Tag Archives: trick

Robin van Persie signs for BT Sport

Van Persie joins BT Sport's dream team! United striker to appear alongside Bale in ambitious broadcaster's ad campaign

By
Brian Lee

PUBLISHED:

10:54 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:19 GMT, 26 April 2013

DM.has('shareLink', 'shareLinks',
'id': '2315191',
'title': 'Van Persie joins BT Sport's dream team! United striker to appear alongside Bale in ambitious broadcaster's ad campaign',
'url': 'http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2315191/Robin-van-Persie-signs-BT-Sport.html',
'eTwitterStatus': 'Robin%20van%20Persie%20signs%20for%20BT%20Sport%20http://bit.ly/13zctLx%20via%[email protected]'
);

BT SPORT LOGO

BT Sport's list of big-name signings expanded again today as they added Manchester United striker Robin van Persie to their star-studded line-up.

The broadcaster, who will air 38 Premier League games next season, confirmed the news on Twitter that Van Persie will appear alongside Gareth Bale in ad campaigns for their coverage.

Van Persie leads the Premier League scoring charts this season with 24 goals to his name, one more than Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, and the Dutchman's hat-trick against Aston Villa on Monday night sealed United's 20th top-flight title.

BT have also snapped up Arsenal youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Scroll down for video

Smashing signing: Manchester United striker Robin van Persie will appear on BT Sport's ad campaigns

Smashing signing: Manchester United striker Robin van Persie will appear on BT Sport's ad campaigns

Dream team: Van Persie joins Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on BT's list of stars

Dream team: Van Persie joins Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on BT's list of stars

Great news! BT Sport confirmed Van Persie's signing on Twitter

Great news! BT Sport confirmed Van Persie's signing on Twitter

Oxlade-Chamberlain, who signed for the Gunners from Southampton in 2011
and has 10 England caps, will also become a BT Ambassador for the next
three years.

The 19-year-old winger said: 'I am very pleased to be named as a BT
Ambassador and to feature in the adverts and as a guest for BT Sport.

'As a young player, I hope I can bring some real insight into the Premier League, as part of the BT Sport team.'

Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: 'We are thrilled that Alex has
agreed to sign up for BT Sport. Alex is emerging as an international
star, having broken into the senior team aged just 18.

'His hard work and dedication to improvement has already taken him to
great heights and serves as an inspiration to young football fans that
if you are good enough, you are old enough.'

Regular guest: Arsenal youngster Oxlade-Chamberlain will be appearing on BT Sport next season

Regular guest: Arsenal youngster Oxlade-Chamberlain will be appearing on BT Sport next season

VIDEO: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joins BT Sport

As well as the rights to show 38 live games a season from the Barclays
Premier League, including 18 of the top picks, BT Sport has also secured
the rights to live top-tier matches from Serie A in Italy, Ligue 1 in
France, Brasileiro in Brazil and Major League Soccer in the USA.

And BT’s acquisition of ESPN’s TV channels business in the UK and
Ireland will bring the rights to show live games for the FA Cup,
Scottish Premier League, Europa League and the German Bundesliga.

BT Sport will also show up to 69 live rugby union games a season from the Aviva Premiership.

In
addition, BT has signed a deal with the Women’s Tennis Association
(WTA) to show up to 800 hours of live tennis, including the TEB BNP
Paribas WTA Championships.

I'm in: Spurs winger Bale has already signed for BT Sport ahead of their Premier League coverage

I'm in: Spurs winger Bale has already signed for BT Sport ahead of their Premier League coverage

And... action: Bale films an advert for BT Sport

And… action: Bale films an advert for BT Sport

Arsenal"s Theo Walcott says he was abused by fans

Abuse from Arsenal fans wasn't fair but now I know how to deal with it, says Walcott

By
Thom Drake

PUBLISHED:

10:03 GMT, 20 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:04 GMT, 20 April 2013

Winger Theo Walcott has revealed that he has received plenty of abuse during his time at Arsenal, but that he has learnt to avoid it all as he continues to mature.

