Friday, October 17, 2014

Before I became a Professional Footballer I worked as......?


Stuart Pearce MBE: 

Stuart 'Psycho' Pearce was born 24 April 1962 in Hammersmith, West London. After leaving school he failed a trial at Queens Park Rangers and then rejected an offer from Hull City, instead settling into a career in the non-league game with his local side, Wealdstone, while training and working as an electrician.

In 1983 Wealdstone received an unexpected offer of £30,000 (then a huge sum for a semi-professional player) for Pearce from then top-flight club Coventry City, managed by Bobby Gould, making his professional debut for Coventry immediately.

Two years later he was brought to Nottingham Forest by manager Brian Clough as the makeweight in a £300,000 deal which also saw Coventry's centre back Ian Butterworth move to Forest. Indeed, so unsure was Pearce of his footballing future that, after the transfer, he actually advertised his services as an electrician in Forest's match-day programme.

Pearce went on to spend 12 years at Forest, making over 400 appearances, most of them as club captain. After leaving Forest in 1997, Pearce had spells with Newcastle, West Ham and Manchester City. The last of his 78 England caps was in a goalless draw in Poland on 8 September 1999. Throughout his career he was given the nickname of "Psycho," for his unforgiving style of play. His autobiography, "Psycho" was released in 2001 and became a Sunday Times best seller.


Chris Waddle: 

Waddle was born 14 December 1960 in Felling, Tyne and Wear.
Waddle began his footballing career with Pelaw Juniors, moving on to Whitehouse SC, Mount Pleasant SC, HMH Printing, Pelaw SC, Leam Lane SC and Clarke Chapman before joining Tow Law Town before the start of the 1978–79 season.

While working in a sausage factory, Waddle had unsuccessful trials with Sunderland and Coventry City. He joined Newcastle United as a 19-year-old in July 1980 for £1,000.
He made his professional debut for them in a 2nd Division match against Shrewsbury Town on 22 October 1980.

During his professional career that lasted from 1978 to 1998, he played for clubs including Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Sheffield Wednesday, bradford, Sunderland and Burnley in England, and Olympique de Marseille in France.
Waddle racked up more than 650 club appearances during his career and won 62 caps for the England national football team between 1985 and 1991.


Rickie Lambert:

Lambert was born 16 February 1982 in Kirkby, Merseyside.
Lambert joined local club Liverpool as a youngster aged 10, but was released when he was 15.
Lambert tried out for non-league side Marine,before becoming a trainee with Blackpool in August 1998 at the age of 16. He made his professional debut on 7 August 1999 as a 17-year-old but was released by Steve McMahon in November 2000.

Lambert remained a free agent for almost four months, during which time he worked in a beetroot bottling plant to make ends meet, until he was signed by another Third Division club, Macclesfield Town in March 2001. Lambert then signed for Stockport in 2002, Rochdale in 2005 and joined Bristol Rovers in 2006.
On 10 August 2009, with a total of 155 appearances and 59 goals for Bristol Rovers, Lambert completed a move worth in excess of £1 million to League One club Southampton.

On 2 June 2014, aged 32, Lambert was confirmed as a Liverpool player, signing a two-year deal for an initial £4 million transfer fee. To date Lambert has made over 600 appearances at club level, scoring over 230 goals in all competitions, as well as making a goal scoring England debut in 2013 versus Scotland and appearing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals.


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

Born in Kristiansund, Møre og Romsdal, Norway Solskjær completed a year's national service in the Norwegian Army, before signing the same year with Norwegian Third Division side Clausenengen F.K. He moved to Norwegian Premier League Molde F.K. in 1994.

Solskjaer joined Manchester United on 29 July 1996, for a transfer fee of £1.5m. He will perhaps be best remembered as a "super-sub" having earned wide acclaim for a habit of coming into matches late on as a substitute and scoring goals.

The Norwegian went on to score the stoppage time winning goal against Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final held in the Camp Nou in Barcelona, again after coming on as a substitute. Ferguson introduced Solskjaer into the fray with just 10 minutes of the game remaining with United trailing 1-0. announced his retirement from professional football on 27 August 2007. He made over 230 Solskjaer appearances for 'The Reds' scoring over 90 goals.


Dean Windass:

Windass was born in Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire on 1 April 1969.
He started his footballing career as a YTS trainee at Hull City before being released by manager Brian Horton. He had unsuccessful trials at professional clubs Sunderland, Cambridge United, and York City and instead started playing for non-league North Ferriby United while also having to work on building sites and packing frozen peas.

Windass was brought back to Hull by manager Terry Dolan in October 1991, entering professional league football at the relatively late age of 22.

Windass who was often seen as a controversial player, once being sent off three times in a game for Aberdeen, once for foul play (having previously been booked), another for verbally abusing the referee and a third for taking out his frustration on a corner flag as he left the field – for which he received a six-match ban. Windass went on to make over 700 appearances for a number of clubs including Hull, Bradford, Aberdeen, Oxford United, Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Oldham Athletic.
He announced his retirement on 19 October 2009 after a brief spell at Darlington as player–assistant manager.


Peter Schmiechel MBE:

Peter Schmeichel MBE was born 18 November 1963 in Gladsaxe, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Before becoming a professional footballer, Schmeichel had to work a number of jobs to make ends meet. His first job came in the dyeing department of a textile factory, but his concerns with the factory's policy on safety eventually forced him to hand in his notice. He then spent 12 months as a cleaner at an old people's home, before taking up an office job with the World Wildlife Fund. He originally worked in the organisation's shops, but three weeks after he joined, the store manager quit and Schmeichel was promoted to the position of sales manager. Soon after, Schmeichel was called upon to do his four weeks of compulsory military service.
A job with his father-in-law's flooring firm came next, until he realised that his knees could not support his 15 stone frame for eight hours a day, and he was offered a job with the advertising firm. This was to be his last job outside football, as he was offered a contract with Brøndby in spring of 1987.

Manchester United bought him in 1991 for £505,000 and he went on to win ten major trophies in eight seasons. Schmeichel decided to leave English football at the end of the 1998–99 season, and he moved to Sporting Lisbon. Schmeichel returned to England with Aston Villa in July 2001. In 2002, Schmeichel completed a move to Manchester City. Schmeichel announced his retirement from football in April 2003.


Neville Southall MBE: 

During his teenage years he worked as a binman, waiter and hod carrier. As a teenager, Southall had unsuccessful trials at Wrexham, Crewe Alexandra and Bolton Wanderers.

After a number of years as a semi-professional and amateur player Southall joined Bury from Winsford United for a £6,000 fee in 1980, and turned professional in his early 20's. In his first season for Bury Southall kept 15 clean sheets in his 44 domestic appearances during the 1980-81 season, and was named as Bury's Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year.

He moved on to Everton for £150,000 in 1981.
Southall went on to make a club record 750 appearances for Everton in all competitionsr as well as 92 caps for Wales. His honours with the club include a European Cup Winners' Cup medal in 1985, a First Division championship medal in 1984–85 and 1986–87, an FA Cup winners medal in 1984 and 1995. In 1985 Southall was named 'The Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year.'

Southall played his final game for Everton on 29 November 1997, before going on to play for some lower league clubs including: Stoke, Doncaster and Torquay. He eventually hung up his gloves at the end of the 2000/01 season.

In August 2012, his autobiography 'The Binman Chronicles' was released. It was the sixth best selling football book of 2012.


Charlie Austin:

Born in Hungerford, Berkshire, Austin trained with Reading's youth teams as a youngster but was released for being too small. He subsequently played for local team Kintbury Rangers and his hometown side Hungerford Town. Moving with his family to Bournemouth, he then switched to nearby semi-professional Wessex League Premier Division team Poole Town while also working as a bricklayer.

Austin was offered a trial at Swindon Town in September 2009 and made his debut appearance for Swindon Town on 6 October in a 1–1 draw with Exeter in the 2009–10 Football League Trophy.
On 28 January 2011, Austin signed for Burnley. On 23 October 2012, Austin scored two goals in a win over Bristol City, and subsequently equalled Ray Pointer's club record of scoring in eight consecutive appearances, set in the 1958–59 season. Two weeks later, on 6 November 2012, Austin broke another Burnley record, as he became the quickest-ever player to reach 20 goals in a season after scoring in a 1–0 win over Leeds United — his 17th appearance of the season.

