Tag Archives: moments

Ashley Cole deserves appreciation for reaching century of England caps v Brazil

Rival fans can't stand him and he even broke the heart of the nation's sweetheart Cheryl… but is it time we gave Ashley Cole a little love as he joins England's 100 Club

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Standing the test of time: Ashley Cole has turned in consistently excellent performances for England ever since his debut – against Albania in a World Cup qualifier back in March 2001. He is set to win his 100th cap – becoming the seventh player to do so – against Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday night.

THE 100 CAP CLUB

Peter Shilton – 125
David Beckham – 115
Bobby Moore – 108
Bobby Charlton – 106
Billy Wright – 105
Steven Gerrard – 100

They’re being told to just put aside for a few moments all that inherent, seething dislike of a man who’s been regularly vilified at grounds up and down the country for the best part of a decade, and show some appreciation, however forced, for a wonderful achievement.

Yesterday, fellow centurion Steven Gerrard had to appeal to the Wembley crowd to treat Cole with respect. The captain said that ‘nobody in the ground can take away that achievement’ and that the Chelsea player ‘deserves’ to be a hundred cap man.

Can you imagine a teammate having to go on the record to justify to England fans that Moore, or Charlton, or indeed any of the others, is ‘worthy’ of their accomplishment

As might be expected, the praise has been pouring in this week. Stuart Pearce called him the ‘best left-back that’s ever played for England’ and, continuing the theme, said that he would be ‘standing and cheering when his name gets announced.’

Best in the business: Cole has been hailed by a number of former England internationals as the best left-back to ever play for the national team

Best in the business: Cole has been hailed by a number of former England internationals as the best left-back to ever play for the national team

Glen Johnson said Cole was ‘one of the nicest guys you could ever meet’ and former Arsenal teammate Martin Keown said he was a ‘lovely fella.’

It’s extraordinary that Cole is so universally unloved that players past and present need to come out with such comments to justify why he’s deserving of a simple round of applause from a crowd of people.

Whatever Cole’s misdemeanours in the past, whatever his alleged shortcomings and infidelities as a person, husband, Twitter-user and work experience student mentor, nobody can dispute his status as a consistently world-class player.

The highs... Cole celebrates with David Beckham after the latter scored a free-kick against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup

The highs… Cole celebrates with David Beckham after the latter scored a free-kick against Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup

And the lows... Cole is consoled by Roy Hodgson after England lose on penalties to Italy at Euro 2012

And the lows… Cole is consoled by Roy Hodgson after England lose on penalties to Italy at Euro 2012

You hear of Cole being run ragged by a winger or making a match-defining error so rarely that you’re led to believe that his performances have been flawless since the beginning of time. In a decade or more at the top of the game, Cole has faced all the best attackers in the world – and he’s never been mastered by any of them.

When these glamorous England friendlies roll round, it’s only natural to play that game where you try and fit English names into the opposition eleven. Who is good enough to play for Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, whoever The truth is, all of those nations would love to have Cole in their team.

Cole’s reading of the game is second to none. His instinct to interpret and be in the right place at the right time is unrivalled. How many times has Cole saved Chelsea or England by winning a foot race to tackle a striker bearing down on goal, or been on the post to head the ball off the line

In Chelsea’s run to European glory last season, he cleared Christian Maggio’s goalbound effort from underneath the crossbar to prevent elimination to Napoli and he denied Barcelona a crucial away goal in the Stamford Bridge leg of the semi-final.

Indeed, his marshalling of Dani Alves in that game was up there with his shackling of Cristiano Ronaldo in the Euro 2004 quarter-final – both in Cole’s “pocket” as it were.

Shackled: Cole keeps a tight rein on Cristiano Ronaldo, then of Manchester United, in the 2007 Community Shield

Shackled: Cole keeps a tight rein on Cristiano Ronaldo, then of Manchester United, in the 2007 Community Shield

And in an age when wing-backs are expected also to fulfil attacking obligations, Cole excels. He tears up and down the flank tirelessly – a tackle here, an interception there, a whipped cross, a neat shimmy or flash of skill.

The breadth of his role on the left-side requires a slavish devotion to working on and developing every facet of his game. Cole’s professionalism in training and self-education in the ways of football have never been questioned.

Nor has his commitment. Unlike some others, he’s always been ready, willing and able to play for the national team. He’s never let the failures of the ‘Golden Generation’ discourage him from providing the kind of full-bloodied, lion-hearted performances England fans demand.

Medallion man: Cole (right) celebrates with Daniel Sturridge after winning the European cup for Chelsea last May

Medallion man: Cole (right) celebrates with Daniel Sturridge after winning the European cup for Chelsea last May

Cole has been rewarded handsomely for his ability, he’s won everything in the club game and it’s perhaps this doesn’t help his image. Cheats and ‘love rats’ seem to prosper, his detractors would say.

But Cole is having the last laugh. He’s long learned to live with the Pantomime booing on opposition ground and even from his own fans at Wembley – it doesn’t affect the consistently excellent performances he puts in. It doesn’t permeate the thick skin.

He can also retort by pointing to three Premier League, seven FA Cup, a League Cup and a Champions League winners medal in his collection with a smugness and a satisfaction.

And as he again soaks up the acclaim on this grand occasion of a century of caps, it’s time to get on our feet, applaud and cheer for one of the best left-backs the game will ever see. And mean it too.

Can we feel a bit sorry for unfaithful Cole Never, argues Liv Lee

Can you ever really appreciate a sportsperson purely for what they do on the field No.

No-one self-sabotages like a Premier League footballer.

They achieve it with impressive frequency. Admittedly, they have the eyes of the world on them, and when every mistake turns up the next day in national headlines, well, that can’t be easy.

So can we feel just a little bit sorry for Ashley Cole Absolutely not.

Split: Cole's reputation will always be tarnished by allegations he cheated on wife Cheryl

Split: Cole's reputation will always be tarnished by allegations he cheated on wife Cheryl

Everybody makes mistakes. Sleeping with someone who wasn’t his wife (allegedly) was probably a mistake, and he’s not the first person to betray a spouse. Sleeping with multiple people (allegedly), less so – unless you go down the Tiger Woods line of claiming an addiction to sex, multiple indiscretions can’t be ‘mistakes.’

But sleeping with people who he met in less than discreet circumstances and who went on to sell their stories in graphic detail (allegedly) – Phenomenally, unforgivably stupid.

