Tag Archives: memorable

John McCririck released from hospital

McCririck released from hospital with wife claiming Channel 4 axe caused illness

Rod Minchin


12:21 GMT, 15 March 2013



14:08 GMT, 15 March 2013

Veteran racing pundit John McCririck will have to watch today's Cheltenham Gold Cup race on television after being released from hospital.

McCririck, 72, known for his distinctive sideburns and deerstalker hat, is convalescing at home after being detained in Cheltenham General Hospital.

He complained of feeling unwell during the first day of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday and was taken to hospital by ambulance.

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Unwell: John McCririck, pictured on day one of the festival, has been released from hospital

Unwell: John McCririck, pictured on day one of the festival, has been released from hospital

The former Channel 4 pundit had said earlier this week that he planned on returning to Prestbury Park to watch the highlight of the four-day National Hunt festival.

But after being released from hospital he has returned home to recover.

Mr McCririck's agent Patsy Martin said today: 'John is resting today.

'He is not going racing today and the next race meeting he will be attending will be Doncaster on Saturday week.'

John McCririck.

Horse Racing - Royal Ascot - 4th Day John McCririck English Horse Racing Pundit at Ascot

Larger than life: But McCririck was taken ill, with wife Jenny blaming the stress of his Channel 4 dismissal

In January Channel 4 dropped McCririck from its racing coverage when it unveiled its new presenting team, headed by Clare Balding.

McCririck announced he was to sue the broadcaster for 3million, claiming it axed him from its racing coverage because he was too old.

His wife Jenny told the Daily Mirror she believed the stress from a continuing disagreement with his former employer caused his illness.

Mrs McCririck told the newspaper: 'Look at the stress from Channel 4. He was perfectly OK, he had a check-up two weeks ago, but Channel 4 have done this to him.'

Some of John McCririck's memorable moments from Channel 4 Racing

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Freddie Burns is ready to face Leicester at Welford Road

Cool-hand Freddie on song for title tilt as he prepares to face Leicester in hostile territory



22:02 GMT, 28 December 2012

Freddie Burns isn’t easily fazed.

He’ll relish calling the shots for Gloucester on Saturday in hostile territory at Welford Road, just as he felt utterly at ease making his England debut against the All Blacks at Twickenham four weeks ago.

The 22-year-old fly half sensation of the season even took it in his stride when he had to follow up that first international appearance with the traditional solo performance for his team-mates on the bus back to the hotel.

No amount of ridicule from the England squad – celebrating an historic triumph over New Zealand – was going to leave Burns flustered, not when he had endured far worse as a teenage tyro on long trips back to the Forest of Dean, while on loan at Cinderford.

Sensation: 22-year-old fly half Freddie Burns leads the Premiership in points scored this season

Sensation: 22-year-old Gloucester fly half Freddie Burns (right) leads the Premiership in points scored this season

‘I sung American Pie on the bus back to our hotel,’ he said, referring to the aftermath of that epic 38-21 victory on December 1.

‘I thought I would go for an old classic and because all the boys were in a good mood, I got let off lightly. The initiations at Cinderford were far worse. I’d rather sing on that England bus any day than go through that again!’

The precise details are unclear, but that is probably the way it should remain.

‘I spent a year at Cinderford when I was 18,’ he added. ‘At that time we had proper old stalwarts there like Matt Cornwell, Rob Fidler and Andy Deacon, and playing around those guys was a real eye-opener.

Novice: Burns made his England debut in the epic win over New Zealand

Reward: Burns made his England debut in the epic win over New Zealand

'We had some memorable journeys back from places like Tynedale and Redruth, hours and hours on the road, with the old boys in the back row of the bus and everyone having a few beers together.

It was a great experience for me.’ While that was a great experience in his personal development, what happened on his first outing for England was a great experience for the sport in this country.

Burns contributed two late penalties as a second-half replacement, while also showcasing his audacious attacking gifts and the streak of self-belief which serves him so well.

‘The most pleasing thing was that I think I proved that I’m not intimidated by the big stage,’ he said.

‘I wasn’t particularly nervous before the game. I managed to get nine hours’ sleep the night before.

Mercurial: Former All-Black Carlos Spencer (red) was at Gloucester when Burns was still a youngster

Mercurial: Former All-Black Carlos Spencer (red) was at Gloucester when Burns was still a youngster

'I felt a sense of belonging as soon as I got on the pitch and just wanted to show people that I should be there. I’ve always been naturally confident. I have never really doubted myself.’

As a rising talent who came through the academy at Bath, before switching to Gloucester, Burns took inspiration from a free spirit in the All Black ranks, Carlos Spencer.

The English apprentice was treated to first-hand examples of the wizardry he wished to emulate when the mercurial Kiwi moved to Kingsholm.

‘When I was younger, he was the guy,’ he said.

‘The fact that he ended up at Gloucester was such a bonus and he taught me so much. He was always coming out with skills that were unbelievable.