On 8 July 2013, a fee was agreed between Burnley and Premier League club Hull City for Austin. However, on 9 July 2013, Austin failed his medical and Hull pulled out of the deal.
Austin moved to Queens Park Rangers, on a three-year deal, on 1 August 2013.


Alan Pardew: 

Pardew was born 18 July 1961 in Wimbledon, South London. Pardew started his career as a part-time player in non-League football at Whyteleafe and Epsom and Ewell, whilst working as a glazier. At one stage he gave up football for six months whilst working in the Middle East, but he returned to football at Corinthian Casuals before later having spells at Dulwich Hamlet and Yeovil Town.

Pardew moved to Crystal Palace in 1987 for a fee of £7,500. In 1989, he helped Palace win promotion to the First Division after beating Blackburn in the play-offs. The following year, in 1990, he scored the winning goal as Palace memorably beat Liverpool 4–3 after extra-time in a thrilling FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park.
He then played in both the final and the final replay as Palace lost to Manchester United.
After playing more than 120 games for Palace, Pardew moved to South London rivals Charlton Athletic in November 1991. He went onto make over 100 appearances for 'The Addicks' before joining Barnet, and becoming a player-coach under manager Terry Bullivant in 1995. He finished his playing career with the North London outfit in 1997.

Since turning to management in March 1998 with Reading, Pardew has been involved in several controversial and high profile incidents over the years. During this time he has upset the FA, the BBC, abused numerous managers and rival fans and even assaulted a player!

In March and November 2006, Pardew had disputes with Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger.
In February 2007, shortly before Pardew's new club Charlton faced West Ham, Pardew 'jokingly' made several disparaging comments about West Ham's fans.
On the opening day of the 2012/13 Premier League season, Pardew, the Newcastle manager pushed an official after an incident where the ball appeared to go over the touchline, but the referee deemed it to still be in play.
In January 2014, during the Premier League match against Manchester City Pardew verbally abused opposition manager Manuel Pellegrini. After the initial skirmish Pardew was caught on Sky Sports television cameras calling Pellegrini "a fucking old cunt."
In March 2014 Pardew was sent to the stands after headbutting Hull City player David Meyler.


Bill Shankley OBE:

Shankly was born on 2 September 1913 in a small Ayrshire coal mining village, called Glenbuck, whose population in 1913, the year of Shankly's birth, was around 700.
After Shankly left school in 1928, he worked at a local mine alongside his brother Bob.
He did this for two years until the pit closed and he faced unemployment.

While Shankly was employed as a miner, he played football as often as possible. Shankly developed his skills to the point that he was unemployed for only a few months before Carlisle United signed him. He was invited for a month's trial and was signed after just one trial match for Carlisle's reserves against Middlesbrough reserves, even though Carlisle reserves lost the match 6–0. Shankly made his senior debut on 31 December 1932 in a 2–2 draw against Rochdale and made 16 appearances for the first team. Soon after the 1932–33 season ended, Shankly received a telegram from Carlisle United asking him to return as soon as possible, Arriving at Carlisle, he discovered that Preston North End were keen to sign him and had who had offered a fee of £500. The terms for Shankly personally were a fee of £50 plus a £10 signing-on fee and wages of five pounds a week. Shankly's initial reaction was that it was not enough and the deal nearly fell through, but Shankly's brother Alec pointed out to him that Preston were in the Second Division and a bigger club than Carlisle with the potential to regain First Division status. Shankley helped Preston win the FA Cup in 1937–38.

Shankly had just reached his 26th birthday when the Second World War began and the war claimed the peak years of his playing career. He joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) and managed to play in numerous wartime league, cup and exhibition matches for Norwich City, Arsenal, Luton Town and Partick Thistle, depending on where he was stationed. With the resumption of full League football again in the 1946–47 season, Shankly returned to Preston who held his registration, but he was now 33 and coming to the end of his playing days. By 1949, he was Preston's club captain but had lost his place in the first team, and had decided he wanted to become a coach. So when Carlisle United asked him to become their manager in March of that year, he retired as a player and accepted the job. Shankley went on to become Liverpool manager between 1959 and 1974, winning seven major trophies and often labelled as one of the greatest managers of all-time. On 29 September 1981, he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest, aged 68. Three days later his ashes were scattered on the Anfield pitch at the Kop end.


Neil Warnock:

Warnock was born 1 December 1948 in Sheffield, Yorkshire.
Previous to his football career, Neil enjoyed a number of different occupations, most notably his time as a qualified chiropodist, and a brief stint as a costume designer for a local theatre production.
He also had and fruit-and-veg stall in Sheffield market.

Warnock started his professional playing career with Chesterfield in 1967, before moving on to Rotherham United, Hartlepool United, Scunthorpe United, Aldershot, Barnsley, York City and Crewe Alexandra, scoring 36 goals in 327 career league appearances. He retired in 1979 at just 30 to move into coaching.

Like many sportsmen and managers, Neil Warnock is highly superstitious and has revealed many bizarre rituals including stopping at all traffic lights following a win regardless of whether they're red or green, watching the Sean Bean film 'When Saturday Comes' the day before a big match, using the same razorblade, only urinating when he has held on for as long as possible and remaining in the dressing room after the players have left to play.

He is currently in his second spell as first-team manager of Premier League side Crystal Palace, having previously being managed the South London club between 2007-10.


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Biggest Traitors in Football History


Loyalty is a dubious word in the world of football.

When a player transfers to a club in the same league, there's always the possibility of
friction and slight bad feeling. Often when the two teams then face each other, fans of the previous club boo their old boy, but generally get bored after a while. Then there are the transfers that incense fans for years, betrayals that they never get over. Even then there are the players that do it not once, but twice!

Here I look at some of the biggest traitorous players in football history:



William Gallas:

A player that has played for all big clubs in London and is one of, if not the biggest traitor in European football.

Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri bought Gallas from Marseille in 2001 for £6.2 million.
Once playing for Chelsea, Gallas was used in a deal to bring Ashley Cole to Stamford Bridge, and so he went to North London and joined Arsenal in 2006.

Gallas, a combustible character, lost the captaincy to Kolo Touré following his bizarre post-match sulk at Birmingham in February 2008. He ended up kicking lumps out of the advertising boards and sitting on the pitch in protest (right) after Arsenal drew with Birmingham, in a match that would ultimately end their title dreams.

In 2010 contract talks with Arsenal broke down when the Gunners felt that the contractual demands made by Gallas were unreasonable and not made in good faith.
It was reported that such demands included an £80,000 a week pay cheque, which Arsenal couldn't afford to pay him. As a result the Frenchman decided it would be a good move to join fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur managed at the time by Harry Redknapp.


Robin van Persie:

The Gunners' hero was smashing in the goals in his first great season in his 8 years at Arsenal after spending most of the first 7 years on the injury list.
This was a big part of the reason Arsenal fans were incensed when the Dutchman decided to join rivals Manchester United in 2012, after the North London club had stood by him in his injury plagued years.

The striker joined up with Manchester United for an initial £22.5 million with an additional £1.5 million to follow if United won a Premier League or Champions League title within the next four years. In his first season he fired United to their 20th Premier League title, scoring 26 league goals in the process, further aggravating Arsenal's fans.


Roberto Baggio: 

The former Italian forward made an unforgivable switch back in 1990 - from Fiorentina to Juventus.
Back then he was sold for €10m - a world-record fee at the time - but soon after the transfer, there were full scale riots on the streets of Florence where fifty people were injured.
Baggio replied to his fans, saying: "I was compelled to accept the transfer."

When Baggio played for Juventus against Fiorentina on 7 April 1991, he refused to take a penalty, and when substituted he picked up a Fiorentina scarf (right) thrown onto the field by fans and kissed it, a gesture which, although was appreciated by his former Fiorentina fans, caused outrage amongst the Juventus supporters.
Baggio claimed: "Deep in my heart I am always purple," the colour of Fiorentina.


Sol Campbell:

When playing for Tottenham Hotspur, Sol Campbell earned himself a reputation as a great footballer. After almost a decade with Tottenham, Sol Campbell became one of the most hated men in the club’s history when he left for Arsenal in 2001.

Campbell was labelled 'Judas' by the Spurs fans, and rightly so. The England international defender was looking to play European football which was fair enough, with several top continental clubs expressing an interest. Tottenham offered him a new contract which would have made him the club's highest paid player ever, but after months of negotiations and several public assurances that he would stay at Spurs,

Arsenal proceeded to sign him on a free transfer. This left Spurs fans feeling angry and betrayed after losing a top player for nothing to their biggest rivals.
Campbell had previously stated in an interview with Spurs Monthly magazine that he would never play for Arsenal.

