Tag Archives: throat

Pep Guardiola flies into Barcelona to visit Tito Vilanova

Who's the backpacker flying into Barcelona Guardiola visits his friend Vilanova

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UPDATED:

11:05 GMT, 23 December 2012

Pep Guardiola had nothing to declare when he flew into Barcelona on Saturday, looking for all the world like just another backpacker.

All Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wants for Christmas is the former Barcelona boss to take over at Stamford Bridge next season but the Catalan won’t be hurried back into work.

Back in Barcelona: Guardiola arrived in the city on Saturday

Back in Barcelona: Guardiola arrived in the city on Saturday

Guardiola had flown home from New York to visit his Barca successor, Tito Vilanova, who left hospital on Saturday night after throat cancer surgery.

A Barcelona statement read: 'Given the post-surgery progress, Tito
Vilanova has been discharged from hospital on Saturday afternoon. The
Barca coach’s operation on Thursday went as planned.'

We're thinking of you boss: The Barca players sport shirt supporting Tito

We're thinking of you boss: The Barca players sport shirt supporting Tito

We're thinking of you boss: The Barca players sport shirt supporting Tito

And the Barcelona players paid tributes to their manager, wearing shirts with messages of support before their match with Real Valladolid on Saturday night.

Guardiola spent four amazingly successful years as Barcelona manager before handing over the reins to Vilanova earlier this year.

Discharged: Vilanova has been in hospital for an operation

Discharged: Vilanova has been in hospital for an operation

Lionel Messi scored 91st and final goal of record-breaking season

91 and out! Messi strikes again to bring curtain down on incredible year… now see each and every goal

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UPDATED:

21:29 GMT, 22 December 2012

Lionel Messi scored his final goal of a record breaking year as Barcelona won 3-1 against Valladolid on Saturday night.

Messi's second-half strike was his 91st of the season, nutmegging a defender and rattling home with his deadly left-foot to sign off in style.

Scroll down for video

Unstoppable: Lionel Messi (left) scored the 91st goal of his record-breaking season

Unstoppable: Lionel Messi (left) scored the 91st goal of his record-breaking season

Bang: Messi smashes in Barcelona's second goal as they extended their La Liga lead

Bang: Messi smashes in Barcelona's second goal as they extended their La Liga lead

He broke Gerd Muller's 40-year-old milestone of 85 goals in a calendar year by grabbing 79 for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina.

The victory leaves Barcelona nine points clear of Atletico Madrid in second and 16 points up on Real Madrid, before they take to the field against Malaga later on.

It was achieved without manager Tito Vilanova who was released from hospital just before the match after having throat surgery to remove a tumour.

Both teams wore T-shirts which carried messages of support for the manager, who will undergo chemotherapy in upcoming weeks.

Support: Messi's T-shirt has a photo of Tito Vilanova on it along with the word 'courage'

Support: Messi's T-shirt has a photo of Tito Vilanova on it along with the word 'courage'

For Tito: The team wore the shirts to support their boss who was released from hospital today

For Tito: The team wore the shirts to support their boss who was released from hospital today

'This win is for Tito,' said Barcelona defender Dani Alves.

'It's a surprise and joy that he is home now. We are here to help him any way he can. Football is secondary now, he is fighting for his life.'

Edin Dzeko scores "heavy" goals – David Platt

Dzeko scores goals for City when it really matters, says grateful Platt

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UPDATED:

18:22 GMT, 20 October 2012

David Platt hailed the importance of Manchester City super-sub Edin Dzeko after his two late goals earned victory at West Brom.

City looked in danger of falling seven points adrift of leaders Chelsea after James Milner was sent off in the first half and then Shane Long broke the deadlock for West Brom.

But Dzeko equalised within 60 seconds of entering the action with 20 minutes left and then in injury time snatched the winner with his sixth goal of the season.

