Tag Archives: reputations

Gary Neville: AVB deserves a second chance: Most good managers and some great ones have failed before

AVB deserves a second chance: Most good managers and some great ones have failed before



00:13 GMT, 21 October 2012

You rarely get a second chance at the
top level in football management. That has been my impression over the
years as I’ve watched some of the best leaders I played with take the
step up from playing to coaching. Roy Keane, Bryan Robson, Paul Ince,
Tony Adams, Gareth Southgate and Alan Shearer have all tried to make
that jump to be a top-class manager. All of them were strong characters
and clear leadership material. And some of them are looking to get back
into football at the moment.

Which is why Andre Villas-Boas is
undoubtedly lucky to be Tottenham manager. Having failed at Chelsea, he
walked straight back into one of the top six jobs in the country. I
sense some people might even resent that, while others are waiting for
him to fail. But contrary to the popular opinion that grew last season,
when it was perceived by some that I had an agenda against him — and I
certainly didn’t — I’m really pleased he’s been given his second chance
at Tottenham.

Because too often we bury people on
the basis of their early mistakes and brand them failures, or inept, or
tactically nave. We’re very quick to trash reputations before people
have even got going in their managerial careers.

Feeling blue: Andre Villas-Boas suffers in the dug-out against his former club Chelsea

Feeling blue: Andre Villas-Boas suffers in the dug-out against his former club Chelsea

And when it comes to high-profile
ex-players, you can move very quickly from people talking about you as a
legend on the pitch to being referred to as a washed-out manager. It
can even begin to taint the reputation you had as a player.

The question I’m asked most frequently
since I retired, apart from ‘Do you miss playing’, is ‘Why didn’t you
go into management’ Recently I was talking to Howard Wilkinson at a
League Managers’ Association event and he said that he thought I should
get back inside football, rather than commenting from the outside.

But the truth is, I’m wary of making
that leap too soon and realistic about my abilities to do the job. I
have done my UEFA A and B licences, and am about to start my pro licence
in January, and I don’t think I’m anywhere near qualified to be a

More from Gary Neville…

Gary Neville: Rooney is in the same mould as Robson, Adams and Keane

Gary Neville: A lack of belief is all that separates the London rivals

Gary Neville: I relish our rivalry, but it's never an excuse to go beyond bounds of decency

Gary Neville: Scholes is simply the best English player of his generation

Gary Neville: Will Rodgers really be able to curb his enthusiasm

Gary Neville: Like the Olympics, football has to show its humanity

Gary Neville: Italy are not very Italian, they play with rhythm and flair

Gary Neville: I know it's a cliche, but Chelsea's name was always on the cup


Apart from anything else, all I had
known and experienced up to 18 months ago was at Manchester United,
which is a little bit like living on an island. Don’t get me wrong: it’s
a fantastic island to be on with its superb sport scientists, medical
and rehabilitation back-up and stability of leadership. But it’s not the

And all I had done up until my retirement was play the game.
There is no reason why a good player should necessarily be a talented
manager of people. You can develop some of the skills required to be a
manager while playing. But just because you’re a decent builder doesn’t
mean you have the skills to run a building firm. Even if you do take an
interest in management and tactics as a player, ultimately you’re
totally focused on your job and your responsibilities to your
team-mates. As for thinking about the team as a whole, that’s the
manager’s problem.

The new generation of managers such as
Villas-Boas and Brendan Rodgers, who are closer to me in age, have a
big advantage in that they have been preparing for the job for the past
20 years, working as coaches under mentors such as Jose Mourinho and
Bobby Robson. Some of the skills that I would like to learn, they have
been developing while I was playing.

I always thought that it would be
important after retirement to step away from that and fresh experiences
of the game. My media work has given me an important insight into that
side of football. It also means I’ve been around the country watching
more football than ever before and a huge diversity of games. Being part
of Roy Hodgson’s team with England has allowed me to watch and learn
from one of our most respected coaches at close quarters and begin to
experience a little bit of what it’s like to sit on the bench.

But nothing has convinced me yet that I’m ready to take the step to where your job is on the line match by match. It is something I might like to do at some stage once I’ve completed all my licences but even then I might not feel ready.

Learning curve: Gary Neville and Roy Hodgson observe proceedings in Warsaw

Learning curve: Gary Neville and Roy Hodgson observe proceedings in Warsaw

Because if it’s the case that you might get only one shot at the job, you would be foolish not to be as well prepared as you can be and have gathered as much experience as possible.

When I was a young player, my early games for United were, to be frank, not great. I made mistakes and I had lots to learn. But as part of a team, you could make mistakes, miss a few games and then come back. And I had a manager who believed in me. There are no such luxuries as a manager — and at times one or two failures can seemingly signal the end of a career.The truth is that most good managers and some great ones have failed at some point in their career. St Mirren sacked Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Bobby Robson lost his first job at Fulham. Alan Pardew was sacked by West Ham and Brendan Rodgers by Reading. But both have risen again to take jobs at two of the top clubs in the country.

We shouldn’t be too quick to judge Andre Villas-Boas a failed manager. He has admitted that he made mistakes at Chelsea but you can be sure he will have learned from them. And last month, leading Tottenham to a win at United, he helped ease some of the pressure on him from those who do expect — or even want — him to fail.

He might have been fortunate to be invited back into such a good job so quickly. But I don’t begrudge him that. In fact, I hope that more managers are given second and third chances to prove their worth rather than be written off too quickly. The knocks you take while you still have the L plates on as a manager might be the making of you.

Famous victory: Villas-Boas oversaw Spurs' first win at Old Trafford since 1989

Famous victory: Villas-Boas oversaw Spurs' first win at Old Trafford since 1989

Exciting times ahead

I’m already excited about next Sunday’s clash between Chelsea and Manchester United. I watched Tottenham v Chelsea before going to Old Trafford and we saw two excellent games.

Both teams scored four goals and let in two but each have attacking players who are incredible to watch. Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata were superb for Chelsea, while Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck all scored.

It’s very early but this feels like it might be the first substantive title clash of the season. It’s not going to decide the title race but it might define the next phase of the season for these two clubs.

