Tag Archives: zinedine

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Sweden add verb "to Zlatan" to national dictionary

In honour of our genius! Swedes add verb 'to Zlatan' to national dictionary

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UPDATED:

13:58 GMT, 27 December 2012

Wonder goal: Ibrahimovic celebrates his stunning long-range overhead kick against England

Wonder goal: Ibrahimovic celebrates his stunning long-range overhead kick against England

Sweden has added the verb ‘to Zlatan’ to their national dictionary.

In the country’s latest way of honouring their footballing hero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedish Language Council has approved the term, since it has been increasingly used in conversation by Swedes referring to an outlandishly talented action.

The word was originally coined on Les Guignols, a popular satirical puppet show – similar to Spitting Image – from French station Canal Plus, whose characters are in awe of the PSG striker.

To recognise this, the Swedes have even acknowledged the original French spelling of ‘zlataner’, simply tweaking to create ‘zlatanera’ and officially defined it as ‘from the French: to dominate on and off the field.’

Ibrahimovic is currently Ligue 1’s top scorer having netted 18 times for the Parisians. While he is a natural showman, he admitted that he does not rehearse his goal celebrations.

‘When I score a goal, I never know in advance how I will celebrate, given (I’m) the current top scorer in the championship,’ he told RMC Sport.

‘There is so much adrenaline. Timing is everything, the environment, my mood. This is pure emotion.’

Many players have lent their names to particular moves before, but affording their overall brilliance to a verb is a first.

Johann Cruyff was honoured with the ‘Cruyff turn’ and the 360-degree turn has been attributed to Garrincha – although both Zinedine Zidane and Diego Maradona have staked claim to this.

PSG are currently leading Ligue 1 on goal difference, ahead of Lyon and Marseille and face Valencia in the last 16 of the Champions League in February.

Talisman: Ibrahimovic is the leading scorer in the French top division with 18 goals

Talisman: Ibrahimovic is the leading scorer in the French top division with 18 goals

Ronaldo v Zinedine Zidane charity friendly sees star-studded teams face off in Brazil

Ronaldo and Zidane in re-run of 1998 World Cup final head-to-head for charity match

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UPDATED:

11:03 GMT, 20 December 2012

A slimmed-down Ronaldo captained his side to victory as he went head-to-head with Zinedine Zidane on Wednesday night in Brazil.

Both players were in charge of star-studded squads in the Ronaldo and friends v Zidane and friends annual charity match.

Scroll down for videos

Elite: Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane lead out their men for the charity match

Elite: Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane lead out their men for the charity match

Star line-up: Brazilian favourites Ronaldo (fifth left), Neymar (fourth left) and Lucas (third left) were among the players involved

Star line-up: Brazilian favourites Ronaldo (fifth left), Neymar (fourth left) and Lucas (third left) were among the players involved

Payback: Neymar is the middleman as Ronaldo faces up to Zidane (but it's all in good spirits)

Payback: Neymar is the middleman as Ronaldo faces up to Zidane (but it's all in good spirits)

How's that Bebeto celebrates scoring the opener with Neymar (right)

How's that Bebeto celebrates scoring the opener with Neymar (right)

'Fat' Ronaldo no longer!

See how former Brazil superstar Ronaldo shed his weight HERE

The Brazilian's team emerged 3-2 victors, thanks to a late strike by Tottenham target Leandro Damiao.

Legendary Italian referee Pierluigi Collina came out of retirement to officiate the game which will raise funds to support projects to reduce poverty in Brazil and Africa.

In Zidane's side were former greats including Deco, Freddie Ljungberg and Fernando Hierro, as well as futsal star Falcao.

