Tag Archives: milestone

Lionel Messi scored 91st and final goal of record-breaking season

91 and out! Messi strikes again to bring curtain down on incredible year… now see each and every goal

|

UPDATED:

21:29 GMT, 22 December 2012

Lionel Messi scored his final goal of a record breaking year as Barcelona won 3-1 against Valladolid on Saturday night.

Messi's second-half strike was his 91st of the season, nutmegging a defender and rattling home with his deadly left-foot to sign off in style.

Scroll down for video

Unstoppable: Lionel Messi (left) scored the 91st goal of his record-breaking season

Unstoppable: Lionel Messi (left) scored the 91st goal of his record-breaking season

Bang: Messi smashes in Barcelona's second goal as they extended their La Liga lead

Bang: Messi smashes in Barcelona's second goal as they extended their La Liga lead

He broke Gerd Muller's 40-year-old milestone of 85 goals in a calendar year by grabbing 79 for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina.

The victory leaves Barcelona nine points clear of Atletico Madrid in second and 16 points up on Real Madrid, before they take to the field against Malaga later on.

It was achieved without manager Tito Vilanova who was released from hospital just before the match after having throat surgery to remove a tumour.

Both teams wore T-shirts which carried messages of support for the manager, who will undergo chemotherapy in upcoming weeks.

Support: Messi's T-shirt has a photo of Tito Vilanova on it along with the word 'courage'

Support: Messi's T-shirt has a photo of Tito Vilanova on it along with the word 'courage'

For Tito: The team wore the shirts to support their boss who was released from hospital today

For Tito: The team wore the shirts to support their boss who was released from hospital today

'This win is for Tito,' said Barcelona defender Dani Alves.

'It's a surprise and joy that he is home now. We are here to help him any way he can. Football is secondary now, he is fighting for his life.'

I had the best seat in the house, says Nick Compton after watching Alastair Cook masterclass

I had the best seat in the house, says awe-filled Compton after watching Cook masterclass

|

UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 6 December 2012

Nick Compton spoke of the awe he felt batting alongside his record-breaking captain Alastair Cook as the pair put on 165 to kick-start England’s first innings in the third Test at Eden Gardens.

The Somerset batsman was at the other end when Cook became the youngest batsman in Test history to reach 7,000 runs — and again six overs later when he completed his 23rd Test hundred to pass an English landmark that was established before the war by Wally Hammond.

‘Standing out there today and looking up at the board and seeing the stats — 7,000 runs and the youngest ever player to do that — it was quite an amazing moment,’ said Compton.

In awe: Nick Compton (left) was inspired by Alastair Cook's performance (FILE PHOTO)

In awe: Nick Compton (left) was inspired by Alastair Cook's performance (FILE PHOTO)

‘I thought, I’m batting with this guy, and he’s just got another hundred. He’s the all-time leading English century-maker. A lot of players only manage to find their feet at my age, around 28 or 29, but the fact that he’s found his feet much earlier and done it over such a period of time speaks volumes.’

Compton scored his maiden Test half-century before he fell to a questionable leg-before decision by Rod Tucker. But he has now shared four partnerships of at least 50 in five innings with Cook — and some of his captain’s sang froid is evidently rubbing off.

‘Unflappable is a good way to describe him,’ he said. ‘He’s tough. Not a huge amount is said in the middle, but I feel like I’ve got a really good bond with him. Between balls there’s a little look and a little nod that we’re both in it together.

‘I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent out there. For me it’s been easy just to have someone who’s so chilled out at the other end.’

Milestone: Cook became the youngest player to score 7,000 Test runs

Milestone: Cook became the youngest player to score 7,000 Test runs

For Compton, successive scores in this series of nine, 37, 29, 30 not out and now 57 are a reflection of the hard work he put in at the Lord’s indoor nets during the month before departure for India.

After averaging almost 100 during the first-class season, Compton attempted to adjust his game for Indian conditions, facing the spin-bowling machine Merlin on a special turning surface, and using the more conventional bowling machine to prepare for the different angles posed by Zaheer Khan from over and round the wicket.

Asked about his maiden Test fifty, he replied: ‘I’m dead chuffed. It’s easy to say it would have been nice to have gone on, but if you’d asked whether I’d have taken my maiden fifty today, I’d have taken that.’

