Tag Archives: stardom

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain getting better for England and Arsenal

England's Ox growing stronger and stronger after rapid rise with Three Lions stardom

European Championships, where he started the opening game against France in Donetsk.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has certainly come a long way in a short time since being signed by Arsene Wenger as a raw talent from Southampton two years ago.

Better and better: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, pictured here with the new Vauxhall Adam, intends to take everything in his stride as England push on towards the World Cup

Better and better: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, pictured here with the new Vauxhall Adam, intends to take everything in his stride as England push on towards the World Cup

The midfielder, though, is determined to keep himself focused on each new challenge as it comes along.

Speaking at an event organised by England sponsor’s Vauxhall, Oxlade-Chamberlain told Press Association Sport: 'I have a bit more experience now, from both club and international level, on and off the pitch.

'The experience of going to the Euros with tournament football stands me in better stead looking towards the World Cup, but I still have a lot of hard work to do to make that squad for Brazil, if we do qualify.'

Oxlade-Chamberlain added: 'My progress into the first-team at Arsenal and the senior England squad was quite quick, probably quicker than I ever thought it was going to be.

Room to grow: The 19-year-old is likely to play in England's qualifying double header with San Marino and Montenegro this weekend

Room to grow: The 19-year-old is likely to play in England's qualifying double header with San Marino and Montenegro this weekend

'I really just try to keep my head down, focused on my targets, and take everything in my stride.

'I have only achieved a tiny percentage of what I want to achieve in a small fraction of my career.

'I know I have got a lot more hard work to do and a long way to go, so I don’t really think about how quick things have gone because I just want to keep improving myself and keep pushing on.'

Unfazed: Oxlade-Chamberlain fighting the elements and Swansea's Angel Rangel in Saturday's 2-0 win at Swansea

Unfazed: Oxlade-Chamberlain fighting the elements and Swansea's Angel Rangel in Saturday's 2-0 win at Swansea

Natural similarities are drawn between the progress of Oxlade-Chamberlain and his Arsenal team-mate Theo Walcott, another product of the Southampton Academy and now regular for Roy Hodgson’s England squad.

'Theo is a brilliant player, so I don’t really mind getting compared to him,' Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

'He really helps me out a lot and has done ever since I stepped into Arsenal and coming away with England.

Young gunner: Oxlade-Chamberlain has been inevitably compared to teammate Theo Walcott

Young gunner: Oxlade-Chamberlain has been inevitably compared to teammate Theo Walcott

'This season he has been really good for Arsenal, scoring a lot of goals, which is what I am trying to add to my game, so I can learn from him in that sense.

'But I don’t really look at it in terms of what he has done and what I am doing, I just focus on what I need to do to achieve the goals I set for myself.'

Vauxhall are official lead sponsors of England. Check out www.vauxhallfootball.co.uk

Arsenal old boy and Lyon coach Remi Garde renews Tottenham in Europa league

Arsenal old boy Garde renews Spurs rivalry as coach of Lyon in Europa league tie

By
Paul Hirst, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

20:54 GMT, 13 February 2013

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UPDATED:

20:54 GMT, 13 February 2013

Lyon boss Remi Garde admits he still harbours the same desire to beat Tottenham as he did during his playing days with rivals Arsenal.

The Ligue 1 side travel to White Hart Lane on Thursday in the first leg of their last 32 Europa League tie. It is their manager’s first competitive visit to the capital since he retired.

Garde joined Arsenal from Strasbourg on the same day as Patrick Vieira arrived from AC Milan in 1996, but both players’ careers then took very different paths.

Wenger boy: Current Lyon coach Remi Garde was part of Arsenal's double winning side of 1997-98

Wenger boy: Current Lyon coach Remi Garde was part of Arsenal's double winning side of 1997-98

Vieira went on to become a Gunners icon, winning three Barclays Premier League titles, but Garde left three years later having made just 27 starts.

Although he only had limited playing time at Arsenal, Garde remembers his years at Highbury fondly and he admits the fact that this game is against the Gunners’ biggest rivals adds an extra edge to the occasion.

'I can’t deny that when I wore the red shirt of Arsenal the matches against Spurs were important moments for me,' said Garde, whose team arrive in London on the back of two 3-1 defeats.

'It was important to beat Spurs and I suppose in truth those feelings are still there in my head now, even though that page in my career has turned now.'

