Tag Archives: talent

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

Raheem Sterling cash deal as Liverpool wonderboy should get his delayed 18th birthday present

Sterling cash deal as Liverpool wonderboy should get his delayed 18th birthday present

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UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 7 December 2012

Brendan Rodgers has taken a hands-on role in Raheem Sterling's contract negotiations to ensure the deal reaches a successful conclusion.

Sterling is 18 today, and it was envisaged when contract talks began earlier this year that his birthday celebrations would coincide with Liverpool announcing a new long-term contract for the precocious winger.

Precocious talent: Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling

Precocious talent: Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling

That will not be the case. Talks between Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre and Sterling's advisers continue but Rodgers, weary of the speculation surrounding the discussions, is confident things will soon be wrapped up.

In order to reach that point, Rodgers has spoken on several occasions to Sterling. He has reminded him about the chance he has been afforded at Anfield, the role Liverpool have played in his development and the rewards that will be there for him if he makes the right moves.

'There are good conversations and there is no worry or concern – it will be resolved,' said Rodgers. 'I'm comfortable with it. The club is working on it very well; Ian Ayre's doing a good job. I've spoken to the agent; there's no problem.

'There has been a lot made of it but there are still 18 months left (on Sterling's current deal). He's a young kid and we just want to make sure that everything's right for him to be nurtured. I have spoken to Raheem. I've gone through what I'd call the core elements of his development.'

Raheem Sterling of Liverpool

From when Rodgers first spoke publicly about Sterling signing a new contract on September 15, he has maintained this would not be the most lucrative deal of his career and re-emphasised the England international's potential will not be spoiled by finance.

That theme has been constant in the discussions Rodgers and Sterling have had and Liverpool's manager has gone to great lengths to advise him to look at the bigger picture, rather than think about the money that other clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City would be prepared to offer.

'There is a plan in place for him,' said Rodgers. 'There's a commitment there and he's a real good kid. It's quite low profile. We just want to make sure it's right for him and he feels it. I believe he does. It'll get done sooner or later.

'He will have all the tools here, at one of the top football clubs in the world, to progress. I don't want the club or the kid being affected by over-the-odds demands. All the figures that get bandied about for kids these days can destroy them.'

Hands-on approach: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers

Hands-on approach: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers

There is no doubt that Sterling's development has been one of the main talking points of Liverpool's campaign but, after making 22 appearances and scoring one goal, there will come a point when Rodgers needs to preserve him by taking him out of the team.

'I'm in the business of trying to help nurture these kids,' Rodgers said. 'Money distorts the reality, I've always said that. So I've always tried to ensure that I give my point of view on it. It's about being sensible rather than going over the top.

'We as a staff are on our toes to make him better, then hopefully from that, we'll get excellence,' he added. 'It's then his responsibility to deliver.'

How Joe Cole became a diddy man

He's just an ordinary Joe: How Liverpool's Cole became a diddy man

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UPDATED:

21:02 GMT, 8 November 2012

Just before half time and Joe Cole was already trending on Twitter. Strange that, because he hadn't done very much. That’s the point.

Sean Lawrence, an Everton supporter, sent this verdict to his followers (@SeanyBoyoEFC). ‘Contrasts – 31 year old Leon Osman receives his first England call up today. Meanwhile its Joe Cole's 31st Birthday and his careers dead!’

Poor Joe. Even being ordinary is news now.

Head in hands: Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole (centre) reflects on a tough night after being hauled off

Head in hands: Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole (centre) reflects on a tough night after being hauled off

This was his first performance since being substituted and criticised by Brendan Rodgers for a lacklustre display against Swansea in the Capital One Cup. At least he lasted beyond 45 minutes this time.

He was in and out of this first half, occasionally getting to the ball, occasionally keeping it, occasionally looking like the player we remember.

Falling down: Joe Cole hits the floor as he fights for the ball with Anzhi Makhachkala's Joao Carlos

Falling down: Joe Cole hits the floor as he fights for the ball with Anzhi Makhachkala's Joao Carlos

He even had a header on goal, which bounced wide.