The 24-year-old's future was in doubt at the beginning of the season, but he signed a new 100,000-a-week deal in January to end speculation he might leave the Emirates.

His form has varied over the past few season between being at the fore of the Gunners' attack and going missing in games.

Why bother Theo Walcott says that he avoids message boards and Twitter criticism

Why bother Theo Walcott says that he avoids message boards and Twitter criticism

Bruised: Walcott got a battering on the pitch against Everton as he felt the force of their midfield

Bruised: Walcott got a battering on the pitch against Everton as he felt the force of their midfield

Walcott says he didn't feel like the criticism he got was justified: 'Last year against Tottenham in the first half, I got a lot of abuse from the fans, which wasn't fair,' he said to The Times.

'I'm sure they would be nice to my face. People always are nice when they meet you. They would come up to me and say, ''We hope you stay, but respect your decision.''

His desire to play a more central role in Arsenal's front three is no secret, and Arsene Wenger has used him to spearhead the attack on several occasions, most notably when they beat Newcastle 7-3 and Walcott scored a hat-trick.

Taking the full force: Walcott has had his fair share of knocks against Spurs

Taking the full force: Walcott has had his fair share of knocks against Spurs

He has learnt to take the good with the bad, however, and says he now knows to keep his distance from some fans' opinions.

'It's only on message boards or Twitter and stuff – or when it's in a crowd – that it turns nasty, and that's why I avoid all that stuff.'

Along with Jack Wilshere, Walcott has been injured for the past month, and is raring to get back into the thick of the action.

He started their 0-0 draw with Everton and will hope to feature again as Arsenal travel across london to play Fulham.

Incensed: Arsene Wenger was angry with what he felt was over-physical play from Everton

Incensed: Arsene Wenger was angry with what he felt was over-physical play from Everton

But it's not always been so easy for Walcott to muster the confidence that he deserves to be on the pitch.

After being thrown into the spotlight in 2006 when Sven-Goran Eriksson picked him for England's World Cup squad, he found it hard to live up to early expectations.

'At times, with myself maybe, I haven't believed how good I am. People around me, my agent, my dad, say that to me sometimes. I think that might be the case.'

Just as with Gareth Bale, another former Southampton youngster, it took Walcott several years to justify his big money move.

But now a regular in the side, and with Wenger saying he will spend in the summer, both his and the club's future may be going in the right direction.

Recovering: Along with Jack Wilshere, Walcott is just getting back to full fitness after several weeks out

Recovering: Along with Jack Wilshere, Walcott is just getting back to full fitness after several weeks out

The Footballers" Football Column – Luther Blissett: Gianfranco Zola has established Watford as a force really quickly

LUTHER BLISSETT: People say Watford have exploited a loan 'loophole' but Zola has established us as a force really quickly

PUBLISHED:

10:56 GMT, 13 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:15 GMT, 13 March 2013

Luther Blissett

Luther Blissett played more than 500 games for Watford and helped them to promotion from the fourth division to the top flight between 1975 and 1982. He won 14 caps for England, scoring a hat-trick on his debut at Wembley. Blissett also had a spell in Italy at AC Milan before playing for Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth and short loan at Ossie Ardiles’ West Brom in the early 1990s. In his debut Footballers’ Football Column he looks at Watford’s promotion challenge, defends the club's controversial loan signings and looks at racism in the game….

Footballers Football Column with Luther Blissett

Loading video…

DM.has('rcpv2205156781001','BC',
'renderConfig' :

'css' : “videoplayer-large”,
'autoplay' : false,
'muted' : false,
'title' : “Footballers Football Column with Luther Blissett”,
'videoId' : 1001276,
'adsEnabled' : true,
'playerId' : “1989148206001”,
'playerKey' : “AQ~~,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWELN_eSE9A7gpcGWF5XAVmI”,
'objId' : “rcpv2205156781001”,
'videoPlayer' : “2205156781001”,
'width' : 636,
'height' : 358,
'linkBaseURL' : “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2292246/The-Footballers-Football-Column–Luther-Blissett-Gianfranco-Zola-established-Watford-force-really-quickly.html”

});

I’m very pleased to see Watford challenging at the top of the Championship. For all the years I have been associated with them, they have been successful club. Either challenging for promotion or the top spot, so it is great to see Gianfranco Zola’s side continue that tradition.

