Tag Archives: music

NFL Draft 2013: Manchester"s Menelik Watson drafted by Oakland Raiders

Manchester's Watson lands dream NFL job after being drafted by the Oakland Raiders

PUBLISHED:

23:56 GMT, 26 April 2013

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UPDATED:

23:58 GMT, 26 April 2013

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Manchester-born Menelik Watson was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Watson, who overcame an impoverished
childhood in Longsight before heading stateside via the Canary Islands,
was expected by many to be taken in the first round at New York's Radio
City Music Hall.

Second chance: Manchester-born Menelik Watson (right), seen here with Texas A&M prospect Luke Joeckel at a youth football clinic, is expected to find a club in the second round of the NFL draft tomorrow

Second chance: Manchester-born Menelik Watson (right), seen here with Texas A&M prospect Luke Joeckel at a youth football clinic, is expected to find a club in the second round of the NFL draft tomorrow

Block: Watson (left) in action for Florida State Seminoles back in November

Block: Watson (left) in action for Florida State Seminoles back in November

That did not happen, although the offensive tackle did not have to wait long to hear his name called on Friday evening; he was chosen with the 42nd overall pick.

Watson, from Florida State University, joins a team that finished with a 4-12 record last season and are widely tipped to struggle again this year.

For many, not being grabbed on day one when predicted is a disappointment, but that will not be the case with Watson.

Selective: Defensive End Dion Jordan from Oregon was selected third overall by the Miami Dolphins

Selective: Defensive End Dion Jordan from Oregon was selected third overall by the Miami Dolphins

Dion Jordan, from Oregon, speaks during a news conference after being selected third overall by the Miami Dolphins during the first round of the NFL football draft

Speaking prior to learning his fate, he said: 'I am not interested (in where I am drafted).

'Wherever I end up, I'll be happy.
Being talked about as a first-rounder is not a concern of mine. It's all
about going to the team and doing a job.

'The NFL is a totally new animal and a totally different level. Once I get somewhere, I have still got to do a job.'

While it took longer than expected
for Watson's name to come off the board, an early second-round berth is
still a considerable achievement for someone who did not know the
sport's rules two years ago.

Watson will now set his sights on impressing when training camp starts this summer, with a view to earning a starting place.

First pick: Central Michigan's Eric Fisher with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round

First pick: Central Michigan's Eric Fisher with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round

Lewis Hamilton warned by Sir Jackie Stewart not to get carried away with own importance – F1

Don't get carried away with your own importance, Lewis! Legend Stewart fires warning to Mercedes star

By
Ian Parkes, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

15:48 GMT, 29 January 2013

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UPDATED:

16:01 GMT, 29 January 2013

Sir Jackie Stewart has urged Lewis Hamilton not to get carried away with his own celebrity if he is to propel Mercedes forward this year.

Hamilton last week embarked on a new era in his Formula One career at Mercedes after six seasons with McLaren, a team he initially joined at the age of just 13.

There is no doubt Hamilton has taken a significant gamble, but the need to savour pastures new has been his driving force in signing up to the German manufacturing giant for the next three years.

Lewis Hamilton

Sir Jackie Stewart

In black and white: Lewis Hamilton must find the right balance to win titles, according to Sir Jackie Stewart

It is also almost certain Hamilton will enjoy greater freedom off track than was the case at McLaren, considering the emphasis placed on sponsorship commitments by the Woking-based marque on their drivers.

However, three-times champion Stewart feels Hamilton needs to make sure such liberty does not go to his head.

Hamilton can boast a pop-star girlfriend in Nicole Scherzinger and an array of friends from the music world, while there are suggestions he is planning on making his own music.

Bearing in mind Hamilton's desire to transform Mercedes into a winning team, Stewart is hoping the 28-year-old does not let his focus drift elsewhere.

New kid on the block: Hamilton ended his lengthy association with McLaren to join Mercedes on a three-year deal

New kid on the block: Hamilton ended his association with McLaren to join Mercedes on a three-year deal

Stewart said: 'Personally, if I'd been Lewis, I wouldn't have left McLaren. 'But as a 28-year-old, he should know what he is doing now.

'You just have to be damn careful you don't get carried away with your own importance, your own celebrity, or your own schedule outside of being in the cockpit. It can be quite intoxicating.

'What Lewis needs to do is have more consistently good drives, never mind the mechanical issues, and he shouldn't be distracted, something he should keep in the back of his mind.

