It was as if we had
beaten a country, more than just a football team.
- Diego Maradona, on Argentina's 2-1 victory over England in 1986
Some of our younger
players gave up football completely to go off and fight for Croatia. It
was felt that the top players, the internationals, had a duty to carry
on. When we played for Croatia, we were letting the rest of the world know
that Croatia existed.
- Igor Stimac, of Croatia and Derby County, in Hunter Davies's "London to Loweswater"
The only way we will
be going to Europe is if the club splash out and take us all to Eurodisney.
- Dean Holdsworth, on chances of success at Wimbledon
There's a rumour in
Spain that United players have to wear special red underwear with a Vodafone
logo on it. I can tell you that I haven’t seen anything like that yet but
if I have to wear it I will.
- Ricardo Lopez, newly signed Manchester United goalkeeper
Their fans threw plastic
glasses full of worms at me. It was terrible. I had worms inside my T-shirt
and they were the sort of worms that are even more disgusting after you've
- Gianluca Pagliuca, on his treatment at the hands of Parma's fans
They wanted to and
could have killed me. I have never been afraid of death, my concern was
about the safety of my relatives.
- Cameroon's Pierre Wome, after a riot starts when he misses a crucial penalty
I was shocked when
I was first introduced to the fans because they brought out a sheep, cut
its head off and then smeared blood over my forehead.
- Manchester United's Ronnie Johnsen on life with Besiktas, Turkey
"Wait until you come
to Turkey", was the shout, with fingers being passed across throats. And
that was just the kit man.
- Gareth Southgate, remembering the aftermath of England's 2-0 win over Turkey
"We stayed in a hotel
and I remember Dougie Bell vacating his room because it was full of of
cockroaches. We ate mars bars and cornflakes for the duration of our stay."
- Mark McGhee, recalling a 1980s trip to Albania
"Let's be honest. We're
not Manchester United or Arsenal, are we?"
- Sheffield Wednesday's Paolo Di Canio puts their thrashing of Spurs into context
Even Bruno N'Gotty
- The Guardian, after the defender scores in Birmingham's 5-1 shocking of Newcastle
"There's never a lot
of Brazillian football played in these games."
- Gareth Barry of Aston Villa, on Midlands derby games
"I’ve played in a Champions
League semi-final and a Uefa Cup semi-final, but this is a different game."
- Erik Bakke, preparing for a promotion playoff final with Leeds
I've got no sympathy
for him whatsoever. I just wish we had got 10 past him. At the end of the
day we've got to be ruthless and we are in the business of winning for
us. If they had scored three or four, nobody would have said do you feel
sorry for Mark Bosnich? We don't feel sorry for Craig Forrest.
- Gary Neville, after Man Utd put nine past Ipswich
"There are two things
that really get under Gary Neville's skin: scousers and policemen."
- Rio Ferdinand preparing to pull a prank on his team-mate for ITV
I actually don't feel
the years passing, although the younger players make sure to remind me
of my age. If there's a clip of Bobby Charlton playing or a game's in black
and white they'll ask: "Were you playing in that Giggsy?"
- Ryan Giggs, Man Utd's senior citizen in 2008
Ryan Giggs is British
football's most decorated player and his 28 winners medals include two
Champions League victories, a record 10 Premier League championships and
four FA Cup wins... Giggs is the only United player to have played in all
10 title-winning teams, the only player to have scored in 12 consecutive
Champions League tournaments and the only player to have scored in every
Premier League campaign since its inception.
- BBC Sport, amid rumours that Giggs will retire in 2009
Manchester City captain
Richard Dunne now holds a unique double: the joint-equal most dismissals
of any player in Premier League history (eight, along with Patrick Vieira
and Duncan Ferguson) and the joint-equal highest number of own goals (six,
along with Jamie Carragher and the long-gone but never-forgotten Frank
- Seen on F365 Mediawatch (Jan'09)
"The seagulls follow
the trawler that throws sardines into the sea."
- Eric Cantona
"The world is my lobster."
- Irish international Keith O'Neill looks ahead after injury cuts short his career
"What is your position
at the company? "
- Liverpool Right Wing-Back Jason McAteer on a credit card form
"Do you know who I
"Why, have you forgotten?"
- Rio Ferdinand fails to impress staff at a Manchester restaurant
Romario is waiting
on a commissioned report into Manchester night life.
- Speaktruth, on rumours of Romario signing for Man Utd, "Guardian Blogs"
"They could've thrown
a kitchen sink into the box and one of the guys would've headed it."
- Paul Lambert on the Scots' bravery/stupidity against the Dutch
"For Tony Adams to
confess his alcoholism like that took a lot of bottle."
- Ian Wright
"Who is Ian Ferguson?
Is he the one who is at Manchester?"
- Parma's Juan Veron, clearly overwhelmed by the threat of Rangers before their UEFA Cup tie
"They had Jan Venegoor
of...whatever you call him."
- Alex Ferguson, baffled by Mr Venegoor of Hesselink (and Celtic)
"There is something
to be said for waking up every morning and seeing the sun."
- Landon Donovan explains his reluctance to swap California for Leverkusen
"The best player in
the history of this league, no question."
- Bruce Arena, on Jaime Moreno's impact in American's Major League (2006)
"In England, they say
that Manchester is the city of rain. It's main attraction is considered
to the timetable at the railway station, where trains leave for other,
less rainy cities."