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months

Drastic action: Ronaldo before and after his weight loss

Little magicians: Zico takes on Deco with Ronaldo watching on

Little magicians: Zico takes on Deco with Ronaldo watching on

Trampled: Santiago Solari takes a tumble during the well contested friendly

Trampled: Santiago Solari takes a tumble during the well contested friendly

Rough and tumble: Goalkeeper Dida smiles as Sorin goes rolling by

Rough and tumble: Goalkeeper Dida smiles as Sorin goes rolling by

Have you lost weight Argentinian Pablo Guinazu gets a grab of Ronaldo at the final whistle

Have you lost weight Argentinian Pablo Guinazu gets a grab of Ronaldo at the final whistle

Still got it: Zinedine Zidane tries to shield the ball from Brazilian player Amaral

Still got it: Zinedine Zidane tries to shield the ball from Brazilian player Amaral

Veteran: Michel Salgado appears to let Zico get the run on him during the UNDP-organised match in Porto Alegre

Veteran: Michel Salgado appears to let Zico get the run on him during the UNDP-organised match in Porto Alegre

Ronaldo's squad included Zico, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Romario and Neymar.

It was all too much for one mascot, who broke down in tears as he got to meet the Santos star.

Neymar played in Bebeto to open the scoring for Ronaldo's team before Falcao levelled things up.

Zidane
led by example as he fired in a fine volley to put his side ahead, but
Caca Ferrari and Damiao made sure it was Ronaldo who ended up smiling.

Good cause: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) banner in the crowd

Good cause: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) banner in the crowd

Celebration time: Bebeto (second right) after scoring his goal alongside Ronaldo and Neymar

Celebration time: Bebeto (second right) after scoring his goal alongside Ronaldo and Neymar

Sky high: Leandro Damiao marks a goal during the match at the Arena Gremio

Sky high: Leandro Damiao marks a goal during the match at the Arena Gremio

Collision course: Ronaldo and Fernando Hierro go in for a 50-50

Collision course: Ronaldo and Fernando Hierro go in for a 50-50

On the noggin: Zico tries to leap for a header

On the noggin: Zico tries to leap for a header

Meeting of legends: Ronaldo tries to steer the ball away from Zidane in their charity match

Meeting of legends: Ronaldo tries to steer the ball away from Zidane in their charity match

Famously an off-colour Ronaldo could
not help his side during the France 1998 World Cup final, with Brazil
going down 3-0 to the hosts.

But tonight the Samba star, who has slimmed down considerably in recent weeks, had the last laugh.

VIDEO An overwhelmed and tearful child hugs Neymar at end of charity match

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VIDEO: Then Neymar sets up Bebeto to strike

VIDEO: But futsal star Falcao equalises

VIDEO: Zidane puts his side 2-1 up

VIDEO: Then Caca Ferrari levelled proceedings at 2-2

VIDEO GOAAAAL. Leandro Damiao grabbed the winner late on in the match…

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FULL SQUADS

RONALDO & FRIENDS TEAM

Danrlei, Dida, Caf, Serginho,
Rver, Junior Baiano, Roque Junior, Roberto Carlos, William, Lucas,
Juninho Paulista, Zinho, Djalminha, Roger, Zico, Denilson, Ronaldo,
Neymar, Leandro Damio, Bebeto, Cac Ferrari, Romrio, Edmundo,
Paulinho.

Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira.

ZIDANE & FRIENDS TEAM

Vitor Baa, Juliano Belletti,
Diego Cavalieri, Emerson, Fernando Hierro, Mchel Salgado, Fernando
Couto, Juan Pablo Sorn, Paolo Montero, Carlos Gamarra, Hidetoshi
Nakata, Zindine Zidane, Deco, Santiago Solari, Fredrik Ljungberg, Juan
Romn Riquelme, Christian Karembeu, Alex de Souza, Pedro Pauleta,
Sebastin Abreu, Hulk, Falco, Mrio Jardel.

Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Ronaldo sheds an incredible 37lbs on reality TV show

(Not so) Fat Ronaldo sheds an incredible 37lbs in three months to play in former Real team-mate Zidane's charity football match

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UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 19 December 2012

Since the emergence of Real Madrid superstar Cristiano, as a point of distinction, one of the great strikers of our time became harshly known as ‘Fat Ronaldo’.

But not only has the Brazilian legend of the game lost over two-and-a-half stone, he should also have shed this cruel moniker.