When it counts: Edin Dzeko has scored some crucial goals for Man City

When it counts: Edin Dzeko has scored some crucial goals for Man City

City first-team coach Platt said: 'If you look at Edin's career for Manchester City, the goals he has scored, he has got a lot of heavy goals, goals that are very important.

'I remember goals at Blackburn the season before last which more or less gave us Champions League qualification.

'You look back at last season as well and he got some vital goals. To win the league, Aguero's goal will always be the one but remember Edin equalised.

'He has been a threat all season and his form has been very good all season.'

Milner was sent off for a professional foul after bringing down Long midway through the first half.

But Platt felt City deserved their victory after controlling the game for long periods despite their numerical disadvantage.

Platt, deputising at the press conference for sore throat victim Roberto Mancini, said: 'Watching it live it didn't seem a goalscoring opportunity to me for the sending-off. Equally you can see why it is given.

'But we can't sit there for 70 minutes grumbling about a decision.

'For the rest of the first half we were affected by it to a certain extent and no one was controlling the game.

'We said at half-time if we keep our control and discipline, stay together, we know we can impose our play on them and in that second period we controlled the match.

'If you look at the stats of efforts on goal and possession, you wouldn't have thought we'd had a man less than them.'

Platt admitted City had been tempted to substitute striker Mario Balotelli at half-time after he had been booked early on for bringing down Claudio Yacob.

Temper: Mario Balotelli was booked early on

Temper: Mario Balotelli was booked early on

Referee Mark Clattenburg then spoke to City captain Vincent Kompany after Balotelli escaped a second yellow card for a challenge on Long.

Platt said: 'The temptation is there (to substitute Balotelli). He got booked inside 20 minutes.

'We looked at it at half-time but he was causing them a problem and we felt confident just by speaking to him that there was not going to be any loss of head. He looked pretty calm.'

The Baggies surrendered their 100% home record and manager Steve Clarke admitted they paid the penalty for chasing the winner in the closing stages.

It was from an Albion corner that City broke clear to score their late winner.

Clarke said: 'I thought we deserved something out of the game. I thought we played well, stood up to Manchester City, but they showed when they went to 10 men that they are champions for a reason.

Fair play: Steve Clarke praised City's performance

Fair play: Steve Clarke praised City's performance

'Credit to them, their performance with 10 men was excellent and the only feeling I have now is being disappointed to lose the game so late.

'It was maybe a bad decision to go chasing the winner rather than settling for a point.

'We still wanted to win the game. It is a mindset and characteristic we have got here and are trying to put into the players.

'We wanted to win the game but you get a corner in injury time and think you can win it. Maybe we should have been a bit more careful and maybe settled for a point.'

As regards the Milner red card, Clarke admitted: 'It was a marginal one. If it had gone against us, maybe I would have been disappointed.'

Mark Halsey barred from Jose Mourinho TV show by referee managers – Charles Sale

Halsey barred from Jose tribute show by refereeing management body

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 19 October 2012

Premier League referee Mark Halsey has been prevented from taking part in an ITV tribute programme marking Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho’s 50th birthday in January.

Halsey, who describes the Special One as a ‘wonderful, wonderful person’, was keen to contribute to the show because of a close friendship with Mourinho forged while the referee was battling throat cancer.

Mourinho was one of the first to contact Halsey after his illness was made public. During his recovery, he was invited to Milan and Madrid to spend time with Jose, who ‘looked after me fantastically’, according to Halsey.

Issue: Mark Halsey was not allowed to talk about Jose Mourinho (above)

Issue: Mark Halsey was not allowed to talk about Jose Mourinho (above)

However, Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, who manage the referees, have refused permission for Halsey to be interviewed, nor have they allowed ITV access to his wife Michelle, despite a number of requests.

A PGMOL spokesman said: ‘It’s standard practice that referees don’t do media during the season unless it relates to the promotion of referees and we can’t make an exception in this case. The referee contracts also include family members in this respect.’