Boycott: I should be on 23 too!

Geoff Boycott could not resist telling Test Match Special listeners about his own unofficial 23rd century. Boycott scored 157 at The Oval during an England v Rest of the World series in 1970, an innings recognised at first as a legitimate hundred but later disqualified by the ICC. Boycs (Test average 47) also accepted that Wally Hammond (Test average 58) ‘might’ have been a better player!

Luke Donald aiming for 499 puts out of 500

In short, Donald is supreme: Golfer closes in on almost-perfect putting milestone

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 22 November 2012

Last year, Luke Donald went 449 holes without a three-putt. This year’s amazing illustration of the Englishman’s prowess on the greens isn’t bad either.

Sometime on Friday, if all goes to plan at the Dubai World Championship, Donald will complete 500 putts inside 3ft, with 499 of them successfully holed.

Think about that for a second. All those putts of smelly length on devilishly fast greens with the flags usually located in mischievous spots. And he has missed just one

How about that Luke Donald is close to an astonishing 499 out of 500 holes putted within 3ft

How about that Luke Donald is close to an astonishing 499 out of 500 holes putted within 3ft

DP WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP

Click here for the full leaderboard

‘One of the things that both those stats
show is how hard I’ve worked on my lag (long) putting, and making sure I
don’t leave myself too many difficult second putts,’ he said.

It is not only from short distance
that Donald is so good, of course. Give him greens as pure as these at
the Earth course and he will invariably hole more than his fair share
from any distance.

Out in front: Donald is the leader after round one of the DP World Tour Championship

Out in front: Donald is the leader after round one of the DP World Tour Championship

That was certainly the case on Thursday
as he followed up the three 66s with which he finished last year’s
event with a 65 to take the first-round lead.

This time last year Donald was fending
off Rory McIlroy to clinch the Race to Dubai.

That title has already
been sewn up this time by the latter, of course, but given the form of
the world’s top two there must be a chance of a thrilling duel on Sunday
for the other trophy on offer here, after McIlroy opened with a fairly
effortless 66 to be tied second with Scot Marc Warren and Spaniard
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

Strolling: Donald (right) Francesco Molinari of Italy walk to the 17th green

Strolling: Donald (right) Francesco Molinari of Italy walk to the 17th green

As for the rest of the Ryder Cuppers,
Lee Westwood shot a useful 67 with Justin Rose and Nicolas Colsaerts a
further stroke behind. Ian Poulter, however, could only manage a 72.
His reponse: ‘Completely disgusted with myself, I’ve finally hit the
wall and jetlag has hit me for six.’

Finally, as for the answer to the day’s big question… Donald’s miss came on the 12th hole during The Open at Lytham.

Bebeto"s son gets first Brazil under 20 call-up

Bebeto's boy still rocks! Mattheus a step closer to emulating legend father with Brazil Under 20 call-up

|

UPDATED:

10:54 GMT, 14 November 2012

It was an iconic moment in World Cup history, since replicated by goalscorers on park pitches the world over.

Bebeto had just fired Brazil two-up in their USA '94 quarter-final against Holland and celebrated with a carefully-choreographed cradle-rocking routine with teammates Romario and Mazinho in honour of his new-born son Mattheus.

Now, 18 years later and all grown up, that baby is a step closer to emulating the achievements of his legendary father after receiving his first Brazil Under 20 call-up.

Iconic moment: Mazinho, Bebeto and Romario rock the cradle in celebration after Bebeto's goal against Holland in the 1994 World Cup quarter-final

Iconic moment: Mazinho, Bebeto and Romario rock the cradle in celebration after Bebeto's goal against Holland in the 1994 World Cup quarter-final

Quick strides: Mattheus (right) has already played for his father's club Flamengo and is now being recognised at international level

Quick strides: Mattheus (right) has already played for his father's club Flamengo and is now being recognised at international level

Mattheus, by all accounts a prolific scorer, has worked his way through the youth ranks at Bebeto's old club Flamengo and now looks set for international recognition too.

The youngster made his debut for the Rio club in February this year in a 0-0 draw with Olaria, as his proud father watched on from the stands.