- Nemanja Vidic, Man Utd double-winner
"I'm too tired to speak
- David Ginola, after his first match winner for Newcastle
"I earn £82,000
a week and work three hours a day but life's hard when you can't read the
- Hernan Crespo, explaining how his lack of English made life in London awkward
"No matter how much
money you have here, you can’t seem to get Rice Krispies."
- Luther Blissett, after moving from Watford to AC Milan (1983)
"I wouldn't go for
a walk on my own around White Hart Lane. A lot of dark skinned people live
there. So naturally the crime rate is higher than anywhere else. It's not
nice to be a robbery victim. So I suggest that Roman doesn't walk but drives
around that area."
- Sergei Rebrov, with some advice for Roman Pavlyuchenko after he signs for Spurs
Seven Sisters tube
station is just ten minutes ride from the centre of London. I got out there
and it occurred to me that the area looked as English as the Arsenal team.
Broken windows of sooty brick houses, dirty shops selling cheap fruits
and vegetables at every corner, immigrant teenage gangs on bikes.
- Andrei Lyalin of Russian newspaper Sovetski Sport, reporting on Tottenham
"I have given up so
much for football — my friends, my parents, my sister. It has not been
easy. At Basingstoke, I would get kicked at least twice every game and
people would say things like, ‘Go back to Argentina’ and insult my Mum.
I was near to a red card once and the manager took me off. There were times
when I wondered if it was worth it, if anyone was watching."
- Sergio Torres, of Wycombe Wanderers (via Boca Jnrs and Basingstoke), in "The Times"
"Our lives are quite
boring. I spend a lot of time watching Coronation Street and Eastenders."
- Rio Ferdinand, on life as a football millionaire
"Sometimes I'd like
to have a conversation with a friend in a restaurant without feeling I'm
being watched. At this rate I will have to go on holiday to Greenland.
But maybe the Eskimos would know me."
- Fernando Torres, on the downside of popularity
Donating part of his
salary to charity will not have hurt Argentina striker Carlos Tevez as
much as being forced to wear a Brazil shirt in training. The 22-year-old
Tevez was handed both punishments by his West Ham United team mates for
storming out of Upton Park on Saturday after his substitution in their
1-0 home win over Sheffield United.
- from RTE.ie
English is not the best so I will be looking after him. I'm like his bodyguard
for the day. Pascal's taking lessons and his English is getting better
— he understands key chosen words like 'day off'."
- Jason Roberts, Wigan footballer and chronicler
"I could have signed
for Newcastle when I was 17, but I decided I would be better off at Carlisle.
I'd had a drink that night."
- Peter Beardsley
"It gets like this
in Liverpool when you're on the ferry and the sun reflects off the Mersey."
- John Aldridge on Florida during the mega-hot World Cup 94
"It's best being a
striker. If you miss five, then score the winner, you're a hero. The goalkeeper
can play a blinder, then let one in ... and he's a villain."
- Ian Rush
"On those performances
I reckon we would have taken Brazil."
- Neil Ruddock after Liverpool's 100% start to season 1994-95
"It has been so long
since Liverpool won the title, I was a 12-year-old Everton fan the last
time it happened."
- Jamie Carragher, veteran Liverpool defender
"I tried to nutmeg
him. It never came off and he gave me a slap on the back of the head and
told me to start behaving"
- Steven Gerrard on his first encounter with Paul Gascoigne.
"I always tell Cristiano
before training, 'If you do stepovers on me, I will break your legs and
rip up your shirt.' I have no wish to have the mickey taken out of me all
- Patrice Evra, on team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo
"At 15, 16, you think
you're going to be captain of England. But I realised it wasn't going to
happen for me on a windy November night in Darlington, coming to my peak
at the age of 23 but still playing for Mansfield Town."
- Adrian Boothroyd
"He shouts at you until
he's blue in the face. That, in turn makes you as angry as him, and if
you're angry your energy levels go up 10%. Since Stuart has always demanded
110%, it now means we're playing at 120%."
- Colin Cooper on Stuart Pearce's management technique.
"People say you're
too good — you're never too good to go down, believe me. I've seen it at
Leeds. We had a better team at Leeds than we have now and they went down
- Jonathan Woodgate, experiencing deja vu at Spurs (Oct'08)
We know we are not too good to go down.
- Dermot Keely, manager of that Shelbourne team
"It was like the ref had a brand new yellow card and wanted to see if it worked."
"You were only a goalkeeper."
- Diega Maradona, reported comments during a meeting with Pope John Paul II
"Believe it or not,
but sometimes lately I support the opposing team. I hope that after our
next defeat they sack Benitez. But unfortunately it's not likely to happen
as our club president likes him very much."
- Vladimir Bescgastnykh of Racing Santander
"The football ground
is my arena, my colosseum, and it doesn’t matter if I am fighting lions
or men, I feel like I am the gladiator."
– Massimo Maccarone of Middlesborough
"They have weaknesses,
the same ones which every attack-minded team has. I'm sure that they will
concede more than one at El Madrigal"
- Juan Román Riquelme of Villarreal, before their 0-0 draw with Arsenal
"We've been prepared
for that (Boro having four strikers on the pitch), because we know they
have had a few games like this"
- Fredi Kanoute, after Sevilla thrash Middlesbrough in the UEFA Cup Final
"When we kicked off
and no one came to mark me I thought, 'Hello, it’s Christmas'"
- Paul Merson gives one reason for Portsmouth's 5-0 win over Millwall
"If I had got close
enough I might have tried to kick him but I never got the chance."
