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Steven Gerrard 100th England cap: Jamie Redknapp and Martin Keown share their insights

Quiet and respectful but Gerrard was frightened to come down for dinner…

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UPDATED:

00:12 GMT, 14 November 2012

With Steven Gerrard set to become only the sixth England player to reach 100 caps, Sportsmail experts Jamie Redknapp and Martin Keown share their exclusive insight on the Three Lions captain.

Insight by Jamie Redknapp
The kid who was frightened to come down for dinner

With some players, you are surprised that they forge successful international careers. With Steven Gerrard, it wasn't rocket science.

I remember my dad coming to watch our 3-2 win over Everton in 1999 – it was the game in which Robbie Fowler scored twice and famously pretended to snort the touchline.

Midfield duo: Gerrard and Redknapp share a joke ahead of the 2001 FA Cup final

Midfield duo: Gerrard and Redknapp share a joke ahead of the 2001 FA Cup final

Steven came on and played at right back and cleared two off the line in the final minutes. He was immense and dad asked me afterwards, 'Who on earth is the right back – he's like Superman'. 'You should see him play in midfield, dad,' I replied.

It wasn't long before he was in the England squad and I remember reading recently in his book that he was scared to come out of his room when the team met up.

He wrote that I had to come and take him down to dinner. I didn't even notice that he was worried but that's just typical of what a nice person Steven is – he doesn't know how good he is and he has, like everyone, his insecurities.

Insight by Martin Keown
Angel Stevie and Michael Owen, the Devil who wears Prada

I found my first few England squads slightly lonely experiences. I found it boring just sitting in my room with nothing to do.

So when Steven Gerrard was called up for the first time, I saw it as a chance to help him a bit and make him feel welcome.

Cnetre of attention: Gerrard will make his 100th appearance for England on Wednesday night

Cnetre of attention: Gerrard will make his 100th appearance for England on Wednesday night

Starting out: Former England boss Kevin Keegan presents Gerrard with his first cap in 2000

Starting out: Former England boss Kevin Keegan presents Gerrard with his first cap in 2000

I knocked on his door and told him to come out with me and Michael Owen for the afternoon.

We headed into some of the expensive shopping streets in London and had a walk around. I remember going into Prada and Michael spending a ridiculous amount of money on all sorts of things.

He just had it sent home on his account with them! It was an eye-opener for Steven – he looked like he'd never been somewhere like that before.

It wasn't a big trip but it was my way of taking him onboard as an England team-mate. I liked Steven from the start and could see that he was going to make it big. Like me, he trained like he played and although he was quiet and respectful off the pitch, he wasn't on it. I liked those attributes.

Brendan Rodgers admits Liverpool are no way near Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea

We're not good enough… yet! Rodgers admits Liverpool are no way near City, United and Chelsea

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UPDATED:

08:32 GMT, 12 November 2012

Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool are no way near ready to challenge the teams at the top of the Premier League after ending the weekend 15 points behind leaders Manchester United.

The Reds made it six league games without defeat when they came from behind to draw 1-1 at Chelsea.

But it was not enough to lift them out of 13th place and they ended the weekend way off the pace of the leading pack.

Not even close: Brendan Rodgers admitted that Liverpool are not ready to compete at the top of the Premier League

Not even close: Brendan Rodgers admitted that Liverpool are not ready to compete at the top of the Premier League

Twelve points is a paltry return for supporters raised on a diet of European Cups, many of whom spent Sunday's game taunting current holders Chelsea with the chant: 'We've won it five times.'

They have nevertheless shown patience with Rodgers' revolution and the new Anfield boss said: 'They're very educated, Liverpool supporters. It can't be easy for them.

'Most of us in this room know Liverpool and its great history, but we can't keep looking in the rear view mirror and looking back.

'If you're not going to have a massive investment to make it happen quickly, you have to develop it. That's where we're at.

