Tag Archives: master

Nikita Korzun scores goal from inside his own half – video

The Belarusian Beckham: Under 18 player scores from inside his own half!

By
Liv Lee

PUBLISHED:

17:55 GMT, 11 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:55 GMT, 11 January 2013

This 17-year-old probably wasn’t expecting to score this kind of goal when he stepped out against Belgium as part of the Belarusian Under 18 team this week.

Nikita Korzun lofted a strike so far over the goalkeeper’s head that he didn’t even bother taking a swipe at it as it sailed into the goal.

The Dinamo Minsk midfielder set his country’s team on their path to victory, and they eventually overcame Belgium 3-0.

Scroll down for video…

Master blaster: Korzun foires home from well inside his own half

Master blaster: Korzun foires home from well inside his own half

It mimics David Beckham’s legendary goal against Wimbledon in 1996, when he spotted goalkeeper Neil Sullivan venturing a little too far off his line and lobbed the ball over his head from the halfway line.

The game between youngsters from Belarus and Belgium was part of the Valentin Granatkin Memorial, a international tournament for youth teams that was started in 1981.

It was created in memory of Valentin Granatkin, the former FIFA vice-president.

VIDEO: Who could forget Beckham's stunner in 1996…

Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook score 22nd centuries: who is England"s greatest ever?

As Cook and Pietersen equal the greats, we ask: who is England's master blaster

PUBLISHED:

22:00 GMT, 30 November 2012

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 30 November 2012

They were different innings that both made history in one of England’s greatest ever Test wins, but in the week that both Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook equalled the England Test record by scoring their 22nd centuries we asked our panel of experts: who is the greatest England batsman of all time and why

Duelling pistols: Cook (left) and Pietersen have both notched 22 Test tons for England

Duelling pistols: Cook (left) and Pietersen have both notched 22 Test tons for England

Duelling pistols: Cook (left) and Pietersen have both notched 22 Test tons for England

Nasser Hussain

Former England captain and Sportsmail columnist

I can't remember the likes of Wally Hammond, Jack Hobbs and Len Hutton so I would like to go on what I’ve seen – and I have to choose Graham Gooch.

I am sure that, statistically, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen will both surpass everyone else – Cook will end up as the greatest in terms of stats and Pietersen will top everyone else in terms of sheer eye-catching brilliance.

But I will go for Gooch on the quality of the bowling he had to face. Think of any great opposition bowler over the last 40 years and Gooch has faced the majority of them – and in most cases scored runs against them – and he was just as good against both fast and spin bowling.

Class act: Gooch played against some of the best bowlers in history

Class act: Gooch played against some of the best bowlers in history

Think of Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Shane Warne, Abdul Qadir, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Sir Richard Hadlee, Glenn McGrath. Even Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in his early days. The list goes on and on and Gooch has mostly walloped them.

What’s more, he loved doing it for England, for Queen and country. You can still see how much England means to him. He’s English through and through.

Lawrence Booth

Sportsmail cricket writer and Wisden editor

History – if not necessarily personal experience – tells you it’s hard to look beyond the three H’s: Jack Hobbs, Wally Hammond and Len Hutton. All averaged in the mid-to-late 50s, and all three played on uncovered pitches, an alien concept to the contemporary cricketer.

Alastair Cook will end up as the leading England runscorer of all time, but they play more Tests these days: he has clocked up 85 in 6 years, while Hobbs managed only 61 in 22.

As for Kevin Pietersen – who, like Cook and Hammond, now has 22 Test hundreds – it’s hard to imagine any England batsman has ever played with his imagination and brass neck. But with his sense of adventure comes a vulnerability.

Ashes hero: Hobbs (centre) escapes a pitch invasion as Australia are beaten at The Oval in 1926

Ashes hero: Hobbs (centre) escapes a pitch invasion as Australia are beaten at The Oval in 1926

Hammond, by all accounts, was a glorious
stylist, especially through the off side, and would have been regarded
as the greatest player in the world had Don Bradman not ruined things.

Hutton was a cussed leader, whose numbers would have been even more impressive had war not intervened.

