, where England's players are cosily ensconced, friends and comrades once more.

At the Sarder Patel Stadium, in the Motera district by the banks of the imposingly winding Sabarmati River, Pietersen went through his drills in the nets yesterday. As he worked, no hornblower could have drowned out the police chief with the microphone beyond a white wall whose bellowed speech seemed to run to several hundred pages. He was reminding his officers of their duties. There will be some 5,000 of them, marshalling a crowd that is expected to get no bigger than 4,000 on Thursday, pitiful in a 54,000-capacity arena.

The chief ranted, Pietersen ploughed on. Some throwdowns from Ashley Giles, a brief session against Monty Panesar, a monstrous , showy straight drive that flew over the white-sheeted perimeter and made a nasty, metallic clanging noise against something beyond. He is the visitor India wants to see, no doubt of that, and history suggests he will not disappoint.

All action: England's star batsman dives to catch a ball during practice in Ahmedabad on Tuesday

All action: England's star batsman dives to catch a ball during practice in Ahmedabad on Tuesday

Like many of sport's great egos and controversialists, Pietersen is never better than when all eyes are on him. Called up against his native South Africa in 2005, he received a hostile reaction from the home crowd, who jeered his appearance and turned their backs on him when he returned to the pavilion. In the circumstances, his record was remarkable. In six one-day internationals, he scored 454 runs and was named the player of the seven-match series. England lost to South Africa 4-1.

As captain and under pressure after a poor first Test in India, he recovered to score 144 in the rematch. Removed as captain in controversial circumstances, his first Test innings after the decision brought 97 against the West Indies in Jamaica. Nobody would be surprised by a similar score here.

This is touted as a turning wicket and few are shouting the odds for England but there is a different vibe around Pietersen, who will no doubt be looking to redefine the meaning of reintegration.

There are, as ever, all manner of
sub-plots and alternate motivations. For a player who has found the
Indian Premier League so lucrative, a successful tour would be very
welcome; as for England, a cynic might speculate that with New Zealand
next on the agenda it would have been most unfortunate had Pietersen
missed a difficult tour of the subcontinent only to be perceived to
rescue a struggling team against lesser opposition after Christmas. If
England are going down in India – and quite possibly they are – they
will take Pietersen with them. Of course, it would never suit the
narrative of happy families for that to be said.

Hitting back: Pietersen at nets

Hitting back: Pietersen at nets

Hitting back: Pietersen shows off at nets the attacking array of shots that England have desperately missed

Matt Prior, who was the sole member of the England dressing room to reach out to Pietersen in a telephone call at the height of the crisis last summer, was perfectly on-message prior to the Test. Yet much of what he said was also true: for Pietersen's return to be worth the trouble he must have the KP swagger of old. A reintegrated but subdued Pietersen is worse than no Pietersen at all, occupying a place with a shadow of his swashbuckling self.

'We wouldn't want KP to change so much because it is how he is that makes him so special as a player,' said Prior. 'If Kevin suddenly became this shy, introverted character I'd be more worried.

'I want him to go out and express himself as he does. You only have to walk out around India, these guys have seen him play and they can't wait to watch him bat again. Neither can I, to be honest. I'm glad that he's come back the same as he was, because the most important thing is that this group all pulls in the same direction, and to have Kevin pulling with us makes us a far stronger team.

'When does reintegration end You'd better ask whoever came up with that word. I don't really know, to be honest. All that matters to me is where the team are now. We start a Test match tomorrow: so we had better all be reintegrated then. All I can say is what I see. Kevin's in our team, and our squad spirit is as good as it has been since I've been with England. I'm not just saying that because I'm sitting here, either.

'There are certain things we've been doing in our net sessions, our training, our preparation, our thought processes that are very different from other England teams I have travelled with.

Under the microscope: Pietersen speaks with England team director Andy Flower on Tuesday

Under the microscope: The South Africa-born ace speaks with England team director Andy Flower on Tuesday

'It was nice to get on the aeroplane and travel to the subcontinent with so many players who had been here before. What matters now is how we use that experience. If you keep doing what you've been doing, you'll get what you've always got, that's one of the sayings in this team, so it is for us to adapt to this situation quickly.

'I hope we can learn from previous experiences, even from playing badly on other tours, and take what we know now into these matches.

'In tough situations it's the team that wins big games or gets you out of a hole, not one or two individuals. Exceptional individual performances always help but ultimately the group will be stronger than any person.'

He didn't name names. He didn't have to. The reintegration is complete; whether Pietersen is re-educated remains to be seen. They still want him to blow that horn, you see. Just not quite so loudly.

Steven Gerrard backs Raheem Sterling to shine following first England call-up

Liverpool's 'shining light': Gerrard backs whizzkid Sterling to become England regular

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UPDATED:

15:50 GMT, 10 September 2012

Steven Gerrard is backing teenage forward Raheem Sterling to become an England regular after he earned a late call-up for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier with Ukraine at Wembley.

However, England skipper Gerrard does not want too much pressure to be placed on the 17-year-old's shoulders so that he can be allowed to develop as a player.