Reflecting on the challenge at hand, Garde revealed he had been told about the talents of Gareth Bale by former Lyon youth director Georges Prost almost seven years ago, who held the same post at Southampton from 2002-2007 when the winger was at the south coast club.

Back then Bale was just a gangly left-back, but Prost was still convinced the wide man was set for stardom.

'Georges Prost worked with Gareth as a youngster at Southampton,' Garde said.

'He told me a few years ago about him, but he was about 16 at the time and he had already made his debut for Southampton. He was a young man but he was already expensive then, too expensive.

'Prost told me how quick he was then, how much skill he was blessed with even at that age, so it’s not a surprise to me to see the top form Gareth has been in. 'He is the sort of player that we do need to keep an eye on tomorrow.'

Warning: Garde has been warned about the talents of Gareth Bale by former Southampton coach Georges Prost

Warning: Garde has been warned about the talents of Gareth Bale by former Southampton coach Georges Prost

Homecoming: Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris moved from Lyon to Spurs in the summer but will be replaced by Brad Friedel

Homecoming: Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris moved from Lyon to Spurs in the summer but will be replaced by Brad Friedel

Bale has scored five goals in his last four matches to take his tally for the season to 19 – comfortably his best return since he made his bow in 2006.

Spurs and Lyon are also linked by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who joined Andre Villas-Boas in a 12million move last summer.

Lloris has been in superb form of late, but Villas-Boas revealed today that Brad Friedel will start in goal ahead of the France captain, much to Garde’s disappointment.

'I suppose it’s kind of a regret (that Lloris is not playing).It is for all of us,' Garde said.

'He was very much loved at Lyon. He made a big impression.

'He was a great guy so it would have been nice to have the experience of coming up against him, rather than just seeing him in the corridor.'

Top of his game: Bale has now matured into one of the Premier League's most devastating performers

Top of his game: Bale has now matured into one of the Premier League's most devastating performers

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.'

Lewis Hamilton is leaving McLaren to "grow up"

EXCLUSIVE: Hamilton: It's the hardest decision I've made, but I'm leaving McLaren to grow up

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 8 December 2012

Lewis Hamilton walked out of the McLaren headquarters on Friday after delivering a heartfelt and candid farewell speech to the workforce who supported his journey to Formula One stardom.

Hamilton's relationship may have soured with McLaren chairman Ron Dennis, the man who bankrolled him for 14 years from his childhood days as a karting prodigy, but he relished the opportunity to explain personally why he has chosen to drive for Mercedes from next year.

'It was the hardest decision I've ever made,' admitted Hamilton, granted a dignified departure by McLaren, a rare privilege in a sport renowned for being heartless when drivers switch allegiance.

Heavy heart: Lewis Hamilton said he is leaving McLaren to grow up

Heavy heart: Lewis Hamilton said he is leaving McLaren to grow up

Yet it was the right moment, insisted Hamilton, for him to explore life beyond the boundaries of McLaren.

'It is to do with the process of growing up, of leaving home,' he said. 'That's why I am taking the next step, to grow as a driver and as a human being.'

Yet Hamilton, who was leading his last race for McLaren in Brazil a fortnight ago when he was driven off the circuit by Nico Hulkenberg, acknowledged the inherent risk he has accepted by signing for Mercedes, a team with one win in three seasons.

'The team I'm joining isn't yet performing well,' he said. 'But I hope I'll be able to help them get where they want to be.'

See you next year... Hamilton will drive for Mercedes

See you next year… Hamilton will drive for Mercedes

Hamilton has been lured from McLaren to Mercedes by more than the simple economics of a threeyear contract worth 60million.

He is attracted by the challenge of attempting to become the catalyst for the Mercedes team's development – and future success – under Englishman Ross Brawn, who worked a similar alchemy with Michael Schumacher during their time together, first with Benetton, then with Ferrari. Hamilton is banking on Brawn – and Mercedes – making capital gains when new 1.4 turbo engines are introduced to Formula One for the 2014 season.

Importantly, Hamilton also wants to be freed of the influence of Dennis, which in recent years has become claustrophobic. Dennis similarly fell out with Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, although all of them would testify to the brilliance of his leadership and vision for McLaren.

So long: Hamilton's now former team-mate Jenson Button hugged him after his final race at McLaren

So long: Hamilton's now former team-mate Jenson Button hugged him after his final race at McLaren

One last go: Hamilton and Button were side by side in Sao Paulo

One last go: Hamilton and Button were side by side in Sao Paulo

Hamilton enjoyed his working relationship with Martin Whitmarsh, who succeeded Dennis as McLaren team principal, but during his contract negotiations this summer the 27-year-old British star realised that he needed a fresh start.

