Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The 'Football Legend' that is Ali Dia

The name Ali Dia doesn’t ring a bell for many of you out there, but for those who watched Premier League football back in the 1990’s, it is a name that is mainly remembered as one that’ll go down in the league’s folklore.

Ali Dia is famous in the Premier League for being the greatest conman in the history of the game and his name is one Graeme Souness would dearly love to forget.

It was November 1996, when Southampton’s manager at the time, Graeme Souness, received a phone call from someone claiming to be George Weah (one of the greatest African footballers of all-time and World Footballer of the Year at the time) recommending his cousin, a certain "player" called Ali Dia to Southampton Football Club.

This person on the other end of the phone (who obviously wasn’t George Weah) told Souness that Dia had played for Paris Saint-Germain, was currently at a German 2nd division club and had been capped by Senegal 13 times.

Souness was told that he should consider giving him a trial at the club. Unfortunately for Souness and Southampton, the phone call was a fake. The phone call to Souness was made by a fellow university student of Dia's at Portsmouth. Dia had never played for Senegal or PSG and his cousin was most certainly not George Weah. In fact Dia’s footballing career was no better than the average Sunday league player - he’d turned out for a few unheard of French teams, before unsuccessfully trialing at a number of lower English league clubs. He did however make one appearance for Blyth Spartans of the Northern Premier League.

Putting things into perspective a little bit, there was no internet at the time or anything high-tech that could possibly have allowed Souness (right) to know whether or not this was true (though the fact that Weah is from Liberia and Dia is from Senegal should have been a good clue).
The Southampton manager took the risk and was convinced by the phone call. After all, the scouts at the Dell didn’t want to lose out on a prodigious talent to their rivals - indeed only Matt Le Tissier came anywhere near the word ‘talent’ in a Southampton shirt at that time. To hoard off any interest from other clubs, the Saints offered Dia a one-month contract with the club to prove his worth in the Premier League.

Saints legend Le Tissier had gone on record to say that Dia trained once with the first-team squad, showing as much skill in a five-a-side game as a man with his feet tied together. Not one member of the Southampton team thought Dia would ever be involved in a match day squad.

Dia was given the nod to play a reserve game the week he joined, but due to poor weather conditions the game was postponed. So when Southampton faced Leeds at The Dell the following day imagine their surprise when Souness named his new Senegalese superstar on the substitutes bench for the crunch match with Leeds United on 23rd November 1996.

After Le Tissier pulled a thigh muscle during the game, the number 33 went up on the fourth official’s board, signalling that Dia (right) would be introduced for his debut in front of 15,241 football fans.
He came on as a substitute after 32 minutes, but his debut was so poor that he was later substituted himself (for Ken Monkou) in the 85th minute, as Southampton lost 2-0, and the most ambiguous of Premier League matches went down in the game’s folklore.

In the words of Le Tissier:
"His performance was almost comical. He kind of took my place, but he didn’t really have a position. He was just wondering everywhere. I don’t think he realised what position he was supposed to be in. I don’t even know if he spoke English – I don’t think I ever said a word to him. In the end he got himself subbed because he was that bad."

Peter Harrison, who managed Dia while he was with Blyth Spartans, even spoke of his shock when he saw his former striker playing against Leeds: "Next thing I knew I was watching him on ‘Match of the Day,’ playing for Southampton, which was pretty unbelievable at the time."

The following day Dia went to the physio with an ‘injury’ and then never showed up again. He went on to play for non-league side Gateshead, but then vanished again. His whereabouts are unknown today, but his name is still sung by Southampton fans to remember his story: “Ali Dia, is a liar, is a liar.”

Most people in football probably think what Dia did was a bad thing. The most notorious player ever and number one on several lists of the most woeful transfers in history.
But I tell you now that Ali Dia is a legend!

Most of us untalented footballers will never play for a Premier League side, or even get close. Ali Dia managed it with a massive amount of luck, but with balls and with persistence, and with the help of a friend. Ali Dia is the fan in the crowd supporting his beloved team who is suddenly called upon by his manager to get stripped, warm up and and get ready to take the field and play.

Dreams are made of what Ali Dia built.

His ’fifteen minutes of fame' actually lasted 53 minutes, but he can tell his kids that he played for a top, top side. He can pretend that he was that good. Hell, he could tell them the truth, and say he pulled the greatest hoax in history, and it would still be amazing!
If this were a movie, of course, the audacious young hero would have scored the winning goal. It may not have been a movie.........but it is very much a true story!

Southampton starting line-up that day:

Goalkeeper: Chris Woods
Defender: Jason Dodd
Defender: Ulrich Van Gobbel
Defender: Richard Dryden
Defender: Claus Lundekvam
Defender/Midfielder: Graham Potter
Midfielder: Eyal Berkovic
Midfielder: Matt Oakley
Midfielder: Jim Magilton
Midfielder/Forward: Matt Le Tissier
Forward: Egil Ostenstad


Aly Dia for Matt Le Tissier on 32 mins
Robbie Slater for Matt Oakley on 72 mins
Ken Monkou for Aly Dia on 85 mins

Monday, May 11, 2015

Football's Finest Free Agents this Summer!

Since the introduction of the Bosman ruling in 1995, clubs have strived to extend deals more than 12 months in advance of their contract expiry in a bid to avoid losing key assets for knock-down prices, or worse still for free come deadline time.