Campbell went onto became a part of Arsenal's 'Invincibles' team of 2003/04 and scored in the 2006 Champions League final against Barcelona.


Emmanuel Adebayor: 

The controversial striker really doesn't help himself when it comes to his popularity. After scoring 30 goals in a season for Arsenal, he demanded that his wages were doubled. When they were, he proceeded to underperform and then jumped ship for a big money move to Manchester City in 2009. 

Booed and jeered hugely by the Arsenal fans throughout his first encounter with the Gunners since his move, he scored a goal and ran the length of the pitch to slide in front of the Arsenal fans (right) in his famously idiotic, yet brilliant celebration.
To ensure Arsenal fans would despise him even further, the Togo international then joined North London rivals Spurs in 2011, showing a shocking lack of loyalty to the club that brought him to English football.


Luis Figo:

The Portuguese man was hugely popular at Barcelona before making his controversial switch across the El Classico to rivals Real Madrid in 2000. This caused uproar in the Barcelona fan base, with the some Barcelona fans showing their anger at his traitorous transfer by throwing a pig's head at him when he played in his first El Classico lining up for Madrid. He played for five years at both clubs, although fans of the Catalans only remember their anger at his departure.


Ashley Cole: 

Whether he was tapped-up or not will never really be proved, but the left-back was branded 'Cashley' by angry Arsenal fans after his move from North London to rivals Chelsea in 2006. He was said to be "trembling with anger" when Arsenal offered him a mere £55k per week, so he decided to jump ship to earn £90k per week at London rivals Chelsea. His wage increased to £120,000 a week when he signed a new contract in September 2009.
To be fair, his move did pay off, both in terms of trophies won, and his bank balance.

Never one to be out of the limelight Cole (right) married Cheryl Tweedy in 2006 in a flamboyant wedding ceremony, before her split from the philandering footballer and their subsequent divorce in 2010.


Cesc Fabregas:

Another former Arsenal player, Cesc Fabregas returned to the Premier League this summer after a three-year spell with Barcelona, but decided on a move to the Gunners’ London rivals Chelsea, rather than returning to the Emirates Stadium.

Fabregas had spent eight years at Arsenal between 2003 and 2011, so his move to Chelsea left many 'Gooners' feeling gutted.


Kenny Miller:

If there's one rivalry that can rival the intensity of El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, it's the Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic.

Given the rich political history behind the rivalry, that goes back well over 100 years, most players know that that is one rivalry you do not want to mess with.

The Scot crossed one of the biggest rivalry's in European football when he betrayed Rangers and joined fierce rivals Celtic in 2006. But this was not the end of his treachery, after spells in English football with Wolves and Derby, he then incredibly made the move back to Rangers in 2008.

He then left Rangers again in 2011 to play abroad, before re-signing for the blue half of Glasgow for a third time in June 2014 - to top off what was a shocking lack of loyalty.


Roanaldo:

Without a doubt Ronaldo was of the greatest footballers of all time, but he showed a complete lack of loyalty to any of his clubs.

Although, unlike some of the aforementioned men, he never transferred directly from one rival to another, he is the only player to have represented both Real Madrid and Barcelona, and Inter and AC Milan. The fact he was ridiculously good for all four clubs meant he was never victimised as much as most may have been.

The last move of his career is probably what puts him at number one; after training with Flamengo whilst recovering from knee surgery in 2009, he turned down a new contract offer to go play for arch rivals Corinthians.


Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski:

Götze, the German World Cup winning midfielder joined Borussia Dortmund at the age of eight and made his Bundesliga debut on 21 November 2009. After spending four seasons at Dortmund, winning two Bundesliga titles and playing in a UEFA Champions League final he moved to arch rivals Bayern Munich in the summer of 2013, after the German champions activated his release clause of €37 million.

Lewandowski, the Polish international joined Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2010. Having played in the same successful Dortmund team as Götze, Lewandowski followed his former team-mate to Bayern Munich just a year later, leaving Dortmund fans' and boss Jürgen Klopp angry and frustrated feeling Bayern Munich is that school house bully who buys from other German clubs.

Jürgen Klopp put all his efforts in making them the most talented striker and midfielder and then they just left. The way the move happened is what hurts the fans the most. Although, there is no one denying the fact that they both helped Borussia Dortmund win the Bundesliga and reach the Champions league final, the fact remains that they were still indebted to the club and the fans for making them the players they are today.

Borussia Dortmund's much sort after attacking midfielder Marco Reus - former team-mate of both of Götze and Lewandowski has this message for them both and FC Bayern Munich --------------------------->








From what it seems money rules football and it seems that the fundamental thumb rule is show the players some money and all loyalty will be tossed aside. The very essence of loyalty and playing for the club seems lost now.


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Babe of the Month - Ride Sally Ride, Sexy Aussie Surfer Sally Fitzgibbons


Gorgeous Sally Fitzgibbons was born on 19th December 1990 in Gerroa, New South Wales, Australia.
She is an Australian professional surfer on the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour.

While attending Kiama High School Sally represented her State and Australia on many occasions in a number of different sports, including athletics, (winning gold at the 2007 Australian Youth Olympic Festival in the 800m and 1500m), touch football, soccer, surfing and cross-country running.

Sally started surfing at a young age. As a fourteen-year-old, Sally won the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Pro Junior open event, an event open to any female surfer 21 and younger. She also finished second at the World Qualifying Series (WQS) Billabong Easter Girls Festival on the same day.

She continued to set records throughout her junior years, winning the Australasian Pro Junior Series in 2007 and again in 2008.


At 15, Fitzgibbons represented Australia at the International Surfing Association (ISA) U18 World Surfing Titles in Brazil finishing runner-up.

At 16, she travelled to Portugal for the ISA U18 World Titles to win her first World Title, and backed it up the following year winning both the Billabong ASP U21 World Title and the ISA World Games Open Title.

In 2010 Sally was runner up in three ASP Women's World Tour events, and finished the year as runner up to Stephanie Gilmore in the 2010 ASP Women's World Title.

On 23 April 2011, Sally won her first ASP World Tour event, defeating Carissa Moore in the final of the Rip Curl Women's Pro at Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia.

On 30 April 2011, Sally won her second ASP World Tour event, once again defeating Carissa Moore in the final of the Subaru Pro in Taranaki, New Zealand. With this win she became the world's top-ranked female surfer and took the lead in the 2011 ASP World Tour.



In August, 2011, Sally won her third ASP World Tour event, defeating Lakey Peterson in the final of the US Open of Surf in California, USA. Fitzgibbons finished the season runner up to Carissa Moore in the 2011 ASP Women's World Title.

In February, 2012, Fitzgibbons won the first ever Australian Open after defeating 2004 World Champion Sofia Mulanovich, this meant Sally became the first person to ever hold the US and Australian Opens of Surf titles at the one time.

In March 2012 Sally won the 6-star event, the Hunter Ports Women's Classic during Surfest at Merewether Beach, Newcastle, Australia. Sally defeated Malia Manuel in the final. In April Sally took out the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Australia, beating four-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore in the final.

At the 2012 ASP World Surfing Awards Sally claimed three trophies. The first was for finishing runner-up in the 2011 World Tour. Sally's second award was for Women's ASP Heat of the Year, which was awarded to Sally and Carissa Moore by their fellow competitors. Finally Sally won the ASP Surfers' Surfer, another peer-voted award.

In 2013 Sally won the ASP Roxy Pro France, Hossegor, France and in 2014 Sally came 1st in both the ASP Billabong Pro Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (below) and the ASP Fiji Pro Fiji, Cloudbreak, Fiji.


"Behind The Smile," Sally's biopic, was released at the start of 2014, covering the previous year of Sal's life as she chased her dream of becoming World Champion.

"Behind The Smile" received rave reviews and was in high rotation on television in Australia, a great confidence boost for Sally to take into the new ASP WCT season.

As a sport fan, she supports the rugby league NRL team the St George Illawarra Dragons.

She also follows the AFL and is an enthusiastic Geelong Cats supporter.



Sally's sponsors include: Roxy, Red Bull, Range Rover, Garnier, Firewire Surfboards, Samsung, Waxaway, FCS fins, Gorilla and Nanotune.


