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Uncanny: New Cristiano Ronaldo Bronze Bust Unveiled At Madeira Airport Is Laughably Awful (Photos):

March 29th, 2017

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The good people of Madeira have paid homage to the Portuguese island’s most famous son by renaming their international airport in honour of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Indeed, Ronaldo himself returned home to accept the tribute in person from Portugal president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who also unveiled a magnificent bust of the Real Madrid superstar on the concourse outside.

As you can probably see, the statuette is a stunning example of local craftsmanship, with the head and neck modelled by one artist and the face obviously cast by somebody else entirely.

Whoever’s responsible, they’ve really captured Cristiano’s trademark cross-eyed squint.

How the hell did that thing get past quality control?

It looks like Gazza’s mate Raoul Moat (halfway through a massive stroke) for crying out loud.

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Poor old Ron can’t catch a break when it comes to people immortalising him in bronze.

First the odd decision to include clearly-defined genitals on his hometown statue in Funchal and now this mess.



Retro Thuggery: Velez Sarsfield Keeper Gaston Sessa Plants Studs In Rodrigo Palacio’s Face, Can’t Fathom Why He’s Been Sent Off, 2007 (Video):

March 29th, 2017

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In the grandest tradition of South American goalkeepers, former Velez Sarsfield stopper Gaston Sessa was laced with just a soupçon of thinly-concealed lunacy.

On a related note, he’s also the man responsible for one of the worst fouls ever seen on a football pitch, having once almost reduced Rodrigo Palacio’s face to a plate of blood-spattered mince.

Velez were trailing against Boca Juniors at La Bombonera in the first leg of a Copa Libertadores last-16 tie in May 2007.

Charged with simply collecting an over-hit through-ball, Sessa leapt to pluck the bouncing ball from the air.

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However, with Palacio closing in, instead of raising the customary knee to brace for impact, Sessa instead attempted to surgically remove one of the Boca striker’s eyeballs with his flailing studs.

A penalty was immediately given and Sessa was shown a straight red card – not that the Velez ‘keeper could even begin to comprehend why…

Dreadful. Utterly dreadful.

As it happens, Martin Palermo skied the resultant spot-kick, though Palacio did eventually return to the fray as Boca ran out 3-0 winners.

Unsurprisingly, Sessa’s random act of unprovoked malice has since gone down in Argentinian footballing folklore, briefly earning him the nickname ‘Butcher’ during the ensuing media outcry.



Leicester City: Claudio Ranieri Reveals ‘Bitter Shock’ Of Sacking To Audience Of Prison Inmates:

March 29th, 2017

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“King Power, I hate every inch of you”

Claudio Ranieri has spoken of the “shock” he felt after being sacked by Leicester City, less than nine months after winning the Premier League title.

Strangely, Ranieri did so while appearing on stage in front of inmates at the Rebibbia prison on the outskirts of Rome.

Before you go assuming our Claudio was inside for some sort of violent backlash to his Foxes dismissal, the 65-year-old was actually in attendance at a ceremony celebrating the work of regional coaches in Italy.

Addressing his incarcerated audience, Ranieri was quoted by Gazzetta dello Sport as saying:

Thinking of Leicester, the first thing that comes to mind is the sense of surprise, even more than bitterness.

I have been through a lot in my long career, but never anything like this.

It was a shock, but in the end these things are part of football.

Ranieri also revealed that he planned to air a full list of his grievances when he appears as a pundit for Sky Sports for the upcoming Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal on 10th April.

Until that day I will not talk, because everything took place in England and it seems fitting to talk in England.

One to mark in your diaries, that.

While we’re on the subject, Ranieri was also bestowed with the prestigious Panchina D’Oro (‘Golden Bench’) award in Florence on Monday afternoon, which is essentially the Italian Coach of the Year award…

What do you know? It really is a little golden bench.

That’ll look lovely on the mantelpiece.



‘Sozinho’ – Ronaldinho Releases First Self-Penned Solo Single On His 37th Birthday (Video):

March 29th, 2017

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Having not made a professional competitive appearance since 2015, Ronaldinho is certainly doing a fine impression of a retired footballer despite having never formerly announced his decision to call it quits.

Over the past few years, the ex-Barcelona star has involved himself in a number of musical projects, appearing as a guest artiste on several lively Brazilian numbers.

However, the time has now come for Senhor Gaucho to go it alone, marking his 37th birthday by unveiling his very first self-penned solo effort – a broody, lilting samba ballad called ‘Sozinho’, which translates as ‘Alone’.

The lyrics appear to be of a personal nature, with Ronaldinho – at least we think it’s him – singing in the chorus:

Me, now alone. I do not feel weaker or stronger but who knows the fate? Comfort me in this battle.

Alone for the first time. Alone, the mind goes beyond the beyond. Alone, but with strength and faith to continue.

Well deep ‘n’ junk.