Sterling is unlikely to feature against Ukraine after being called up along with Southampton captain Adam Lallana and Tottenham midfielder Jake Livermore.

He'll be a star: England's Steven Gerrard (left) has backed his Liverpool teammate Raheem Sterling to become a regular on the international stage after manager Roy Hodgson (right) called him up to the squad

He'll be a star: England's Steven Gerrard (left) has backed his Liverpool teammate Raheem Sterling to become a regular on the international stage after manager Roy Hodgson (right) called him up to the squad

Promotion: Sterling, 17, has previously represented England at Under-19 level

Promotion: Sterling, 17, has previously represented England at Under-19 level

The trio are there as cover in case England suffer any more withdrawals after Theo Walcott was ruled out through illness and Daniel Sturridge is laid low with stomach cramps.

But Gerrard has no doubts that his Reds team-mate will eventually step up on to the international stage as a fully fledged international.

Gerrard said: 'He is a fantastic talent, one of the shining lights at our club this year, even though results haven't been good enough.

'It is great for him to be called up and get a feel for the senior group because it won't be too long before he becomes a regular in this group. He is that good.

'He is a mature 17 year old. There is nothing flash about him at all. He is a quiet kid. He works hard and listens and that is the key when you are that age and a good player.

'If you can listen and take advice from good managers and players, you will keep on progressing and improving.

'He is a breath of fresh air, especially for the older lads, with the pace and excitement he brings. He is a nightmare to mark for defenders.'

Breakthrough: Sterling has impressed for Liverpool in his first few games this season

Breakthrough: Sterling has impressed for Liverpool in his first few games this season

But Gerrard also stressed: 'Let's be patient with him. Let's not force it and expect too much too soon.

'Let it happen naturally and in time we will have a fantastic player for Liverpool and England.

'Of course, a lot more people follow the game, social media, and the impact of the Premier League is world wide. The expectations are high with young kids.

'It is different for the young lads now, there is a lot more pressure on them. It's important the people around them support them and give them the back-up they need.

'Just because you break into an England squad, or played a handful of games for your club, it doesn't mean you are the finished article.

'There is still so much improving and learning for these guys to do.'

Livermore made his England debut against Italy in Berne last month but it is the first call-up for Sterling and Lallana.

Consummate professional: Gerrard (right) was outstanding against Moldova in England's opening World Cup qualifier

Consummate professional: Gerrard (right) was outstanding against Moldova in England's opening World Cup qualifier

England head coach Roy Hodgson said: 'Their early performances for Southampton and Liverpool this year have been very impressive.

'Lallana is a player I've known about and watched even when Southampton were in the Championship because, as a club coach, he has been on the radar of players to watch and possibly attempt to buy.

'It is good he has confirmed what we have already thought, that he is a talent.

'With Raheem, in the past two years he has come on leaps and bounds and in the opening matches he has played this season, the reports on him have been very good.

'I shall make it clear to him that I am not bringing him with a view to necessarily playing him now.

'I'm bringing in more because there might be a time in the future when not only does he feature as a substitute, he might even be breaking his way into the team.'

Gerrard knows England will have to be on top of their game against Ukraine as they look to follow up the 5-0 win in Moldova on Friday with another victory.

Next generation: Hodgson has called up Sterling, Adam Lallana and Jake Livermore into the England squad for the Ukraine match

Next generation: Hodgson has called up Sterling, Adam Lallana and Jake Livermore into the England squad for the Ukraine match

He concedes England were fortunate to win the Euro 2012 clash between the two countries in Donetsk.

Gerrard said: 'We need to build on the Moldova game, try and improve and keep learning. The performance was positive on Friday but tomorrow will be a bigger test.

'They are a group of players who have played together for a long time. Technically they are very good. If you stand-off these players, they can hurt you.

'There were times in the Euros when we gave them too much respect and stood off them and they had a few dangerous opportunities to score.

'Over the 90 minutes they could feel hard done by not to have got at least a point.

'But we won the game, did what we needed to do, and hopefully we can get the same outcome tomorrow.'

Gerrard will win his 98th cap tomorrow tonight and could now reach the 100 mark against San Marino next month in the same match as Ashley Cole, who is currently side-lined with an ankle injury.

He said: 'That would be a nice touch for both of us. But the important focus is to get to the World Cup.

'Individual achievements are always nice along the way but I'm more interested in the points tomorrow night.'

Roy Hodgson must be like Fabio Capello as England play Moldova: Martin Samuel

No mess, no fuss, be just like Capello

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UPDATED:

22:19 GMT, 6 September 2012

Diamond lights. It wasn’t just Glenn Hoddle who got a kick out of them. For the last 20 years or so, the majority of England managers — with a discreet veil drawn over Steve McClaren — have relished visits to iconic ex-Soviet or East European stadiums, like the Zimbru in Chisinau, capital of Moldova.

Give them floodlights, a night game, a running track, a giant radio mast and a noisy main stand populated by large swathes of soldiers and, strangely, English players feel right at home.

