Monday, November 28, 2011

Gary Andrew Speed, MBE - 1969 - 2011

It is always so very sad to write about the death of someone, particularly when it is a relative or friend, but in this instance although I have no personal association with Gary Speed, other than having watched him play from the stands, I personally wanted to pay my respects to a true gentleman and a model professional.
It really does put the game of football into perspective........everything else pales into insignificance when the reality of such a tragedy hits home.

Gary Speed with his wife Louise

The news of his death has been broadcast by the media continuously over the last 24 hours, and it is hard to add to all the touching, heartfelt sentiments of those people who were closest to him, his family, his friends and his fellow professionals in particular.

Gary was born at Mancot, in Flintshire on the 8th September 1969.
He attended Hawarden High School as a child. and supported Everton FC as a youngster.
Gary began his playing career with Leeds United as a trainee, signing a professional contract on the 13th June 1988 and making his first-team debut at the age of 19. His playing career spanned 22 years and he won 85 caps for Wales between 1990 and 2004, before he took on the mantle of Wales national team manager on the 14th December 2010.

At midday on Saturday the Wales manager Gary Speed was live on the BBC's Football Focus programme discussing his future plans for the side. On Sunday morning the 42-year-old was found hanged at his home in Cheshire having 'apparently committed suicide.'

Speed's death came a day after the former Liverpool footballer Stan Collymore spoke candidly about his battle with depression. Speculation surrounding Gary's death has included the possibility that perhaps he himself was suffering this horrendous mental illness.
It has also been 'alleged' that a national newspaper was going to release an article today regarding a very private matter relating to his personal life, but I must reiterate this is purely 'rumour' and nothing more. There is no substance whatsoever to this allegation.

Tributes for Gary have been pouring in since his death. Here are just a few of them:

BBC Sport's Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer, who played alongside Speed at Newcastle, told BBC Sport: "Gary was a magnificent person, bright, fun and a wonderful family man - he lit up every room he walked into. I am proud to have been his friend and will miss him dreadfully."

Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs, who played alongside Speed with Wales for 13 years, said he was "totally devastated."
"Gary Speed was one of the nicest men in football and someone I am honoured to call a team-mate and friend."

Former Wales team-mate Dean Saunders said: "I just can't believe it. I spoke to him last week. We roomed together all of our careers with Wales. I just can't get my head around it. It's incredible. He's so level-headed. You never saw him down in the dumps. He was just a really nice fella. I'm just thinking about his wife and his lads."

Another former Wales teammate, Robbie Savage, tweeted: "The world has lost a great man in Gary speed I'm devastated spoke to him yesterday morning why ! Why Why !! I'll miss him so much x"

A statement from the Welsh Rugby Union said: "Wales has lost a great sportsman, a true gentleman and a man who was working extremely hard and succeeding to deliver a bright future for Welsh football."

Sincere and heartfelt condolences go to his wife, Louise and sons Tommy and Eddie.

It goes without saying that the sport of football will truly miss Gary, but without a shadow of doubt his memory will live long in the hearts of fans all over the world.

Gary Speed
Career History:

1988: Signs with Leeds and makes his first-team debut aged 19.
1990: He makes his first appearance for the national side on 20th May 1990.
1992: Wins the Football League First Division Championship title with Leeds.
1996: League Cup finalist with Leeds.
1996: Joins Everton for £3.5m.
1998: Joins Newcastle for £5.5m.
1998: FA Cup finalist with Newcastle.
1999: FA Cup finalist with Newcastle.
2004: Joins Bolton for £750,000.
2004: League Cup finalist with Bolton.
2004: Retires from International football.
2006: First player to make 500 Premier League appearances.
2007: Joins Sheffield United on loan.
2008: Joins Sheffield United permanently for £250,000 and moves into coaching.
2010: Retires from playing, appointed Sheffield United manager in August.
2010: Awarded MBE for his services to football.
2010: Confirmed as the new Welsh national team manager on the 14th December 2010
2011: Last game as manager of Wales, 12th November 2011, a 4–1 win against Norway.