'I remember one day, he put a tractor tyre on its side against a fence, and was bending banana kicks through it from 25 metres away.

'I wasn’t training, but I was watching the boys outside through a window and when I saw that I thought, “That is ridiculous”.

‘I was lucky enough to spend two years playing behind Carlos and two years behind Nicky Robinson, who is more of a pragmatic 10, so I’ve been able to learn both styles of play.

'I’ve taken bits from both of them and tried to develop my own interpretation.’

Burns has one try, 15 conversions, 41 penalties and a drop goal this season

Burns has one try, 15 conversions, 41 penalties and a drop goal this season

The arrival last June of another Welshman, Nigel Davies, as director of rugby, has accelerated the development of Burns into the form No 10 in English rugby this season.

He is the top points-scorer and goal-kicker in the Aviva Premiership and has won two Player of the Month awards.

Such was the positive momentum he had generated that after training with the national team, head coach Stuart Lancaster had no doubts about picking him for that daunting debut which worked out so well.

Burns feels that his performances during the current campaign have shown greater ‘maturity’.

The same could be said for Gloucester collectively and after being thrashed 36-3 at Welford Road last season, their rookie conductor is expecting so much more this time, as he prepares to go head-to-head with Toby Flood again.

Freddie Burns

‘Comparing how we were last season to how we are now is like comparing night and day,’ he said. ‘

We have a real mental edge now and that will stand us in good stead at Leicester, because if we’re not on our game there they could beat us heavily again.

'We have come together so well and I’m confident we can end up in the top four, then challenge for the title.’

That’s the revised club target, but on a personal level Burns hopes to be included in the England squad for the Six Nations.

The trouble is, while striving to be considered the best fly half in the country, he faces a grave threat to his status as the best in his family.

Burns' younger brother Billy, just 18, is a rising star in the Gloucester ranks

Burns' younger brother Billy, just 18, is a rising star in the Gloucester ranks

His younger brother, 18-year-old Billy Burns, has emerged in the Gloucester first team this season to set the scene for a long-term sibling scrap for one coveted place.

‘Billy is doing well and I’m sure he’ll be putting pressure on me for my shirt sooner rather than later,’ said Freddie.

‘I’ve told him he would make a great full back, but he just comes straight back with, “So would you!”.’

Joking aside, the older brother will surely welcome the competition. It won’t faze him. Aside from long bus journeys to Cinderford, nothing does.

Sarah Story named Dame in New Year Honours List

Fairy Storey! Dame Sarah and Weirwolf head list of Paralympic heroes honoured



00:02 GMT, 29 December 2012

Sarah Storey won Great Britain's first gold medal of a memorable Paralympic Games and has now completed a stunning 2012 by being named a Dame in the Queen's New Year Honours.

Storey, like David Weir, finished with four gold medals from four events and carried the Union Flag at the closing ceremony along with the wheelchair racer, who has been awarded a CBE.

Scroll down for a full list of Paralympic Honours

Stars: Sarah Storey (above) has been named a Dame while David Weir (below) has been awarded a CBE

Stars: Sarah Storey (above) has been named a Dame while David Weir (below) has been awarded a CBE

David Weir celebrates winning Gold during the Men's 800m - T54 Final

Storey has been honoured for a Paralympic career which began as a 14-year-old swimmer in Barcelona in 1992 and featured four Games in the pool before she switched to the bike ahead of the Beijing Games in 2008.

In London, her sixth Games, the 35-year-old from Disley, Cheshire, took her tally to 11 Paralympic gold medals, equalling former wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's haul.

Storey and Weir were Britain's most prolific winners at the Paralympics as the hosts won 34 gold and 120 medals in all, while the nation marvelled at the athletes' ability, forgetting the impairment of an individual and concentrating on the sport.

'Wow, I am speechless but incredibly honoured and extremely proud to be able to accept the DBE,' said Storey, who recently announced she was pregnant.

Laden: Storey won four golds in London

Laden: Storey won four golds in London

'I never expected any additional awards after my sporting success.

'I love competing for my country and that is a huge honour in itself.

'Now to be a dame is beyond anything I could have ever imagined and I cannot thank my family, friends, coaches and support staff over all the years enough for their devotion in helping me to follow the path of becoming the best athlete I can possibly be.'

Weir won the last home gold of a memorable summer with victory in the marathon on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.

The 33-year-old from Wallington, Surrey, led the athletics team to a series of stirring triumphs, including for amputee sprinter Jonnie Peacock, who won the blue riband event of the Games, the T44 100metres, ahead of the likes of Oscar Pistorius.

Peacock is awarded an MBE, as are fellow athletes Richard Whitehead, Aled Davies, Mickey Bushell, Hannah Cockroft, Aled Davies and Josie Pearson, who all won Paralympic gold to send a capacity 80,000 Olympic Stadium crowd into raptures.

Swimmer Ellie Simmonds was once again the darling of the Games, dealing with the expectation and her image staring down on all entering the Olympic Park from the Westfield Shopping Centre, by taking two titles before her 18th birthday, four years after two wins as a 13-year-old.