Up to then, playing just off the front line in a Liverpool team packed with reserves – which is why he got a starting place – the old Chelsea and West Ham No 10 couldn’t really get into the game.

But nor could Samuel Eto’o, until one driving run brought a spectacular save from Brad Jones.

Jonjo Shelvey is the precocious talent Joe Cole used to be. He gets on the ball, sprays a lovely weighted pass and sets the play. Liverpool, who could afford to lose last night (another reason Cole got a starting place) deserved to be level, but fell behind on the stroke of half time, which is how the game ended.

Diddy man: Cole shares his birthday with Ken Dodd

Diddy man: Cole shares his birthday with Ken Dodd

Not that Cole got to see out the whole 90 minutes as Brendan Rodgers opted to replace him after 76 minutes and replaced by Oussama Assaidi.

Back to Twitter, where Ian Abrahams (@BroadcastMoose) told his followers: ‘If it's your birthday you share it with Martin Peters, Alan Curbishley, Joe Cole, Aaron Hughes, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Bret Lee and Ken Dodd.’ So it’s not all bad news for Joe. He gets to share a birthday with the man responsible for Liverpool’s diddy men.

Unfortunately, that’s what Cole has become.

Carl Froch thinks Tony Bellew sparring sessions could be tougher than Yusaf Mack

Froch says heavy sparring sessions with Bellew could be harder than Mack title fight

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UPDATED:

20:50 GMT, 6 November 2012

Carl Froch believes his explosive sparring sessions with fellow Englishman Tony Bellew ahead of next week's IBF title defence against Yusaf Mack could prove to be tougher than the fight itself.

The Nottingham super-middleweight regularly trades blows with his fiery compatriot in training and despite their friendship, the pair are unashamedly spiteful inside the ring.

Froch, 35, also benefits from his connections with the Team GB set-up due to trainer Rob McCracken's role as performance director in Sheffield and regularly spars with the cream of the country's amateur talent.

Hard work: Carl Froch has been involved in some heavy sparring sessions with Tony Bellew

Hard work: Carl Froch has been involved in some heavy sparring sessions with Tony Bellew

Fierce: Bellew does not take it easy in training

Fierce: Bellew does not take it easy in training

Ahead of his November 17 defence against Mack in Nottingham he has worked with two former amateur stars – Commonwealth Games gold medalist Courtney Fry and ex-Olympic hopeful Callum Smith – as well as Liverpudlian hardman Bellew.

All three are natural light-heavyweights and should prepare Froch well for his meeting with Philadelphian Mack, who is dropping down from that division to attempt to spring a massive upset.

'Sometimes sparring is tougher than the actual fight,” Froch said. 'It's very intense, especially with Tony Bellew because we don't pull any punches in there.

'We train and spar like we're fighting because that's how you need to be. You need to get that mindset and let your big shots go, because what you do in sparring and training, you do on fight night too.

'It can be very tough, but it's all part and parcel of it.'

Froch added: 'Courtney Fry is a
light-heavyweight, Tony Bellew is a very strong light-heavyweight and
Callum Smith is going to fight at super-middleweight as a professional
but had stepped up to light-heavyweight as an amateur before turning
pro.

'They are all big lads, tall and rangy and strong. It's a big advantage to get great sparring. It's is one of the most important aspects of your training camp and sometimes you struggle to get the sparring. You fly them in from America and they don't want to be here, you get them from Europe and stay a week before going home.

'But we've got serious fighters here who are serious about the sport and want to do well.

Serious: Froch says sparring can give you a big advantage

Serious: Froch says sparring can give you a big advantage

'Tony Bellew is on the fringes of fighting for a world title. Callum is eager, he's just turned pro and wants to show he's a contender.

'We've never used Courtney Fry for sparring before but he's tall and rangy and throws a lot of straight punches like Mack and he's bigger and heavier than me.

'So it's been brilliant to have good, all-round sparring this camp.'