McGrath set to bow out

More from Charles Sale…

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Charles Sale: Liverpool PR man Chang faces internal probe over Duncan Jenkins claims
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Charles Sale: Liverpool see red over Chang bullying claims
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Charles Sale: Tottenham back on Olympic track in bid to solve stadium problem
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Charles Sale: New power move for Scudamore
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Charles Sale: Sir Dave will give his FA vice-chairman post to Gill
09/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

BBC commentator Jim McGrath is likely to be calling his last big race in Frankel’s Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, with C4’s Simon Holt the choice to be lead commentator when the network start their exclusive terrestrial coverage next year. However, McGrath’s BBC colleague Rishi Persad will be part of the new-look C4 team along with the omnipresent Clare Balding.

Meanwhile, the Beeb are understood not to be looking back in too much detail at their rich racing history in their Ascot programme because they still have one day left of their doomed racing contract, at Chepstow on December 27. But that meeting is often a victim of the weather.

Mancini's purple snub

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini’s many quirks now include him declaring purple to be an unlucky colour. This has led to the Italian not wanting his players travelling to away games in their track suits, which have purple piping. So City’s kit staff have had to sort out a load of new clothing for away travel that doesn’t include the offending hue. Mancini’s squad were in blue when they set off for Saturday’s match at West Bromwich.

No purple: Roberto Mancini does not want his players wearing the colour

No purple: Roberto Mancini does not want his players wearing the colour

FA councillors plot Club England move

The Club England set-up is going to find itself under increasing pressure after the FA council prevented chairman David Bernstein from remaining in office past his age-limit 70th birthday next May and rejected proposed governance reforms.

FA councillors, having discovered they still have influence, don’t want a small group of FA executives in charge of the England team. And some of the most influential members of the council want a return to the FA international committee having the final say on England matters.

Mac’s FA ballot blues

FA company secretary Alistair Maclean is seen as not having helped David Bernstein’s chances of staying on as chairman with the way he organised the FA council ballot — especially arguing that proxy votes should be included because they count in a chairman’s election.

Former FA board member John Ward had to point out that the vote was about retaining Bernstein, not appointing him. Maclean is also seen as personalising the issue, to Bernstein’s detriment, by putting his name on the ballot question about the chairman’s period of office.

Thanks for nothing: David Bernstein (right) was not helped by Alistair Maclean

Thanks for nothing: David Bernstein (right) was not helped by Alistair Maclean

FA vice-chairmen Roger Burden and David Gill will lead the hunt to find a successor, with the expectation that they will want candidates in their fifties who can serve at least two four-year terms for much-needed continuity.

Yet Burden was on the nominations group that recommended Bernstein knowing he could stay in the job for less than three years because of his age. The same Burden remarkably described Bernstein as having a ‘humour bypass’ at the FA council meeting this week.

R's swoop for Donnelly

QPR, whose heavy spending needs bringing under control, have appointed Mark Donnelly, who was the FA’s chief finance officer, as their chief operating officer. This is another blow to FA general secretary Alex Horne, who loses his chairman David Bernstein in May.

Ryan Bertrand will not use Twitter again

Bertrand will not return to Twitter after debacle over explicit post

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UPDATED:

17:22 GMT, 14 October 2012

Ryan Bertrand has told his friends he will never use Twitter again and deleted his account after the controversy which erupted over his reaction to claims he had withdrawn from the England squad with a sore throat.

The illness turned out to be a viral infection which prevented him playing any part in Friday's World Cup qualifier with San Marino and on Sunday he was also ruled out of Tuesday's trip to Poland.

No return: Ryan Bertrand deleted his account

No return: Ryan Bertrand deleted his account

In the immediate aftermath of his first withdrawal becoming known, Bertrand said: 'Just to clarify…. Its not a “sore throat” Im ill. swollen glands in my neck… And constant headache for 3 days now and freezin cold.

'Do you think a “sorethroat” could stop me being apart of a match for my club or country #yourf******nuts this is what every boy dreams of.'

Although Bertrand was far more vague than Cole, who has accepted a misconduct charge after making a direct attack on the FA, he quickly realised his error.