Gary Speed, Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The World's Richest Football Club Owners

#5 – Silvio Berlusconi – AC Milan

In 5th Position, is Silvio Berlusconi who was born in Milan in 1936. He has been an Italian politician and a businessman who served three terms as Prime Minister of Italy, from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011. Berlusconi is also the controlling shareholder of Mediaset, the largest broadcasting company in Italy, and owns a controlling stake in Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, the largest Italian publishing house. He has been the owner of Italian football giants AC Milan since 2006. According to Forbes, Berlusconi is Italy's third richest man, with his net worth believed to be in the region of $7.8 Billion.

Under his ownership AC Milan won the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. In 2007 he signed the gifted Brazilian Alexander Pato for €24 million and in 2009 he brought the legendary David Beckham to play for Milan on loan from MLS side LA Galaxy. Despite being one of several Italian clubs at the centre of charges of match fixing and corruption in 2007, Milan managed to maintain a strong squad of players with a wealth of experience and the likes of Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta, Massimo Ambrosini and Gennaro Gattuso are all still playing under Berlusconi. Last season they finally came out of the shadows of their fierce city rivals Internazionale, and were crowned Italian Serie A league winners for the eighteenth time in their illustrious history.

Silvio Berlusconi has an extensive record of criminal allegations, including mafia collusion, false accounting, tax fraud, corruption and bribery of police officers and judges. His leadership was also undermined by sex scandals. After losing his majority in parliament amid growing fiscal problems related to the European debt crisis, Berlusconi officially resigned as Prime Minister on the 16th November 2011.

#4 – Roman Abramovich – Chelsea

In 4th position is Roman Abramovich. In June 2003, Roman Abramovich bought the companies that control Chelsea Football Club in London at a cost of £140 million, completing what was then the biggest-ever sale of an English football club. The club immediately embarked on an ambitious programme of commercial development, with the aim of making it a worldwide brand on a par with footballing dynasties like Manchester United and Real Madrid. Over £100 million was also spent on new players.

In 2004-05 Abramovich has been alleged to be involved in various wrongdoings by many people. It is also alleged that, at one time, then Russian president Boris Yeltsin himself provided Abramovich with protection from prosecution for various criminal activities ranging from stealing diesel fuel to illegally acquiring Sibneft at a staged contest. Nonetheless, many of the allegations against Abramovich are unproven and he has never been convicted of any crime in any world court.

Under his ownership, the 45 year-old Russian has done marvelous things for Chelsea. In Abramovich's second season at Stamford Bridge José Mourinho was recruited as the new manager and Chelsea ended the following season as Premier League champions, for the first time in 50 years. Since the takeover the club have won eight major trophies – the Premier League on three occasions, the FA Cup three times and the League Cup twice. They also reached UEFA Champions League Final for the first time in the history of the club in 2007-08. Despite José Mourinho's success on the field a feud developed between Abramovich and Mourinho off of it. It is alleged that Roman actually forced him to buy Andriy Shevchenko for a then British record transfer fee of around £30 million (€35.3 million), when Mourniho did not want to buy him. This along with murmurings of discontent about Abramovich's meddling and interfering in his work as manager, ultimately led to Mourinio leaving the London club in September 2007. However in the 2009-2010 season Chelsea won for the first time in their history the Premier League and FA Cup 'double' under Carlo Ancelotti's stewardship and Abromovich’s rule.

It is argued that Abramovich's involvement with Chelsea has distorted the football transfer market throughout Europe, as his wealth often allows the club to purchase players virtually at will. In January 2011, Spanish footballer Fernando Torres completed his move from Liverpool to Chelsea on a five-and-a-half year contract for an undisclosed fee reported to be £50 million, which set a new record for a British transfer and made him the fourth most expensive footballer in history.

Abramovich has become the world's greatest spender on luxury yachts, and had been linked to five yachts in what the media have called 'Abramovich's Navy.' He also owns a private Boeing 767, an Airbus A340 and three Eurocopter helicopters. It is said that the aircraft and his yachts are fitted with radar to detect missile threats, and different defensive counter-measures. Abramovich has recently boosted his security staff to a 40 person 'private army,' making him one of the best protected businessmen in the world.
Prior to the financial crisis, he was considered to be the second richest person living within the United Kingdom. His net worth is $13.4 Billion.