He’s not the first. Wayne Rooney’s indiscretions have been made equally public, but when it comes to women paid for sex, you’d assume you were also paying for them to keep their mouth shut. Cole had no reason to expect that any one of his lovers would keep quiet.

And if only there was just the one reason to despise him.

Never forgiven: Cole helped Arsenal win silverware, but he's never been forgiven for the manner in which he left for Chelsea

Never forgiven: Cole helped Arsenal win silverware, but he's never been forgiven for the manner in which he left for Chelsea

‘I couldn't believe it when they [Arsenal] weren't prepared to pay me 60,000 a week.’ Need I say more

And he shot a work experience student. As I said, the capability to footballers to self-sabotage is just outstanding.

His achievements on the field will make sure he is remembered as one of the greatest players England ever bred. And his actions off the pitch don’t diminish those achievements in any way.

But the incidents surrounding Cole are inextricable from the man you see on the pitch. People love sport not only because of the basic viewing of a game, but also for the personalities involved, and the dynamic in teams and between oppositions that these personalities create.

It really would be great to love and respect that man for what he’s achieved, but he just makes it too damn hard.

Best goal of 2012: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Papiss Cisse, Neymar, who will win?

Who scored the best goal of 2012 Drogba, Neymar and Ibrahimovic are all in with a shout… here are Sportsmail's top 10

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UPDATED:

14:40 GMT, 31 December 2012

Compiling a list of the greatest goals of the year is always tricky. It’s difficult to judge whether a magnificent dribble leading to a solo goal is better than a searing volley from 30 yards out.

But come the end of the year it’s time to decide which strikes make the cut and which must fall by the wayside. This collection has been chopped and changed a-plenty, but this is what we’re sticking with.

Only two of FIFA’s three Puskas award short-listed goals are present and correct – apologies and an honourable mention to Radamel Falcao.

We only have space for 10 goals on this list but if you believe other strikes deserve to be recognised then have your say in the comment section below.

Whose was the best 2012 saw some spectacular and brilliant goals and Sportsmail lists the top 10

Whose was the best 2012 saw some spectacular and brilliant goals and Sportsmail lists the top 10

10. Peter Crouch (STOKE v Man City)

People love to stick the boot in on Stoke because of their 'dour' brand of football. But they have offered some magic moments too during their time in the top flight.

Earlier this week we saw Cameron Jerome score an absolute rocket against Southampton. And in March Peter Crouch dealt Manchester City a setback in the title race.

We know now that it didn't stop them winning the Premier League, but at the time this wondergoal gave Man United the chance to open up a three point lead at the top.

Crouch nodded Asmir Begovich's long punt to Jermain Pennant who nodded it back and then the giant striker teed himself up and lashed in a stunning volley from an awkward angle past Joe Hart.

9. Simon Cox (NOTTINGHAM FOREST v Birmingham)

In the 1998 World Cup quarter-final clash between Holland and Argentina, Dennis Bergkamp scored a delightful goal, controlling a long pass expertly and finishing with aplomb.

Nottingham Forest and Ireland striker Simon Cox evoked that spirit against Birmingham in the Championship. Yes, the stage was smaller but the skill was no less admirable.

Cox took one touch to kill Lewis McGugan's long ball and then adjusted instantly to delicately flick it over the helpless Jack Butland.

8. Rodrigo Palacio (GENOA v Lazio)

Did he mean it That was the question everybody was asking when Rodrigo Palacio, now of Inter, scored this gem.

The Genoa striker's cute backflick from this corner floated over the surprised Lazio keeper and sank into the net.

Some say it was luck, others judgement. Sportsmail falls in the latter camp and will give the Argentina hitman the credit this effort deserves.

7. Gaston Mealla (NACIONAL POTOSI v The Strongest)

Colombian goalkeeper Rene Higuita made it famous at Wembley in 1995. But keeping the scorpion kick revival movement going in 2012 was Nacional Potosi striker Gaston Mealla. (See also THIS hilarious scorpion kick own goal for last year's effort).

During a Bolivian league match between his side and The Strongest, an under-hit dink forward was set to land behind the striker on the edge of the box. But Mealla cared not for his team-mate's mistake.

His stupendous athleticism salvaged the situation and helped create a bizarre and beautiful goal.

6. Neymar (SANTOS v Internacional)

Santos' much sought-after Brazilian demonstrated just why Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City all are willing to splash the cash on him with this bewitching solo goal against Internacional.

He picked the ball up in his own half surged at 100 miles-per-hour past, round and through anybody who stood in his way, before nudging the ball home.

Note – Hatem Ben Arfa's effort in the FA Cup against Blackburn was a contender for the list, but the Newcastle man just missed out to this. A tough call to make.

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5. Didier Drogba (Bayern Munich v CHELSEA)

Picture the scene. Chelsea are 1-0 down in the Allianz Arena and the stadium is bouncing. Bayern Munich are on the cusp of winning the Champions League trophy on their own turf.

With two minutes to go Juan Mata floats in a corner from the right. Everything seems to stand still as the ball drops in towards the near post. Everything that is, except Didier Drogba.

The Chelsea striker leaps for the ball and sends a venomous header in at the near post in front of the Blue corner of the stadium. To get so much power into the ball from such an awkward position makes this one of the finest headers of all time – before you even forgetting the circumstances.

An honourable mention goes to Ramires, Drogba's team-mate whose superbly weighted lob against Barcelona in the semi-final earned the Blues passage to Munich.

4. Philippe Mexes (AC MILAN v Anderlecht)

Philippe Mexes is supposed to be a defender. So how on earth did this happen

AC Milan were beating Anderlecht 1-0 in the Champions League when the centre-back doubled the lead with something a little bit special.

The Frenchman chested Riccardo Montolivio's ball away from goal and then flipped it accurately into the top corner with a precisely executed overhead-kick.

Milan's general manager Adriano Galliani waxed lyrical about the strike, and said: 'If Leo Messi had scored that, every news channel around the world would show it and he'd have been made a saint tonight!'

He's probably right.

3. Miroslav Stoch (FENERBAHCE v Genclerbirligi)

He's not the biggest name on the list, but he scored one of the finest goals.

Bringing to mind Zinedine Zidane's Champions League final volley and Paul Scholes' effort against Aston Villa, Fenerbahce winger Miroslav Stoch made Turkish league opponents Genclerbirligi pay.

Stoch stayed cool to pull the trigger on a 25-yard volley which swerved away from the goalkeeper and zipped in to the top corner.