Froch defends the belt he won in May – with a five-round bludgeoning of Lucian Bute – at the Trent FM Arena in his native Nottingham a week on Saturday.

On the defensive: Froch is fighting for the belt he beat Lucian Bute to win

On the defensive: Froch is fighting for the belt he beat Lucian Bute to win

He does so with a slight injury inflicted by Fry in one of their recent sessions.

'I got elbowed on the nose on Friday but it's nothing serious,' said 'The Cobra'.

'It's nothing serious, I got some butterfly stitches put on as a precautionary measure, more than anything else, because I didn't want it to get any worse.

'It happened in round one of the sparring session and I did a 12-round spar that day, we just patched it up and went again. It's fine and it's healed up.'

Arsenal expand scouting network in Germany

EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal ramp up German scouting mission in bid to find next Podolski

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UPDATED:

23:17 GMT, 29 October 2012

Arsenal are making moves to expand their German scouting network in an effort to unearth the next Lukas Podolski.

The Gunners have already found the country a valuable breeding ground for talent, Per Mertesacker and Podolski are both important members of the first team.

While Serge Gnabry, 17, and Thomas Eisfeld, 19, have both left their native Germany to join the Gunners.

Who's next Arsenal hope to lure more German talent to the Emirates

Who's next Arsenal hope to lure more German talent to the Emirates

Manager Arsene Wenger has also followed German-born Mario Goetze, Mesut Ozil and Nuri Sahin extensively.

And the club will focus more attention on the region as they try to identify and secure the best emerging talent.

Gunners chief scout Steve Rowley is understood to have spent an increasing amount of time in the country implementing the plans.

Highly rated: Serge Gnabry has been tipped for the very top

Highly rated: Serge Gnabry has been tipped for the very top

Spurs set to miss out on Joao Moutinho

Spurs could lose out to moneybags PSG in 22m race for playmaker Moutinho

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UPDATED:

07:49 GMT, 24 October 2012

Playmaker: Porto's Joao Moutinho

Playmaker: Porto's Joao Moutinho

Tottenham are set to miss out on top
target Joao Moutinho after the Porto playmaker had a change of heart
over a potential January move to White Hart Lane.

Moneybags Paris Saint-Germain now lead
the race for the 26-year midfielder despite interest from Russian
champions Zenit Saint Petersburg.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas had wanted to sign Moutinho during the summer.

But a 22m deal collapsed on deadline day amid wrangling over the player's wages and administrative errors.

Villas-Boas hoped to make a renewed effort to sign the Portugal international in the
next transfer window but the former Sporting Lisbon ace is now eager to
play for a club in the Champions League.

Moutinho could earn in excess of 150,000-a-week at Paris Saint-Germain or Zenit.

The French club have made contact with Moutinho's representatives over a
January deal, although a transfer could be put on hold until next
summer depending on Porto's progress in the Champions League.

Portugal's Joao Moutinho (front R) battles for the ball with Northern Ireland's Steven Davis

Portugal's Joao Moutinho (front R) battles for the ball with Northern Ireland's Steven Davis

Moutinho's agent, Pini Zahavi, has also tried to broker a deal with Barcelona but the Spanish giants are blessed with a wealth of creative talent and will not consider a bid.

Mousa Dembele has been used by Spurs as a playmaker this season but Villas-Boas wants another midfielder to bolster his options, with Shakhtar Donetsk star Willian still on the club's radar.

Andy Carroll told he"s worse footballer than Poland legend"s grandson

My eight-year-old grandson is better than you! Polish legend launches jibe at Carroll

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UPDATED:

08:05 GMT, 16 October 2012

Andy Carroll has been told he's got less talent than an eight-year-old boy ahead of England's World Cup qualifier in Warsaw.

Poland legend Zbigniew Boniek launched the astonishing jibe at Britain's most expensive footballer as Carroll hopes to persuade England boss Roy Hodgson for a starting berth in Tuesday night's clash.

