Tag Archives: today

David Luiz pictured in his youth

Can you work out which Premier League star this is from his childhood snaps

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

12:09 GMT, 3 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:05 GMT, 4 April 2013

Scroll down for the answer

Who is this

Clue: Look at the hair in the first picture

Improvement: David Luiz has impressed this season after making several mistakes last term

Improvement: David Luiz has impressed this season after making several mistakes last term

Yes, it's Chelsea defender David Luiz!

The
Brazilian centre back posted this picture on his Instagram account on
Wednesday morning, a digital collage of images from his youth in
Diadema, Sao Paulo.

He was released by Sao Paulo FC at the age of 14 and signed for Vitoria, helping them achieve promotion to the second division.

In January 2007 he moved to Benfica and, four years later, signed for Chelsea.

Joker in the pack: David Luiz (left) larks around with Eden Hazard during Chelsea training on Wednesday

Joker in the pack: David Luiz (left) larks around with Eden Hazard during Chelsea training on Wednesday

His time in England has been tumultuous to say the least, but this season he has cut the glaring errors of last season out and impressed both in defence and in a midfield role.

Barcelona have been linked with a summer move for him, although at 25 years old, Chelsea would be loathe to sell him.

Luiz captained Brazil during their recent friendly against Italy and has been touted as a potential successor to John Terry as Chelsea skipper.

Spring cheer: 'I met some inspirational friends at the hospital today @GreatOrmondSt support these kids if you can they touched my heart #life #perspective.' Luiz said on Instagram

Spring cheer: 'I met some inspirational friends at the hospital today @GreatOrmondSt support these kids if you can they touched my heart #life #perspective.' Luiz said on Instagram

Joe Allen wants shoulder surgery out of the way to return fully fit for Liverpool next season

No more stalling! Allen wants shoulder operation out of the way to help drive Liverpool forward next season

By
Simon Stone, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

18:42 GMT, 12 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:17 GMT, 12 March 2013

Joe Allen is keen to get his shoulder operation done with so he can be fully fit for the start of next season.

The midfielder will be in Chris Coleman's Wales squad for the World Cup qualifiers with Scotland and Croatia when it is unveiled tomorrow.

However, the Liverpool man is facing an extended period on the sidelines at some point after discovering a recurrence of an old shoulder injury had deteriorated to the point where further surgery is required.

Open door: Liverpool's Joe Allen, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season, at the Astra production line today

Open door: Liverpool's Joe Allen,who is already looking forward the new season, at the Astra production line today

Speaking on a tour of the Ellesmere Port car plant of Wales team sponsors Vauxhall, Allen said: “It is something that needs sorting out.

'I had an operation a few years ago and unfortunately it is a recurrence.

'It has slowly deteriorated to the point where an operation is the only thing that can solve it.'

Liverpool will decide when Allen has surgery, which the 22-year-old estimates will keep him out for three months.

'I can play on, but it is all about the timing because I will be out for three months,” he said.

'Obviously, I don't want to miss the start of next season if I can but we will see what the club have planned because it is a reasonably long lay-off.'

With the Reds back in the running for a European place following Sunday's victory over Tottenham, Brendan Rodgers might be loath to lose Allen at this stage.

Injury: Brendan Rodgers confirmed that midfielder Joe Allen will undergo surgery

Injury: Brendan Rodgers today confirmed that midfielder Joe Allen will undergo surgery

Equally, the former Swansea man would benefit from a full pre-season at Anfield, given he did not join the Merseyside giants until after his Olympic commitments with Team GB.

And next week he will be fully focused on Wales anyway, as they look to build on an encouraging win over Austria last month by completing a World Cup double over Scotland on Friday.

That initial victory over the Scots in October effectively signalled the end of Craig Levein's reign.

It also marked the climax of a tortuous period for new Wales boss Chris Coleman, who had struggled to maintain the improvements made under Gary Speed.'These things take time,' said Allen.

'It was a difficult period for everyone in Welsh football but recent performances and results show we are moving in the right direction.