This goal has been nominated for the FIFA Puskas award, along with Neymar's effort. At the Ballon d'Or ceremony on January 7 the winner will be revealed.

2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (SWEDEN v England)

This is certainly the most famous goal of 2012.

Yes, it's Zlatan Ibrahimovic's simply ridiculous propeller kick against England, which also happened to be his fourth goal of the game.

He defied gravity as he tossed his 6ft 4 frame into the sky with abandon, to caress the ball sweetly into the net.

There's an arguement to be made that Mexes' effort was trickier because he had a goalkeeper to beat – here Hart is in no-man's land – but this is from further out and far more awkward to hit.

The Swedish superstar had, until this friendly which his side won 4-2, previously been maligned by a fair few people on British soil, who thought he was over-rated and arrogant (OK, so the last part is still true).

This incredible goal was the cherry on the cake which he gleefully stuffed down the gaping mouths of his detractors.

1 Papiss Cisse (Chelsea v NEWCASTLE)

On a cold spring evening in May, Papiss Cisse warmed the cockles of Newcastle's travelling fans and delighted football fans the world over with this simply stupendous effort.

With one momentous swing of his right boot, he destroyed Chelsea's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League through a top four finish and secured himself a place in every 'Greatest Goals' DVD release between now and the end of time.

Every time you watch his outrageous volley, which spins past the thoroughly bewildered Petr Cech, it just gets better and better.

Perhaps the previously lethal Senegal striker decided he could never top this because it seems like he's stopped trying this season. You could forgive him, because this would be the highlight of anybody's career.

Jack Wilshere says injury could save him from burnout

My injury saved me! Wilshere claims 14-month layoff could prevent burnout at Arsenal

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UPDATED:

10:49 GMT, 27 December 2012

Jack Wilshere has said being out of action for 14 months might have helped him avoid burning out.

The Arsenal midfielder has been looking on the bright side of his ankle and knee injuries and claims he’s in peak fitness, although admits there were some frustrating times.

‘I was at Emirates for every single home match,’ Wilshere told the Arsenal magazine.

Burnout: Jack Wilshere believes he could reap the benefits of his long-term injury

Burnout: Jack Wilshere believes he could reap the benefits of his long-term injury

‘It was hard at times, because I really wanted to be out there. Not just for my own selfish reasons but I wanted to help the team too because we had some difficult periods last season.

‘There were a few moments [it was hard to miss out on]. When Thierry came back in January for example. He’s a legend and I really wanted to play in the same team as him. I also would have loved to play in that north London derby in February.

‘When I look back now though, I could probably have done with a break, having played so much the previous season. Obviously I didn’t want the break to be so long, in fact I didn’t want to have a break at all, but if I look back on this in 10 years’ time, it might have done me some good in the long run.’

Back on song: Wilshere had a frustrating time on the sidelines

Back on song: Wilshere had a frustrating time on the sidelines

In the mix: The youngster has returned to Arsenal's midfield

In the mix: The youngster has returned to Arsenal's midfield

The 20-year old signed a new long-term contract with the Gunners earlier this month, which he described as his way of repaying manager Arsene Wenger’s loyalty, while he credits Cesc Fabregas for wise words on how to make a footballing career last.

‘My body is stronger than it was before,' he said. 'I’ve done a lot of work with Declan Lynch and the other physios here over the past year. I’ve improved my core, improved my leg muscle strength – everything.

'Cesc [Fabregas] used to say to me ‘take it easy, don’t play too many games’. Obviously I didn’t want to have a year off. But when I’m 24 or 25 I won’t have played as many games as someone like Cesc, and that will help me.'

Twitter highlights from 2012 with Usain Bolt, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Phelps and more

How Bolt, Rio, Phelps and the rest told the story of sport in 2012 using 140 characters

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UPDATED:

21:22 GMT, 24 December 2012

Ah Twitter. How did the sporting world manage before it had you

It's quite astounding how many sportsmen have managed to land themselves in hot water this year in only 140 characters. Joey Barton, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand – the list goes on.

But there are some sporting stars with a much better grasp of Twitter, and choose to use its powers for good rather than evil.

Top Twits: Sportsmen and women used Twitter to offer a brilliant insight into their life away from the track, field or pitch, with Usain Bolt, Bradley Wiggins and Lance Armstrong producing the most memorable

Top Twits: Sportsmen and women used Twitter to offer a brilliant insight into their life away from the track, field or pitch, with Usain Bolt, Bradley Wiggins and Lance Armstrong producing the most memorable

Top Twits: Sportsmen and women used Twitter to offer a brilliant insight into their life away from the track, field or pitch, with Usain Bolt, Bradley Wiggins and Lance Armstrong producing the most memorable

Top Twits: Sportsmen and women used Twitter to offer a brilliant insight into their life away from the track, field or pitch, with Usain Bolt, Bradley Wiggins and Lance Armstrong producing the most memorable

The Olympics saw a social media explosion as it became the most tweeted event 2012, with a staggering 150 million tweets being sent over the 16 days.

And the athletes involved were desperate to share their moments of joy with the fans, as well as with watching celebrities.

After Bradley Wiggins won time trial gold medal he posted a picture of himself celebrating next to St Paul's iconic dome in central London. Ever the life and soul of the party, the cyclist added: ‘Well what a day, blind drunk at the minute and overwhelmed with all the messages, Thank You everyone it’s been emotional X’

Others not directly involved just had to express their pride in the British team as they watched them storm to victory. Kevin Pietersen could barely contain his excitement as Mo Farah took his second gold of the games.

His tweet was simple, but said what most of those at home and in the stadium were screaming: 'Moooooooooooooo Mooooooooooooo Moooooooooooo #BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM'

The American athletes were thrilled to be given personal praise from Barack Obama himself.

Michael Phelps received congratulations from the President as he tweeted: 'Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record. You've made your country proud. –bo.'

Says what we're thinking: Kevin Pietersen summed up the nation's feelings as Mo Farah claimed gold

Says what we're thinking: Kevin Pietersen summed up the nation's feelings as Mo Farah claimed gold

Says what we're thinking: Kevin Pietersen summed up the nation's feelings as Mo Farah claimed gold

Phelps replied: 'Thank you Mr. President!! It’s an honor representing the #USA!! The best country in the world!!'

Teen sensation Missy Franklin was also beside herself when she received a tweet of congratulations following her first gold medal in the 100m backstroke, but hers was from Justin Bieber, who tweeted: 'Heard @FranklinMissy is a fan of mine. Now I'm a fan of hers too. CONGRATS on winning GOLD! #muchlove.'