This is the tradition Roy Hodgson must maintain, as he begins a campaign he hopes will end in Brazil in 2014. He needs to recreate the no mess, no fuss qualifier of the Fabio Capello or Sven Goran Eriksson eras. England’s foreign coaches were masters of the unfamiliar. Belarus, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, get the job done, grab the first flight out in the dead of night, don’t look back. Capello even returned to Croatia, graveyard of McClaren’s dreams, and took the hosts apart.

Job done: Fabio Capelllo congratulates Theo Walcott after England's 4-1 victory in Zagreb

Job done: Fabio Capelllo congratulates Theo Walcott after England's 4-1 victory in Zagreb

Hoddle is the only England manager to visit this specific region, however. His first game as England manager was in Moldova in 1996, a comfortable 3-0 win made noteworthy by the debut of David Beckham.

Hoddle knew his way around the outer reaches of a World Cup qualifying campaign, too. He won in Georgia and Poland on his way to topping Italy’s group in 1997.

‘When you come to places like this, it’s horses for courses,’ Hoddle once said in the Georgian capital Tblisi, justifying a conservative team selection. ‘No, mate,’ said the gentleman from The Guardian. ‘When you come to places like this, it’s horses for main courses.’

Up and running: Nick Barmby hits the first goal of the Glenn Hoddle era against Moldova

Up and running: Nick Barmby hits the first goal of the Glenn Hoddle era against Moldova

Things have certainly changed in Moldova in 16 years, but the grim realities remain.

The Soviets left this country dirt poor when they pulled out in 1989 and Moldova is still the most impoverished nation in Europe. In sporting terms, it represents the classic awkward away trip. A long flight, an inconsistent pitch and unfamiliar opposition. The only players in the home squad who turn out in leagues beyond the former Russian republics or the Soviet bloc play in Israel and Denmark.

Hodgson has not seen Moldova live but
has studied footage and sent his scout John Marshall, ex-Fulham and a
long-standing FA employee, to watch their friendly against Albania,
which ended 0-0.

Foreign field: The England squad assemble on the Chisinau pitch

Foreign field: The England squad assemble on the Chisinau pitch

England should win comfortably. Even so, Hodgson was loath to presume too much on the eve of the game. It is less than a year since a single Klaas-Jan Huntelaar goal was all that separated Moldova from Holland in Rotterdam. England will expect more, as ever, but Hodgson would probably buy that result now.

The comedian Tony Hawks, watching England beat Moldova 4-0 in 1997, bet his friend Arthur Smith he could beat the entire Moldovan team individually at tennis. He wrote a book about his efforts to track them down and prove this. Hodgson is not quite as adrift in the unknown but nor was he entirely convincing in his knowledge.

‘The danger is that we assume and make judgments on how Moldova will play without seeing them,’ he said. ‘This is another campaign and they may use different players with a new coach. We think we know as much as you’re likely to gather from studying. We know the individuals and the type of player they have, but it’s still work from video. For me, video never compares to what you see yourself. It never gives me the same satisfaction as sitting in the stand. And that I haven’t done.’

Solid start: Roy Hodgson's England must get their World Cup qualifying campaign off on a positive note

Solid start: Roy Hodgson's England must get their World Cup qualifying campaign off on a positive note

Hodgson talked about playing the right way, in other words the winning way. So why did Capello and Eriksson have such success in qualifying matches

Both men identified a clear shape and method and left the players in no doubt of it. This enabled England to adopt a default and resilient winning position in cities as diverse as Minsk and Baku. Clearly, the opposition are inferior here, too. Moldova’s only recent victory of note came against San Marino. It is more the location that leads to uncertainty and it is for Hodgson to demonstrate he is capable of matching Capello’s clarity.

‘We will play a type of football that suits our players,’ said Hodgson. ‘We don’t have a conventional centre forward, so we have to play to our strengths: play to people’s feet, not resort to long-ball tactics. But, if the pitch isn’t particularly good and they pressurise, it might make that type of game difficult.’

It could be a long, hard winter for Hodgson if England shrink under the lights at the Zimbru.

London 2012 Olympics: Great Britain"s fencers flop, Des Kelly

Olympic diary: It's all for one… but none for all as GB's Musketeers flop

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UPDATED:

22:06 GMT, 31 July 2012

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Britain's very own Three Musketeers
made their entrance at the London 2012 Olympics, but to save
time let me skip to the juicy part of the plot. In this story, all the
main characters are written out before the end of Chapter One.

Our nation’s fencers are not household
names. Ask the average person in the street to nominate a British
swordsman and they would probably offer up Russell Brand for different
reasons.

But fame will continue to elude
Richard Kruse, Husayn Rosowsky and James Davies following a trio of premature exits where the host nation’s collective buckle was well and
truly swashed.

An ongoing bid to experience new
sports found me trying to distinguish my coupe lance from my derriere at
the ExCeL Exhibition Centre, also the Games venue for judo, boxing and
other violent events where the presence of a sword would shake up the
contest.