'It's about who you hang out with, what you do in your off time, how you are committing your off time towards your real time – and your real time is being a racing driver.'

Famous faces: The British racer can boast a pop-star girlfriend in X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger

Famous faces: The British racer can boast a pop-star girlfriend in X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger

Such efforts will be noticed by team principal Ross Brawn, who has been accustomed to working with one of the greats in seven-times champion Michael Schumacher.

Although the last three years failed to produce the results hoped for by Schumacher prior to stepping back into retirement, the German was renowned for his meticulous and methodical nature in working with his engineers.

Stewart added: 'The Ross Brawn factor is important. 'He knows how to do it, and Lewis will have to work with him and depend on him, and Lewis, in time, will have to deliver.

'Ross has worked with drivers who have really delivered. He worked with Schumacher from Benetton all the way through, and he knows how much Michael put in.

'Therefore he will think Lewis will have to put as much into that team, time-wise, commitment-wise, not just race-time wise, as Michael did.

That's going to be quite demanding, but there's no reason why he shouldn't go straight in and be competitive up front, not at all.'

With just one victory in the last three years, though, since Mercedes returned to F1, the pressure is on both Brawn and Hamilton to deliver.

'Daimler (Mercedes' parent company), are only interested in being up front and being the best,' said Stewart.

'If they're not going to be that, it's a five-minute decision for the Mercedes-Benz board to withdraw from motor racing if there's another recession and they're not selling cars. 'In that respect, they're slightly vulnerable.'

Millennium Stadium to get new plastic pitch in time for 2015 Rugby World Cup

Artificial pitch to be laid at Millennium Stadium in time for 2015 World Cup

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UPDATED:

16:01 GMT, 16 December 2012

Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium looks set for a new plastic pitch in time to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The troublesome turf at Millennium Stadium is currently being replaced several times a year and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) think an artificial surface would solve the problem.

The steep stands in Cardiff block the sunlight and ground-staff have had well-publicised problems in trying to prepare suitable pitches.

The steep stands at the Millennium Stadium block the sunlight

The steep stands at the Millennium Stadium block the sunlight

Ground-staff have had problems preparing a suitable playing surface

Ground-staff have had problems preparing a suitable playing surface

WRU chief executive Roger Lewis told the Sunday Times an artificial pitch ‘is being given serious consideration. We are looking at the implications.’

A layer of stone, a thick black rubber shock pad and a covering of artificial green yarn 5cm deep with an in-fill of black rubber crumb make up the proposed new surface.

The International Rugby Board have approved the surface with the only sticking point for the WRU being whether it can handle the heavy equipment used for music shows, which provide a good source of revenue.

The Millennium Stadium hosts Welsh rugby internationals including Six Nations matches

The Millennium Stadium hosts Welsh rugby internationals including Six Nations matches

Traditionalists are unhappy that an artificial pitch removes bad bounces and the need for teams to change or adapt their style for the conditions.

The Twickenham pitch was relaid during the close season with a proportion being synthetic turf.

Saracens will move to their new home Allianz Park in February and will become the first team to stage professional rugby on an artificial pitch.

SARACENS LEADING THE WAY

Mouritz Botha of Saracens catches the ball during the Heineken Cup

Saracen’s new 20million stadium Allianz Park will host the first professional rugby union match to be staged on a non-grass surface on February 16 when the home side entertain Exeter Chiefs.

The RFU invested in the new ground in Barnet to give England a place to train should their normal fields be frozen.

The length of the grass yarn has been set by the IRB, and also by FIFA for football purposes, at 50mm. 300 tons of sand is laid to stabilise the surface before 30mm of rubber crumb infill is added.

Installation costs are 530,000 including 100,000 for the first replacement of the grass yarn after 10 years.

An artificial surface is a lot cheaper to maintain than real grass as it just needs to be brushed twice a week to loosen the rubber crumb.

Twickenham crowd must match Welsh noise makers – Chris Foy

Crowd at HQ must roar to silence wails of the Welsh

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UPDATED:

23:22 GMT, 6 December 2012

It must be some kind of record. Almost three years before England v Wales at the next World Cup and the mutual antagonism is already evident.

When the draw was made on Monday for the
2015 tournament, Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis caught
the host nation on the hop by offering to stage the Pool A clash between
the old foes in Cardiff. England’s stunned response was of the ‘thanks,
but no thanks’ variety.

Let’s cut through the sabre-rattling here. The game will not take place in Cardiff. That scenario is unthinkable. It is England’s event and although much is made of the organisers being independent of the RFU, conceding home advantage to their near neighbours is a non-starter.