'I just died,' was Franklin’s simple response.

There were some more poignant moments over the 16 days.

As Michael Phelps bowed out of the Games for good he tweeted: 'Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened – Dr Seuss.'

Ryan Lochte joined his American team-mate in putting forward more philosophical thoughts, tweeting: 'Always reach for the moon cuz if u slip up u will still be a star!! #Jeah'

And of course, the Olympics wouldn’t be complete without a classic from Usain Bolt.

He had just become the first man to defend both the 100m and 200m Olympic titles and, never one to shy away from his own success, the Jamaican superstar tweeted: 'Thanks to all my real fans and people who believe in me. I am now a living legend that’s for sure.'

Later a picture was posted of him with three members of the women's Swedish handball team.

Behind the scenes: We were treated to celebrating dressing rooms

Behind the scenes: We saw celebrating dressing rooms and even the toilets at Buckingham Palace

Behind the scenes: We saw celebrating dressing rooms and even the toilets at Buckingham Palace

TOP 10 TWEETS OF THE YEAR

1. ‘Feels Good To Be Awesome.’ – Bubba Watson

2.
‘Well what a day, blind drunk at the minute and overwhelmed with all
the messages, Thank You everyone it's been emotional X’ – Bradley
Wiggins

3. ‘Moooooooooooooo Mooooooooooooo Moooooooooooo #BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM’ – Kevin Pietersen

4. ‘Roger uv got the moves like jagger’ – Yuvraj Singh (after Roger Federer’s Wimbledon victory

5. ‘Loving
the lights on the stumps and bails at the BBL (Big Bash League). Remind
me of a pair of trainers I had as a kid.’ – Eoin Morgan

6. ’Andy
Murray did himself, his family and his nation proud today. Played like a
champ. His time will come for sure!’ – Rory McIlroy

7. ‘Thank you Mr. President!! It’s an honor representing the #USA!! The best country in the world!!’ – Michael Phelps

8. ’OMFG I think it just hit me, I'm a CHAMPION!! I AM a CHAMPION!!’ – Lebron James, after the 2012 NBA Finals

9.
‘Coach, told me to go do a pool workout. So I went & did some Push
ups next to the pool. What! I aint getting this hair wet #mixedchick
#afro’ – Lolo Jones

10. ‘Where did it all go wrong They say it’s the
organiser’s fault, but I blame myself.’ – Twitter user impersonating
an unoccupied Olympic chair

Another athlete having fun on Twitter this year was Bubba Watson. After winning his first Major he told the world how he felt in quite simple terms, tweeting: 'Feels Good To Be Awesome.'

The golfer also managed to please an over-excitable fan, who tweeted at him: 'Hey Bubba, Please could You tweet me saying hi or something :3'

Watson responded with a brief 'hi' and the fan replied with: 'You have just made my day! Thank You!! :3'

But 2012 did see some darker moments on the social networking site, with many a careless comment resulting in a fine or worse.

Racism as an issue has been the ever-present spectre in sport this year, and Twitter was in no way immune.

Rio Ferdinand committed one of the most high-profile foul-ups when he re-tweeted a comment about Ashley Cole.

Cole had been appearing in court as part of John Terry’s defence against charges of racially aggravated abuse towards Anton Ferdinand, and a Twitter user labelled him a 'choc ice' – a slang term which refers to someone being black on the outside but white on the inside.

Ferdinand re-tweeted the comment, saying: 'I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! hahahahahahha!!'

The comment drew criticism from many who felt it smacked of hypocrisy in an argument about racism. The Manchester United defender was fined 45,000 but suffered no harsher punishment.

The same cannot be said for Voula Papachristou and Michel Morganella, both of whom were sent home from the Olympics after tweeting offensive remarks.

Breaking news: After his collapse on the pitch at White Hart Lane, the world waited for news of Fabrice Muamba. It was provided through Twitter

Breaking news: After his collapse on the pitch at White Hart Lane, the world waited for news of Fabrice Muamba. It was provided through Twitter

Papachristou, a triple-jumper, was expelled from the Greek Olympic team after tweeting in reference to mosquitos carrying the West Nile virus: 'With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!'

The tweet was seen as xenophobic and against the ideals of the Olympic Games, as were the comments made by Michel Morganella, who labelled Koreans, 'retards' and said they could 'burn' after Switzerland's 2-1 defeat at the hands of South Korea.

Like Papachristou, the Swiss was immediately sent home.

Snooker ace Mark Allen also got himself into trouble with offensive tweets during the Haikou World Open, after he tweeted: 'Journey a nightmare. People are ignorant. Place stinks. Arena's rubbish, tables poor, food is horrendous. Other than that I love China.'

Though that particular tweet was removed, it was one in a number of less-than-flattering statements about the host country.

There were some downright uncomfortable moments too, such as when Lance Armstrong, ever defiant in the face of criticism, tweeted a picture of his seven Tour de France jerseys hanging on his wall.

The titles may have been stripped after doping allegations, but the disgraced cyclist didn’t seem to take that too seriously as he tweeted ‘Back in Austin and just layin’ around’ with the picture of him lying on a sofa beneath the jerseys.

There was also bewilderment when three-time Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton revealed on Twitter that she had been working as an escort.

Hamilton competed in three Olympic Games for the US, in 1992, 1996 and 2000. The middle-distance runner lived in Wisconsin with her husband, but had been working for an escort service in Las Vegas.

'I do not expect people to understand,' tweeted the American. 'But the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression.'

Dad's the word: Gerard Pique and Dan Carter were two to take to Twitter to reveal good news to the world

Dad's the word: Gerard Pique and Dan Carter were two to take to Twitter to reveal good news to the world

Dad's the word: Gerard Pique and Dan Carter were two to take to Twitter to reveal good news to the world

Some athletes used Twitter for what could be called 'professional reasons' in 2012, but perhaps unadvisedly so.

As a rule of thumb it’s usually best
not to criticise your employers in public forums, but that didn’t stop
Australian fly-half Quade Cooper from labelling the environment in the
Wallabies as ‘toxic’ on Twitter.

Cooper spent a few months in limbo as
he waited to see what the long-term fall-out would be from his comments,
but all was forgiven in the end and he re-joined the national squad
earlier this month.

But there was some heart-warming tweeting amongst all the fraying tempers. Gerard Pique and Dan Carter both used Twitter to announce baby news this year, with Pique posting the picture of his first child’s sonogram.