Since September, Ronaldo shifted a remarkable amount of weight after taking part in a reality television show to repair his ‘bad relationship with the scales’.

VIDEO: Take a look at Ronaldo's new slimline frame

Ronaldo, who stepped onto those pesky scales once more live on TV on Sunday, spent three months rigorously exercising on the Medida Certa show and lost 37 pounds as a result.

His fitness regime included three months of Gangnam Style dancing and topless pilates, helping him slim down from 18st 6lbs to an incredible 15st 9lbs.

He has also cut a few inches off his waitline, trimming his 42 inches to 36 in the 12 week period.

Ronaldo, who has won the FIFA Player of the Year award three times, wanted to shift the weight in time for former Real Madrid team-mate Zinedine Zidane’s charity match in Porto Alegre on Wednesday.

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months to be fit for a charity football match

Paunch: Ronaldo had a protruding belly before he lost some of the weight

Paunch: Ronaldo had a protruding belly before he lost some of the weight

Svelte: Ronaldo showed off his new figure in Cesar Sampaio's farewell match

Svelte: Ronaldo showed off his new figure in Cesar Sampaio's farewell match

In the latter years of Ronaldo’s illustrious career, and after his retirement, the two-time World Cup winner simply ballooned.

This, coupled with the rise to prominence of his namesake at United and Real Madrid, meant that football fans used his now incongruous nickname to distinguish between the Brazilian and Portuguese Ronaldos.

Most notable was during his farewell match for Brazil in 2011. Ronaldo, sporting a huge paunch, played for his country one last time against Romania in Sao Paolo.

A trimmer Ronaldo played in another farewell match last week for Cesar Sampaio in his final game between past and present Palmeiras club players.

Steven Gerrard: My best England moments

Stevie Glee: My best (and worst moments) in an England shirt

PUBLISHED:

22:30 GMT, 13 November 2012

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 13 November 2012

Ahead of his landmark appearance against Sweden, England captain Steven Gerrard relives the best and worst moments from his previous 99 games for the Three Lions.

Greatest game: Germany 1 England 5, World Cup qualifier in Munich, Sep 2001.

Because of who it was against, the emphatic result, in their backyard and in a World Cup qualifier. It's difficult to beat that. (It was his sixth cap and first goal).

Making his point: Gerrard celebrates after scoring against Germany in 2001

Making his point: Gerrard celebrates after scoring against Germany in 2001

Best England team-mate: Paul Scholes

His game is very similar to mine and I appreciate what he's got, to see him in training and play alongside him. I like him as a person. What he's done at Manchester United as well. Yeah, Scholes. Or Wayne Rooney.

Best opponent: Zinedine Zidane

Magical feet. Feet like hands. Special.

French fancy: Gerrard cites Zidane as the best opponent he has faced in an England shirt

French fancy: Gerrard cites Zidane as the best opponent he has faced in an England shirt

Other fond memories:

Scoring at tournaments, leading the team out and getting wins at tournaments.

The Barmy Army when they get behind you. The whole country in the tournaments, the way it buzzes, when you see the TV and the way the country completely changes.

Although they have often finished in disappointment with penalty shootouts, the whole experience of going away with England and being the leader of a great team gives me memories that will live with me for ever.

Greek tragedy: Gerrard says his display in the 2002 World Cup qualifier against Greece was his worst for England

Greek tragedy: Gerrard says his display in the World Cup qualifier against Greece was his worst for England

Worst performance…

I always go back to the game against Greece when Beckham scored the worldy free-kick. That was a disappointing performance by me, on the back of me being out a bit late past bedtime. So that's a bad memory

The top three England goals:v Germany, World Cup qualifier in Munich, September 2001

I've scored many a good goal for Liverpool and I have 19 goals for England but this is up there in my top three. The pitch being wet helped; if it had been dry it might not have gone in, but they are the bits of luck you need to score good goals and win big games.

v Macedonia, European Championships qualifier at Southampton, October 2002

That was a decent strike, a volley.

v Hungary, friendly at Wembley, August 2010

I ran past three men in the area and scored. I don't know how I did it, but there you go (It was his last goal).