Quick feet: Eden Hazard is pulling the strings at Chelsea

Quick feet: Eden Hazard is pulling the strings at Chelsea

Lance Armstrong revealed as a bully, a liar and a serial doper

Exposed: Armstrong thought he was untouchable. But he is revealed as a bully, a liar and a serial doper



22:52 GMT, 10 October 2012

The Lance Armstrong myth was blown to pieces on Wednesday night by evidence exposing the seven-time Tour de France winner as a ringleader of ‘the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen’.

The US Anti-Doping Agency released a 200-page report revealing in minute detail how Armstrong:

Surrounded himself with drug runners and doping doctorsBullied team-mates into using his methodsIntimidated witnessesRepeatedly lied to investigatorsPulled out of a race to avoid a test.

Scroll down for video

Disgraced: Armstrong's career achievements have been tarnished

Disgraced: Armstrong's career achievements have been tarnished

USADA's reasoned decision

Click here to read the reasoned decision from the USADA

No fewer than 11 team-mates testified against him, leaving USADA with ‘no doubt that Mr Armstrong’s career [from 1998-2005] was fuelled from start to finish by doping’.

The report says: ‘Armstrong and his handlers engaged in a massive and long-running scheme to use drugs, cover their tracks, intimidate witnesses, tarnish reputations, lie to hearing panels and the press and do whatever was necessary to conceal the truth.’

It adds that his goal to win the Tour de France ‘led him to depend on EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions but also, more ruthlessly, to expect and require that his team-mates would likewise use drugs to support his goals’.

Lying again: Armstrong has a medical test before the 2002 Tour

Lying again: Armstrong has a medical test before the 2002 Tour


Two journalists have campaigned for a decade to expose Armstrong as a drugs cheat. Sunday Times sportswriter David Walsh led the way, with the co-author of his book, L.A. Confidentiel, Pierre Ballester, as well as the former Tour de France rider and journalist Paul Kimmage.

Walsh discovered Armstrong was working with Dr Michele Ferrari, an Italian coach who was suspected of administering EPO.

Walsh tweeted: ‘In the war on doping, this is a seminal moment. An untouchable is about to be exposed, one who believed he was protected by his own sport.’

Kimmage, the author of Rough Ride, about his own experiences with drugs as a professional cyclist in the 1980s, confronted Armstrong at his comeback in 2009.

In a heated exchange between the two, Kimmage, who has also written for the Daily Mail, repeated his earlier claim that Armstrong represented ‘the cancer of doping’.

More recently, cycling’s world governing body the UCI announced that they are suing Kimmage for his claims that they are ‘corrupt’. Supporters of Kimmage have raised more than $50,000 to help him.

The dossier was delivered to the Swiss headquarters of cycling’s world governing body, the UCI. It is based on the sworn testimony of 26 people, including 15 cyclists who were involved in, or had knowledge of, a ‘doping conspiracy’ orchestrated by Armstrong and other leading figures in the US Postal Service team. It also uses scientific evidence and bank records.

Armstrong led the US Postal team from 1998, when he launched a comeback after recovering from cancer, to 2005, when he retired after winning a record seventh Tour. Travis Tygart, the head of USADA, said that during this period ‘Armstrong acted as a ringleader and intimidated people who spoke out about doping’.

It amounted, said Tygart, to a ‘doping conspiracy professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair advantage.

‘The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service pro cycling team ran the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.’

The report also alleges that Armstrong paid more than $1million (625,000) to a Swiss bank account controlled by Dr Michele Ferrari, an Italian coach who has consistently been linked to doping and who stands accused by USADA of administering banned products.

USADA spent five months building a case
against Armstrong, his former team director and three doctors connected
to his former team, including Ferrari.

Shamed: Lance Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles

Shamed: Lance Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles

Five individuals connected to the team — the former director, Johan Bruyneel, Ferrari, two other doctors and Armstrong — were charged with doping offences in June and given until August 24 to respond. Armstrong opted not to contest the charges, instead releasing a statement that accused USADA of a ‘witch-hunt’.

The 15 riders who testified to the agency include six active riders who have all been given reduced six-month bans for their co-operation. Tygart said: ‘Lance Armstrong was given the same opportunity to come forward and be part of the solution. He rejected it.’

Among the riders who testified were George Hincapie and Michael Barry. Hincapie is one of Armstrong’s closest friends, and the only man who rode by his side for all seven Tour victories. Barry has ridden for Team Sky for the past three seasons. Both retired recently.

End of the road: Armstrong has been accused of being involved in a sophisticated doping programme

End of the road: Armstrong has been accused of being involved in a sophisticated doping programme

In a statement released on Wednesday night, Barry said that, when he turned professional with US Postal in 2002, he quickly realised that ‘doping had become an epidemic problem in professional cycling’.

‘After being encouraged by the team, pressured to perform and pushed to my physical limits, I crossed a line I promised myself and others I would not: I doped. It was a decision I deeply regret.’

Vande Velde, 36, described Wednesday as the ‘most humbling moment’ of his life and added: ‘I was wrong to think I didn’t have a choice — I did, and I chose wrong. Ironically, I never won while doping.’

The testimony of Hincapie, who also took the step of releasing a confessional statement, is arguably the most damning. While Armstrong has dismissed others who have spoken out, such as Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, pointing out that both were discredited after failing drug tests,

Hincapie has never failed a drug test, and, more to the point, never fell foul of Armstrong.
Indeed, Armstrong has previously described Hincapie as his ‘best bro in the peloton’.

On Wednesday, however, Hincapie admitted that, when approached two years ago by US government investigators, he admitted to more than just his own doping: ‘I would have been much more comfortable talking only about myself, but understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything I knew. So that is what I did.’

Floyd Landis

Tyler Hamilton

Testifying: Armstrong's former team-mates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton

The USADA report claims that in 2010,
while under federal investigation, Armstrong tried to persuade Hincapie
to remain in Europe ‘to avoid or delay testifying’. In his evidence to
USADA, Hincapie revealed that, at a race in Spain in 2000, Armstrong
told him he ‘had just taken testosterone’.

Hincapie then found out that drug
testers were waiting at their hotel. ‘I texted Lance to warn him to
avoid the place. As a result, Lance dropped out of the race.’

The report recounts Armstrong’s and
his team’s use of drugs in eye-watering detail. It claims that, during
Armstrong’s Tour victory in 2000 he, Hamilton and Kevin Livingston had a
blood transfusion.