Bebeto, 47, is now a politician, having been voted onto the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro as a Democratic Labour candidate at the 2010 elections.

Nice moves: And on the evidence of this celebration, he has great celebration routines like his dad

Nice moves: And on the evidence of this celebration, he has great celebration routines like his dad

Mattheus said at the time of his club debut: 'I talk to my father all the time, because he had a great career and is an ideal example for me to follow.

'He has helped give me peace of mind by telling me not worry about expectations and just to concentrate on doing my best.'

And with this latest milestone, it seems he's a step closer to meeting those expectations.

VIDEO: Bebeto's iconic cradle celebration

Wayne Rooney wants Manchester United to improve

Rooney says Man United must improve after striker bags two goals in win against Stoke

PUBLISHED:

18:12 GMT, 20 October 2012

|

UPDATED:

18:12 GMT, 20 October 2012

Two-goal hero Wayne Rooney celebrated a personal milestone at Old Trafford on Saturday but warned Manchester United they must buck up their ideas if their Premier League title challenge is not to end in disaster.

Rooney's salvo, in addition to goals from Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck, allowed Manchester United to record a 4-2 win over Stoke.

It also took Rooney to 200 club goals – for United and Everton – an early present for his 27th birthday on Wednesday.

On song: Wayne Rooney scored two goals against Stoke to help Manchester United win 4-2 at Old Trafford

On song: Wayne Rooney scored two goals against Stoke to help Manchester United win 4-2 at Old Trafford

However, United found themselves behind for the seventh time in 11 games this season, and have now conceded seven goals in four Premier League home games.

And Rooney knows it cannot continue. He said: 'Of course it is a concern.

'We can't keep doing that.

'No disrespect to Stoke, but better opposition will punish us.

'We need to keep working and keep defending well.

'Hopefully soon we will get the players back who can provide a bit of cover for us because if we want to be successful this season, we can't keep doing that.'

In diverting home Charlie Adam's free-kick for the first own goal of his career, Rooney was becoming the first United player to score at both ends since David Beckham at Blackburn in 2001.

Michael Kightly then struck after United had responded with three goals of their own, meaning Rooney's second was required to keep the Red Devils four points adrift of pacesetters Chelsea.

'We keep starting badly,' said Sir Alex Ferguson. 'Early goal against Fulham. Early goal against Tottenham. Early goal today.

'We are giving ourselves uphill fights. You don't want it to happen and hopefully we will get it sorted.
“The second in particular was a really slack one for us to lose.'

In on it: United's strikeforce were on fire as Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck added a goal each to Rooney's double

In on it: United's strikeforce were on fire as Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck added a goal each to Rooney's double

In on it: United's strikeforce were on fire as Robin van Persie (centre) and Danny Welbeck (right) added a goal each to Rooney's double

In on it: United's strikeforce were on fire as Robin van Persie (centre) and Danny Welbeck (right) added a goal each to Rooney's double

Rooney was unaware of his personal milestone until informed after the final whistle.

It was what he was told beforehand that bothered Stoke boss Tony Pulis more.

'I was disappointed to see him on the team sheet,” he said. “I thought Alex might have rested him today.

'Wayne is a great player. You watch him at times and his movement is absolutely first-class.'

Rooney's partnership with Van Persie looks as though it might pay big dividends over the coming months, with both men equally adept at moving wide and creating a chance for others, as the Dutchman did on Saturday.

'We are getting more of an understanding,' said Rooney.

'That is the first game we have started together up front and we have both scored. I am sure it will get better.'

Bad start: Rooney (centre) scored an own goal early in the game to hand Stoke the lead

Bad start: Rooney (centre) scored an own goal early in the game to hand Stoke the lead

It was only Stoke's second defeat of the season, not a disastrous statistic considering they have played all the title challengers.

And, whilst Chelsea have a clear advantage at present, Pulis is predicting a thrilling race.

'They have all got players in their teams who can change games,' he said.

'Manchester United have leg-beaters. They can beat you with a pass or with movement.

'That is what great teams have, all mixed up into one.

'Manchester United have got it, Chelsea, Arsenal. It will be a great Premier League this season.

'Tottenham got beaten today but they have got some outstanding players and obviously you have Manchester City in there.'