You can follow Sally on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and on her Website.


Friday, September 19, 2014

The Most Valuable Backup Goalkeepers in World Football


Once upon a time the role and status of a second choice goalkeeper at any football club was a pretty straightforward one!

Benchwarmer, emergency cover, training partner and room-mate are terms that immediately spring to mind when talking about backup goalkeepers.

However, major football clubs across Europe have been laughing in the face of that conventional wisdom, and have been buying backup keepers who could easily start as first-choice for other major clubs.

These goalkeepers are still worth decent amounts of money despite their status of having to warm the bench more often than not.

Take Chelsea's Petr Cech currently playing second fiddle to Thibaut Courtois following the Belgian's extremely successful loan spell with Atletico Madrid, culminating in 'Los Colchoneros' winning the 2013–14 La Liga title, their first since 1996.

Furthermore, there’s the fact that Manchester City recently signed Malaga’s Willy Caballero as back up to England's number one Joe Hart, and Barcelona signed both Chilean international Claudio Bravo and German international Marc-André ter Stegen for a combined total of €27 million, following the departure of longtime number one Victor Valdes – who still has yet to find a club.

Then what about Real Madrid, who recently signed Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas for €10 million to act as backup for Spanish goalkeeping legend Iker Casillas, who at 33 years-old is arguably in the twilight of his career.

In the English Premier League you have, to name just a few, the likes of Shay Given, Thomas Sørensen, Costel Pantilimon, Artur Boruc, Boaz Myhill and Brad Jones who are without a first-team start between them this season! All very capable goalkeepers, but simply unable to establish themselves as first-choice at their respective clubs.

Backup goalkeepers are becoming a hotter commodity than ever in world football, and it became increasingly obvious during this summer's transfer window.

Here is a list of the most valuable backup goalkeepers in world football, based on their market value courtesy of transfermarkt.com


# Pepe Reina - Bayern Munich - €4.5 million

The son of famed FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Miguel Reina, Pepe Reina began his career with the Barcelona youth team and made his La Liga debut in the 2000–01 season. He signed for Villarreal in 2002 and moved on to Liverpool and made his debut in 2005. He went on to win the 2005 UEFA Super Cup, the FA Cup in 2006. In 2007, he reached the Champions League Final with Liverpool, matching the feat achieved by his father in 1974, but they lost to A.C. Milan.

Following eight consecutive seasons as Liverpool's first-choice keeper, Reina spent the 2013–14 season on loan at Napoli, where he was reunited with Rafa Benítez, the coach who signed him to play for Liverpool in 2005. During his loan tenure at the Italian club, Reina was part of the side that won the 2014 Italian Cup and finished third in the domestic league.

In August 2014, Reina joined the German club FC Bayern Munich on a three-year deal, as backup to Manuel Neuer – arguably the best goalkeeper in world football right now!


# Maarten Stekelenburg - AS Monaco - €5.0 million

The 31 year-old Dutchman plays for French club AS Monaco (on loan from English club Fulham), and for the Netherlands national team.

Stekelenburg is a product of the Ajax youth system, where he followed in the footsteps of Edwin van der Sar, who he succeeded in the Dutch national team and with whom he reached the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

He made his debut for Ajax in February 2002, and became their first choice goalkeeper during the 2005–06 season. That season Ajax won the KNVB Cup (the Dutch equivilent of the English FA Cup).
Stekelenburg was named Ajax 'Player of the Year' at the end of the the 2007–08 season.
In 2010-11 Ajax won the Eredivisie for the first time since 2003-04 and Stekelenburg was again named Ajax 'Player of the Year' - for the second time in his career.

This season Stekelenburg is acting as the backup for 'Les Rouges et Blancs' behind Danijel Subasic, the former Hajduk Split and Croatia goalkeeper, despite having represented the Dutch national team on 54 occasions.


# Jack Butland - Stoke City - €5.0 million

He’s been considered as England’s goalkeeper of the future, and the fact that Roy Hodgson brought him along to the European Championships two years ago while at previous club Birmingham City is proof enough that he’s got plenty of potential.

Butland began his career with Birmingham City, and made his debut in the Football League in September 2011 while on loan to League Two club Cheltenham Town.
Butland established himself as first choice keeper at St Andrew's in 2012–13 and was transferred to Premier League club Stoke City in January 2013 for a fee of £3.3 million. He was loaned back to Birmingham and went on to play in every league match in 2012–13. Butland then spent time out on loan at Barnsley before making his Premier League debut in January 2014.

However, 21-year-old Butland is likely to play the role of backup to Asmir Begovic at Stoke this season.


# Willy Caballero - Manchester City - €5.0 million

Caballero started his playing career with Boca Juniors in 2001.
The Argentine spent most of his career in Spain, representing Elche and Málaga and competing in La Liga with the latter club.
He joined Elche CF of Spain in 2004, playing nearly 200 games for the 'Los Franjiverdes' outfit. In February 2011, Caballero was transferred to Málaga CF in La Liga for €900,000 as an emergency transfer.

In the summer of 2014, he signed for Manchester City, but the 32 year-old has only made one appearance so far this season for City, in the 2014 FA Community Shield at Wembley.

Despite being snubbed time and time again by the Argentine national team, Caballero is highly thought of and it’s uncertain as to how long Caballero will be content to just be the second-string keeper at City, behind Joe Hart.
Hart, the England goalkeeper has come under much scrutiny in the last twelve months, following some high profile errors and he conceded a soft goal in City's last league game, a home defeat to Stoke, so maybe manager Manuel Pellegrini will consider giving Willy Caballero a chance sooner rather than later!


# Michael Agazzi - AC Milan - €6.0 million

He may be the least recognizable name on this list but Michael Agazzi built up a decent reputation for himself as the main goalkeeper at Cagliari.
In July 2009 Cagliari signed the goalkeeper from Serie B club Triestina in a joint ownership deal, for €575,000. However, he continued to play for Triestina until June 2010.

He became first choice goalkeeper for Cagliari at the start of the 2010-11 season, and went on to make well over 100 appearances for the Sardinia based club.
Following a brief spell at Chievo Verona earlier this year he moved to the San Siro in May 2014.

However three months later, Real Madrid and Milan reached an agreement over the transfer of Diego López, the Spanish born stopper, demoting Agazzi to Milan's backup keeper as López went on to start this season as number one, making his competitive debut in the first matchday of the new season in Serie A.

Agazzi may not have much of a chance to compete for game time at Milan if Lopez’s performances for the 'Rossoneri' are consistently strong.
The fact that longtime Milan servant Christian Abbiati is also still on their books at the age of 37 surely doesn't bode well for Agazzi, as he aspires to establish himself as first-choice stopper.


# Michel Vorm - Tottenham Hotspur - €6.0 million

He’s been capped 15 times by the Dutch national team – even going to the World Cup this past summer as the Oranje’s third choice keeper – but Michel Vorm’s recent decision to sign for Tottenham Hotspur may come back to haunt him. With the French international captain Hugo Lloris firmly entrenched as Spurs’ number one man, and with the evergreen American goalkeeper Brad Friedel still at the North London club, Vorm may have a difficult time starting games at White Hart Lane.

Vorm began his career at FC Utrecht in 2005. In order to gain more experience he spent the 2005-06 season on loan to FC Den Bosch. In August 2006 Vorm established himself as first choice keeper at FC Utrecht.

In August 2011, Vorm joined Swansea City for a fee of around £1.5 million. During his first season with Swansea his performances were so impressive that he won three awards at the club’s end-of-season dinner, including Players’ Player and and Supporters’ Player of the Year. He signed a four-year deal with Spurs in July 2014 for a fee of £3.5 million.


# David Ospina - Arsenal - €7.0 million

Following a great run by the Colombian national team to the quarter-finals of this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, it was clear that David Ospina needed to play for a bigger club than Nice in Ligue 1 of France – the club he joined in 2008 as a 19 year-old. However, Arsenal may not necessarily be the answer!

Although he’s clearly good enough to start for a major club, Ospina will likely have to fight for playing time with the Gunners’ longtime number one Wojciech Szczesny and their 22 year-old Argentine youngster Damián Martinez, who joined the 'Gunners' back in 2012.

With a market value of €7.0 million, and the fact that Ospina is still young for a goalkeeper at 25 years of age, the competition could potentially be fierce.