'The supporters are being very lenient with myself and the team, and I'm sure they'll be frustrated sometimes, but their support has been incredible.'

Leveller: Luis Suarez equalised for the Reds at Stamford Bridge on Sunday

Leveller: Luis Suarez equalised for the Reds at Stamford Bridge on Sunday

How many Without Suarez, Liverpool would be even further off the pace

How many Without Suarez, Liverpool would be even further off the pace

He added: 'The reality is we're a long way off in the league.

'You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see the squad… These guys are giving me everything.

'We finished eighth last year. If we can improve on that, it'll be fantastic for us.

'That's the reality of where Liverpool are I'm afraid. But our young players will get better and better.

'We need one or two more players. That's our sixth draw, and a lot of those games we've come back into after going behind.

'But we need materials. If we can get one or two in January, we'll turn draws into wins.

Better and better: Rodgers believes the likes of Raheem Sterling will come on leaps and bounds at Anfield

Better and better: Rodgers believes the likes of Raheem Sterling will come on leaps and bounds at Anfield

Him too: Andre Wisdom has been trusted by Rodgers to deputise at the back

Him too: Andre Wisdom has been trusted by Rodgers to deputise at the back

'Those players don't come cheap, and they're not too many available in January either.

'But the owners have given be great support since I've been here.

'I knew it would be a difficult year given the expectancy in Liverpool.'

One man having no problem living up to expectations is Luis Suarez, who equalised yesterday with his 11th goal of the season and almost snatched a dramatic winner.

'It's a difficult place to come, the European champions, so I'm delighted for our young players,' said Rodgers, who also handed Jamie Carragher the first league start of his reign.

'Our seniors are doing incredibly for me.

‘Liverpool have had a massive group of seniors over the years, but Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson are having to dig a bit deeper now.’

Kevin Kilbane: Robbie Keane and Co shouldn"t rush into retirement

Keane and Co shouldn't rush into retirement… Ireland still needs them

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UPDATED:

23:02 GMT, 20 June 2012

Watching the lap of honour in Poznan on Monday night, I couldn't help but feel it was the end of an era for Irish football. But even after speaking to the lads, texting and calling them, I don't know if we have seen the last of Robbie, Duffer, Dunny and Shay.

I'm not 100 per cent sure they do either yet. For what it's worth, I have told all four of them to take their time and not rush into it and make a hasty decision they might regret.

It's right they are allowed to do that. I still believe the Ireland team needs them and they are good enough to play international football and will bring something to the squad.

End of an era: Have Keane and Duff played their last games for Ireland

End of an era: Have Keane and Duff played their last games for Ireland

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Hopefully after they've recharged the batteries, and their minds, they will be available to Giovanni Trapattoni in September.

It does look like Trap will still be the manager when the new campaign starts in the autumn and he too has probably earned that right. It was an unbelievable achievement to qualify for the finals, and he should take the credit for that.

Although the performances and results were disappointing, particularly in the first two games, we shouldn't lose sight of who we were playing, and the options available to the manager.

I left Poland for Belfast this week to complete my UEFA A licence, and whenever you go on these courses, the name Giovanni Trapattoni is up there with the greats like Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho.

Animated: Trap will lead Ireland into their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign

Animated: Trap will lead Ireland into their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign

What he has achieved in the game has rightly earned him respect and he is still relevant. What he does is not rocket science and it is doing the little things, taking care of the small details which is probably his greatest strength.

I can't deny there can be a communication barrier and when he first took the job Liam Brady played an important role because he was the go-between who would relay messages and help in the team meetings.

Now on the training ground he will drag you into different positions so on match day, he believes he has done his bit. He is calm around the dressing room before a game, says very little, just repeats his little messages, and even at half-time he will probably only speak for 30 seconds and then leave the players to get on with it.

Plenty to ponder: Given is considering his international future

Plenty to ponder: Given is considering his international future

It is very unusual for a manager I've known, but that's the way he is and the way he has done it throughout his career.