‘You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do’ – Alan Pardew Likens Crystal Palace Sacking To Scene In ‘Heat’ When De Niro And Pacino Meet For First Time:

March 29th, 2017

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For the first time since it all went south, Alan Pardew has been talking about getting sacked by Crystal Palace.

Pardew was dismissed in late December, with Palace ending the calendar year as the worst-performing team of all 92 Premier and Football League clubs.

What’s more, their total of six Premier League wins throughout 2016 was the second lowest tally recorded since the league’s inception in 1992/93.

However, you may not be surprised to learn that Pards doesn’t think he personally was at fault, once again failing to accept any responsibility for his team’s risible slump – the same old cycle of boom and, moreover, bust.

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Plucked from his featured interview with Matt Dickinson in The Times, here are just a selection of the excuses and laughably self-reverential quotes on offer (under the telling headline “My win percentage was healthy… I was let down by transfer dealings”).

On not being able to bolster his squad as he saw fit…

Looking back, I sat down with [Palace chairman] Steve Parish in the summer and we decided we wanted to take the club forward. We made changes but I definitely have the view we didn’t change the squad enough. We brought players in but I think we should have done more.

On being, if anything, too loyal…

Maybe my loyalty gets in the way a little bit. I have been loyal to a fault with some. That’s just a trait I have. Something I have to keep an eye on.

A little Pard-ism to live your life by…

The game humbles you. And if you don’t humble with it you are in trouble.

And another…

Sometimes you have to acknowledge some of your strengths can be your weaknesses.

On namby-pamby players failing to cope with his rigorous training regime…

When I started [at Palace], the hard pre-season was a big thing, maybe too extreme among some.

On the back-room support staff who ultimately let him down…

Doctors under pressure at Premier League level, sports scientists protecting themselves a little bit, sometimes worried what the chairman will think if there is any injury. I am not saying devalue them, don’t take their opinion.

I just think we have become too protective.

On his track record…

My win percentage in the Premier League, when you consider the clubs I’ve been at and the budgets I’ve had, I know it’s healthy.

On that dreadful dance…

I am quite forthright in my views and personality. I am not shy. That’s documented.

Christ. That man. Everything comes with a blame-deflecting caveat. The mental gymnastics involved are almost admirable.

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However, the most cringe-inducing excerpt must be Pardew’s allegorical description of the cut-throat circles in which he operates these days.

I wondered if he [Pardew] might be bitter about losing his job at a club who were the nearest thing to a spiritual home from his playing days, but he smiles and says football management reminds him of that famous diner scene in Heat. Al Pacino and Robert de Niro finally meet on screen, cop facing master criminal.

As they chat over coffee, Pacino explains that much as it was nice to talk, to connect as men, there is an inevitability about the shoot-out to come. “You do what you do, and I do what I gotta do,” he says.

“We’ve been face to face, yeah,” De Niro responds. “But I will not hesitate, not for a second.”

“It’s a bit like us in football,” Pardew smiles. “Chairman, manager, you do what you gotta do. But it’s not personal. It’s the business.”

Oh, do f**k off, there’s a good chap.



‘My Desire Shouldn’t Be Questioned’ – Wilfried Zaha Releases Statement To Clarify How And Why He Chose Ivory Coast Over England:

March 29th, 2017

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As you may recall, Wilfried Zaha found himself at the centre of a mini-furore yesterday when Danny Mills had the temerity to heckle him for pledging his international allegiance to Ivory Coast rather than England.

Mills accused Zaha of “taking the easy option” after Gareth Southgate revealed he’d attempted to persuade the Crystal Palace winger to opt for England, only to be rebuffed.

Southgate then declared that he was only interested in selecting players with an “inherent desire” to represent the Three Lions.

Well, Zaha has now exercised his right to reply, doing so through his representatives at Unique Sports Management:

In light of recent comments and reports questioning Wilfried’s desire or passion to play for England [we] feel it’s important to set the record straight.

Wilfried did not impose a timescale or set a date by which he had to be selected by England, there was no ‘disappearing egg timer’. The ‘private’ meeting with Mr Southgate was very amicable.

However the fact remains that Wilfried made his decision to play for the Ivory Coast prior to Mr Southgate being appointed interim and subsequently permanent England manager.

It was Wilfried’s personal choice and it was his right as a senior player to accept the opportunity to represent his nation of birth and that of his family heritage.

His ‘desire’ or ‘passion’ should never have been publicly questioned for making that decision.

Wilfried is very proud of his family and very proud to represent the Ivory Coast, most recently demonstrated by his performance against Russia.

Indeed, Zaha scored a rather spectacular goal for The Elephants, wafting through the Russian backline to notch an impressive solo effort in a 2-0 win.

Is Wilf regretting his decision to snub England? Not one iota.



