Tag Archives: revelations

Paul Wood is to wear a box after rupturing his testicle and has moved in with Holly Henderson

Boxed in: Wood relieved to be back after ruptured testicle but not so happy about his extra protection

By
Ian Laybourn, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

17:07 GMT, 8 January 2013

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UPDATED:

18:10 GMT, 8 January 2013

Warrington forward Paul Wood, who played on in the Grand Final with a ruptured testicle, has decided to take further precaution this season by wearing a box.

Wood was dubbed the toughest athlete in the world after the incident and was back in training within a week of surgery.

He cannot wait to play again and said: 'I had a box fitted but whether I play in it all year I don’t know.

Hard nut: Paul Wood carried on playing in the Grand Final against Leeds after rupturing a testicle

Hard nut: Paul Wood carried on playing in the Grand Final against Leeds after rupturing a testicle

'I’ve tried it out. I prefer not to
play in it but, once I get a bit of confidence, I’ll probably take it
off, especially when it gets warm.'

Warrington head to Tenerife next
week for a warm-weather training camp ahead of their opening Super League match
against Castleford on February 3.

'It will be good to get back on the
field and get some normality back,' he added. 'It’s good when you’ve got
something to focus on throughout the week. You’re a bit lost without
the games.

'Once the season is finished you’re
glad because you can get over your aches and pains but once you’ve had a
couple of weeks off you’re ready to get back into it.

'I can’t wait for the season to
start. I’m out of contract this year and I’d like to sign another
extension and finish my career at Warrington.

'It’s going to be a big year for me. I need to have the best year I’ve had.'

Wood has also had to endure shocking revelations about his personal life since getting injured.

He opened up about his obsessive compulsive disorder in the build-up to the Challenge Cup final last summer.

Wood has found stardom, and with it a new celebrity girlfriend in Holly Henderson

Lovers: Wood has found stardom, and with it a new celebrity girlfriend in Holly Henderson

And the 31-year-old prop hit the headlines last week when he was alleged to have left his wife Shelley and two young children to move in with local celebrity Holly Henderson, who used to date Manchester City footballer Mario Balotelli.

Wood might have been forgiven for keeping a low profile at Warrington's pre-season media day but he was happy to fulfil his duties at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

'I thought I’d face the music,' he said. 'I’ve nothing to hide.

'There’s been some truth in the papers and there’s been some lies as well but I’m not going to broadcast my personal life. I’ll leave it as it is.

'The people who are close to me know exactly what’s gone on and they’re the people that count.'

Wood was a little more forthcoming over the injury that brought him worldwide fame.

The tough-tackling forward played on for 20 minutes after accidentally being kneed in the groin by Leeds centre Kallum Watkins at the start of the second half of the Grand Final.

He made no mention of the injury in post-match interviews but was subsequently taken to hospital for surgery to have the testicle removed and later made light of his misfortune, tweeting: 'Just coming out of hospital to go home … Seriously feel like I’ve left something'.

Wood (left tackler) has always been known as a no-nonsense player

Strongman: Wood (left tackler) has always been known as a no-nonsense player

The tweet soon went viral and, for the first time in a 13-year career at the highest level of domestic rugby league, Wood was a man in demand.

'The reaction was absolutely unbelievable – everyone wanted to talk to me,' he said.

'The weirdest thing was seeing my story come up as a question on The Million Pound Drop with Davina McCall.

'It was good for rugby league. It’s probably had more coverage than anything else over the last few years.

'Someone told me I was among the five best sporting moments of the year in a magazine so again it’s just good for rugby league, that people appreciate how hard the game is.'

Kolkata pitch row revelations highlight panic among India"s cricket establishment – Lawrence Booth

Kolkata pitch row revelations highlight panic among India's cricket establishment

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UPDATED:

14:56 GMT, 4 December 2012

The narrative in Kolkata this past week has centred, rather unexpectedly, on an old man with a fierce sense of pride and a refusal to be cowed by the BCCI. World cricket's administrators must be looking on in awe.

India had hoped the build-up to the third Test would allow them to stand back and chuckle at yet more wailing and gnashing of teeth over England's ineptitude against spin.

But events in Mumbai changed all that, instead shining a light on the Kolkata pitch and the alleged attempts by the Indian board to prevent the troublesome Prabir Mukherjee – long-standing curator at one of world cricket's most evocative venues and a man presumably absent from MS Dhoni's Christmas-card list – from doing his job.