Simmonds is awarded an OBE, an honour also bestowed upon Sophie Christiansen, who won three equestrian gold medals in Greenwich.

She said: 'It's been a great honour to be included in the list which caps an amazing year for me personally and for British sport.'

Natasha Baker won two para-equestrian titles and is awarded an MBE along with Christiansen's team-mates in the team championship Deborah Criddle and Sophie Wells.

Ten-time Paralympic champion Lee
Pearson, the fourth member of the winning quartet, did not receive an
honour, having been made an MBE following the 2008 Games.

Sealed with a kiss: Ellie Simmonds (above) and Jonnie Peacock (below) were also among the gold medals

Sealed with a kiss: Ellie Simmonds (above) and Jonnie Peacock (below) were also among the gold medals

Jonnie Peacock

Storey's husband Barney also did not make the list, despite claiming his third Paralympic title in London.

His tandem partner Neil Fachie was awarded an MBE, as was tandem pilot rider Craig MacLean, who won an Olympic medal in Sydney in 2000 and piloted Anthony Kappes to gold in London.
Like Barney Storey, Kappes was not honoured this time around.

Road cyclist David Stone won road race gold at Brands Hatch, but also missed out on a fresh honour, having already been made an MBE.

All other London 2012 gold medal winners were honoured, with boccia player Nigel Murray given an MBE for his long and distinguished career which has featured two Paralympic titles and bronze in London.



Sarah Storey – cycling


David Weir – athletics


Sophie Christiansen – equestrian

Ellie Simmonds – swimming


Jessica-Jane Applegate – athletics
Natasha Baker – equestrian
Danielle Brown – archery
Mickey Bushell – athletics

Hannah Cockroft – athletics
Mark Colbourne – cycling
Josef Craig – swimming
Deborah Criddle – equestrian
Aled Davies – athleticsNeil Fachie – cycling
Jonathan Fox – swimming
Heather Frederiksen – swimming
Oliver Hynd – swimming
Helena Lucas – sailing
Craig MacLean – cycling
Nigel Murray – boccia
Jonnie Peacock – athletics
Josie Pearson – athletics
Pam Relph – rowing
Naomi Riches – rowing
James Roe – rowing
David Smith – rowing
Lily van den Broecke – rowing
Sophie Wells – equestrian
Richard Whitehead – athletics

Dimitar Berbatov isn"t the first to send a message through his shirt

Putting their message across… after Berbatov's Keep Calm scribble, here's the best moments when footballers get shirty



13:40 GMT, 27 December 2012

Fulham star Dimitar Berbatov earned himself a yellow card against Southampton with a shirt emblazoned with the words 'Keep Calm and Pass Me the Ball.'

The stunt could be called arrogant, but he's hardly the first player to make a mistake as far as shirt decorations go.

Dimitar Berbatov shows off a shirt with the words 'Keep Calm and Pass Me the Ball' written on it

Arrogant: Berbatov rubbed some people the wrong way after scoring the first goal in Fulham's match against Southampton

Sportsmail took a look back at some of the more memorable messages that have been communicated through the use of a shirt.

Carlos Tevez – 'Feliz Cumple Mami'

Carlos Tevez sends his mother a birthday message using his shirt

Mummy's boy: Tevez showed off the message after scoring the only goal in Manchester City's 1-0 win over Chelsea

Tevez went for a home-made approach when he sent his Mum a birthday greeting in 2010. The words 'Feliz Cumple Mami,' which translates as 'Happy Birthday Mum,' had been scrawled on his shirt in black marker.

Mario Balotelli – 'Why Always Me'

Mario Balotelli reveals a message on his shirt that says 'Why always me' in Manchester City's clash with United

Feeling sorry for himself: The Italian revealed his shirt after scoring in the Manchester derby

After taking City ahead in last year's Manchester derby, the Italian lifted his shirt to ask the question 'Why Always Me' The message would have made more sense had the striker not spent the night before setting fire to his own home with some fireworks.

Paul Scharner – Albion crest

West Brom's Paul Scharner wore a shirt emblazoned with the Albion logo

Proud father: Paul Scharner was wearing a shirt designed by his children, who had supposedly drawn the Albion logo for luck

The West Brom midfielder angered Wolverhampton manager Mick McCarthy when he seemed to taunt Wolves fans with an Albion logo which had been drawn onto his shirt by his kids. McCarthy later apologised for accusing Scharner of 'taking the p***,' after realising what was on the shirt.