But Hobbs scored 12 Test hundreds
against Australia alone – a figure Cook and Pietersen would love on
their CVs. If I had to choose an England player to bat all day for my
life, it would be Jack Hobbs.

Standard bearer: Gooch

Standard bearer: Gooch

Paul Newman

Sportsmail cricket correspondent

It’s Graham Gooch for me. Not just for the fact that, for now, he remains England’s leading Test runscorer with 8,900 but also because he kickstarted the modern era of professionalism in English cricket.

He wasn’t everybody’s choice as England captain but, for me, many of the ideas and attitudes that have served the modern England team well first came into being on the 1990 tour of the West Indies under Gooch.

You could not really call Gooch a
natural athlete but towards the twilight of his career he turned himself
into a fitness fanatic to prolong a career which, with his natural
ability and bravery, was as good as any Englishman’s in history. He was
always able to give his all to his county, Essex, as soon as each Test
was over, too.

I cannot excuse Gooch for going on a
rebel tour of South Africa but if he hadn’t done that he would surely
have made more than 10,000 runs by the time he finished. As it is, if
you add his county record, he has scored more runs in all first-class
and one-day cricket than any other Englishman and I know he will be
proud when, not if, his protg Alastair Cook goes past his England
tally.

David Lloyd

Former England batsman, coach and Sportsmail columnist

Kevin Pietersen is the best I have ever seen for England. But, remember, I didn’t see Hammond, Hobbs or Hutton so I can’t compare him to them. KP is the only England player in my time who gets me on the edge of my seat. He is box-office, like the premiere of a good film or a night at the Royal Albert Hall. He is special. Lots of people can play the guitar but there’s only one Eric Clapton and, even though Kevin can play the odd bum note, he’s cricket’s Clapton.

Entertainer: Bumble's vote goes to Pietersen

Entertainer: Bumble's vote goes to Pietersen

We’ve been talking about Ricky Ponting this week and he’s a great player. Then there are others like Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Sir Viv Richards and Rahul Dravid. Well, Pietersen is right up there with them.

Alastair Cook is only 27 and will go on to break all sorts of records but to me he’s like going to the theatre. I can have a wonderful evening and enjoy myself at the theatre but I’d rather go to see the Rolling Stones. KP is rock and roll. The greatest player I’ve ever seen is Sir Garry Sobers, but that’s a different story.

David Silva injured for Manchester City v Ajax

EXCLUSIVE: Silva set to miss City's clash with Ajax with hamstring injury

|

UPDATED:

16:54 GMT, 17 October 2012

Manchester City winger David Silva will have a scan on his injured hamstring on Thursday but is almost certainly out of next Wednesday's crucial Champions League game at Ajax.

Silva, 26, pulled up early in Spain's draw with France on Tuesday and delayed his flight back to Manchester so that he could spend the day receiving ice treatment on his damaged muscle.

But he was due back in England on Wednesday night and will have a scan on Thursday with initial estimates putting his expected absence at two to three weeks.

Limped out: Silva is clearly in pain after suffering an injury during Spain's clash with France

Limped out: Silva is clearly in pain after suffering an injury during Spain's clash with France

If his comeback is delayed, he could miss both Ajax games, with the return leg at home on November 6.

City's two league fixtures during this time are away to West Brom and at home to Swansea.

Two other key players are currently injured, Brazilian full back Maicon and midfielder Javi Garcia.

Game over: Silva wasn't able to carry on after just 10 minutes of the World Cup qualifier

Game over: Silva wasn't able to carry on after just 10 minutes of the World Cup qualifier

Silva has missed just one match for City so far this season after he was rested for the Carling Cup clash with Aston Villa.

His injury came on a frustrating
night for the defending champions who saw their slender lead cancelled
out deep into stoppage time by Arsenal; striker Olivier Giroud.

Game over: Silva wasn't able to carry on after just 10 minutes of the World Cup qualifier

Cesc Fabregas also missed a penalty – saved by Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

The draw means that both sides remain locked together at the top of Group I with seven points from three games.