Portugal 1 Northern Ireland 1 match report: Cristiano Ronaldo wins 100th cap

Portugal 1 Northern Ireland 1: McGinn spoils Ronaldo party as O'Neill's men secure superb point

|

UPDATED:

22:40 GMT, 16 October 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo reached a personal milestone but was upstaged by a winger of distinctly humbler standing, as Northern Ireland came within 10 minutes of a result to compare with any in their history, here in the Estadio do Dragao.

Ronaldo loooked earmarked for a pivotal role, on his 100th Portugal appearance, but was left staring at a humiliating defeat after Niall McGinn, freed by Celtic in the summer and snapped up by Aberdeen on a two-year contract, fired Northern Ireland into a shock 30th-minute lead.

Breaking the deadlock: Niall McGinn scores the opening goal past Rui Patricio

Breaking the deadlock: Niall McGinn scores the opening goal past Rui Patricio

Oh, happy days: Kyle Lafferty grabs McGinn in front of the Northern Irish faithful

Oh, happy days: Kyle Lafferty grabs McGinn in front of the Northern Irish faithful

Match facts

Portugal: Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira (Eder 74), Bruno Alves, Pepe, Miguel Lopes (Ruben Amorim 46), Veloso, Ruben Micael (Varela 61), Ronaldo, Joao Moutinho, Nani, Postiga. Subs not used: Eduardo, Nelson, Custodio, Pizzi, Nelson Oliveira, Sereno, Luis Neto, Beto.

Scorer: Postiga 79.

Northern Ireland: Carroll, McGivern, Cathcart, Jonathan Evans, Hughes, Baird, Davis, Corry Evans, McGinn, Norwood, Kyle Lafferty. Subs not used: Mannus, Hodson, Shiels, Healy, McCourt, Danny Lafferty, Grigg, Carson, McGovern.

Booked: Hughes.

Scorer: McGinn 30.

Referee: Thorsten Kinhoefer (Germany).

Former Tottenham striker Helder Postiga
finally rescued his side with a scrambled 80th-minute equaliser, but
there was no denying Northern Ireland's right to a point that dented
Portugal's qualification hopes and made a mockery of the 114 places
between the nations in the latest FIFA rankings.

Portugal were made to look
third-rate, rather than third best in the world, by a disciplined,
determined Northern Ireland side marshalled expertly by a brilliant
exhibition of poise and flawless positioning by an inspired Jonny Evans.

Even though Postiga's close-range
leveller denied Northern Ireland a famous victory, there was enough
about the result and performance to leave manager Michael O'Neill
beaming: 'It's for others to say where that ranks alongside what has
happened in the past, but I'm just immensely proud of the effort all the
players put in.

'Everyone played their part, from
Niall scoring a goal worthy of winning the game to Jonny, who looked
like he could slot into any team in the world.

Fans' favourite: Portuguese supporters show their appreciation of Cristiano Ronaldo

Fans' favourite: Portuguese supporters show their appreciation of Cristiano Ronaldo

'I have had Jonny for four games now,
and he has been a joy to work with. He is going to be a leader of men,
within any team he plays for. I have seen that recently with his
performances for Manchester United, and I thought his composure on the
ball and leadership qualities were fantastic.

'The boys are actually very
disappointed they only drew the game, after coming so close to winning.
We knew we would have to defend for our lives at times, and that was the
case in the second half. But then they showed so much character again
to hold on for a point at the end.'

Level pegging: Helder Postiga broke Northern Irish hearts

Level pegging: Helder Postiga broke Northern Irish hearts

Ronaldo's century of appearances was
marked in fitting style. A giant banner, draped over the upper tier of a
stand, hailed him as the best in the world and stretched from one
penalty area to the other, while his 100th cap was presented before
kick-off and doffed to all corners.

Eager though he was to remain the centre of attention, his former Old Trafford colleague Evans had other ideas.

It never rains: Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during a downpour in Porto

It never rains: Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during a downpour in Porto

The United centre-back was imperious
at the heart of Northern Ireland's defence, stretching to cut out a
dangerous Nani cross early on, timing tackles to perfection and showing
remarkable composure in possession.

Repeatedly, he had the self-assurance
to play his way out of trouble, rather than simply clear his lines, and
it led to a 30th-minute breakthrough that stunned a capacity home
crowd.