# Claudio Bravo - Barcelona - €8.0 million

Claudio Bravo is currently in the starting role for Barcelona, but that’s likely as a result of the fact that promising young German keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is out injured for the next several weeks. Once ter Stegen returns, though, Bravo may have to sit a number of games out for the Blaugrana. Thanks to his role playing for the Chilean national team that made it past one of the World Cup’s groups of death, as well as the fact that he was the longtime number one for Real Sociedad, Bravo may not be satisfied to have to be part of a goalkeeping tandem. Watch this space!

Bravo signed for Real Sociedad in a reported €1.2 million deal back in 2006 and played 229 times for the San Sebastián based club.

Bravo joined FC Barcelona this summer for €12 million (£9.7 million) thus becoming only the second Chilean ever to play for the Catalan giants after Alexis Sanchez, now an Arsenal player.


# Keylor Navas - Real Madrid - €6.0 million

Navas' performances for his country at the 2014 World Cup this summer were nothing short of sensational, and his role in Costa Rica’s run to the quarter-finals was instrumental.

He only conceded a single goal in the three Group games as Costa Rica qualified for the knockout stages as group winners. In the round of 16 match against Greece, Navas was named 'man of the match,' and was so again in the quarter-finals, despite his country being eliminated by the Netherlands in a penalty shootout.

Needless to say as a result of his World Cup heroics his reputation was enhanced immeasurably, and his Valencia based club Levante were always going to struggle to keep a hold of the 27 year-old.
On 3rd August 2014, Real Madrid came knocking and triggered Navas' €10 million buyout clause, and he signed a six-year contract with the 'Galácticos.'

His market value of €6.0 million shows that he’s good enough to start for many big clubs, but it’s unknown how often he’ll have to jockey for position with Iker Casillas for the number one role at the Bernabeu.


# Petr Cech - Chelsea - €17.0 million

Born in Plzeň, Czechoslovakia Petr Cech played for Chmel Blšany, Sparta Prague, and Rennes before joining Chelsea in 2004 for £7 million.

Although he was linked to moves away from Stamford Bridge in the summer, Petr Cech currently remains on Chelsea’s books, but it looks as if he’ll have to settle for a backup role behind young Belgian goalkeeping phenom Thibaut Courtois.
If he doesn’t win his place back at Stamford Bridge, I'm sure Cech will be looking to move elsewhere. His reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in recent years is still very much intact and for now, he’s still by far the most valuable backup goalkeeper in world football, even at 32 years-old.

Since joining 'The Blues' ten years ago, Cech has made over 450 appearances for the club and won a staggering array of silverwhere - three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA Europa League and one UEFA Champions League.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

How do you solve a problem like Hodgson?


So the England national football team beat Switzerland in Basle last night thus recording their first three points in a competitive fixture since the 'Three Lions' overcame Poland in their final 2014 World Cup tournament qualification match back in October 2013.

England have now won back to back fixtures in the space of less than a week - in fact it was their first victories of any description since a couple of over hyped pre-World Cup warm-up wins back in March against Denmark and in May against Peru, both at Wembley.

England lined up against Switzerland with captain Wayne Rooney joined by Danny Welbeck, in attack, with Liverpool's Raheem Sterling behind.
A signpost for the future, Roy Hodgson has surely found a formation - with Arsenal's Jack Wilshere at the base of the diamond and Sterling at its tip.

Despite a nervy first-half and with vital defensive contributions from Gary Cahill and Joe Hart preventing the Swiss from taking the lead, England's bold approach and ability to counter attack at pace paid off. In the end it was a reasonably comfortable win, although a far from convincing performance. There still remain major question marks at the centre of defence, and with the holding midfield role.
Hodgson chose to play a couple of players out of position, a fad commonplace nowadays at club level as well. It will be interesting to see how Roy juggles the personnel next time out when England play San Marino on 9th October.

England have a crop of very talented youngsters at club level, some of whom still need blooding at international level, such as Callum Chambers, Nathaniel Clyne, Joel Ward, Nathan Redmond, James Ward-Prowse, Luke Shaw, Jon Flanagan, Nathaniel Chalobah, Andre Wisdom, Will Hughes and Tom Carroll while the likes of Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Barkley, Townsend and Sterling have already made an impact or are currently injured or coming back from injury.

If Roy has a fully fit squad to choose from it will be a game about formations, systems and giving new players an opportunity to fit into 'Roy's Model' because you can be sure the England management team will not be having sleepless nights worrying about the opposition's footballing ability, more likely nightmares about whether a team made up of accountants, bank clerks, librarians, students, hospital workers and barmen are all able get the day off work!

What I am saying is let's not get carried away and hail a brand new England era, and that this victory will automatically act as a fulcrum for a major turning point in the fortunes of our national team in the next few years. As fans' we have been teased endlessly in the past and as a result we are used to disappointment, so if you expect nothing then anything more is a bonus!

The public know full well that England are simply not good enough to compete with the world's best teams – in terms of technique, tactical nous, nerve and, most damningly, hunger!

Hodgson may have on paper at least been instrumental in the victories over the 'Norewigan Vikings' last Wednesday and in last night's Euro qualifier win against 'The Swizz Cheese Makers.'
Incredibly in beating Switzerland he has has quite literally secured England a place in the Euros 2016 finals to be held in France after only one fixture - in a group of six teams with a further nine qualification games remaining.

The re-structuring of the European Championships, allowing a further eight European teams (almost half of UEFA’s membership) the chance to qualify for the 2016 finals means England are in one of the weakest tournament qualification groups I have ever witnessed in all the years I have followed our national team.
Let me re-iterate that in no way is that the fault of Hodgson, it lies solely at the feet of UEFA.
My worry is how 'Woy' going to get the best out of the England players when they are up against some of the worst teams in world football. San Marino (Current FIFA World ranking 208), Lithuania (103rd), Estonia (93rd) and Slovenia (39th).

Slotted in to prepare England for France in June 2016 are two friendlies against .......no not Germany, Italy, Belguim, France, Netherlands, Argentina or Uruguay, all ranked by FIFA among the top 15 football nations, but against Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, currently ranked 28th and 66th respectively in the world.

Roy Hodgson was incredibly lucky to retain his position as the senior man in charge of England, after a calamitous World Cup campaign in Brazil this summer. 


The managers of Italy, Iran, Côte d'Ivoire, Honduras and Japan all fell on their swords after their teams' failure to enter the tournament’s knockout stages in Brazil in the Summer. Luiz Felipe Scolari quit as manager of Brazil after the host nation tasted their first back-to-back defeats on home soil since 1940 during a humiliating World Cup, as they were beaten 3-0 by Holland in the third place play-off, having lost 7-1 in the semi-final five days earlier to Germany.

It is also interesting to note that the players that won albeit unconvincingly last night, though some may argue the result is all that counts, was not to dissimilar to the squad that 'Woy' paraded in his final warm-up match in May, prior to our worst World Cup campaign since 1958.
Glenn Johnson was the only player to feature against Honduras in Miami and not to be included against Switzerland last night, with the exception of the now retired Gerrard and Lampard, and the injured trio of Sturridge, Barkley and Lallana.
Hart, Baines, Cahill Jagielka, Henderson, Wilshire, Lambert, Rooney and Welbeck all played on 7th June while Milner, Stones and Jones were unused substitutes.
Make of that what you will!

Hodgson did not do a hell of a lot wrong leading up to Brazil and in Brazil itself. He chose a young squad, was bold in his selections, played to his strengths with a positive approach from the start and also managed to keep a feeling of solidarity amongst the players, thus resulting in a happy bunch of campers, something former England boss Fabio Capello failed to do during a major tournament.

Perhaps in the process of defeat and externalizing blame, it is not unsurprising that attention turns to the role of the football manager, as the team leader with ultimate responsibility for their performance. So what do we know about the role of football managers? What is there to gain or lose by making a change of manager and what benefits are there in holding our nerve and sticking with a longer term strategy, even in the face of a disappointing tournament outcome?

Research into leadership theory splits into different views on the role of the leader in organisations in general. Some schools of thought believe that the success of the organisation is less about the leader, whoever that may be, than it is about contextual factors such as the quality of its people, its resources and so on. In the World Cup context, this perspective would suggest that, whoever is in charge of the national team, performance will be more or less what you would expect given the quality of the players at the managers’ disposal.

There are also theories that highlight how different types of leadership approach are required for different situations. This raises the possibility that some styles of leadership may be better suited to succeeding in tournaments such as the World Cup, compared with succeeding as a club manager.