‘The whole process took less than 30
minutes,’ said Hamilton. ‘Kevin Livingston and I received our
transfusions in one room and Lance got his in an adjacent room with an
adjoining door. Each blood bag was placed on a hook for a picture frame
or taped to the wall and we lay on the bed and shivered while the chilly
blood re-entered our bodies.’

Tested: Lance Armstrong walks out of the doping control center during the 2002 Tour De France

Tested: Lance Armstrong walks out of the doping control center during the 2002 Tour De France

Confession: Michael Barry admitted to doping

Confession: Michael Barry admitted to doping

Armstrong’s blood samples from his
third comeback, in 2009 and 2010, were also analysed by USADA. They
concluded there was a ‘one in a million’ chance that Armstrong was not
doping in these years.

The report also raises the
possibility that cycling’s governing body, the UCI, helped to suppress a
positive test for Armstrong. During the 2001 Tour of Switzerland the
anti-doping laboratory in Lausanne detected a number of samples that
were ‘suspicious for the presence of EPO’.

When the head of the lab reported
this to the UCI, ‘he was told by the UCI’s medical commission head that
at least one of these samples belonged to Mr Armstrong, but that there
was no way Mr Armstrong was using EPO’.

USADA requested the test results for
re-analysis, using more sophisticated techniques, but ‘UCI denied that
request, stating that UCI had asked for Mr Armstrong’s consent but that
he had refused’.

Apart from the doping charges, USADA
also accuses Armstrong of being ‘engaged in an effort to procure false
affidavits from potential witnesses’. Through emails sent in August
2010, they claim Armstrong ‘attempted to contact former team-mates and
others…and asked them to sign affidavits affirming that there was no
‘systematic’ doping on the US Postal cycling team.

‘Such affidavits would be materially
false, as Mr Armstrong was well aware that systematic doping had
occurred on his teams. Consequently, Mr Armstrong’s efforts constituted
an attempt to subvert the judicial system and procure false testimony.’

Armstrong has yet to respond to the USADA report, but in an interview last week he said: ‘My conscience is perfectly clear.’

Richard Moore is a journalist, former racing cyclist and author. His latest book — The Dirtiest Race in History: Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the Seoul Olympic 100m Final — has been listed for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award.


Today, we are sending the 'Reasoned Decision' in the Lance Armstrong case and supporting information to the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.

The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run scheme is overwhelming and is in excess of 1,000 pages, and includes sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team (USPS Team) and its participants' doping activities.

The evidence also includes direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirm the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding.

Together these different categories of eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence reveal conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalised team-run doping conspiracy. All of the material will be made available later this afternoon on the USADA website at www.usada.org.

The USPS Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices. A programme organised by individuals who thought they were above the rules and who still play a major and active role in sport today.

The evidence demonstrates that the 'code of silence' of performance enhancing drug use in the sport of cycling has been shattered, but there is more to do. From day one, we always hoped this investigation would bring to a close this troubling chapter in cycling's history and we hope the sport will use this tragedy to prevent it from ever happening again.

Of course, no-one wants to be chained to the past forever, and I would call on the UCI to act on its own recent suggestion for a meaningful truth and reconciliation programme. While we appreciate the arguments that weigh in favour of and against such a program, we believe that allowing individuals like the riders mentioned today to come forward and acknowledge the truth about their past doping may be the only way to truly dismantle the remaining system that allowed this 'EPO and blood doping era' to flourish. Hopefully, the sport can unshackle itself from the past, and once and for all continue to move forward to a better future.

Our mission is to protect clean athletes by preserving the integrity of competition not only for today's athletes but also the athletes of tomorrow. We have heard from many athletes who have faced an unfair dilemma – dope, or don't compete at the highest levels of the sport. Many of them abandoned their dreams and left sport because they refused to endanger their health and participate in doping. That is a tragic choice no athlete should have to make.

It took tremendous courage for the riders on the USPS Team and others to come forward and speak truthfully. It is not easy to admit your mistakes and accept your punishment. But that is what these riders have done for the good of the sport, and for the young riders who hope to one day reach their dreams without using dangerous drugs or methods.

These eleven (11) team-mates of Lance Armstrong, in alphabetical order, are Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie.

The riders who participated in the USPS Team doping conspiracy and truthfully assisted have been courageous in making the choice to stop perpetuating the sporting fraud, and they have suffered greatly. In addition to the public revelations, the active riders have been suspended and disqualified appropriately in line with the rules.

In some part, it would have been easier for them if it all would just go away; however, they love the sport, and they want to help young athletes have hope that they are not put in the position they were – to face the reality that in order to climb to the heights of their sport they had to sink to the depths of dangerous cheating.

I have personally talked with and heard these athletes' stories and firmly believe that, collectively, these athletes, if forgiven and embraced, have a chance to leave a legacy far greater for the good of the sport than anything they ever did on a bike.

Lance Armstrong was given the same opportunity to come forward and be part of the solution. He rejected it.

Instead he exercised his legal right not to contest the evidence and knowingly accepted the imposition of a ban from recognised competition for life and disqualification of his competitive results from 1998 forward.

The entire factual and legal basis on the outcome in his case and the other six active riders' cases will be provided in the materials made available online later today. Two other members of the USPS Team, Dr Michele Ferrari and Dr Garcia del Moral, also received lifetime bans for perpetrating this doping conspiracy.

Three other members of the USPS Team have chosen to contest the charges and take their cases to arbitration: Johan Bruyneel, the team director; Dr Pedro Celaya, a team doctor; and Jose 'Pepe' Marti, the team trainer. These three individuals will receive a full hearing before independent judges, where they will have the opportunity to present and confront the evidence, cross-examine witnesses and testify under oath in a public proceeding.

From day one in this case, as in every potential case, the USADA board of directors and professional staff did the job we are mandated to do for clean athletes and the integrity of sport. We focused solely on finding the truth without being influenced by celebrity or non-celebrity, threats, personal attacks or political pressure because that is what clean athletes deserve and demand.'


1971: Born September 18, in Dallas.

1991: Signs with Subaru-Montgomery and becomes US national amateur champion.

1993: Crowned US national champion. Wins first stage in Tour de France but fails to finish. Beats Miguel Indurain to win world championship.