With the Financial Fair Play rules now in place, many clubs are looking for bargains when it comes to signing players. This is why they will be checking on who is available on a free transfer at the end of this season.

A look at the list of players nearing the ends of their contracts across Europe raises the possibility of many intriguing deals.

Here I take a look at a selection of the players whose current deals are due to expire in the summer of 2015!

Sami Khedira - Age: 28 / Current Club: Real Madrid / Position: Defensive Midfield

Luiz Adriano - Age: 28 / Current Club: Shakhtar Donetsk / Position: Forward

Yevhen Konoplyanka - Age: 25 / Dnipropetrovsk / Position: Left Wing

Danny Ings - Age: 22 / Current Club: Burnley / Position: Forward

Dani Alves - Age: 32 / Current Club: Barcelona / Position: Right-Back

Alexandre Pato - Age: 25 Current Club: São Paulo FC Position: Forward

André-Pierre Gignac - Age: 29 / Current Club: Olympic Marseille / Position: Forward

Giorgio Chiellini - Age: 30 / Current Club: Juventus / Position: Defender

Ron Vlaar - Age: 30 / Current Club: Aston Vila / Position: Centre-Back

Klaas Jan Huntelaar - Age: 31 / Current Club: Schalke 04 / Position: Forward

James Milner - Age: 29 / Current Club: Manchester City / Position: Right Midfield

Neto - Age: 25 / Current Club: Fiorentina / Position: Goalkeeper

Andrea Ranocchia - Age: 27 / Inter Milan / Position: Centre-Back

Ignazio Abate - Age: 28 / Current Club: AC Milan / Position: Right-Back

Fabian Schär - Age 22 / Current Club: FC Basel / Position: Centre-Back

André Ayew - Age: 25 / Current Club: Olympic Marseille / Position: Left Wing

Mathieu Flamini - Age: 31 / Current Club: Arsenal / Position: Defensive Midfield

Maxi Pereira - Age:30 / Current Club: Benfica / Position: Right-Back

Cássio - Age: 27 / Current Club: Corinthians / Position: Goalkeeper

Glen Johnson - Age: 30 / Current Club: Liverpool / Position: Right-Back

Stéphane Mbia - Age: 28 / Current Club Sevilla FC / Position: Defensive Midfield

Nigel De Jong - Age: 30 / Current Club: AC Milan / Position: Defensive Midfield

Edin Džeko - Age: 29 / Current Club: Manchester City / Position: Forward

Mikel Arteta - Age: 33 / Current Club: Arsenal / Position: Midfielder

Loris Karius - Age: 21 / Current Club: FSV Mainz 05 / Position: Goalkeeper

Jack Cork - Age: 25 / Current Club: Swansea City / Position: Midfielder/Forward

Rafael van der Vaart Age: 32 / Current Club: Hamburg SV / Position: Attacking Midfield

Friday, May 01, 2015

Babe of the Month - Knight Fever

Hilary Atwood Knight was born on 12th July 1989, in Palo Alto, California, but grew up in Hanover, New Hampshire. She is an professional ice hockey player for the Boston Blades in The Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL), and also for the United States women's national ice hockey team.

When Hilary was five-years-old her family made the move from California to Chicago, where she truly started playing the sport.

When it came time to choose a college, Knight had her pick – nearly everyone was recruiting her. Her parents wanted her to attend an Ivy League school, but suggested she visit Wisconsin. After visiting Wisconsin Hilary decided that if she was going to play in college, she wanted to play for a great coach on a great team, where she could learn and prepare to make the 2010 US Olympic team.

Hilary appeared in a NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Championship Final in all 4 of her years as a Wisconsin Badger.

In her freshman year, Knight ranked second on the team in goals (20), and tied for fifth on the team in assists (18) and helped the team to second place in the NCAA Championships.

As a sophomore (2008-2009), Hilary led the Nation with 45 goals and went on to win a National Championship with the Badgers.

In her junior season (2010-2011) the Badgers won the NCAA Championship and Hilary was named joint MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the Championship as well.

In her senior season, Hilary captained the Badgers to the National Championship Game, the WCHA title and set multiple new records in Women’s Hockey. Hilary set the all time record for goals scored surpassing her coach’s previous record which had stood for over 30 years.

She graduated with 262 career points, and is the Badgers all-time leader in goals (143), game-winning goals (30), power-play goals (37), and short-handed goals (8).

Selected third overall by the Boston Blades in the 2012 CWHL Draft, Knight would end the season third overall in league scoring. She would become the first American-born player to grab the CWHL’s Most Valuable Player Award. In the post-season, she would emerge as the leading scorer, helping the Blades win the 2013 Clarkson Cup.

As a teenager, Knight was a member of the United States senior national team. In November 2006, she played for Team USA in the Four Nations Cup and was the youngest player for Team USA at 17 years old.

At the 2007 IIHF World Women's Championship, she was the youngest player on the United States squad. Her head coach was also the Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson. Knight earned silver at the tournament for the US.

She scored the game-winning goal as the U.S. Women’s National Team won its third consecutive world title with a 3–2 overtime victory against Canada at the 2011 IIHF Women's World Championship at Hallenstadion. In the United States first game of the 2011 IIHF Eight Nations Tournament, Knight scored a hat-trick in a victory over Russia.

In 2010, Hilary Knight made her Olympic debut for the United States of America, in Vancouver at age 20 and was the youngest member of the US team that went on to take a silver medal.
She also participated in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and scored the team's first goal of the 2014 Olympics, where the team again went on to take the silver medal overall.