Shoulder-to-shoulder: Joe Allen came on as a sub against Tottenham on Sunday, where he came up against Wales international colleague Gareth Bale

Shoulder-to-shoulder: Joe Allen came up against Wales international colleague Gareth Bale on Saturday

'We have always had the talent and ability that's for sure.

'Now we are getting to the stage where we are benefiting from past experiences and we are ready to take it to the next level.'

Joe Allen was speaking on a tour of the Ellesmere Port car plant of Wales team sponsors Vauxhall. For more information go to www.vauxhall.co.uk

Sunderland are to host "Nelson Mandela Day" when Manchester United visit

Sunderland to host 'Nelson Mandela Day' when United come to visit

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

19:54 GMT, 28 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:33 GMT, 28 February 2013

Sunderland have become the first English football team to set up a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Sunderland, who this season started a new sponsorship deal with Invest In Africa, will support a number of fundraising initiatives on behalf of the Foundation.

The March 30 fixture against Manchester United has been designated ‘Nelson Mandela Day’ at the Stadium of Light.

International: At the start of the season Sunderland announced they were to be sponsored by Invest In Africa

International: At the start of the season Sunderland announced they were to be sponsored by Invest In Africa

Vice chairman, David Miliband, said: 'There is no more iconic figure in the world today than Nelson Mandela.

'His values of equality, justice and reconciliation are the inspiration to millions and this partnership is a wonderful symbol for Sunderland in Africa and a huge honour for our football club.

'As a club which prides itself on its commitment to charitable work, to the community as a whole through our own Foundation of Light, and to the pursuit of excellence in all we do, we see tremendous potential in working with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.'

Key: The match may be crucial in Sunderland's fight against the drop

Key: The match may be crucial in Sunderland's fight against the drop

Mario Balotelli bleaches hair blond

Who's this blond bombshell Balotelli goes for a striking new look as he seeks City return

with a hint of blond ” class=”blkBorder” />

Italian job: Balotelli played through Euro 2012 with a hint of blond

Looking sharHair today, gone tomorrow: Balotelli before the bleach blond stylep: Balotelli before the bleach blond style

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Balotelli before the bleach blond style

BBC put Daily Service on Radio 4 instead of England cricket win in India

Cricket listeners miss historic series win …again! Daily Service took Radio 4 priority over India triumph after Ashes blackout

|

UPDATED:

18:19 GMT, 17 December 2012

TMS's Jonathan Agnew welcomed listeners back at 10am, after the match had finished

TMS's Jonathan Agnew welcomed listeners back at 10am, after the match had finished

Cricket fans once again missed the climax of a historic England series win on the radio today – and this time they were listening to a hymn instead.

Nearly two years ago, some fans missed the moment England clinched their first Ashes series win in Australia for nearly a quarter of a century because Radio 4 Long Wave was broadcasting the shipping forecast.

This time round, as England secured a first series win in India since 1985, the Daily Service was taking place.

Admittedly there was an inevitability about events on Monday, with the fourth Test in Nagpur heading for a draw long before the end of the final day’s play.

Radio bosses will still have been cursing their luck however, with the final ball of the Test bowled at around 9.50am UK time, just as the Daily Service was being broadcast.

It was left to the BBC’s cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew to welcome listeners back at around 10am, with news that the game had finished, and England had laid another cricketing ghost to rest.

There are other ways of listening to the BBC’s radio coverage of cricket, including the digital station 5 Live Sports Extra and online. Many listeners however will still only have access to the cricket via Radio 4 Long Wave on their analogue sets.

It goes to show once again that in the hallowed world of Radio 4, no sporting event can interfere with the daily schedule.

Matt Prior celebrates the historic win with Sussex teammate Monty Panesar

Matt Prior celebrates the historic win with Sussex teammate Monty Panesar

Gaston Ramirez can be the next Cristiano Ronaldo, claims Jose Fonte

Fonte: If he works hard enough Saints' Ramirez can be the next Ronaldo

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Southampton defender Jose Fonte watched Cristiano Ronaldo develop from a teenage team-mate at Sporting Lisbon to one of the greatest talents in the world today.