Touche: Richard Kruse lost to Russia's Artur Akhmatkhuzin

Touche: Richard Kruse (left) lost to Russia's Artur Akhmatkhuzin

But in fencing, everyone has a blade,
which is quite common in east London, and battle is waged in four
contest areas marked out in red, green, blue and yellow neon lights.
These are called pistes. Sadly, the fencers do not enter wearing skis,
although it would undoubtedly add to the entertainment. Instead they
duel for family honour, the hand of a fair maiden, or a gold medal. As
the Brits lost early in the competition, I never established which.

To add to the confusion, the official
commands from the referees are in French, such as ‘En garde!’… ‘Allez!’…
and ‘Bidet!’ This might help account for the home nation’s failures,
since it would be quite understandable if the British had to pause and
ask for a translation, only to find that some foreign chappie had
stabbed them in the meantime.

The action certainly happens in a
brilliant blur. Before you have had time to register that a contest is
under way, fencers lunge at one another, blades clatter and lights flash
to indicate someone has been hit in what is called the ‘valid target
area’. In this case it is the torso, not the groin, as is traditional in
most fights.

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Then one competitor whips up his mask, yells something that may or may not be in French, and is awarded a point, while the rest of us squint at three slow-motion replays to find out precisely how and why.

In the old days swordfights would be settled by how many limbs either competitor had left, or by one being inconveniently dead.

But modern fencing is bloodless and all about the technology. The swords are wired and the merest poke or touch (stop me if I’m getting too technical) with the weapon is registered via indicators on the masks and along the stage.

It is as close to being an actual swordfight as the game Operation is to real surgery, although in this case the machine beeps and lights flash when you touch the right place.

The idea is to be the first fencer to reach 15 points or ahead when the three periods lasting three minutes each come to an end. There are subtleties and variations in tactics and one commentator helpfully explained some of them. ‘The trick is to defend well,’ he said. ‘There are two methods, one is the parry to fend off a thrust. And there is also running away. Running away is the safest option if you’re fast.’

I cannot recommend running away highly enough. Unfortunately for Britain, Rosowsky was hobbling on one leg and clearly unable to flee during the first contest of the day.

In the movies, this would be the moment to swing to safety from a chandelier like Errol Flynn. But this was the men’s individual foil at the Olympics and chandeliers had been stupidly omitted from the ExCeL plans.

So the Briton just lay face down on the floor. For a moment I wondered if his Tunisian opponent might have actually stabbed him. It turned out Rosowsky had pulled a hamstring and, while he fought on, the 21-year-old never looked capable of recovering the contest and lost 15-8.

Foiled: Husayn Rosowsky

Foiled: Husayn Rosowsky reflects on a painful defeat

It was a similar story for the vastly more experienced Kruse, a quarter-finalist at Athens in 2004 and triple bronze European bronze medallist. He was resoundingly beaten 15-5 by Artur Akhmatkhuzin, or ‘the Russian’ as he quickly became known.

The dejected Kruse admitted his dream of an Olympic medal was over, that he would retire within a year and had no chance of making Rio in 2016. ‘Not with fencing like that I won’t,’ he sighed. ‘I never got going. I must be getting too old,’ he added, the day after his 29th birthday.

Only Davis could salvage something positive as he went down gallantly to the German four-time world champion Peter Joppich 15-10.

‘We’ll sob about this tonight, mope about a bit and then get on because we’ve got another job to do,’ he said.

He was referring to the second chance Britain’s Three Musketeers will be handed in the team event, but it will take the intervention of D’Artagnan to give this story a happy ending.

Valiant exit: James Davies fell to Germany's Peter Joppich

Valiant exit: James Davies fell to Germany's Peter Joppich

Daily moan

This item was set up to expose the pointless moans that were certain to blight the Games. But aside from the tickets furore, the complaints are few and far between. Even the presumed gridlock has not materialised and on my way to the ExCeL along the notorious Highway there were more vehicles in the Olympic Lane than others. It’s marvellous, isn’t it Now I’m moaning there’s no moaning.

Daily X-ray

There is no point in bringing anything sharp to the fencing — coals to Newcastle and all that. Instead, my trusty Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee spoon set off the scanner alarms, but nobody checked what it was and I was waved through anyway. Luckily, I didn’t have a sword.

David Price takes step towards world title

David ready to be Goliath as Price takes another step towards world title

By
Jeff Powell

PUBLISHED:

21:30 GMT, 21 May 2012

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 21 May 2012

Britain’s next world heavyweight champion is unlikely to be on view at West Ham’s football ground on July 14 when David Haye meets Dereck Chisora in a flurry of controversy.

David Price was pushed back close to midnight by Chelsea’s long, late show in Munich, his latest KO obscured by the blue haze which followed.

But as the smoke cleared from Saturday, the giant Liverpudlian could be seen standing very tall as potentially this country’s best heavyweight since Lennox Lewis.

Price is right: David Price celebrates winning the British and Commonwealth belts

Price is right: David Price celebrates winning the British and Commonwealth belts

Price’s four-round demolition of the usually durable Sam Sexton at Aintree racecourse confirmed his late-developing transition from Olympic bronze-medal amateur to fully weighed-in professional.