On the run: Nani escapes the attentions of Oliver Norwood

On the run: Nani escapes the attentions of Oliver Norwood

Surrounded by opponents near the
centre circle, Evans expertly evaded all attempts to disposses him and
slid a pass into the path of Kyle Lafferty. When Lafferty immediately
relayed it to McGinn, the Aberdeen winger was suddenly in on goal for an
opportunity he finished with aplomb.

As Rui Patricio raced from his line,
McGinn clipped a shot beyond him, before sprinting to take the acclaim
of a 1,300-strong travelling support near the corner flag.

Jump to it: Postiga vies with Jonny Evans and keeper Roy Carroll

Jump to it: Postiga vies with Jonny Evans and keeper Roy Carroll

It said much for Northern Ireland's
highly-effective containing job that the closest Portugal came to a
first-half goal was when Craig Cathcart inadvertently volleyed a Joao
Pereira cross against his own bar in the 36th minute.

Sensing the group may be slipping
away from them, after Russia beat Azerbaijan earlier in the day,
Portugal finally found some urgency in the second half, but still left
Roy Carroll untested until the 59th minute.

Clearing his lines: Bruno Alves makes no mistake

Clearing his lines: Bruno Alves makes no mistake

The Olympiacos keeper was up to the
task, as he instinctively stuck out a boot to block a low shot from
Ronaldo, following a right-wing cross by Nani.

Cathcart was living dangerously at
times and went perilously close to an own goal again in the 63rd minute,
slicing an attempted clearance and seeing the ball loop over Carroll
and land on the roof of the net.

Ganging up: Lafferty skips away from three Portuguese

Ganging up: Lafferty skips away from three Portuguese

Mounting home pressure at last
yielded its reward in the 80th minute, as substitute Varela headed back a
deep cross and Postiga forced the ball home from close range.

Portugal may claim their improved
second half performance merited as much, but one thing was beyond
dispute. Northern Ireland had thoroughly deserved any luck that went
their way.

Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo set to win 100th cap against Northern Ireland

Portugal winger Ronaldo set to join 100 club against Northern Ireland

|

UPDATED:

21:18 GMT, 11 October 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo is on course to win his 100th
international cap against Northern Ireland on Tuesday after training with his
Portugal team-mates and declaring himself fit to face Russia.

The Real Madrid winger hurt his left shoulder attempting an
overhead kick against Barcelona at the weekend and was rated a doubt for both
Portugal's World Cup qualifiers, in Moscow on Friday and against Northern Ireland
in Porto.

Feeling fit: Cristiano Ronaldo takes part in a training session at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow

Feeling fit: Cristiano Ronaldo takes part in a training session at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow

He was given the all-clear, after checks on his shoulder,
and is expected to earn his 99th cap on the Luzhniki Stadium's artificial
surface, even though coach Paulo Bento was keeping his cards close to his
chest.

'We will have to see if there is any reaction and assess how
he is,' said Bento. 'But of course it would make a big difference to us, if he
can play. He is the best there is, and he will certainly get my vote for world
player-of-the-year.'

Milestone: Ronaldo could reach 100 caps against Northern Ireland

Milestone: Ronaldo could reach 100 caps against Northern Ireland

Russia's former England manager Fabio Capello refused to
be taken in by Bento's cautious stance, saying: 'I was honestly hoping
Ronaldo's injury proved more serious than it was. If he had been ruled out, it
would have been that much easier for our defence. We are going to have our
hands full, trying to contain him.'

Joe Root hits century as England Lions beat West Indies

Joe at the Root of success as England Lions batter West Indies

|

UPDATED:

14:44 GMT, 13 May 2012

Joe Root bagged a century as England Lions surged to a 10-wicket victory at Northampton to send West Indies into the first Investec Test at Lord's with little to cheer.

Root (115 not out) and Michael Carberry (72 not out) barely had a moment's worry against a depleted attack as England knocked off 197 to win with more than a session to spare.

Root's share brought him his second first-class hundred and it was easy pickings as he accelerated the scoring rate and the West Indies notably took their feet off the pedal.