Yann M"Vila banned from France duty until 2014

Rebel M'Vila handed TWO-YEAR ban from France squads following nightclub trip

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UPDATED:

16:56 GMT, 8 November 2012

Former Arsenal and Tottenham transfer target Yann M'Vila has been suspended from the France national squad until 2014.

The 22-year-old was disciplined along with Under 21 internationals Wissam Ben Yedder, Antoine Griezman, Chris Mavinga and M'baye Niang after they visited a nightclub in between the crucial Euro 2013 qualifying matches against Norway in October.

While the other players have been handed bans lasting until December 31, 2013, Stade Rennais midfielder M'Vila, who has 22 caps, has been issued a more severe sanction, preventing him from representing his country at any level until Monday, June 30, 2014, leaving his potential participation in the World Cup in serious jeopardy.

Marching orders: Yann M'vila has been banned from the France set-up for two years

Marching orders: Yann M'vila has been banned from the France set-up for two years

Marching orders: Yann M'vila has been banned from the France set-up for two years

Previously, the midfielder was suspended for one match after refusing to shake the hand of coach Laurent Blanc and substitute Olivier Giroud when he was taken off against Spain during Euro 2012.

Meanwhile, France coach Didier Deschamps has given playmaker Yoann Gourcuff another chance to resurrect his international career by including him in the squad to play Italy.

Gourcuff has struggled with loss of form and injuries since his standout year in helping Bordeaux to the league title four seasons ago, leading to comparisons with famed No 10 Zinedine Zidane.

Blanc kept faith with him for several months last season, but then left him out from his squad for Euro 2012.

But Gourcuff has been in good form since returning to the Lyon side after a spell out through injury. He was outstanding in the 5-2 thrashing of Bastia last time out.

Australian broadcaster launches Emile Heskey Cam

Heskey Cam! Ever wanted to watch him for the full 90
minutes Well, now you can…

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UPDATED:

11:57 GMT, 25 October 2012

His number nine shirt sold out within minutes due to unprecedented demand and his arrival sold the Newcastle Jets 2,000 more season tickets… but Emile Heskey fever Down Under just got a little more bizarre.

An Australian broadcaster has launched a live 'Heskey Cam', so fans of the English striker, 34, can study his every move in Friday night's clash with the Melbourne Victory.

Fox Sports will offer the service via the red button during their live coverage of the A-League fixture, having previously broadcast Alessandro Del Piero Cam and Shinji Ono Cam.

No hiding for Heskey: Fox Sports is offering a Heskey Cam service for Friday night's match between the Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory

No hiding for Heskey: Fox Sports is offering a Heskey Cam service for Friday night's match between the Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory

On target: Emile Heskey opened his account for the Newcastle Jets against Sydney FC in A-League round two

On target: Emile Heskey opened his account for the Newcastle Jets against Sydney FC in A-League round two

An advert for the service says: 'Heskey Cam gives you it all: one camera, one hero; every pass, every run, everything Heskey does on the pitch, you'll see it first with the Heskey Cam, the dedicated broadcast providing a rare insight into what makes Heskey so good.'

While English fans might question the use of the words 'run' and 'so good', Heskey has got off to an excellent start in Australia.

And another! Heskey followed it up with a second goal against the Central Coast Mariners

And another! Heskey followed it up with a second goal against the Central Coast Mariners

Heskey scored on his second appearance for the Jets, in a 3-2 win over a Sydney FC side featuring Del Piero.

He followed that up a week later with another, as the Jets beat Central Coast Mariners 2-1.

COULD THE HESKEY FOOTAGE TURN INTO THIS…

A French documentary in 2006 turned footage shot of Real Madrid player Zinedine Zidane in a La Liga match with Villarreal into a feature-length film.

'Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait' used film from 17 synchronised cameras at the Bernabeu trained exclusively on Zidane.

The idea was to showcase the Frenchman's genius, but Zidane was actually sent off towards the end of the match after starting a brawl.

