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If football unites to support Help for Heroes it will be victory for the beautiful game, ordinary fans and charity that changes lives

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HelpForHeroesLogo400x216 BY JOHN GUBBA

From David Beckham to His Royal Highness Prince William, the charity Help For Heroes has been backed by some of the biggest names in Britain. Launched in October 2007 in response to the desire of ordinary people to do something practical to help our wounded servicemen and women, it is a cause that unites all sections of our society.

The ethos of Help For Heroes is simple. It  is strictly non-political and non-judgemental, recognising that wars happen under any government. As individuals we are powerless to stop our men and women from being killed and wounded. But by joining together we can do something practical to help.

It is this symbollic togetherness that a group of fans hope to inspire across a football community so often divided by tribal hostility and hatred, as they attempt to raise a five figure sum in aid of Help for Heroes by visiting 92 clubs in 92 hours.

92plus1-poster400x225The combination of raising sponsorship for this most popular of charities, as well as trying to foster a new spirit of friendship and respect throughout the football family is winning the support of a growing number of ex-professionals.

WEMBLEY TO WEMBLEY 

Former Tottenham, Chelsea and Swindon Town legend Micky Hazard is just one of the old pros backing the 92 Plus 1 campaign launched by a four-man squad who will will leave Wembley Stadium after England’s World Cup qualifier with Montenegro on Friday October 11. The aim is to be back in time for the Poland game on Tuesday, October 15 that could determine the fate of Roy Hodgson’s team.

Along the way – a 2,600 mile road trip – they will visit every Premier and Football League ground collecting donations and stopping to meet a host of famous names. Hazard, Wayne Fereday and Daryl Sutch are some of the names already signed up to support the whistle-stop tour and hopes are high of attracting a stellar line-up of football heroes. Beckham has already had his invitation “and if he gets involved that would make all our hard work worthwhile and give us a chance of hitting our target” says organiser Simon Cox.

Cox and fellow businessman Mike Peters will be joined on their unique road trip by Darren Young, formerly of the Royal Air Force, and Mark Burns, a serving member of HM Armed Forces as well as being a coach at Swindon Town’s Football Academy.

The mission is summed up by Burns who says: “I have served throughout the world and in more recent years have unfortunately had to witness the devastating consequences of frontline combat on our troops. They have been left with devastating injuries that have an effect long after leaving the front line. help for heroes is a fantastic charity that supports our troops and is something my wife has been involved raising money for throughout the years and is a charity I felt I personally wanted to do something for.”

Bryn Parry, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Offer of Help for Heroes, promises the money raised by 92 Plus 1 will “provide practical, direct support to those who suffered life-changing injuries and illnesses while serving our country.”

Make no mistake, the power of publicity  for this challenge being undertaken by four ordinary football fans will be even more valuable than the direct cash raised – and if it can help promote peace and respect between supporters in a media-driven world that too often thrives on confrontation, that will be a priceless bonus that we should all support.

WHAT SHANKLY REALLY MEANT WHEN HE TALKED ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH 

The great Bill Shankly once said: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” Those of us who are passionate about supporting our team know what he meant, but no-one who has lost a loved one – or anyone of sound mind who is being serious – will ever agree with the literal meaning of that quote.

Shanks was a legend who understood the importance of rivalry. But he also understood the value of friendship and respect. He rarely missed a match at Old Trafford when Liverpool were not in action because he loved the beautiful game and enjoyed watching Manchester United.  It is hard to imagine such a thing happening today, but he even wore an MUFC tie when he took his place in the director’s box. Managers, fans and media commentators can all learn from the values of days gone by.

If this modest road trip by our selfless ’92 Club Plus 1′ fund-raisers can help spread that message it will be an effort far greater than the value of the money raised.

‘World would be a boring place without Paddy Crerand’ – don’t miss this remarkable feature-length tribute to unique football legend

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BY JOHN GUBBA

There is no one in football quite like Paddy Crerand – and this weekend Manchester United fans around the world will enjoy a fascinating and revealing insight into the life of one of the club’s most colourful personalities when my long-awaited documentary ‘Paddy 50 Years’ premieres on MUTV.