Dennis is believed to have been bitterly disappointed – and his relationship with Hamilton was irrevocably damaged. At least Hamilton and Dennis, who achieved so much with one another, held a private, convivial chat on Friday.

'/12/08/article-2245146-16354543000005DC-885_634x374.jpg” width=”634″ height=”374″ alt=”Going and gone: Hamilton is looking forward to his new challenge ” class=”blkBorder” />

Going and gone: Hamilton is looking forward to his new challenge

'When I arrived in Formula 1 in 2007, I now realise I never really grasped what I was taking on. Ron [Dennis] had told me: “Don't be surprised if you're 0.5sec slower than Fernando [Alonso]”, and I just smiled because I knew it wouldn't be the case. But, even so, that year was very hard, for many reasons.

'The following year, 2008, as a result of so much hard work from all of you, we won the championship. Thanks so much. You were brilliant – you still are. I have so much affection and love for this team. And that's why McLaren has always felt like home.'

As a parting gift, Hamilton received a three-foot model of his 2008 McLaren. 'Maybe I'll come back one day… if you'll have me,' he said, his voice heavy with emotion.

A champagne toast was offered in Hamilton's honour and he will not forget the standing ovation he was given as he walked away from McLaren's plush HQ in the Surrey stockbroker belt.

Neymar"s son Davi Lucca at Santos training ground

Child's play for Neymar as Brazilian ace's 15-month-old son shows off his skills

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UPDATED:

11:27 GMT, 14 November 2012

Surpassing the level of skill boasted by his father will take some doing, but Davi Lucca, the 15-month old son of Neymar, has already taken his first steps to football stardom.

The toddler, who has his own celebrity following in Brazil, has been seen on numerous occasions at the training centre of his Dad's club Santos.

Scroll down to see the video of Neymar's son in action

Can he kick it Neymar and his team-mates get to work making the Santos player's 15-month old son - to whom he has a tattoo dedicated - a superstar in his own right

Can he kick it Neymar and his team-mates get to work making the Santos player's 15-month old son – to whom he has a tattoo dedicated – a superstar in his own right

Can he kick it Neymar and his team-mates get to work making the Santos player's 15-month old son - to whom he has a tattoo dedicated - a superstar in his own right

In the latest video from the club's official YouTube channel, baby Davi Lucca is shown being held up by his 20-year-old father as he tries to kick a ball that practically comes up to his waist.

The results, as to be expected, are far from spectacular, and certainly a far cry from the infamous video of Baerke van der Meij, the one-year-old Dutch boy who 'went viral' in 2011 when a clip of him kicking a small ball into a toy box was put online.

Eredivisie club VVV-Venlo even offered him a 10-year contract, though it remains to be seen if Santos will try to tie young Davi to something similar.

Neymar's son has been a regular at the
Centro de Treinamento Rei Pele, which was built in 2005 as a tribute to
Pele, since birth.

Golden boy: Neymar is currently away with the Brazil squad

Golden boy: Neymar is currently away with the Brazil squad

Meanwhile, the player himself was once again reaffirmed his desire to stay with Santos, reacting angrily to questions about his future.

Neymar has long been linked with a move to Europe, with some suggesting a pre-contract deal with Barcelona was already in place.

However, speaking to Globe Esporte, he said: 'When will you stop asking me that I'm tired already. I have a contract with Santos until 2014 and I intend to see it out.

'If I stay or leave before that it's up to Santos' president.'

Gareth Bale"s a perfect role model, says Nigel Adkins

Adkins hails former Saint Bale as the perfect role model as he prepares for Spurs' visit

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UPDATED:

14:35 GMT, 27 October 2012

Southampton boss Nigel Adkins thinks Gareth Bale is the perfect role model for the club's new batch of up-and-coming stars.

Bale returns to St Mary's Stadium on Sunday for the first time since he left the south-coast club for Tottenham as a left-back, having just graduated from the club's famed academy, which also produced the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Alan Shearer.

The 23-year-old has added bags of strength, power and skill to his game since moving to White Hart Lane and he is now considered one of the most devastating attacking players in the world.