Midfield master: Silva's absence will be keenly felt at the heart of the City side

Midfield master: Silva's absence will be keenly felt at the heart of the City side

West Indies win World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka

West Indies battle to glorious win over hosts Sri Lanka to win World Twenty20 title

|

UPDATED:

17:08 GMT, 7 October 2012

Marlon Samuels inspired a West Indies fightback from the brink to deny Sri Lanka a home win and triumph themselves instead in the ICC World Twenty20 final.

Samuels' memorable 78 revived the Windies, after it appeared they had fluffed their lines terminally, on the way to an improbable 36-run victory at the Premadasa Stadium.

In a showpiece match which saw the majority of bowlers excel themselves, and almost all the batsmen stumble on centre stage, Samuels bucked the trend emphatically with a 56-ball innings containing six sixes and three fours on a fair pitch. How the West Indies needed him, though, after an embarrassing false start to their innings in which master blaster Chris Gayle could make only three from 16 balls.

On top of the world: West Indies players celebrate after winning the World Twenty20 final

On top of the world: West Indies players celebrate after winning the World Twenty20 final

We've only gone and done it: Dwayne Bravo celebrates as he holds a catch to clinch victory for the West Indies

We've only gone and done it: Dwayne Bravo celebrates as he holds a catch to clinch victory for the West Indies

Even after Samuels had transformed
proceedings, it seemed West Indies had almost certainly fallen short of a
winning score with their 137 for six. But it was to be Sri Lanka who
truly froze as what appeared a near routine chase featured a mid-innings
collapse of six wickets for 21 runs – for a final product of 101 all
out in the 19th over, and just the Windies' second International Cricket
Council global trophy since the 1979 World Cup.

But the match had started ominously
badly for them. Their famed big-hitters were simply nowhere to be seen
for the first half of their innings, as initial caution went to extremes
– and Ajantha Mendis (four for 12) took most advantage.

Delight: Sunil Narine celebrates with teammates after the run out of Jeevan Mendis

Delight: Sunil Narine celebrates with teammates after the run out of Jeevan Mendis

Angelo Mathews and Nuwan Kulasekera
used the new ball well, but it was still bizarre that the West Indies
should take until the fifth over to reach double-figures.

Their achingly slow start was under
way with four dot-balls from Mathews to Johnson Charles, who reacted to
the fifth by mistiming a catch to mid-off. After that wicket-maiden –
number three Samuels let the sixth ball, his first, go – there was not a
run on the board until Kulasekera bowled a wide halfway through the
second over.

All smiles: Denesh Ramdin celebrates with Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle after running out Thisara Perera

All smiles: Denesh Ramdin celebrates with Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle after running out Thisara Perera

Around 40 was probably par in
powerplay. But after Gayle took nine balls to get off the mark, with a
scampered single to mid-off – and was eventually lbw pushing forward to
Ajantha – the Windies could muster only 14 for two in their first six
overs.

They had a solitary boundary at that
point, punched past cover by Samuels off Kulasekera. It was not until
the 12th over, after Kulasekera had dropped Samuels at long-off on 20
off Jeevan Mendis, that birthday boy Dwayne Bravo added a first six to
go with the four – over midwicket off Akila Dananjaya.

Hitting out: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene batting in Colombo

Hitting out: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene batting in Colombo

But Samuels clubbed consecutive sixes
off the returning Lasith Malinga, over midwicket and extra-cover, and
then a third in the over, beyond long-on. The 13th over therefore cost
21 runs.

Bravo was to go to lbw, even though
bat might have been involved, pushing forward to Ajantha to end a
third-wicket stand of 59. Yet when Samuels brought up his 50 with his
fourth six, over long-on off Jeevan, West Indies were at last striking
to their potential.

Bowled: Tillakaratne Dilshan loses his wicket in Colombo

Bowled: Tillakaratne Dilshan loses his wicket in Colombo

It seemed too much had been left too
late, though, an impression underlined after Ajantha put himself on a
hat-trick – Kieron Pollard cutting, and well-held at backward point, and
Andre Russell lbw sweeping.

Samuels was eventually sixth out,
caught in the leg-side deep off Dananjaya, but captain Darren Sammy gave
his team a late lift by taking 16 off Kulasekera's final over. That
feelgood continued for the Windies when Ravi Rampaul produced an
excellent first delivery, knocking out Tillekeratne Dilshan's off-stump
to see him off for a duck.