'His first pic! #excited #cute,' tweeted the proud prospective papa.

All Black Carter announced that his wife Honor was expecting a baby in November, tweeting: 'Thought it was time to share our exciting news.. @honorcarter is 21 weeks pregnant! We are both very excited about being parents Babycarter.'

All in all the year has exemplified Twitter’s ubiquity in sport, and whether or not we see managers and agents start to ban their charges from using it remains to be seen.

It would be a shame for fans to lose the chance to interact with their idols in the way that 2012 has shown is possible. But with so many players making headlines for the wrong reasons, it may be an inevitable end result.

Jose Maria Olazabal still loves being captain at Royal Trophy

Olazabal still loves being captain as Ryder Cup hero tees it up at Royal Trophy

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UPDATED:

10:20 GMT, 14 December 2012

Jose Maria Olazabal is captain of Europe again this week, and it feels good.

The mention of September's Miracle of Medinah still brings a beaming smile to the face of the great Spaniard, and why not

Not many men can say they inspired arguably the most impossible sporting comeback of all time.

Head to head: Jose Maria Olazabal (right) and Asia captain Joe Ozaki were all smiles ahead of the event

Head to head: Jose Maria Olazabal (right) and Asia captain Joe Ozaki were all smiles ahead of the event

Royal Trophy

Click here for the latest from Brunei

Olazabal is once more in charge of his continent for the sixth edition of the Royal Trophy in Brunei, where he and fellow Ryder Cup heroes Nicolas Colsaerts and Francesco Molinari are taking on the might of Asia, including Japanese superstar Ryo Ishikawa, over three days of matchplay amid the tropical rainforest at the Empire Hotel and Country Club.

Olazabal has had time to reflect on Medinah since Europe's scarcely believable comeback and, speaking to Sportsmail Online in Brunei, sums up the experience as 'an extraordinary moment. Unforgettable. Unique.'

Victory in the Windy City whipped up a whirlwind of publicity for Olazabal and even led to an audience with the King of Spain.

What with getting his feel back for playing ahead of this tournament with trips to the Far East, he has only recently been able to snatch moments of peace to let it all sink in.

'It's true that for a few weeks after it was over I didn't have the chance to reflect on what happened that week. I'm really looking forward to this winter, having more time on my own with a DVD and a nice glass of wine, and just enjoying it.

Nice work if you can get it: European skipper Olazabal lines up a putt as Miguel Angel Jimenez looks on

Nice work if you can get it: European skipper Olazabal lines up a putt as Miguel Angel Jimenez looks on

'Last week I had enough time to go shooting with my father. We go for partridge, quail, duck. We had a couple of nice days. It's nice to go with the dogs, just on your own, that's the beauty of it. You feel like you're the only man in the world. That sense of peace… that's what I really look forward to.'

And did he bring any dinner home for the family

'Yes, both of us did!' he laughs.

Here in Brunei, things are a little different to those incredible few days in Chicago: less hair-pulling, gut-wrenching and tear-shedding, more back-slapping, belly-laughing and mickey-taking.

During the opening ceremony we were even treated to a slapstick comedy sketch from Laurel and Hardy, otherwise known as Olazabal and Joe Osaki, the Asian captain.

When Osaki rubbed Olazabal's nose in the fact he had triumphed the last time the pair led their continents in this format, the Spaniard ran from his seat across the stage to deliver a few playful whacks to his friend's head.

Thankfully, no golfers were harmed in the making of this gag.

Two of his five a day: Our man Chris got a bit fruity with the fans in Brunei

Two of his five a day: Our man Chris got a bit fruity with the fans in Brunei

'Obviously it's not the same intensity as the Ryder Cup, it's a more relaxed atmosphere,' says Olazabal.

'But don't get me wrong, things are going to get serious. We're facing a serious challenge. The Asian team is strong. We're going to have to be on our toes.'

Olazabal's tears for his great friend Seve Ballesteros, who devised the Royal Trophy in 2006, regularly punctuated the Ryder Cup and gave viewers an insight into both the man's genuinely warm nature and his appreciation for life away from the golf course.

Ollie is emotional, and he doesn't care who knows it. He is no relentless golfing machine, focused purely on victory.

'You have to be hard in competition when you're on the course. But outside we cannot forget that this is a game. I've known Joe for many years, since the late 80s playing in Japan. You cannot forget that we're all human beings.

'There are other things in the world more important than what we do today here and you have to be able to separate those things. You have to have the right, friendly atmosphere off the golf course. On the golf course we shake hands on the first tee but that's it. We're going to try to beat each other.'

Glorious: The sun was shining on day one of the Royal Trophy in Brunei

Glorious: The sun was shining on day one of the Royal Trophy in Brunei

Unlike at Medinah, Olazabal will be teeing it up as well as leading his team as a player-captain.

On Friday he partnered compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez in the foursomes against YE Yang and KT Kim.

The mere mention of Jimenez brings a smile to Olazabal's face, although he jokes that the 'old boys' might need to use a buggy or play off the forward tees to compete with the whippersnappers.

Alongside Jimenez and the Ryder Cup stars, Henrik Stenson, Edoardo Molinari, Marcel Siem and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano complete the European team.

Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion, admits he is not as sharp as he once was but now that the Ryder Cup is behind him, he has his sights firmly set on finding form on the course again.

'My game is on and off,' he says. 'I can play a bunch of great holes but all of a sudden I can hit that crooked shot that spoils everything. My goal now that the Ryder Cup is over is to concentrate on my game. I've always worked hard but (I need) to have my frame of mind on practicing and playing.'

Olazabal speaks glowingly of Tom Watson, who was confirmed as United States captain for Gleneagles in 2014.

But is he not tempted to give the captaincy another shot, on home soil The answer is a categorical no.

'The Ryder Cup is over, for sure. If Ivan Ballesteros (Seve's nephew and Royal Trophy organiser) asks me to captain again, I might do it. Most probably I would do it. For Seve, for Ivan, for the family. But the Ryder Cup – that's over.'

It may be over, but it will never be forgotten. Just ask the Princess of Sharjah – her highness herself has made the journey here to speak with Olazabal.

Like his late, great friend, Olly too is now golfing royalty.

Pepe backheels Celta Vigo player in crotch

Madrid defender Pepe up to his old tricks with sneaky groin-level backheel

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UPDATED:

11:28 GMT, 13 December 2012

Turning the backheel – a beautiful piece of skill – into a way of kicking an opponent in the crotch is devious.