1994: Wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege spring classic.

1996: October 2 – Diagnosed with testicular cancer. The disease later spreads through his whole body. Founds Lance Armstrong Foundation for Cancer.

1997: Declared cancer-free after brain surgery and chemotherapy. Signs with US Postal Service team after being dropped by Cofidis.

1998: Wins Tours of Holland and Luxembourg.

1999: Claims first Tour de France title, winning four stages.

2000: Wins second Tour. Secures time-trial bronze in Sydney Olympics.

2001: Victorious in Tour of Switzerland.

July 29: Becomes only the fifth rider to win three Tour de France titles in a row.

2002: Wins Dauphine Libere and Midi Libre.

July 28: Becomes only the fourth person to win four successive Tour de France titles.

Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis

2003: Equals the record of five victories in the Tour de France, but is pushed to his limit by German Jan Ullrich, who finishes just 61 seconds off the pace.

2004: July 25 – Clinches record sixth Tour de France victory.

2005: July 24 – Wins his seventh Tour de France, two more than anyone else, before retiring.

September 6 – Claims he is considering coming out of retirement after being angered by drug allegations against him.

2008: September 9 – Announces he will return to professional cycling and will attempt to win his eighth Tour de France in 2009.

2009: March 23 – Suffers a broken right collarbone when he crashes out on stage one of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in Spain.

May – Appears in first Giro d'Italia, finishing 12th. Tour is somewhat marred by financial cloud over Armstrong's Astana team and the American is linked to a takeover.

June – Astana's financial issues are resolved and Armstrong is named in the Tour de France team, but with 2007 champion Alberto Contador of Spain as leader.

July – Contador and Armstrong endure a fractious relationship. Contador claims a second Tour title, while Armstrong finishes third. Armstrong announces he will launch his own squad in 2010, Team Radio Shack.

2010: January – Team Radio Shack make their debut at the Tour Down Under in Australia. Armstrong finishes 25th overall.

Lance Armstrong riding on the Champs Elysees

May – Armstrong's former US Postal team-mate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, launches allegations at the Texan.

June 28 – Announces that the 2010 Tour de France will be his last.

July – Finishes final Tour in 23rd place, 39 minutes and 20 seconds behind winner Contador.

2011: February 16 – Announces retirement for second time.

May – Forced to deny claims made by former team-mate Tyler Hamilton that they took performance-enhancing drugs together.

2012: February 4 – An investigation into alleged doping by Armstrong is dropped by federal prosecutors in California.

June 13 – The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) confirm they have initiated legal proceedings over allegations of doping against Armstrong.

June 30 – The USADA confirm they will file formal doping charges against Armstrong.

July 9 – Armstrong files a lawsuit in a US federal court asking for a temporary restraining order against the agency. Armstrong also claims the USADA offered “corrupt inducements” to other cyclists to testify against him.

July 11 – Armstrong refiles lawsuit against the USADA after initial lawsuit was dismissed by a judge as being a “lengthy and bitter polemic”, designed to attract media attention and public sympathy.

August 20 – Armstrong's legal action against the USADA dismissed in court.

August 24 – Armstrong announces he will not fight the doping charges filed against him by the USADA, saying in a statement he is “finished with this nonsense” and insisting he is innocent. He is stripped of all his titles banned for life from cycling by USADA.

October 10 – USADA claim 11 of Armstrong's former team-mates have testified against him. The organisation say the US Postal Service team “ran the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”, with “conclusive and undeniable proof” of a team-run doping conspiracy.

VIDEO: USADA explains drug test procedures


Luis Suarez is no cheat, says Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson

Suarez is no cheat! Gerrard and Johnson leap to the defence of Liverpool team-mate



22:18 GMT, 24 September 2012

Liverpool duo Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson have sprung to the defence of Luis Suarez and urged referees not to judge the striker on the reputation he has gained for diving.

The Uruguay international, who was booked the previous week at Sunderland for such an offence, could have had a penalty in Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United after a tackle by Jonny Evans.

However, his appeals were turned down by referee Mark Halsey and both Gerrard and Johnson believe the 25-year-old is suffering from the label given to him during a difficult period last season.

Unlucky Suarez was not awarded a penalty after this challenge by Jonny Evans on Sunday

Unlucky Suarez was not awarded a penalty after this challenge by Jonny Evans on Sunday

'I think even when Luis does get blatant penalties now he doesn't get them,' said Gerrard.

'It is down to referees to not judge him and give what they see – if it's not a penalty don't give him one but if it's clear give it.

'He was booked at Sunderland but against United it was a penalty.'

Johnson echoed the sentiments of his captain by adding: 'Everyone has to do their job: they have to forget about who they are looking at and make their decisions and not let anything from the past affect their decision.

'They have to call the shots at the time, regardless of who it is.'

Johnson found himself on the receiving end when he conceded the match-winning spot-kick at Anfield after Antonio Valencia went down in the area.

The England right-back was fuming as he claimed he did not touch the Ecuadorian, whom he accused of cheating.

Penalty: Johnson (right) brings down Antonio Valencia

Penalty: Johnson (right) brings down Antonio Valencia

'I've watched it 50 times – not that I needed to – because it wasn't a penalty, I didn't touch him, I have collided with Pepe (Reina),' said the England international.

'Reputations go in front of people at times and because Valencia is not a known diver that is why he got the decision.

'I almost guarantee if it was exactly the same situation and it was Luis and not Valencia then it wouldn't be a penalty.

'It is cheating at the end of the day, that's what people call it.

'You can't describe [the feeling] but you don't expect people to do that – they are better than that.

'This is one the best leagues in the world and you've got someone doing that.

'I know it is difficult for the referee when we are sprinting as fast as we can but in the big games they are the differences and we expect the referees to make the right decisions.

Frustrated: Liverpool are yet to win in the Premier League this season

Frustrated: Liverpool are yet to win in the Premier League this season

'We are working as hard as we can to win the game and to have that taken away like that… I can't explain it.

'The referee said to me he had to give it so he obviously thought I had touched him. It is frustrating because I've not touched him.'

Manager Brendan Rodgers felt referees had to get wiser and not be fooled by acts of simulation, while at the same time recognising that when people go down in the area it is not automatically a penalty or a dive.