Poetry in motion: A French filmmaker turned player cam footage of Zinedine Zidane into a feature-length documentary

Poetry in motion: A French filmmaker turned player cam footage of Zinedine Zidane into a feature-length documentary

Back in 1970, the German filmmaker Hellmuth Costard made 'Football As Never Before' which featured the Manchester United legend George Best in a game against Coventry City.

Costard used eight 16mm film cameras to track Best's every movement.

With Heskey on his way to becoming a club legend at Newcastle Jets, perhaps Friday's footage will one day be on the big screen.

Clip from 'Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait'

Zinedine Zidane headbutt statue unveiled

Call this art Zidane's infamous World Cup final headbutt captured in bronze statue

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UPDATED:

17:06 GMT, 26 September 2012

Zinedine Zidane's infamous World Cup final headbutt on Marco Materazzi has been immortalised by a five-metre high bronze statue in the heart of Paris.

The shocking incident, in the 110th minute of the 2006 World Cup final with Italy, ended the legendary Frenchman's international career and the red mist moment has been captured by Algerian-born artist Adel Abdessemed.

Immortalised in Bronze: A statue depicting Zinedine Zidane's headbutt on Italy's Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final has been unveiled outside the Pompidou museum in Paris

Immortalised in Bronze: A statue depicting Zinedine Zidane's headbutt on Italy's Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final has been unveiled outside the Pompidou museum in Paris

The new statue of Zinedine Zidane's headbutt in Paris

The new statue unveiled of Zinedine Zidane's headbutt on Marco Materazzi

Moment of impact: The statue, by Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed, captured the red mist moment from the 2006 World Cup final between Italy and France in Berlin

The statue has been unveiled outside the famous Pompidou art museum and shows the grimace on the Italian defender's face as Zidane plants his shaven head into his chest.

Zidane had been planning to step down from the national team after the tournament but he bowed out early – and literally – after Materazzi allegedly made a derogatory remark about his sister.

It meant Zidane, one of the most gifted midfielders of his generation who shone for Juventus and Real Madrid and helped France to World Cup glory in 1998, missed the penalty shoot-out in which Italy won.

This is the end: The incident marked the conclusion of Zidane's illustrious international career

This is the end: The incident marked the conclusion of Zidane's illustrious international career

Ronaldo to star in reality TV show to lose weight

Ronaldo's watching his weight… now you can too! Legend to star in TV fitness show

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UPDATED:

11:04 GMT, 21 September 2012

Brazil football legend Ronaldo will star in his own reality TV show in a bid to lose weight.

The portly 36-year-old striker wants to ditch the extra pounds gained since quitting the sport so he is fit for an annual charity match, hosted alongside his ex-Real Madrid team-mate Zinedine Zidane, later this year.

And for extra motivation, he will do so under the glare of millions as he appears in a regular segment on the popular Fantstico entertainment programme on the Globo channel.

Let it all hang out: Ronaldo (right) displays his fuller figure in retirement

Let it all hang out: Ronaldo displays his fuller figure in retirement

Let it all hang out: Ronaldo displays his fuller figure in retirement

Ronaldo Nazario da Lima, to give his full name, said: 'I have a game against Zidane's friends in Porto Alegre in December and I want to be ready for it. That's the big challenge.'

Viewers will see the party-loving Rio de Janeiro native following a strict exercise regime and a diet created by a nutritionist.

Ronaldo's exact weight is not known, but the former Inter Milan and Barcelona goal-scorers' ballooning stomach has been the subject of ridicule across the world for several years.

Looking trim: Ronaldo at his peak during Brazil's World Cup win in 2002

Looking trim: Ronaldo at his peak during Brazil's World Cup win in 2002

Looking trim: Ronaldo at his peak during Brazil's World Cup win in 2002

In the 90s and early 2000s he was the star of his national side, winning two World Cups. Domestically, he won every title in Spain, but failed to lift the Champions League title.

A series of knee injuries deprived him of an even more successful career, leaving him on the treatment table for lengthy periods at a time.