Signed by Matt Busby for £56,000 on 6 February 1963, the kid from the Gorbals was the Paul Scholes of his generation and enjoyed a pivotal role in a hugely successful side that became the first English winners of the European Cup.

Now one of the club’s most fanatical supporters, Paddy has re-invented himself as an outspoken football pundit and has his own show on the club’s TV Channel. His recent radio rant that followed the Manchester derby – when contributors to BBC 5Live Breakfast blamed Rio Ferdinand for inciting the crowd and being hit by a coin – trended worldwide on twitter.

It was an insanely funny piece of radio that re-inforced his cult status with United’s current stars and skipper Patrice Evra says: “The players all love Paddy.” Not that this was the first time that he has vented his fury on radio in his uniquely passionate style to defend a Red Devil. Guess who was dominating the airwaves in support of Eric Cantona after his infamous kung-fu attack on abusive Crystal Palace fan Matthews Simmons back in 1995?

This Glasgow-born Celt of Irish descent is a fascinating character adored by his fans, friends and family alike because he is a man of the people who speaks his mind and is fervently loyal. Sent off six times, he insists he never started a fight but always finished it. And yet, behind that tough-tackling, tough-talking exterior, is a man with a heart of gold.

There are many fascinating chapters in the life of the 73-year-old who briefly dabbled in coaching and management after hanging up his boots. While his passion for politics famously saw him act as a peacemaker between the IRA and his old friend John Hume back in the seventies. Then there was his spell as a pub landlord when the likes of Bryan Robson, Paul McGrath, Alan Brazil, Norman Whiteside and Kevin Moran were his regulars.

“The world would be a boring place without Paddy Crerand,” declares Brian Kidd, who used to clean the Scottish international’s boots when he started out as an apprentice at Old Trafford. Kiddo, of course, is now Roberto Mancini’s assistant at rivals Manchester City. But he remains a close friend and is one of the stars of our feature-length documentary tribute to the United legend.

Paddy Crerand looks back on the past 50 years
Paddy Crerand looks back on the past 50 years in an emotional documentary tribute

It is a film laced with tragedy as well as triumph and I expect a few tears will be shed when viewers share Paddy’s emotional trip down memory lane that begins with the Second World War when his father was killed by a German bomb.

When Paddy finally signed for United from his boyhood heroes Celtic, it was the start of a golden era that saw Matt Busby’s men win the FA Cup, two league Championships and the 1968 European Cup in a remarkable five year spell. “I’d only been at United three months when we beat Leicester City 3-1 in the Cup Final at Wembley,” says our hero, who lined up against Frank McLintock, a player he’d previously faced in schools football back in their Gorbals days.

It was a decade when George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton became the iconic names at Manchester United. All three were European footballers of the Year. But Paddy was the outstanding half-back who made Busby’s team tick.

Nobby Stiles, who reverted to a more defensive role when Crerand arrived, says: “For me Paddy signing was the best thing that ever happened because it meant I moved back alongside Bill Foulkes, which was my best position.”

In the documentary, Sir Alex Ferguson and his brother Martin both talk about their memories of Paddy in the early days. Martin worked with Paddy in the shipyard before he signed for Celtic, and talks about how they used to play football at lunchtime in steel toe-capped boots. Sir Alex recalls Paddy playing junior football for Duntocher Hibs and likes to remind everyone that Celtic were beaten 4-nil by Rangers in Paddy’s final game north of the border.

The biggest accolade comes from Denis Law who told me: “Paddy  was one of the best midfield players Scotland ever had.” Now that is some tribute from my good friend the Lawman who many of us regard as the greatest Scottish player of them all.

To fully appreciate what I am talking about you will have to watch the documentary and I am proud to say that my script has been brought to life by the narration of Bernard Hill, the Hollywood actor who starred in Lord of the Rings and Titanic.

Paddy 50 Years’ premieres exclusively this weekend on MUTV.

Watch primetime at 9pm on Sunday, February 3, or catch one of the repeat showings. You can sign up for MUTV at manutd.com/joinmutv or call 08708 486888. ‘Paddy 50 Years’ is produced, directed & scripted by John Gubba.