Samir Nasri – 'Eid Mubarak'

Nasri celebrated a goal against Southampton with the message 'Eid Mubarak' on his shirt

Celebration: Nasri followed Manchester City's third goal against Southampton with the words 'Eid Mubarak'

When Manchester City went 3-2 up against Southampton thanks to a strike from Samir Nasri, the French international treated watching fans to the traditional Eid festival greeting 'Eid Mubarak,' which means 'blessed festival'

Robbie Fowler – 'Support the 500 Sacked Dockers'

Robbie Fowler revealed a shirt in support of striking dock workers in Liverpool

Punished: Fowler was fined 2,000 Swiss Francs by UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Committee

The Liverpool striker was fined 2,000 Swiss Francs by UEFA after revealing a shirt that gave support to striking Liverpudlian dock workers in 1997. Liverpool were up against Brann Bergen in a European Cup Winners' Cup match and won 3-0 after a brace from Fowler.

Lee Trundle – Urinating on Cardiff shirt

Lee Trundle upset supporters in Cardiff with his offensive t-shirt

Arrested: The Swansea man was later taken into custody for a public order offence after complaints from fans, including supporters of Swansea

Trundle was arrested for a public order offence after angering Cardiff fans. During Swansea's 2-1 defeat of Carlisle in the Football League Trophy final in 2006, Trundle wore a shirt that depicted a cartoon man in Swansea kit urinating over a Cardiff shirt. He then paraded around with a flag that had 'F*** off Cardiff' written on it.

Paul Tait – 'Birmingham City S**t on the Villa'

Paul Tait caused offence with an expletive-covered shirt that said 'Birmingham City S**t on the Villa' after Birmingham's win over Carlisle United

Foolish: Tait claimed that the prank was banterous, but observers didn't see it that way

The Birmingham City midfielder was fined 3,000 for his stunt in 1995, which saw him wear a shirt emblazoned with the words 'Birmingham City S**t on the Villa.' City were up against Carlisle Untied in the Auto Windscreen Shield final and the 23-year-old scored the only goal of the match. Tait claimed that it was meant as a humourous prank, but the move received criticism from all sides.

Artur Boruc – 'God Bless the Pope'

Artur Boruc celebrated Celtic's win over Rangers with a shirt that said 'God Bless the Pope.'

'The Holy Goalie': Boruc celebrated Celtic's win over Rangers with a tribute to the Pope

The Poland international whipped off his shirt after Celtic's 3-2 win over Rangers in 2008, and was underneath wearing an undershirt featuring a picture of John Paul II and the words 'God Bless the Pope.' He was defended by manager Gordon Strachan, who said: 'If it was 'God Bless Myra Hindley,' I might have a problem.'

Liverpool – Luis Suarez support

Liverpool's Glen Johnson warms up while wearing a t-shirt bearing the name and image of team mate Luis Suarez

Defiant: Suarez had been banned for eight matches and fined 40,000 by the FA, but his teammates were determined to support his appeal

When Suarez received an eight-match ban by the FA for racially abusing Patrice Evra, there were some who felt his punishment was deserved. But not his teammates or his manager, as they donned T-shirts in support of the Uruguayan striker before Liverpool's clash with Wigan. Manager Kenny Dagliesh was in favour of the display, saying: 'It is a great reflection of the man as a character, a person and a footballer that the boys have been so supportive and so have the supporters.'

Danny Graham – 'Watford's Table Tennis Champion 2010/11'

Danny Graham boasted of his Table Tennis victory over teammate Don Cowie during Watford's 3-0 win over Portsmouth

Smug: Graham was proud of his ping-pong prowess

Danny Graham, in his days playing for Watford, managed to keep things friendly with his own comical shirt message. According to the forward the team used to enjoy a game table tennis after training sessions and Graham had emerged victorious from his most recent battle with Don Cowie. After scoring against Portsmouth in 2011 the cheeky Watford man proudly revealed a shirt on which he had written 'Watford's Table Tennis Champion 2010/11. Get Over It Lads!!!'

Kevin Pietersen to get tattoo to mark England"s win over India

KP is tat it again: Pietersen to get ANOTHER tattoo to mark historic India win



17:51 GMT, 19 December 2012

Inked up: Kevin Pietersen is considering adding to his body art

Inked up: Kevin Pietersen is considering adding to his body art

Kevin Pietersen is considering getting another tattoo on his right arm to mark England’s historic Test series win in India.

England won a series in India for the first time in nearly 28 years this winter despite their rocky start and Pietersen returned from his exile to be key to that success.

Pietersen is no stranger to body art, having already marked his three Ashes victories and one World Twenty20 success on his right bicep, as well as having a number of tattoos elsewhere on his body.

He tweeted to his near one million
followers: ‘Does 2012 deserve a spot on my arm Ashes 05, 09, 10/11
& World T20 on already.. Winning in India surely does guys’

Pietersen’s successful ‘reintegration’ into the England team will be
officially acknowledged with the award of his full central contract at
the end of this historic tour of India.

One of the most acrimonious episodes in modern English cricket, which began when Sportsmail
revealed that Pietersen had sent ‘provocative’ texts to South African
opponents about Andrew Strauss last summer, will come to an official end
when the four-month trial contract he was handed ahead of this trip is
extended to a full year.