Price worked in the finest tradition of the ring. His left jab ramrodded his opponent, while his defensive skills offered little hope of a lucky shot at a chin not as suspect as was first alleged.

He is also fast of hand and has alacrity of movement for such a big man, but carries a punch like a 10-tonne truck careening down a mountain.

Once Sexton had been opened up by the jab, that right came thundering at him in the form of hooks, crosses, and uppercuts until the flickering lights went out.

Hammer blow: Price dominated Sam Sexton over four rounds in Liverpool

Hammer blow: Price dominated Sam Sexton over four rounds in Liverpool

It is no coincidence Price is under the guidance of Frank Maloney, the London promoter who brought Lewis home from Canada and manoeuvred him shrewdly not only to the world title, but on to a period of multi-million-pound dominance over the heavyweight division.

Maloney refused to rush Lewis. Similarly, he encouraged Price to delay turning professional until he had deepened his pool of first-rate amateur experience at the Beijing games.

Now, at 29 and newly crowned by his victory over Sexton as British and Commonwealth champion, Price has 11 knockouts to his credit in a perfect 13-win overture to his pro career.

This is a traditional route to the summit — some hurry-up merchants might say old- fashioned — which brings him to prominence not only ready for the bigger challenges but still fresh. That is a combination as dangerous as his right hand.

Out cold: Sexton had no answer to Price's power last weekend

Out cold: Sexton had no answer to Price's power last weekend

It may be that Tyson Fury, his leading rival among the new wave of British heavyweights but one Price beat in the amateurs, was wise to vacate those British and Commonwealth belts in the hope of getting a world title ahead of him. Nor are Haye or Chisora likely to be in any rush to challenge Price for his domestic title.

Price’s rapid development has been helped by sparring with Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, and there are echoes of the style which has given the Ukrainian brothers a duopoly of the world titles in his upright stance, piston-like jab and swift gear change into smothering defence.

By the time Maloney considers him ready, probably in the middle of next year, the Klitschkos may begin to regret Price becoming a monster of their own creation.

Wayne Rooney pictured gambling and drinking in Las Vegas

Is this time for Roo-lette Wayne's Euro build-up… gambling and a beer in Las Vegas

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UPDATED:

10:43 GMT, 18 May 2012

You can accept Wayne Rooney needs to console himself after Manchester United conceded the Barclays Premier League crown to rivals City… but is this the best preparation for the forthcoming European Championships

While the Germans, Dutch, French and Spanish all meet up for pre-tournament training, England's best player has been spotted hitting the gambling tables and sinking beers in Las Vegas.

Granted, Rooney will sit out the opening two matches in Poland and Ukraine through suspension, but these pictures do little to suggest the United striker is focused on the job this summer.

Gambling man: Rooney - beer in hand - plays the craps at a casino in Las Vegas

Gambling man: Rooney – beer in hand – plays the craps at a casino in Las Vegas

The Dutch met up on Thursday, France meet at their national football centre in Clairefontaine and the Germans have already been in Sardinia.

Meanwhile holders Spain arrive in Austria on Tuesday for their training camp.

And England Well, boss Roy Hodgson cancelled the planned team trip to Malaga – citing the absence of Chelsea players and the triumphant Manchester City needing a rest.

Sin City: Rooney was pictured enjoying a wager before meeting up with the England squad on Wednesday

Sin City: Rooney was pictured enjoying a wager before meeting up with the England squad on Wednesday

Sin City: Rooney was pictured enjoying a wager before meeting up with the England squad next Wednesday

And how best to spend your spare time off then jetting off to the bright lights of Sin City to fritter away your money with a couple of chilled beers

Certainly there's no suggestion that Rooney gambled large sums of money – or even indulged in any hard-drinking debauchery.

Merely it jars that while England's opposition are working hard on their strategy for the summer, our star player is working out whether to stick a load of chips on red or black.

The decisions to be made will be far more testing than that in the battle for European glory.

Wayne's world: Rooney and his United team-mates conceded their premier League crown to rivals City

Wayne's world: Rooney and his United team-mates conceded their Premier League crown to rivals City

Masters 2012: TV gold at Augusta

The Masters is pure TV gold (and green, yellow, pink, purple) as Augusta National bursts into life

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UPDATED:

07:36 GMT, 9 April 2012

Being one of the most exciting competitions in sport is not a bad start, but for those people for whom you'd need a set of bolt cutters to drag them away from the TV coverage of The Masters, there is clearly something other than just the action that is special about the season's first major.

And that would surely have to be the National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia itself.

Theatre: Bubba Watson lets rip with his pink driver at the 18th

Theatre: Bubba Watson lets rip with his pink driver at the 18th

More from Mark Webster…

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It's a unique place that provides a pallet of colours unmatched in any kind of tournament; a vivid mixture of shades of green, bright blue sky, marble white pools of bunkers, rich teak undergrowth – all of which is frequently projected back at us on mirrored sheets of water.

Not only that, but as Sky Sports eminently sage-like commentator Ewen Murray pointed out during the first round on Thursday: 'As the sun comes out it's absolutely fantastic. Flower beds of spectators all over the place. The colours. The noise, because it's all enclosed in these pine trees. It's a very special setting.'

