Archive for the ‘Soccer’ tag
If football unites to support Help for Heroes it will be victory for the beautiful game, ordinary fans and charity that changes lives
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.
The 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.
Michael Owen a former England striker has announced his retirement from football at the end of the season.
Debuting for Liverpool at only 17 years old, before his famous solo goal for England against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup.
Owen, 33, who scored 40 goals in 89 internationals, played for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United and Manchester United and is now at Stoke. Including a hattrick against Germany in England’s famous 5-1 victory over their rivals in 2001.
He said: “It is with an immense amount of pride that I am announcing my intention to retire.
“I have been very fortunate in that my career has taken me on a journey I could only have dreamed of.”
He has scored 220 goals in his club career, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup (three times) and Uefa Cup. Owen was named European Footballer of the Year in 2001 – the first Englishman to achieve the accolade since Kevin Keegan in 1979.
“Having progressed through the ranks at Liverpool to make my first-team debut at 17, before embarking upon spells at Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, not to mention representing my country on 89 occasions, I now feel it is the right time to bring the curtain down on my career,”
Mick McCarthy absolutely right! Fans of the beautiful game don’t want to see football turned into a non-contact sport
Mick McCarthy’s passionate defence of wronged midfielder Nenad Milijas is in the best interests of the beautiful game.
The Wolves player was sent off in the 1-1 draw against Arsenal despite winning the ball as McCarthy has clearly demonstrated.
But there is a lot more at stake here than a bad refereeing decision. We are talking about whether or not we want to kill the art of tackling.
While I am not advocating a return to the brutal days – when hardmen like Chopper Harris, Norman Hunter and Nobby Stiles ruled the roost – we must beware not to turn the game into a non contact sport.
McCarthy is absolutely right when he says: “I think the fabric of the British game is based on people tackling.”
And I agree whole-heartedly when the Wolves boss adds: “That’s why people come and watch because it’s exciting because people are tackled. It’s part of our game.”
Gary Speed R.I.P: 8 September 1969 – 27 November 2011
To hear that Gary Speed is dead at 42 and may have committed suicide is just one of the most shocking things I have ever heard. RIP to the Wales manager.
The statement above was my immediate reaction after the news broke on BBC Radio 5Live on Sunday afternoon. In 35 years working in the media I can’t remember a piece of news that has come as more of a shock.
Twenty four hours later as genuine heart-felt tributes continue to pour in from around the world I am still numb with disbelief.
The events leading up to the tragic end to Speed’s life and the comments from the friends and colleagues who were in contact with him only highlight why this is such a shock
Poignantly Gary Speed was in high spirits and showed no signs of anything being wrong in his life when he appeared as a guest on the BBC’s Football Focus show on Saturday with host Dan Walker.
Just 24 hours later Walker tweeted: ‘Staggered by the news of Gary Speed’s death. Was with him for most of yesterday. I genuinely cannot believe it. Thoughts with his family.’
Speed – who was also appearing with Gary McAllister on the show – told Walker that there was nothing like playing football.
Gary Speed was a role-model who was universally liked and respected by everyone in the game and everyone he came into contact with. I have met many footballers in my life in the media and none more likeable and genuine than Gary Speed.
When David Beckham agreed to leave Madrid for Major League Soccer five years ago and joined LA Galaxy most pundits wrote him off – but England’s most famous footballer revels in proving the critics wrong and the more he achieves the more popular he becomes.
It was fitting that Becks got his happy Hollywood ending with a heroic performance to secure the MLS Cup for the Galaxy in what looks like being his final game for the Americans.
Combining with Irish team-mate Robbie Keane, the 36-year-old set up Landon Donovan for the only goal in Sunday’s final against Houston Dynamo. For Beckham, playing through the pain barrier despite being clearly injured, this was his first silverware in America since his arrival in 2007.
And boy did he deserve his triumph, in front of over 31,000 fanatical MLS fans at their Home Deport stadium in Carson.