Deadly duo: Joe Root (right) and Michael Carberry at Northampton

Deadly duo: Joe Root (right) and Michael Carberry at Northampton

The tourists' mid-match fightback faltered immediately on the final morning.

They had defied expectations yesterday, when Kieran Powell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul helped them wipe out a mammoth first-innings deficit.

But the tail lasted barely 30 minutes and after bowling their opponents out for 390, the Lions moved with the minimum fuss to 61 without loss at lunch.

/05/13/article-2143773-131162FE000005DC-280_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Watching on: Jonny Bairstow was in the crowd to watch the Lions” class=”blkBorder” />

Watching on: Jonny Bairstow was in the crowd to watch the Lions

Rampaul was back on the field at least, but neither he nor Fidel Edwards was used as the tourists opted for apparent damage limitation to their pace-bowling resources and allowed off-spinners Shane Shillingford and Marlon Samuels to go through the motions.

Root passed his 50 with his sixth four when Samuels went round the wicket and induced an edge from the new angle, at catchable height, wide of slip.

There were eight boundaries in Carberry's half-century, from 116 balls, and he too reached the milestone by edging an off-break from Shillingford past slip.

Root had needed 96 balls to post his 50 but more than doubled his boundary count to 14 as he scooted to three figures in only 36 more.
Appropriately, he completed the job thanks to a misfield.

Matt Coles (four for 76) struck twice this morning to finish off the West Indies' second-innings resistance for the addition of only 13 runs.

It might have been only seven or 11 had either Nick Compton at second slip or Root at short-leg managed to hold routine catches offered respectively by last pair Roach off Meaker and Rampaul off Coles.

But at such little cost, such minor details were never likely to prove significant.

George Chuter interview: Leicester hooker on his 12 years at Welford Road and going for the Premiership title

Sharp Chuter: King George talks about fans, ninjas and old age as he prepares for career landmark

|

UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 4 May 2012

It's been some week for George Chuter. On Tuesday, the Leicester hooker received a club award for outstanding service and on Saturday he becomes the first player to make a 250th Premiership appearance. In his book, these landmarks are twin imposters – greeted cautiously, with wry humour.

The 35-year-old Londoner is in his 12th season in the East Midlands and today the massed hordes of Tigers fans in a capacity crowd at Welford Road will acclaim his achievement, before the home side set about savaging Bath to claim a home semi-final. But Chuter isn’t anticipating or craving a fuss.

‘Yeah, there’s going to be a parade through the city,’ he quipped, when asked if there would be any special measures to recognise his feat of endurance. ‘No, I don’t think there’s much planned. I wouldn’t expect anything. We’ve got a big game to concentrate on.’

Going strong: Chuter will make his 250th Premiership appearance on Saturday

Going strong: Chuter will make his 250th Premiership appearance on Saturday

Awareness of the 250-game milestone has crept up on him in recent weeks, but he is not about to dwell on it or savour it, not just yet, not while there’s work to do. ‘I don’t tick off the games as I go and keep note of the tally myself,’ he said.

‘Once I get a chance to reflect I guess it’s quite a significant achievement. It’s not something you aim for in your career, you just want to play the next game, win the next game, win the next trophy or play for England, stuff like that. You don’t think about totting up games. It just makes me feel old in all honesty!’

As for the award, that too prompts a light-hearted reaction. ‘Outstanding service – it’s the old-man award,’ he said.

‘They basically give it to everyone the year before they retire, or that’s what they think…! It’s one of those awards you don’t want to win because it means you’re getting on a bit, but it’s still a great honour.

'In the past, people wouldn’t accept it because they thought it was jinxed and they would get injured the next year. We used to have a shield with all the names on and guys didn’t want to touch it, but now a sponsor gives us a nice watch instead.’

Record breaker: George Chuter at his home near Hinckley

Going for the title: Leiester's George Chuter

Title challenge: Chuter hopes to be competing for the Premiership trophy at Twickenham later this month

For all the matches he has gone through at the sharp end of the forward battle since a debut for Saracens at the start of the 1997-98 season, Chuter has an incredible ability to recall details. Take that debut for example. He insists even now that he was robbed of a scoring start to his career in the top division.

‘In my first year at Sarries, I sat on the bench five or six times for league games but didn’t get on the field,’ he said.