'sorry if i offended anyone by swearing as i don't encourage that type of language,' he said, 'was just disappointed at the thought of people thinking i only have a sore throat.. which is not the case…'

Bertrand deleted his account after deciding his presence on the popular social networking site was a hassle he could do without.

His international team-mate Phil Jagielka insists there is no chance of him opening a Twitter account and becoming embroiled in similar controversy.

The Everton defender admits he is not a fan of social networking and does not participate.

Not for me: Phil Jagielka does not want to use Twitter

Not for me: Phil Jagielka does not want to use Twitter

Jagielka said: 'I don't have a Twitter account. There is maybe one in my name but it is not me. I've never been a fan of Twitter.

'I don't really get why people do it but that's up to them. I have never had Facebook, Myspace, any of those things.

'For me it is a bit more trouble than it's worth and I won't be signing up anytime soon.

'A lot of players love doing it, I can see why they do it. For me, it is not worth the hassle.'

Ryan Bertrand in angry Twitter rant over illness

Bertrand lives up to billing as next Ashley Cole… with angry Twitter rant

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UPDATED:

10:57 GMT, 11 October 2012

A Chelsea left-back let rip with an extraordinary Twitter rant over his involvement with England – but it wasn't Ashley Cole.

Ryan Bertrand took to the social networking site in anger after pulling out of the squad for Friday night's match with San Marino.

Initial reports suggested a sore throat was to blame for Bertrand's withdrawal but the youngster insists he would bravely battle on with such an ailment and that his problem is more serious.

Not happy: Ryan Bertrand took to Twitter to clarify his situation

Not happy: Ryan Bertrand took to Twitter to clarify his situation

Bertrand tweeted: 'Just to clarify…. Its not a “sore throat” Im ill. swollen glands in my neck… And constant headache for 3 days now and freezin cold.

'Do you think a “sorethroat” could stop me being apart of a match for my club or country #yourf******nuts this is what every boy dreams of.'

Bertrand's club-mate Ashley Cole was forced to apologise for an x-rated tweet after a report from the FA criticised his evidence in the John Terry racism hearing.

Outburst: Ashley Cole (right) had to apologise for his tweets about the FA

Outburst: Ashley Cole (right) had to apologise for his tweets about the FA

After the emergence of the report, Cole tweeted: 'Hahahahaa, well done #fa I lied did I, #BUNCHOFT****'

Cole later removed the tweet and apologised, saying: 'I had just finished training and saw the captions on the TV screens in the treatment rooms about what was said in the FA Commission ruling about me.

'I was really upset and tweeted my feelings in the heat of the moment. I apologise unreservedly for my comment about the FA.'

Andy Farrell on why he took England job

When your country calls: England coach Farrell on why he left Sarries after all

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 26 September 2012

It wasn't until he was on holiday at the end of a long, tiring, eventful season that it struck Andy Farrell — he had made the wrong decision. When he finally had time to take stock, he realised that he couldn’t say ‘no’ to England.

Weeks earlier, the former Great Britain rugby league captain had rejected the chance to carry on where he had left off as part of the interim national coaching team by taking up the offer of a long-term role working for Stuart Lancaster.

In the period between the Six Nations and the approach from the RFU, he had returned to the day-job at Saracens and convinced himself that there he should remain. His country needed him but Farrell didn’t want to let down his ‘mates’ at his club.

Split loyalties: Andy Farrell did not want to let his Saracens colleagues down

Split loyalties: Andy Farrell did not want to let his Saracens colleagues down

At the time, the explanation issued on behalf of the 37-year-old was that it was too early in his coaching career to take the full-time leap into international rugby. But when the season with Saracens came to an end and he took a well-earned rest, he had second thoughts about the wisdom of his decision and the logic behind it.

‘There was an emotional connection at a cut-throat time in the season with a club that has been so good to you,’ he said. ‘But at the back of your mind you have the chance to go on this journey with the national side. It (the realisation) came about two weeks after the season finished when everyone had gone their separate ways.