When they whole takeover by the Pozzo family came about, there were people who were worried that their Watford was going to drastically change.

And yes, there have been changes, but there is a long-term plan and the success we are having this season so far has been welcomed by everybody. It has opened a few people’s eyes and even the sceptics have come round to thinking, ‘Wow this is amazing.’

On the up: Marco Cassetti and Almen Abdi have helped Watford become promotion challengers

On the up: Marco Cassetti and Almen Abdi have helped Watford become promotion challengers

Loan star: Ikechi Anya is one of the players on loan from Grenada who have helped Watford into third

Loan star: Ikechi Anya is one of the players on loan from Grenada who have helped Watford into third

Hornets are buzzing: Matej Vydra's 20 league goals have been crucial for Watford

Hornets are buzzing: Matej Vydra's 20 league goals have been crucial for Watford

It has been great for the town and everybody connected with the club and hopefully they can carry on and see the job all the way through to the Premier League.

There has been a lot of talk about the way the club have operated in the transfer market and particularly the loan signings from Serie A side Udinese and Spanish club Granada who are also owned by the Pozzo family.

But the talk has only really come about in the last month or so since we played Crystal Palace and Ian Holloway spoke about it. But we are two-thirds of the way through the season and they have been here since the start, so why is it only an issue now

Giampaolo Pozzo

Gianfranco Zola

Working together: Watford owner Giampaolo Pozzo and manager Gianfranco Zola are aiming for promotion

More from The Footballers' Column…

The Footballers' Football Column – Martin Allen: There is nothing wrong with Harry taking his squad to Dubai… I took my players to France but only let them play Monopoly and Pictionary
12/03/13

Steven Reid – The Footballers' Football Column: Liam Ridgewell went to a Justin Bieber gig… he didn't even have the excuse of taking his kids – he went with one of the other West Brom lads!
09/03/13

Curtis Davies – The Footballers' Football Column: I knew I'd score against Blackpool, I always get goals when I play the B-teams
07/03/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Mark McChrystal: I haven't given up hope of winning my first full cap… And don't judge James McClean unless you know him or understand Northern Ireland
05/03/13

Ruud Gullit – The Footballers' Football Column: German teams are doing better in Champions League because they have homegrown players… English clubs have too many overpaid foreigners
02/03/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Brian Clark: Newcastle's 28m super scout on discovering the Ameobi brothers… oh and a chubby lad called Gascoigne
28/02/13

The Footballer's Football Column – Carolyn Radford: Life in non-League It's all fast cars and 70-year-old club secretaries
25/02/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Zesh Rehman: The best manager I played for was Chris Coleman at Fulham, but Robbie Fowler will go onto be a top boss… he has great man-management skills
23/02/13

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The opportunity was there for Watford to sign these players on loan, the rules allowed the club to do it. People are calling it a loophole now because Watford, in their eyes, have benefited from it, but the interpretation of the rules is the most important thing and the owners have looked at it and thought that this would be a good way of establishing Watford as a real force in this division really quickly.

When the takeover happened and the links with the two clubs were made clear, it as one of the fears among the fans that we would not see any of our own players and the club would lose its identity, but the blend has been very good between the home-grown players and the loan players.

You have the skills and the technique of the players who have come in and then you have the understanding of what the Championship is all about, plus their own ability from the home-grown players, so it has been very good.

It is a case of now trying to carry that on into the Premier League, if we get there, then trying to build on that and be able to hold our own in that league and become an established Premier League team.

I believe we can win promotion and I have felt that way since around October time. Our away form has been phenomenal, so if we can get our home form to match that then I think we have a very good chance.

Gianfranco Zola has done a great job. I speak to fans at game and they are blown away by the style of football we are playing at the moment.

The football they are producing and the quality of players we have at the club has really struck a note with the supporters and you just hope that it is the start of something big.