You can follow Hilary on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram

Monday, April 27, 2015

Professional Football Association Awards for 2015

The results of the 42nd PFA Awards held at the Grosvenor House in London on Sunday 26th April 2015:

Team Awards:

Premier League Team of the Year 2015:

David De Gea - Manchester United

Gary Cahill - Chelsea
John Terry - Chelsea
Ryan Bertrand - Southampton
Branislav Ivanovic - Chelsea

Nemanja Matic - Chelsea
Philippe Coutinho - Liverpool (right)
Alexis Sanchez - Arsenal
Eden Hazard - Chelsea

Diego Costa - Chelsea
Harry Kane - Tottenham

Championship Team of the Year 2015:

Keiren Westwood - Sheffield Wed

Richard Keogh - Derby
Russell Martin - Norwich
George Friend - Middlesbrough
Simon Francis - Bournemouth

Grant Leadbitter - Middlesbrough
Matt Ritchie - Bournemouth (right)
Alex Pritchard - Brentford
Bakary Sako - Wolves

Daryl Murphy - Ipswich
Troy Deeney - Watford

League One Team of the Year 2015:

Frank Fielding - Bristol City

Tom Clarke - Preston
Aden Flint - Bristol City
Nathan Byrne - Swindon
Joe Bryan - Bristol City

Massimo Luongo - Swindon
Luke Freeman - Bristol City
Dele Alli - MK Dons (right)
Korey Smith - Bristol City

Joel Garner - Preston
Eoin Doyle - Chesterfield

League Two Team of the Year 2015:

Daniel Bentley - Southend

Conor Goldson - Shrewsbury
Steve McNulty - Luton
Ben Coker - Southend
Phil Edwards - Burton

Danny Mayor - Bury
Jed Wallace - Portsmouth (right)
Danny Mayor - Bury
Matt Grimes - Exeter

Ryan Woods - Shrewsbury
Matt Tubbs - Portsmouth

Women's Soccer League Team of the Year 2015:

Carly Telford - Notts County

Casey Stoney - Arsenal
Rachel Corsie - Notts County
Emma Mitchell - Arsenal
Lucy Bronze - Liverpool (right)

Jill Scott - Manchester City
Karen Carney - Birmingham
Ji So-Yun - Chelsea
Josanne Potter - Birmingham

Nikita Parris - Everton
Eniola Aluko - Chelsea

Individual Awards:

Men's PFA Players' Player of the Year - Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Men's PFA Young Player of the Year - Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Women's PFA Players' Player of the Year - Ji So-Yun (Chelsea)

PFA Women's Young Player of the Year - Leah Williamson (Arsenal)

PFA Merit award - Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard

Friday, April 17, 2015

All the latest football news & transfer gossip across Europe!

Here is all today's latest football news and transfer gossip with Manchester United, Louis van Gaal, Chelsea, Alan Pardew, Barcelona, PSG, John Carver, Radamel Falcao, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Daniel Sturridge, Brendan Rodgers, Newcastle, PSV, Yaya Toure, Arsenal, Valencia, Liverpool, Gary Monk, Crystal Palace, Lyon, Paul Lambert, Roma, QPR, Inter Milan and Southampton all in the news! 

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley wants to strengthen his squad by signing Queens Park Rangers striker Charlie Austin, 25. Ashley hopes the move for Austin will show the club's ambition and encourage Derby manager Steve McClaren to take charge. Crystal Palace and Southampton are also watching the striker closely - Daily Mirror

Swansea City manager Garry Monk has distanced himself from reports linking him to West Ham. Monk has been touted as a potential successor to current Hammers boss Sam Allardyce, whose contract expires at the end of the season - BBC Sport

Edinson Cavani has revealed that he does not want to leave Paris Saint-Germain. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have been linked with moves for the 28-year-old, but he is keen to stay in the French capital - Daily Star

Atletico Madrid and France international forward Antoine Griezmann, 24, is a transfer target for Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola - Bild (German tabloid newspaper)

Premier League clubs and players have received more than 130,000 abusive posts on social media this season, according to a study by anti-discrimination group Kick It Out.
The research found Chelsea were the most targeted club, while Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli suffered more abuse than any other player - BBC Sport

Alan Pardew has put a £20m price tag on Yannick Bolasie and says Crystal Palace will be buying, not selling this summer -

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has been told to send Radamel Falcao back to AS Monaco and spend the money on a striker who suits his system - Daily Express

Valencia's planned move for 29-year-old AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao, who is on loan at Manchester United, looks set to be scuppered because the Spanish club must complete a permanent deal for Manchester City forward Alvaro Negredo - Daily Telegraph

Barcelona attacker Pedro wants to sign for Inter Milan – news which will disappoint Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. - Daily Express

Manchester City are willing to listen to offers for Yaya Toure this summer, but the midfielder is determined to stay at the club - Daily Mail

Daniel Sturridge is a major injury doubt for Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final clash with Aston Villa on Sunday - Daily Star

Southampton boss Ronald Koeman has told Manchester United target Nathaniel Clyne that it's time to make his mind up - Daily Star

Roberto Martinez is already planning Everton's summer transfer activity amid reports of a move for Tom Cleverley. Cleverley on loan at Aston Villa played under Martinez at Wigan and will be a free agent when his Manchester United contract is up in the close-season -