Get in there! Pietersen returned to the England team after a troubled summer and had a memorable series against India

Get in there! Pietersen returned to the England team after a troubled summer and had a memorable series against India

Look at tat: Pietersen is a tattoo fan

Look at tat: Pietersen is a tattoo fan

The 32-year-old batsman has been a model
professional throughout England’s 2-1 series win, their first in India
for 28 years, vindicating the decision to add him to the squad both with
his behaviour and the superlative century in Mumbai which transformed
the series.

And Andy Flower, who was badly hurt
by the wearying saga last summer, confirmed that Pietersen has mended
all the bridges during one of the most successful tours in modern
English memory.

‘The contract won’t be a problem,’ said Flower in the aftermath of the drawn final Test in Nagpur.

has been excellent in every way. We don’t all always get on with people
all of the time, any of us in any walk of life, and everyone has made
an effort to make it work. It’s been really good fun and he should be
very proud of the way he’s operated out here both as an individual and
as a player.’

Feelings ran high last summer and
there was no guarantee that a fragile peace-pact would hold in the
demanding environment of India but from the word go here it has been as
though Pietersen never uttered the words: ‘It’s not easy being me.’

added: ‘We did move on from it as soon as we had our meetings and
everyone made a commitment to do so. I want to continue that moving
forward. We want to learn from the past but we don’t want to keep on
revisiting it. He’ll have a little break over Christmas, like a lot of
the guys, and he’ll be back for the one-day series.’

Leeds v Chelsea classic clashes: It"s the neutrals" nightmare… but tonight"s tie is set to be another belter

Classic Leeds-Chelsea clashes: It's the neutrals' nightmare… but tonight's tie is set to be another belter



13:49 GMT, 19 December 2012

No one likes them, but we don't care… on this evidence tonight's clash between bitter rivals Leeds and Chelsea is set to be a classic.

It's a fixture which can lay claim to being a neutral's nightmare – you don't know who you'd rather see lose – but down the years these two titans have produced some memorable moments on the field.

Here Sportsmail picks some of our favourite moments between the Whites and the Blues, they're not necessarily the best matches but we defy you to not come over all misty-eyed at the nostalgia…

1970 – Chelsea 2-5 Leeds: 'Terry Cooper starts the goal riot'

Don Revie's famous Leeds United were 2-1 down at half-time but scored three goals in seven minutes in a remarkable turnaround that commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme described as a 'truly wonderful victory' which began when Terry Cooper started the 'goal riot'.

Check out the pitch and this rather special punditry from Johnny Giles and Sir Bobby Charlton…

1970 – FA Cup Final: Chelsea 2-2 Leeds… Replay: Chelsea 2-1 Leeds watched by 28million

It takes a special kind of fan – but most Leeds and Chelsea supporters – to appreciate the on-field brutality of the replay at Old Trafford, which was watched by a TV audience of 28 million.

Referee Eric Jennings let so much go that Hugh McIlvanney wrote: ‘At
times, it appeared that Mr Jennings would give a free-kick only on
production of a death certificate.’ There was one booking. David Elleray ‘re-refereed’ the game years later and said there should have been six reds and 20 yellows.

The Leeds great, Peter Lorimer, remarked that Chelsea ‘kicked everything above grass’. No foul was given for Eddie McCreadie’s kung-fu kick on Billy Bremner’s head. ‘It was just the way the game was played back then,’ Paul Madeley said on Monday, from Yorkshire. Fantastic stuff.

Winner: David Webb (left) heads home to win the 1970 FA Cup for Chelsea in the re0play at Old Trafford against Leeds as Terry Cooper (No 3) attempts to challenge

Winner: David Webb (left) heads home to win the 1970 FA Cup for Chelsea in the re0play at Old Trafford against Leeds as Terry Cooper (No 3) attempts to challenge

1972 – Chelsea 4-0 Leeds… but only because Lorimer was in goal

Way before the days teams could call a multi-million-pound goalkeeper off the bench, Leeds' David Harvey had to go off injured. Peter Lorimer left his right-wing posting to put the No 1 jersey on and Chelsea made hay.

It was very much a case of 'first-half good, second half not so good' for Hot-Shot Lorimer, who came over all Gary Sprake near the end.

Keep a special eye out for Peter Osgood's simply amazing sideburns – eat your heart out Bradley Wiggins – and the famous Leeds sock tassels. Classic.

Tassels and tussles: Leeds captain Billy Bremner tackles Chelsea's Steve Kember during the 1972 clash at Stamford Bridge as Johnny Giles looks on

Tassels and tussles: Leeds captain Billy Bremner tackles Chelsea's Steve Kember during the 1972 clash at Stamford Bridge as Johnny Giles looks on

1994 – Leeds 2-3 Chelsea… Whelan scores with a bicycle kick… yes, really… And Lukic gifts Chelsea win with a clanger… yes, again!