- Robbie Ryan of Millwall, on marking Cristiano Ronaldo of Man Utd in FA Cup Final
"It's not a problem.
In four or five days I will be beautiful once again."
- Cristiano Ronaldo, after a head injury requires stitches
"I can’t stay in the
box and wait for the ball. I can’t — I would die."
- Thierry Henry, as critics say he should focus more on scoring
"We're going to have
to man-mark him."
- Roberto Carlos, after his Real Madrid team-mate Jonathan Woodgate scores two own goals
"My only happiness
at Sheffield Wednesday was the state of my bank account."
- Giles De Bilde
"I'd love to sign for
Everton. They are offering me a wonderful four-year deal, I could earn
three times as much as I do know at Anderlecht. I know Everton are not
a top club, they don't play in Europe."
- Tomasz Radzinski, displaying admirable honesty before signing for Everton
"It may be good enough
for the homeless, but not for an international striker."
- Pierre Van Hoijdonk, turning down Celtic's offer of £7,000 a week in 1997
"Tottenham, and I hope
the English fans will forgive me, are a club in mid-table and I need more."
- Samuel Eto, turning down a move from Barcelona to Spurs
After their game against
Lazio, Daniele De Rossi said he might leave Roma. The homegrown midfield
whiz would likely get a nice paycheck from one of Serie A's power three,
but we dock the 23-year-old points for spouting the worst cliché
in soccer: "In football, you never know what could happen" — also known
as Lesson 1.A in Footballers Media Training for Dummies.
- Jonah Freeman, "CNNSI Sport"
"What shirt am I wearin'
bruv? You serious?"
- Leeds' striker Jermaine Beckford responds to questions about his future
"The fans called me
a thieving Spaniard."
- Elena Marcelino, after playing only 17 times in 4 years for Newcastle
"In my time as an international
I have been called a sausage, a dwarf and a sheep. No, not a sheep because
we managed to beat the Faroe Islands."
- Jens Jeremies, enduring a torrid time for Germany
A devastating alliance
of Viking and Samurai.
- James Lawton, on Celtic's multi-nation attack
Player of the Season-
Stephen Ireland, Man City: The hair transplant, the undead grannies, the
Superman boxer shorts, the fact that his nickname is 'Daddy Dick', the
£90,000 Range Rover with shocking pink wheels, the message on his
website reading 'football is s**t, why did I get stuck doing it?'... words
- The Daily Mirror hand out a 3pm Emmy award (2008)
"Oxford United goalkeeper
Paul Lundin has strongly denied fans' chants that he is a Swedish porn
- Dave Woods, "The Star"
"It is very nice when
the fans get behind you, but I can assure them I am not a porn star - and
never have been."
- Paul Lundin, "The Star"
"These rumours are
completely false. I've only watched two musicals during my entire spell
in London and they are Mamma Mia and Saturday Night Fever"
- Freddie Ljungberg denies that he is gay.
"Tired after practice
I had a shower. I put a lot of soap on and after opening my eyes I realised
that I was the only naked man among 10 Turks wearing shorts. Then a German
entered the shower and I was happy. I doubt that Elton John would be happier
than me to see a naked young man."
- Besiktas striker Arild Stavrum, on the differences between Turkey and Aberdeen.
"That is rubbish. There
are three things in life where you do not need a common language - football,
music and sex."
- Turkey's Rustu Recber, who won't be picked by Barcelona until he learns Spanish
"Kevin Muscat is probably
the most hated man in football. The bottom line is what goes around comes
around. There will be someone nastier who will get him one day."
- Martin Grainger
"David James is a cretin".
- Paolo Di Canio, on his future team mate.
"I'm very happy to
have moved to West Ham, because I can play for a better team than Sheffield
- Paolo Di Canio
"Only if we realise
how sh*t we were at Blackburn can we improve."
- Paolo Di Canio
"Robot Wars is not
a sport. Guys just play with remote controls. Now, if they were wired up
and got an electrical shock each time their robot got hammered, then, yes,
it would be a sport."
- The irrepressible Paolo Di Canio
"I am a fascist, not
a racist. I give the straight arm salute because it is a salute from a
'camerata' to 'camerati'. The salute is aimed at my people. With the straight
arm I don't want to incite violence and certainly not racial hatred."
- Paolo Di Canio, after he is banned for making the straight-arm salute of Mussolini's party
"I can understand everyone,
everyone except Ray Parlour."
- Junichi Inamoto, Arsenal and Japan, on his improving English
"Denis Irwin was quiet,
intelligent, composed, sensible. I was quiet."
- Extract from "Keane, The Autobiography"
"If you prepare to
fail and you fail then you have succeeded."
- from "I, Keano: the musical", about Roy Keane
"If you love Senegal
so much, why don't you play for them?"
- Roy Keane, to Patrick Viera, in the Old Trafford tunnel
"Before the game there
was all this stuff about anti-racism and anti-bullying. It would be a good
idea to start wearing wristbands for anti-diving."
- Roy Keane, ahead of a Man Utd v Arsenal game
"I thank God for this
success. Credit must also go to Dave Whelan and Steve Bruce."