And if you were asked to guess which Real Madrid player managed to do this, the name Pepe would probably be your first answer.

Scroll down for video

In the wars: Pepe was involved in yet another controversial incident

In the wars: Pepe was involved in yet another controversial incident

Sensitive spot: Pepe's boot ends up somewhere Soto Roberto Lago would rather it didn't

Sensitive spot: Pepe's boot ends up somewhere Soto Roberto Lago would rather it didn't

It would also be a correct one, as last night in Madrid's Copa del Rey first leg against Celta Vigo Soto Roberto Lago felt the full force of the Portuguese centre-back's boot.

Pepe was frustrated as his side were losing 1-0 and looking fairly toothless – they ended up losing 2-1.

It's difficult to know whether he meant this deliberately or not – if, say, David Silva or Juan Mata were responsible it would go down as an unfortunate accident.

The referee was unsure himself and didn't produce a yellow card.

But Pepe has a history of being involved in similar incidents.

Remember that one time he repeatedly kicked Getafe captain Francisco Casquero after he took a tumble

Or the occasion he 'stepped' on Barcelona rival Lionel Messi's hand

Earlier thui year Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney labelled Pepe an 'idiot' after seeing the Messi incident.

Jack Wilshere also chipped in by tweeting 'Poor from Pepe!'.

After you pass judgement on whether he meant to kick Soto or not, watch this video (below) which 'celebrates' some of his more controversial moments.

Samir Nasri shameful in wall for Manchester City as Robin van Persie strikes free-kick

Nasri is paid 150,000-a-week to help Man City win… but he bottled it in the wall and handed bragging rights to rivals United

By
Mike Anstead

PUBLISHED:

11:28 GMT, 10 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

12:13 GMT, 10 December 2012

Your team has battled back from two goals down to draw level in the Manchester derby. The home fans – your fans – are going crazy at denying your arch rivals victory on your patch.

They have dodged humiliation in the pub and the jokes at work on Monday morning. But it's not over just yet. You've got a free-kick to defend.

Joe Hart has told Carlos Tevez that he doesn't need him in the wall. So, you will be the key man on the right of the three-man wall. As Robin van Persie tells Wayne Rooney that he's going to have a pop, you know that the ball is coming your way. All that matters is getting in the way.

You Wall-y: Nasri does his best to dodge Robin van Persie's injury-time free-kick

You Wall-y: Nasri does his best to dodge Robin van Persie's injury-time free-kick

Dodging the bullet: The Frenchman dangles his left leg in a pathetic attempt at trying to block Van Persie's strike

Dodging the bullet: The Frenchman dangles his left leg in a pathetic attempt at trying to block RVP's strike

Helpless: The ball sails past Manchester City stopper Joe Hart after deflecting off the outstretched leg of Nasri

Helpless: The ball sails past Manchester City stopper Joe Hart after deflecting off the outstretched leg of Nasri

But something's playing in the back of your mind. You don't fancy this. You played with Robin at Arsenal and he knows how to hit a ball. This is going to be coming at you hard. Very hard.

It's cold. You don't want that ball crashing into your face. It's going to hurt. But will it hurt as much as that ball flying into the net at 60mph…

We don't know the thought-process of Samir Nasri in those manic moments and we probably never will. But we can guess at what was running through his mind as Van Persie lined up his free-kick in the 93rd minute at the Etihad Stadium.

Nasri

I don't fancy this much: Nasri – a former team-mate of Van Persie – hides behind Edin Dzeko and Gareth Barry

We've all been there. That Sunday morning in the freezing cold and you're on the end of the wall as that opponent with thunder thighs readies himself for a piledriver from 25 yards. Some of you reading this will have dodged it. Some of you would never consider ducking out of the way.

But there are very few people who are paid 150,000-a-week to help their team win a football match. Nasri is rewarded handsomely by Manchester City for putting his body on the line each week.

Dutch of class: Van Persie celebrates his dramatic winner with the United supporters

Dutch of class: Van Persie celebrates his dramatic winner with the United supporters

Roberto Mancini's words said it all. He
pointed out that he only had 'two-and-a-half' players in the wall to
defend the free-kick.

Just what was Nasri thinking

As Van Persie readied himself, Nasri seemed uncomfortable in the wall. He looked like he didn't want to be there. While Edin Dzeko and Gareth Barry – the two of the 'two-and-a-half' – stood firm, Nasri wriggled about, sensing that he was a human target.

When Van Persie steps up to take the free-kick, he can probably sense Nasri's nerves. He would know enough about his mental strength from their time together at Arsenal. What he would not have predicted is that Nasri would bottle it in such a blatant manner.

As the ball leaves Van Persie's foot, the Frenchman is already tucking himself behind Dzeko. By the time the ball is level with the wall – or to be precise, in the exact position where Nasri should have been standing – he is hiding behind Dzeko. His eyes are closed, his back is now facing Van Persie and his protruding left leg (it should have at least been his right) is a token attempt to block the shot.

When the ball sneaks into the far corner of Hart's goal, Nasri knows he's let himself down. He's let the team down. He's let down the 42,000-plus City fans inside the Etihad Stadium. He's let down the thousands watching on TV around the world.

And he's handed bragging rights to Manchester United. The pub and Monday morning at work are going to be painful for City fans.

Just what was he thinking Is he one brick short of a wall

Richie McCaw, Dan Carter . . . your boys took one hell of a beating!

Richie McCaw, Dan Carter… your boys took one hell of a beating!

|

UPDATED:

21:13 GMT, 1 December 2012

Fifteen minutes after the final whistle, four or five young men in white shirts came shuffling down the Twickenham tunnel.

As they reached the touchline, another group in white hurried to join them. For a few moments, they gathered on the halfway line, waving shyly at the almost empty stands.Then they sloped off on a self-conscious lap of honour, unable to believe what they had just achieved.

There were no extravagant celebrations from England's players, nor from those who had watched them.

Swing low sweet chariot: Owen Farrell (left) hoists yet another deadly penalty kick to put England 12 points ahead at the break

Swing low sweet chariot: Owen Farrell (left) hoists yet another deadly penalty kick to put England 12 points ahead at the break

Instead, there was a collective inability to appreciate the size and significance of one of the most remarkable victories in the history of English rugby.

For nobody had seen this coming, nobody had sensed or smelled it.