John Spencer, remember him He won this thriller for Chelsea at a sold-out Elland Road. The match had everything: A masterly performance from Gary McAllister, a Noel Whelan overhead kick, another John Lukic howler and some grand old names from the past: Philemon Masinga, Dmitri Kharine anyone



Long Johns: John Lukic (left) made a mistake in 1994 to allow John Spencer (right) to pounce for Chelsea

Bonus goals… Viduka (2008) Gudjohnsen (2003)

VIDEO: Top-class Mark Viduka finish (but take note of John Terry's awful positioning)…


Eidur Gudjohnsen

Goal-getters: Mark Viduka (left) and Eidur Gudjohnsen (right) became cult heroes at their clubs

Wowsers, Gudjohnsen's sensational overhead kick in January 2003 – it's no Ibra effort…

Roy Hodgson says England needs to stop asking what has gone wrong and instead look to the future

Hodgson urges England to forget the failures since '66 and look to the future



16:38 GMT, 15 December 2012

Roy Hodgson cannot see the point in England handicapping themselves by constantly lamenting what has gone wrong since 1966.

After a solid start to their World Cup qualifying campaign, the Three Lions visit San Marino and Montenegro next March before an autumn push towards the World Cup in Brazil.

If England do achieve their first objective, Hodgson knows references to their sole World Cup win are bound to be raised, plus the inevitable debate about why progress has been so slow since that memorable occasion.

England boss Roy Hodgson says England need to stop lamenting past failures and focus on the present and future

England boss Roy Hodgson says England need to stop worrying about what has gone wrong since 1966 and focus on the present and future of the team

But England's coach feels that assessment is counter-productive.

'One of my concerns for England has always been that we're not trying to win in the present, we're trying to win in the past and we can't do that,' Hodgson told FATV.

'I know there's 1966 and that it's 50 years and that we've failed here and there and missed penalty shoot-outs, but unfortunately there's not very much I can do now to change anything that's historical.

England manager Roy Hodgson

'You can't turn back the clock and you can't win yesterday. You can only win today and while winning today, you can only have an eye on how we can win tomorrow.'

Hodgson cannot be faulted for the number of younger players he has introduced to the Three Lions fold since he took charge in May.

Raheem Sterling and Carl Jenkinson were amongst those to make their debuts in Sweden last month, whilst others, including Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were part of his Euro 2012 squad despite their limited experience.

With the exception of Sterling, none of that quartet could be regarded as first-choice for their clubs in a league where so many of its top men are foreign.

Hodgson sees little point arguing against the mass continental influx.

Instead he feels the onus is on those young English players to prove themselves indispensable.

'Clubs will do what they have to do and I can't expect that a manager who is under pressure to get results is thinking long-term for the benefits of the English national side,' he said.

'If he thinks his interests are best served by getting a player from Montenegro, Russia or Israel, they're entitled to do that.

'Rather than complain that there are a lot of foreign players, let's turn it on its head and make certain that our players do better.

'Take Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for example, who plays some games but not others. He has got to become so good that Arsene Wenger doesn't want to look elsewhere.

'That's what I've got to hope for and that's got to be their ambition.'

Challenge: Hodgson has said that players like Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (pictured) have to 'become so good that Arsene Wenger doesn't want to look elsewhere'

Challenge: Hodgson said that players like Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (pictured) have to be 'so good that Arsene Wenger doesn't want to look elsewhere'

Rafa Benitez Chelsea latest: Former Liverpool boss ready for Stamford Bridge job – comment

He didn't want to be baby-sitting for Pep but now Rafa is ready to lead Chelsea



09:37 GMT, 21 November 2012

'My ideas are near to the Milan of Arrigo Sacchi. I like technical and aggressive teams that don’t allow the opponents to play. I like teams that play the ball with speed and look to score with as few passes as possible.' – Rafa Benitez (2004)

When Montse Benitez handed her newborn baby to husband Rafa for night-feeding duties she expected little else.

For the next three months, at 4am every morning, the proud father would feed his baby daughter until she peacefully settled. Yet it wasn't the sweet background sound of nursery rhymes that prompted young Miss Benitez to slumber but the whirring of an old video recorder playing football videos as her doting father studied footage of his side's next opposition.

Some call it dedication, some would call it obsession. It is a quality that often strained relationships among his Liverpool staff but it is one that also brought memorable results.

Challenge: Rafa Benitez would be up to the task of taking over at Chelsea

Challenge: Rafa Benitez would be up to the task of taking over at Chelsea

Last year when Chelsea came calling, Benitez wanted assurances that he wasn't just baby-sitting for Pep Guardiola. Budget wasn't an issue, he wanted a challenge that he could turn into a legacy.

Today Benitez is addressing the Abu Dhabi Sports Council with a talk about football coaching; the differing styles between Spanish, English and Italian leagues and the structures of football clubs. He talks from experience and is on comfortable ground. However, Benitez is now ready to take risks. To steal his phrase, that's fact.

Talk to Benitez and he is charming company. There is a recognition that he became embroiled in the wrong arguments at Liverpool and Inter Milan but also a burning desire to prove he can bring success to any club.