- Wigan’s Amir Zaki reshuffles the Holy Trinity (seen on DangerHere.com)
"I have no problem with not eating during Ramadan," he explained. "I've done it all my life. You get used to it and to be honest it’ll be easier here in England, especially with the games kicking off at 3 o'clock. I had more of a problem when I was playing in France, because games there start at eight o'clock in the evening. I've been fasting during Ramadan for 19 years and at least this season it happens in December, so I won't have to wait longer than half past four in the afternoon to eat."
"When I watch the English
goals on television I sometimes feel that the strikers play in defence."
- Willy Sagnol (French, plays in Germany) has a pop at English football in L'Equipe.
"I know what it is
like. I am Welsh and people shout 'sheep' at me, that sort of thing"
- Mark Delaney sympathises with players who suffer racist abuse
"He's here, he's there,
his saliva's everywhere, El Hadji Diouf, El Hadji Diouf."
- Chant heard at Bolton match after Diouf's spitting 'exploits'
"Feed the Goat and
he will score!"
- Man City fans spur on Shaun Goater
"He'll shoot, he'll
score, he'll eat your Labrador, Seol Ki-Hyeon, Seol Ki-Hyeon."
- Reading fans toast their new Korean signing
"He's Got Seol But
He's Not A Soldier."
- Headline from F365 piece on Reading's Seol Ki-Hyeon
"He eats chow mein.
He votes Sinn Fein."
- Celtic paean to Shunsuke Nakamura, seen in "The Guardian"
"Don't Cry for me Argentina."
- Man Utd fans cheerup chant for Carlos Tevez
"Don't blame it on
Biscan, don't blame it on Hamman, don't blame it on Finnan, blame it on
Traoré. He just can't, he just can't, he just can't control his
- Liverpool fans' chant, seen in "The Guardian"
"He was something in
the air tonight, his hair was nice. Fernando."
- Liverpool fans salute Fernando Torres with Abba
"We don't need no Phil
Scolari, we don't need no Mourinho. Hey! Thaksin! Leave our Sven alone."
- Man City use Pink Floyd to back Sven
"Sunday, Monday, Habib
Beye, Tuesday, Wednesday, Habib Beye!"
- Newcastle fans, on a happy day for Habib Beye
"Jimmy Bullard, Bullard,
he's better than Steve Gerrard, he's thinner than Frank Lampard, Jim Bullard,
- Fulham fans toast their midfielder
# DESCRIPTIONS OF PLAYERS
"A bag of meat with
- A Portugeuse newpaper describes David Seaman, after Portugal defeat England 3-2
"By no means the only
Argentinian with a girl's haircut, Sorin takes things a step further by
having the haircut of that girl at school who people would only kiss for
- Football365.Com describe Argentina's Juan Pablo Sorin
"Although pacy and
useful going forward, he displayed the positional understanding of a child
lost in Safeways and never looked fit."
- Football365.Com's take on Ulises De La Cruz
"He is managing single-handedly
to change male behaviour globally for the better."
- Sociologist Dr. Andrew Parker, in his study of the influence of David Beckham
"Why do people criticise
his intelligence when he can do something as miraculous as that?"
- Shania Twain on David Beckham's footballing gifts
"Being thick isn't
an affliction if you're a footballer, because your brains need to be in
your feet. And Beckham works hard, he's brave and he crosses a ball superbly.
He treats a football like he does a wife, lovingly, with caresses."
- Brian Clough, assessing David Beckham's suitability as a son-in-law
In general, the ongoing
debate over the footballing merits of Beckham always seems to resemble
the "what have the Romans ever done for us?" scene from Monty Python's
Life Of Brian. Aside from scoring, taking free kicks, defending, inch perfect
passing and serving up the most lethal crosses in the world, what does
Beckham contribute to a game? Quite a lot actually, as proved by the cold
hard fact that he was the most influential midfielder in the Spanish league
this season. Officially Beckham has managed the remarkable achievement
of topping La Liga's charts for most number of assists — judged in Spain
by passes contributing to a goal scoring opportunity - where he beat his
nearest challenger by a margin of fifteen.
- Tim Stannard, writing in May'06 for "Football 365"
According to the nanny
who sold her story, Victoria used to scream at her husband: "I gave up
my music for you." So, the next time you feel like slagging off David Beckham,
just take a moment to ponder on how much we all owe the man.
- Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"
The Male Anna Kournikova.
- Dion Fanning, on what David Beckham become in America, "The Irish Independent"
The front pages here
in England tell us that David Beckham is moving from Madrid to Los Angeles.
My very first thought was, "Well, now he’s really going to have to learn
- submitted to "National Review"
"We reckon Carlton
Palmer covers every blade of grass — but then you have to if your first
touch is that crap."
- Dave Jones, Palmer's manager, after he has a good game
"If football was meant
to be an art, God wouldn't have invented Carlton Palmer."
- Dominik Diamond
"Nicky Butt, he's another
aptly named player. He joins things, brings one sentence to an end and
- Barry Davies
Nicky Butt could not
live with Xavi. The Barcelona man's first touch was better than Butt's
- Henry Winter, covering the not-so-friendly England v Spain game for "The Telegraph"
Owen Hargreaves, who scampered around the pitch like an office boy on amphetamines
for the last 25 minutes or so.
- Rod Liddle, "The Spectator"
"Kevin Moran is an
average player, but he's an average player in every game, which is the
best compliment I can give him."