And he recognises similar traits in Southampton's record 12million signing Gaston Ramirez.

Fonte was 17-years-old when he started playing and training with 16-year-old Ronaldo.

The next big thing Jose Fonte claims Gaston Ramirez could be as good as Cristiano Ronaldo (above)

The next big thing Jose Fonte claims Gaston Ramirez (above) could be as good as Cristiano Ronaldo

The next big thing Jose Fonte claims Gaston Ramirez (right) could be as good as Cristiano Ronaldo (left)

He used to kick him in training because he was so quick and was startled by the desire from this teenager to be better than all of the older players.

The teenage Ronaldo wanted to be stronger and faster than everyone else and he was prepared to work harder to do it.

Fonte said: 'I've seen it with my own eyes – him doing press ups in the shower. I know he worked very hard to get where he is and I'm very pleased for him because he deserves it.

'He was the youngest but he wanted to be the best all the time.

'I'm fortunate to have worked with him and I saw his progress and he inspired me to be honest because of the way he always drives and wants to be the best at everything.

'I'm very pleased for what he has achieved and he'll achieve more because he has that mentality. He never stops.'

When Ronaldo was at Manchester United and Fonte moved over to England to play for Crystal Palace the pair used to exchange messages. But they have lost contact since, as Fonte said: 'he's too big now.'

Yet when 22-year-old Ramirez joined Southampton in the summer he started to spot similar ability and is sure with a similar work-rate to Ronaldo he can be up there with the best.

Whereas he used to kick Ronaldo off the park – he can't get anywhere near the Uruguyan in training.

Friend of the stars Fonte (right) used to play with Ronaldo at Sporting Lisbon

Friend of the stars Fonte (right) used to play with Ronaldo at Sporting Lisbon

Boost: Ramirez is likely to start against Reading despite spending the past week in Uruguay

Boost: Ramirez is likely to start against Reading despite spending the past week in Uruguay

And Fonte added: 'Ability-wise he's up there with the best I must say. His technique, creativity and vision of the game and understanding are better than everyone else in the team at the moment.

'He gives us something else. Creativity-wise Ramirez is up there, no doubt about it.

'Listen, you can have all the talent in the world but if you don't work sooner or later you're going to start going down in your career.

'You have to maintain that and keep improving. And that's what Ronaldo did. That's what I try to pass on the message, for example Ramirez is 22 he knows if he wants to go even higher he has to keep working.

'He has the talent but it doesn't mean anything if you don't work.'

LEON McKENZIE BOOK SERIALISATION: When I was scoring against Manchester United, Manchester City and Everton, I never believed I"d be in prison…

LEON McKENZIE BOOK EXCLUSIVE: When I was scoring against United, City and Everton, I never believed I'd be in prison with paedophiles, murderers and rapistsPLUS: How the PFA let me down when I needed them most

|

UPDATED:

12:35 GMT, 28 November 2012

Former Premier League striker Leon McKenzie has fought a long and gruelling battle with depression. Yesterday, in the first extract of an exclusive MailOnline serialisation of his new autobiography 'My Fight With Life', the former Premier League striker recounted the day he returned from training with Charlton Athletic and tried to take his own life. Today, McKenzie recalls being sent to prison for sending bogus letters in a bid to avoid speeding convictions…

I RETIRED FROM THE GAME FEELING SO EMPTY, YET I NEVER RECEIVED A CALL FROM THE PFA TO ASK IF I WAS OKAY…Scroll down to the bottom of the page to read how McKenzie felt let down by the PFA…

When Judge Bray passed sentence on me, I didn’t look back.

I could tell from the tears and the moans that my family were in pieces. I wanted to join them, but I had to be strong now.

I picked up the bag you’re told to prepare in case you get sent down and wandered down the stairs out the back of the court.

I was searched, handcuffed and sat down on a bench inside a container on the prison van that was going to take me to Woodhill Prison.