‘Everybody wants to coach the national side. You turn it down and you get on because there is a lot of work to do, but when you have time to reflect…’

Back again: Stuart Lancaster (right) and Farrell (left) are together once more

Back again: Stuart Lancaster (right) and Farrell (left) are together once more

Asked if certain memories of a positive Six Nations campaign in difficult circumstances had swayed him in his re-think, he added: ‘I still think about them (memories) now — Paris and the Welsh game, the atmosphere, etc etc. It doesn’t get much better in top-line sport than those occasions. We believe that there are many more of those to come and that’s what we want to be involved in.

‘I had a great time doing the interim job so I wanted to be involved, but the dilemma was so great. I had a fantastic club that looked after me well and an international job that involves working with the cream of the country against the best in the world, at the start of something special. It was an emotional rollercoaster.’

Farrell found it hard to adopt the role of detached spectator during England’s tour of South Africa, when Mike Catt joined the coaching team and he watched the side he had helped to forge take its next steps. He was in Durban for the first Test, then in Australia when the second and third were played.

‘Watching those games was bloody hard work because I was jetlagged and it was two in the morning!’ he said, at the launch of the BMW Performance Academy. ‘I wanted to be on a walkie-talkie, shouting messages!’

Back to business: Farrell (right) speaking at Wokefield Park

Back to business: Farrell (right) speaking at Wokefield Park

Instead, he was taking a rare opportunity to learn more about his trade. Rather than regarding the England job as coming too soon in his development as a coach, Farrell recognised that it presented opportunities to further that process.

‘One of the reasons I wanted to take the job is it allowed me to get better as a coach,’ he said. ‘It is a very hard, long season being a Premiership coach. You go from one week to the next. You never get that much time for your own individual development.

‘This job allows you to be able to go and see, say, Sir Alex Ferguson and find out how he gets down to the real nitty-gritty and detail of coaching. I am able to find time to think and reflect and take a breath and be able to work out what that detail should be.

‘While everyone was in South Africa, I went to Australia for a couple of weeks. I have good contacts over there in league and union, and I went to eight clubs. That is the first time I have been able to do that. I even went to two Aussie-rules games. We can learn something from all the other sports.’

Most of all, what Farrell had learned is that it is difficult to ignore your country’s call.

Dan Ashworth has been big success at West Brom – The Midlander

Dan the Man will be a tough act to follow at West Brom

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UPDATED:

13:30 GMT, 20 September 2012

When Dan Ashworth arrived at West Bromwich Albion eight years ago, he did so without the fanfare that has accompanied his departure.

Working as an assistant to Aidy Boothroyd in the club's academy, it would have been difficult to envisage a situation where he has become one of the most important figures in our national game.

That he has done so is a testament to his hard work, diligence and no little skill in forging a reputation for himself in the cut-throat world of professional football.

Man with a plan: Dan Ashworth will be a tough act to follow at West Bromwich Albion

Man with a plan: Dan Ashworth will be a tough act to follow at West Bromwich Albion

Ashworth has grown into the role of sporting and technical director. Is it any co-incidence that West Bromwich Albion, as a club, has mirrored that growth

Is it because of Ashworth's input Or has his rise as an individual been the by-product of the Baggies' success story since the turn of the Millennium

One thing is for certain. This career coach has certainly made a decent fist of a job that constitutes more than being that of a talent spotter.

Ashworth has five departments reporting into him at the Hawthorns. He is not merely concerned with recruitment. No doubt it is that breadth of experience which also appealed to the Football Association.