He then started suffering from thyroid problems, which led to him piling on the pounds. He retired from football last February.

The match will raise money and awareness about poverty that affects millions across the world, reports Brazilian media.

Jonathan Woodgate wants to help Middlesbrough get back in the Premier League

Man on a mission: I want Middlesbrough back in the top flight, says Woodgate

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UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 12 July 2012

As he contemplated the final, and arguably most important move of his life, Jonathan Woodgate was in a reflective and honest mood.

‘I have had some good moves,’ he said on his return to Middlesbrough’s training ground. ‘But in my opinion, mine has been a career that has not been great. I have not fulfilled at clubs due to injuries but that is part of life.

‘That might be an honest thing to say but it’s right though, isn’t it What have I won Not much. The FA Youth Cup, the Carling Cup. Scored the winner in that one. Went in off my nose, but it was still the winner.’

New boys: Emanuel Ledesma, Stuart Parnaby, Jonathan Woodgate and Grant Leadbitter line up

New boys: Emanuel Ledesma, Stuart Parnaby, Jonathan Woodgate and Grant Leadbitter line up

Mowbray welcomes Woody

Boro boss Tony Mowbray is delighted to have been able to add a player of proven quality and experience to his squad.
'In footballing terms, he is still relatively young. As a central defender, I know I played my best football around the age Jonathan is, after 30 years old,' he said.
'I played until I was 37 and in that context, he has got five years left at the top, and hopefully playing in the Premier League for a good few of those years.
'We have to get over the hurdle in front of us, of course, but I am delighted and I hope the people of Teesside are delighted that Jonathan has made this commitment to come back and help his home-town club get back to the Premier League. Not just for, hopefully, his performances on the field, but his experience of what it takes to be a top footballer.
'Just sitting and chatting, he has played with Zinedine Zidane and the original, Brazilian Ronaldo – it puts into context the quality of players, and to hear him talk, generally the best players have been the best professionals, who come in every day and do it right.'

Woodgate has eight England caps, which seems pitifully low for a central defender of such astonishing natural ability and pace.

A lengthy c.v. dating back to Leeds
includes a spell at Real Madrid with Zidane, Ronaldo, Beckham, but he
played just 14 games for Los Merengues before his first move back to
Teesside.

He is not unwilling to talk about that 13.4million move from Newcastle to Madrid, just not entirely comfortable with it.

‘I get embarrassed about it,’ he says.
‘I don’t like talking about Real Madrid and all that because it does my
head in. I was there years ago and I was at Stoke last season. In my
mind, let’s forget about all that.

‘The club where there is the biggest
“what if” is obviously Real Madrid but I cannot dwell on it. There are a
lot of “what ifs” but I try not to look at my past, I’d rather
concentrate on my future.’

One thing he can’t forget is his
Madrid debut, seven years ago against Athletic Bilbao. Woodgate had been
out for a year when he scored an own goal and was sent off. It earned
him cult status among Madrid fans and still brings a smile to his face.

Dramatic debut: Woodgate trudges off at the Bernabeu after being sent for an early bath

Dramatic debut: Woodgate trudges off at the Bernabeu after being sent for an early bath

Low point Not at all.

‘That was a good point in my career because I was fit again,’ he said. ‘And the fans even clapped me off.

‘Ronaldo came up to me and said,
“Don’t worry about it, you are playing”. I said, “Yeah, you’re right”.
We won that game 4-1, so it might have been different if we’d lost.

‘The low points are when you get
injured for the first time at a new club and it gets worse and you can’t
get back, then you come back too early and something happens again.

‘When you’re out there training and
the same injury comes. When you go to a new club and you are injured and
have an opportunity to prove yourself at the top and it just
collapses.

That’s the one that kills you.’

Moving on: Woodgate spent one season at Stoke after joining from Tottenham

Moving on: Woodgate spent one season at Stoke after joining from Tottenham

Much has changed at Middlesbrough
since Woodgate last wore the club’s red shirt. Sitting alongside manager
Tony Mowbray and fellow new signings Stuart Parnaby, Grant Leadbitter
and Emmanuel Ledesma was proof of that.