Hot Spur: Gareth Bale returns to his former club with Tottenham on Sunday

Hot Spur: Gareth Bale returns to his former club with Tottenham on Sunday

Yet, despite his rise to stardom, Bale is also regarded as one of the most grounded players in the Tottenham squad.

James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw are just two of the players who have recently made the step up from academy to first team, and Adkins thinks the duo could learn a lot from how Bale has handled himself throughout his career.

'He is a very professional player,' the Southampton manager said. 'He looks after his lifestyle and he is reaping the rewards for doing that.

'He is a shining example of how professional you need to be to be successful at the top level.'

Bale will return to Spurs' starting line-up on Sunday having missed their last two games following the birth of his first child.

And, judging by the team's lack of penetration in their defeat to Chelsea and loss at Maribor, the Londoners will welcome back the wide man with open arms.

Before his absence Bale had started to rediscover the kind of form that terrorised Inter Milan at White Hart Lane two years ago.

Adkins is aware of Bale's talents, but he insists his men cannot afford to concentrate solely on shackling the winger on Sunday.

'Every player in the opposition is a threat,' Adkins said. 'To concentrate on one player means you neglect the others.'

Given their inept defensive performances of late, the south-coast strugglers could have been forgiven for wishing Bale's partner had waited another week before going in to labour.

Come a long way: Bale is the best example of Southampton's youth system

Come a long way: Bale is the best example of Southampton's youth system

The Saints' 4-1 thrashing at the hands of West Ham highlighted once again the defensive frailties that have seen the club take only four points from their opening eight games.

Defender Jose Fonte, who was particularly poor in the defeat at Upton Park, admits his team must improve at the back.

'It's obvious where we have been making mistakes. We know that we can't keep on conceding goals like last week,' he said. 'We just need to concentrate and make sure we don't repeat them this weekend.'

Feeling the heat: Nigel Adkins

Feeling the heat: Nigel Adkins

Southampton's poor league form has left them second from bottom of the table and has raised questions about Adkins' future.

The former Scunthorpe manager has the backing of the majority of Saints fans, having guided the club to back-to-back promotions, and he insisted yesterday that he did not feel his position was under threat.

Indeed Fonte says the 47-year-old has been as jolly as ever around the training ground this week, despite last weekend's humbling in east London.

'This week he was very enthusiastic, as he always is,' Fonte said. 'He was trying to keep everyone positive because it's a long season.

'We are only eight games in. There are a lot more points on the table for us to get so we have to make sure we take our points on Sunday.'

Damon Hill: Lewis Hamilton had to quit McLaren

Lewis had to quit McLaren… they'd managed him to within an inch of his life

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UPDATED:

21:15 GMT, 29 September 2012

Lewis Hamilton's gamble of committing the prime years of his career to Mercedes, rather than McLaren, has won the approval of former world champion Damon Hill.

'Lewis has been like a caged bird at McLaren,' said Hill. 'He'd been managed to within an inch of his life. I can't blame him for looking to move elsewhere.'

Time to move on: Lewis Hamilton will bank at least 60m from his move to Mercedes

Time to move on: Lewis Hamilton will bank at least 60m from his move to Mercedes

At Mercedes, Hamilton will receive the freedom to capitalise on his own commercial value as well as banking as much as 60million from the three-year contract that has persuaded him to abandon the team that nurtured him from childhood.

'Lewis needed to leave McLaren to stretch his wings,' argued Hill.

Hamilton had become disillusioned with the culture at McLaren defined by company chairman Ron Dennis, who had steered Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, the late Ayrton Senna, and Mika Hakkinen to world championships before grooming Hamilton to stardom.

Despite their success, Lauda, Prost and Senna all felt compelled to break with McLaren, as Hamilton has done.

McLaren drivers are required to make more personal appearances for a host of sponsors than their rivals.

The space on their racing suit is owned by the team, as are the trophies they win.

Hamilton was not the first to try, and fail, to change that policy; but, ultimately, he felt the restrictions on him had become claustrophobic, a sentiment echoed by his manager, Simon Fuller, whose XIX Entertainment company held up star client David Beckham as an example of what opportunities could be open to a man with global appeal.

Good deal: Damon Hill says teams and drivers have conflicting priorities

Brokered deal: Niki Lauda

Different ideas: Hill (left) says teams and drivers have conflicting priorities, while Lauda (right) brokered deal

Mercedes principal Ross Brawn acknowledged the part Fuller played in moving Hamilton from McLaren.

'Lewis's management expressed interest, wanted to know what our plans were and it grew from there,' said Brawn.