It is a category A facility where, me, a first-time driving offender, would be mixing with paedophiles, murderers, rapists and other hardcore villains.

I was told Woodhill was a very high
security ‘Close Supervision Centre’ for prisoners who are among the most
difficult and disruptive in the prison system.

I don’t know what those in the justice system had been told about me then. Maybe they had me confused with someone else.

But
basically I was a footballer not a criminal. There’s no way I deserved
to be banged up in prison and no way that I should be sent to such a
high security facility.

Scroll down for two video specials…

Prison break: Former Premier League goalscorer Leon McKenzie has battled depression throughout his career and he is lifting the lid in Sportsmail

Prison break: Former Premier League goalscorer Leon McKenzie has battled depression throughout his career and he is lifting the lid in Sportsmail

Leon McKenzie of Crystal Palace Wearing special T-shirt in 2000

Crystal Palace 3 vs 3 Stockport - Picture shows : Leon McKenzie of Crystal Palace scores's the first

The real deal: South London boy McKenzie laps up the notoriety in a special T-shirt at Palace in 2000 (left) and celebrates with a goal against Stockport (right)

Leon McKenzie arrives at Northampton Crown Court

Court date: McKenzie arrives at Northampton Crown Court hand in hand with wife Sofia in February this year. His friend Harvey (back left) attended in support

LEON McKENZIE:
My Fight With Life

Leon McKenzie: My Fight With Life

Click here to buy your copy now…Read yesterday's first exclusive extract: Nothing could stop me now. I raced back from training to my hotel room determined to kill myself… Click here…

The
guards at the court were sympathetic. The lady whose job it was to
explain what would now happen to me, said she couldn’t believe that I’d
been sent down.

Other wrong ‘uns sentenced that day piled on the prison van.

Some knew who I was. One knew I had made a record with my mate Harvey and started rapping to impress me.

It was a surreal moment listening to a criminal rapping on the way to prison, but it did make me laugh at least.

I’ve seen plenty of prison movies and walking into Woodhill for the first time felt like being in a film.

The residents were eyeing me up and down, checking me out. Convicts came out of their cells to have a look at the newbies.

Believe it or not some started chanting my name, not in a bad way, but like they were fans watching me play in a football match.

‘Leon, Leon, Leon’, they shouted. I didn’t know whether I was supposed to wave at them or just keep my head down.

But inside I was scared and I knew I couldn’t show it. Mentally I was preparing myself for this challenge and showing any sort of weakness was not an option if I was to survive.

I’d been verbally abused by one guy as I walked in for the first time. I clocked his face though and challenged him when I saw him in the gym later. He backed down, I gained some respect.

I was placed on suicide watch because of my background. I was left on my own in a cell with guards checking up on me every hour to make sure I was still breathing.

I felt the situation was completely
bizarre. The authorities clearly recognised I had a mental illness and
yet they still sent me to a facility that would test tougher minds than
mine.

The powers that be couldn’t have known it, but there was no danger of a second attempt to top myself though.

This was a massive challenge and I kept
thinking back to what life was like for me in the Bexleyheath hotel
room. I refused to cry this time, but right now, unlike a couple of
years earlier, looking to the future was actually an advantage.

Scroll down for video…

Boxer Clinton McKenzie, with his son Leon McKenzie, in the ring at the Bloomsbury Centre Hotel after he had beaten Steve Early in a British title fight.

Leon McKenzie, Norwich, looks dejected at the end NORWICH CITY Vs FULHAM... Barclays Premiership, Carrow Road, Norwich. Norwich City 0 Fulham 1

Glove affair: Young Leon in the ring to celebrate dad Clinton's British title win in 1982 (left) but joy turns to despair as McKenzie's Norwich lose 1-0 at Fulham (right)

SENT TO PRISON FOR SENDING BOGUS LETTERS

MailOnline news story – February 2012

Former Premier League striker Leon McKenzie (right) has been sent to prison for six months for sending bogus letters to avoid speeding convictions.

McKenzie was jailed at Northampton Crown Court after admitting six charges of attempting to dodge speeding fines between 2008 and 2010.