If Watford are promoted, it will be interesting to see if we will be playing against QPR and my old manager Harry Redknapp. QPR’s win over Southampton a few weeks ago was massive, not just for the points but for the belief it has giving them, they will now be thinking, ‘We can do this’.

They still have an awful lot to do and they still are relying on other teams dropping points, but the belief is there.

I played under Harry at Bournemouth at the beginning of his managerial career and I don’t think he has changed in that time.

The thing that struck me about him when I played under him is that he is very good man manager.

He does not take the training sessions. He is like a chef, a chef will get all the right ingredients to make a dish work, Harry is the same, he is very good at getting the right players together and then the coaches put the finishing touches in place.

Starting out: Luther Blissett played under Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth

Starting out: Luther Blissett played under Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth

Still the same: Blissett says Redknapp has not changed during all his years in management

Still the same: Blissett says Redknapp has not changed during all his years in management

But Harry makes sure all the right pieces are there and guide them in the right direction.
That is Harry’s biggest strength, being able to spot the pieces of the puzzle and put them together.

Talking of managers, I was very pleased to see the appointments of two managers last month, Paul Ince at Blackpool and Chris Kiwomya at Notts County. It is a step, only a small step, in the right direction for black managers in this county.

When I think back to when I started playing at the end of the 1970s, I knew wanted to be a manager, so I took my first coaching badges at 17 to give myself the best possible chance to be a manager when I finished playing.

I always believe a job should be given to someone based on their ability, not the colour of their skin or who you know someone who knows someone. Football has been like that for too long and too many managers have got jobs based on that.

Dream debut: Blissett scored a hat-trick for England during the 9-0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley

Dream debut: Blissett scored a hat-trick for England during the 9-0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley

Luther Blisset of Watford

Luther Blissett, AC Milan

Making his way in the game: Blissett made his name at Watford before moving to AC Milan

I have not been a fan of something like the Rooney Rule but if it gets black mangers an interview where in the past they were not getting that opportunity, then it is a step in the right direction. I used to send off applications for jobs and occasionally I would get a letter back saying they are looking for someone more experience.

I used to wonder how much experience the people who were sending letters to me had How many games had they played I have played in different leagues and in different countries and then when someone tells me I don’t have the experience is an insult.

What about the first person who managed a football team, the first person who managed a big business What experience did they have You learn on the job but you have to be given that chance first time by someone.

Chris Kiwomya

Paul Ince

A step forward: Blissett was pleased Chris Kiwomya got the Notts County job and Blackpool appointed Paul Ince

I watch Match of the Day and I hear pundits talk about certain players and say: ‘He’ll make a great manager when he retires’ and I just think ‘Why Because you know him and he played for the same club as you’

That is their premise. How many of those pundits have ever said that about someone like Ince or Sol Campbell You hear them tipping certain players, but it is never a black player.

It is not the pundit being racist or prejudice, it is because it is not in their psyche to see a black manager. It is an unconscious thing. That needs to change.

That said, the problem with racism is better now than when I started playing in the 70s. Racism was a problem then, not just in football but in society, there were TV shows like Love Thy Neighbour in which racism was normal.

Time to move on: Blissett says racism was worse in football and society in the 1970s when shows like Love Thy Neighbour were on television

Time to move on: Blissett says racism was worse in football and society in the 1970s when shows like Love Thy Neighbour were on television

Kevin-Prince Boateng

Kevin Prince Boateng

Doing the right thing: Blissett praised Kevin-Prince Boateng for walking off when he was racially abused

Staying on: Samuel Eto'o was racially abused while playing for Barcelona but was persuaded not to walk off by team-mates and officials

Staying on: Samuel Eto'o was racially abused while playing for Barcelona but was persuaded not to walk off by team-mates and officials

I was abused at every stadium I went to, not just by fans but by opposition players as well. At 17-18 it had an affect on me.

But when I was in Italy at AC Milan it was bad as well, but they are making some progress, after all they were the first players to walk off the pitch.

When
Kevin-Prince Boateng was abused in a friendly game playing for AC Milan
and he booted the ball into the crowd and walked off, I thought it was
brilliant. And what made it better was that all his team-mates went off with him. That was fantastic.