Bowled over: Dhini has been embroiled in a row with the Kolkata groundsman

Bowled over: Dhini has been embroiled in a row with the Kolkata groundsman

More from Lawrence Booth…

The Top Spin: Home is not so comforting after all as Dhoni's plan backfires
27/11/12

The Top Spin: Spooked England were beaten in their minds in Ahmedabad
20/11/12

The Top Spin: India preparations leave England in a spin, but for Cook's charges the warm-up has barely begun
13/11/12

The Top Spin: Why India are clinging to faith in England's ineptitude against spin
06/11/12

The Top Spin: England's batsmen show they are still struggling to get to grips with spin
24/09/12

The Top Spin: England voyage into the unknown on a wing and a prayer
18/09/12

The Top Spin: Bears, Twitter and textgate… a review of the summer that was
10/09/12

The Top Spin: KP's England future is more dependent on his attitude than he may realise
03/09/12

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Bear witness: The priest in The Life of Brian couldn't resist using the word Jehovah

For even if the pitch does assist the
slow bowlers, India must still hope for rather more from Ravichandran
Ashwin, who has taken 3 for 278 since the first innings at Ahmedabad.
With Harbhajan Singh set for the chop, the onus will rest unduly on
Pragyan Ojha.

But just as India will fret about
what may happen if Cheteshwar Pujara fails in their first innings, so
England will be hoping others can take up the slack should Alastair Cook
not reach three figures for the first time in five Tests as captain.

The Top Spin on Twitter

For cricket-related snippets from England's tour of India, go to twitter.com/the_topspin

That may sound harsh on Kevin Pietersen, who was self-evidently magnificent in Mumbai. But his 22 Test hundreds have been scored in 17 different series: he’s more likely to dazzle once than twice.

The rest need to play their part, especially if Steven Finn replaces Stuart Broad, which would mean Swann batting as high as No 8, a position he hasn’t ascended to since Perth two years ago.

And yet while India picked the wrong attack in Mumbai – generously returning the favour after England’s gaffe at Ahmedabad – the English may just have stumbled, partly by accident and partly by design, over their most potent bowling line-up.

If the pitch does their bidding, memories from a painful year will be more easily forgotten.

Ever reliant: Cook has led England from the front, but will need support to win series

Ever reliant: Cook has led England from the front, but will need support to win series

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

More from Mukherjee

As we have seen, Prabir Mukherjee is plainly no respecter of reputations, and he was at it again yesterday when he was snapped ‘shooing away’ Mike Atherton from the middle of the Eden Gardens pitch.

Athers and Vic Marks – described in one Indian newspaper as ‘a fellow-scribe’ – were hoping for a look at one of the most talked-about strips in recent Test history, but Mukherjee was having none of it.

Ever-ready to provide a quote, and displaying masterful knowledge of his brief, he declared: 'Nobody except the players and match officials are allowed inside the playing arena. He may be an ex-England international, but he’s here as a journalist. He had no business to be there.'

Grounds for concern: Eden Gardens has been at the centre of recent controversy

Grounds for concern: Eden Gardens has been at the centre of recent controversy

One punt too many

Proof that Australia is a more sentimental place than it likes to admit could be found in the treatment of Ricky Ponting in Perth. The standing ovations and Ponting’s own, final, salute to Australian crowds were as you’d expect for an all-time great.

We’ll all miss Ponting in our different ways. But is it callous to wonder whether his selection for the third and final Test against South Africa was a triumph of hope over expectation

Ponting himself had admitted before the Test that his time was up, saying his performances against the South Africans had not reached ‘the level required of a batsman in the Australia team’.

No matter: for a game in which victory would have taken Australia to the top of the Test rankings, there was no suggestion at all that Ponting should miss out. Actually, it’s rather nice that this was the case. But let’s not pretend the Australian selectors made a decision that was anything other than misty-eyed.

Slick Rick: Ponting has finally called time on his Aussie career

Slick Rick: Ponting has finally called time on his Aussie career

Mud sticks

A belated thought about poor Imran Tahir’s monstering by Australia’s batsmen at Adelaide, where his match return of 0 for 260 was the worst in Test history. As the bowler whose record he broke can testify, these stats can scar a man. Khan Mohammad took 0 for 259 in the Jamaica Test of 1957-58, when Garry Sobers hit his then-world record 365*.

But he deserved better than to be known for those figures alone: his 13-Test career as a seamer for Pakistan brought him 54 wickets at under 24 apiece.

Wisden's Steven Lynch remembers meeting Mohammad when he was coaching at Lord’s some years back, and enquiring about the Sobers innings. The reply betrayed a certain weariness: ‘Everyone always asks me about that. They never ask about when I bowled Len Hutton for 0.’ Tahir beware.

Anderson spreads his wings

Sniffy journalists like to accuse professional sportsmen of lacking a hinterland, as if there’s time to write a novel or learn the oboe in between winning Test matches for their country. So hats off to Jimmy Anderson for agreeing to become executive producer of Warriors, a film directed by Barney Douglas – who provides video content for the ECB – about the role cricket is playing among the Maasai tribespeople of Kenya.