All smiles: Carroll was the subject of a sly dig from Boniek on the eve of England's qualifier in Poland

All smiles: Carroll was the subject of a sly dig from Boniek on the eve of England's qualifier in Poland

Boniek, who has been described by Pele among the greatest 100 players of all-time, said: 'My grandson Mateo moves better on the pitch than Andy Carroll.

'He has better co-ordination. He is very good at golf and tennis.'

Carroll became Britian's most-expensive footballer of all-time in January 2011 after sealing a 35million move to Liverpool.

Pole position: Boniek launched the jibe at Carroll ahead of Poland's Group H encounter with the Three Lions

Pole position: Boniek launched the jibe at Carroll ahead of Poland's Group H encounter with the Three Lions

But the striker failed to find his feet at Anfield and was deemed surplus to requirements by Brendan Rodgers who shipped the gangly forward out on loan to West Ham.

The 23-year-old limped off injured in his Hammers debut but after four weeks on the sidelines returned to Sam Allardyce's side in the defeat against Arsenal before the international break.

On the ball: England arrive in Poland on top of Group H

On the ball: England arrive in Poland on top of Group H

He was a second-half substitute in England's 5-0 defeat of San Marino on Friday and will hope to start against Poland on Tuesday night.

Boniek is lauded as one of Poland's best-ever players and is set to become the president of the Polish FA. But his sly dig could backfire if Carroll finds the net against his country in Tuesday's Group H encounter.

Ryan Shawcross is an example to youngsters, says Gary Neville

Neville hails Shawcross as example to youngsters after Stoke skipper joins up with England

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UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 8 October 2012

Ryan Shawcross returned to the England fold after a two-year absence today with Gary Neville claiming his old Manchester United team-mate is the best possible example for youngsters to follow.

Due to his status as captain of unfashionable Stoke, and also the awful tackle on Aaron Ramsey in February 2010 – just days before his only previous Three Lions call-up – that incensed Arsene Wenger and left the Arsenal man with a broken leg, Shawcross' abilities have largely been overlooked.

Eye on the prize: Ryan Shawcross has finally got the England recognition his former team-mate Gary Neville believes he deserves after years fighting for appreciation at an unfashionable squad

Eye on the prize: Ryan Shawcross has finally got the England recognition his former team-mate Gary Neville believes he deserves after years fighting for appreciation at an unfashionable squad

Yet the 25-year-old's tenacity has
continued to shine through, just as it did in those early days at United
before he was released in 2008 after making just a couple of League Cup
appearances.

It was fitting therefore that, speaking at a coaching clinic at St George's Park as part of the FA and McDonald's Community Awards programme, Neville should have such a perfect example to offer to his students.

'Any kid who has a dream should look at Ryan Shawcross maybe more than people at the highest elements of the game,' said Neville. 'He is a great story and the fact he is in the England squad this week is something I am proud of.

'I remember playing with him when he was 16. He was a raw talent but someone who really wanted to make it. He wanted to use the last ounce of his energy to become a professional footballer.

'He had to leave Manchester United to get his chance. Not giving in and continuing to fight is a huge strength and he has been absolutely fantastic for Stoke.

'He deserves his opportunity this week and I am looking forward to seeing him because he represents the best of attitude, of working hard to get where you want. I am sure he will improve and get better.'

Gary Neville was speaking at St George's Park ahead of this Friday's FA Community National Awards Ceremony, presented by McDonald's. To find out more about the awards and this year's winners visit www.mcdonalds.co.uk/kickstart

Wolves 1 Crystal Palace 2: Wilfried Zaha scores twice

Wolves 1 Crystal Palace 2: Zaha stuns hosts with inspired double

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UPDATED:

22:21 GMT, 2 October 2012

The journey from precocious talent to established star is not always a straightforward one but Wilfried Zaha appears to be treading the right path.

Turning a match on its head is never easy, especially against a defence which had not been breached for three successive games.

Zaha did that, and more, scoring two goals of exquisite individual quality to enhance his rapidly growing reputation.