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has warned forward Raheem Sterling, 20, and winger Jordon Ibe, 19, of the conduct he expects after the pair were pictured with a shisha pipe - The Sun and The Guardian

Oscar says he has no plans to leave Chelsea amid reports he could be sold at the end of the season. The Brazil international has started 24 of Chelsea's 32 Premier League games this season, but has been substituted in 18 of them. A newspaper report on Thursday claimed Jose Mourinho is ready to listen to offers for the midfielder, who cost £25m when he was bought from Inter in the summer of 2012 -

Real Madrid's 16-year-old attacking midfielder Martin Ødegaard could be loaned to Villarreal The Norway international only joined the Galácticos from Strømsgodset in January of this year - (Spanish based football website)

Newcastle United manager John Carver will "review" the club's captaincy this summer and could take the armband away from defender Fabricio Coloccini, 33, to give it to 25-year-old right-back Daryl Janmaat. Daily Mail and The Guardian

Manchester United and Liverpool have revived their interest in AS Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic, with the 25-year-old set to have talks with his employers about his future next week - Metro and Daily Mirror

Former Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert could be a target for Sunderland and Fulham if he does not return to former club Borussia Dortmund - The Sun

Carl Jenkinson says he is unsure whether he will remain with West Ham next season or return to Arsenal - and Sport magazine

PSV Eindhoven skipper Georginio Wijnaldum has ambitions of securing a move to a top European side - and insists the Premier League is an option. The attacking midfielder who has been linked with Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle in recent months only signed a new four-year contract last August, but says he is open to leaving the Dutch club -

The agent of Netherlands international Marco van Ginkel, 22, says the midfielder wants to return from his loan at AC Milan to play for Chelsea next season - Daily Express and

Wojciech Szczesny could be Arsenal's Wembley FA Cup hero - and still be shown the door at the end of the season - Daily Mirror

Striker Alexandre Lacazette, 23, a transfer target for Arsenal, Manchester United, and Newcastle has confirmed he wants to sign a new contract with Olympique Lyonnais - Daily Star

Despite a meeting today with the agent of Palermo striker Paulo Dybala, Atletico Madrid say they are not interested in signing the Argentinian born striker -

Stoke City want Barcelona's teenage winger Moha El Ouriachi - Daily Mirror

Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Greatest Loan Deals in Premier League History

Loan signings are rife in football these days!

A loan deal can be a fantastic temporary solution to a club's problems - bringing in that special player for a season or even half a season, in an effort to help a Club realise its trophy ambitions, save a club from relegation, or simply to replace an injured player.

Over the years there have been some important loan signings in the Premier League.

Here are in my eyes some of the best loan signings in recent memory!

Jermain Defoe - West Ham to Bournemouth (2000/01)

West Ham United manager at the time, Harry Redknapp, sent 18-year-old Beckton-born Jermain Defoe to then Second Division club AFC Bournemouth to gain some regular first-team football at the start of the century. He scored an impressive 18 goals in 29 games, including a record-equalling ten goals in successive games to equal John Aldridge’s and Clarrie Jordan’s post-war record, as well as finding the net on both his FA Cup and Football League Trophy debuts for the Cherries.

These exploits propelled the youngster into the public eye, and many thought he could be the next Michael Owen. While he did not quite reach those dizzy heights, Defoe, now 32, has enjoyed a terrific career with West Ham, Portsmouth, Tottenham, Toronto FC, current club Sunderland and England, scoring over 200 goals to date.

Romelu Lukaku – Chelsea to West Brom (2012/13) and Chelsea to Everton (2013/14)

The Belgium international was loaned out to West Brom on 10 August 2012 on a season-long loan deal, and the 19 year-old striker proved to be a terrific coup for The Baggies. He scored 17 goals in 38 appearances, in all competitions, and was a major reason for West Brom’s excellent Premier League campaign.

Despite being loaned out by the club, Lukaku outscored all of his Chelsea teammates in the Premier League that season, being the sixth-highest goal scorer of the 2012–13 season with 17 goals.

On the final day of the summer 2013 transfer window, he joined Everton on a season-long loan. The striker made his debut for the Toffees away to West Ham on 21 September 2013, scoring the winning goal in a 3–2 victory for Everton. Lukaku went on to find the net 15 times in 31 league games to help Everton to fifth place with a club record of 72 Premier League points.

On 30 July 2014, Everton announced that Lukaku had signed a five-year deal with the club, for a record fee of £28 million.

Kevin Campbell - Tranzbonspor to Everton (1999)

Campbell arrived at Goodison Park in March 1999 from Turkish side Tranzbonspor, with Everton languishing in the relegation zone.

Campbell made an instant impact at Goodison Park, in his two month spell with the Merseyside club he became the club’s top scorer that season with nine goals in only eight games as Walter Smith’s side avoided the drop.

Campbell also became the first-ever loanee in Premier League history to be awarded the 'Player of the Month' award after scoring six times in five matches in April 1999.

Campbell's move to Everton was made permanent in the summer of 1999 for a fee of £3million. Campbell went on to play for six more seasons in Merseyside, but nothing emulates his loan spell with the club in 1999.

Henrik Larsson - Helsingborg IF to Manchester United (2007)

Having re-joined his hometown club Helsingborg IF, following a successful spell at Barcelona, the Sweden and Celtic legend was 35 when he made the shock move to Old Trafford. Larsson was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson on loan from 1 January until 12 March 2007, coinciding with the Swedish League's off season.