Linked with a move to wealthy Paris St-Germain, Becks said: ‘Whether I stay or not, I’ve had an amazing five years.” And summing up exactly what it meant to him he added: ‘People were talking about if we didn’t win it was going to be a disappointment and an unsuccessful five years. It’s quietened a few people which is always nice.’
Paris would definitely be the perfect sequel for the the showbiz footballer who has starred in Manchester, Madrid, Milan and Los Angeles – becoming only the second Englishman after Trevor Steven to become a champion in three different countries.
Andre Villas-Boas must drop skipper John Terry if he wants to prove he is strong enough to manage Chelsea
Ridiculous as it may sound Andre Villas-Boas’s Stamford Bridge honeymoon is already over – and the rookie Chelsea manager could be out of a job before the New Year.
While Roberto Mancini has spectacularly come of age as a Premiership manager by turning Manchester City into a genuine force to challenge Europe’s best, the problem facing AVB is that his boss Roman Abramovich has no patience. The Russian billionaire will be counting the disastrous cost of failure if Chelsea fail to qualify for the Champions League and that will now be a worry after two successive home defeats to rivals Arsenal and Liverpool.
With skipper John Terry – embarrassed by Arsenal when the Gunners trounced the Blues 5-3 last month – again the fall guy as Liverpool won 2-1 at the Bridge, Villas Boas must decide whether or not to stand by his captain.And that hot potato is a dilemma that could define his future in West London.
The Portuguese manager is only 34 years old and has only been sitting in the Stamford Bridge hot seat for 18 matches. But his appointment is only ever going to work if Abramovich makes it clear he is giving him the time he needs to re-build the Blues. And there is less chance of that happening than Carlos Tevez winning a Mr Manchester popularity contest. Especially with Abromich already making it know he would love to reappoint Guus Hiddink
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.
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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).
Whether or not John Terry is guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat at QPR, it was not acceptable to see the England captain spitting venom at Rio’s younger brother in front of a worldwide TV audience.
Terry may be an inspirational figure to some of his team mates.But that does not make him fit to be a role model and captain of his country. How many times is the overhyped Chelsea skipper going to be allowed to bring shame on England? Fabio Capello made the mistake of reinstating Terry after he’d sacked him as skipper following the Wayne Bridge affair and ironically replaced him with Rio Ferdinand.
It will be interesting to see if Capello stands by his man now, whether or not Terry is found guilty by the FA. Personally I’d like to see Terry booted out for good – and he can take Capello with him. I’d rather see England lose than succeed with Capello and Terry at the helm.
Terry, who claims it has all been a “big misunderstanding” is in line to be recalled for Chelsea’s clash with Arsenal on Saturday after being left out of the midweek Carling Cup win at Everton. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police has announced it is assessing evidence from the incident after receiving a complaint.
Earlier, Ferdinand thanked fellow players for helping him cope with the situation.
“I’d like to thank players like Jason Roberts for the support they have given me,” Ferdinand told the Telegraph. “Not just professionals at other clubs but my team-mates at QPR. They’ve been fantastic for me. Having team-mates around you, like I have, is nice to feel and nice to see.”
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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?
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.
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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Forget the politics – it is time for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to join forces and get behind Team GB’s bid for glory at London 2012
Stuart Pearce – the Englishman appointed manager – is absolutely right when he says Britain’s top young stars will all want to take their shot at Olympic Gold.
The Olympics is a unique platform for the world’s finest under 23 players to shine. Remember it was the stage that launched Lionel Messi on the way to becoming the best player on the planet. And Messi was so determined to take part he was happy for Argentinia to take Barcelona to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the argument over whether or not he could play at the Games.
That’s why the likes of Welshman Gareth Bale are expected to ignore pleas by the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish FAs not to take part for fear of losing their national status with FIFA.
Let’s face it does anyone really believe that England, Scotland, Wakes and Northern Ireland will be forced to compete as Great Britain at the FIFA World Cup.
For former Scotland manager Craig Brown to say players who take part will be “selfish” is just pathetic.
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