It is indeed picture perfect stuff to fit in the frame of your TV set, often with compositions that those other Masters, of brush and paint, would be proud of.

On day one at the 13th tee, Man In Black Phil Mickelson was set perfectly in cameo against an effervescently verdant landscape with a border of fluttering leaves along the bottom of the screen, tall pines flanking either side, and off in the distance a winding fairway.

If Michelangelo ever enjoyed a quick nine holes before getting back to work on the Sistine Chapel, he might well have had a dabble at this scene.

Pure emotion: Watson bursts into tears after winning The Masters

Pure emotion: Watson bursts into tears after winning The Masters

Of course these pictures are provided by the US host broadcaster, but brought to us here for the outward holes by Sky alone, then for the back 36, in tandem with the BBC.

Which is where, if you have the choice, it gets tough. Do you go Constable, or Gainsborough

Well, clearly it has been Sky's advantage on quantity, with coverage right there whenever the organisers let the broadcaster point a live camera at a golfer.

Supplementing that was their highlights show – Masters Breakfast – from a 'virtual Augusta' – which has been fine for catching up on the action, but with some seriously protractor-and-slide rule chat in between, is one for the serious golf geek.

Not that I'm saying there hasn't been the quality to go with Sky's man hours, though (not least of which, the theme music – James Brown's brilliant big band version of 'Georgia On My Mind').

What a setting: Louis Oosthuizen on the 16th on Sunday

What a setting: Louis Oosthuizen on the 16th on Sunday

In the aforementioned Murray and Bruce Critchley, they have two men who know perfectly well how to get a man round a golf course in one piece.

Also Butch Harmon is their Angelo Dundee for insight into the game – coupled with a face and voice that has also clearly put the hard yards in – while Colin Montgomerie has proved himself a pundit who can really analyse the game from all angles, while also having the lights and shades of speech that make him a natural broadcaster.

All of which was fine and dandy until about 8.25pm on Saturday when Sky launched into a great long promo that screamed they were doing The Masters with bells on…just minutes before Hazel Irvine took a casual stroll down past a gleaming white clapboard house and basically said: 'It's okay. Auntie's here. And we haven't got any ad breaks.'

Ah, ooh, well, so.. it's Peter Allis, and Co.

Wayne Grady chuckled: 'You're good at this, Allis.'

Mr Allis replied: 'Well, I used to play a bit.'

A thing of beauty: The sun starts to set on another thrilling Masters

A thing of beauty: The sun starts to set on another thrilling Masters

And that was it. I was back in. He can at times be given to curmudgeon ('don't know what they're trying to prove but that's ludicrous' he grumbled as a near perfect Justin Rose approach stopped, then rolled gently back into water), but you know he knows golf, you know he loves golf, and you know he knows how to talk golf.

And with Ken Brown in tow like a boundlessly enthusiastic overgrown teenager who gets to prowl the course and expose its hidden secrets (on Sunday evening, with the help of a ruler shoved down the back of his watch and a banana!) as well as Andrew Cotter, you have a formidable team; one that was enhanced even further when Rose – absolutely in tune with what was happening out there – hot-footed it from a fine round to help out in the commentary box for a few holes as the leaders entered the back nine.

The one colour they all want: Watson is presented with the green jacket

The one colour they all want: Watson is presented with the green jacket

And in the end, of course, they all had a fabulous Sunday that rippled with ebbs and flows before finishing with Bubba Watson's tears at the second extra hole.

Yet ultimately it was a day that probably pivoted on Phil Mickelson's triple bogey six on the fourth – the tee shot which drew from Allis a perfect, simple phrase that said it all, with so little.

'Crumbs almighty', he exclaimed. Amen Corner to that.

WEDGIES

Wednesday evening on Dave, and in Suits we discover that three of the basketballs on display in Harvey's office are signed by none other than Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird and Kobe Bryant…

Thursday morning on Sky Sports at the second Test in Sri Lanka, and Sir Ian Botham spots his old mate Allan Lamb in the crowd with another sporting legend. 'He'll be telling Eddie Jordan how it should be done in F1,' says Beefy…

Sunday afternoon on Sky Sports and Gary Neville adds a red nose to Mario Balotelli's red card: 'Whenever I've been to the circus, there's always been some clowns…'

Sunday evening on BBC2, and back at The Masters where Michael Vaughan has swapped cricket bat for mic on post-round interviews. However, a decent knock ends with Vaughan stumped as Tiger points out 'four actually' when he says Woods had won three Masters…

SIX NATIONS 2012: Stuart Lancaster puts final seal on England claims

The house of Stuart! Lancaster puts final seal on his England claims

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 18 March 2012

Whatever happens in the coming days, Stuart Lancaster will never forget the moments immediately after the final whistle at Twickenham on Saturday, when he was overwhelmed by goodwill.

First came the handshakes and back slaps from the players who had delivered such a resoundingly positive footnote to his hands-on job application with a victory which confirmed England’s place as RBS Six Nations runners-up to Wales.