Cheer we go: Sri Lankan bowler Ajantha Mendis celebrates after taking the wicket of West Indies batsman Andre Russell

Cheer we go: Sri Lankan bowler Ajantha Mendis celebrates after taking the wicket of West Indies batsman Andre Russell

The early breakthrough was a
necessary starting point for Sammy's men, but scoreboard pressure
appeared minimal while home captain Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar
Sangakkara were sharing a second-wicket stand of 42.

Not until Sangakkara picked out deep
midwicket with a pull at Samuel Badree did the Sri Lanka wobble kick in.
Mathews somehow managed to be bowled round his legs, off-stump, trying
to sweep Sammy.

Having a go: Kieron Pollard in batting action for the West Indies

Having a go: Kieron Pollard in batting action for the West Indies

The lynchpin himself, Jayawardene,
had already been dropped twice but could not make it count when he
reverse-swept Sunil Narine into Sammy's hands. Then the collapse went
into overdrive as Jeevan and then Thisara Perera were both haplessly
run-out.

There was no way back – despite some
late hitting from Kulasekera – after Lahiru Thirimanne, the last
specialist batsman, also bowed to the pressure by holing out in the
deep. A shell-shocked home crowd of 35,000 capacity had assembled to
cheer Sri Lanka all the way to their first 'World Cup' success since
1996.

Instead, they witnessed the
unlikeliest of denouements as West Indies got their hands on some
silverware to add at last to the Champions Trophy of 2004.

Showpiece: Sri Lanka face West Indies in the final

Showpiece: Sri Lanka face West Indies in the final

Hair we go: Sri Lankan fans cheer on their side at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo

Hair we go: Sri Lankan fans cheer on their side at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo

What England need to do to beat West Indies: Nasser Hussain

England expects: How to get on top of West Indies

|

UPDATED:

21:44 GMT, 26 September 2012

Blow out Gayle early

West Indies opener Chris Gayle is a match-winner who could take the game away by smashing the bowlers as no-one else really can. England may remember how Steven Finn got him out pulling a short ball to deep fine leg when these teams met in the Twenty20 at Trent Bridge last summer and open with his pace, and use Graeme Swann’s off-spin at the other end. It can’t be easy pulling Finn with that big heavy bat that Gayle uses and Swann could bring slip and lbw into play because Gayle likes to have a look for an over before he goes on the attack.

Master blaster: Chris Gayle is a very destructive batsman

Master blaster: Chris Gayle is a very destructive batsman

Solve the mystery

England were able to pick ‘mystery spinner’ Sunil Narine in the third Test in the summer but on these pitches in the shorter game he is a different proposition. We have noticed that the position of his thumb is different for his off-spinner than the one that turns away from the right-hander and if England can pick that then they can use their feet and get to the pitch of the ball. But if they don’t know which way it is going to turn, the much-maligned sweep could become a valuable asset.

Work it out: Sunil Narine can be a threat with his mystery spin

Work it out: Sunil Narine can be a threat with his mystery spin

Read the conditions

Stuart Broad's side did not read the conditions quite right in Colombo because even though the pitch for the India match was a little drier, they decided not to play a second spinner against India. This time they have to forget about the opposition, look at the surface and if they think it will turn, then bring Samit Patel back. Indications are that the pitches at Pallekele will be true and the ball should come on to the bat which will suit England. Forget India, the tournament starts now for Broad and his men.

Read it right: Stuart Broad needs to understand the conditions

Read it right: Stuart Broad needs to understand the conditions

Manchester United ban players from driving Chevrolet sports cars

Fergie car ban! United boss puts his foot down on young players

|

UPDATED:

21:51 GMT, 27 August 2012

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has banned the club's young stars from driving flashy sports cars from new sponsors Chevrolet.

United recently signed a multi-million-pound deal with the American car giant, who will become the name on the club's shirts from the start of the 2014-15 season.

Ban: The Manchester Untied boss has put his foot down on young players

Ban: The Manchester Untied boss has put his foot down on young players

As a gesture of goodwill, Chevrolet immediately offered United's first-team stars a choice of luxury cars and understandably many of the club's big names plumped for iconic Corvettes.