The film, which charts the villagers’ hopes of taking part in a tournament in England and examines some of the darker aspects of Maasai life, is due out in 2013. It’s a terrific idea. But it needs your help. To find out more, and to contribute to the fund-raising drive, please visit http://www.indiegogo.com/warriorsfilm

Ricky Hatton v Vyacheslav Senchenko – Jeff Powell"s fight preview

Baby steps that helped Hatton on his way back into the ring for comeback fight against Senchenko

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UPDATED:

17:46 GMT, 23 November 2012

The moment Ricky Hatton knew he had to turn his life around by stopping the boozing and bingeing came as he held his new-born daughter in his arms.

That was 14 months ago.

The moment he decided the Hitman would be back came when baby Millie’s mother Jennifer accepted that he needs to exorcise his demons by re-entering sport’s most punishing work place.

That was three months ago.

All that remains is to convince the rest of the world that more than three years after his last, disastrous fight it is healthier for him to exchange violent blows to the head than drink himself into suicidal oblivion.

That comes on Saturday night.

On the brink: Ricky Hatton squares up to Vyacheslav Senchenko at the weigh-in at Manchester Town Hall

On the brink: Ricky Hatton squares up to Vyacheslav Senchenko at the weigh-in at Manchester Town Hall

On the brink: Ricky Hatton squares up to Vyacheslav Senchenko at the weigh-in at Manchester Town Hall

On the eve of this moment of truth against Vyacheslav Senchenko in the bear-pit atmosphere of the MEN Arena, Hatton had this to say: ‘I don’t expect anyone else to believe until they see it with their own eyes but I will be better, meaner and more ferocious than the old Hitman. After this we will be talking world title challenges.’

We already are, with old foe Paulie Malignaggi here in Manchester to offer a two-fight shot at his WBA welterweight crown if Hatton looks the part again.

But that is not what is driving Hatton to revive his Blue Moon tunes of glory.

With the dark revelations about his descent into drugs and depression still haunting him, he says: ‘I am doing this because I never want my kids (little Millie and 11-year-old Campbell) to hear another bad word against me. I am fighting here to obliterate those terrible memories.

‘As I watched Millie being born and picked her up I knew I had to change. The Hitman may be a hard bastard in the ring but underneath all that I’m soft as s***. I’m an emotional bloke with a big heart and I have to control all those feelings going into a fight.

Mad for it: Hatton's army of fans cheer for their returning hero on the eve of the fight

Mad for it: Hatton's army of fans cheer for their returning hero on the eve of the fight

Ready: Hatton

Vyacheslav Senchenko

Head to head: Hatton and Senchenko are both in trim condition for their Manchester showdown

‘I will go through a whole range of emotions walking into the ring in front of 20,000 fans. The nervous anticipation is the same for every boxer but there is more at stake for me than usual here. I have to regain not only my own pride but the pride of the people of this country. Above all, I will be thinking about the kids and about Jennifer.

‘I was nervous when I first started sparring again and I’ll be nervous coming into the ring. But when the first bell rings, watch me go. Senchenko will be on the receiving end of all my pent-up tension and emotion.’

Not that Hatton denies the siren lure, the thrill and the drama of big nights like this, which has tempted so many boxers into come-backs, well-advised or not: ‘Yeah, okay, I have missed the roar of the crowd. I’m humbled by the devotion of my fans and I’m also inspired by them. I didn’t want their last memory of me in the ring to be that of being stretched cold on the canvass by Manny Pacquiao.’

The images of that knock-out and an earlier one by Floyd Mayweather trouble even his most devout supporters and he says: ‘A lot have come up to me in the street and said they fear that I’ll get hurt.

But I’ve told them not to worry. People doubt my punch resistance now but I remind them the only men to beat me are the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

‘The first time I got clocked on the chin in sparring my instinct was still to hit back, not to flinch.’
Hattton accepts that a truer test comes wearing lighter gloves in a real fight but says: ‘I know in my bones that it’s going to be okay.’

Family man: Hatton shares time with girlfriend Jennifer and daughter Millie

Family man: Hatton shares time with girlfriend Jennifer and daughter Millie

Kissy Hatton: The Hitman shares a moment with his daughter Millie

Kissy Hatton: The Hitman shares a moment with his daughter Millie

Pacquaio and Marvin Hagler are among iconic boxing figures questioning the Hitman’s return after so long an absence and he has prepared himself mentally for the worst should Senchenko surprise him.

Repeatedly, down these past ten weeks in training camp, he has said: ‘If I lose I will be able to look myself in the mirror on Sunday morning, know that I gave it my best and be able to walk away again, this time for good.’

Personally, as one of the few permitted to watch him spar and thus witness the renaissance of his speed, power and relentless aggression, I don’t expect that to happen.

Senchenko, whose only defeat in a lengthy career came when he lost his world welterweight title to Malignaggi, is an accomplished technical boxer and Hatton is right to counsel himself to master all those emotions and channel them into a clinical performance.