'You see it in the modern game, across the board, a number of players go to ground too easily and they get their rewards sometimes,' he said.

'Antonio Valencia has gone to ground and got a penalty for it with near-enough no contact.

'If you look at Luis last week away at Sunderland he goes down, there is contact but he gets booked for it then yesterday he didn't get it.

'Every foul or maybe someone going to the floor isn't always a booking.'

Jonnie Peacock beats Oscar Pistorius in 100m – London 2012 Paralympics

Go Jonnie, go! Brit star Peacock wins 100m in record time as Pistorius misses medals



21:09 GMT, 6 September 2012

British teenager Jonnie Peacock sealed his status as the fastest amputee in the world by upstaging Oscar Pistorius in the biggest race of the Paralympics.

The 19-year-old from Cambridge showed no regard for reputations as he stormed away from the field to win in 10.90 seconds, a new Paralympic record.

Jonnie Peacock

All smiles: Peacock was the class act of the field after storming to victory on Thursday night

He came into the Games as the T44 world record holder but inexperienced on the big stage, but proved he can more than handle the occasion.

Only American Richard Browne could get close to the Briton, claiming silver in 11.03secs.

Over the line: The 19-year-old set a new Paralympic record with a time of 10.90 seconds

Over the line: The 19-year-old set a new Paralympic record with a time of 10.90 seconds

Pistorius, the defending champion, was never in contention, finishing fourth behind fellow South African and room-mate Arnu Fourie, but was quick to embrace Peacock at the finish.

Chants of 'Peacock, Peacock, Peacock' rang around the stadium before the start, which was delayed when Brazilian Alan Fonteles Oliveira appeared to twitch and the field were asked to stand up.

Out of the running: Pistorius (far right) was a distant fourth

Out of the running: Pistorius (far right) was a distant fourth

A faulty rather than a false start was the verdict and the added tension did not affect Peacock, who was able to race off on a lap of honour draped in the Union Flag.

Peacock's victory crowned a golden night for Great Britain, coming minutes after David Weir had continued his relentless pursuit of quadruple gold by making it three out of three with yet another masterful ride, this time to win the 800m title.

Gracious in defeat: Pistorius embraces Peacock

Gracious in defeat: Pistorius embraces Peacock

Peacock told Channel 4: 'It's absolutely surreal. For the past four days, this event being quite late on, you've got these guys going out getting gold and you just want to be part of that.

'This Games is definitely a legacy and to be part of that is amazing.

'I knew this crowd was going to be intense. Dave Weir going minutes before – I knew he'd win, and I knew the crowd would be on a high. We'd had a great day so far, Hannah opened up the evening with a gold. I knew they were going to do that.

'[But] I didn't think it was going to be that crazy, I was like, who's going to get a bigger cheer, Oscar or me

'It was just surreal. I had to tell them to be quiet after a while. 'I was really annoyed with my start yesterday. This time I actually knew I could push. About 60m I started to think, “oh c**p I'm in the lead. What's going on here”

'I was rocking a little bit. It was crazy.'

Pistorius was quick to hail Peacock's gold, telling Channel 4: 'What we've seen tonight is the start of an amazing Paralympics sprinter.

'I've just been watching it on the screen again and it was a great performance. 'I can't imagine how happy he must be to do this in front of his home crowd.

'Well done, it's a great time for him. He's still young and he's got a great future ahead of him.

'I was hoping to finish in the medals but the 100 is not my thing. My room-mate (Fourie) pipped me on the line for third.' Pistorius admitted he is now hoping for gold in his favourite event, the 400m.

'I'm desperate for that,' he said. 'I'm looking forward to the 400m.'

Flying the flag: The British star enjoys a lap of honour in front of his home crowd

Flying the flag: The British star enjoys a lap of honour in front of his home crowd

London 2012 Paralympics: Oscar Pistorius should have taken defeat in his stride – Jonathan McEvoy

You should have taken defeat in your stride, Blade Runner

Sportsmail Reporter


21:41 GMT, 3 September 2012



21:41 GMT, 3 September 2012

Oscar Pistorius is capable of immense charm. He shows it to the fellow in the car park who helps him reverse out of a space as he throws him the few coins that make a difference to South Africa’s dispossessed.

It was the same welcoming personality that led him to invite me into his home on a guarded estate in Pretoria last year. Cricket and baseball bats lay behind the door, a pistol by his bed and a machine gun by a window.

It is a disconcerting scene to this British visitor but just everyday protection in his sometimes troubled homeland. The weapons juxtapose his simple friendliness. When I visited he was faultlessly welcoming, meeting me on time, finding me somewhere to stay and driving me back to the airport.

Sheepish: Pistorius (left) collects his silver medal on Monday

Sheepish: Pistorius (left) collects his silver medal on Monday

He cooked lunch at his bachelor pad, frying chicken cubes and throwing them into an avocado salad. He fished out a beer for me – how Fleet Street’s reputation goes before us – and took a water for himself.

Reputations – his, not ours – have preceded him here in London these last few dizzying, disorientating weeks. He is the poster boy of the Paralympics who was introduced to the crowd as ‘the great Oscar Pistorius’. Before that he was the pioneer who beat disability and opposition to become the first amputee to run in the Olympics.

All of the above makes it a sadness that at least a little of his lustre was rubbed away on Sunday night when he criticised the man who took what the watching world imagined would be Pistorius’s gold medal in the 200 metres.

His comments were unsporting because, on this one, Oscar has not got a prosthetic leg to stand on. Alan Oliveira’s blades fall within the rules. Furthermore, Oliveira took six more strides in the final than Pistorius. He also ran slower in winning than Pistorius had in his semi-final, 21.45sec to 20.30sec.

Alas, Pistorius will be remembered by many as a petulant prima donna, an athlete who charms only when he is winning. He has shown a fast temper before, walking out of a BBC radio interview last year when he was asked whether he was an ‘inconvenient embarrassment’ to the authorities because his battle to take part in able-bodied competitions took them into ‘uncharted ethical waters’.

Contradiction: Pistorius has fought to compete with able-bodied athletes

Contradiction: Pistorius has fought to compete with able-bodied athletes

In passing, however, let’s note that Pistorius’s comments about Oliveira, while misguided, happily cut through the sometimes sugary sermonising that has attached itself to the Paralympic narrative. They showed the Paralympics matter.