Stalled: United's youngsters won't be driving one of these

Stalled: United's youngsters won't be driving one of these

However, Sportsmail understands Ferguson immediately intervened and decreed that no player under the age of 23 – no matter their standing in the team – should be allowed to order a sporty model.

This means players such as young striker Danny Welbeck, 21, and defenders Phil Jones, 20, Chris Smalling, 22, and Rafael, 22, will be banned from driving anything not approved by Ferguson.

The move is a classic case of Ferguson – the master man-manager – ensuring his young stars don't get too big for their boots.

Ferguson has always been hot on matters such as this.

Two years ago, for example, it emerged he told players in the club's youth squads they were not allowed to wear coloured football boots.

Last night a United spokesperson confirmed: 'As with most automotive partnerships, Chevrolet will be offering players a car. The model will be dependent on their time at the club and driving experience.'

Brendan Rodgers has Jose Mourinho to thank after completing Nuri Sahin deal

Liverpool boss Rodgers has mentor Mourinho to thank after completing Sahin deal

|

UPDATED:

20:36 GMT, 25 August 2012

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has
admitted turning to his mentor Jose Mourinho to try to bring the
feelgood factor back to Anfield.

Rodgers, whose new side were thumped
3-0 at West Brom last weekend, will have new loan signing Nuri Sahin
from Real Madrid watching from the stands against Manchester City,
with the 23-year-old Turkish international brought in to add a touch of
fantasy football and quality to misfiring Liverpool.

Rodgers pipped Arsenal for Sahin’s
signature after discussions with Real Madrid boss Mourinho, who was the
Chelsea manager when Rodgers began his coaching career there.

Star quality: Brendan Rodgers is sure Sahin will improve his side

Star quality: Brendan Rodgers is sure Sahin will improve his side

‘Jose has been fantastic in talking about his qualities and strengths,’ said Rodgers. ‘It’s a great opportunity to bring in a top technician.

‘For me it’s important players can technically participate in the game. I’ve got some outstanding players here but this guy has got experience as well for a young player of 23.

‘He’s a master technician and that’s something important, that I’ve got players who can cope with the game.’

Sahin, who has 31 caps and was voted the Bundesliga Player of the Year with Dortmund two seasons ago, turned down the chance of Champions League football at Arsenal to be at Liverpool.

‘When we knew of his availability, our task was to wrestle away the momentum of him joining Arsenal,’ added Rodgers.

‘As you can imagine that’s very difficult because Arsenal are a wonderful club and play a style of football suited to his qualities. But we’ve been able to persuade him to come here. He’s a very clever guy, he’s done a lot of homework on myself as a manager and the club itself.

‘I promise players three things. The first is my communication. I won’t bluff players, I’ll be totally honest and open with them.

‘The second is that they’ll become better, that the quality of work will improve them as players. And thirdly I promise ambition. I want to be the very very best I possibly can. I grew from nothing into something through sheer ambition and work and determination.’

Sahin’s arrival will hasten the departure of Jay Spearing to Bolton on loan while Scotland international Charlie Adam is also available at 5million though the player has said he wants to stay and fight for his place at Anfield.

Luis Suarez and Steve Gerrard will return to face City after missing the midweek Europa League win against Hearts.

Ironically, City manager Roberto Mancini once tried to appoint Rodgers as his No2 when he was out the game having been sacked by Reading.

‘I got a call and there was a possibility about going to Manchester City and flew to Milan to meet Roberto,’ said Rodgers.

‘They were excited about what was happening there but then all of a sudden I got the opportunity to go to Swansea so to be the No1. Irrespective of money and whatever contract, being the manager at a great club like Swansea was always going to be too good to turn down.’

Arsenal stars Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain enjoy Kung Fu lessons

Everybody was kung-fu fighting… Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain given special lessons as Arsenal make friends in China

|

UPDATED:

08:16 GMT, 26 July 2012

Things are changing at the Bank of England club, it seems.

While their major rivals Manchester United, Chelsea and the others have been making their faraway summer tours for many years, it's a relatively new thing for Arsenal.

But they seem to be enjoying themselves in China, judging by these pictures.