World Cup: Alexis Sanchez Scores Cracking Free-Kick As Chile Beat Venezuela 3-1 (Video):

March 29th, 2017

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Currently linked with a move across London to Chelsea) imagine Arsenal Fan TV if that happens), Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal’s current woes behind him to produce a fine man of the match display for Chile in their World Cup qualifier with Venezuela on Tuesday.

Sanchez opened the scoring after just five minutes, via an exquisite free-kick.

Soon after, Sanchez was in the thick of the action action, involved in a superb team move which saw Esteban Paredes score from close-range.

The game was done and dusted after just 22 minutes when Paredes headed home La Roja’s third of the night, with Sanchez involved once again.

West Brom’s Salomon Rondon did get a consolation goal for Venezuela after the break.

There was still time for Sanchez to miss a penalty late one, thus missing out on the chance to become Chile’s outright all-time top-scorer.

Still, the win sees Sanchez and co. leapfrog Argentina to go fourth in what is an incredibly competitive World Cup qualifying campaign.



World Cup: Brazil First Side To Qualify For Russia 2018 As Neymar Scores Another Cracker (Video):

March 29th, 2017

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Brazil became the first side, other than hosts Russia, to book their place in the 2018 World Cup finals after a classy 3-0 win against Paraguay, with star man Neymar once again scoring a superb goal.

Under manager Tite, who replaced Dunga earlier on in the campaign, Brazil have returned to their swashbuckling roots, playing a trademark brand of free-flowing attacking football.

Paraguay were impressive early on, but on 34 minutes, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring with a fine effort after combining with Paulinho.

In the second-half, Brazil moved up the gears, with Neymar winning a penalty, only to see his effort easily saved by Antony Silva after a bloody silly run up.

However, just after the hour mark, Neymar made up for his spot-kick miss, running from inside his own half to net a magnificent solo goal (albeit via a slight deflection).

Real Madrid full-back Marcelo made it 3-0 via a fine chipped effort to seal an impressive win for Brazil which sees them qualify for Russia after going nine points clear of second-placed Colombia.

Considering, Brazil were struggling in their qualifying campaign just a year ago, the transformation under Tite has been mighty impressive.

As for Neymar, he is edging ever closer to the footballing stratosphere currently reserved only for Messi and Ronaldo.



‘He’s Taken The Easy Option’ – Danny Mills Accuses Wilfried Zaha Of Tossing Off His Entire International Future By Snubbing England:

March 28th, 2017

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Noted dimwit Danny Mills has basically accused Wilfried Zaha of chucking away his entire international future by choosing to represent Ivory Coast instead of jolly old England.

Zaha won two non-competitive caps under Roy Hodgson but found his participation limited so instead opted to pursue an international career with the country of his parents’ birth.

However, Gareth Southgate revealed yesterday that he made it his first order of business to attempt to coerce Zaha back into the fold, only to find that he was too late to do so – stating that from now he will only be selecting players with an “inherent desire” to represent England.

This got Mills’ knee-jerk dander up, with the former England full-back (19 caps) subsequently spouting the following tripe on TalkSPORT:

Would you rather play for England or the Ivory Coast? Ultimately he [Zaha] has taken the easier option and thought ‘well, I might get a few more caps and I might get to play in a few more tournaments because my chances with England are probably going to be limited’.

Gareth just means that he wants people to fight for the shirt and if you don’t get in, you don’t get in.

I probably did over 30-odd squads and never got any game time – sat in the stands, sat on the bench – but you still turned up every single time in that hope that you might get a chance and take it.

It is just an easy option from Zaha to go and play somewhere else.

Damn Wilf for wanting to play at tournaments and win caps – especially when he could be winning 19 meaningless caps for England.

Of course, the sly insinuation being that Ivory Coast aren’t really a proper international team like England, brave and brawny, so clearly are.

We could get angry about such obvious nonsense, but that’s only until we remind ourselves that Mills is a proven numpty.

After all, this is the man who seriously suggested England players could circumvent the annual furore over Remembrance poppies by having them temporarily tattooed on their hands.



Newell’s Old Girl: Maxi Rodriguez Visits Argentinian Club’s Oldest Fan On Her 105th Birthday (Photo):

March 28th, 2017

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Photo: @CANOBoficial/Twitter

Newell’s Old Boys captain Maxi Rodriguez dropped in the Argentinian club’s oldest fan last week to deliver a couple of special presents in person on the occasion of her 105th birthday.

Born in 1912, Tati Rodriguez (no relation) moved to Rosario at the age of 18, immediately fell in love with Newell’s and she’s been a staunch supporter ever since – in fact, the club itself is only nine years older than her!

Anyway, Maxi is Tati’s favourite current player, so the birthday girl made sure to personally invite the ex-Liverpool midfielder along to her party on Friday.

Sure enough, he turned up, and with an armful of gifts in tow – namely, a Newell’s jersey with his name and number on the back and a second emblazoned with Tati’s altogether more impressive digits.

Smashing stuff.

(Via ESPN)



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