Rising star Nani deserves to be shortlisted for FIFA’s top award

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BY JOHN GUBBA

Lionel Messi may be the favourite to win the 2011 Ballon D’Or and claim the title of the best player in the world for a third successive year – but it is testament to the progress of Portugal’s Nani that the Manchester United star is included in FIFA’s shortlist of 23.

Nani joins team-mate Wayne Rooney and Manchester City’s new hero Sergio Aguero in a list dominated by the best of Barcelona who have no fewer than eight players nominated. Former United star Cristiano Ronaldo is also included.

But it is no surprise to me that Nani has been elevated to such heights after spending the past month working on an upcoming documentary for MUTV on the kid from Cape Verde.

MUTV documentary will pay tribute to Nani-mania

MUTV documentary will pay tribute to Nani-mania

BETTER THAN RONALDO

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http://youtu.be/eX8jspzs4zU

 

The list will be reduced down to three on Dec 5 with the winner being announced in Zurich on Jan 9.

Player nominees: Eric Abidal (France), Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Karim Benzema (France), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Dani Alves (Brazil), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Muller (Germany), Nani (Portugal), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Gerard Pique (Spain), Wayne Rooney (England), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), David Villa (Spain), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Xavi (Spain).

The English Premier League is best on the planet and football fans are so fickle – just ask Robin Van Persie and Arsene Wenger!

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BY JOHN GUBBA

To all those fickle football fans out there who think one bad result or two is the end of the world, just take a look at the way Arsenal have bounced back from that 8-2 demolition by Manchester United.

Led by Robin Van Persie, the most outstanding striker of the season so far, Saturday’s remarkable 5-3 triumph at Chelsea was the Gunners’ eighth win in nine matches. So what do those ridiculous fans who were baying for the head of Arsene Wenger have to say for themselves now?

    Twitter-ific - Robin Van Persie is the Premier League's Top Gun

Twitter-ific - RVP's hat-trick at Chelsea took tally to 28 goals in 27 PL matches

When Manchester United crashed 6-1 at home to neighbours City it was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Premier League. But does that make Sir Alex Ferguson’s men a bunch of no-hopers overnight? Of course it doesn’t – and that’s the point.

City boss Roberto Mancini won a lot of respect from United fans when he refused to crow about the way his side destroyed the Reds at Old Trafford. And the Italian knows only too well that there is a long way to go to win the toughest League in the world.

The truth is football fans in England are so lucky to have the Premier League – the most exciting and popular domestic competition on the planet. It will be fascinating to see if anyone can stop City’s mega millionaires becoming champions. But you can bet your bottom dollar there will be many more twists and turns before the destination of the silverware is decided in May.

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Fireworks from Mario Balotelli as City prove too hot to handle – but how will Reds respond to worst ever Premier League defeat?

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi9aew3Xw3w

Click to buy DVD

Click to buy DVD

BY JOHN GUBBA

When Mario Balotelli accidentally set his house on fire by letting off a firework in the early hours of Saturday morning the damage was minimal. But 24 hours later the unpredictable Italian striker created the kind of havoc that will earn him cult status among Manchester City fans.

Two opening goals from Balotelli sent City on their way to a crushing 6-1 defeat of Manchester United at Old Trafford that will send shock waves not just around the Premier League, but the whole of Europe. His cheeky gesture after scoring his first was to reveal a t-shirt bearing the slogan “Why Always Me?” that will only add fuel to the adulation that Balotelli cherishes.

Whatever the impact of a red card for Jonny Evans when United trailed 1-nil early in the second half, there was no avoiding the fact that City were the worthy winners on the day. And Roberto Mancini’s men have made a powerful statement about their ability to challenge United’s supremacy and win their first Premier League title. But let’s not carried away by one bad day for United.

Great Goals on DVD

Great Goals on DVD

The team that crushed Arsenal 8-2 only a few weeks ago when they also demolished Spurs and Chelsea have not suddenly become a bad team overnight. Neither have City – outclassed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League a short while aho – suddenly become world beaters.

It is results like these that makes football the most exciting game in the world,  and the Premier League the most watched competition on the planet.

The big question now is ‘How will United respond to this challenge for their title as Champions of England?’ Only at the end of the season will we have our answer.