It comes after McKenzie revealed to Sportsmail in December that he attempted to commit suicide towards the end of his career after suffering from depression.

The 33-year-old (he is now 34) was sentenced after admitting sending the letters to Northamptonshire police.

The letters – that claimed to be from a fictional garage in London – said his car was off the road when he was caught speeding.

Claire Howell, prosecuting last year, said that each time McKenzie received a notice of intended prosecution, he sent a letter claiming mechanics were working on his car when it was flashed by speed cameras.

Judge Richard Bray said: 'A custodial sentence is necessary for this type of offence which strikes right at the heart of justice. It would completely send out the wrong message if I did not hand out a custodial sentence.'

When I was at my lowest, the future was the problem. Now it offered hope, if only I could survive the next three months.

I’d started helping Clarke Carlisle and the PFA with understanding and helping players suffering from depression and I’d made a record with Harvey to kick-start my music career, something that had appealed to me for years.

Sure, I was miserable and I was still finding it hard to fathom how some stupidity on my part over speeding fines had led me to this situation, but I was determined to stay positive mentally.

The screws told me Woodhill was a prison that once held Charles Bronson. Fred and Rose West had stayed, Ian Huntley had been an inmate and Myra Hindley had spent time in the women’s part.

Bronson apparently had to have six guards accompany him for a pee. He once broke free from his minders just so he could slap the governor in the face so, he clearly relished his reputation as being one of Britain’s hardest men.

Bronson described his time at Woodhill as a ‘living hell’. He slept on a concrete slab on the floor of a tiny room. His sole window was bullet proof.

Christ, if a nutter like him, who had spent most of his adult life behind bars, found it hard living at Woodhill, how on earth would a pretty footballer like me cope!

Hindley was the devil incarnate according to the screws. One stare from her made the hairs on the back of the neck stand to attention – she could terrify you without saying a word.

And here I was, Leon McKenzie, family man, following in their footsteps thanks to a lapse in judgement that hadn’t hurt anyone apart from me.

Sadly I wasn’t even Leon McKenzie any more. I was Prisoner A5818CL.

I was allowed three visitors a month. I was sentenced on a Wednesday and on the Saturday Sofia and Bruce Dyer, an old Crystal Palace team-mate and long-time friend, came to see me for a couple of hours and, while it was great that I had people who cared for me and loved me enough to want to come and visit me in this place, I didn’t let them come back.

I bid a tearful farewell to them both and resigned myself to solitude for the next couple of months.

At visiting times, the prisoners sit there at a table, wearing a bib over their tatty grey prison uniform, waiting for their visitors to come through the door. Emotionally I was wrecked by kids running in to see their prisoner father.

I didn’t want my kids to see me in a place like this. Prison was no place for me, never mind my children.

WATCH NOW – VIDEO: McKenzie's music video collaboration with MC Harvey…

Ball boy: McKenzie grabs the ball after scoring Norwich's first goal in the 3-2 defeat by Everton in 2004

Ball boy: McKenzie grabs the ball after scoring Norwich's first goal in the 3-2 defeat by Everton in 2004

LEON'S TYPICAL PRISON DAY

7am: Bang on the cell door meant time to get up, hand and face wash, teeth cleaning slip into my cleaner’s uniform.

7.30am-9.30am: Complete my cleaning jobs, serve breakfast to the other inmates. Take my breakfast to my cell.

9.30am-10.30am: Social time. Hang around the pool room, communal room for chat, games etc.

10.30am-noon: Locked up again.

Noon-1pm: Out to clean the cells ready for new arrivals.

1pm-3pm: Locked up again.

3pm-4pm: Out for exercise so off to the gym or a walk around the outside compound.

4pm-5pm: Locked up again.

5pm-6pm: Dinner.

6pm-7pm: Socialising in pool room, communal room.

7pm-7am: Locked up. Lights are allowed to be kept on in the cell all night. TV is available, but only five channels.

I locked myself away that night and refused to let anyone else visit, until Michael Duberry came in just before I was released.