The former Celtic frontman scored for the Red Devils on his debut against Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round, before his strike against Lille in the Champions League last-16 propelled United toward the semi-finals of Europe’s premier club competition.

In total, the Swede made 13 appearances, scoring three goals, as United finished the season with their first Premier League crown for four years.

The legendary striker then declined Ferguson's offer of an extended deal, in order to return to his native Sweden.

Daniel Sturridge - Chelsea to Bolton Wanderers (2011)

Sturridge moved to Bolton on a six-month loan deal on 31 January 2011 after struggling to win a starting berth up front at Stamford Bridge under boss Carlo Ancelotti.

The striker made an immediate impact by coming off the bench to score an injury-time winner on his debut against Wolves, the first of four goals in his first four games for the club. He followed this with another goal in the defeat to Tottenham Hotspur the following weekend, in which he made his first start, before scoring his third goal in three games in a 2–0 victory over Everton. When Sturridge scored the equaliser against Newcastle in his fourth game, he became only the sixth player to score in his first four games for a club in Premier League history.

Sturridge continued to make an impact at Bolton and finished his loan spell with an impressive eight strikes to his name in just 12 Premier League matches.

On his return to Chelsea he was to be met by a new Chelsea manager - André Villas-Boas.

Christophe Dugarry - Bordeaux to Birmingham City (2003)

The World Cup-winning Frenchman is thought of as a true Birmingham legend after his spell at the club over a decade ago. Much like Eric Cantona, Christophe Dugarry had an arrogance and aura about him which he backed up on the pitch.

Dugarry, the former AC Milan and Barcelona striker signed for Birmingham on a six-month loan deal from French Ligue 1 side Bordeaux in January 2003.

He scored four goals in five league games and managed to help propel Steve Bruce’s team away from the bottom three and towards a final position of 13th in the table, following promotion the previous season.
Dugarry signed permanently in 2003/04. He saw out only the first season of his contract before leaving the club by mutual consent, citing family reasons, but he will always be held in high regard at St Andrews.

Jurgen Klinsmann - Sampdoria to Tottenham Hotspur (1998)

The German striker was already a hero at White Hart Lane after a memorable spell during the 1994/95 season. His return on a six month loan deal from Serie A side Sampdoria in December 1997 was greeted with great joy by the Tottenham faithful, with their club languishing in the relegation zone at the time.

Jurgen Klinsmann scored nine goals in his 15 Premier League appearances, including four away at Wimbledon in a crucial 6-2 victory.

The North London side survived - Spurs finishing the season in 14th place, four points above the drop zone and Klinsmann was rightfully lauded for his impact on the side.

Klinsmann ended up playing the last top-level match of his illustrious career on the final day of that campaign, with the German inevitably netting in a 1-1 draw at home to Southampton.

Ivan Campo - Real Madrid to Bolton Wanderers (2002/03)

The Spaniard was a regular for a while at Real Madrid, so when Bolton manager Sam Allardyce acquired his services back in August 2002 it was a real coup for the Premier League strugglers.

The defender was a key man in helping The Trotters survive on the final day of the season. He enjoyed the loan spell so much that he signed on a permanent basis in the summer of 2003, staying until 2008.

The Spanish centre-back was converted into a holding midfielder and Bolton reached the League Cup final in 2004 and the club finished eighth in the league, at the time the highest finish in their Premiership history.

In 2005, Bolton finished sixth in the league, thus earning qualification for the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history.

Campo scored a 43-yard screamer on the opening day of the 2006/07 season against Spurs, thus endearing him further to the the Bolton faithful! Campo fitted in well with Bolton's style of play, but also topped the charts for most red and yellow cards received of any player in the Premier League in 2006–07.

Campo was so popular and such a success during his time at the Reebok Stadium that he gained cult hero status in the process.

Ronnie Rosenthal - Standard Liege to Liverpool (1990)

Rocket Ronny had been on trial at first division Luton Town where he scored two goals in three games but they couldn't broker a deal with Standard Liege. Liverpool asked Liege if they could have a look and after only one reserve appearance he was signed on loan in March 1990 until the end of the season.

At the time of Rosenthal's arrival at Anfield Liverpool trailing Aston Villa in the title race.
However, it did not take the relatively unknown forward long to make a mark in England, with Rosenthal scoring a 'perfect hat-trick' on his full debut in a 4-0 win at Charlton Athletic on 11 April 1990.

The Israel international's seven goals in only eight league fixtures were crucial in Kenny Dalglish’s side going on to win that season's 1989/90 First Division Championship (The inception of the English Premier League was in 1992).

On 29 June 1990 Rosenthal was signed permanently by Liverpool for a fee of £1.1m making him the first foreign player bought by an English club for more than £1m. However he never went on to make the same impact at the club, as when he had first joined on loan, mainly making appearances from the bench.

Rosenthal played 97 times for the Reds, scoring 22 goals. Rosenthal moved to Tottenham Hotspur in January 1994, for a fee of £250,000.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Babe of the Month - Pro Golfer & Model Blair O'Neal

Blair O'Neal was born in was born on 14th May 1981 in Macomb, Illinois, USA.