Sure, the England coaches would later speak of gradual improvements over the course of the autumn internationals, of a heightened ability to live with pressure, of an increased confidence in dealing with the might of the Southern Hemisphere.

But nobody could place hand upon heart and declare their long-held conviction that Twickenham would yield a scoreline reading England 38, New Zealand 21.

And what made it so extraordinarily impressive was the fact that the English triumph was so richly deserved.

There were no ifs, no buts, no might-have-beens.

To their credit, New Zealand sought no excuses. They were beaten up front, overwhelmed at the breakdown and run ragged behind.

In surrendering a 20-match unbeaten run, they sustained the kind of battering they have so often inflicted. The longer the match progressed, the worse their humiliation became.

Small wonder that even the staunchest English patriots were doubting the evidence of their eyes.

For this was New Zealand being hammered.

Get Carter: All Blacks Dan Carter finds no way through Tom Youngs' block (above), and below Carter is left wondering where it all went so wrong for the odds-on favourites

Get Carter: All Blacks Dan Carter finds no way through Tom Youngs' block (above), and below Carter is left wondering where it all went so wrong for the odds-on favourites

Get Carter: All Blacks Dan Carter finds no way through Tom Youngs' block (above), and below Carter is left wondering where it all went so wrong for the odds-on favourites

This was the best team in the world, the nation that sets the standards, the side whose name is a synonym for excellence.

When you play the All Blacks, you play their looming legend. You do not merely encounter the daunting present of Dan Carter and Ma'a Nonu, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read.

No, you are required to face their ghosts; Wilson Whineray and Pinetree Meads, Don Clark, Ian Kirkpatrick, Sid Going and the rest.

As Brazil are to the round ball game, so New Zealand are to the oval ball.

Small wonder so many are cowed by their aura, beaten before they begin.

Nothing had suggested that England could avoid their traditional fate when the pre-match rituals were observed.

The fearsome haka was met, first in silence and then by a blast of Sweet Chariot. You could almost see the patrons exchanging worried glances: 'What have we done Hope we haven't made them angry.'

So apprehensive were the Twickenham watchers that they let slip their customary courtesy and whistled Carter when he took an age with his early penalties.

There were guilty blushes when the finest flyhalf in the game missed both of them. But Owen Farrell was not missing.

Instead, he was striking the ball sweetly, smoothly, unerringly. /12/01/article-2241591-164D074F000005DC-563_634x472.jpg” width=”634″ height=”472″ alt=”Provoked: Julian Savea goes over to score a try ” class=”blkBorder” />

Provoked: Julian Savea goes over to score a try

And then, provoked by yet another Farrell penalty, they suddenly began to play like All Blacks. Julian Savea's try in the corner was the reward for a move involving a flutter of flickering hands.

The next, a couple of minutes later, was even better, with Cory Jane securing the break, the brilliant Conrad Smith providing the link and Read loping over in the corner.

A point down, you might have bet the ranch on a New Zealand victory at that stage. But then we were into miracles and wonders.

Worth the wait: Chris Ashton (right) scored for the first time in a long time

Worth the wait: Chris Ashton (right) scored for the first time in a long time

Burns night: Freddie Burns was hot

Burns night: Freddie Burns was hot

First, there was the hectic conspiracy
involving Brad Baritt and Tuilagi down the left touchline, which
concluded with an offload from Tuilagi which quite belied his
reputation.

Another superbly destructive Tuilagi break allowed Chris Ashton a clear run to the line for his first try in an age.

True, he could not resist a self-indulgent swallow dive, but we bit back our peevish disapproval as the game became completely insane.

A yawning interception by Tuilagi saw him literally stroll over after trotting from halfway without a challenge in sight, and a grimly intense international had turned into a Sevens tournament.

Another try by Savea – possibly the best of all – arrived far too late to influence the outcome, for by now Freddie Burns, the substitute fly-half, was kicking goals for fun on his debut.

Then it was over, a victory for the ages, a triumph far beyond England's most intemperate dreams. The Chariot was sung again; mildly at first, then with swelling fervour.

And the All Blacks shook English hands and stumbled away into the night, awaiting the welcome which awaits them back home.

Whisper it in Wanganui, speak it not in Silverdale … your boys took one hell of a beating.

Mark Clattenburg – why he is a controversial referee

Meet Mr Controversy: Clattenburg is referee who loves the spotlight

|

UPDATED:

07:26 GMT, 29 October 2012

As a top-class FIFA and Barclays Premier League referee, Mark Clattenburg is no stranger to controversy.

He is one of the new breed of celebrity officials, always happy to be the centre of attention in a world of glitz and glamour.

Even as he was warming up at Stamford Bridge before Sunday’s explosive game, he was aware that he was the centre of attention.

Ruling the roost: Mark Clattenburg is a highly-rated referee

Ruling the roost: Mark Clattenburg is a highly-rated referee

The deliberate pauses as he stopped by the touchline during the circuits he performed with his officials were impossible to ignore.

On the pitch he is known for a chatty, matey style with the players that rubs them up the wrong way at times. His style is not uncommon at the highest level but most players want someone to officiate with integrity and intelligence. They want and expect them to be able to keep up with the speed of the game and to make smart decisions.

Before Sunday night he was marked out by FIFA as one of the top officials in world football.

At the Olympics he was chosen to referee the final between Brazil and Mexico, a prestigious appointment in a game watched by a global audience.

FIFA have been monitoring his progress and he is expected to be put forward to be the English representation at the 2014 World Cup.

Flashing red: Clattenburg sent off Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres on Sunday

Flashing red: Clattenburg sent off Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres on Sunday

It would be a remarkable honour, but he is now fighting to save his reputation in the professional game.

Clattenburg, 37, is regarded by the PGMO as one of their top officials, but he has been through some controversial moments in his career.

In 2009 Mark Hughes and his coaching staff were furious with him over comments he allegedly made about Craig Bellamy when he played for Manchester City against Bolton.

Bellamy had been his usual voluble self during the first half and was later sent off by Clattenburg for a second yellow card during a tempestuous Premier League clash.

According to accounts at the time, the Durham-born referee asked the City bench: ‘How do you put up with Bellamy’

Hughes was incensed that an official would appear to jeopardise his impartiality by making comments about one of his players.

The same year, Clattenburg was suspended by the PGMO after being accused of an off-the-field controversy with a former business partner.