But Sir Alex Ferguson – who conceded his side played “suicidal football” as they chased to get back into the game has already promised “there will be a response to that”.

Meanwhile, City boss Roberto Mancini, who admitted “the sending off changed everything” insisted: “We have to continue to improve – we have only played nine games. There is a long way to go”

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Champions League success for Manchester giants United and City is only the starter before the main course at Old Trafford

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BY JOHN GUBBA

The biggest compliment you can pay Manchester City is that they are picking up good habits from their more famous rivals over at United – and Sergio Aguero’s stoppage time winner in the Champions League against Villareal is one of the most precious goals he will score all season.

Instead of settling for the paltry return of two points from their opening three Group matches, City crucially ended the night on four points and with qualification to the knockout stages back in their grasp courtesy of their dramatic 2-1 win. Neither Manchester club was at their best, as United needed second half penalties from Wayne Rooney to see off Otelul Galati in Romania and claim an equally precious 2-0 triumph that puts the Reds in second place behind Benfica in Group C.

But this was only the starter in a week where the main course is reserved for Sunday lunchtime at Old Trafford.

For both clubs there is the feeling that tonight was the lull before the storm as the countdown begins to the most intriguing Manchester derby in years. With City holding a two point advantage, the battle between the Premier League’s top two is the most eagerly awaited match of the season so far at a time when the Mancunian rivalry grows more intense with every meeting.

Whatever the outcome, it will tell us a lot about how the season is destined to unfold – and whether or not City have made any progress since being brushed aside 3-2 by United in the pre-season Community Shield at Wembley.

http://youtu.be/XNbHiYRzG2Q

where will Carlos Tevez will be on Sunday lunchtime?

What a difference a season makes - where will Carlos Tevez will be on Sunday lunchtime?

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Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘They treat Man United like s***!

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Ferguson four letter word rant at FA

Ferguson four letter word rant at FA

For those of us in the UK who can’t afford the luxury of a Sky subscription, news that Sir Alex Ferguson has ended his ban on talking to the BBC has got to be good news.

The boss began his boycott of the broadcaster in 2004 following allegations made against his son, Jason, in a TV documentary. A statement said: “Sir Alex and the BBC have put behind them the difficulties which led to Sir Alex feeling unable to appear on BBC programmes.”

In his attack on the FA Fergie blasted: ‘They treat Man United like s***! United could have up to eight players called up for England duty next week by Fabio Capello and Ferguson is unhappy the organisation do not give his club more respect.

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Wayne Rooney hair transplant: Is he going grey?

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BY JOHN GUBBA

Want to find out the truth about hair transplants? Take a look at the ‘Bald Truth’ documentary which tackles Wayne Rooney’s new hair transplant.

Is Wayne Rooney now going grey after spending £30,000 on a new hair transplant?

Wayne Rooney just a couple of months ago with his receding hair line (but not grey!)

Wayne Rooney after £30,000 hair transplant. But is that grey hair I see???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Gubba talks to Tony Livesey live on Radio 5 about Wayne Rooney’s new hair transplant.

 

Uncover the secrecy that has made it difficult to find out the truth about hair replacement techniques. We will provide a revealing insight into the latest procedure that enables individual hairs to be transplanted non-invasively to create a natural result every time and compare this with the many other options available including the horror stories that have left patients scarred for life.

Bald Truth Doc

 

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FIFA 12: WAYNE ROONEY BEFORE AND AFTER HAIR TRANSPLANT

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Wayne Rooney before and after hair transplant

#hairwego - Hats off to EA Sports for paying tribute to Wazza's new barnet

BY JOHN GUBBA

FIFA 12 is all about authenticity – but the guys at EA Sports have taken attention to detail  to a whole new level with a newlook Wayne Rooney.

In the upcoming release of FIFA 12, the makers of the world’s most famous football game have painstakingly upgraded Wayne Rooney’s hairstyle so his new hair transplant is plain to see. “Trust me this will be the best FIFA game ever,” announced Rooney on Twitter.

Wazza’s receding hairline is clearly visible in the old version. But you can see the difference in incredible detail in the new improved image of the Manchester United and England superstar, who films the commercial for the new FIFA game at the end of August.