I don't see any of that changing on the basis of three bad results against three world class teams. But I read Mick McCarthy's comments about the negativity around his reign after the World Cup in 2002 and I do worry that if we get off to a bad start for the World Cup qualifiers, and the campaign is virtually over in October, and the fans turn, that he won't be able to recover from that.

With Germany, Sweden and Austria, it will be another major achievement to make the finals in Brazil, but I still believe we can do it. And as much as I hope the four lads stay, it is time for the likes of James McCarthy to step up and take Ireland into a new era.

We have talked about him for long enough now. I watched Wigan a lot last season and James had an excellent season and will be looking to build on that this year.

If Trap is prepared to play him, he has the ability to be the main man in midfield for Ireland and September would be the ideal time to see that happen.

The highlight of the finals for me was the national anthem before the Croatia game. It was my first as a media spectator, pretty tough because I wasn't on the pitch, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, tears welled up in my eyes.

But the performance of the three games was Andres Iniesta. As painful as it was to see him cause so much damage, it was the greatest individual performance I have witnessed as a football fan.

've seen him on TV of course but seeing his pace, movement, the way he glided round the pitch, the graceful way he wriggled out of difficulty was just a joy to watch. If there was one reason I was quite glad to be high up in the stands with my earphones on, it was him.

As I met Mick McCarthy in Poznan airport on Tuesday morning, before our flights back to Heathrow via Warsaw, the bodies of Trap's Green Army were strewn everywhere.

And amid the sleepers, the drinkers and the shell-shocked supporters, there were still smiles and laughs and songs. They always say a tournament is poorer without Ireland. And it's the fans who made the trip to Poland who showed all of Europe why. They were magnificent.

Jack Nicklaus questions Rory McIlroy"s decision to play at St Jude"s before US Open

A rocket for Rory: Nicklaus questions McIlroy's decision to play at St Jude's before US Open

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UPDATED:

20:30 GMT, 6 June 2012

Rory McIlroy has received an on-air rocket from Jack Nicklaus over his decision to play in the St Jude Classic in Memphis, which begins today.

The Golden Bear was clearly unhappy after learning the Northern Irishman had broken with his usual pattern of taking the week off before a major championship.

With his defence of the US Open just a week away, McIlroy said he felt he needed to play some competitive rounds. It was too much for Nicklaus, sitting alongside McIlroy in an interview for CNN’s Living Golf.

Close: Rory McIlroy is embraced by Jack Nicklaus in 2010

Close: Rory McIlroy is embraced by Jack Nicklaus in 2010

‘Did you play the week before The Open last year’ asked the 18-time major winner.

‘No,’ replied McIlroy.

‘And you are going to play the week before The Open this year’ Nicklaus went on.

‘Yes,’ was the response.

‘I’ll keep my mouth shut,’ said golf’s greatest ever player, but he couldn’t.

‘You know why I never played the week before a major

‘In 1962 when I turned pro I played the week before the Masters. People wanted me to play and I didn’t do well. I skipped that tournament the next year and I won the Masters.

Out of sorts: McIlroy has missed the cut in his last two tournaments

Out of sorts: McIlroy has missed the cut in his last two tournaments

‘I went back to that tournament the next year and didn’t win the Masters. Then I skipped it the next year and won the Masters. Skipped the tournament the year after and won the Masters again. I am a huge fan of Rory’s but I want him to get smart young.’

Nicklaus was shocked again when McIlroy said he was not going to see the US Open venue until next week.

‘Olympic takes some knowing and I wish he was going out early to practise it, frankly, but that is not my call,’ he said.

McIlroy clearly took the advice on board, flying halfway across America to fit in an impromptu practice round on Monday in the company of his long-game coach Michael Bannon and putting coach Dave Stockton.

The 23-year-old, who has missed three successive cuts, will aim to find some confidence in Memphis in the company of friends Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington.