Passion: Benitez would thrive on the vacant job at Stamford Bridge

Burning desire: Benitez wants to prove he can be a success at any club but does not want to be a babysitter for Pep Guardiola (below)

In the shadows: Former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola

A deep thinker and supreme strategist he can't help but talk in football nuances. How running in a side-on lateral movement gives you greater chance of recovering possession, how closing down the left-footed centre back when on his right steals an advantage or simply when demonstrating tactical moves with his prized chess set, two salt cellars or a bowl of fat cut chips – Benitez thrives on the challenge of the game.

Though with Roman Abramovich he seeks an assurance he can be allowed to do the job, the demands of the task do not trouble him. Nor does the status of any player.

Steven Gerrard probably never forgave him for the day he substituted Liverpool's iconic captain during a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. Yet his replacement, Lucas Leiva, went on to win the decisive penalty. 'Gerrard,' Benitez said, 'was playing with too much passion.'

Fernando Torres was non-plussed as he was unceremoniously taken off when Liverpool toiled against Birmingham City. Benitez was adamant his striker's health needed protecting. Days later Torres tore Benfica apart in a UEFA Cup quarter final.

They've got previous: Benitez bought Torres when he was in charge at Liverpool

They've got previous: Benitez bought Torres when he was in charge at Liverpool

Glory days: Benitez guided Liverpool to Champions League success in 2005

Glory days: Benitez guided Liverpool to Champions League success in 2005

How Chelsea would love those sort of problems.

Torres is the great enigma. Dropped last night, there is a recognition that the 50million striker must be sacrificed but Benitez can save Abramovich that embarrassment. He believes he can bring out the best in his compatriot and still harness the finesse of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard to boot.

Abramovich wants victory with style. The problem is idealistic choice Guardiola would come without the well-laid foundations that preceded his project at Barcelona. Benitez has confidence he can deliver now.

The Anglophile may drive a Union Jack mini by choice but Benitez can accelerate Abramovich's Rolls-Royce of a squad to the glory days they yearn for.

Carl Froch: I won"t take Yusaf Mack for granted

Froch insists he won't take Mack for granted despite having one eye on bigger challenges ahead against Bute, Kessler and Ward



16:25 GMT, 16 November 2012

Carl Froch is not worried about failing to live up to expectations in Nottingham on Saturday night, believing he has it in his armoury to produce another memorable occasion.

Froch enjoyed arguably the defining night of his career at the Capital FM Arena on May 27, destroying the previously unbeaten Lucian Bute inside five rounds to become the super-middleweight world champion for a third time.

The 35-year-old has gradually become a crowd favourite over the course of his career, and in stopping Bute to claim the IBF title he will defend against Yusaf Mack, he stood firmly in the spotlight.

Weigh in: Carl Froch (centre left) and Yusaf Mack (centre right) fight on Saturday night

Weigh in: Carl Froch (centre left) and Yusaf Mack (centre right) fight on Saturday night

Mack is not as feared an opponent as Bute was, though, and Froch enters this bout as the overwhelming favourite, with Mack carrying a record of 31-4-2, meaning that another explosive event may not be guaranteed.

'I'll just do what I do,' Froch said. 'The crowd are already turning up, we've got a packed arena and obviously, Lucian Bute is a different opponent. He was an unbeaten fighter and I was the underdog and I shocked the world that night.

'People know what to expect and I'm expecting a fantastic night.'

Froch takes great pride from having won a world title on three different occasions and has a resume that would be the envy of many a champion.

Over the last four years he has taken on a stellar cast of punchers, starting with Jean Pascal, going on to Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Glen Johnson, Andre Ward and ending with Bute.

Brit of alright: The Nottingham Cobra destroyed Lucian Bute to win the IBF super-middleweight belt

Brit of alright: The Nottingham Cobra destroyed Lucian Bute to win the IBF super-middleweight belt

Kessler and Ward were the only ones to better him – the two losses of his 31-fight career – and rematches with the pair, as well as a second shot at Bute, are being eyed up for 2013.

Froch, though, knows none of that can be possible without beating Mack.

'I went through one of the biggest tournaments in the world, the Super Six, where I knew who I was fighting for the next five fights, so you've always got your eye on your next opponent,' he said.

'That said, you can't take someone like Yusaf Mack for granted. I am looking at the future, but that's nothing new for me.

'I was in the amateur game for many years, boxed at the top level and had a massive pedigree. I've been a professional for 10 years and nothing is going to faze me.

Boxers in boxers: Froch shows off his patriotic pants

Grand: Froch at the Albert Hall in Nottingham

Boxers in boxers: Froch shows off his patriotic pants at the grand Albert Hall in Nottingham

'I'm not going to be complacent or lackadaisical, to take my eye off Yusaf Mack. I know I've got a job to do and I know that job could be a difficult one tomorrow night.'

With his penchant for taking on such punishing fights, Froch is surprising many by getting better as he grows older.