Hill believes McLaren's inflexible approach to drivers through the ages contributed to Hamilton's decision to leave the team.

'I could never get my head around the logic that the team takes the driver's trophy,' said Hill, who won 22 Formula One races.

'It's the principle, not the trophy, that is at stake. After you have won a championship, and jumped through a lot of hoops, there is a point when you think: “This is my life”. You can have a bellyful of becoming a performing seal. You don't want to be on probation for your whole career.

'Of course, you still have to fight inside the car; but there is a time when, surely, you have proved you can motivate yourself. These are things Lewis has tried to balance.

'This is quite a shift in the power balance in Formula One. It shows a driver is a more important ingredient in the sport than the teams like to think.

'Formula One would do well to remember the public relates to a driver's career path more than any team with the exception of Ferrari. The rest are just operations. To the public, the sport is about the drivers.

'There is a huge disconnect between the philosophy of a team and a driver. Drivers just want to race, they don't see Formula One as a marketing exercise or product development. To a team, a driver is a hired hand. But drivers have a right to a career path. They don't belong to a team.'

Hill engaged in talks with McLaren at one period in his career, after winning the world championship for Williams in 1996.

Replacing Hamilton: Sergio Perez steps in with a monster deal at McLaren

Replacing Hamilton: Sergio Perez steps in with a monster deal at McLaren

He departed for Arrows, a team at the wrong end of the grid, on a reported 3 million salary in the year he declined the new contract he was offered by Frank Williams.

'I feel very close to Williams but they didn't always feel close to me,' said Hill, who provided Eddie Jordan's team with their first grand prix win before he retired.

Brawn, who masterminded seven world titles for Michael Schumacher, at Benetton, then Ferrari, has persuaded Hamilton that the introduction of new engine regulations, introducing 1.6 turbo power plants in Formula One from 2014, will shift the axis of power towards the German car giants.

The jury is still out, however.

In the past three years, Mercedes have won just one grand prix while McLaren have won 16.

Yet the intervention of Lauda, invited by Mercedes' main board to broker a deal with Hamilton, finally persuaded the 27-year-old to accept the challenge of making the team champions.

Mexican Sergio Perez, 22, will replace Hamilton at McLaren on a three-year 20 million contract.

'Of course, Lewis has taken a risk,' said Hill.

'Mercedes don't have a track record like McLaren but, as a driver in Formula One, you have to look at what's coming down the track a couple of years ahead. It will be interesting to see how Mercedes up.'

F1 Can the Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button show survive?

Can the Lewis and Jenson show survive Hamilton's desire for a new deal

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 30 June 2012

Lewis Hamilton still remembers the over-riding reaction to Jenson Button's arrival at McLaren, his home from home since childhood.

'People were saying: “Ah, there's going to be a war there”,' said Hamilton last week. 'That's what people wanted, of course. But we have shown we can exist together.'

Team-mates: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button (right)

Team-mates: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button (right)

At Silverstone next weekend, Hamilton and Button will compete for popularity, grid position and, ultimately, glory at the race that matters hugely to both, the Santander British Grand Prix.

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Already they have survived six months longer together than the last two world champions McLaren placed alongside one another, when the reward for Ron Dennis's ambition to partner Ayrton Senna with Alain Prost induced civil war within the team.

After two-and-a-half years together at McLaren, Hamilton and Button are as instinctively driven and competitive as ever. But while they have homes near one another in Monaco, their lives never connect outside of business hours.

'We are good at working together but we don't see each other away from the circuit,' admitted Button. Last week, they worked tirelessly together to promote McLaren's brand ahead of a race of massive commercial importance to the team.

Good night Lewis and Nicole were in great spirits as they left around 3am

His other half: Lewis and Nicole Scherzinger

Yet, no matter the congeniality of the rivalry Hamilton and Button have fostered against the expectations of most in the pit-lane, such harmony is under threat. For Hamilton is at a crossroads.

After the three races that flow thick and fast in July – Silverstone, Hockenheim and Budapest – Hamilton will open negotiations with McLaren to determine if he accepts a new deal or walks out of the team where he was first groomed for stardom as a karting prodigy 15 years ago.

Hamilton's manager is Simon Fuller, battle-hardened from power struggles in Hollywood and the man behind TV show American Idol as well as David Beckham, the Spice Girls and Andy Murray. Fuller will be briefed that Red Bull, Ferrari and, perhaps, Mercedes are alert to Hamilton's availability as those teams deal with uncertainties surrounding, respectively, Mark Webber, Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher.