Ernie Els launches f-word tirade at at Wentworth chiefs

Els launches foul-mouthed tirade at Wentworth chiefs over state of greens

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UPDATED:

16:54 GMT, 26 May 2012

Ernie Els moved into contention at the European Tour's flagship event at Wentworth on Saturday but fumed afterwards about the condition of the course he re-designed.

The South African carded a two-under-par 70 on another burning hot day which took him to five under in the BMW PGA Championship – an event he has been trying to win for 20 years.

Furious: Els hit out at Wentworth chiefs after his round on Saturday

Furious: Els hit out at Wentworth chiefs after his round on Saturday

However, Els afterwards hit out at tournament organisers over the state of the greens.

'I asked them to put water on the greens, so put ******* water on the greens,' said Els.

'You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. The guys are not happy and I'm with them. The Tour has got to play ball – it's not my job.

'The 15th green is holding, the 16th is not, the 17th is not, the 18th is not. They're all inconsistent.

In contention: Els is five-under par heading into the final day of action at Wentworth

In contention: Els is five-under par heading into the final day of action at Wentworth

'I can't keep talking about this. At some point they've got to listen. I do talk, but they don't listen.

'I can't control the wind and it seems like I can't control the greens staff either. They've seen the forecast almost a week in advance, but it's like talking to this wall behind me – I'm fed up.

Golf blog

'This is not a surprise. I've been talking since I landed on Monday – keep the moisture on the greens.

'It gets to me. I want everybody to have a fair and tough examination. Anybody who has half an idea in this game can walk to the 12th green and see. It's dead.

'Somebody is not doing their job. Why is this happening'

Tournament director David Garland said: 'We want a tough and fair set-up. The greens have been hand-watered every night after play.

'This was done last night and because we knew that east winds were forecast, sprinklers were also put on every single green to give them more water.

'Because of the conditions some fairways were also watered and tees were moved forward on the 13th, 15th, 17th and 18th.'

Ricky Hatton disappointed with Sky split

Former world champion Hatton blasts Sky after surprise split from promotions company

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UPDATED:

18:00 GMT, 1 May 2012

Ricky Hatton has hit out at Sky after the broadcaster pulled the plug on their TV deal.

The former two-weight world champion will stage his final show with Sky on June 16 in Manchester after being informed he will not be offered any further dates.

But Hatton has revealed his bitter disappointment at the way the relationship was brought to an end.

Hitting out: Ricky Hatton is disappointed with Sky's decision

Hitting out: Ricky Hatton is disappointed with Sky's decision

‘The news came as a blow and I feel we have been unfairly treated, but there are meetings already set up with other TV channels,’ Hatton explained.

‘Next season I am very confident that my fighters will have a big television platform to perform on.

‘I have a great stable of fighters, many champions and a hard working team. TV companies have contacted me – not me them which is encouraging.

‘The most disappointing aspect of it all is the relationship I had with Sky until almost two weeks ago.

‘It isn’t rocket science to work out how well I did for Sky Sports as a boxer and a promoter.

Stable talent: Martin Murray

Stable talent: Martin Murray

‘I was their first world champion to come through without terrestrial TV, gave them their biggest Box Office successes ever and helped make them millions of pounds.

‘They repaid me by telling me I had no more dates by e-mail. There was no phone call to me or anything like that and when the e-mail was sent to my Director of Boxing, Richard Poxon – not me.

‘If you finish with a girlfriend by e-mail all your mates would be calling you some right names. I obviously have better morals than they do.’

Hatton Promotions are gearing up for their biggest bill next month at the Manchester Velodrome which includes the all-British clash between Scott Quigg and Rendall Munroe for the vacant WBA interim super-bantamweight title.

The ‘Road to Glory’ card also includes Ryan Rhodes’ fight with Sergey Rabchenko for the vacant European light-middleweight title while Martin Murray and Richard Towers will also be in action.