Alternatively, there is “individualistic” leadership thought. This is the belief that a visionary or transformational leader makes the difference. A leader who is passionate, good at spotting talent, skillful at managing and motivating his team, can raise the level of performance. Early individualistic approaches took quite simplistic views that particular characteristics made a difference. Research has largely quashed these ideas, but it is interesting how the vestiges of this debate linger in the belief that someone who is an extrovert and leaps around on the touchline is necessarily a more motivational leader, than a more introverted, considered, strategic leader, who might already be mapping out the next steps for the team.

Of course the reality is that no single style of leader is necessarily the right one and that the teams which the manager leads also comprise individuals who may need different approaches to get the best from them.

There is simply no English manager with the credibility to replace Hodgson!
After being stung by those mercenaries Fabio Capello and Sven Goran Eriksson, the FA are determined not to go foreign again.


However you can't see the FA appointing the likes of Harry Redknapp, Steve Bruce, Stuart Pearce, Gary Neville, David Moyes or Alan Pardew as Hodgson's replacement, in the hugely unlikely event that they should completely change tact and fire him in the very near future!

What happens following the Euro's in France is a minefield - Hodgson will go either way, whether as a hero or a villan - in a lycra Superman outfit or bound, gagged and dragged off to an uninhabited island with a monster paycheck that he cannot cash, but with plenty of time to reflect on his time at the helm.


Monday, September 01, 2014

Babe of the Month - Latino Beauty Vanessa Huppenkothen


Vanessa Huppenkothen Labra was born on 24th July, 1984 in Mexico City. She is a TV Presenter, actress and model of German/Mexican decent. Her father is German and her mother Mexican. Vanessa is a lover of sport and in particular football. She grew up in Mexico, but she also lived with her father in Duisburg. At that time she attended FC Schalke games, and is still an avid fan of the Bundesliga.

After finishing school Vanessa studied International Relations and her master's thesis was on FIFA. She speaks four languages fluently - Spanish, German, English and French.
She currently works for Televisa Deportes, a division of the Mexican television network Televisa that produces sports programming for Canal de las Estrellas, Canal 5, Galavision and Televisa Deportes Network.



In 2008, she covered the Summer Olympic Games from Beijing. She reported on the Mexican soccer team during the Football World Cup in South Africa in 2010, and again was a presenter for Televisa's coverage of the Mexican national team during the 2014 Football World Cup. During the tournament in Brazil she generated considerable attention on social media platforms, and was among the top five social media searches in Singapore!


















Vanessa covers a lot of the football action in Mexico as well as conducting interviews with coaches and players.

She was featured as the cover feature model for GQ in June 2014 and Esquire in June 2013. Vanessa also featured in GQ in November 2012 .




You can follow Vanessa on TwitterFacebook and Instagram 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Crystal Palace Football Club Squad List - 2014/15


Goalkeepers:

#1.Julian Speroni - Age 35 - Date Signed: 12 Jul, 2004.
#13.Wayne Hennessey - Age 27 - Date Signed: 29 Jul, 2010.
#26 Chris Kettings - Age 21 - Date Signed - 31 Jan, 2014.


Defenders:

#2.Joel Ward - Age 24 - Date Signed: 30 May, 2012.
#3.Adrian Mariappa - Age 27 - Date Signed: 03 Sep, 2013.
#4.Brede Hangeland - Age 33 - Date Signed: 01 Aug, 2014.
#6.Scott Dann - Age 27 - Date Signed: 31 Jan, 2014.
#19.Zeki Fryers - Age 21 - Date Signed: 01 Sep, 2014.
#27.Damien Delaney - Age 33 - Date Signed: 31 Aug, 2012.
#34.Martin Kelly - Age 24 - Date Signed: 14 Aug, 2014.


Midfielders:

#7.Yannick Bolasie - Age 25 - Date Signed: 24 Aug, 2012.
#8.Adlène Guedioura - Age 28 - Date Signed: 04 Sep, 2013.
#11.Wilfried Zaha - Age 21 - Date Signed: 28 Aug, 2014 (On season long loan from Man Utd).
#14.Jerome Thomas - Age 31 - Date Signed: 01 Jul, 2013.
#15.Mile Jedinak - Age 30 - Date Signed: 11 Jul, 2011.
#18.James McArthur - Age 26 - Date Signed: 01 Sep, 2014.
#25.Barry Bannan - Age 24 - Date Signed: 02 Sep, 2013.
#28 Joe Ledley - Age 27 - Date Signed: 31 Jan, 2014.
#42.Jason Puncheon - Age 28 - Date Signed: 31 Jan, 2014.


Strikers:

#9.Kevin Doyle - Age 30 - Date Signed: 01 Sep, 2014 (On loan from Wolves until January 2015).
#10.Fraizer Campbell - Age 26 - Date Signed: 24 Jul, 2014.
#16.Dwight Gayle - Age 23 - Date Signed: 03 Jul, 2013.
#17.Andrew Johnson - Age 33 - Date Signed: 03 Sep, 2014.
#29.Marouane Chamakah - Age 29 - Date Signed: 11 Jul, 2014.


Other Crystal Palace FC players not listed in the current 25 man squad for 2014/15 season or out on loan:

# Glenn Murray - Age 30 - Date Signed: 31 May, 2011 (On loan to Reading until January 2015).
# Jonathan Williams - Age 20 - Date Signed: 01 Jul, 2011 (On loan to Ipswich until 31 December 2014).
# Jack Hunt - Age 23 - Date Signed: 02 Sep, 2013 (On loan to Nottingham Forest until 1 January 2015).
# Stephen Dobbie - Age 30 - Date Signed: 01 Jul, 2013 (On loan to Fleetwood until 30 June 2015).
# Kwesi Appiah - Age 23 - Date Signed 31 Jan, 2012 (On loan to Cambridge United until 10 Jan 2015).
# Alex Wynter - Age 20 - Date Signed: 01 Jan, 2010 (Season long loan deal to Portsmouth).
# Jerome B Williams - Age 19 - Date Signed: 26 Aug, 2013 (On loan to Southend Utd until January 2015).
# Owen Garvan - Age 26 - Date Signed: 04 Aug, 2010 (On loan to Bolton until 12 December 2014).
# Patrick McCarthy - Age 31 - Date Signed: 12 Jun, 2008 (On loan to Sheff Utd until 2 November 2014.)
# Peter Ramage - Age 30 - Date Signed: 8 Aug, 2012 (On loan to Barnsley until January 2015).
# Ryan Innis - Age 19 - Date Signed: 1 Jan, 2012 (On month loan to Yeovil until 16 November 2015).
# Stuart O'Keefe - Age 23 - Date Signed: 18 Aug, 2010.
# Lewis Price - Age 30 - Date Signed: 29 Jul, 2010.
# Hiram Boateng - Age 18 - Date Signed: 01 Jul, 2012.
# Sullay Kaikai - Age 19 - Date Signed: 01 Jul, 2013.
# Jake Gray - Age 18 - Date Signed: 01 Jul, 2014.
# Jimmy Kébé - Age 30 - Date Signed: 31 Aug, 2013.


Management Team:

First Team Manager: Neil Warnock
Assistant Manager: Keith Millen
First Team Coach: Ben Garner
Technical Coach: David Kemp
Goalkeeping Coach: George Wood
Director of football: Vacant
Club Doctor: Bill Jasper
Physiotherapist: Alex Manos
Assistant First Team Physiotherapist: Matthew Roberts
Assistant Physiotherapist/Under-21 Physiotherapist: John Stannard
Strength & Conditioning Coach: Andy Page
Rehabilitation Coach: Joe Best
Masseurs: Ian Evans & Chris Swallows
Video Analyst: Liam Sweeting
Kit Manager: Brian Rogers
Assistant Kit Manager: Danny Young


*This page will be updated accordingly in the event of any new signings/appointments.

Friday, August 08, 2014

My Predictions for the 2014/15 Football Season and the Betting Odds.