Not dealing with the issues: Blissett would like to see the authorities really clamp down on racism rather then fine players like Nicklas Bendtner for showing a sponsor's name on his pants

Not dealing with the issues: Blissett would like to see the authorities really clamp down on racism rather then fine players like Nicklas Bendtner for showing a sponsor's name on his pants

Years ago Samuel Eto'o was going to do
the same thing when he was playing for Barcelona and he was persuaded by
his team-mates to stay.

PROSTATE CANCER UK

When I was a player at Watford, Graham Taylor created a family club and encouraged us to help in the community.

I
have lost members of my family to cancer. So if I am able to do
anything to help raise money or awareness then I am more than happy to
do so. It is something that everyone will be touched by.

250,000
UK men are currently living with the disease, and every year over
40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer that is unbelievable.

So
along with Prostate Cancer UK, who are The Football League’s official
charity, we are doing a bike ride from London to Amsterdam and keen to
get fans to come along and join us and raise money, it will be an
amazing experience. I need to get on my bike and practise, it is the
saddle soreness I need to get used to more than anything, but I am
looking forward to it.

CLICK HERE to find out more about the London to Amsterdam bike ride.

If those players at that time had walked off then it would have sent a massive message out across the world.

Players have to realise they are in a very powerful position. If you were abused like that in any other profession, nobody would think any ill of you walked away, so why shouldn’t footballers do the same

The people who run football always go on about ‘the beautiful game’ and make a point of respect in the game. Where is the respect for the players who are abused like this

It is all well and good having T-shirts with ‘Respect’ on them and it ticks a box for the authorities. But when it comes to actual incidents they are the ones who have to take firm action, they just walk away from it.

Yet they will fine a player like Nicklas Bendtner for showing his pants with a sponsor on them. It’s madness.

Where were the UEFA officials at the U21 game when the England players were being abused in Serbia When you look at the people who run the game and they decide to punish the players who have been abused for the last two hours, as they did with the England players, then it shows they have no idea what racism is.

These people who run the game really need to get some education and learn about racism.

VIDEO: European Challenge Tour – cricket with golf clubs! Trick shot

VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Cricket with golf clubs! European Challenge Tour trick shot…

PUBLISHED:

11:51 GMT, 4 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:17 GMT, 4 March 2013

Inspired by Sachin Tendulkar's presence at the season-opening tournament in India, the stars of the Challenge Tour attempt to knock down the wicket from 22 yards away, with 6 attempts. And the results are quite spectacular…

Take a look at the latest 'Big Challenge' video below…

VIDEO Think you can hit a wicket from 22 yards using golf clubs

More Challenge Tour trick shots…

Click on the links below for more 'Big Challenge' videos.

Eight-iron… with a twist!'Olympic' obstacle course!Seve's backwards putt!

Stay tuned to MailOnline for Challenge Tour previews, results and more great videos.

Mansfield chairman John Radford gives boss Paul Cox an 85,000 Aston Martin as reward for thrashing Barrow

Mansfield chairman gives boss Cox an 85,000 Aston Martin as reward for thrashing Barrow

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

00:48 GMT, 10 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:50 GMT, 10 February 2013

Mansfield Town were motoring when they clocked up an 8-1 win over Barrow — and so impressed was chairman John Radford, he gave his Aston Martin to manager Paul Cox as a reward.

The keys to the 85,000 Vantage Coupe, with the registration MT51 COX, were handed over after a Matt Green hat-trick, helped wrap up a Blue Square Premier win.

Gift: John Radford rewarded his manager handsomely

Gift: John Radford rewarded his manager handsomely

Radford, 56, who is also the club’s owner, had only got to One Call Stadium at half-time after returning from Ireland and was so blown away by the 5-1 scoreline that he told Cox the car was his.

The manager said: ‘I’m not sure if it’s a wind-up. Maybe I’ll get to the car park and find a bike with some stabilisers on it.’