‘The year after, I was on the bench for the first game up at Sale and I got on for about the last 25 minutes, for my first appearance. It was at Heywood Road, up against Steve Diamond (now chief executive at Sale).

'I scored a try actually, but it was disallowed – it was a drive-over maul from a five-yard lineout. I was on the floor but it was before the days of TV replays so the ref said I was held up and we had a scrum five. Never mind…’

Power force: Chuter in action for Leicester

Power force: Chuter in action for Leicester

Chuter left Saracens in 2000 and took a break. There was a new contract on offer but he felt stale and spent time in America and Australia, to re-charge the batteries and regain a hunger for his chosen profession. He considered playing social rugby Down Under and working there for a year, but instead an agent friend had – without his knowledge – been speaking to clubs at home and Leicester took him on.

Since then, he has played an increasingly prominent part as the club have won the domestic title five times, and the Heineken Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup twice each.

Final push: Chuter wants Leicester to make the Premiership final

Final push: Chuter wants Leicester to make the Premiership final

With the benefit of hindsight, he is glad he has spent so much of his career with the Tigers, but he has had periods of doubt. ‘There have been some dark times here,’ said Chuter. ‘Around the time of the 2003 World Cup I ended up as third choice for a while, after starting the season as first choice.

‘Previously I’d been starting for Saracens, playing for England ‘A’, stuff like that, then suddenly I was having to cope with being down the pecking order. It was a setback, that’s all, but those sort of things test you and you find out a bit about yourself. My dad died that year as well so it was a difficult time professionally and personally.

‘At that time, if I’d had a chance to go somewhere else I probably would have gone. I wasn’t here to be a third choice.

'Then in mid-season Dean (Richards) got sacked and John Wells took over. For his first game in charge I was third choice again.

'We were up at Sale on a Friday night, it was lashing down with rain and freezing cold and I was acting as a ball boy on the far side of the field, keeping the ball dry for Nobby (Dorian West) to throw in. I was thinking, “What am I doing here”.

‘But after that game, we had the Barbarians on a Wednesday evening at Welford Road and Wellsy took me to one side and said, “You are starting, this is a chance for you, this is a trial match for you”.

'I played well and managed to bounce back. Although I’ve had a couple more ups and downs since, that’s probably about as low as I’ve been but those times in the doldrums make you appreciate what you’ve got. It gives you a bit of perspective.’

Having had to work hard for his chances at club level, the same was true of Chuter’s Test career, which began just before his 30th birthday. That debut was in Sydney against Australia and there is a neat symmetry as his last appearance was there too, as a replacement on the night England won 21-20. ‘If that is the last Test I play in, it wasn’t a bad place to finish.’

Early days: Chuter in action for Saracens during his early days with Michael Lynagh and Tony Diprose

Early days: Chuter in action for Saracens during his early days with Michael Lynagh and Tony Diprose

The Wallabies were again the opposition for his personal international highlight – the shock World Cup quarter-final victory in Marseille founded on a scrum onslaught led by Andrew Sheridan. It was so low-key in the build-up because no-one expected us to get anywhere near them,’ he said. ‘In fact, guys were talking to their wives back home saying, “I’ll see you Monday”.

‘It was almost comic-book stuff. They were talking themselves up all week in the press so to go out there and turn them over was fantastic. It was one of those games where everything we planned to do came off and even though the score was tight, we were the much better team on the day. Stirling Mortlock missed his kick and the Gods were with us.’

Fans table

*On the edge of their seats: Each of the matches was independently scored for its excitement levels by a former England rugby international. The most exciting match of the experiment was deemed to be Leicester Tigers narrow victory (30-25) over local rivals Northampton Saints in December 2011.

For all the dedication needed to stay in shape for elite rugby, Chuter has broadened his repertoire beyond training and playing the game. An online diary for the club website has morphed into a regular, off-the-wall column in the matchday programme, featuring historical trivia and satire and deliberately ‘embellished’ tales from inside the camp.

He also describes himself on Twitter as a ‘ninja fan’ and said: ‘I’d like to be one but I’m probably a bit heavy and slow!’

He is fit for today’s purpose, which is to help see off Bath in the Tigers’ last regular-season game.