#3 – Amancio Ortega Gaona – Deportivo La Coruna

In 3rd position is Amancio Ortega who owns the Spanish side Deprtivo La Coruna. He is also known as the 'Fashion Kingpin' who founded a retail company named Inditex Group, parent company of the Zara chain. He owns 59.29% of the Inditex Group (Industrias de Diseño Textil Sociedad Anónima) which includes the brands Zara, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Zara Home, Kiddy's Class, Tempe, Stradivarius, Pull and Bear/Often and Bershka and has more than 92,000 employees. His net worth is $31 Billion. In 2011 Forbes ranked Ortega as Spain's richest man, Europe's second richest man and the seventh richest man in the world.

His Deportivo side were relegated to the Spanish second división at the end of the 2010-11 season, after twenty consecutive seasons in the top flight of Spanish football - La Liga, finishing in the top half of the table in 16 out of 19 seasons. As a result, the club has been a regular participant in European competitions, playing in the UEFA Champions League five seasons in a row. Even though they are not up there with the Spanish and world giants in Barcelona or Real Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna boast a proud footballing history since they were founded back in 1906.

Ortega however keeps a very low profile and there are practically no photographs of him.

#2 – Laxmi Mittal – Queens Park Rangers (QPR)

In 2nd Position is the Indian born Laxmi Mittal owner of Queens Park Rangers (QPR), who recently got promoted to the English Premier League by winning the Coca-Cola Championship last May.

The 61 year-old lives in the UK and is the richest man in India, Asia and the United Kingdom. He is presently the sixth richest individual in the world with a net worth of $31.1 Billion. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaking company. Mittal is an independent director of Goldman Sachs, member of Board of Directors to Goldman Sachs Media/Film IP Group and a member of the Board of Directors of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.

He currently has a 54% share holding in QPR and looks likely to purchase further shares in the West London club, now that they are competing in the English Premier League.

#1 – Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed – Manchester City

.....and in first position is Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan owner of English Premier League club Manchester City. The 41 year-old is a United Arab Emirati politician and a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family. He is known as a 'trillion dollar man.' In 2007 he was appointed as the Chairman of the Emirates Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of UAE. His net worth is approximately around $555 Billion. None of the above four mentioned compare to Sheikh Mansour in the wealth stakes!

Since the day he arrived as the owner of Manchester City, he changed the entire future of the club by splashing the cash on many high profile players. He first bought in Carloz Tevez, Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry and Emmanuel Adebayor. Prior to the start of the 2010–11 season, City completed the transfers of Jérôme Boateng, Yaya Touré, David Silva, Aleksandar Kolarov and Mario Balotelli. James Milner signed during the first week of the season and Edin Džeko joined the club during the January 2011 transfer window. The spending didn't stop there and this season he went out and spent more than a $100 million on Sergio Aguero, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri.

Under his ownership, Manchester City prospered last season by winning the FA Cup and bringing silverware to Eastlands for the first time since City's League Cup triumph back in 1976. They also finished third in the Premier League and in doing so gained automatic promotion into this seasons financially lucrative UEFA Champions League. At the moment no other rich tycoon football owner is even near to him when it comes to finances. He is known as the 'Jackpot of Manchester City' and he truly is.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kaylyn Kyle - Canadian Soccer Babe

Kaylyn Mackenzie Kyle was born on the 6th October 1988, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewanis. She is a Canadian International footballer who plays her club football with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) W-League.

Kaylyn has represented Canada at U-17 and U-20 level and senior level.
In 2006 she participated in the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Russia. In 2008 she represented Canada at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Chile.

Kaylyn won her first senior cap for the Canadian national team against the United States, at the 'Four Nations Tournament' in China on 16th January 2008, and was a member of the senior squad that won the 2010 CONCACAF Women's Championship beating the hosts 1-0 in the Final in the Estadio Andrés Quintana Roo, Cancún, Mexico.