England U21 4 Sweden U21 0 match report

England U21 4 Sweden U21 0: Ince scores twice as young guns shine in Walsall

– is an ideal
way to start the calendar year for coach Stuart Pearce, who will be
gunning for success at June's Euro 2013 finals in Israel, with talks
over his own future put on hold until after the tournament.

Injuries robbed Pearce of Raheem
Sterling, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw but it was still a strong line-up
which took to the field, skippered by Henderson – on Sunday voted Under
21s Player of the Year.

Liverpool team-mate Shelvey blazed
over a good chance early on after a lively burst from Ince before
Henderson himself planted a free header wide.

Double: Jonjo Shelvey scored England's second goal in the 30th minute

Double: Jonjo Shelvey scored England's second goal in the 30th minute

Relieved: Shelvey missed a header from two yards out just before scoring

Relieved: Shelvey missed a header from two yards out just before scoring

It was no surprise when a dominant England opened the scoring after 10 minutes.

Shelvey found marauding right-back
Smith with a delightful ball and he in turn sent a teasing low cross
into the box which was slotted home by Ince.

England were in complete control and
it should have been 2-0 after 18 minutes as the impressive Shelvey
somehow headed wide Henderson's cross with the goal at his mercy.

Cruising: Shelvey celebrates his goal with Josh McEachran

Cruising: Shelvey celebrates his goal with Josh McEachran

But Shelvey soon made amends as he
doubled the hosts' advantage, slotting home Ince's miscued shot off the
underside off the crossbar at the far post after Smith had again been
found in space down the right.

It was 3-0 just before half-time as
Sweden centre-back Filip Helander brought down Ince in the area, Josh
McEachran saw his penalty saved by keeper Andreas Linde but Ince swept
home the rebound.

With his side already in the driving seat at the break, Pearce introduced Wickham, Will Hughes and Henri Lansbury.

Rebound: McEachran had a first-half penalty saved before Ince followed up to score

Rebound: McEachran had a first-half penalty saved before Ince followed up to score

Rebound: McEachran had a first-half penalty saved before Ince followed up to score

Ince was denied his hat-trick on the hour mark following a great save from close range by replacement stopper August Stromberg.

Goalscoring opportunities dried up
after the break as both managers made a host of changes although the
Young Lions remained comfortable, with goalkeeper Jason Steele still to
make a meaningful save of note.

But the home side did register a fourth in the 77th minute, Wickham heading home Lansbury's deep cross.

Wickham was denied a fifth by Stromberg but England still ran out easy winners in front of a healthy sell-out crowd of 9,758.

Rout: Connor Wickham rises to head in England's fourth goal

Rout: Connor Wickham rises to head in England's fourth goal

Impressive: Stuart Pearce's side were dominant

Impressive: Stuart Pearce's side were dominant

Spurned: Derby's Will Hughes rues a missed chance

Spurned: Derby's Will Hughes rues a missed chance

Bristol City sack Derek McInnes after losing 4-0 to Leicester

Championship basement side Bristol City sack boss McInnes after losing 4-0 to Leicester

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

19:43 GMT, 12 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:02 GMT, 12 January 2013

Bristol City manager Derek McInnes has been relieved of his duties.
The Robins slumped to the foot of the npower Championship table following the 4-0 home defeat to Leicester.

Director Jon Lansdown said in a statement: 'This is a decision we felt we had to make for the good of the football club.

The end of an era: Bristol City sacked Derek McInnes

The end of an era: Bristol City sacked Derek McInnes

'Derek has been a pleasure to work with; he's disappointed but he understands the decision.

'We want to give ourselves the best possible chance of getting out of the situation we are currently in and we've got 20 games to do that.'

The 41-year-old left Kilmarnock to take the Robins job in October 2011 and kept them in the Championship during his first season in charge.

On target: Chris Wood came back to haunt his former club with a hat-trick

On target: Chris Wood came back to haunt his former club with a hat-trick

But the Ashton Gate outfit have struggled this term, winning just six out of 26 league matches as well as being dumped out in the first round of the League Cup and third round of the FA Cup.

The heavy loss inflicted by Leicester proved to be the final straw, with McInnes dismissed after losing 31 of his 62 games in charge.