Thumbs-up: Sportsmail's Jeff Powell (right) is backing Hatton with victory on Saturday

Thumbs-up: Sportsmail's Jeff Powell (right) is backing Hatton with victory on Saturday

But the Ukrainian’s hesitation about facing the pre-fight stare-down with Hatton does not suggest confidence and he was given a foretaste of the scenes awaiting him in the MEN at yesterday’s packed and noise weigh-in.

Intriguingly, Malignaggi says: ‘This guy is talented but he does not have great belief in himself. If you get on top of him the doubts grow round by round and if Ricky is anything like as relentless as he used to be then Senchenko will eventually fold like a deck-hair on the beach.’

If there is one concern for a come-back fighter, it is stamina. Hatton looks fully capable of bringing the house down, along with Senchenko, by a mid-fight stoppage.

If not, as this is only his ten-round starter for part two of his career, the Hitman’s volume of punches should give him a commanding enough lead by the eighth for him to ease through to decisive victory.

Hatton v Senchenko is live on Primetime at 14.95 pay-per-view.

Ian Thorpe on his depression and suicidal thoughts

Depression and thoughts of suicide: Swimming legend Thorpe opens up about troubles

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UPDATED:

00:27 GMT, 14 November 2012

Australian five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe has revealed more about his fight against depression and thoughts of suicide which plagued his record-breaking career.

In a revealing interview on BBC Radio 5 Live the 30-year-old opened up about his troubles away from the pool that led him to consider taking his own life.

Amongst his revelations Thorpe said he had been treated for depression since he was a teenager and that it had led him to drink during the night in the lead-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Revealing: Five-time Olympic swimming gold medallist Australia's Ian Thorpe explained more about his depression

Revealing: Five-time Olympic swimming gold medallist Australia's Ian Thorpe explained more about his depression

He also recounted that he had been too 'embarrassed' to tell even his family about the disease until this year.

While Thorpe believes he has now learned to control the problem enough to speak about it publicly – he has also released an autobiography entitled 'This Is Me' – he admitted there were 'still times that are really tough for me'.

'I realised that I had desperation early. I was having treatment for desperation when I was a teenager,' he said.

'Depression comes in bouts. You can feel okay most days and then just get hit with it. I experienced that through what was mostly a very successful swimming career.

Autobiography: This is me

Autobiography: This is me

For sale: Thorpe has had his autobiography published, pictured right

'I have struggled with it before but I feel like I am on the other side of it. There are still times that are really tough for me, but I feel as though I know enough about it.

'There's no way that I'll ever say that I'm cured because I know where I can go back to.

'It's the first time that I've been comfortable talking about it because I feel as though I have some sort of control.'

Asked whether he had ever contemplated suicide during a glittering career that also saw him claim 11 world titles, he added: 'Yeah, I wouldn't talk about it otherwise. It's not something that is a throw-away line.

Admission: Thorpe said he had thought about suicide

Admission: Thorpe said he had thought about suicide

'I actually think it's quite normal
for people to consider what it would be like to commit suicide. I think
it is a normal thing to think 'what would that feel like, would it be so
terrible'

'But usually that's all you think
about, that's it. When you go through what the process of what it would
be like and it becomes and obsession in your mind where all rational
thought is devoid in that situation you realise that this has gone
beyond just a thought.

'When you are trying to get it out of
your mind rationally and you can't. To consider it as being a rational
solution to the way you are feeling you realise this is a problem, that
this isn't just a fleeting thought or feeling.

'This is a very clear guideline that
you do need more help and that you're not in control of your life and
that the irrational thought has taken over.'

Popular: Thorpe is one of Australia's most recognised sports people

Popular: Thorpe is one of Australia's most recognised sports people

Disguise: Thorpe felt he could hide the truth from his colleagues

Disguise: Thorpe felt he could hide the truth from his colleagues

Thorpe revealed that a key moment in
his recovery was realising the extent of his problems in the lead up to
the 2004 Olympics, when he was drinking to avoid his demons.

He said: 'Leading up to Athens Olympics I was actually drinking in the night to try and avoid be depressed.

'Everyone knows that doesn't work.
It's a stupid thing to do and so you wake up the next morning, have a
hangover and you are more depressed than you were the day before.

'I was fortunate that I woke up to
this. I needed to seek more treatment. It's not that I got over it –
there is no way of getting over this – it was that I have a little bit
more control over my depression.'

Winner: Thorpe shows his gold medal after winning the 400m freestyle at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece

Winner: Thorpe shows his gold medal after winning the 400m freestyle at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece

Thorpe made an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the London Olympics after coming out of a four-year retirement in late 2010.

Despite that failure he revealed he
still harboured ambitions to compete at Rio in four years and that he
would look to add to his Commonwealth titles in Glasgow in two years.

'I'm going to work in two-year cycles.
I'm looking to swim until the Commonwealth Games and then make a call
on whether to swim through until the Olympics after that,' he said.