Her family moved to Arizona when at the age of two where she spent the rest of her childhood. At an early age Blair enjoyed ballet, jazz and cheer. Then at the age of 11, Blair’s dad enrolled her and her brother in a junior golf clinic at San Marcos Golf Resort in Chandler, Arizona.

Entering high school, Blair had already established herself as one of the best junior golfers in the state. She eventually made the decision to take her talents to Corona Del Sol High School in Chandler, Arizona. Blair was a double threat earning high marks in academics and adding to her trophy collection on the golf course. 

Blair was a three-time medallist at the 5A Regional Golf Championship, four-time Golf MVP and eventually 5A Arizona State Girls Golf Champion.

Despite countless collegiate offer letters, her childhood dream a reality and accepted a full ride scholarship to Arizona State University.
She competed all four years as an Arizona State Sun Devil having never missed or being sat out of a single tournament. And while doing so, she was crowned a two time NCAA women’s long-drive champion.

After college, Blair quickly turned professional and about the same time, booked her first modeling gig. After a short stint playing golf in Asia, she quickly gained status on the LPGA Symetra Tour (then known as the LPGA Futures Tour). For two years Blair fought financial instability and then a broken foot, and eventually made the decision to put her golf game on hold.

For the next three years Blair pursued her modelling career. She eventually racked up quite the modeling resume through runway fashion shows, television hosting, catalogues, magazine covers, websites and commercial advertisements.

Then one day she received a call from the creators of the Golf Channel’s Big Break television series. Golf Channel gotten wind of Blair through the golf community and asked her to audition. But having to knock the dust off her clubs just to audition, Blair was eventually denied.

So back to modeling she went and down went the golf clubs, again. But after nearly two more years of modeling, Blair got another call from the Golf Channel. This time they weren’t interested in Blair auditioning they wanted her on the show! Without a minute of hesitation, she accepted. During the spring of 2009, Blair competed on the Golf Channel’s Big Break: Prince Edward Island. And despite the lack of preparation time, she finished runner up. But more importantly, she revived her golfing career.

Having been away from the game for over four years, she lost her status on the LPGA Symetra Tour (then known as the LPGA Futures Tour). So Blair took to the local mini-tours to freshen up her game. While doing so, she received another call from the Golf Channel asking her to come back to do another Big Break reunion show. This time she was fully prepared. In the fall of 2010, Blair was crowned the winner of Big Break: Dominican Republic.

Blair’s Big Break winnings provided her the financial stability to pursue the game at the highest level. Later in 2010 she went to LPGA Qualifying School, making it to the final stage.

Although falling just short of obtaining her LPGA tour card, she got back her full status on the LPGA Symetra Tour. And in doing so, she proudly signed on with Cobra-Puma as her primary sponsor. In 2012, Blair completed her first full season on the LPGA Symetra Tour. Blair currently continues her quest of one day obtaining her full LPGA card.

When not crushing drives, the 5′ 9″ blonde bombshell has made the most of her modeling career. Among countless other accolades, Blair has been named: “One of the Hottest 50 Athletes of All-Time” by Sports Illustrated, one of the “Top 10: Fit Golfers” by Golf Channel, one of the “Hottest Golfers” by Golf Digest, and one of “The 18 Most Beautiful Women in Golf” by Golf Magazine.

She appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition magazine with Cobra-Puma three consecutive years from 2011-2013.

33 year-old Blair has also translated her experiences into the on-camera platform through her work as host of "The Golf Buzz" presented by Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, "What’s in the Bag" with Cobra-Puma presented by the Golf Channel, "Hot Tips from a Hot Golfer" presented by, and co-host of "Golf’s Sexiest Shots" presented by Golf Digest.

Blair continues her mission as a dedicated athlete, but presents the look and the personality that will will brighten anyone’s day. Her competitiveness and drive, combined with her beauty and character, make her equally gifted on the golf course, on the runway, and on the streets!

You can follow Blair on Twitter, FacebookInstagram or
on her Website

Monday, March 23, 2015

All the latest transfer gossip across Europe, North and South America!

Here is a round up of all the latest transfer gossip across Europe, North and South America today!

Is your club involved?

Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Dynamo Kiev, AS Roma, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Newcastle United, AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Lazio, Barcelona, Hoffenheim, Napoli, Bayern Munich, Valencia, Manchester City, Arsenal, Palermo, Sporting Lisbon, Derby County, Wolves, Colorado Rapids, West Ham, Tottenham, Stoke City, Queens Park Rangers, Rosario Central, Inter Milan, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Fenerbache, Middlesbrough, Fulham, Bretford, Wycombe Wanderers, Tranmere Rovers, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers and Barnsley.................are all caught up in the latest transfer news/rumours across Europe, North and South America as we speak!