Assistant manager Tony Docherty has been asked to take training on Monday and the club will hold a press conference on the same day.

Novak Djokovic issues warning to Australian Open rivals after Abu Dhabi win

I'm playing amazing! Djokovic issues ominous warning to Australian Open rivals after Abu Dhabi victory

|

UPDATED:

17:20 GMT, 29 December 2012

Novak Djokovic warned his Australian Open rivals that he is in ‘amazing’ form ahead of his quest for a third successive title in Melbourne.

The Serb beat Nicolas Almagro in three sets in the final of the Abu Dhabi exhibition tournament after crushing tough Spaniard David Ferrer 6-0 6-3 in the semis.

And Djokovic, who has beaten Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray in the last two finals in Australia, wants to be the first man to claim three titles in a row Down Under.

Champion: Djokovic beat Almagro in three sets in the final in Abu Dhabi

Champion: Djokovic beat Almagro in three sets in the final in Abu Dhabi

Hat-trick: The Serb is looking for a third-straight Australian Open title

Hat-trick: The Serb is looking for a third-straight Australian Open title

‘I will be very motivated to hear that nobody has done this so I will try to make history there,' he said.

'I will be very flattered to be the first person to do that.

'The Australian Open is my most successful grand slam and hopefully I can get a shot at the title next year.'

Dominant: Djokovic crushed Ferrer 6-3 6-0 in the semis

Dominant: Djokovic crushed Ferrer 6-3 6-0 in the semis

Warning: The Serb thinks he is in 'amazing' form

Warning: The Serb thinks he is in 'amazing' form

Speaking after his dominant win against Ferrer, Djokovic said it was a 'perfect performance'.

'Last year I played an amazing few matches and this year I am playing amazing as well.

'It felt great, after a few weeks of preparation and hard work, more focusing on fitness and just gradually increasing the hours on the tennis court.

'It was a perfect performance against one of the best players in the world, especially in 2012 where he had his best year.

'It is a great confidence boost for me. It's something I will look at as a positive indication of my form in this tournament.'

Gareth Bale wanted by Real Madrid as Jose Mourinho bids 33m for Spurs star

Bale tops Real Madrid shopping list as Mourinho bids 33m for Spurs star

|

UPDATED:

09:18 GMT, 28 December 2012

Real Madrid have stepped up their pursuit of Gareth Bale by putting together a 33million bid to try and prise him away from White Hart Lane.

Tottenham have been aware of Real's interest for months but will be concerned that the Spanish newspaper closest to them are now reporting that an offer has been made.

Marca claim it is for 40million euros and that manager Jose Mourinho will not rest until his top transfer target has been secured.

Real target: Spanish giants Madrid have Totenham winger Gareth Bale in their sights once again

Real target: Spanish giants Madrid have Totenham winger Gareth Bale in their sights once again

Big news: Marca revealed Real Madrid's determination to land Bale

Big news: Marca revealed Real Madrid's determination to land Bale

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas dismissed Real's chances of landing Bale last week and insisted it was 'completely impossible' that the lightning-quick midfielder would be allowed to leave in the January window.

That will not deter Mourinho, who will wait until the end of the season, if need be, to add Bale's pace and finishing to Real's attack.

Hat-trick hero: Bale hit a treble for Spurs in their Boxing Day victory over Aston Villa

Hat-trick hero: Bale hit a treble for Spurs in their Boxing Day victory over Aston Villa

As a measure of Real's determination to take the 23-year old to the Spanish capital, Marca recently revealed that 56m had been set aside to cover the overall package required to make the deal a reality.

Bale further enhanced his flourishing reputation with a clinical hat-trick in Tottenham's 4-0 Boxing Day win at Aston Villa, and team-mate Sandro is in no doubt his talents would slot easily into the Brazil team.

Extra Christmas present: Bale went home with the match ball after destroying Villa in midweek

Extra Christmas present: Bale went home with the match ball after destroying Villa in midweek

'He is good enough to play for Brazil, and it is a shame he was born in Wales,' said the Tottenham midfielder.

'I have played with a lot of good players, but Bale is one of the very best.'