Pistorius is from a rich mining family and his earnings are estimated at around 1million a year. He is an icon of African sport and the best known Paralympian in history. His success is the story of bloody-minded triumph over adversity – the characteristics that led him to the frustrated outburst here in London.

He was born without a fibula in either leg. His parents Henk and Sheila made the agonising decision to go ahead with the double amputation when he was 11 months old. He remembers: ‘My father became an expert on amputation. He spoke to doctors all around the world.

‘So when one doctor said I should have an amputation above the knee rather than below, he refused to pay the bill for the advice. He knew that the doctor was being flippant.’ That is an excellent example of the Pistorius attitude to life. Like father, like son.

Young Oscar was a livewire. When he played in sand two children asked him why he left holes rather than footprints. He was not perturbed. His mother Sheila, the biggest influence on his life, would simply put shoes on his brother Carl’s feet and prosthetic legs on his stumps.

Pistorius wrestled, played tennis, cricket, water polo and rugby. He turned to athletics only after a crushing rugby injury.

Contradiction: Pistorius has fought to compete with able-bodied athletes

By then he was a pupil at the strict, traditional English-speaking Pretoria Boys High School and had lost his beloved mother after an allergic reaction to medication. She was 42. Her dates of birth and death are tattooed on his arm. He says a silent prayer to her before every race.

Sheila wrote a letter to her son before his amputation. It was intended for him to read when he was older. ‘The real loser is never the person who crosses the finishing line last. The real loser is the person who sits on the side.’

It was that mantra that is Pistorius’s guiding credo. So when he was told his prosthetic limbs gave him an advantage against able-bodied runners and that he was, therefore, barred from competing against them, he fought all the way.

He employed the best lawyers and scientists to prove that the athletics federation, the IAAF, were wrong to prevent his participation. Via the Court of Arbitration for Sport, he won his case five years ago.

Defending his position, he once told me: ‘It’s like you interviewing an able-bodied sprinter and asking him if his pair of shoes make him great. He spends half his life saying, “It’s not my shoes; it’s my training”.

‘I’m training s*** hard. And if my shoes are so great, why are other Paralympians not running the times I am’ When they are, as Oliveira is, the sometime charming, incredible, trail-blazing Pistorius would do well to remember his own words.

Graham Poll: Roger East endured tough Premier League debut

Hard lesson for East as new ref discovered reputations take years to build



12:17 GMT, 3 September 2012

Good reputations are said to take years to gain and minutes to lose – unfortunately bad ones work in the reverse.

Pierluigi Collina, the superb Italian referee, told me that 85 per cent of his job was done before he set foot on the pitch. His reputation as the best referee in the world gave him self-assurance and a huge amount of credibility in the eyes of the players he was appointed to referee.

Within this country we have referees with similar, excellent reputations which gives them scope to make contentious decisions and escape censure; Howard Webb turning down a strong Liverpool appeal for a penalty against Arsenal in front of the Kop would be a good example from the weekend.

Rough ride: New Premier League referee Roger East endured a difficult afternoon taking charge of Swansea's draw with Sunderland

Rough ride: New Premier League referee Roger East endured a difficult afternoon taking charge of Swansea's draw with Sunderland

One man who did not have the benefit of that this weekend was Roger East, the Wiltshire based referee who was handed his first Premier League assignment at the weekend at Swansea. The players tested him throughout a tough game in which he had a lot of difficult decisions to make.

Whilst the Swansea manager Michael Laudrup appeared critical of the dismissal of his defender ‘Chico’ Flores I felt he had no option but to show the Spaniard a red card after he challenged Louis Saha head high with his studs.

Perhaps East did miss a foul when Flores came through James McLean to start the move which led to Swansea’s first goal but overall he appeared to referee well and started to build his reputation on football’s top domestic tier.

Martin Atkinson continued to repair his reputation, after last season which fell below his usual high standards, with another solid game at Wigan.

On the mend: Martin Atkinson is rediscovering his best form with the whistle after some testing moments last season

On the mend: Martin Atkinson is rediscovering his best form with the whistle after some testing moments last season

His consistency was typified with the two penalty awards, one for each team and both for hand ball offences. Some felt they were harsh but as both Robert Huth and Manuel Figueroa had their hands in unnatural positions I thought Atkinson was absolutely correct.

The other penalty awarded was at St Mary’s on Sunday by Mike Dean, a referee known for his penchant for spot kicks. I heard a commentator initially question the decision as Saints defender, Jos Hooiveld, had played the ball.

Fortunately opinions changed to support Dean’s routine decision as all now accept that tackles which wipe players out are foul challenges irrespective of whether the ball is played.

So, referees appear to have done well on the penalties given but there were some missed. Tottenham’s Benoit Assou-Ekottu should have conceded one when he clearly pulled Norwich City striker Steve Morison to the ground by the shirt.

Andy Carroll could well have been awarded a penalty when he was pushed but his reputation was clearly enhanced but a superb debut display for West Ham.

Finally back to Anfield where Luis Suarez might just be finding that his reputation to go to ground too easily will cost him all but the most blatant of penalties.



Support: UEFA President Michel Platini

Plans: UEFA President Michel Platini

Seeing red: Tottenham Hotspur's Tom Huddlestone

Seeing red: Tottenham Hotspur's Tom Huddlestone

Those who think that the extra two
assistants behind the goals is effective as UEFA president, Michel
Platini, says that officials from countries who introduce the system
will get priority when appointments for UEFA matches are made.

Tom Huddlestone after being sent off in
Tottenham’s draw with Norwich. Whilst the decision looked harsh as the
tackle, which could be seen as reckless, did not appear to endanger the
safety of the opponent, it would be difficult to claim a ‘clear and
obvious error’ which the FA require to overturn straight red cards.

England"s Stuart Lancaster braced for ferocious Test

Storm warning for Lancaster as England coach braced for ferocious challenge



20:36 GMT, 8 June 2012

Stuart Lancaster described England’s
build-up to today’s first Test against South Africa as ‘the calm before
the storm’ — rightly reflecting the thunderous confrontation which
awaits his team.

The series opener at Kings Park
stadium represents the most significant and daunting assignment yet for
the England head coach and his promising regime.