Sky Bet League Two:

Winners: Luton 10/1

Runners-up: Southend (16/1 to win League Two, 9/2 to win promotion)

Promotion via Play-offs: Bury 7/4, York 7/2, Stevenage 4/1 or Newport County 6/1

Surprise Packages: Northampton Town and Cambridge United

Relegation: Exeter City 11/2 and Wycombe Wanderers 6/1

Top Scorer: Ryan Lowe (Bury) 12/1

Players to Watch: Kelvin Etuhu (Bury), Matt Palmer (Burton), Luke James (Hartlepool), Kwesi Appiah (Cambridge) and John-Joe O'Toole (Northampton)


# Sky bet odds correct at time of writing.

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Sky Bet League One:

Winners: Sheffield United 5/1

Runners-up: Leyton Orient (10/1 to win League One, 11/4 to win promotion)

Promotion via Play-offs: Preston 5/2, Bristol City 5/2, Peterborough 5/2 or Doncaster 5/1

Surprise Package: Fleetwood Town and Swindon Town

Relegation: Crewe 11/8, Colchester 11/8, Gillingham 2/1 and Rochdale 5/2

Top Scorer: Sam Baldock (Bristol City) 6/1 or Darius Henderson (Leyton Orient) 12/1

Players to Watch: Dele Alli (MK Dons) Jobi McAnuff (Leyton Orient), Stephen Dobbie (Fleetwood), Lanre Oyebanjo (Crawley), Sam Winnall (Barnsley), Nathan Thompson (Swindon) and Jose Baxter (Sheffield United)


# Sky bet odds correct at time of writing.

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Sky Bet Championship:

Winners: Wigan 9/1

Runner-up: Derby (7/1 to win the Championship, 9/4 for promotion)

Promotion via Play-offs: Cardiff 9/4, Watford 5/1, Bournemouth 13/2 or Wolves 13/2

Surprise Package: Brentford

Relegation: Blackpool 8/13, Charlton 3/1 and Leeds 7/2

Top Scorer: Chris Martin (Derby) 12/1 or Troy Deeney (Watford) 12/1

Players to Watch: Moses Odubajo (Brentford), Britt Assomablonga (N.Forest) Lewis Grabban (Norwich), Adam Le Fondre (Cardiff), Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham) and Will Hughes (Derby)


# Sky bet odds correct at time of writing.

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Barclays Premier League:

Winners: Manchester City 2/1

Runners-up: Chelsea

Europe (Champions League qualification): Manchester United and Arsenal

Surprise Package: Stoke City

Relegation: Burnley 4/7, Leicester 5/2 and West Brom 5/2

Top scorers: Daniel Sturridge 5/1, Olivier Giroud 18/1 e/w and Romelu Lukaku 20/1 e/w

Players to Watch: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) Aaron Cresswell (West Ham) Kieran Trippier (Burnley) and Yannick Bolasie (C.Palace)


# Sky bet odds correct at time of writing.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Friday, August 01, 2014

Babe of the Month - Aussie track athlete Michelle Jenneke


Michelle "Shelly" Jenneke was born on 23rd June 1993 in Kenthurst, a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales with a population of around 5,000, and the 21 year-old is an Australian 100m hurdler and model.

In June she was selected to represent 'Team Australia' at the 2014 Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow, and it will be her 'major championship' debut.

Michelle received worldwide media attention in 2012 for her pre-race warm-up before the 100m hurdles race at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships in Athletics in Barcelona - as seen in the video below.
She was one of the athletes featured in the 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

In 2014 Jenneke was featured in a video-heavy mobile computing app on stretching techniques called:  'Stretch! with Michelle Jenneke.'


Michelle has trained with coach Mick Zisti as a hurdler from the age of 10 at the Cherrybrook Athletics Club. She competed at the Canberra hosted 2008 Pacific School Games in the 90 and 200 metres hurdles.

In March 2010, Jenneke finished 1st in the 100m hurdles and broke the Australian record in the women's sprint medley relay at the 2010 Australian Junior Championships.



Michelle Jenneke at the Junior World Championships in Barcelona in July 2012


























In July 2010, Jenneke was in Australia's team at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games, running the 100m hurdles and the women's medley relay.
In the hurdles, she came second with a time of 13.56 and setting a personal best after winning her heat, and the medley relay team came fourth. Her medal was the first Australia won at the Games in athletics.

At the 2011 Australian Junior Championships, she had a first place hurdles finish in the under-20 group.


In April 2011 she competed at the 89th Australian Athletics Championships and finished third in the 100m hurdles behind world champion Sally Pearson.

On 15th July 2012, Jenneke finished fifth in the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships 100m hurdles.

Michelle recorded a personal best time of 13.23 on her way to winning the 100m hurdles at the Queensland Track Classic in Brisbane in March this year.




Michelle inside Hampden Park, where she'll be competing in the 100m hurdles final today!
                      

                      You can follow Michelle on TwitterFacebookInstagram and on her website


Friday, July 25, 2014

All the latest transfer gossip across Europe!


Unsurprisingly clubs across Europe are extremely busy trying to negotiate transfer deals as they attempt to strengthen their squads ahead of their forthcoming domestic seasons.
The 2014/15 English Premier League season kicks-off on the 16th August, the German Bundesliga campaign will commence on Friday 22nd August, Spain's La Liga begins on the 24th August, while Italy's Serie A season opens up on the 31st August 2014.

Here is a round up of all the latest transfer gossip across Europe today!

Is your club involved?

Juventus, Manchester United, Liverpool, Atlético Madrid, Inter Milan, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Porto, Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Lazio, Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain, Roma, Leicester City, QPR, Crystal Palace, Hamburg, Napoli, Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Lille, Marseille, Dynamo Moscow, Everton, AIK, Ferencvaros, Besiktas, Pachuca, Celtic, Udinese, Sheffield United, Hull, West Brom, Sevilla, Norwich, Fiorentina, Monterrey, Watford, Nottingham Forest, Burnley, Cardiff, Millwall, Peterborough, Bristol Rovers and Rochdale .............are all caught up in the latest transfer news/rumours across Europe, as we speak.


Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal (right) has dealt a blow to Manchester United by ruling out a switch to Old Trafford - Daily Mail

Liverpool are now poised to move for the 27-year-old Chile international with a £42.5m bid - Metro

Atlético Madrid Madrid have made a fresh approach to sign unsettled Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez, who is also been tracked by Inter Milan - thetimes.co.uk

Atlético Madrid have also expressed interest in Nacho Monreal and Santi Cazorla, from Arsenal - thetimes.co.uk and Daily Express

Arsenal are in pursuit of Real Madrid's veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas. The Gunners have offered the 33-year-old Spain international a five-year deal worth £1.4m a year - Daily Express

Arsenal target Jackson Martinez has admitted that he does not know where his future lies. The Porto striker who has a £32 million release clause featured for Colombia at the World Cup and has been coveted by Arsenal as well as AC Milan, Roma and Valencia - TalkSPORT

Jose Mourinho is close to completing a reunion with former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, 36, as goalkeeper Petr Cech, 32, warns the Chelsea manager not to leave him on the bench next season - The Sun and Daily Mirror

The agent of Manchester City's Javi Garcia has denied striking a deal with Napoli for the 27-year-old Spain international midfielder - Forza Italian Football (Italian newspaper)

Barcelona have reportedly launched a £16m bid for Thomas Vermaelen. The Belgian centre-back, who has been at Arsenal since 2009, is also said to be a target for Manchester United - sportsmole.co.uk

Manchester United are planning a move for 20 year-old PSV Eindhoven left winger Memphis Depay (right) - Metro

Borussia Dortmund are lining up an offer for Chelsea target Carlos Strandberg, the Swedish striker, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus also in the hunt. But they are all yet to firm up their interest with a bid – and they could be gazumped by Dortmund.
The Bundesliga side are ready to offer BK Hacken £1.2m for the striker - Bild (German newspaper)

Spurs defender Vlad Chiriches, 24, could be heading for the exit after just one season, with Roma weighing up a move for the centre-back - Daily Mirror

Liverpool on the verge of signing Southampton defender Dejan Lovren. It is believed that the two clubs have agreed on a fee in the region of £20m, with the Croatian international set to undergo a medical this weekend - skysports.com and sportsmole.co.uk

Lazio are ready to make their move for Manchester United and Liverpool target Stefan de Vrij. The Feyenoord and Dutch international defender is valued at £7 million - Il Messaggero (Italian newspaper)

Paris Saint-Germain could let 29-year-old forward Ezequiel Lavezzi leave if they will succeed in signing Real Madrid 27-year-old winger Angel Di Maria - Sportitalia (Italian TV)

Leicester City have joined QPR and Crystal Palace in the race for Tottenham's 23 year-old German international midfielder Lewis Holtby (right), on loan - Daily Star