- Ronaldo greets new Real Madrid teammate Thomas Graveson
"I didn't do anything
[during the game]. I only had one shot on goal and I did not create any
chances. I was horrible. Maybe I should have left the pitch earlier."
- Robinho, going off injured after 60mins for a misfiring Brazil
Never in the field
of Premiership conflict have so many chances been so wantonly spurned.
As Liverpool graciously handed chance after chance to their opponents,
the hapless Akinbiyi obliged by spooning, scuffing, ballooning and muffing
all afternoon long. To quote one of his current manager's more esoteric
musings from many moons ago, this boy "couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a
- Howard Johnson, on Leicester's Adie Akinbiyi, as they crash 1-4 to Liverpool
include having Paul Warhurst and Dean Holdsworth sent off in a match against
Bolton for life threatening tackles on him, before being substituted himself
for his own safety. All within the first 23 minutes of the match."
- DangerHere.Com describe Robbie Savage
"How Geoff Thomas ever
got within a country mile of an England shirt is a mystery only knowable
to God, Graham Taylor and some extremely egg-headed Roswell scientists.
Geoff was one of those players for whom the term 'workmanlike' simply wasn’t
enough to describe his laboured approach to the game. The ultimate water
carrier with Palace."
- Howard Johnson, Football365.Com
"Djimi Traore must
be the only Premiership player who you watch with the ball at his feet
and think, 'Will he fall over now, or the next time?' By his low standards,
he was excellent last Sunday, remaining upright throughout. 9/10."
- Dion Fanning, "The Irish Independent"
"How on earth Traore
gets into this team is beyond me. And he's a Champions League winner? Gimme
a break. They've Riise sitting on the bench who's a different class to
- Johnny Giles, watching Liverpool v Chelsea for Ireland's "RTE 2"
The game's finest mistakes
were perpetrated by Djimi Traore, who interrupted his general competence
with one air shot, one slice over his own head and a foul so telegraphed
that even the lenient referee seemed to have his card out a couple of seconds
before contact was made, to show the first yellow of the game.
- Phillip Cornwall, reviewing CL clash between Liverpool and Chelsea
"Just when you feel
like hauling him off and strangling hin, he gets some goal out of nowhere."
- Martin O'Neill, on the inconsistent Luis Garcia
Titus Bramble: The
only explanation for his existence in the Premiership is that he is already
- Pete Gill, "Football 365"
Titus Bramble: a player
so bad that Liverpool fans cheered his introduction as a substitute.
- Adam Fraser, "Football 365"
Question: What do you
get when you combine Titus Bramble with a slippery pitch and a pass-back?
Answer: The inevitable.
- The Daily Mirror, after Bramble gifts Everton a goal (Jan'08)
"A holocaust of an
- Carlton Palmer, describing Paul McShane's performance in a 7-1 Sunderland defeat
"There's nobody fitter
at his age, except maybe Raquel Welch."
- Ron Atkinson lauds Gordon Strachan, 39
"Southampton is famous
for three things — the Titanic, yachting and Matt Le Tissier"
- Gordan Strachan, as Matt Le Tissier announces his retirement
has the pace of a tricycle with a flat tyre ridden by Luciano Pavarotti,
and the turning speed of an oil tanker with its anchor set.
- Pete Gill, describing the Liverpool defender, "Football365"
is a bit like bird flu. He's been lethal in other countries and we keep
getting told it's only a matter of time before he makes his mark here,
but there's no sign of it yet.
- from "The Liverpool Daily Post"
Darren Fletcher: a
guy who can't tackle, shoot, head, cross and who seems to have perfected
the art of passing the ball all the way back to Rio Ferdinand from anywhere
on the pitch.
- A letter to Football 365's mailbox
There is a clear limit
to the number of different types of central midfielders there are. There
are the playmakers: such as Alonso or Fabregas. The protectors: Makelele,
Butt, Gilberto. The destructors: Patrick Vieira, Robbie Savage. The box-to-box
types: the Roy Keane of the late 90s, Steven Gerrard of the 2005 Champions
League final. The goalscoring types: Frank Lampard, Tim Cahill. The deep-lying
passers: Pirlo, Carrick. And then there are the Jermaine Jenases: the players
you never, ever notice, and have absolutely no idea what it is they actually
- Pete Gill, "Football 365"
One of Rafa Benitez's
finest accomplishments at Liverpool has been to recognise that Steven Gerrard,
who craves the kudos and nourishment to his ego that playing in the centre
of midfield would bring, must be given a role, but that he also thrives
with an absence of responsibility. Benitez developed this role for Gerrard
last season where he played predominantly on the right, scored 24 goals
and was voted the PFA Player of the Year, but it may have formed in the
manager's mind during the frenzied two hours in Istanbul. At the end of
that night in May 2005, Liverpool were the European Champions and Gerrard
was rightly acclaimed for his second-half performance which had hoisted
Liverpool back into the game.
But in the first half, Gerrard, in the role where he was certain he would prosper, was lost. Gerrard is at his best when he is reacting, often explosively, to events on the field, but he cannot control a game and in Istanbul the matter was closed for Benitez. Last season the manager found a position for Gerrard which suited him perfectly... Gerrard, an adultescent constantly in need of encouragement, and a warrior only in his own head, needs as much praise as he can get.
- Dion Fanning, "The Irish Independent"
Inevitably, a playmaker
will draw the eye; in other areas, discipline and industry can transform
the ordinary into the highly effective, but the imagination that must be
shown by the player charged with creating is innate. England have historically
lacked that invention, or when it has existed it has been in wingers, whose
impact on the game is, by dint of their position on the periphery, inconsistent.