The 23 year-old midfielder also represented Canada this summer at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany.

Kaylyn last competitive international match was in Canada's penalty shoot-out victory over Brazil in Guadalajara, Mexico on the 28th October 2011, as Canada claimed its first Pan American Games gold medal in women's soccer.

The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup will be the seventh FIFA Women's World Cup, and in March 2011, Canada won the right to host the event.

Follow Kaylyn on Facebook and Twitter

Friday, November 11, 2011

All the latest Transfer Gossip across Europe

With international football top of the agenda this week and next, top flight clubs across Europe are able to take a well-earned break from domestic football.
However the transfer rumour mill door continues to revolve, as clubs look to strengthen their sides. Whether it be this January or next summer clubs across Europe are constantly planning for the future, and today some of the biggest clubs in Britain and Europe are the subject of transfer speculation.

Liverpool, Barcelona, Anzhi Makhachkal, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Valencia, Sochaux, Tottenham, Newcastle, Rennes, New York Red Bulls, Arsenal, West Brom, Villarreal, Chelsea, Blackburn Rovers, Napoli, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Wolfsburg, Rosenborg, Espanyol, Fulham, Celtic and Glasgow Rangers are all caught up in transfer gossip as we speak.

Here is a round up:

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish's has been linked with a move for Barcelona striker David Villa. Reports in Spain say the 29-year-old striker is unhappy at Barcelona and has fallen out with Lionel Messi - The Guardian

Liverpool who were looking at Sochaux midfielder Ryad Boudebouz (right) in May are back in for for the Algerian international. Expect a bid in January - The Guardian

There is also reported interest from Liverpool in Barcelona star Seydou Keita. Russian giants Anzhi Makhachkala, are also keen to land the Mali international -

Real Madrid are looking tempt Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic into making a big money move to the Bernabéu next Summer. The Seriban, who signed a new deal early last season, will have just two years left on his contract at the end of the season -

Manchester United are running the rule over Valencia defender Adil Rami (right) as Sir Alex Ferguson plans for the eventual replacement of both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Sources in Spain have confirmed the English champions’ interest in the Valencia defender. Rami is thought to have a buy-out clause of €25million in his contract, well within reach for the Red Devils. The Frenchman only joined Valencia in the summer, moving from Lille, the side which he helped to last season’s Ligue 1 title -

Alan Pardew’s Newcastle has made a dream start in the Premier League this campaign and are now preparing to bolster their attacking options by signing Tottenham duo Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenkov, both 29, for £20million in the January transfer window -

Arsenal have entered the race to sign Rennes' 6ft 3in midfielder Tongo Hamed Doumbia, The 22 year-old is rated at £8million - Daily Mail and

New York Red Bulls defender Tim Ream has spoken out on interest from two English Premier League sides. The 24-year-old has been linked with Arsenal, while West Brom are also believed to have asked the American to head over to the Hawthornes on trial. Ream has been in fine form for New York Red Bulls, profiting from playing in the same side as the likes of Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez -

Villarreal are keen to bring in teenage Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, 18, on loan in the January transfer window - Daily Mirror

France International midfielder Yann M' Vila (right), 21, who Arsenal made an unsuccessful £20 million bid for on transfer deadline day in August, says he is prepared to leave Rennes - but not until after Euro 2012 - Metro and Daily Mail

Blackburn Rovers and West Ham are thought to be considering a move for Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha - The Guardian

West Ham are ready to throw caution to the wind and snap up the lesser known Ferdinand, Rio and Anton's cousin Kane. The 19 year-old Southend midfielder will cost £500,000 - The Sun

AC Milan are weighing up replacing their summer signing Taye Taiwo with Barcelona full-back Maxwell. The 26-year-old has failed to cement his place in the first-team since his move from Marseille in the summer, while Maxwell has found opportunites at Camp Nou few and far between since leaving Milan's great rivals Inter for the European champions two years ago - and

AC Milan are stepping up their efforts to pip Arsenal to the signing of Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Montolivo. AC Milan have put together an offer of €3 million for the Fiorentina midfielder. Fiorentina are keen to prevent losing Montolivo on a free transfer in the summer and may accept a cut-price deal for the 26-year-old -