The big crowd will help. While a season-long experiment by Premiership sponsors Aviva to find the league's most passionate fans ranked Leicester’s down in sixth, behind first-placed Gloucester and local rivals Northampton, Chuter values their raucous contribution, saying: ‘This game is sold out and when Welford Road is full, the crowd seem to make as much noise as a full house at the Millennium Stadium, which has the best atmosphere I’ve experienced.

'They are passionate about their rugby and knowledgeable as well. They will let you know if you’re c**p and let you know if you’re good.’

Today, they will surely let Chuter know that’s he good, on his red-letter day. He won’t need a parade to feel the affection.

Aviva are proud title sponsors of Premiership Rugby. George and Leicester Tigers will next week be competing for a place in the Aviva Premiership Final. Tickets for the Aviva Premiership Final on 26 May at Twickenham are available at www.ticketmaster.co.uk

Windies batsman Chanderpaul becomes only the 10th member of 10,000 club

Windies batsman Chanderpaul becomes only the 10th member of 10,000 club

|

UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 26 April 2012

Shivnarine Chanderpaul became just
the 10th player to score 10,000 Test runs, but his departure in the
final over of the day saw the initiative swing firmly back to Australia
on the fourth day of the third and final Test against West Indies in
Dominica.

Chanderpaul reached the milestone
with a single off Michael Clarke in his 140th Test as the 37-year-old
became only the second West Indian player to pass the landmark,
following Brian Lara who ended his career with 11,953.

Milestone: West Indies batsman Shivarine Chanderpaul celebrates his 10,000th Test run

Milestone: West Indies batsman Shivarine Chanderpaul celebrates his 10,000th Test run

However, it was the Australia captain who removed the West Indian with the first ball of the last over to leave the tourists firmly in control.

After wobbling on 45 for three, Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo put on 110 before the latter was out for 45.

It was then a huge blow for the hosts to lose Chanderpaul for 69 as they finished the day on 173 for five, needing 197 more for victory with five wickets remaining.

Earlier, local boy Shane Shillingford
took two wickets in the morning to end with four for 100 in the second
innings, and 10 for 219 overall, as Australia were all out for 259.

Ricky Ponting and Ed Cowan's half-centuries were the highest
contributions to an unimpressive total, but it still meant the hosts
were in pursuit of a testing score.

West Indies' Shivnarine Chanderpaul

Hitting out: Chanderpaul on his way to 69

Resuming on 200 for six, a lead of 310, this morning, Australia added a
further 20 before Michael Hussey (32) became Shillingford's first victim
of the day, and ninth overall, when he was caught by Darren Sammy.

Ryan Harris (nine) and Ben Hilfenhaus (six) were next to fall, the
latter becoming Shillingford's 10th wicket to leave the tourists on 237.

Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon resisted somewhat and put on 22 between
them before the former was bowled for 21 by Kemar Roach to end the
Australia innings.

That saw West Indies set a target of 370 for victory, but they made a woeful start, losing Adrian Barath for an 11-ball duck.

It was a stunning catch by Cowan, who dived to his right despite a well-timed flick by the batsman.

The hosts' task became harder when Australia removed Kraigg Braithwaite
for 14 with the score on 28. Clarke brought himself on to bowl and had
the batsman lbw after a late pull.

Kieran Powell made 24 before being straight bowled by Clarke and any West Indies run chase was looking unlikely.

Early strike: Australia celebrate dismissal of Adrian Barath

Early strike: Australia celebrate dismissal of Adrian Barath

However, any gloom was brightened as Chanderpaul reached his milestone
with a tuck through mid-wicket and, although his own acknowledgement was
muted, everyone in the ground rose to applaud.

Chanderpaul moved on to his 50 – which came off 90 balls – with a
boundary off Harris and the hosts will have been hoping to reach the
close of play without further loss.

However, that was dashed when Bravo was removed, Matthew Wade getting
down well for a catch after the batsman got an edge to a Shane Watson
delivery.

His 45 came off 148 balls and included five boundaries and the hosts
suffered another blow soon after when Chanderpaul departed from the
first ball of the final over from Clarke, who finished with three for
34.

His 69 came off 122 balls and included six fours, but the pendulum had swung firmly back in Australia's favour.