That is partly to do with how the historical development of the game in
England prioritised wingers, but it also led to a situation that still
endures, as the likes of Juan Sebastian Veron and Milenko Acimovic found
to their cost, whereby the central areas are so ferocious that more skilful,
less physically robust players are blown away. That is why Wayne Rooney,
whose skill is packed in a bull-like frame that allows him to flourish
amid the hurly-burly, is unique.
- Jonathon Wilson, "The Financial Times"
"It is one of my biggest
regrets that Niall Quinn was not here during my time... I felt he was an
intelligent player. It would have been a good combination with Thierry
Henry. What I like with Quinn is if you look at the player who played next
to him, he always scored 40 goals because he had a hand for his head and
he just put the ball where you were. He was a team player. A top-class
player makes other players look good and he had that player."
- Arsene Wenger, missing Niall Quinn by six years
As a player, Michael
Owen is a relic of a time when forwards had to do nothing but score goals.
The great Ukrainian coach Valeriy Lobanovskyi always spoke of the move
towards a 'universal player', which is precisely what Owen is not. Great
modern forwards such as Thierry Henry and Andriy Shevchenko are linkmen
as well as goalscorers, capable of holding the ball up or laying it on,
but Owen, by his own admission, simply sits on the shoulder of the last
defender and waits to be fed.
- Jonathan Wilson, "Financial Times"
Filippo Inzaghi has
spent much of his career being maligned. Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester
United manager, once commented that he was ”born offside”, while few would
dispute Johan Cruyff’s assessment that “he can’t actually play football
at all; he’s just always in the right place”. Certainly as a goal scorer
who does little else, his style of player is long out of fashion. His effectiveness,
though, cannot be denied. Wednesday night’s goals took his tally to 38
in 66 Champions League games.
- Johnathan Wilson, "FT"
Alice bands: Baros,
Angel and Berger, almost a Barbie formation. With such a huge concentration
of hair and jewellery in their forward ranks, environmentalists are concerned,
- David McVay, on the Aston Villa forward line, "The Times"
so bad they named him twice. Leisure activities include biting the hand
that feeds him with scathing remarks about the manager's tactical acumen.
- David McVay, "The Times"
A distinctly ordinary
player of extraordinary dirtiness.
- Pete Gill, on Eric Djemba-Djemba, "Football365"
What does Joey Barton
need a PA for? To hold his coat during fights?
- F365 Mediawatch
Chris Eagles flew in
on Shaun Wright-Phillips, so hard he almost broke the hyphen.
- Henry Winter, on an ill tempered Man Utd v Chelsea game, "The Telegraph"
"Is he ever going to
- Graham Taylor, after Rooney's temperament costs Man Utd points v Chelsea
Anger infests Lee Bowyer's
simple mind. He could get sent off playing solitaire.
- Henry Winter, after Bowyer starts a fight with a team mate Kieron Dyer
"I was having an argument
with one person and then someone else gave me a punch from behind. It was
not a man's punch."
- Nicholas Burdisso, getting back at David Navarro
"Not many people like
him, he's an angry man. He'd go after his own shadow."
- Stephen Hunt, describing Jens Lehmann
"I couldn't see Rooney's
tackle from my position - but I assume it was quite dangerous and ruthless."
- Ukraine manager Alexei Mikhailichenko, after another reckless challenge
"You know Dennis Wise.
He could start a fight in an empty house."
- Alex Ferguson
"Ninety-five per cent
of my language problems are the fault of that stupid little midget."
- Gianfranco Zola remembers former Chelsea team-mate Dennis Wise
"Eight bad players,
two old players (Mark Hughes and Ruud Gullit) and a nutter (Dennis Wise)."
- Chelsea's team of the mid 1990s, description recorded by Simon Kuper, "Financial Times"
"One is never 100 per
cent motivated. In winter, when it's raining and you have to go and play
a small team in the north, I won't reveal what passes through your mind
when you're getting out of the bus."
- Marcel Desailly of Chelsea in "Le Monde"
The last time I saw
something that tall standing so still for so long, it was perched on the
edge of a cliff shining a light across the sea.
- David Icke, on Emile Heskey
"I'd rather have Bruce
Grobbelaar trying to lose than Dave Beasant trying to win."
- Southampton fan after the match-rigging allegations
"A player with the
heart the size of a diamond ear-stud."
- Richard Williams, describing Harry Kewell in "The Guardian"
- Ossie Ardilles to Middlesboro's Bozo Jankovic after he dives once too often
"I have had to adapt
to a different footballing mentality since I have been in England. I got
booed by the crowd the first times I fell to the ground under challenge.
In the eyes of English people all Italians are divers, and there is an
element of truth in that. I think back to one of my former coaches, who
taught me to run in a particular posture so I would go to ground more easily."
- Arsenal's Italian youngster Artuo Lupoli
Writes Stan Collymore
in The Daily Mirror: 'Going to the Britannia Stadium on a freezing November
day is about as unwelcome a Premier League fixture as possibile for most
London-based foreign top-flight stars.'
Number of foreign stars in Stoke's starting line-up on Saturday: Eight. Including players from Jamaica, Mali, Senegal and Nigeria.