Sofia told my younger kids that I was
away in London working on my music. I spoke to them on the phone
occasionally, but hearing my kids’ voices made me feel weak. No displays
of weakness were recommended in prison.

I missed my baby daughter’s first birthday which made me feel like s***. I was constantly in a sh***y mood. If anyone had confronted me physically that day I’d have fought them.

Reality kicked in the day after Sofia’s visit. My mindset had changed overnight and, even from time in a Category A prison, I had to take what positives I could from being here.

If I could get through this, I could get through anything, even away games at Millwall!

'Tough times don’t last, tough people do” is one of my favourite sayings. ‘Dubes’ reminded me of it in an e-mail he sent (EmailAPrisoner.com is a wonderful service!)

It was the perfect expression for prison and e-mails like this one from ‘Dubes’ kept me going inside.

‘Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

‘That best describes both me and you.

‘We are good friends, that’s the word of others.

‘But we both know we would say we are brothers.

‘For me, you walked in when many others walked out.

‘Neither did you have to scream and shout.

‘How will we remember the year we just had

‘Be glad it’s over Will we be happy or sad

‘It’s all a lesson, I just hope we pass the test.

‘And if there is more of the same, I hope we can avoid the rest.

Myra Hindley

Charles Bronson

Notorious: Previous Woodhill inmates Myra Hindley (left) and Charles Bronson (right) had given the prison an intimidating air of menace before McKenzie was sent there

Leon McKenzie

‘You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.

‘We are both stronger than we thought and I say that with a confident voice.’

Jason
Lee, Bruce Dyer, mum, Sofia, dad, Rebecca, Clarke Carlisle and my
cousin Damien all wrote to me as did Spoony, under his real name of
Jonathan Joseph.

Me and
Spoony have become really good friends since that time and like Dubes
said ‘many will walk out of your life, but the true friends will walk
in.’

I was offered a job as a cleaner which I readily accepted. I served food to the inmates. I had to keep my mind busy and active to get through this. I wrote a journal every day.

Anyway, hoovering earned you extra credits to use on the phone or for chocolate in the canteen so I was happy for once to be doing the household chores.

Believe me, they were huge perks especially as prison meals seemed to consist of starch, potatoes and fried stuff that would sit in your stomach for days.

My old Norwich chairman Delia Smith would have been appalled.

I worked hard at my new job. When I was scoring against Manchester United, Man City and Everton in Premier League football, I couldn’t have dreamt that I’d be happy mopping floors or serving s*** food a few years later, but strangely I was.

Darren Huckerby, a strike partner from my days with Norwich City, had always said I’d do the best job I possibly could whether I was sweeping roads or playing as a striker in the Premier League and he was right, although I’d gone to some extreme lengths to prove it!

I was moved to a slightly bigger cell with ‘MCKENZIE – CLEANER’ on the door.

Believe me that was a much sought after title inside, even by some of the hard men.

I got on great with Gary, Pete, Fletch and Ash, the other cleaners on my wing. We had our nicknames, Wayne was ‘Smokey’, Ash was ‘Jonny Vegas’, Pete was ‘Bert’ and I was ‘Superstar’.

LEON McKENZIE: My Fight With Life, Published by MacAnthonyMedia, priced 7.99. Click here to buy your copy now…I RETIRED FROM THE GAME FEELING SO LOST AND EMPTY, YET I NEVER RECEIVED A CALL FROM THE PFA TO ASK IF I WAS OKAY…

I am the living proof of what can happen to footballers who are not prepared for the end of their careers.

The death of Gary Speed brought the world’s gaze onto depression within football and to me it’s obvious that this is an area that the PFA, who are a very rich organisation, should become involved in financially.

I stayed silent after my own suicide attempt which was very wrong. Thank God I have had no relapses, but I was scared inside for a very long time.
In my opinion players should know they have someone to talk to about their problems no matter how serious they are or how embarrassing they think they are.

I didn’t have that luxury, but it’s a situation that has to change.

Now the PFA do some positive things and they say they have been working in these areas for some time.