Chelsea have been linked with Wolfsburg striker Mario Mandzukic (right). The 25-year-old Croatian joined Wolfsburg last year for a fee of €8M from Dinamo Zagreb. Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas is known to be on the lookout for more striking power to add to his squad, especially given that Nicolas Anelka is heading for the exit door and could soon be joined by Didier Drogba -

Napoli have played down speculation linking Slovakian midfielder Marek Hamsik with a move away from the club by revealing they expect him to sign a contract extension at the Stadio San Paolo -

Rosenborg defender Mikael Lustig would be willing to discuss a move to Celtic, with the Bhoys one of a number of clubs chasing his signature. The Swedish full-back is set to become a free agent in the New Year and his imminent availability is attracting plenty of interest. Premier League outfit Fulham are also known to be in the running, while Spanish side Espanyol are keen to bolster their defensive options.

Glasgow Rangers are considering signing India international strikers Jej Lalpekhlua and Sunil Chettri in the hope of opening up a new market in the subcontinent. The duo will arrive in Glasgow before the end of the month for a trial with Ally McCoist's side - Daily Record

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Congratulations to Nathaniel Clyne - named Football League Championship Player of the Month for October

Clyne with his 'Player of the Month' award

Crystal Palace defender Nathaniel Clyne was this week named 'npower Championship Player of the Month' for October 2011.

Clyne who was voted the Club's 'Player of the Year' last season picked up the award ahead of Birmingham's Chris Burke, West Ham's Kevin Nolan and Southampton's Rickie Lambert.

The 20-year-old right-back only made his first appearance of the season on the 15th October, after recovering from a pre-season foot injury, but helped Palace keep five clean sheets throughout the rest of the month, and the Eagles did not concede a goal with him in the side.

Palace manager Dougie Freedman, who was nominated for manager of the month after taking Palace into the play-off places, lost out to Birmingham's Chris Hughton but was pleased for Clyne.

Freedman said: "I am delighted Nathaniel has won this award for October. He suffered the disappointment of a pre-season injury but typically worked hard to get back to full fitness. He came back into the side at Watford and has been part of some excellent defensive displays in the league."

Academy graduate Nathanial Clyne in action for Crystal Palace

The Player of the Month judging panel comprises of Sky Sports Football League expert Peter Beagrie, Football League Head of Communications John Nagle, BBC Sport's Mark Clemmit and npower Head of Sponsorship Emma Collins.

Peter Beagrie said: "Another product of Crystal Palace's prolific academy, Clyne was a pivotal part of his side's miserly defence during October."

Emma Collins added: "Crystal Palace had a superb record during October and Nathaniel played a big part in their success. His energy and desire to get forward also made him a real attacking threat as Palace strengthened their grip on a Play-Off spot.
I'd like to congratulate Nathaniel on behalf of npower, and wish him the best of luck for the rest of the season."

Huddersfield Town striker Jordan Rhodes has been named 'npower League 1 Player of the Month' for October.
Rhodes netted nine goals in six games to help the Terriers to second place in the table.

Aldershot Town striker Danny Hylton has been named 'npower League 2 Player of the Month' for October.
Hylton netted six goals in five games to help The Shots push towards a League 2 Play-Off spot.

Birmingham City manager Chris Hughton is the 'npower Championship Manager of the Month' for October.
Hughton led Blues to an unbeaten month with four wins and a draw during October.

Huddersfield Town manager Lee Clark is the 'npower League 1 Manager of the Month' for October.
Clark led his side to second in the table with five wins and a draw during the month.

Crawley Town manager Steve Evans is the 'npower League 2 Manager of the Month' for October.
Evans led the Reds to second in the table with five wins and a draw during an unbeaten month.

The judging panel for the 'npower Manager of the Month' awards comprises of former Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley, Sky Sports Football League expert Peter Beagrie, Football League Chief Operating Officer Andy Williamson, BBC Sport's Mark Clemmit, League Managers Association Deputy CEO Olaf Dixon and npower Head of Sponsorship Emma Collins.