Brace yourself: Zaha scored a second-half double as Palace came from behind

Brace yourself: Zaha scored a second-half double as Palace came from behind

Match facts

Wolverhampton: Ikeme, Foley (Edwards 82), Berra, Johnson, Ward, Peszko (Sigurdarson 69), Doumbia, Henry (Davis 58), Sako,
Ebanks-Blake,Doyle.

Subs Not Used: De Vries, Stearman, Batth, Forde.

Booked: Henry.

Goals: Ebanks-Blake 53.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Delaney, Blake, Moxey, Williams (Parr 71), Garvan, Jedinak, Zaha (Ramage 88), Murray, Bolasie (Moritz 62).

Subs Not Used: Price, Goodwillie, Wilbraham, O'Keefe.

Goals: Zaha 67, 73.

Attendance: 19,561

Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire).

Latest Championship results, fixtures and table

At the point that Zaha wriggled his way through a stubborn backline, Wolves were a goal to the good thanks to Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and surely expecting to make it five straight npower Championship wins.

Zaha is hardly a secret. The 19-year-old captured the imagination last season with his exploits against Manchester United in the League Cup and has been firmly anchored to Selhurst Park with a five-year contract.

Money, apparently, will not prise him away. According to manager Dougie Freedman, he will know when it is time to wave goodbye to the teenager.

‘I’ve known him since he was 14 so it’s more than a professional relationship, it’s a bit different,’ said Freedman.

‘The kid has got huge potential and hopefully can fulfil that. Off the ball he is getting better and if he develops his game he can play at the top level.

‘If I think the time is right and I can’t develop him then top clubs should take him on. We don’t owe any money so that’s not how it works.’

Zaha was at the centre of everything good about Palace. He also had a penalty appeal turned down in the first half.

One of the first people who should pat the striker on the back is Damien Delaney, who hesitated when Julian Speroni rolled the ball towards him.

Ebanks-Blake robbed the defender and duly collected his fifth goal of the season.

A tight contest looked to have been settled but that did not account for Zaha and his six-minute double.

Wolves boss Stale Solbakken insisted afterwards that the Palace striker was offside when he ran on to Glenn Murray’s knock-down but is was a close call and the finish was glorious.

For the second, Zaha took possession, left Stephen Ward for dead and produced a shot with far too much sting for Carl Ikeme.

There was sting in other parts of the pitch too. Jonny Williams and Karl Henry enjoyed a physical duel and Williams appeared to be lucky to get away with a tackle on Slawomir Peszko, which left the winger facing a six-week lay-off with a knee ligament injury.

Williams was substituted afterwards with Freedman admitting: ‘I know him inside out and it was not intentional. I just felt it was best to take him off as he has to learn how to channel certain aspects of his game. But he was getting kicked all night too.’

Solbakken said: ‘They had a match-winning player who scored both goals. I think we were unlucky.’

John Terry retirement is massive blow for England – Andre Villas-Boas

Terry retirement is a massive blow for England, claims AVB

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UPDATED:

16:07 GMT, 27 September 2012

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas insists John Terry will be sorely missed by England following his international retirement.

Terry has ben banned from domestic club football for four matches and fined 220,000 after being found guilty of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand by a Football Association independent regulatory commission.

Retired: Terry has played his last game for England

Retired: Terry has played his last game for England

The 31-year-old Chelsea captain, who can lodge an appeal, had already announced earlier this week that his England career is over.

'It's a massive, massive loss for England,' said Villas-Boas, Terry's former manager at Chelsea.

'John Terry is a player with unbelievable talent and helped this country so much, and the same for Chelsea too.

Blow: Andre Villas-Boas reckons England will miss Terry

Blow: Andre Villas-Boas reckons England will miss Terry

'In the end they are his decisions, personal decisions.

'It's difficult for a player to take a position like this but on the perspective of England and qualification it leaves (England manager) Roy Hodgson in a difficult position bearing in mind the centre-backs he has at his disposal.

'I'm not putting into question the quality of the other players, but he is certainly missing one player of great, great talent.'