- Football365 Mediawatch, after Stoke beat Arsenal
"We have lots of foreign
players at the moment. They are all good players but we need more British
players with a British mentality for the Premiership. We need that fighting
- Dejan Stefanovic, of Portsmouth and Serbia and Montenegro.
"We all speak English,
but Jamie Carragher talks very strange English."
- Stephane Henchoz, adjusting to life at Liverpool
"When I'm shouting
at the defence, subtitles come up in front of the goal."
- Shay Given, Ireland goalkeeper, explaining how defenders cope with his accent
Robinho is booked for
dissent — obviously is English is getting better.
- Sky Sports webtext covering a Man City after the Brazilian's recent arrival
"Did you used to play
for Barcelona? Because that's not Barcelona football."
- Cesc Fabregas, to Blackburn manager Mark Hughes
"The trouble with Earl
Barrett is that he's one paced .... Zooommmmm."
- Joe Royle
"Iwan Roberts, a sort
of Ian Dowie, without the skill."
"He can trap a ball further than Juninho could pass it."
"If that lad makes
a First Division footballer, then I'm Mao Tse Tung."
- Tommy Docherty on Dwight Yorke, later sold for $20m
"There isn't an injury
known to man that Bryan Robson hasn't had."
- Alan Parry
"When Peter Beardsley
appears on television, Daleks hide behind the sofa."
- Nick Hancock
"I'm hoping Wayne Rooney
might get injured, I've a little toy model of Shrek I've been sticking
pins in all day."
- Rory McGrath, Comedian & Arsenal fan before 2005 FA Cup Final
His legs have a mind
of their own, his foot shoots by itself... Roberto Baggio is a big horsetail
that flicks away opponents as he flows forward in an elegant wave.
- Eduardo Galeano, "Soccer in Sun and Shadow"
Nils Limpinne was,
as you might recall, the tricky Danish winger who played in the same Ajax
youth team as Marco van Basten. Limpinne's amazing dribbling abilities
spellbound opposing defenders, who could never - and I mean never - take
the ball away from his right foot. Unfortunately, Limpinne could never
get rid of the ball himself; in the end, the only thing that stuck to him
was the label of "the next Jesper Olsen".
- An article on Danish Players Of Potential by Stig Oppedal (email@example.com)
A goalkeeper so error-prone
he is best watched while cowering behind the sofa.
- Paul Wilson describing David James, "The Financial Times"
"Let's hope they haven't
got David James trying to catch it."
- Matthew Amroliwala, covering the attempt to 'catch' a NASA probe with helicopters for "BBC"
There has been a sense
that Tottenham have felt the absence of Michael Carrick rather more than
United have felt his presence, but with Darren Fletcher serving as a dog
of war alongside him, the midfielder was superb last night.
- Jonathan Wilson, "FT"
Dennis Bergkamp's emotional
farewell to the Premiership signalled the end of era. Bergkamp was the
last of the golden generation. Soon after the ritzy repackaging of English
football's top flight in the early 1990s an influx of world-class foreigners
began steadily arriving in Britain in keeping with the glamorous new dawn.
There are more nationalities and more superstars in the Premiership now
than a decade ago but that mid-1990s era was a magical and mystical time.
While Klinsmann, Vialli, Ravanelli et al were magnificient additions to
the burgeoning Premiership, skilled goalscorers were not necessarily revolutionary.
The likes of Bergkamp, Zola, Juninho and Man City's Georgian whizzkid Georgi
Kinkladze were truly a breath of fresh air, though, and representative
of that intoxicating, exhilarating era.
- Sean O'Cleasaigh, "The Golden Generation", in Dublin's "Evening Herald"
Last summer Real Madrid
delighted in the purchase of David Beckham from Manchester United. With
the sale of the most famous player in the world, Perez believed that Manchester
United had surrendered Northern Europe to Madrid. His club was the most
famous in the Mediterranean and South America; the purchase of Beckham
gave them the rest of the world - Asia, America and all of Europe. Perez
may have been shocked by the bargain price he paid for Beckham, but there
are times when Manchester United plc is still run as a football club. It
would have benefited United on the pitch and in the boardroom if they had
pushed for a better price for Beckham, but there was a football issue at
the heart of it — Sir Alex Ferguson wanted Beckham gone and United were
slashing the price.
- Dion Fanning, on the Beckham transfer, in Ireland's "Sunday Independent"
Those whom sports writers
most despise, they first overrate. That is why the passing of David Beckham
has been greeted with such glee. Apparently he’s no good, he never was
any good, his flaws were always more numerous than his virtues and, now
he’s gone, England, unencumbered, can get on with the usual job of winning
a trophy every couple of years. In all forms of history, the revisionists
and rewriters are always at work. But sporting history happens so fast
that we can actually catch them at their work... Under Beckham’s captaincy,
England qualified for three tournaments and reached the quarter-finals
of each one. That is a good record. Many leading footballing countries
would envy it, Argentina and Spain for starters. It is not, however, a
great record. We remember the highlights, of course: Beckham’s extraordinary
performance against Greece in the final 2002 World Cup qualifier, in which
he played every single position in a four-man midfield all at once, then
scored the injury-time free kick that took England to Japan and South Korea;
Beckham’s shot-at-redemption penalty against Argentina in Sapporo. But
the abiding memory is of disappointment. Beckham, and Beckham’s England,
had enough talent to raise our hopes, but not — quite — enough to fulfil
them. Me, I reckon that trying for glory and failing is at least better
than settling for mediocrity.