Honour: Clattenburg refereed the Olympic final in London between Brazil and Mexico

Honour: Clattenburg refereed the Olympic final in London between Brazil and Mexico

On the field he has been dogged by criticism of his handling of high-profile and important incidents.

Four years earlier he was the referee who failed to spot Pedro Mendes’s ghost goal at Old Trafford for Tottenham.

Manchester United keeper Roy Carroll was beaten by the Portuguese midfielder’s lob in 2005, but Clattenburg failed to see that the ball had crossed the line. It provoked widespread indignation and even derision.

In 2007 he was involved in a bizarre incident at the Merseyside derby after appearing to take Steven Gerrard’s opinion into consideration when he booked Everton defender Tony Hibbert. Clattenburg appeared to upgrade a caution to a red card and later failed to send off Liverpool winger Dirk Kuyt for a waist-high lunge.

At Old Trafford in 2010 he was the referee when Nani took advantage of a bizarre mistake by Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to tap the ball into the empty net.

CLATTENBURG IN EYE OF STORM

Jan 2005, Pedro Mendes v Man Utd

In charge when Pedro Mendes ‘scored’ for Tottenham at Old Trafford. Roy Carroll fumbled the ball over the line but Clattenburg and his officials did not give the goal.

Over the line: Pedro Mendes saw this goal ruled out by Clattenburg

Oct 2007, Everton v Liverpool

Sent off Tony Hibbert, apparently upgrading his yellow card to red after consulting with Steven Gerrard. Failed to send off Dirk Kuyt for a waist-high lunge and did not give a penalty when Joleon Lescott was hauled down. Did not ref another Everton game for five years.

Jan 2009

Sacked by the PGMO, the referees’ governing body, and told he would never officiate again after breaching his contract. Accused of sending threatening emails to business associates and alleged to have debts of 175,000.

Dec 2009, Bolton v Man City

Sends off Craig Bellamy. At half-time, allegedly said to the City bench: ‘How do you work with him all week’

Heated: Tottenham players argue with Clattenburg after Nani's goal

Oct 2010, Nani v Tottenham

Allowed a goal to stand when keeper Heurelho Gomes put the ball down believing his side had a free-kick. Clattenburg had not blown, let play continue and Nani tapped in.

Mark Clattenburg is controversial referee

Meet Mister controversy: Clattenburg is referee who loves the spotlight

|

UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 28 October 2012

As a top-class FIFA and Barclays Premier League referee, Mark Clattenburg is no stranger to controversy.

He is one of the new breed of celebrity officials, always happy to be the centre of attention in a world of glitz and glamour.

Even as he was warming up at Stamford Bridge before Sunday’s explosive game, he was aware that he was the centre of attention.

Ruling the roost: Mark Clattenburg is a highly-rated referee

Ruling the roost: Mark Clattenburg is a highly-rated referee

The deliberate pauses as he stopped by the touchline during the circuits he performed with his officials were impossible to ignore.

On the pitch he is known for a chatty, matey style with the players that rubs them up the wrong way at times. His style is not uncommon at the highest level but most players want someone to officiate with integrity and intelligence. They want and expect them to be able to keep up with the speed of the game and to make smart decisions.

Before Sunday night he was marked out by FIFA as one of the top officials in world football.

At the Olympics he was chosen to referee the final between Brazil and Mexico, a prestigious appointment in a game watched by a global audience.

FIFA have been monitoring his progress and he is expected to be put forward to be the English representation at the 2014 World Cup.

Flashing red: Clattenburg sent off Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres on Sunday

Flashing red: Clattenburg sent off Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres on Sunday

It would be a remarkable honour, but he is now fighting to save his reputation in the professional game.

Clattenburg, 37, is regarded by the PGMO as one of their top officials, but he has been through some controversial moments in his career.

In 2009 Mark Hughes and his coaching staff were furious with him over comments he allegedly made about Craig Bellamy when he played for Manchester City against Bolton.

Bellamy had been his usual voluble self during the first half and was later sent off by Clattenburg for a second yellow card during a tempestuous Premier League clash.

According to accounts at the time, the Durham-born referee asked the City bench: ‘How do you put up with Bellamy’

Hughes was incensed that an official would appear to jeopardise his impartiality by making comments about one of his players.

The same year, Clattenburg was suspended by the PGMO after being accused of an off-the-field controversy with a former business partner.

Honour: Clattenburg refereed the Olympic final in London between Brazil and Mexico

Honour: Clattenburg refereed the Olympic final in London between Brazil and Mexico

On the field he has been dogged by criticism of his handling of high-profile and important incidents.

Four years earlier he was the referee who failed to spot Pedro Mendes’s ghost goal at Old Trafford for Tottenham.

Manchester United keeper Roy Carroll was beaten by the Portuguese midfielder’s lob in 2005, but Clattenburg failed to see that the ball had crossed the line. It provoked widespread indignation and even derision.

In 2007 he was involved in a bizarre incident at the Merseyside derby after appearing to take Steven Gerrard’s opinion into consideration when he booked Everton defender Tony Hibbert. Clattenburg appeared to upgrade a caution to a red card and later failed to send off Liverpool winger Dirk Kuyt for a waist-high lunge.

At Old Trafford in 2010 he was the referee when Nani took advantage of a bizarre mistake by Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to tap the ball into the empty net.

CLATTENBURG IN EYE OF STORM

Jan 2005, Pedro Mendes v Man Utd

In charge when Pedro Mendes ‘scored’ for Tottenham at Old Trafford. Roy Carroll fumbled the ball over the line but Clattenburg and his officials did not give the goal.

Over the line: Pedro Mendes saw this goal ruled out by Clattenburg

Oct 2007, Everton v Liverpool

Sent off Tony Hibbert, apparently upgrading his yellow card to red after consulting with Steven Gerrard. Failed to send off Dirk Kuyt for a waist-high lunge and did not give a penalty when Joleon Lescott was hauled down. Did not ref another Everton game for five years.

Jan 2009

Sacked by the PGMO, the referees’ governing body, and told he would never officiate again after breaching his contract. Accused of sending threatening emails to business associates and alleged to have debts of 175,000.

Dec 2009, Bolton v Man City

Sends off Craig Bellamy. At half-time, allegedly said to the City bench: ‘How do you work with him all week’

Heated: Tottenham players argue with Clattenburg after Nani's goal

Oct 2010, Nani v Tottenham

Allowed a goal to stand when keeper Heurelho Gomes put the ball down believing his side had a free-kick. Clattenburg had not blown, let play continue and Nani tapped in.