Tickets for ‘Road to Glory’ are now on sale priced 125 (VIP Inner Ringside + exclusive cash bar), 100 Ringside, 55, 35 and 30. Visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

Ricky Hatton wants Mario Balotelli as Best Man at his wedding

Mario is simply the best… man! Hatton wants Balotelli by his side for his 'big day'

Traditionally, February 29 is the day when women can 'reverse roles' and propose to their potential grooms by asking that all important question: 'Will you marry me'

Should Ricky Hatton be one of those lucky chaps, the British boxing great already has a Best Man for his big day in mind: Mario Balotelli.

Simply the best... man: Mario Balotelli, who is in Milan with his girlfriend Raffaella Fico, is wanted by Ricky Hatton as his Best Man

Simply the best… man: Mario Balotelli, who is in Milan with his girlfriend Raffaella Fico, is wanted by Ricky Hatton as his Best Man

The Manchester City mad former light-welterweight king revealed he is the Italian striker's No 1 fan.

Balotelli has become a cult hero in Manchester since he arrived from Inter Milan in 2009.

City mad: British boxing legend Hatton is head-over-heels with Italian striker Balotelli

City mad: British boxing legend Hatton is head-over-heels with Italian striker Balotelli

The 21-year-old, who infamously saw his bathroom go up in flames last October after a firework prank, has helped Roberto Mancini's men rocket to the top of the Barclays Premier League table above rivals Manchester United, scoring 10 goals in 16 league games so far this season.

And Hatton, now retired from the ring, joked his admiration for Balotelli stretches so far, he would choose him over his own brother Matthew to best his Best Man.

'When the day comes and I get married, I want Mario Balotelli to be my best man,' Hatton told The Sun.

All smiles: Balotelli dedicated his goal against Blackburn to his girlfriend Raffaella

All smiles: Balotelli dedicated his goal against Blackburn to his girlfriend Raffaella

'He could be the best player in the world… if he calms down!'

Balotelli used the international break to return home to Milan with his girlfriend Raffaella Fico, whom he dedicated his goal against Blackburn last weekend.

WELSH OPEN 2012: Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens crash out

Welsh duo Williams and Stevens crash out of home tournament

Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens were dumped out in the last 16 of the 888 Welsh Open to end home involvement in Newport.

Williams was beaten 4-1 by the in-form Ronnie O'Sullivan, who ominously appears to be hitting his stride, while Stevens fell to a 4-2 defeat to last year's finalist Stephen Maguire.

Pocket rocket: In-form O'Sullivan brushed aside Williams

Pocket rocket: In-form O'Sullivan brushed aside Williams

Williams has failed to beat O'Sullivan in 10 years and that run was extended after the two-time world champion paid the price for errors in the fourth and fifth frames.

The match got off to a terrific start as the players compiled a century apiece from the first two frames.

O'Sullivan, fresh from his 23 ranking tournament victory in Germany earlier this month, made a sharp start as he forced Williams to spend the opening frame sat in his chair as he effortlessly compiled a break of 125 to take an early lead.

But Williams fought back instantly in front of his home crowd as he punished an early O'Sullivan error to put together a magnificent run of 133 and level.

O'Sullivan reclaimed the lead as a tremendous long shot helped him set up a 90-plus break, and Williams was left kicking himself as he fell 3-1 down after throwing away a winning position.

The Welshman had put together a break of 41 when he missed a red down the side cushion to allow O'Sullivan in for a clearance of 45.

Williams' error was compounded when he missed a long red after a poor positional shot and O'Sullivan made no mistake as he put together a break of 56 to complete another victory over his fellow world champion to set up a quarter-final against Judd Trump or Stuart Bingham.

In the other game Maguire stole an early march by taking the first two frames. But Stevens hit back with an excellent break of 84 in the next frame to put himself back in contention.