- Simon Barnes, "The Times"
No other player in
Premiership history has put themselves about on a club’s wage bill the
way Winston Bogarde did. There’s an accusation you hear levelled at foreign
imports all the time: sure, they’re happy to pick up a pay packet while
the sun is shining, but can they bank a salary on a wet Tuesday night in
Bolton when they haven’t been picked? It takes a certain kind of character
to earn £40,000 a week for nearly four years for doing next to nothing.
You must remember that this was in the pre-Su Doku era, when spare time
was that much harder to manage. Now, though, Bogarde has obviously reached
the stage where he wants to move on from football and seek new challenges.
a more suitable proposal came up in discussion on 'The Times' sports desk
this week: farming. Under EU set-aside regulations, Bogarde could take
a subsidy and get paid not to grow anything. Failing that, he would seem
well placed to become a football agent.
- Giles Smith, after Bogarde retires after 4 starts for Chelsea, "The Times"
What has happened to
Jimmy, Mike, Steve and Bobby? For generations, British teams have been
at their most successful when they were equipped with a spine of blokes
called Jim, Micky, Stevie and Bob. Jimmys have, for reasons never explained
to an incredulous public, all suddenly become Jamies, and, at a stretch,
Jameses. The glory days of Jimmy Greaves, Jinky Jimmy Johnstone, Slim Jim
Baxter and even 1973 Cup Final hero Jim Montgomery are gone. No more Jims
or Jimmys; instead it’s Jamie Carragher, Jamie Redknapp and Jamie Clapham;
instead it’s James Beattie, James Collins, James McFadden, James Milner
and James Morrison. Hilariously, the only people now allowed to carry the
ancient and venerated old tag are overseas chaps — Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
and Djimi Traoré. Bobby Moore? Not good enough! Bobby Charlton?
Nope. Bobby Robson? Bob Paisley? Sorry. Now it’s Robert (Earnshaw, Pires,
Huth) and Robbie — Keane, Fowler, Elliott, Blake and Savage.
- Danny Baker, on social change, "The Times"
Footballers today are
forced to conform to a bodily aesthetic that in its rigidity and uniformity
makes fashion models look as varied as snowflakes. This wasn’t always so.
Up until the 1980s most teams in all divisions had a couple of fat ones,
a couple of little ones, at least one bandy one, one completely covered
in hair, two weaklings and a chap with no neck. This was an era when you
didn’t need names on the backs of shirts in order to tell who’s who, you
could clearly identify them with your eyes half shut from the other side
of the pitch.
- Danny Baker, celebrating Peter Crouch's stature, "The Times"
funniest moment of the year — for those of us not in black-and-white shirts
— was the impromptu boxing match performed by Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer
during Newcastle's 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa. Like all the best fights
between team-mates, it started from a refusal to pass the ball. Dyer didn't
just ignore Bowyer's calls for a pass once, but several times; at some
junctures playing ridiculously over-complicated passes or sending the ball
back to his 'keeper rather than play the simple ball to his midfield colleague.
As you would expect, Lee 'Charming' Bowyer didn't take this too well. He
took it even worse when, as he marched towards Dyer demanding an explanation,
Dyer responded with "you're sh*t" — somewhat bravely, for a man made of
glass. To Bowyer, never one for a witty retort when a smack in the face
will do, this was like a red rag to a bull. Dyer somehow escaped punishment
on the ludicrous claim that he never actually threw a punch, even though
TV cameras clearly captured his attempts to fight back. Most of us were
cursing Villa's resident spoilsport Gareth Barry when he pulled the two
combatants apart. Fantastically, Graeme Souness later blamed the referee
for both the defeat and the fight.
- Adam Fraser, from his 2005 review for Football365
Robbie Savage regularly
wins "Name The Premiership Player You Would Most Like to Beat To Death
With A Shovel" competitions. His closest contender is usually the modest
and level-headed Craig Bellamy. Previous winners have included Vinnie Jones,
Pat Van Den Hauwe and John Hartson. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted
a theme... they are part of the long list of gobby, psychopathic Welshmen
who have adorned the top tier of English football for the best part of
Robbie’s latest contretemps was a double-header with Rio Ferdinand, the Manchester United defender and part-time professor of Lucasian mathematics at Cambridge University. Bout number one occurred during the Carling Cup semi-final between Blackburn and United as the players were walking off at half-time. Rio is, in truth, a fairly simple soul and it is not difficult to reconstruct his thought processes in those moments before the brawl, the cogs inside his cerebral cortex turning at a speed imperceptible to the human eye. “Look,” he must have thought, “there’s Robbie Savage! Surely nobody will object if I hit him?” A not unreasonable supposition. Certainly the referee seemed to think it was fair enough and Rio wasn’t punished.
During the Premiership match a week later Rio adopted an ambitious two-part game plan, which was: a) to maim Robbie Savage as often as possible; and b) to gift the opposition more goals than Sol Campbell was doing at Highbury. He was pretty successful on both counts. Rio ended the game a shade early at the invitation of the referee; Robbie was stretchered off, grinning from ear to ear. It was all very entertaining. Robbie could be later heard sniggering about the whole business on a BBC radio programme.
- Rod Liddle, "Football's Noble Savages", "The Times"
Craig Bellamy is added
to George W Bush's 'Axis of Evil'.
- From Football 365's predictions for 2007
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