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott

Kung Fu Fighting: Theo Walcott was given special lessons in Beijing on Thursday

With the whole sporting world turning
its attentions to London for the Olympics, Arsene Wenger and his men
are in Beijing, which hosted the Games so memorably four years ago.

And youngsters Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott were given lessons in traditional Kung Fu.

Be careful, lads: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott were given a lesson by traditional Kung Fu Master Zhang Yuxan

Be careful, lads: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott were given a lesson by traditional Kung Fu Master Zhang Yuxan

Well done, lads: Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott with Zhang Yuxan

Well done, lads: Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott with Zhang Yuxan

Zhang
Yuxan, a traditional Kung Fu Master, put the pair through their paces. They looked happy enough, but I think it's fair to say they
should probably stick to football.

A number of players also attended a special football clinic for young children in the Chinese capital on Thursday.

On Friday, Arsenal play Premier League champions Manchester City at the Birds Nest.

This is how you do it: Alex Song attends an Emirates Soccer Clinic in Beijing

This is how you do it: Alex Song attends an Emirates Soccer Clinic in Beijing

Thomas Vermaelen can't wait to play
at the stadium, telling the club's official website: 'Four years ago I
was in China for the Olympics with the Belgian national team.

'We
travelled all over the country, not just Beijing, and it was the first
time I had been to the country. We had a great tournament too and almost
won a medal.

Nice save, Wojciech: Szczesny in action amid the skyscrapers of Beijing

Nice save, Wojciech: Szczesny in action amid the skyscrapers of Beijing

'We didn't
play in the Bird's Nest, but I went to the stadium to watch the
athletics, and it was a great experience.

'It looks fantastic, and I
think the atmosphere will be.'

Doing their bit: Thomas Vermaelen, Alex Song, Wojciech Szczesny and Mikel Arteta with some delighted children

Doing their bit: Thomas Vermaelen, Alex Song, Wojciech Szczesny and Mikel Arteta with some delighted children

Arsenal"s Thomas Vermaelen becomes Shaolin warrior

Shaolin soccer! Vermaelen takes up Chinese art as Arsenal prepare for far East tour

|

UPDATED:

10:22 GMT, 18 July 2012

Just when you thought you had seen everything in pre-season, Arsenal look to have taken it a step further.

In an effort to combat a leaky defence that conceded 49 goals in the Premier League last season, the club seem to have dabbled in the arts of Shaolin – with Thomas Vermaelen leading the way.

Scroll down for video

Arsenal's new third kit Thomas Vermaelen poses as a Chinese warrior

Arsenal's new third kit Thomas Vermaelen poses as a Chinese warrior

The defender, fully clothed in the attire, looked a natural learning the discipline which is enough to make any striker worried about facing the centre-back next season.

But fans concerned that becoming a Chinese warrior is taking defensive duties a bit too far can relax as the art is only a tribute to Arsenal’s fans in the Far East.

Chinese supporters greeted the Gunners team on a pre-season tour last year by unveiling a banner with the Belgian dressed as a warrior.

In focus: Vermaelen was dressed as a warrior to pay tribute to fans in China

In focus: Vermaelen was dressed as a warrior to pay tribute to fans in China

In focus: Vermaelen was dressed as a warrior to pay tribute to fans in China

Under the tutelage of Shaolin Kung Fu master Shifu Shi Yan Kun, Vermaelen is (with the assistance of some creative editing) captured completing a range of traditional moves that are intended to reflect his style of play on the pitch.

Vermaelen, who liked the supporters' artwork of him so much he asked to take the banner home with him, said: ‘The welcome we had on tour last year was just amazing.

‘Those banners of us all as ancient warriors – and the work that must have gone into making them – summed up the dedication of the fans we met all over.

‘Making this video, and learning some of the moves from Shifu Shi Yan Kun was just a small way to try and thank them for that, and to get supporters ready for our return next week.’

Arsenal will return to China when they face Manchester City on June 27 inside Beijing’s Bird’s nest Stadium.