Spanish international goalkeeper David de Gea (24) has just rejected a new contract offer from Manchester United. Currently on a deal with the Red Devils until June 2016, the former Atletico rising star is one of Real Madrid's main targets, and is seen as a possible heir to Iker Casillas. De Gea is valued at roughly £50 million but United fear they will have to sell him for a cut-price deal this summer or he will just walk away for nothing a year later - Metro, Daily Mirror and

Liverpool are weighing up a £19.5m move for Dynamo Kiev winger/forward Andriy Yarmolenko (right), who played a major role in dumping rivals Everton out of the Europa League. AS Roma are also interested in the Ukrainian winger/forward - The Daily Star, transfermarketweb and

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain are talking about a possible loan swap deal involving Uruguayan international striker Edinson Cavani (28), who would join Red Devils, and Argentinian international offensive midfielder and winger Angel Di Maria (27). Cavani is however still a main target for Juventus and Atletico Madrid as well - and

Juventus have no need to sell France midfielder Paul Pogba, 22, amid interest from Manchester United and Chelsea, says their general manager Giuseppe Marotta -

Newcastle United's Dutch international right back Daryl Janmaat (25) is being tracked by a number of European clubs, including Liverpool, PSG, Juventus, AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal and Manchester United -

Liverpool and England midfielder Jordan Henderson (24), has become a main target for Manchester City, who look likely to lose James Milner in the Summer. The former Sunderland player is also tracked by Barcelona -

Speculation over the future of Lazio forward Felipe Anderson swirled in Italy on Monday after it was reported representatives from Manchester United had come to watch the Brazilian sensation -

Manchester United target Arturo Vidal (right) has rubbished talk of a move away from Juventus - claiming he is happy with life in Italy. The Chile international has been linked with a switch to Old Trafford since last summer's World Cup, but no move has taken place.
The Red Devils are thought to be weighing up another approach for the midfielder when the window re-opens at the end of the season as Louis van Gaal looks to strengthen his squad - TalkSPORT

Newcastle United are keen on Hoffenheim right-back Andreas Beck. Germany international Beck can go this summer for around £1.5million with Napoli also keen on the 28 year-old - Daily Mirror

Manchester United have reportedly sent a club official to Spain to help thrash out a deal for Valencia and Argentina international defender Nicolas Otamendi - Metro and Manchester Evening News

Bayern Munich are ready to rival Manchester United for Italian full-back Matteo Darmian. The 25-year-old caught the eye of several clubs at last summer's World Cup in Brazil - but elected to stay at Torino despite interest from abroad. Torino have put a price tag of £15m on Darmian and will not entertain bids lower than that amount.

Arsenal are poised to meet Palermo officials next week to secure the £28.9m signing of 21 year-old Argentine forward Paulo Dybala (right). Manchester City and Tottenham have been linked with summer swoops, while Juventus are also reportedly keeping tabs on the situation - Metro, Daily Express and Sky Sport Italia

West Ham management are ready to try again signing Togolese international striker Emmanuel Adebayor (31), who's much likely to leave Tottenham as a free agent. Adebayor is also being tracked by Stoke City and Queens Park Rangers as well - Daily Mirror

Argentinian club Rosario Central's offensive midfielder and winger Franco Cervi is being tracked by Tottenham. The 20 year-old Argentinian is also a target for Inter Milan. It is believed that any deal for the player will cost in the region of 4 million euros -

Valencia are tracking Sporting Lisbon'ss 22-year-old midfielder William Carvalho - Record (Portuguese sports newspaper)

Manchester United and English Under-20 international winger and forward James Wilson (19) has been targeted by Derby County in a loan deal -

Wolves striker Kevin Doyle has signed a pre-contract agreement with Colorado Rapids. Doyle has put pen to paper on a two-and-a-half year deal with a 12-month option and will link up with the MLS side on July 1 when his contract at Molineux has expired - Daily Mirror

Norwich City and Nottingham Forest are seeking to sign Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom, 19, on loan for the rest of the season - The Sun and Nottingham Post

Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike is threatening to quit Turkish club Fenerbache after being racially abused by his own fans - The Sun

Middlesbrough have agreed a deal to bring in Fulham defender Fernando Amorebieta on loan for the rest of the season - Gazette Live

Brentford pair Sam Saunders and Nico Yennaris have extended their loans at Sky Bet League Two Wycombe Wanderers until the end of the season -

Tranmere Rovers have extended Janoi Donacien's loan from Aston Villa until the end of the season -

John O'Sullivan will return to Blackburn Rovers this week after his loan spell with Barnsley ended -

Monday, March 16, 2015

Some Interesting, Unusual and Bizarre Facts about Football Players - Part Two

# In 1995 Zinedine Zidane almost joined Blackburn Rovers. However, the club chose Tim Sherwood instead, with chairman Jack Walker saying: “Who needs Zinedine Zidane? We’ve got Tim Sherwood.”

# Hull City defender Maynor Figueroa has three toes on his left foot.

# Swedish defender Jan Olsson was the unlucky player that Dutch legend Johan Cruyff made a fool of with the very first and now famous “Cruyff Turn” in the 1974 World Cup Finals held in West Germany.

# Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a checkered past growing up. The son of a tough Croatian mother and hard-drinking Bosnian father, he grew up in the Malmo ghetto of Rosengard. One of the current mega stars of football was a thief when he was a youngster. In fact he stole a lot - bikes, sweets, cars, anything and everything!

# Sir Stanley Matthews never received a booking in his 33-year long career.

# According to Mexico City police, crime rates in Mexico reduce when Javier Hernandez plays football. Additionally, and almost unbelievably, they suggest that more women go into labour than usual when the Manchester United striker plays.

# Fernando d’Ercoli, while playing for Pianta against Arpaxin 1989, got so mad after getting a red card that he snatched the card from the referee’s hand and ate it.

# Similarly in 1984, Mike Bagley of Bristol took the referee’s notebook and ripped out the page with his name on after he had been booked, and ate it.

# No doubt about it, the worst disciplinary record goes to Ricky Goddard of North Warnborough, a small village in North East Hapmshire. By 1992, he had been suspended for five out of his nine years as a footballer. On one occasion, he was banned for six months when he sneaked into the ref's changing-room at half time and urinated over all his clothes.