Tottenham look to be facing a battle to
keep the former Southampton winger from Real's clutches, though
Villas-Boas remained defiant when asked about his free-scoring star.

Bale fan: Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho knows all about the flying Welshman

Bale fan: Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho knows all about the flying Welshman

'We recognise he is one of our major assets, but there are no release clauses, and a player of his dimension has a market value that is unattainable for most other clubs,' he said.

Worryingly for Tottenham, Real are one of a handful who could match his market value, and it seems clear their initial approach is merely the opening shot in a transfer battle they are determined to win.

Former Ballon d"Or winner Luis Figo backs Christiano Ronaldo to beat Lionel Messi to this year"s award

Former winner Luis Figo backs Ronaldo to beat Messi to this year's Ballon d'Or

|

UPDATED:

18:15 GMT, 27 December 2012

Luis Figo has said there’s nothing to stop Cristiano Ronaldo from achieving Ballon d’Or glory this year.

The former Portuguese midfielder says Ronaldo is more than deserving of the honour, highlighting his excellent performances for both Real Madrid and their shared nation.

‘There’s nothing to stop [Ronaldo] from winning it,’ the former Barcelona and Sporting Lisbon hero.

Legend: Figo won the Ballon d'Or in 2000 in his first season for Real Madrid

Legend: Figo won the Ballon d'Or in 2000 during his first season for Real Madrid

‘He is one of the favourites to win all the individual trophies there are, even more so this year, because I think he had a good season in the league and did well at the Euros.’

Quoted in Mundo Deportivo, the 2000 Ballon d’Or recipient added: ‘There are a lot of people involved in the choice, so it is always difficult to know who will win.’

When he scores, he can really go for it. Ronaldo has netted seven league hat-tricks in each of the last two seasons.

Goal machines: Both Messi and Ronaldo have been in magnificent goalscoring form over the past few seasons

Goal machines: Both Messi and Ronaldo have been in magnificent goalscoring form over the past few seasons

Goal machines: Both Messi and Ronaldo have been in magnificent goalscoring form over the past few seasons

Figo is of course referring to the seemingly unstoppable Lionel Messi as Ronaldo’s competition, but even suggests it’s easier to win the honour now, than it was in his day.

‘It was one of the most special moments in my career on the individual side of things, because there are few players who have the opportunity to win this trophy.

‘At the time, there were lots of players who were in with a shout, whilst now there are four or five big candidates.

Ronaldo was unable to lead Portugal to glory in Euro 2012 after they were knocked out by Spain in the semi-final

Ronaldo was unable to lead Portugal to glory in Euro 2012 after they were knocked out by Spain in the semi-final

Messi's incredible hat-trick against Brazil silenced those who criticised him for his under-par performances for Argentina

Messi's incredible hat-trick against Brazil silenced those who criticised him for his under-par performances for Argentina

Wayne Rooney is the only English player on the shortlist for the award

Wayne Rooney is the only English player on the shortlist for the award

‘It was a privilege and a proud moment for me.’

Barcelona ace Messi has a truly mind-blowing ability for finding the back of the net and whether or not he’s a safe bet for the Ballon d’Or, he’s already had plenty of reason to celebrate.

He’s Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer, something he achieved aged just 24, and earlier this matched Gerd Muller’s record for the most goals scored in a calendar year. If he is triumphant, it will be his fourth successive Ballon d’Or.

The initial 23-man shortlist, dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona players and featuring Wayne Rooney as the lone Brit, was whittled down to just three, with Andreas Iniesta completing the trio.

National coaches, captains and selected journalists will vote for the winner of the FIFA crown and the winner will be presented at the Zurich Kongresshaus on January 7, 2013.

They’re arguably the world’s greatest footballers, so what finer way to split them apart than by checking out their stats:

BATTLE FOR THE BALLON D'OR: RONALDO VS MESSI

RONALDO
MESSI

LA LIGA

Appearances:

17

17

Goals:

14

26

Assists:

3

5

ALL COMPETITIONS

Appearances:

26

26

Goals:

23

35

Assists:

4

8