They claim that only since Speed’s death have others tried to get involved in a more high profile way.

That’s untrue in my case as I had been lobbying the PFA before then. I admit it took Speed’s sad situation to make me speak out publicly about my suicide and my depression, but the PFA will hopefully note how well received my actions were.

I retired from the game feeling so lost and empty I needed support. Yet I never had a phone call from the PFA to ask if I was okay. I never had a phone call from the PFA asking if there was anything they could do for me.

It wouldn’t have taken a lot for someone to call and say: 'Leon we are sorry to hear about your attempted suicide, but if you need any help please call.'
I tempted sufferers out of the woodwork. The first step on the road to recovery is often admitting and confronting your problems and I have seen evidence of that from the players who contacted me after I went public.

The PFA issued a booklet on handling depression a couple of seasons ago. It was 36 pages long and was sent to all 4,000 current full-time professional footballers before Speed’s death and 50,000 ex-players after it.

It appears that the PFA were the ones that actually became more active after Speed’s death.

The advice was good, but is sending out a 36-page booklet with a few helpline numbers on it enough I don’t think so as so much more could have been done.

I suspect the PFA know that now. That’s why they decided to act so publicly when a high-profile former player, whose actions attracted attention all around the world, was lost.

My own view is that the PFA shouldn’t have waited until Speed passed away. They should have acted on the phone calls people like me were making.

VIDEO: McKenzie on his new autobiography…

DM.has('rcpv1991247685001','BCVideo');

LEON McKENZIE: My Fight With Life, Published by MacAnthonyMedia, priced 7.99. Click here to buy your copy now…

Alastair Cook and Nick Compton dig in to give England slim fighting chance

Cook and Compton dig in to show England's spirit after first innings collapse

|

UPDATED:

11:32 GMT, 17 November 2012

At tea-time today we awaited a dog’s dinner. Instead we got a curate’s egg. As Alastair Cook and Nick Compton calmly began the follow-on with an unbroken stand of 111, the sheer incompetence of England’s first-innings 191 felt all the more bizarre.

Execrable in the morning, they were excellent in the evening. It will probably be too late to save this game, for England still trail by 219. But the way Cook and Compton knuckled down at least prevented this first Test from turning into the kind of one-way traffic that can rob a series of its tension.

Yet while England were slipping to 97 for 7 before lunch today in reply to India’s 521 for 8, that was precisely the scenario feared by everyone bar the most hard-core Indian fans and the usual cluster of England-haters. It wasn’t a game of cricket so much as a bloodsport.

Composed: Alastair Cook made a half century in England's second innings

Composed: Alastair Cook made a half century in England's second innings

PICTURE DISPUTE:

We are unable to carry live pictures from the First Test in Ahmedabad due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations. The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies. MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

And despite the calm that descended late in the day, there will be undoubtedly be more of it to come. That, at least, seemed to be the only sensible conclusion.

Kevin Pietersen did his best to disrupt the Indian spinners’ lengths by using his feet, but his approach felt haphazard. And with the men round the bat going nowhere in a hurry, it never seemed likely to shift them into the outfield, which would have opened up the gaps Pietersen craved.

Most disconcertingly of all was the curtain-rail shot that brought about his demise, reminiscent as it was of the worst of his travails against left-arm spin two years ago. Still, at least his dismissal silenced those who saw his return as a guarantee of English success. Cricket always has been a team game.

Making his mark: Nick Compton looked more comfortable in the second innings

Making his mark: Nick Compton looked more comfortable in the second innings

Ian Bell had what can only be described as a complete shocker. England were gently mocked by the Haryana off-spinner Jayant Yadav for leaving their crease a little too indiscriminately during the four-day practice match. It betrayed uncertainty, he felt. Unerringly, Bell proved his point by lifting his first ball straight to deepish mid-off.

It may have been the most witless moment of his career. Since he is missing the Mumbai Test to attend the birth of his child, the second innings here has suddenly assumed crucial proportions.