Could Hamilton, who has won 18 grands prix for McLaren, imagine walking into a new garage at the start of next season 'Professional sportsmen do move teams,' he said. 'Footballers do, so do racing drivers. Jenson has been with a lot of teams, for instance. It's different when you are in one of the top teams already, though. It would be tough to do.'

Primarily, Hamilton wants what all
dedicated, fast champions desire: the promise of a competitive car. Yet,
besides seeking a salary commensurate to his status as one of the three
fastest drivers in the world, alongside Sebastian Vettel, winner of the
past two world championships for Red Bull, and Fernando Alonso, another
double world champion who, against perceived wisdom, will begin the
British GP as leader of this season's title race, Fuller will be seeking
McLaren to change their culture.

F1 driver Lewis Hamilton (L) and TV presenter Melanie Sykes

Hamilton and TV presenter Melanie Sykes at Santander promotion of London Grand Prix

Hamilton's acrimonious year with Alonso at McLaren has been consigned
to history by a new, open relationship. 'Fernando has grown up, so have
I,' said Hamilton. 'We have good conversations. I am grateful to have
respect from such a phenomenal racing driver.'

Vettel and Alonso both have fewer demands on their time than Hamilton
has from McLaren, and a greater freedom to broaden their own commercial
brands.

Hamilton said: 'I haven't sat down and forged all the criteria I am looking for, but probably 95 per cent is ticked off within McLaren. There could be small things, like I'd like to keep my trophies I win. But Ron's never going to want to give them up. That's all right, I'll get him on the money side!'

Hamilton chuckles at the prospect of the negotiations ahead, the first since his father, Anthony, then his manager, sealed a 75m contract at the end of his first year in Formula One in 2007, which expires in December. 'I think we will be talking with Martin Whitmarsh, who, in case people forget, is the boss now,' said Hamilton. 'Ron will be always the guy who signed me and I expect he will have a huge impact on the discussions with Simon, but I have to respect Martin is the man who will make the decision. 'I'm sure I could call Simon now, and say: “Let's do it right away”. But I'm not focused on the contract and I haven't given it enough energy yet. But there's a period coming up when I'll be on holiday and be able to get on the phone to Simon.'

In all probability, the strategy will be designed between them in person when Hamilton is in the United States with his girlfriend, singer Nicole Scherzinger.

High drive: Hamilton (left) and Rio Ferdinand

High drive: Hamilton (left) and Rio Ferdinand

Hamilton has a strong hand. After Button's performances last season, when he became the first team-mate to get the upper hand over him, finishing second in the championship, Hamilton arrives at Silverstone third in the championship on 88 points, 39 points ahead of Button.

'All I'm thinking of this weekend is how I can help McLaren win, how we can make this car better and how I can extract more from these intelligent people around me,' said Hamilton, who has out-qualified Button in all eight races. Only a series of mistakes by the team, costing him more than 60 points, have prevented him from having outright command of the championship.

At 32, Button is five years older than Hamilton. He is also approaching his 13th British Grand Prix without having ever made the podium. 'Lewis is the fastest team-mate I have ever had over one qualifying lap,' said Button. 'I respect Lewis for what he has achieved. I respect his speed and the way he sets up a car. We'll share information at Silverstone, as always. We always know one another's race strategies, too.' Button's laid-back demeanour engenders affection, but wins in 13 grands prix reflect a sublime talent, despite a rash of poor results since starting the season with a win in Australia.

'You have difficult days and the last few races have been tough,' he acknowledged. 'But I know I'm doing a job most people would love to do. I've lived through tough times, I have lived through good times, and this is something I still love.' At Silverstone, Button will camp out in his motorhome in a field surrounded by family, old friends from Somerset and his girlfriend, model Jessica Michibata. His only concession to the partying around him will be to wear earplugs at night.

'Staying on site reminds me of being a kid going to races and staying in a caravan,' he said. 'The evenings will be relaxed but I'll be 100 per cent focused from the moment I wake. Any British driver wants to win the British Grand Prix. It's the trophy I want most of all.' Hamilton and Button's co-existence is founded on mutual respect.