Maguire quickly reasserted his authority by compiling 111, but Stevens continued to battle hard and his 66 in the fifth frame kept the contest alive.

Stevens looked set to level the match in the sixth frame, but he missed the final red down the side cushion which would have given him the frame, allowing Maguire to make a clearance that clinched his last-eight spot.

The afternoon session also saw world number nine Joe Allen complete a second straight 4-0 win as he brushed aside Stephen Hendry.

An opening frame break of 81 gave Allen the lead before he fought his way back from 58-22 down with the help of a snooker to win it.

A disconsolate Hendry then conceded the third despite only needing two snookers, and Allen sealed the win with a 68 break in the fourth.

Stephen Lee beat Tom Ford 4-1 in the remaining match as he built on a stunning opening break of 129 to seal a comfortable win.

Middlesbrough 1 Hull 0: Barry Robson scores late winner

Middlesbrough 1 Hull 0: Robson”s rocket blasts Boro to fourth win in succession

Barry Robson”s late wonder goal ensured Middlesbrough kept up the pressure on npower Championship leaders Southampton.

Both sides went into the game on the back of impressive recent records, with Boro having won their last threewhile the Tigers had emerged victorious in four successive league games.

Barry

Barry”s belter: Robson (right) cuts inside of Hull”s Paul McKenna

HEADER HERE

Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Rhys Williams, Bates, Bennett, Robson, Bailey, Arca (Zemmama 72), Haroun, McDonald, Ogbeche (Thomson 72). Subs Not Used: McManus, Martin, McMahon.

Booked: McDonald.

Goals: Robson 87.

Hull: Gulacsi, Rosenior, Hobbs, Chester, Dawson, McKenna, Evans, Stewart (Brady 69), Koren, Fryatt, Mclean (Garcia 79). Subs Not Used: Basso, McShane, Dudgeon.

Booked: Dawson, Evans, Rosenior.

Att: 27,794

Ref: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire).

Just two places separated them in the table prior to the encounter, with the third-placed hosts, in particular, looking to keep pace with the top two.

And, after the sides largely cancelled each other out, Robson was on hand to deliver a sensational 87th-minute winner, firing an unstoppable 30-yard strike past Peter Gulacsi.

The win left Boro second in the Championship ahead of West Ham”s late kick-off at Birmingham, while the Tigers, under the stewardship of caretaker manager Nick Barmby, sit fifth.

Middlesbrough and Hull had won their last games – against Cardiff and Millwall respectively – and, unsurprisingly, named unchanged sides.

It was Boro who had the better of the opening exchanges as Joe Bennett and Faris Haroun combined to cause the visitors problems down the left.

Despite the hosts enjoying the majority of possession, the Tigers created the game”s first chance as Matty Fryatt headed just wide.

Hull had another opportunity to take the lead soon after, with Aaron Mclean seeing his effort parried away by Jason Steele.

Middlesbrough, though, were still dominating proceedings, Scott McDonald forcing a save from Gulacsi after good work from Justin Hoyte.

As the half wore on, Barmby”s side were starting to show impressive adventure, epitomised by Steele having to be on high alert to turn Andy Dawson”s effort around the post.

The second period started in much the same vein as they first as the sides battle for the initiative.

The visitors again were looking the more likelier to score, though Robert Koren could only direct into the hands of Steele after being cleverly found by Liam Rosenior.

Chances were proving increasingly few and far between, which perhaps added to the frustration as Matthew Bates was denied by Gulacsi.

But Paul McKenna was guiltier at the other end, driving horribly wide after neat work from Koren and Mclean teed him up.

Both sides appeared to be settling for a draw as full-time edged ever closer, although Gulacsi again had to be on high alert to keep out Haroun”s header.

The Tigers goalkeeper had no answer moments later, though, as Scotland international Robson fired home a brilliant strike from a tight angle.

The visitors battled valiantly thereafter, but the goal proved the ultimate sucker-punch and Boro took the points.