Turn it up: Twickenham Stadium needs to bring the noise against Wales

Turn it up: Twickenham Stadium needs to bring the noise against Wales

More from Chris Foy…

Chris Foy: Early World Cup draw can sow seeds of discontent
29/11/12

Chris Foy: New guru Parker will soon learn rugby is not an exact science
22/11/12

Chris Foy world of rugby: Lam's back, so it could be the chop for Howley
15/11/12

Chris Foy: Six injured and counting, Lancaster needs stability
01/11/12

World of rugby: Ireland facing the music as Strauss gets a call-up
25/10/12

Chris Foy: More referees will follow Lawrence's example and quit if this hounding goes on
18/10/12

Chris Foy: Let's play! Time for TV war to take a back seat as the Heineken Cup returns
11/10/12

Chris Foy: On your bike, Cowan! No rest for the Gloucester new boy
07/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The Millennium Stadium will be used as a World Cup venue on the simple basis that it suits English requirements. It satisfies the need for a geographical spread of matches. The West Country has a passion for rugby but lacks big stadiums, so taking games to Cardiff ticks a strategic box.

While there is no realistic prospect of England v Wales taking place there, Lewis will lobby strongly for the Millennium Stadium to host Wales v Australia. He will press his point on the basis that the home of Welsh rugby is ‘the best rugby stadium in the world’. He’s right. It is.

Located in the heart of Cardiff, on matchdays it is the heart of Cardiff, with a loud pulse all of its own. Twickenham is bigger, but the Millennium’s stands are steeper and closer, creating an intensity of atmosphere which is enhanced when the roof is shut.

So much is about the people. In Cardiff, there is fervent support, in London it is more passive.

Many Twickenham patrons turn up to be entertained, as if at the opera, while their Welsh counterparts embrace an interactive experience. There are contrasting demographics and they create a contrasting backdrop.

England’s players talk dutifully of wonderful support, but in truth they largely have to perform for their crowd, rather than feed off vocal backing.

Even when the hordes responded to the Haka last Saturday by singing Swing Low, there was one full-throttle rendition, then an almost apologetic second take which petered out into murmuring near-silence.

Ultimately, the England v Wales pool game at the World Cup won’t be staged at the Millennium, but perhaps the away players from the ‘host’ nation would be more inspired by the commotion if it was.

Commotion: There is normally a great atmosphere in the Millenium Stadium

Commotion: There is normally a great atmosphere in the Millenium Stadium

How are the Lions looking

Now that the dust has settled on the autumn Tests, it’s another opportune moment to predict how the Lions might line up for their first Test against Australia in June.

Based partly on form and partly on long-standing personal preference, a possible matchday 23 is listed below. One striking factor is the physical power of what would surely be the most imposing threequarter line the Lions have ever mustered, plus a bench role for that great wasted Welsh talent, James Hook.

Chris Foy’s latest Lions matchday Test squad: Halfpenny; Visser, Tuilagi, Roberts, North; Sexton, B Youngs; Healy, Hartley, Cole; Parling, Gray; Wood, Heaslip, Warburton (capt). Replacements: Best, Corbisiero, A Jones, Lawes, Robshaw, Phillips, Hook, Foden.

Wasted talent: Chris Foy would include James Hook on the bench

Wasted talent: Chris Foy would include James Hook on the bench

Captain Chris tackles his critics

Among modern sporting cliches, ‘he does his talking on the pitch’ is particularly well-worn, but it was a fitting summary of Chris Robshaw’s defiant work last weekend.

He had been lambasted for a close call at the end of England’s defeat against South Africa, but the national captain presented a stoic face and responded with stirring deeds in the epic win over New Zealand.

Once again, his leadership was confirmed by the raft of post-match data, which showed he was England’s leading carrier and second in the tackle count, with 19, missing none. What was most illuminating was that Robshaw hit 27 rucks, while blindside flanker Tom Wood led that list with 39.

This indicates that the back-row balance was right. Put these two together and they cover all bases required of a 6-7 combination, with a blurring of the demarcation lines, which works well.

This may present problems for Tom Croft when he is fit to press for a recall, as the rangy Tiger is a different beast entirely and his lesser impact at the breakdown means he may struggle to break up the Wood-Robshaw axis.