# Jack Charlton and Bobbie Charlton's uncle was the Newcastle United and England legend Jackie Milburn

# In 2008 Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandoski had agreed to sign for Blackburn but an Icelandic ash cloud cancelled all airline flights, meaning the paperwork couldn't be completed before the deadline.

# While playing for Barcelona Danish legend Michael Laudrup participated in the 5–0 victory over bitter rivals Real Madrid during the 1993–94 season. The following season while playing for Real Madrid he aided in the revenge beating that Madrid gave Barça, the final score also being 5–0.

# Liverpool's Simon Mignolet started his career as a forward, and tried his hand at being a goalkeeper after he was dropped.

# On the other hand, Fernando Torres started his career as a goalkeeper, and later switched to become a striker.

# In 1978 Sheffield United boss Harry Haslam spotted a 17-year-old Diego Maradona on a scouting trip to Argentina and was so impressed that he struck a £200,000 deal there and then. But when Argentinos Juniors demanded more cash the Blades board refused to cough up, and bought Maradona's countryman Alejandro Sabella instead.

# Ryan Giggs' estranged father Danny Wilson is a former British professional rugby league player of the 1970's and 1980's. A Wales international stand-off, he played his club rugby for Widnes, Swinton, Runcorn Highfield and Springfield Borough.

# Dimitar Berbatov’s childhood hero was Alan Shearer, and the former Tottenham & Manchester United striker used to sleep in a Newcastle shirt when he was kid.

# In 1996, George Weah paid for his team-mates kits and expenses so Liberia could enter the African Nations Cup

# Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer most noted for his fictional stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, played as a goalkeeper for amateur side Portsmouth Association Football Club, under the pseudonym A. C. Smith. (This club, disbanded in 1896, has no connection with the present-day Portsmouth Football Club, which was founded in 1898).

# In 1999, Chelsea signed Chris Sutton from Blackburn for £10 million. The striker scored just one league goal and left a season later.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Some Interesting, Unusual and Bizarre Facts about Football Players - Part One

# In 2013 the word "Inmessionante" was added to the Spanish Dictionary which references Lionel Messi. It was chosen because of its similarity to the Spanish word for “impressive.”
It is an adjective which is explained in the Spanish dictionary with two points:

1. Perfect way to play football, an unlimited capacity for self improvement.
2. Describes the best player of all time.

# Johan Cruyff's niece Estelle married Ruud Gullit in 2000, but she walked out on him in 2012 due to his continuous womanising. Estelle was his 3rd wife and Ruud has six children - two from each of his marriages.

Ryan Giggs never received a red card during his 24 season playing career with Manchester United. He was only once sent off when playing for Wales, on 5 September 2001 in a World Cup qualifier against Norway.

# Mark Hughes once played two games in a single day; In the morning he played for Wales against Czechoslovakia in Prague, drove across the border, and then turned out for Bayern Munich in the afternoon.

# Lille and France International footballer Rio-Antonio Mavuba was born in international waters. Mavuba, son of former Zaire international Ricky Mavuba Ndokia Ndombe - who featured at the 1974 World Cup finals - was born on a boat, off the coast of Angola, on 16 March 1984. His birth certificate does not have a nation listed, it just says “Born at Sea.”

# Former Tottenham Hotspur player and now television pundit and actor David Ginola has an unfortunate tale to tell. His name is an anagram for 'Vagina Dildo.'

# The younger brother of Joey Barton, Michael, is a convicted murderer. He and his cousin murdered their male victim, in an unprovoked racially motivated attack with an ice axe in 2005. Both were given life sentences with Michael Barton given a minimum term of 17 years and eight months.

# Ronaldinho first gained media attention in 1993, when aged 13 his youth team won a game 23-0. Ronaldinho scored all 23 goals in that victory.

# Charles Itandje of Cameroon is the only professional footballer to be sacked for laughing!
That’s what happened to the goalkeeper whilst at Liverpool in 2010. The reason his punishment was so harsh was because he was caught chuckling about something during a memorial service for the victims of Hillsborough.

# Manuel Neuer stars in the German version of the 2013 Disney/Pixar film 'Monsters University’. He provides the voice for the character Frank McCay

# Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro got the name "Ronaldo" after then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan, a favourite actor of his father's.

As a child, Jakub "Kuba" Błaszczykowski, the Borussia Dortmund and Polish international winger witnessed a tragedy, which had a major influence on his life. When he was ten years old his father stabbed his mother to death. After his father went to prison, Błaszczykowski and his brother were raised by their grandmother. Every goal he scores, he dedicates to his mother and can be seen looking up in the sky during goal celebrations.

# There have been many goalkeepers over the years who have fancied themselves as strikers.
Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was renowned for going up for corners late into a game and scored 13 times in his career.

# West Ham and Cameroon international Alex Song has 27 siblings – 17 sisters and 10 brothers. His father, who died when Song was two, had five wives.

# Croatian footballer Luka Modrić and former Australian footballer Mark Viduka are cousins.

# Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima commonly known as the Brazilian Ronaldo, never won the UEFA Champions League despite playing for 5 teams that did. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has also never won the UEFA Champions League, despite playing for some of the world's biggest European clubs.

# Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet speaks 5 languages and has a degree in politics.

*Part Two will follow soon.