But it is a difficult trick to pull off. If it hasn't been, then why wasn't the model, first spoken about by Paul Thompson over a decade ago – of taking a more scientific approach to recruitment, a rip-roaring success from the start

Certainly, former boss Gary Megson was not a convert. Not since the time when it became clear both he and his employers were at loggerheads over which players should receive a new contract following the Baggies' first promotion to the Premier League. Remember the row over Des Lyttle

Is that the way to Wembley: Ashworth will follow former Baggies boss Roy Hodgson in a switch to the FA next summer

Is that the way to Wembley: Ashworth will follow former Baggies boss Roy Hodgson in a switch to the FA next summer

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But that was in the early days. When the lines of demarcation were blurred. At other clubs, some might say that they remain so. Not at West Brom, they aren't.

And it is difficult to mount a case against the system the Baggies now employ, given the results at first-team level.

In national terms, West Brom are a big football club. But they are no bigger – some might argue they are smaller – than around half of those who languish in the Championship.

But that just puts the achievement into sharper focus.

There can be no doubt that, as overall head of recruitment that Ashworth has played a major part in the club's rise.

If it is the club's scouts who are spotting these players, if it is the club's sports' science department that has convinced the Baggies to take a chance on the likes of Steven Reid, it if is a growing number of kids who are coming off the production line, then Ashworth has to be given credit.

He was responsible for all this. And more besides.

But there is no doubt that this story would not have received such national prominence were it not for the fact that the Baggies remain a Premier League club.

My own personal view is that whoever signed Peter Odemwingie is owed a big 'Thank You'. That one capture has been the catalyst for so much – although the Nigeria international is not without his faults.

Since securing that first elevation to the Premier League under Megson, the Baggies have been crying out for a 15-goal-a-season striker. Finally, they found one.

Despite Roy Hodgson's organisational skills, it was due to Odemwingie's goals that the club retained its' position in the Premier League. Without them, it's by no means certain that they would have survived relegation.

And, okay, Ashworth didn't sign the cheques. But he would have been part of the team that made the final recommendation. No doubt with a glut of data and references to hand.

Also, when the decision was taken to axe Roberto di Matteo, it was Ashworth who finally persuaded Hodgson to take charge.

It is on Ashworth's watch that West Brom won the Nike Cup three seasons ago.

It was the sporting director who allegedly jumped over a wire fence in Argentina to watch how Claudio Yacob was training. Such is the attention to detail.

True, his main role might have been to act as a go-between. Liaising between head coach and head man. (owner Jeremy Peace)

So, as such, it might be stretching matters to say that Ashworth was the power behind the throne.

Certainly, on Hodgson's watch there was very little doubt West Brom would remain in the top-flight.

But, judging by what the club has become and what has happened to Aidy Boothroyd's assistant since then, there can be no doubt that discovering the next Dan Ashworth is a matter of supreme importance to the future well-being of West Bromwich Albion.

Jermain Defoe says he is driven by summer tragedies

Summer of sadness is driving me, insists Spurs striker Defoe

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UPDATED:

22:16 GMT, 4 September 2012

From the darkness of personal tragedy comes Jermain Defoe, a new man and a new footballer with a determination to savour every second of his career at the top.

It has been a sad summer for Defoe, first the death of his father at the age of 49 and then his cousin, just days before her 21st birthday and it has, he believes, changed his outlook on life and football.

‘I am living the dream,’ said Defoe. ‘When I was a kid I always wanted to play for my country and now I am here I will enjoy it. That’s it. Life is short. While you are here it is important to enjoy the good times.

Driven: Jermain Defoe wants to enjoy every moment at the top

Driven: Jermain Defoe wants to enjoy every moment at the top

‘When you are young nothing is more
important than football but as you get older, you get married, have kids
and lose people. Then you realise your family is more important. This
comes with age.

‘Family is important, especially when you have lost your dad and your cousin. It’s normal to think like that.’

As Defoe prepared for the European
Championships at England’s training base in Hertfordshire, in May, he
would visit his father Jimmy each day in hospital in West London, where
he was being treated for throat cancer.

The squad were in Krakow, in Poland,
when he died, just a few days before England played France in their
opening game of the tournament. Defoe flew home before returning for the
game in Donetsk and came on as a second-half substitute.