'Starting out when I came back I knew the odds were stacked against me (to qualify for the Olympics).

'I thought it was 50-50. Realistically I thought it would take three years to get back.'

Roberto Mancini should be Manchester City boss for next five years, claims Patrick Vieira

'Fantastic' Mancini should be Manchester City boss for next five years, claims Vieira

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UPDATED:

11:47 GMT, 13 November 2012

Patrick Vieira has backed Roberto Mancini to stay on at Manchester City for five more years.

The Italian has been under-fire over their dismal
Champions League form and revelations that he held discussions with
Monaco last season.

And former Man City midfielder Vieira,
now football development executive at the Etihad Stadium, believes the questions
over Mancini's future are an inevitable consequence of the club's
success

Under-fire: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

Under-fire: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

'People are like that and you people, journalists, try to find the little things that will sell more papers and will get more people listening to the news,' said Vieira.

'But this is a part of our game and we accept it, no problem at all.'

At Monday's North West Football Awards, Mancini was named Manager of the Year and Vieira pointed to the five-year contract his former Inter Milan boss penned at the end of last season as evidence of the security he enjoys in east Manchester.

Additionally, the 36-year-old insists City need not look far to see the benefits of long-term continuity.

He said: 'I hope (he is here in five years) because I believe that stability will bring success to the football club, to any football club.

'When you look Man United is a perfect example to follow, so why not

Star appeal: Patrick Vieira at the North West Football Awards

Star appeal: Patrick Vieira at the North West Football Awards

'I think Mancini, since he's been at this football club his record has been fantastic.

'So credit to him – you're not winning the cup and winning the league as an average manager. You have to be good.

'He's a winner. He's working hard all week in training, trying to make the team focused and is really aware of the tactical aspect of awareness of the game.

'He is looking for the perfect game and he's really demanding. I think this is why he's so successful.'

Vieira collected the Goal of the Year award on behalf of Sergio Aguero last night for the Argentina international's unforgettable injury-time strike to clinch City's first league title for 44 years against QPR in May.

Vital last-gasp goals have become something of a trademark for City of late, with Edin Dzeko leaving it until the 88th minute to sink Spurs at the weekend.

'I think it just shows the spirit of the team – never give up until the referee ends the game,' Vieira added.

'That is a strength of the football club, a strength of the team – always believe and always find the resources to fight and score the last goal.

'When you look at Edin, Sergio, Carlos (Tevez) and Mario (Balotelli) there's so many players who can score at any time. They just need half a chance to score the goal. I think that's really important for us.'

Despite adding the Barclays Premier League title to 2011's FA Cup
triumph, Mancini has come under scrutiny in recent weeks over City's
poor Champions League form and revelations that he held discussions with
Monaco last season.

A flurry of goals conceded from set-pieces have shone a light on the
potentially unsettling effects of Mancini dabbling with a 3-5-2
formation this term, although a second-half switch to the system sparked
Sunday's 2-1 win over Tottenham that maintained City's unbeaten record
in the league and left them two points behind Manchester United at the
summit.

'That is a part of the game,' said Vieira, who holds the position of football development executive at the Etihad Stadium.

Nick Faldo says Tiger Woods" issues have stopped him being best ever golfer

Woods' indiscretions have stopped him being the best ever golfer, says Faldo

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UPDATED:

14:31 GMT, 11 November 2012

Tiger Woods' extra-marital affairs have ruined his chances of becoming the best golfer in history, Nick Faldo has claimed.

The American was widely tipped to beat Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships after making a stunning start to his career, but is still to win a major title after revelations about his private life emerged almost three years ago.

Woods took a four-month break from golf after admitting cheating on his wife, and he has struggled to impress since returning to action.

At risk: Tiger Woods chances of being the best golfer ever have been damaged, according to Nick Faldo

At risk: Tiger Woods chances of being the best golfer ever have been damaged, according to Nick Faldo

He has not added to the 14 majors he won before the sex scandal erupted and Faldo, himself a six-time major winner, thinks Woods stands next to no chance of eclipsing Nicklaus' record, which has stood since 1986.

When asked about Woods' chances of winning 18 majors or more, Faldo told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: 'I think it's slim. I would lean towards no.

'It has been four years since he last won at the US Open.'

Faldo thinks the psychological strife caused by the news of his affairs continue to haunt Woods three years on and he believes they will continue to do so for the rest of his life.

'(The revelations) have done more damage than people would give them credit for,' Faldo said.

Strong views: Faldo is a golf pundit and player

Strong views: Faldo is a golf pundit and player

'People thought he would deal with it and then get back on the golf course.

'It's wrecked that wonderful tranquility you get of going to a golf course, tipping out a bag of balls and hitting them from 9-5 and just thinking of golf.