The likes of Mark Viduka, Gaizka
Mendieta, Fabio Rochemback, Mark Schwarzer and Gareth Southgate are long
gone — although Julio Arca is still there.

Woodgate has returned to Teesside
older, wiser and probably fitter. He is determined to secure promotion
for his hometown club after turning his back on the top flight.

Home favourite: Woodgate has previously spent time playing for his boyhood club

Home favourite: Woodgate has previously spent time playing for his boyhood club

Two weeks ago the defender was about
to head out for a jog when a mystery number flashed up on his mobile. He
nearly didn’t take the call, but is glad he did.

‘It was Steve Gibson (Middlesbrough
chairman). He said, “Do you want to have a chat and come and play for
Boro again” The lure of Middlesbrough, my hometown team, the idea of
trying to get them back in the Premier League was a big pull,’ Woodgate
said. ‘I had to think about it because I could have stayed in the
Premier League.

‘I came for a chat, spoke to the
manager. I could see how much he loves football and how many games he
watches, which is unbelievable, and the way he wants to progress and the
way he wants to play. We were on the same song sheet.

‘This is not a lack of ambition. I
want to try to get in the Premier League. I could have stayed at Stoke
or wherever and not played. But what do I want to do that for I am 32
and if I help get Middlesbrough in the Premier League it will be a
massive achievement and great for the area I love.’

Romain Amalfitano relishing challenge at Newcastle United

Amalfitano vows to repay faith of Pardew after joining Newcastle's French connection

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UPDATED:

05:45 GMT, 10 July 2012

Newcastle new boy Romain Amalfitano is determined to be his own man as he attempts to make his way in English football.

The 22-year-old former Reims midfielder, like a generation of French
players, grew up idolising superstar Zinedine Zidane, but he insists he
can only play in his own way.

New arrival: Amalfitano officially joins from Reims at the end of June

New arrival: Amalfitano officially joins from Reims at the end of June

French fancy: Newcastle have dipped into the French market once again

French fancy: Newcastle have dipped into the French market once again

Asked about his role models as a youngster, he told NUFC TV: 'Being
French, I would have to say Zinedine Zidane, but I didn't really have
anybody particular in mind who I was looking up to.

'I try to look at all midfield players and see what each of them is doing, but I want to be and stay myself.

'My first goal is to impose myself. Obviously, I know that is not going
to be easy and football goes very quickly, but it is not impossible.

'This is what I am here for. I try not to think about things too much,
take it day by day and not ask myself too many questions so I can
perform better.'

Amalfitano, like teenager Gael Bigirimana, faces the task of forcing his
way into a midfield which shone in last season's fifth-place Barclays
Premier League finish.

He knows that will be a significant challenge, but is relishing the
chance to show the manager and the Tyneside public exactly what he can
do.

He said: 'I am obviously very excited to know that there are 52,000 fans
in the stadium. I think there is a whole city behind this club
supporting the club.

'Obviously, I am very excited and I can also feel the pressure. I will have to deal with that and I will adapt.

'I just want to prove to them that I have the desire and energy to
succeed. I really want to do well here, not only on a personal level,
but also for the club.

Building: Alan Pardew wants to take Newcastle forward

Building: Alan Pardew wants to take Newcastle forward

'I want to show them that the club trusted in me. I am here now and I want to do everything I can.'

Amalfitano's first task on the pitch is to adapt to a new football culture and off it, to learn English.

However, while both will take some time, he is confident the football side of things will come naturally to him.

He said: 'Yes, that's for certain, I will have to adapt. But it's still football, it is universal.

'I have always done everything to be successful, so there is no reason
why I would not be able to here, and if I need to, I will adapt.

'The only issue is the language barrier, but there are many French players, so that is very helpful.

'Demba [Ba], Gabby Obertan, Sylvain Marveaux and also Mehdi [Abeid], who
I have just met, players who speak my language, have helped me.'