Wimbledon 2012: Martin Samuel – Andy Murray lost to a master of the universe

Murray lost to a master of the universe, the tennis equivalent of Pele or Ali…

|

UPDATED:

21:53 GMT, 8 July 2012

He did not lose because he choked. He did not lose because he moaned. He did not surrender to injury, or mislay his focus under the incredible weight of history bearing down.

Andy Murray, the first Briton to contest a men’s singles final at Wimbledon since 1938, was beaten due to a factor entirely beyond his control. He was defeated by a piece of paper. It is an official document, this sheet, nondescript and formulaic and issued by a local registry office or the General Register Office of Scotland.

Yet it places the birth date of Andrew Barron Murray – the middle translates from Old English as ‘young warrior’ – smack dab at the heart of what most acknowledge as the pinnacle of achievement in his chosen sport.

Sealed with a kiss: Federer is a master of his art

Sealed with a kiss: Federer is a master of his art

There is no misty-eyed golden era to remember in tennis. The golden years are now. It is Murray’s misfortune to have as contemporaries men who would have bestrode any other time like Colossus. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic.

There have been great players before them, great contests, too. Has tennis ever been more glamorous than it was three decades ago No, but it has never been as good as now. And along comes Murray, the greatest British player of the post-war years, and blocking his path is a superhuman triumvirate.

It does not matter if Nadal is knocked out early, Federer removes Djokovic, or vice versa.

As long as one of the three remain in a tournament, the challenge for Murray is mountainous.

So it proved on Sunday. He did not even lose because he was not good enough. He almost certainly is good enough. He just isn’t good enough now.

Murray has learned to be philosophical about his poor timing. He says competing with Federer, Nadal and Djokovic has made him a better player. Rather this than play in an era of weak competition. Yet how frustrating must it be, on days like this

The 2012 final was regarded as Murray’s greatest chance of winning Wimbledon and, as he remarked drily after it had all ended in tears, in his way was a man whose victory restored him to the status of No 1 in the world and gave him his seventh Wimbledon men’s title.

False dawn: Many expected Murray to beat Federer

False dawn: Many expected Murray to beat Federer

False dawn: Many expected Murray to beat Federer

TWITTER VERDICT

‘Hats off to Murray for a great fight. But we saw why Fed is the #GOAT (Greatest of all time)’ – 14-time major golf champion Tiger Woods.

‘@andy_murray did himself, his family and his nation proud today. Played like a champ. His time will come for sure!’ — Ryder Cup golfer Rory McIlroy.

‘:( so gutted for Andy. I don’t know about you guys but I’m crying’ – fellow British tennis player Laura Robson.

‘Tut – who on earth would cry at a sporting ceremony! Well done Andy Murray – did us proud before during and indeed after’ – four-time Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent, no stranger to tears.

‘Federer, all hail,7th Wimbledon championship. Andy Murray,you are a champion in my eyes, one day mate it will be you. #riseandriseagain’ – actor Russell Crowe.

‘As it turns out, with that speech Andy Murray today has won more than any Wimbledon title is worth. He has won the hearts of the Country’ – broadcaster Eamonn Holmes.

‘Hard luck to Andy Murray. He’ll get there eventually and it’ll be all the sweeter when he does’ – Olympic cyclist and fellow Scot Sir Chris Hoy.

‘Well done @andy_murray no disgrace losing to the best that ever played tennis….great final to have been present at’ – Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.

Some lucky break that was. Some pushover.

‘We’re talking about one of the greatest athletes of all time here,’ said Murray. ‘We’ve got to put it in context. If that’s my best chance, well…’

He tailed off. We knew what he was thinking. How long How long must he wait for Federer’s star to wane And what will be left for him then

Wasn’t fatherhood supposed to sap Federer’s strength, divert his attention He had twins, for heaven’s sake. There they sat on the ledge of the players’ box, watching their dad parade his trophy. Twins are nature’s way of stopping you thinking straight, except Federer’s thought patterns just got stronger as the match wore on.

His shot selection, his tactical decisions, his phenomenal ability to cope with the big points, the big moments, all improved with time.

Murray was at his best at the start, Federer by the end. After the roof had closed due to another downpour, he was simply stunning.