'When you're a golfer that is great. But now… He has shattered that peace. He won't get that back. Once you lose that concentration and that ability to become completely engrossed in your golf… then slowly things have changed for him.

'His swing… physically, technically, mentally, karma… it's a harder climb right now. Sure, he could come back and do things, but he won't be dominant like he was.'

And with Woods turning 37 next month, Faldo thinks age is also catching up with the American.

'As you get older in this game, the little demons start to sit on your shoulders because you have seen one too many bad shots at the wrong time and it starts to eat away at you and I think he has a little bit of that going on,' Faldo added.

Feeling it: Woods turns 37 next month and Faldo says his age is catching up with him

Feeling it: Woods turns 37 next month and Faldo says his age is catching up with him

One man who has stepped in to the limelight as Woods has faded is Rory McIlroy.

Despite being 23, McIlroy has already won two majors and Faldo thinks the Northern Irishman is set for even bigger things, providing he resists the temptation to play in every lucrative tournament on the tour.

'I have been very impressed with Rory. He is a special kid,' Faldo said.

'There has only been Jack (Nicklaus), Seve (Ballesteros) and Tiger who have won two majors before they were 25, and now there's Rory.

'It puts him in a very special category. There always will be pitfalls for him. He is already feeling it. He is in demand. You can't please everyone.

'You have to be your own boss. He has to pace himself and do all the right things himself. He has 20-odd years left in the game.'

Johan Bruyneel leaves RadioShack after Lance Armstrong scandal

Disgraced former mentor of Armstrong leaves RadioShack after drug revelations

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UPDATED:

18:52 GMT, 12 October 2012

Johan Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong's team manager on the American's seven Tour de France wins, is quitting as RadioShack Nissan general manager by mutual agreement.

Bruyneel was named in the United States Anti-Doping Agency report released this week which said he was one of the people who had helped Armstrong organise doping within the US Postal Team.

'In light of these testimonies, both
parties feel it is necessary to make this decision since Johan Bruyneel
can no longer direct the team in an efficient and comfortable way,'
RadioShack Nissan said in a statement.

Disgraced: Armstrong (left) with Bruyneel in 2004

Disgraced: Armstrong (left) with Bruyneel in 2004

Belgian Bruyneel was Armstrong's team manager when the Texan won his seven Tours from 1999-2005 as well as during his two Tour rides in 2009 and 2010 after his comeback from a three-and-a-half year retirement.

Meanwhile, former world road race champion Mark Cavendish believes cycling is one of the cleanest sports because the cheats get found out, and says it is unfair to judge today's riders on past events.

The 27-year-old told Sky Sports News: 'The same question I always get is, “how can cycling move forward”

'Well, it is moving forward and it has been – but people won't let it.

Disgraced: Armstrong (left) with Bruyneel in 2004

'There's going to be cynics, there's going to be people with closed minds, and there's going to be stuff that comes up from the past.

'That's not fair to tarnish the riders who are doing it now with the brush they don't deserve to be tarnished with. It's a stupid, closed-minded view on it.

'Cheating happens everywhere – in every sport, in every country, in every aspect of life.'

He added: 'In my mind, I think cycling is one of the cleanest sports because it catches the cheats and throws them away.'

Lance Armstrong backed by Nike despite drugs revelations

Nike stand by Armstrong despite revelations that disgraced American was at centre of biggest drugs plot in history of sport

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UPDATED:

10:10 GMT, 11 October 2012

Nike are refusing to cut their ties with Lance Armstrong despite his role as ringleader in 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen'.

Armstrong's myth as a cycling hero has been blown to pieces by evidence exposing the seven-time Tour de France winner.

Despite the mounting backlash against the one-time icon, Armstrong's main sponsor Nike continue to back him.

After the latest revelations emerged, Nike re-released the same statement first issued in August. It reads: 'We are saddened that Lance Armstrong may no longer be able to participate in certain competitions and his titles appear to be impacted.

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Support: Lance Armstrong continues to wear the Nike swoosh on his gear

Support: Lance Armstrong continues to wear the Nike swoosh on his gear

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

'Lance has stated his innocence and has
been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support
Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance
created to serve cancer survivors.'

Nike, the world's biggest sportswear brand, have long sponsored Armstrong and his Livestrong charity that has raised money to help cancer survivors and research. Since 2004, Nike has helped Livestrong raise over $100million as well as creating the famous yellow wristbands that have been sold 84m times.

Trek Bicycle Corp also sponsor Arrmstrong and the US company confirmed it is monitoring developments. Trek also sells Livestrong branded bikes.

On Wednesday, 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.

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

THE JOURNALISTS WHO REFUSED TO LET ARMSTRONG ESCAPE

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, described as 'jaw-dropping' by British Cycling performance director David Brailsford, was delivered to the 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, the doping conspiracy. It also uses scientific evidence and bank records.