Matt Prior, as industrious a player of spin in this team, showed what was possible between lunch and tea, only to be forced into a big shot by a lack of partners. And the adhesiveness of the lower order put their top-order colleagues to shame.

With two days to go, England are still hot favourites to lose this game. But they must build on the platform set by Cook and Compton. Their earlier ineptitude has left them with no choice.

The Beast Tendai Mtawarira treated in hospital for heart scare

'Beast' misses Ireland match after South African is treated in hospital following heart scare

|

UPDATED:

14:47 GMT, 10 November 2012

South Africa prop Tendai Mtawarira was treated in hospital today after suffering mild heart palpitations.

Mtawarira has pulled out of this afternoon's match against Ireland in Dublin and will be replaced by CJ van der Linde.

Heinke van der Merwe, who has played in one Test for South Africa in 2007, will take Van der Linde's place on the bench.

Scare:Tendai Mtawarira (right) was treated in hospital after suffering palpitations

Scare:Tendai Mtawarira (right) was treated in hospital after suffering palpitations

A statement on South Africa's official website said: 'The decision to withdraw Mtawarira is a precautionary measure after he had a recurrence of mild heart palpitations on Saturday morning.

'Mtawarira has been admitted to hospital for observation on Saturday morning. A decision on his continued participation on the tour will be taken at a later stage.'

A further update said the 27-year-old was later discharged from hospital.

World Twenty20 2012: Stuart Broad dismisses England struggles against spin

Crisis What crisis Broad dismisses spin struggles as England collapse

|

UPDATED:

18:05 GMT, 23 September 2012

Familiar problems: Broad heads back to the pavilion

Familiar problems: Broad heads back to the pavilion

Captain Stuart Broad insisted England's batsmen are not vulnerable against spin despite Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla guiding India to a thumping 90-run ICC World Twenty20 victory at the Premadasa Stadium.

After India had set Broad's side a challenging 171 for victory, several of England's top order seemed all at sea as they were bowled out for 80 – their lowest total in this format.

The match was essentially a dead rubber, with both teams having qualified for the Super Eights stage by virtue of their respective victories against Afghanistan, but alarm bells may be ringing after their defeat.

Veteran Harbhajan took four for 12 while leg-spinner Chawla finished with two for 13 to again raise the issue of England struggling to play the turning ball.

Broad refuted that notion, though, saying: 'I've seen the guys play spin extremely well, certainly in training, we've been learning in Sri Lanka and we've developed well.

'We've had a really bad day today but it doesn't affect our destiny. We still get on a bus tomorrow to Kandy and play in the Super Eights.'

The Nottinghamshire all-rounder did concede, however, that England's overall performance was well below par.

'It was all-round really,' he said.

In a spin: Harbhajan (above) and Chawla (below) tore through England

In a spin: Harbhajan (above) and Chawla (below) tore through England

In a spin: Harbhajan (above) and Chawla (below) tore through England

'We were pretty happy with 170. We made a few mistakes in the field and we probably didn't hit our straps as well as we could have done but we didn't get it right with the bat at all.

'India got it very right – I thought they bowled very nicely.

'We played across the line a bit too much whereas against Afghanistan we struck the ball so straight and very cleanly.'

Tim Bresnan was included at the expense of Samit Patel for Sunday's encounter, but with England losing six of their 10 wickets to spin, there was a case to be made they should have included a second slow bowler to support Swann, who conceded just 17 runs from his four overs.

Broad added: 'We wanted to have a look at that balance of side.

Back to the drawing board: England must regroup quickly ahead of the Super Eights

Back to the drawing board: England must regroup quickly ahead of the Super Eights

'We'll reassess for Thursday's game.'

The 26-year-old acknowledged England have been producing inconsistent performances of late, but does not think their humbling defeat will affect his players too much.

'We've had two pretty average performances in the two and a half weeks we've been together but we've also had some very good performances so we need to focus on them,' he said.

'I don't think the guys' confidence will take too much of a knock from this. It doesn't change where we go.

'We still need to play well on Thursday and I think we can do that.'