Ready for action: Stuart Lancaster believes England are ready for the test that awaits in South Africa

Ready for action: Stuart Lancaster believes England are ready for the test that awaits in South Africa

Time and again during his caretaker stint in the Six Nations, Lancaster’s new, young side went into games against a backdrop of foreboding, only to emerge with reputations enhanced.

The trend was established at
Murrayfield and taken to another level with the victory in Paris and
demolition of Ireland at home. The challenge this afternoon is to
maintain it by defying history.

South Africa V England

England have not won in this country for 12 years and their last seven encounters with the Springboks have ended in defeat. In all, the national team have played 10 Tests in Durban against South Africa and won three. This is a harsh, unforgiving place for visiting sides.

Part of the issue is the aura that surrounds the Springboks, based on their physicality and ferocity. Lancaster suggested that England intend to be alert to the danger, without being awestruck or afraid.

‘We want to be in a position, in terms of our mental preparation, where we are confident but aware of the challenge coming our way,’ he said. ‘We’ve shown the players examples of South Africa at their best and, when they’re at their best, they are formidable but there’s a balance. You want to give the players confidence but make sure it doesn’t become over-confidence. Equally, you don’t want to make them so anxious that there is a fear of failure.

‘It’s a fine line and that mental aspect
is a big part of our preparation. You can feel the weight of
expectation and pressure. It is a bit like the calm before the storm.
Track record suggests this is one of the toughest challenges to take

The local agenda this week has been dominated by regional rivalries and
concern that South Africa will be disadvantaged by the short turn-around
between Super 15 derbies and the start of a tricky Test series.

Final preparations: Geoff Parling charges upfield during the England training session

Final preparations: Geoff Parling charges upfield during the England training session

England are seen in these parts as a menacing proposition as they have
had more time together to prepare and are further along the evolutionary

But that perception overlooks the fact there are two debutants in the
visiting pack, prop Joe Marler and flanker Tom Johnson. In fact, there
is a staggering experience gulf between the host nation and the Red Rose
XV, who have just 187 caps between them.

Yet, in certain ways, there are similarities between the teams. Both are
rebuilding after poor World Cup campaigns and both are likely to lean
heavily on forward clout and a territorial, kicking game so this is
destined to be a blood-and-thunder showdown with plenty of intrigue in
the set piece and aerial exchanges.

Lancaster’s decision to move Ben Foden to the wing and promote Mike Brown at 15 may ultimately look like a shrewd move.

England are at the end of a long, gruelling season and have players
missing, such as Tom Croft, Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes, but South
Africa are depleted, too. In the past, these tours have felt like a
half-hearted after-thought following an arduous season, but not this

With three Tests and two midweek games, this has been pinpointed
as a priority expedition.

Calm before storm: Chris Robshaw passes the ball during training

Calm before storm: Chris Robshaw passes the ball during training

Forwards coach Graham Rowntree said: ‘Too often in recent times, in
these tours at the end of a long season, we’ve used every excuse going.
If we want to be the squad we think we can be, we’ve got to start
winning these big games. Our season finishes on June 23 — this is a
continuation of our season.’

There is a wider issue at stake, for all four home nations. With the
Lions touring Australia next summer, this would be the ideal time to
start reversing the trend of southern dominance — building on the lead
set by Scotland, who claimed a shock win over the Wallabies on Tuesday.

Wales have a glorious chance to beat the same opponents today and
England have cause for hope, although Ireland’s prospects against New
Zealand are less positive.

However, the sense of a common cause will not register in England’s
immediate thinking. Whatever the official, one-game-at-a-time mantra,
the management will be aware this Test — at sea level against untried
and potentially under-cooked opposition — is a prime opportunity to
lower the colours of the Rainbow Nation.

While the Springboks start as favourites and a home win by a handful of
points is the most logical outcome, Lancaster’s team have made a mockery
of pessimistic predictions before. To do so again would be their
finest feat yet.

Graham Carr signs eight-year Newcastle deal

Newcastle tie down crucial talent-spotter Carr with EIGHT-year deal



10:17 GMT, 7 June 2012

Newcastle have confirmed that chief scout Graham Carr has signed a new long term deal that will keep him at the club for an incredible eight more years.

The 67-year-old played a key role in the signings of Papiss Cisse, Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa who helped fire the Tyneside outfit into fifth place in the Premier League last season.

Sitting comfortably: Graham Carr has been rewarded at Newcastle after a string of successful signings

Sitting comfortably: Graham Carr has been rewarded at Newcastle after a string of successful signings

With Newcastle back in Europe in the form of the Europa League, the new bumper deal reflects owner Mike Ashley’s ambition to build the Toon further after arguably over-achieving last term to narrowly miss out on a Champions League place on the final day of the campaign.

Lifelong Newcastle fan Carr previously had scouting jobs at Tottenham and Manchester City before moving to the Sports Direct Arena in February 2010, and his new contract came at the delight of Managing Director Derek Llambias.

Winning team: Star players Yohan Cabaye, Papiss Cisse and Cheick Tiote (l-r) all arrived at Newcastle under Carr's watch

Winning team: Star players Yohan Cabaye, Papiss Cisse and Cheick Tiote (l-r) all arrived at Newcastle under Carr's watch

‘We are delighted to have agreed an eight-year deal with Graham,’ Llambias told the club’s official website, ‘and very pleased that he has committed his long term future to the club.

‘He has been instrumental in helping us to bring some truly exceptional players to Newcastle United and he has deservedly built one of the best reputations in the business.

‘Graham works tirelessly to identify talented young players from across the world and has done a magnificent job over the last two years.

'He has the complete faith and support of the owner, the board and the manager, and it is excellent news that the club will continue to benefit from his expertise for many years to come.'

London 2012 Olympics: Top British stars – Daley Thompson

Daley's gold watch: With just 50 days to go, who are the British stars impressing our top Olympics columnist



23:57 GMT, 6 June 2012

Fifty days to go until the Olympics start and our track and field prospects are looking really good.

I don’t want to put medals around anyone’s neck at this stage. That’s not the way sport works. No matter what people’s reputations or past performances, it is all about getting it right on the day. But here’s who’s exciting me as we approach the world’s greatest event.