But the report has also been described as 'one-sided hatchet job,' the cyclist's lawyer have said.

'We have seen the press release from USADA touting the upcoming release today of its “reasoned decision,”' Armstrong lawyer Sean Breen said.

'(The) statement confirms the alleged “reasoned decision” from USADA will be a one-sided hatchet job – a taxpayer-funded tabloid piece rehashing old, disproved, unreliable allegations based largely on axe-grinders, serial perjurers, coerced testimony, sweetheart deals and threat-induced stories,'

Breen also said the agency was 'ignoring the 500-600 tests Lance Armstrong passed, ignoring all exculpatory evidence, and trying to justify the millions of dollars USADA has spent pursuing one, single athlete for years.'

He added: 'USADA has continued its government-funded witch hunt of only Mr Armstrong, a retired cyclist, in violation of its own rules and due process, in spite of USADA’s lack of jurisdiction, in blatant violation of the statute of limitations.'

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'.

Brailsford said: It is shocking, it’s jaw dropping and it is very unpleasant, it’s not very palatable and anybody who says it is would be lying wouldn’t they’

‘You can see how the sport got lost in itself and got more and more extreme because it seemed to be systematic and everybody seemed to be doing it at the time – it completely and utterly lost its way and I think it lost its moral compass.'

He added: ‘Everybody has recalibrated and several teams like ourselves are hell-bent on doing it the right way and doing it clean. ‘The challenge is that it is understandable now for people to look at any results in cycling and question that.’

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.'

FULL STATEMENT FROM USADA

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.'

LANCE ARMSTRONG FACTFILE

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

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Patrice Evra says his handshake with Luis Suarez was needed on day of respect

Evra: I had to shake hands with Suarez on such an emotional day at Anfield

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UPDATED:

09:38 GMT, 24 September 2012

Patrice Evra says his handshake with Luis Suarez before Manchester United faced Liverpool on Sunday was crucial on a day where the key theme was respect.

The clubs share a fierce rivalry and for them to meet so soon after the Hillsborough revelations made for a very emotionally-charged Anfield.

Suarez and Evra have been involved in a long-standing racism row and the pair did not shake hands when they met in February.

Key moment: Patrice Evra shakes hands with Luis Suarez

Key moment: Patrice Evra shakes hands with Luis Suarez

Bury the hatchet: Evra and Suarez acted as requested

Bury the hatchet: Evra and Suarez acted as requested

But Evra insisted it was necessary to put their argument behind them to allow the real importance of the day to come through.

'The most important thing today was respect,' said Evra. 'It was a game between two big clubs.

'There was a big tragedy. People were
talking about a handshake but the stories of the clubs is bigger than
that. If I hadn’t shaken Suarez’s hand, I would not be respecting the
stories of the clubs.

'In the end I am glad this time he
shook my hand. More importantly, it was important to respect the
families. It was not an easy day.'

Focus: Evra appears to avoid eye contact with Suarez from some angles but (below) appears to stare him down

Focus: Evra appears to avoid eye contact with Suarez from some angles but (below) appears to stare him down

Stare-off

He added: 'In the end, this time, he shook my hand and it was more important to respect the families who lost a lot of people.'

It has been almost 12 months since the row first began and until Sunday it never seemed like it was coming to an end.

Evra's side ran out 2-1 winners on a
day which was still controversial, as Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for a
rough challenge on Jonny Evans.

But the Frenchman was delighted to come away with three points on a day when United were not at their best.

'It's unbelievable,' he said. 'To be fair, I always say one of the best sensations is when we win at Anfield.

No deal: The pair did not shake when Man United met Liverpool in February

No deal: The pair did not shake when Man United met Liverpool in February

No deal: Evra is angry

'We've been coming here for four years
[almost five years], a long time and I've not been seeing a dressing
room like that with smiles on the faces after the game.

'I want to win against Liverpool. If I play badly or play well, I just want to win and that is what we did.'

'It was not an easy game,' he
continued. 'There was a lot of tension and emotion beforehand and, in
the end, we get the three points. It's all we talk about – winning –
because we have done our job and well done to everyone.'

Evra praised his team-mates Rafael and
Robin van Persie for the goals which turned the game around after
Steven Gerrard opened the scoring.

'When you are losing 1-0 at Anfield,
it's really difficult to recover,' he explained. 'It came straight away
and what a goal! Rafael is different class and he scored with his left
foot so I'm so happy for him!

Taunt: Evra celebrated provocatively in front of Suarez when Man United beat Liverpool in February

Taunt: Evra celebrated provocatively in front of Suarez when Man United beat Liverpool in February

Suarez arguing with Evra

Tussle

Incident: Suarez was given a large ban for racially abusing Evra

'I said to Rafa I think he deserves it
as he's working very hard. It's difficult to find a place now in this
XI as the boss has many players who want to play. He said today it was a
game for men and we showed that.