'Jenson is massively focused,' said Hamilton. 'He's hugely respectful when I succeed, and I am the same with him. We've kept that balance.' Most of the pieces in Hamilton's life have fallen back into place after the traumas of last season. 'I don't have any baggage holding me back any more,' he said. His relationship with his father, strained to breaking point when he dismissed him as his manager, has been repaired. 'We went through a difficult time, but now we're at a place where we are both very happy.'

Only one bit of the puzzle has still to fall into place – his future driving plans. And Button, with experience of the merry-go-round of the paddock, offered friendly advice when he said: 'It's unusual for a driver to spend all his career with the same team, but Lewis is racing for a team that has belief in him and will do everything they can to make sure he has a quick car. There aren't many teams that listen to the drivers like McLaren do.'

Tom Maynard tribute

Tom Maynard was destined for stardom… what a sad and tragic waste of life

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 18 June 2012

The cricket world is struggling to come to terms with how one of the most promising young batsmen in the country in Tom Maynard could die in such tragic, wasteful circumstances.

Maynard’s death in the early hours of Monday, aged just 23, left the game in shock, with the loss felt most acutely at his home ground of The Oval, where England’s players practised in stunned silence ahead of Tuesday’s second one-day international against West Indies.

The show will go on on Tuesday but Surrey, reeling from the third such tragedy to hit them in 15 years following the deaths of their players Graham Kersey and Ben Hollioake, quickly postponed their Twenty20 game against Hampshire on Wednesday as a mark of respect.

Tragedy: Tom Maynard pictured during England training in Loughborough

Tragedy: Tom Maynard pictured during England training in Loughborough

Talent: Maynard in his Surrey kit

Talent: Maynard in his Surrey kit

The son of former England batsman and
batting coach Matthew Maynard moved to London from his native Glamorgan
last year and was quickly earmarked as an England batsman in the making,
touring Bangladesh with the Lions last winter.

Maynard Jnr was a hard-hitting batsman, reminiscent of his father, but
was also skilled enough to score four first-class centuries, including a
poignant one for Surrey against the Glamorgan side he had left in
support of father Matthew when he was sacked as coach.

Hugh Morris, managing director of the England team, is a friend of the
Maynards, having played with Matthew at Glamorgan, and was clearly
distressed when he arrived at The Oval on Monday to comfort England
players and management and Surrey staff.

‘I’ve known Tom since he was a little boy and he was an incredibly
talented cricketer and an incredibly likeable young man who had the
world at his feet,’ said Morris.

‘In a way he played just like his old man – Matthew played for England
and Tom was very much on that path. It’s an absolute tragedy and my
heart goes out to Matthew and Sue, his parents.’

Horror: Maynard was found dead at Wimbledon Park Tube station

Horror: Maynard was found dead at Wimbledon Park Tube station

Steve James, another former team-mate of Matthew, added on Twitter: ‘The
lovely kid who was always in our dressing room at Glamorgan grew into a
man who would have played for England. How can he be gone so soon’

It appeared then that Tom was on the cusp of a great career but there
were some causes for concern. Only last week he had damaged a shoulder
when he was hit by a car during a late night out in Brighton while he
was playing against Sussex at Horsham.

That breach of discipline led to Maynard being left out of Surrey’s
opening Twenty20 match against Essex last Wednesday, but he was back
batting against Kent at Beckenham on Sunday just hours before he
embarked on his last tragic car journey.

‘Tom was a prodigiously talented young batsman who was clearly destined
for greater things,’ said Surrey chairman Richard Thompson. ‘The impact
Tom made in such a short space of time for Surrey speaks for itself. To
lose anybody at such a young age is an utterly senseless tragedy.’

You'll be missed: Maynard celebrates a man-of-the-match award with Surrey

You'll be missed: Maynard celebrates a man-of-the-match award with Surrey

HOW THE WORLD OF CRICKET HAS RESPONDED

England and Surrey batsman Kevin Pietersen said: ‘So unbelievably sad!! The Maynard family is so special!! Thoughts are with this special family!!’

England bowler Stuart Broad said: ‘Absolutely gutted to hear the news about Tom Maynard. A lovely guy and great talent.’

England wicketkeeper Matt Prior said: ‘Such a waste of a very talented and much loved player.’

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said: ‘Someone with so much talent and so much to look forward too… Why is life so cruel sometimes…’

Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff said: ‘Tragic news that a great lad is no longer with us. All my thoughts are with his family.’