Hamburg are trying to speed-up the negotiation for Napoli 29-year-old midfielder Valon Behrami - skysports.com

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert says that 29-year-old captain Ron Vlaar - who has been linked with Tottenham - is not up for sale - thesun.co.uk

Dani Osvaldo is set to become the latest player to leave Southampton by signing for Inter Milan - The Sun

Crystal Palace have confirmed the signing of striker Fraizer Campbell from Cardiff City on a three year contract for an undisclosed fee - skysports.com

Liverpool could face late competition from Atlético Madrid for the signing of Lille and Belgium international striker Divock Origi - Marca (Spanish newspaper)

Everton are stepping up their interest in AIK's highly-rated Sweden winger Nabil Bahoui - skysports.com

Everton are on the brink of clinching a deal for 21-year-old Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic from Ferencvaros - The Sun and theguardian.com

QPR have entered the race to land France midfielder Mathieu Valbuena from Marseille (right), after he rejected the chance to join Dynamo Moscow - L'Equipe (French newspaper)

Chelsea's German midfield misfit Marko Marin, 25, is in talks over a loan move to Turkish side Besiktas - skysports.com and thesun.co.uk

Chelsea appear to have failed, at least for the time being in their quest to sign 21 year-old winger Jurgen Damm from Mexican club side Pachuca - Record (Mexican newspaper)

Roma have confirmed the signing of 18 year-old Paraguay international striker Antonio Sanabria from Barcelona - skysports.com

Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk, 23, is keen on a move to Southampton - but the Scottish club want at least £10m for the Dutchman - Daily Mirror

Juventus have signed midfielder Roberto Pereyra from Udinese on an initial one-year loan deal - transfermarketweb.com

Hull City are hoping to clinch the £2m signing of Sheffield United defender Harry Maguire today - Daily Mirror

Sevilla are ready to make an approach for Norwich midfielder Leroy Fer - The Times

West Bromwich Albion, are reportedly close to securing a double defensive deal.
Cristian Gamboa (right), who helped Costa Rica reach the World Cup quarter-finals, and Australian left-back Jason Davidson are said to be on the brink of moving to The Hawthorns - sportsmole.co.uk

Fiorentina are putting the finishing touches to a deal for 30 year-old Argentina defender Jose Maria Basanta from Mexican club side Monterrey - skysports.com

Burnley are lining up a bid for Nottingham Forest star Henri Lansbury - The Sun

Udinese striker Odion Ighalo, 25, has revealed he is close to sealing a loan move to Watford - skysports.com

Cardiff City have had a second bid for Southampton's 30 year-old defender Jose Fonte turned down.

Millwall have snapped up former Everton winger Magaye Gueye, 24, on a free transfer after a successful trial - skysports.com

Peterborough have signed 25 year-old right-back Michael Smith for an undisclosed fee from Bristol Rovers on a three-year deal - skysports.com

Rochdale have signed striker Calvin Andrew on a free transfer after a successful trial. The 27-year-old was a free agent after leaving York City in May - skysports.com


Monday, July 14, 2014

FIFA 2014 World Cup - The Worst XI Players


On the pitch the 20th World Cup finals held in Brazil was in the main one of the best tournaments in living memory. It pretty match had everything:- goals a plenty, drama, passion, tears, shocks, surprises, many memorable moments, great individual performances along with several teams that exceeded expectations.
However as with any team event there were players that were quite simply awful and contributed little to their respective teams.

As a result I have compiled a team of what I would consider to be the worst eleven players that took part in the tournament this summer.

Goalkeeper:
Iker Casillas (Spain)
South Africa’s Golden Glove winner had a terrible tournament. In the opening game, Casillas’s errors were costly: his absence for a free-kick led to the Dutch going 3-1 up, while a comical attempt to control the ball in his box allowed Robin van Persie to get his second of the game. In Spain's following must-win game, the Spanish captain inexplicably punched away a free-kick to gift Chile their second goal and send the reigning champions packing.


Left-back:
Leighton Baines (England)
If you are able to recall a positive contribution of the Everton player to The Three Lions’ cause, you must be a biologist specialising in micro-organisms.
Baines was toasted by the canny movements of Matteo Darmian and Antonio Candreva versus Italy, and he wasn't much better against Uruguay.


Central defender:
Pepe (Portugual)
The Real Madrid defender came into the World Cup as a Champions League winner, but his tournament will forever be remembered for an idiotic, thuggish headbutt on Germany’s Thomas Muller in the 37th minute of the opening game, that got him sent-off and helped condemn the Portuguese to their heaviest ever defeat in the competition.


Central defender:
Gerard Pique (Spain)
As one of many to play below his best for Spain, his dismal centre-half pairing with Sergio Ramos led to a shaky defence which incorporated a dodgy offside trap and lazy attempts to man mark the opposition. At least Shakira (right) was on hand to give him a cuddle and the opportunity off the pitch to make up for his pitiful performances on the pitch!


Right-back:
Glen Johnson (England)
Liverpool fans have been frustrated for ages about their longtime right-back's inability to man-mark or defend properly, but now their pain is shared by the nation after three below par performances during England's limp World Cup presence. He did tee up Wayne Rooney for his first goal at FIFA's big event, but it wasn't enough to mask his inability to defend, the key reason for him being on the pitch.


Midfield:
Steven Gerrard (England) 
Although he was praised for his mature adaptation into a deep-lying, restrained playmaker for Liverpool, Gerrard's attempt to reprise this role for England looked more headless chicken than fearless leader. He spent much of the World Cup chasing shadows or being overrun. His role in Luis Suarez's second goal, an unwittingly perfect flick-on for his club teammate's well-timed run, added further bitterness to a difficult campaign - and surely his last in an England shirt. Gerrard is not the only English player to make the list, so rest assured Steven, at least you'll never walk alone!



Midfield
Paulinho (Brazil)
Few Brazilian players covered themselves in glory during the finals, but Tottenham's Paulinho proved to be the pits. Toothless and insipid in the middle of the field best describes his performances. At the 2013 Confederations Cup Paulinho received the Bronze Ball as the competition's third best player. Not sure if it was the same player at the World Cup?


Mildfield:
Alexander Song (Cameroon)
After a close fight with Kevin-Prince Boateng of Ghana, Song claims the position. Not long ago, Song was deemed to be one of the most promising defensive midfielders in Europe. But he left Brazil a beaten man with a red card to boot following a boneheaded elbow to Mario Mandžukić's head in Cameroon's second group game. Croatia went on to win the game 4-0 and Song later apologized to Mandžukić, and to the people of Cameroon for being sent off.
FIFA punished Song with a three-match ban, as well as fining him. The match was further tainted following an investigation into possible match-fixing, after allegations in a German newspaper claimed that the convicted match fixer, Wilson Raj Perumal, correctly predicted the final outcome of Cameroon-Croatia match, which included the scoreline and the sending off of a player.


Midfield:
Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)
Given his credentials AV was supposed to be the best player on the Ecuador national team. However The Manchester United man was completely overshadowed by his namesake Enner Valencia this summer. After being largely invisible in Ecuador's first two group stage games, Valencia topped off a torrid tournament by being sent-off for a foul on Lucas Digneh in is side's final but crucial group stage match against France.


Forward:
Diego Costa (Spain)
La Liga winner and symbol of Atletico Madrid’s greatest domestic triumph, Diego Costa was one of the World Cup’s biggest flops. Having opted to represent Spain over Brazil, Costa looked like a fish out of water and after three matches scoring no goals and Spain’s early exit, they aren’t complaining. His World Cup stats read: 50 touches of the ball in the tournament, no goals, no shots on target and just ten touches in total in the opposition penalty box.


Forward:
Fred (Brazil)
The ignominious Fred departed the pitch in his last World Cup game after his every touch was being met by jeers by his home crowd in Belo Horizonte. A single goal to his name in six games, the hapless and erratically Fred remains the most impressive non-striker at the World Cup. The definition of peripheral.


Other dishonourable mentions:

Stipe Pletikosa (Croatia)
Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Dani Alves (Brazil)
Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Cameroon)
Philippe Senderos (Switzerland)
David Luiz (Brazil)
Wilson Palacios (Honduras)
Shinji Kagawa (Japan)
Xavi (Spain)
Joao Moutinho (Portugal)
Kevin-Prince Boateng (Ghana)
Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon)
Hulk (Brazil)
Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
Wayne Rooney (England)