Then came the adulation from the stands as the home supporters gave their own resounding seal of approval following a triumph founded on formidable pack power in the scrum.

Finally, there was an ovation at the after-match dinner as those closest to the inner sanctum offered their own warm tribute.

Try time: Ben Youngs is mobbed after scoring England's second try

Try time: Ben Youngs is mobbed after scoring England's second try

For Lancaster, what will have resonated the most was the seemingly heartfelt affection from the men whom he has shaped into an effective Test team from the wreckage of the World Cup.

And, for someone who had honed his coaching career in the foothills of the sport, away from the bright lights, there was deep satisfaction at having guided his country to a fine win in their own stadium. Even if the RFU decide in their infinite wisdom to pull a rabbit from a hat and appoint another candidate, this occasion will be etched in the memory.

‘For me personally, it was a very special moment to be able to coach England at Twickenham and get a win,’ said Lancaster. ‘In the context of our evolution, to put in a performance like that was fantastic. It was a proud coaching moment.’

The performance in question was one that showed England have developed various methods of winning. This time, on a wet day, there was little of the explosive counter-attacking which characterised their win in Paris, and they did not fall back on charge downs, as they had at Murrayfield and in Rome. This time, the scrum won the day, with one stark statistic summing up the mis-match.

Of 12 penalties conceded by Ireland, nine came from the scrum. They were annihilated by a home unit anchored by Dan Cole and Alex Corbisiero.

Fronting up: Dan Cole (left), Dylan Hartley (centre) and Alex Corbisiero (right)

Fronting up: Dan Cole (left), Dylan Hartley (centre) and Alex Corbisiero (right)

Owen Farrell feasted on the fruits of the forwards’ labours with six penalty kicks and a conversion of the inevitable penalty try, which came just before the hour. Later, Ben Youngs signalled his personal emergence from a period of injury and lost form with an astute tap-and-go try on the left from a close-range penalty which stemmed from yet another scrum demolition.

And at No 8, Ben Morgan delivered another marauding display of ball carrying which earned him man-of-the-match recognition to complete an outstanding first championship campaign.

Lancaster entrusted Morgan and other rookies with the keys to his own future and they repaid him in style over the course of five matches which yielded four wins and a narrow loss at home to Wales.

Without even knowing whether he would have any direct involvement, the coach struck an optimistic note about what lies ahead for the national team, saying: ‘There is so much more to come. There is a pipeline of talented players in the country who sit beneath this, who I’ve worked with over the last few years.’

Despite the agonising near-miss nature of the defeat by Wales, who went on to claim a clean sweep for the third time in eight seasons, Lancaster insisted he had not succumbed to regrets. Instead, he suggested that the long-term building work carried out across the border by Warren Gatland should provide a blueprint for English prosperity, too.

The house of Stuart: Brad Barritt (left) and Tom Croft (right) celebrate with Stuart Lancaster

The house of Stuart: Brad Barritt (left) and Tom Croft (right) celebrate with Stuart Lancaster

‘It was their turn, it was their time,’ he said of the Grand Slam winners. ‘A couple of years ago, they went through a period as a young side where they won two and lost nine, but they kept the faith with the young players and with the coaching team, and they’ve been rewarded for that.

‘They deserve it. I wouldn’t necessarily say we’ve chosen to follow their example, but there is a lot to be gained by giving young players experience if you trust them, and we trust ours.’

For Youngs, this was a step towards redemption after a grim year which began with a bad night in Dublin last March. The Leicester scrum-half came on for Lee Dickson, who had endured a host of early indignities in the rain, and was lively enough and clinical enough with his try to raise hopes that he can rediscover his elusive spark.

All the pent-up angst came out in the celebration when he scored and Youngs said: ‘It meant a lot to me. It’s part of the job in sport that you’re going to have your highs and your lows. I just had to be patient.’

Back with a bang: Youngs put his recent poor form behind him

Back with a bang: Youngs put his recent poor form behind him

England’s players will be awaiting updates on the coaching situation with keen interest.

Youngs summed up their response to Lancaster’s overhaul, saying: ‘Everyone has bought into the cultures and philosophies Stuart, Graham (Rowntree) and Faz (Andy Farrell) have brought in.

‘You work hard for each other, you work hard for yourself to be the best, everyone is pulling their weight.

‘Stuart is really honest and hard-working and the coaching team around him have been fantastic. Everyone will go back to their clubs really excited about when we next meet up. We know we’re heading in the right direction.’

Five months ago, England slunk home to Heathrow after a dismal World Cup. On Saturday, they departed the Twickenham pitch to raucous acclaim.

They have reconnected with the people and restored their own self-esteem. Now it just remains for the RFU to let the man who has initiated the revival to continue his good work.

ENGLAND RATING.jpg

IRELAND RATING.jpg

Edge of the Box: Chris Kamara spices up Carling Cup final

Old Spice Boy Kamara gives Carling Cup coverage the Chris of life

You know, it wasn't always easy like a Sunday morning for Lionel Richie.