Senseless is indeed the word that came to mind as police revealed that
Maynard’s black Mercedes was stopped at 4.15am on Monday in Arthur Road,
Wimbledon, which crosses the London Underground District Line, because
he was driving ‘erratically’. Police say Maynard ran off and, less than
an hour later, he was struck by a Tube train between Wimbledon Park and
Southfields stations. It is believed he had stepped on a live track and
been electrocuted before the train struck him.

How on earth Maynard should find himself in such a situation is a
question that will haunt his family and his many friends in the game.
Those friends were desperately seeking answers on Monday night.

Jade Dernbach, a Surrey colleague and close friend of Maynard, was
missing from England’s training on Monday and the ECB announced that he
was being stood down from the one-day squad for compassionate reasons.
He is replaced by Chris Woakes.

The Surrey flag was flying at half mast by the time England’s subdued
practice session had finished and it will be at half mast again on
Tuesday during an international that clearly will be overshadowed by the
news.

It is almost certain that Maynard would in the future have been wearing
the blue of England in senior limited overs cricket himself, providing
he was able to curb his excesses, but now we will never know how far he
could have gone or whether he would have emulated his father in playing
Test cricket.

That is the biggest tragedy of those horrible last moments Tom Maynard spent in Wimbledon on Monday morning.

Australian Open 2012: Roger Federer defeats Bernard Tomic

Federer tames tyro Tomic but Aussie youngster looks set for stardom

If Roger Federer had lost his Australian Open fourth round match to Bernard Tomic it would doubtless have been heralded as the beginning of the end for probably the greatest player of his or any other generation.

Instead he handed out a lesson with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory, and the only thing we could be sure of is that it represented the end of the beginning for the 19-year-old Australian.

For Tomic has now shown that his Wimbledon quarter-final appearance was far from a one-off and his rapid improvement suggests that it will not be long before he is a significant star in his own right.

Imperious: Roger Federer swept aside Bernard Tomic to reach the last eight

Imperious: Roger Federer swept aside Bernard Tomic to reach the last eight

He looked a little weary after losing the first set, and the anticlimactic 1hr 44min contest proved the kind of easy win that marked the first week for the top seeds.

Good old Lleyton Hewitt, trying to avoid annihilation by Novak Djokovic on Monday, was left as the last man standing for Australia, but that will surely not be the case a year from now.

Tomic, with his graceful, unorthodox style that makes it look like he is caressing the ball, is on the way up, and although he disappointed the nation in this much-hyped encounter, Federer knows he will be a force.

‘You can see how much progress he has made in the last four or five months,’ said Federer. ‘He is going to be a great player but the important thing is to let him get on with it. When I was 19 I was being anointed as the next Pete Sampras when I hadn’t even won a title and all I could think was, “Please, just give me a little more time”. That’s what Bernard needs.’

Dejected: Aussie Tomic was devastated after his straight-sets defeat

Dejected: Aussie Tomic was devastated after his straight-sets defeat

Tomic has established himself at the head of a group of young talents such as Canada’s Milos Raonic, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and Murray’s American first-round victim Ryan Harrison, who are on course to mount a challenge to the biggest names in the next few years.

For now the lower half of the men’s quarter-finals has a predictable enough line-up that will see Federer playing his 1,000th career match, meeting the resurgent 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, whom he viewed as a potential world No 1 before a wrist injury struck him down.

Rafael Nadal, who won comfortably against Feliciano Lopez, also has an awkward task, taking on former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, who was involved in a bad-tempered encounter with Nicolas Almagro.

In form: Rafael Nadal also made steady progress as he beat Feliciano Lopez

In form: Rafael Nadal also made steady progress as he beat Feliciano Lopez

The normally placid Berdych refused to shake his opponent’s hand at the end after being incensed by an incident in the fourth set when Almagro drilled the ball at his upper body from close range by the net. His declining of the Spaniard’s hand brought about a cacophony of booing during the on-court interview afterwards. Berdych was actually hit on the shoulder and, as Almagro hit the ball on the run, was being somewhat flaky.

But the Czech felt it could have been worse: ‘The court is pretty big and there’s always space to place the ball, even if you stand three of four metres apart. He tried to hit it straight in my face. I was lucky it just hit me on the arm,’ he insisted.

There was drama of a less controversial nature as Kim Clijsters, in a repeat of last year’s final against Li Na, saved four match points from 6-2 down in the tiebreak to reach the quarter -finals with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 win.

The Chinese player should have won on the last of them when she had the court at her mercy but instead tried a hopelessly misjudged drop-shot.