Stepping up: Chris Robshaw showed his worth against the All Blacks

Stepping up: Chris Robshaw showed his worth against the All Blacks

The Last Word

One of the most daunting challenges for World Cup organisers will be to sell out large stadiums in the north, but it appears the RFU aren’t rushing to assist. There have been suggestions that, prior to the tournament, a major Test could be relocated to a northern venue such as Old Trafford, but that concept now appears to be on ice. The reason is — shock, horror — money.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said: ‘There are financial imperatives. If Xmillion doesn’t come in because we don’t play at Twickenham, how many regional development officers is that worth I don’t think we would be dashing to do it (play in the north).

Also, is a single match really going to transform things’

First of all, it is outrageously simplistic to say moving a Test up north = less revenue = reduction in grass-roots funding. The RFU spend a lot of money on a lot of things, not just development officers. Old Trafford’s capacity is only 6,000 below Twickenham’s and it has ample corporate facilities, so why not take a modest monetary ‘hit’ for the good of the game The answer is tied up in considerations such as the debenture scheme at HQ, which discourages an ‘away-day’ Test.

Ritchie cannot dismiss that concept, then argue — as he did — that taking the Saxons up north is a viable solution. Only the senior team against ‘A’-list rivals will have the desired effect.

Simon Mignolet admits to error against West Brom

Mignolet faces the music after gaffe costs Sunderland dear against West Brom

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UPDATED:

21:28 GMT, 25 November 2012

Simon Mignolet could have headed straight home on Saturday night, and plunged into the lonely, miserable world of the goalkeeper who has made the error which has cost his team victory.

But the Belgian keeper, Sunderland's saviour on so many occasion this season, did not want to hide.

He wanted to offer his apologies and thanks to fans and team-mates after the error which gifted Shane Long a goal and handed West Brom their fourth consecutive win for the first time in 32 years.

Gaffe: Shane Long took advantage of Simon Mignolet's error to score

Gaffe: Shane Long took advantage of Simon Mignolet's error to score

Mignolet was immediately inconsolable after spilling a mis-hit through ball from Chris Brunt in the last minute of the first-half and Long pounced to tap home.

He was still cursing himself at half-time and the final whistle, when he was applauded and serenaded by the few fans who had stayed for the duration of the 4-2 defeat.

Mignolet made one stunning save later to deny Long. But the damage was done. He got a hand to Zoltan Gera's strike and was helpless to stop Marc-Antoine Fortune's lovely, late finish and a penalty from Romelu Lukaku.

Martin O'Neill's No 1, who also took to Twitter to apologise, made himself for interviews in the tunnel.

And he said: 'First of all I have to thank the fans for the reaction around the stadium afterwards.

Error: Mignolet had been in fine form for Sunderland this season

Error: Mignolet had been in fine form for Sunderland this season

'There are two things that can happen when you do things like that: The players, fans, can get behind you because they know what you have done for them in the past or they can get on your back. What happened was that they all got behind me.

'I really appreciate it and I thank them all for that. There's another game on Tuesday and that's what a goalkeeper's life is. You are only as good a goalkeeper as the last game you play.

'It doesn't stop the bleeding, no matter how I have done in the past. It is probably the worst mistake I will make. I have never made a big mistake like that before.

'You don't want things like that to happen. You know it can happen. But you can't do any more about it. You learn from it.

'I can't even say anything about it. That's what football is. Anything can happen in a split second. What happened is the question that will be in my head, spinning round. But I can't dwell on it.

Gutted: Sunderland slumped to another defeat at the weekend

Gutted: Sunderland slumped to another defeat at the weekend

'I was pleased with how the second half went. I didn't lose my confidence which is more important than what happened in the first half. There's plenty big games this year still to play.'

Sunderland have rubbished rumours that O'Neill offered to quit on Saturday night.

But they have now won just three Premier League games in 26, and they were all against 10 men. And his side are Harry Redknapp's first opponents as QPR boss on Tuesday night.

I"m a Celebrity: Eric Bristow"s arrows at Helen Flanagan put darts legend in line for the chop – Edge of the Box

Bristow's arrows at Helen and co put darts legend in line for the chop

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UPDATED:

16:35 GMT, 23 November 2012

Is it me, or has it all got just a little bit genteel in the jungle since it hasn’t been 'The Helen Show' Suddenly, I find myself hankering for the drama and the histrionics surrounding her and the bushtucker trials.

Instead, we have the plucky and straightforward Pussy Cat Doll Ashley nailing her task and winning the camp a Thanksgiving feast, no fuss, no bother.