Bouts against Kessler, Ward and Bute next year would no doubt be one of his toughest-ever assignments as well, but he is confident he has the body and the game to keep going.

'It's two fights a year, so that's not the end of the world, and I don't take many punches,' he said.
'I live cleanly between fights. It's how you abuse or treat your body between fights that determines your longevity. I'm a clean liver, a consummate professional, I don't eat rubbish food, I don't drink and I don't smoke.

Return of the Mack: The American does not possess a fearsome record but Froch is still wary of his opponent

Return of the Mack: The American does not possess a fearsome record but Froch is still wary of his opponent

'Physically I was a late developer and I feel like a young 35. I feel in my prime, at my peak and as long as I have the desire to train in the gym, there's no reason why I can't go on until I'm 39, 40 years old. I'm not saying I want to, but physically I think I'm going to be able to.'

For his part, Mack has had little to say this week, having earlier branded Froch as a 'fake Joe Calzaghe'.

The 32-year-old was muted when the two met on Tuesday, saying little more than: 'I am ready to rumble. I've been the underdog all my life. I am ready. I've been training hard. He says he is fit, but I am fitter and stronger.'

Jonny Marray ready for ATP World Tour Finals at London 02 Arena

Here's Jonny! British doubles star Marray ready for rare taste of the high life in London



22:00 GMT, 30 October 2012

No place like home: Marray roars with delight on his way to winning the Wimbledon doubles title last summer

No place like home: Marray roars with delight on his way to winning the Wimbledon doubles last summer

The Ford Fiesta is still parked in the garage and the 130,000 prize is still in the bank – becoming the most unlikely Wimbledon champion in years has yet to prove a material life-changer for Jonny Marray.

As if to prove the fact, he could be found plying his doubles trade in the converted ice rink that is used as the smallest court inside the tired old Palais de Bercy where, in front of some 150 diehard spectators, he and Paul Hanley reached the second round of the Paris Masters.

It will all be different next week at London’s O2 Arena when he teams up at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals alongside Frederik Nielsen, with whom he created one of the year's great sporting fairytales, even by the standards of the headiest summer.

The 17,000-strong crowds will be bigger than those of the Centre Court which saw them carry off the All England Club title, having barely played together previously and only entered courtesy of a wildcard.

That success has gained the 31-year-old from Sheffield entry to the elite season-end jamboree for the year’s top eight, and it will be only the second time he has set foot inside the old Millennium Dome.

‘Two years ago I had to attend an educational course for ATP players in London and we got taken along to a session at the O2, but that’s my only experience of it. Having felt the atmosphere, I can’t wait,’ he said, after excelling in a 7-5, 6-1 win over top Germans Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer.

It will be a rare brush with the high life for the resolutely down-to-earth Marray, who has hardly felt the impact of sudden fame because he has barely been in the UK since July.

Champions: Nielsen and Marray celebrates their memorable victory in SW19

Champions: Nielsen and Marray celebrates their memorable victory in SW19

‘One nice thing was that Freddie
(with whom he shares a passion for Liverpool FC) and I had pieces done
on us in the Anfield programme and official magazine. But I haven’t had a
chance to see them this season because I’ve been away. They are playing
at Chelsea a week on Sunday so depending on how things go we might be
able to get along.

‘I get recognised a bit since Wimbledon but I haven’t been at home much. The money is still in the bank but once this season is over I’ll sit down with someone knowledgeable and decide what to do with it.

‘I haven’t had a financial cushion before with the level I’ve been at in my career so that is all a bit new. As for the Fiesta, I don’t really see much point changing because I don’t get to drive much anyway.’

The most pressing thing on his mind is trying to find a regular partner for next year as Nielsen, whom he first met playing German Bundesliga club tennis in Hamburg, has told him he wants to concentrate on his singles career in 2013.

Net gains: Marray's touch around the net has seen him excel in doubles

Net gains: Marray's touch around the net has seen him excel in doubles

It is the time of year when there is much horsetrading done in the two-player code and Marray, ranked 22, really needs to find someone inside the top 35 to ensure they gain entry to the biggest tournaments. He said: ‘I’ve spoken to a few people and I’m hoping to get something sorted out because next week is the last time I will play with Freddie as a regular partner. I quite understand the decision he has made.’

What Marray’s new team-mate will get is his major attribute of being one of the sweetest volleyers of a tennis ball you will see. His touch around the net was always known within the small parish of British tennis but only this year has it fully flowered.

‘Twelve months ago if you’d told me this was going to happen I’d have been both surprised and very happy,’ he said. ‘It helped seeing a few other British lads doing well in doubles (such as the world’s No 10 pairing Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins) and it made me think I could push on from the level I had been at for so long.’

So next week he will be among the elite, such as his near namesake Andy Murray, although even then a certain apartheid exists with doubles players in a communal dressing room, while the eight singles stars get private quarters.

Murray plays his opening match at the Paris Masters on Wednesday, against France’s world No 64 Paul-Henri Mathieu.