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 squashed them.
        - 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 scored.
        - 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 Sinclair).
        - 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? "
"Right back."
        - Liverpool Right Wing-Back Jason McAteer on a credit card form

"Do you know who I am?"
"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 in English..."
        - 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 electricity bill."
        - 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

"Pascal Chimbonda's 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 week."
        - 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 eventually."
        - Jonathan Woodgate, experiencing deja vu at Spurs (Oct'08)

We know we are not too good to go down.

- Barnsley Striker, Jan Aage Fjortoft, during their titanic struggle to retain their Premiership status. It was almost frightening to be 3-0 ahead. It just shows we are not that far behind them but their fitness won in the end. - Shelbourne's Tony Sheridan after the Irish part-timers lose 5-3 to Rangers in a UEFA cup match, having been 3-0 up after 60mins. I saw Dick Advocaat (manager of Rangers) sitting with his head in his hands when it was 3-0, and that was worth the admission money alone.

        - 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."

- Richard Rufus, ex-Charlton centre half I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered. - George Best "I've bent balls around walls better than that." - an English player (possibly WBA's John Trewick) is unimpressed by The Great Wall Of China "We watched the 50 greatest Premier League Goals on the team bus - and Sully must have been in 49 of them!"
        - Doncaster's Richie Wellens on Rovers keeper Neil Sullivan

"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 fail us.
        - 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 star."
        - 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 Wednesday."
        - 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

"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."

- Tottenham’s Moussa Saib, observing the Muslim Ramadan festival which forbids him to eat between sunrise & sunset Before he enters the dressing room, Alan Shearer shouts “bang!” This stems from his habit of saying “bang” whenever he is watching a game and thinks it is an ideal time for a striker to shoot.
        - From The Daily Express

"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 feet."
        - 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, Bullard."
        - Fulham fans toast their midfielder


"A bag of meat with eyes."
        - 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 a bet."
        - 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 Spanish!"
        - 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 starts another."
        - Barry Davies

Nicky Butt could not live with Xavi. The Barcelona man's first touch was better than Butt's second.
        - Henry Winter, covering the not-so-friendly England v Spain game for "The Telegraph"

Bayern’s midfielder, 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."
        - Unknown

"Ola Shrek!"
        - 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 banjo."
        - Howard Johnson, on Leicester's Adie Akinbiyi, as they crash 1-4 to Liverpool

"Recent achievements 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 this fella."
        - 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 here.
        - 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 afternoon".
       - 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

Mauricio Pellegrino 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"

Fernando Morientes 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 do.
        - 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, unlike opponents.
        - David McVay, on the Aston Villa forward line, "The Times"

Eric Djemba-Djemba: 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 learn?"
        - 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"

"Bloody Foreigner!"
        - 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 spirit."
        - 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."

- Variation on the 'the next good player' theme "Teddy has lost that yard of pace he never had."
        - Tony Cascarino, on former strike partner Teddy Sheringham (2005)

"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 (

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"

Unquestionably the 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 a century.
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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