Mind you, even though she wasn’t the main attraction, Helen still managed to get herself involved and generate a thin lather of soap opera by nicking Ashley’s clean towel when the poor girl returned to the camp coated in goo.

Game for a laugh: Eric Bristow shares a joke with former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts in the jungle

Game for a laugh: Eric Bristow shares a joke with former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts in the jungle

So as she nipped off for a well earned shower, Helen was left to complete a task she’d never done before, which was to clean a towel – a task she told the gathered throng, she normally outsources. Which caused David Haye to cry in consternation ‘who sends a towel to the dry cleaners!’.

Of course the whole point of the jungle is to bring together a whole bunch of opposites and see what fits, and what rubs up against each other.

If you want that kind of contrast, look no further than Eric and Hugo walking off into the trees together to listen to records. With treats at stake, the pair had to find numbers hidden in songs they played on a wind up gramophone.

Eye-opener: David Haye was flabbergasted by some of Helen Flanagan's behaviour

Eye-opener: David Haye was flabbergasted by some of Helen Flanagan's behaviour

The music selection totally dumbfounded the young Old Harrovian, but Eric new them all! ‘This was No 1’, he told his posh (Mister Bristow’s word) partner as he sang along to ‘Shaddup You Face’. ‘It was late eighties…loads of c**p records were No 1 then’, before going on to explain the subtle intricacies of ‘The Birdie Song’ .

If Danny Baker ever needs a break from his forthcoming BBC 4 music programme, we’ve got his replacement right here.

Eric was actually in a chirpier mood than he had appeared to be in the last couple of days. He’d recently had a pop at Helen, and last night it was Rosemary’s turn. Yet he remains defiant. ‘I keep taking the mickey’, he told us from the diary room, ‘but if you’re easily upset, you shouldn’t be here’.

Face it Helen, it's not going to get any easier: Bristow has vowed to keep taking the mickey out of Flanagan

Face it Helen, it's not going to get any easier: Bristow has vowed to keep taking the mickey out of Flanagan

Of our trio of sports-connected celebs, I think that ‘take no prisoners’ approach could see Eric the first to take the long walk off a short rope bridge.

But for now, he’s still very much there as it was Limahl – who only turned up, like, two days ago! – proving that, in fact, not all stories are never-ending.

Which means at least Ant, Dec or me don’t get to pun on either of his two hits anymore.

Paul Gascoigne and Golaco! Our 90s love affair with Italian football

Gazza and Golaco! Our unforgettable 90s love affair with Italian football

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UPDATED:

13:13 GMT, 22 November 2012

Golao! It’s Portuguese for 'fantastic goal', but for football fans growing up in the 1990s it had a different meaning.

It meant the start of Channel Four’s unmissable Football Italia programme on a Saturday morning.

My kids thought it was actually 'Go Lazio'. That didn’t matter. What did matter was waiting for the bouncy ball around the Italian themed Channel Four logo, listening to the theme music – it was 'I’m Stronger Now' by Definitive Two – and waiting for the evocative shout that meant the programme was about to begin.

Scroll to the bottom for video of the opening credits and a stroll through memory piazza

When in Rome: Paul Gascoigne won over the Lazio fans by scoring in the derby

When in Rome: Paul Gascoigne won over the Lazio fans by scoring in the derby

At the helm: James Richardson

At the helm: James Richardson

Maybe we started falling for all things Italian after somebody at the BBC brilliantly chose Nessun Dorma as the theme music for the 1990 World Cup.

But if anything extended the romance from four all too short summer weeks into a 16-year love affair, it was James Richardson’s brilliant presentation of the country’s domestic football each weekend.

And Gazza. Of course. You couldn’t forget Gazza.

On Thursday night he’s heading back to Rome as guest of honour to watch Lazio play Tottenham in the Europa League, and what better reminder that the 'daft as a brush' genius, whose tears in Turin helped lift English football from its lowest point, was also responsible for a revolution in the way TV presents the game.

Gascoigne had co-operated on a
documentary with production company Chrysalis charting his fightback
from injury to enable his move to Lazio to go ahead, and when it was
finished said to the producer Neil Duncanson it was a shame nobody would
be able to see his games now he was fit.

So
Neil asked the Italian Federation for the rights to cover Lazio’s
matches, was told he could have the whole of Serie A instead, and so the
show was born.

And what a show. The first coup was for Richardson as the affable, easy going presenter to put Gazza at ease and suddenly England’s most iconic footballer was a TV man too.