Murray could not live with him, as Djokovic couldn’t in the semi-final. As an athlete he deserves comparison with the masters of the universe: Muhammad Ali or Pele. We will tell our grandchildren that we saw him; maybe Murray will, too. Once he can stop crying. His tears will endear him to many, alienate him further from some. The crowd on Centre Court lapped them up, and quite a few joined him.

The moment he told Sue Barker, ‘I’m getting closer,’ with a crack in his voice it was obvious what would follow.

Murray failed to control his
emotions, as few in his position would. It seems almost torturous to
interview the loser so soon after defeat, particularly a loser dragging
76 years of shattered dreams in his wake.

Murray
acknowledged his opponent, his family, his team, his friends and the
supporters who had cheered themselves hoarse in his cause.

Double trouble: Federer's family watch on as he is presented with the trophy for a seventh time

Double trouble: Federer's family watch on as he is presented with the trophy for a seventh time

He seemed to want it for them, as much as for himself, and they did not judge him harshly. They had seen, first-hand, the calibre of the man that won. They knew that, even if there were shortcomings in his game, and opportunities lost, Murray could not have given more.

His detractors will say crying showed weakness. That these were tears of self-pity and a sign of a competitor who does not have the will for the fight.

And they will forget what it required for Federer to take Murray down in the critical third set: the 26 points that were played in the sixth game, the six break points before Federer triumphed, the 20 minutes that passed on this one game. Murray’s serve: 15-0, 30-0, 40-0, 40-15, 40-30, deuce, advantage Murray, deuce, advantage Federer, deuce, advantage Federer, deuce, advantage Federer, deuce, advantage Murray, deuce, advantage Murray, deuce, advantage Federer, deuce, advantage Federer, deuce, advantage Murray, deuce, advantage Federer, game Federer.

The last advantage only came about because Murray slipped at the net and was lobbed, the ball landing directly on the baseline.

It was an exceptional game, by far the longest of the match, but summed up the resolve of the two men. The first eight games of the opening set took 48 minutes to complete and almost an hour had passed when Murray took the set, 6-4. To suggest that Murray has lost four Grand Slam finals because he chokes is almost beyond idiocy.

He did not choke against Federer: he lost to one of sport’s few living legends.

If Murray had a fault it was that in the second set particularly he failed to capitalise on moments of vulnerability in Federer’s game.

Yet with most other players another
chance comes along. Federer is an exception. He allowed Murray a glimpse
of possibility and then the door quietly shut.

The master: Federer present his trophy to the adoring crowd outside Centre Court

The master: Federer present his trophy to the adoring crowd outside Centre Court

The master: Federer present his trophy to the adoring crowd outside Centre Court

Then a key turned in the lock and the result was inevitable.

The well-worn line about being able to cope with the despair, but not the hope, has never felt more appropriate as the great men of tennis formed an orderly queue to reassure Murray that he would win a Grand Slam, one day.

He has said previously that this is the hardest comment to take. They all seem sure, yet what proof is there Suppose this is as good as it gets What if he is the best player never to win a big one His coach Ivan Lendl also lost his first four, and went on to win eight, but history offers no guarantee.

‘Murray is giving himself so many looks at big titles,’ Federer said. ‘I really do believe deep down he will win Grand Slams, not just one. This is genuine. He works extremely hard and he is as professional as one can be. He got another step closer to a Grand Slam title today, that is for sure.’

How so Well, he won a set. That hasn’t happened before. Murray has been to three previous Grand Slam finals and lost in straight sets every time. Sunday’s events still place him 9-1 down when it matters, but nobody who saw this performance will say there is no hope for the future.

Maybe it is Murray that will take most convincing, as he sat in his chair at the end, staring straight ahead, lost in thought seemingly oblivious to the goodwill around him. These defeats hit him hard.

His last Grand Slam final defeat, to Djokovic at the Australian Open, was the most difficult to get over, and the emotion attached to Wimbledon will surely outstrip that emptiness.

Murray knows what was at stake here; he knows it would have been the biggest moment for British sport since the World Cup final in 1966. Instead, he merely erased Bunny Austin, the last British Wimbledon finalist in 1938, from the record books.

In that respect, it truly is a golden year for British tennis, although, as Murray joined Centre Court in drying his eyes, it barely felt that way.