He flew home for the funeral after the
final group game against Ukraine and then joined the team again for the
quarter-final against Italy in Kiev.

‘It happens in life,’ said Defoe. ‘You
get disappointments in life and then everything turns good but it has
been difficult for my family. It’s been hard, especially with my dad.

‘From day one, when he was diagnosed, I
was with him from the first meeting in the hospital. I am only 29 and
to deal with that was quite difficult. I had to tell dad: “It will be
okay and be positive, keep praying and have faith”.

‘We had a training camp and every
afternoon I got a car to go to the Royal Marsden, where I’d spend a few
hours with my dad. The manager said: “Make sure you see your dad every
afternoon and be back for the meetings.” That was really nice.

Keep the faith: Defoe told his dad to stay positive

Keep the faith: Defoe told his dad to stay positive

‘I’ve always known about cancer but to
be around someone who has cancer and to see what it does in such a
short space of time was mad. It makes you think about your life.

‘I have a big family and we have
always been close. It does make you think about life and what is
important. If you have an argument with someone and you sulk, sometimes
you don’t want to speak to them. But it is important to keep your
friends close to you and do the right things.’

It was not the first time the family
had been hit with tragedy. Two years ago, Defoe’s half-brother Jade was
killed in a street attack at the age of 26. Then the curse struck again.

Defoe was on tour with Tottenham in
the United States when he heard of his cousin Hannah’s fatal accident.
She had been on holiday in the Caribbean when she jumped into a swimming
pool and was electrocuted.

‘I have never heard of that before,’
said Defoe. ‘She was only 20 and when that happened you start to ask:
Why is this happening You have to be strong. I was in America and had
to fly home again to be with my family. It has been hard.

History: Defoe's family has been hit by tragedy before

History: Defoe's family has been hit by tragedy before

‘The only time I am really at peace is
when I am training and playing. Obviously when you are on your own you
start thinking stuff. You think about your life. You don’t know for sure
whether you will be here tomorrow.’

When Defoe scored the winner in last
month’s friendly against Italy, in Switzerland, he dedicated the goal to
Hannah. It would have been her 21st birthday on the day of the game.

It was his 16th goal for his country
in only 17 starts but it was his 49th appearance overall and he will
take great pride if he reaches the half-century in Moldova on Friday.

With Andy Carroll and Wayne Rooney
out, he might start for the first time in two years, since he suffered
an ankle injury in Switzerland four days after he struck a thrilling
hat-trick against Bulgaria at Wembley.

‘To win 50 caps would mean the world,’
said Defoe. ‘It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,
speaking with my family and stuff. It’s a good achievement. Not many
players can say they’ve done that.

‘I can remember the first one, coming on against Sweden away when we lost 1-0, and my first start in Poland, when I scored.

‘It’s been ups and downs. At times it
has been frustrating and I’ve had great moments. Scoring the hat-trick
for my country was fantastic and 50 caps is a dream.’

James McClean injury woe puts him behind Simon Cox for Ireland

Injury woes for McClean mean Cox leaps ahead in Trap's plans

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UPDATED:

22:27 GMT, 4 September 2012

Simon Cox has jumped ahead of James McClean in the race to start the Republic of Ireland's Friday's World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan.

Giovanni Trapattoni earlier this week hinted that McClean could start his first competitive international game, but it appears that the Italian will now employ Nottingham Forest man Cox, who usually plays up front, out on the left flank previously occupied by Damien Duff instead.

Shame: James McClean is unlikely to start on Friday

Shame: James McClean is unlikely to start on Friday

Trapattoni was impressed with Cox's performance in the 0-0 draw against Serbia last month and also has doubts over McClean's fitness as he has not been able to train properly for the last two days due to a cold.

'Yes, Cox is ahead of McClean because he was good in our game against Serbia,' Trapattoni said.

'McClean came here with a sore throat. This morning he was better but now he has a little problem with it. I think he will be OK in one day. Then we will make a decision. That's all we can do.'