Each Saturday morning we shared his Italian adventure with him, driving round Rome in open top sports cars, wandering behind the scenes of Lazio’s training ground, or sitting outside pretty pavement cafes.

Let's talk football: Gascoigne and presenter Richardson dealt with the big issues in Serie A

Let's talk football: Gascoigne and presenter Richardson dealt with the big issues in Serie A

Outside broadcast: Gazza spoke to the viewers - while driving through the streets with the top down

Outside broadcast: Gazza spoke to the viewers – while driving through the streets with the top down

That was part of the secret. It was the first football show that moved you out of a studio and took you from your front room into a different world.

Richardson would sit with his cappuccino and a couple of croissants on the streets of Milan or Genoa, holding up the pink pages of the Gazzetta dello Sport to bring us the headlines, and chatting through the games and the goals to come.

On a cold, wet, winter’s morning it was pure escapism.

At its peak it pulled in nearly a million viewers every week, and while Match of the Day might have never lost its place as the must-see football programme on British TV, Football Italia ran it a mighty close second.

There was always a competition to win a trip to Italy to see a game, but it felt like you were there anyway.

Fancy a coffee: Richardson never went hungry or thirsty when he presented Football Italia

Fancy a coffee: Richardson never went hungry or thirsty when he presented Football Italia

Italian football then was where the riches were, and where Europe’s best players flocked to perform.

They didn’t encourage characters in English football in those days.

It was the age of 4-4-2 when words like 'workrate' and 'industry' were becoming the buzz phrases for our coaches.

And POMO, the position of maximum opportunity, which basically meant you lumped the ball as far as you could and chased after it.

The Italians played with the ball at their feet. They caressed it. They passed it.

Milan had the money to pull in Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. And they had showmen like Fabrizio Ravenelli who folded his shirt over his head every time he scored a goal.

They had crowds full of passion with gigantic flags who brandished firecrackers. Even the refs had character, with the boggle-eyed Pierluigi Collina bringing out red cards with a flourish of his right arm.

Dutch courage: AC Milan had (from left) Frank Rijkaard, Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit in their ranks

Dutch courage: AC Milan had (from left) Frank Rijkaard, Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit in their ranks

It ran from 1992 to 2002 on Channel Four, then limped through a few more seasons on Eurosport and Bravo before the plug was pulled on the last programme in 2008.

Maybe by then the Premier League’s money and glamour had seduced us away from the romance of Italy, or maybe we all just grew up and moved on.

But Football Italia will always have a special place in our memories.

And how fitting it will be if Gazza and the rest of the crowd in Rome tonight get to shout for one more time: Golao!

What an intro – Football Italia had a proper tune at the start

Lady Gaga loves Rio Ferdiand: Pop siren shows her support for Manchester United star as Roy Hodgson omits defender from England squad

Going Gaga for Rio: He's been left out again by England boss Roy Hodgson, but is Lady G singing his praises on her latest tour

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UPDATED:

11:49 GMT, 9 November 2012

READER WARNING…

*** Readers will require a sense of humour to enjoy this article ***

England boss Roy Hodgson may not be a fan but Rio Ferdinand seems to have Lady Gaga on his side.

The Manchester United defender, 34, was left out of Hodgson's squad for Euro 2012 due to 'footballing reasons' and hasn't got near an England squad since.

But pop siren, real name Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, has been pictured in Brazil going Gaga (geddit) for football and has been pictured showing her love for United's gifted centre half.

Gaga, 26, has been photogrphed waving from her Rio de Janeiro hotel balcony above a banner which read: 'I Love Rio'. There's a chance she may not have been referring to the 'Pele of Peckham', but Sportsmail would like to think she regularly tunes into Match Of The Day to catch Ferdinand in action for United.

Enlarge

Rio's biggest fan Lady Gaga waves to her fans, while standing next to a banner that says 'I Love Rio' on the day Rio Ferdinand was omitted from another England squad

Rio's biggest fan Lady Gaga waves to her fans, while standing next to a banner that says 'I Love Rio' on the day Rio Ferdinand was omitted from another England squad

Enlarge

Lady Gaga has some fun in Rio de Janeiro as she waves hello to her fans and blows them kisses from her hotel balcony, while standing next to a banner that says

Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 28, 2012

Getting shirty: Gaga (left) shows off her Brazil strip. The popstar yesterday displayed her love for Rio on the day Ferdinand (right) was left out of England' squad to play Sweden next week

Kiss match: Gaga blows a smacker from her Rio de Janeiro hotel balcony

Kiss match: Gaga blows a smacker from her Rio de Janeiro hotel balcony

Many of her music fans claim she was actually professing her love for the city of Rio, but all became clear later when she put in a shift in the centre of defence during a street football match as she visited a slum.