Jessica Ennis

At this very second Jess and Mo Farah would seem our best hopes. I wasn’t surprised that Jess won her only pre-Olympic heptathlon in Gotzis against both her major rivals with a new British record of 6,906 points.

High hopes: Jessica Ennis is one of our greatest prospects

High hopes: Jessica Ennis is one of our greatest prospects

More from Daley Thompson…

Daley Thompson: Chambers ruling is the worst result of all

Daley Thompson: Keep these drug cheats away from our Olympic Games


She has wintered really well and perhaps losing to those rivals — Nataliya Dobrynska and Tatyana Chernova — in the past year was a wake-up call. If 44 metres was her worst javelin throw, things are going well. That’s not to say she can put her feet up. She has to think that it will take even more, and prepare in that frame of mind.

Mo Farah

Mo ran really well in Eugene, Oregon, last weekend, winning in 12min 56.98sec over 5,000m — the fastest time in the world this year. But Eugene is not London. It was the aperitif and he must get ready for the main course.

Dai Greene

I know Dai is in great shape. I went to see him in Bath and I like the way he goes about his business. Some people don’t give it their all because they are frightened of finding out the answer. Dai is not like that. He wants to know if his best is good enough, and I admire that.

He just needs to get some racing under his belt after pulling out of last week’s Diamond League in Rome with illness.

Fit and firing: Dai Greene is in great shape

Fit and firing: Dai Greene is in great shape

Adam Gemili

Just 18 and, having run 100m in 10.08sec, he is the fastest British sprinter this year. He looks like he might develop but it’s a huge step to go from being an outstanding junior into a successful adult. Usain Bolt won the 2002 world junior 200m gold medal aged 15 but it took him five years to reach the same peak in the senior ranks.

Mark Lewis-Francis is a cautionary tale. He had the world at his feet as a youngster but he didn’t go on to achieve what he should have done. He did not seem to take it seriously enough. I remember he spent time on motorbikes. You can’t do that if you’re a serious athlete — if only because of the other idiots on the road.

I hope Gemili will keep his head down and work hard. If you do that everything will come. If I were him, I’d just want to run everywhere.

Potential: Adam Gemili must work hard

Potential: Adam Gemili must work hard

He is still raw and needs experience.
Some of that he will learn for himself but he also needs to get it from
those around him. That’s why he should be surrounded by people who have
his best interests at heart, not those who want reflected glory.

The British sprinting scene has been standing still for a decade with the likes of Dwain Chambers, Christian Malcolm and Marlon Devonish, and it’s exciting to think this young lad could be the first of a new generation.

Lawrence Okoye

The dark horse. He is only 21 and has less than two years’ real discus training but he is one hell of a talent.

If he can throw 68 metres at the Olympics — his personal best and British record is 68.24m — then he will not be far off a medal.

But throwing, more than anything else, is about experience: it’s about timing, about being able to relax yourself enough to get a good throw out. It can amount to three or four metres’ difference.

Good shot: Phillips Idowu has a decent chance of gold

Good shot: Phillips Idowu has a decent chance of gold

Phillips Idowu

As with the discus, the triple jump is about applying pressure early. If he was not too badly injured in Eugene the other day and can get a big jump out first time, he’s in with a good chance of gold.


It’s nice to see Christine Ohuruogu and the injury-prone Nicola Sanders back to some sort of form in the 400m. The ultimate target for Ohuruogu is to find an extra half-second to challenge the imperious Sanya Richards-Ross.

Daley Thompson, is one of 12 British Olympic and Paralympic legends featured in ‘Our Greatest Team Legends Collection’, a series of collectable medallions created to support Team GB and Paralympics GB, available exclusively from BP forecourts now. www.bp.com/medallions

Harry Redknapp must stay, says Rafael van der Vaart

Van der Vaart cagey on Spurs future but insists it's vital Redknapp stays on



15:46 GMT, 5 June 2012

Tottenham playmaker Rafael van der Vaart admitted it was vital manager Harry Redknapp signed a new contract at White Hart Lane as he once again refused to rule out leaving the club himself.

Redknapp has just a year left on his current deal and has reportedly hired Wayne Rooney's agent, Paul Stretford, to negotiate an extension.

Stretford and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy both have reputations for striking hard bargains and it remains to be seen what length of contract 65-year-old Redknapp will be offered.

Happy camper: Rafael van der Vaart is focussing on Holland's Euro 2012 campaign, rather than his own future as speculation mounts that he will join Schalke

Happy camper: Rafael van der Vaart is focussing on Holland's Euro 2012 campaign, rather than his own future as speculation mounts that he will join Schalke

Van der Vaart suggested it should be a long-term deal, insisting sustained success was linked to stability.

Asked if it was crucial Redknapp signed on, the 29-year-old said: 'Yeah, I think so. He is doing a fantastic job, so I don't see any problems.

'I think he's going to sign a new contract – I hope so – and I think it's also good for every team when they have a manager who's there for many years. So I hope he stays.'

Van der Vaart's own future has been the subject of speculation in recent days, with the Holland international having been linked with Schalke.

Asked if there was any chance of him
leaving north London, he said: 'No, I don't think so. There's always
interest. But I'm happy in England and I want to stay.

'In football, you never know, and that's what I wanted to say and nothing more.'

Better together: Van Der Vaart has urged Harry Redknapp to commit his own future to Spurs

Better together: Van Der Vaart has urged Harry Redknapp to commit his own future to Spurs

Schalke would be able to offer Van der Vaart Champions League football – something denied to Spurs this season thanks to Chelsea's shock European Cup triumph.

'It's a pity for us but that's life,' Van der Vaart said.

Tottenham finished fourth in the Barclays Premier League – enough to qualify but for what transpired in the Champions League final.

However, they were also well clear in third place before collapsing from February onwards.

Van der Vaart said: 'I think we have the squad to be in the top three but, this season, I think we had a run of 10 games without winning. At the end of the day, we don't deserve to be in the Champions League.'

As a consequence, Van der Vaart is just one of several Tottenham stars to have been linked with moves away this summer.

The forward urged Spurs to strengthen for another assault on the top three next season, starting by signing on-loan Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor on a permanent deal.

'I hope he stays,' Van der Vaart said. 'He's really important – not because of his goals, but also his personality's great. It's going to be difficult to keep him but I hope we will.'