Truly. Back when he was a team player as one of The Commodores, life was decidedly more down and dirty, and tunes like 'Machine Gun' and 'Brick House' was how he did his business.

Back in his playing days, when Chris Kamara was also one of a team – and he was, quite a few teams in fact – you could say the same about him.

Chris Kamara

Spice boy: Kamara

All white on the night: Chris Kamara at Wembley for the Carling Cup final

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But just like Lionel did when he went solo, Chris found a distinctly more relaxed way of going about his business when he became one of TV's most fun and insightful football front men.

Nowadays the only thing that anyone need fear from him is the all-guns-blazing shirt he's likely to assault our senses with for the Sunday morning romp through Saturday's highlights, Goals on Sunday on Sky Sports.

However, for Sunday's edition, TV's Mr 'Incredible Jeff' really did pull out all the stops to kick off a great day out at Wembley Stadium; even for those of us enjoying it from in front of the telly with Sky or the BBC's live coverage of the Carling Cup Final.

Playing away from their Isleworth base for the first time, the show opened on the turf that can now finally justify being called 'hallowed'.

Chris's ideally suited (and, indeed,
nicely suited) sidekick Ben Shephard clutched the Carling Cup, and Chris
did keepy uppies with the actual match ball in an appalling white suit
that had not been on that particular patch of north London since 1996.

And to be fair to him, you couldn't fault his touch, especially given the white leather slip-ons he was wearing at the time.

Silky skills: Kamara struts his stuff in front of Ben Shephard at Wembley

Silky skills: Kamara struts his stuff in front of Ben Shephard at Wembley

Dream team: Shephard and Kamara

As we were soon to discover in this extremely well-executed outside broadcast, this was the very ensemble worn by one of the guests for the morning, Jason McAteer, before the Manchester United v Liverpool FA Cup Final of 1996, and something 'that has never been out of the suit carrier since that day when I put it away in tears'.

And I think we can all say as one: and quite right too!

Aside from being nearly drowned out by a low-flying helicopter that was getting some tricky shots of the setting, this edition of Goals On Sunday was the usual slick mix of well-cut highlights, excellent analysis and knowledgeable guests (alongside McAteer were John Aldridge, Jay Bothroyd and Michael Chopra).

Let's get fizzy: The Liverpool players celebrate their big win at Wembley

Let's get fizzy: The Liverpool players celebrate their big win at Wembley

As a bonus we had the chance to look forward to the game with men who had both a professional and emotional investment in the day.

And the way the new stadium was looking on a gloriously sunny Sunday morning, who could wait

Well, given what was happening up the road between Arsenal and Tottenham, I'd guess quite a few of us were sticking with the 5-2 on Sky Sports as Gary Lineker welcomed the BBC audience at 3pm to thee Final show, enticing us with the notion that – with the national side's victory at Twickenham and Nathan Cleverly's title retention – the Welsh were on a hat trick.

This though was later echoed by Sky's commentator, Alan Parry, on their live coverage – at least that's what I assume he meant when he said we could be on the verge 'of a glorious threesome'.

Yes, well. Both the BBC and Sky decided the ideal man for their pre-match pre-recorded interview was Steven Gerrard, with the BBC sitting him down in front of a sepia image of Liverpool managers past for their chat.

Mersey paradise: Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard lifted the Carling Cup

Mersey paradise: Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard lifted the Carling Cup

However Sky must have thought that much too down to earth and instead opted for a glowing, bright, white background that was positively celestial.

Perhaps it was because they had Robbie Fowler as a studio guest

Of course in the end we were treated to a game that had no trouble emerging from the shadow of that earlier classic north London derby.

Indeed, it may end up being remembered as the game that finally helped define the new stadium as football genuinely coming home.

Certainly the weather helped with that, as well as the two sets of fans and the stage management of event.

But the arena itself, captured in some glorious aerial shots as a golden sun began to set, seemed to become a star in itself that day.

Mr BBC: Gary Lineker was steering the Carling Cup ship on terrestrial TV

Mr BBC: Gary Lineker was steering the Carling Cup ship on terrestrial TV

Equally compelling was the camera shot that tracked captain Gerrard and his team-mates up the steps and inside the stadium as they waited briefly, smiling and joking, before returning out into the light to collect their first piece of silverware in an age.

Alan Hansen had earlier sighed wistfully and said 'look at the pitch, look at the weather…I'd love to be out there', and you could see what the usually stoic old campaigner meant.

This was a great Wembley day we'd witnessed – easy!

WEDGIES

Sky Arts on Wednesday, and in First Love Alistair Campbell embarks on indulging one of his early passions – playing the bagpipes. Although the fact he kept them in a claret and blue Burnley FC bag suggests there's something else that competes for his affections…

Thursday on Sky Sports News and Stuart Pearce looks a natural in his first press conference as an England manager, explaining he picked Micah Richards because 'he makes me laugh..'

Also Thursday on Sky Sports and you can tell we're nearing the end of a long road trip as David Lloyd addresses the camera before the first Pakistan England T20 in a shirt he borrowed from a cameraman and a tie he 'hired by the hour' from Nassar Hussain…