Obviously modelling herself on Ferdinand, Gaga was pictured stroking the ball out of defence.

The singer, who is in Brazil to perform as part of her 'Born This Way Ball' world tour, let her hair down, showing off her new pale pink hairdo, even blowing kisses to former West Ham and Leeds defender Ferdinand.

Playing out of defence: Singer Lady Gaga plays football with local children at a slum in Rio de Janeiro yesterday

Playing out of defence: Singer Lady Gaga plays football with local children at a slum in Rio de Janeiro yesterday

Hodgson yesterday named his England squad for next week's friendly against Sweden. And again there was no place for Ferdinand.

The England manager, 65, instead selected Gary Cahill, Steven Caulker, Phil Jagielka, Ryan Shawcross as his four central defenders.

*** Readers will require a sense of humour to enjoy this article ***

No Rio fan: Hodgson (right) left Ferdinand outof his Euro 2012 squad for footballing reasons

No Rio fan: Hodgson (right) left Ferdinand outof his Euro 2012 squad for footballing reasons

Everton v Liverpool preview – can David Moyes" side stay ahead?

The Mersey mission: Everton are on a high, but can they stay ahead of Liverpool

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UPDATED:

08:37 GMT, 27 October 2012

The late Liverpool manager Bill
Shankly achieved many great things at Anfield, and was also responsible
for one of the most cutting put-downs of Everton.

‘In my time at Liverpool, we had the
two best teams on Merseyside,’ Shankly once said. ‘They were Liverpool
and Liverpool reserves.’

Head to head: Nikica Jelavic and Luis Suarez will square up at Goodison Park

Head to head: Nikica Jelavic and Luis Suarez will square up at Goodison Park

On a mission: Everton Manager David Moyes

On a mission: Everton Manager David Moyes

Derby debut: Liverpool manager Brendan

Derby debut: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

A great line indeed, but one that
Kopites would be reluctant to trot out to their rivals as they head
across Stanley Park on Sunday.

Right now, it is Everton that stand
tall on Merseyside. Having finished ahead of Liverpool last season for
only the second time since their last championship success in 1987,
Everton will lead their neighbours by nine points if they win.

Even the bookmakers have David Moyes’ team as narrow favourites but the question is this: Can this blue supremacy really last

It's match night at Anfield on
Thursday. At the main stand coffee bars, the young servers wear staff
T-shirts with slogans on the back.

‘Liverpool without European football is like a banquet without wine,’ reads one from Roy Evans.

‘It’s not about the long ball or the short ball, it’s about the right ball,’ is another from Bob Paisley.

Such words fit nicely into the
romance of a visit to Anfield. It’s a stadium built to invoke memories.
It still looks the same, the announcer’s voice is instantly recognisable
and he still plays the best half-time music.

Out on the field, though, the modern
Liverpool’s version of Europe is a visit from Anzhi Makhachkala in the
Europa League. There’s not much romance about that.

Young guns: Samed Yesil (left) and Jack Robinson in Liverpool training before Sunday's Merseyside derby

Young guns: Samed Yesil (left) and Jack Robinson in Liverpool training before Sunday's Merseyside derby

Fall guy: Joe Cole (middle) takes a tumble as Sebastian Coates (left) and Jon Flanagan look on

Fall guy: Joe Cole (middle) takes a tumble as Sebastian Coates (left) and Jon Flanagan look on

Under new manager Brendan Rodgers,
there are steady signs of improvement. Liverpool are beginning to keep
the ball better and are defending better. They spend the majority of the
night in the Anzhi half, win on the back of a super Stewart Downing
goal and head to Goodison after three successive clean sheets.

Rodgers knows, though, that his immediate horizons, in terms of tangible progress, are limited.

‘Everton finished ahead of us last
season,’ he told Sportsmail. ‘I have seen reports and read snippets
where they think they can finish in the top four this season.

‘They are obviously very confident. My situation is different. I’m trying to get this team as competitive as I can.

‘The status of this club over many
years meant that it was always at the top. So no opponent was different
to any other. But that level has dropped. The hard work is getting the
club to the top end of the division.

‘Coming in to this job, this club had
finished sixth, seventh and eighth. That’s the reality of where it’s
at, so my focus is only on improvement.’