'I think we showed great character. I
don't think we played especially well but we showed big character and
that was most important today.

'I was anxious for the penalty. The
player [Daniel Agger] was on the floor and taking his time and I was
like: “Whoah, what's going on here”

'When Robin shoots, Pepe Reina went
the right way but I think it was a good penalty with power and that's
why he scored. It's why we buy some big players – for big games – and we
need them.'

Rafael was delighted with his beautiful curling strike which made for United's equaliser.

Fine strike: Rafael celebrates with Robin van Persie after scoring the equaliser

Fine strike: Rafael celebrates with Robin van Persie after scoring the equaliser

He said: 'It's definitely the best goal I've scored for United. It was a good moment to get it because it was so quick after they scored.

'If we hadn't had scored them we might have got a little bit nervous so it was an important time to get the goal.

He added: 'I was so pleased [to score] for the fans. They always give me such great support and I know this is an important game for them so I'm very happy.'

Hillsborough and Munich chants must be stopped

EXCLUSIVE: Stop this hate! Hillsborough and Munich chants must be stopped

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 12 September 2012

Manchester United and Liverpool supporters have been urged to stop singing songs mocking the tragedies that have afflicted both clubs following Wednesday's dramatic revelations about the death of 96 fans at Hillsborough.

Sandy Busby, son of the late United manager Sir Matt, and Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler both welcomed the conclusion by the Hillsborough Independent Panel and immediately called upon fans to put an end to the vile chants heard in recent times.

Cut it out: Jamie Carragher (centre left) and Kenny Dalglish (left) were among those to pay their respects on Wednesday

Cut it out: Jamie Carragher (centre left) and Kenny Dalglish (left) were among those to pay their respects on Wednesday

A minority of United fans still sing about the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy, while some Liverpool supporters – and indeed those from other clubs – continue to mock the 1958 Munich air disaster that claimed the lives of 23 players, staff and journalists.

Last night Busby – whose father survived the crash in Munich – said: 'My heart goes out to the Liverpool fans who were affected by Hillsborough because I know what it's like.

'You think about it every day. The pain never really goes away. The anniversaries are still upsetting and every day something reminds you of the terrible thing that happened.

'Maybe after this some of the Liverpool fans, and of course the families, can take some comfort that the correct things have eventually been said.

'All I hope now is the two sets of fans – the minorities that are still out there – can stop these awful songs. It's sick and it's sad and it's a shame.

'People think it washes over you but it doesn't. If the people who sing them could stand in the shoes of the relatives of those who died in these tragedies then maybe they would think twice.'

Fowler, who scored 128 goals in 266 appearances for Liverpool, added: 'There is a lot of animosity in football these days but there is no place for that kind of chanting. We have all heard the songs but, thankfully, the majority of fans would never sing about tragedies and we can only hope they set the example going forward.

Not forgotten: There are still vile chants which a minority of fans deem acceptable after the Hillsborough and Munich disasters

Not forgotten: There are still vile chants which a minority of fans deem acceptable after the Hillsborough and Munich disasters

Solidarity: Liverpudlians turned out for a vigil in their city after the truth was finally uncovered

Solidarity: Liverpudlians turned out for a vigil in their city after the truth was finally uncovered

'You have seen what Liverpool is about as a city in the last 24 hours. Yes, people have their differences but they come together at difficult times and Liverpool and Everton, the clubs and the supporters, will always be there for one another.'

Both United and Liverpool have made attempts to dissuade their fans from singing distasteful songs, with varying degrees of success.

Fans from other clubs also sing about the tragedies from time to time. But with the two North West giants due to meet at Anfield in the Barclays Premier League next week, all eyes will be on both sets of fans once again.

Busby added: 'I remember my dad and Bob Paisley holding hands on a bus at Wembley before the (1983) Charity Shield game.

'It was designed to show the fans that the two clubs could stand side by side off the pitch and support each other and have a warm feeling for each other. It was a great idea but some people don't want to listen do they'

Tributes: Across Liverpool people have showed their support for the victims' families after the fateful day in 1989

Tributes: Across Liverpool people have showed their support for the victims' families after the fateful day in 1989

After thousands gathered in the city centre last night for a vigil in memory of the Hillsborough victims, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said: 'I was incredibly moved by the vigil. The courage and dignity displayed by the families and survivors is truly humbling.'

Commenting on the report Liverpool's managing director, Ian Ayre, added: 'It's vital (that the public know) because even in recent times we've seen people still stick to this myth that Liverpool fans were responsible for this tragedy.

They now know what we've known for 23 years, which is that Liverpool fans weren't responsible. We've exonerated ourselves and this report has exonerated them.'

Ayre said the phrase which struck the biggest chord with him in Prime Minister David Cameron's speech was 'double injustice' and he said: 'Not only the fact these people died unnecessarily, but the fact a process ensued and dragged their names through the mud.'