If you want to watch the inside story on the Wayne Rooney treatment, check out the campaign to launch a revealing new documentary, The Bald Truth

INDIA’S ICONIC BATSMAN VIRENDER SEHWAG WON WORLD CUP AFTER HAVING ‘A WAYNE ROONEY’

Check out the amazing new gameplay features in action on FIFA 12

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PAUL SCHOLES SIGNS OFF WITH A TRADEMARK NETBUSTER AS SOCCER GREATS PAY TRIBUTE TO THE GINGER-HAIRED GENIUS

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He's the greatest! Scholes with Pele

He's the greatest! Scholes with Pele


BY JOHN GUBBA

Truly great footballers let their feet do the talking – and no one in the history of the beautiful game has epitomised that sentiment more eloquently than Paul Scholes.

The ginger-haired genius even managed to serve up a glorious strike in his testimonial match at a sold out Old Trafford tonight as the Manchester United side he has served faithful for nearly 17 years gave New York Cosmos a 6-0 thrashing.

Watched by one of his idol’s Pele, arguably the greatest footballer of all-time, and the incomparable Eric Cantona, Scholesy unleashed a trademark rasping drive past Brad Friedel to open the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes.

It was pure theatre as Unted’s shy and retiring midfield maestro bowed out with a flash of brilliance that brought the house down. It reminded everyone just why Scholes has earned the highest of accolades from so many of the greatest names in football.

Anyone who knows anything about football will appreciate why the unassuming Salford-born 36-year-old is rated as the best English footballer since Sir Bobby Charlton.

Had Scholes been given more respect by the bespectacled Swede Sven Goran Eriksson when he was England manager, who knows, our so-called golden generation may have emulated Sir Bobby’s feat of winning the World Cup in 1966 instead of falling to Portugal in the quarter-finals 40 years later in Germany.

The greatest players around the world have never understood why Scholes was allowed to retire early from the England team. Eriksson should have been down on his hands and knees begging him to carry on.

It is criminal that Scholes earned the last of his 66 caps against Portugal in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004. Fabio Capello came to his senses much too late when he waited until the last minute to sound him out for a dramatic comeback at last year’s World Cup in South Africa.

“I had only been given a couple of hours, so it was a bit of a rush job,” said Scholes. “But the World Cup is the biggest tournament you can be involved in. I wish I had gone. I did feel as though I had made the wrong decision. There was a touch of regret, but it doesn’t matter now. It’s gone.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAyzPHi62yk&NR=1

A great little feature here with Scholesy being quizzed by my old mate Mark Sullivan at MUTV

Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed Paul Scholes as one of Manchester United’s greatest players of all time”.  And many  legends of the game have added equally gushing praise for the man who is surely the most modest footballing genius in living memory.

“My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder. Scholes is undoubtedly the greatest midfielder of his generation” – Zinedine Zidane

“For me, it’s Paul Scholes. He’ll do ridiculous things in training like say: ‘You see that tree over there?’ – it’ll be 40 yards away – ‘I’m going to hit it.’ And he’ll do it. Everyone at the club considers him the best” – Rio Ferdinand

“Paul Scholes would have been one of my first choices for putting together a great team – that goes to show how highly I have always rated him. An all-round midfielder who possesses quality and character in abundance” – Marcello Lippi

“I tell anyone who asks me – Scholes is the best English player” – Laurent Blanc

“Without any doubt the best player in the Premiership has to be Paul Scholes. He knows how to do everything, and he is the one who directs the way his team plays. On top of that, he has indestructible mental strength, and he is a genuine competitor” – Thierry Henry

France’s World Cup winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez: “He’s the best player I ever played with.”

“Everyone of us should emulate him. We can all learn from Paul Scholes” – Edgar Davids

“I have no hesitation in putting a name to the embodiment of all that I think is best about football. It’s Paul Scholes.” – Sir Bobby Charlton

The last word goes to Scholesy – delighted with his farewell goal on his final appearance –  who told the fans at the end of his testimonial: “I just want to say ‘thank you’ to everyone. The goal was nice, that’s what I say it’s about. Memories. I just hope I’ve given the fans some decent memories. It was a really nice goal and I was pleased with it.”

What the fans think of Paul Scholes

What the fans think of Paul Scholes