Rodgers is a wonderfully realistic
man. After a difficult summer transfer window, he knows the current
squad is not good enough for the top four. So if Everton do indeed
remain there, the chances are Liverpool will be in their wake again.

That would certainly be hard to take
but, crucially, Liverpool’s supporters appear to have bought into
Rodgers’ vision of baby step progress. On Thursday his name is sung
before kick-off and again during the second half. His trust in young
players such as Jonjo Shelvey and Andre Wisdom is clearly endorsed by
what looks close to a full house.

On the ball: Joe Allen (right) tries to shake off the attentions of Samed Yesil

On the ball: Joe Allen (right) tries to shake off the attentions of Samed Yesil

Behind you! Allen tries to pinch the ball from Flanagan during training at Melwood on Friday

Behind you! Allen tries to pinch the ball from Flanagan during training at Melwood on Friday

‘Jonjo’s like Bambi on ice when he gets going,’ chuckles one fan. ‘But at least he gives everything.’

Of concern to Liverpool is the
current reliance on two more senior players, Steven Gerrard and Luis
Suarez. The relationship between the two is beginning to look as
fundamental as that between Gerrard and Fernando Torres when Liverpool
last came close to winning the title back in 2009.

For all his faults, Suarez remains a
terrific player and Rodgers has done well to rehabilitate him after the
tribulations of last season. If Liverpool are to prosper, the Uruguayan
and his captain simply must stay fit.

‘We are having more controlled
possession and that’s the important bit,’ said Rodgers. ‘Anzhi was a
difficult game and we did well.’

Sunday, he can be sure, will be more difficult.

Goodison Park is a great place to
watch a derby. It’s a great place to watch any football match. It’s also
a stadium that is acting like a noose round the neck of long-term
Everton progress. In the dug-out, manager Moyes’ guts will churn as he
seeks victory over the enemy. He feels it that badly.

Over time, though, no matter what
Moyes does, a more predictable order may return to Merseyside unless
they find a buyer for the club or leave dear old Goodison behind.

Match-day revenue per season is
17.4m at Goodison. At Anfield it’s 55m and that’s before work begins
to increase Liverpool’s stadium capacity to 60,000.

The gulf is clear. Commercially — at
home and abroad — Liverpool remain a very big club. Everton — a club
that boast only a dozen executive boxes — are somewhat smaller. Last
season Liverpool were shown live on Sky and ESPN 22 times. Everton
featured on nine occasions.

Against this background, Everton’s current supremacy is all the more remarkable.

Keepers' capers: Brad Jones (left) and Pepe Reina in action with the new fluorescent Premier League winter footballs

Keepers' capers: Brad Jones (left) and Pepe Reina in action with the new fluorescent Premier League winter footballs

Iron fists: Pepe Reina punches the ball away

Iron fists: Pepe Reina punches the ball away

Under Bill Kenwright’s ownership, the
club has pushed itself bravely in terms of finance. Everton pay good
wages — Marouane Fellaini earns 75,000 a week — and forthcoming
financial results will show total outlay in that area to be 60m, the
ninth-highest in the Premier League. Everton survive and prosper by
driving hard bargains when they buy players and selling one big name
every summer to keep the bank from the door.

Currently, it’s a model that is keeping them ahead of the Reds but still an inferiority complex remains among some supporters.

There is a perception that the authorities favour Liverpool.

The city council, for example,
recently granted planning permission and imposed compulsory purchase
orders so the redevelopment of Anfield could begin. Everton, meanwhile,
saw their attempt to build a new stadium in Kirkby thrown out by the
government in 2009.

Currently there are intentions to
look at a site on nearby Stanley Park. There was a meeting with the
council about it on Friday.

A buyer for the club would help.
Kenwright would sell for about 120m, but who would want to buy a club
with a stadium barely fit for modern purpose

In the Everton dressing room they are optimistic ahead of the derby.

A friend of one senior player says: ‘We think Liverpool are weak through the middle of defence.’

But Everton have fluffed their lines
against the enemy before, most notably when giving up a 1-0 lead in last
season’s FA Cup semi-final.

Over his decade at Goodison, Moyes has won just three of 20 league games against Liverpool but nobody can fault his ambition.

‘My job is to try (to finish above Liverpool) and I have to look to try to do that,’ he said yesterday.

‘It’s a big ask. Everton’s sole focus
shouldn’t be on finishing above Liverpool. We have to think about
finishing above Manchester United and City. That might sound crazy but
that’s what I’m thinking of.’