Ferdinand Admits Placing Club Above Country

FILE PHOTO Former Manchester United English defender Rio Ferdinand  Photo: GLYN KIRK / AFP

 

Former England star Rio Ferdinand’s confession that he placed club above country when he played at two World Cup finals will be one present England Manager Gareth Southgate hopes to avoid in Russia.

The 39-year-old former central defender won 81 caps for England from 1997-2011, most of them while at Manchester United.

He told The Times that having competed against fellow members of England’s so-called “golden generation” such as Chelsea legends John Terry and Frank Lampard and Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard, during a league season he did not feel like opening up to them when they came together for a major finals.

Ferdinand played in two World Cups, both times reaching the quarterfinals. In 2002, England lost 2-1 to eventual champions Brazil and in 2006 on penalties to Portugal after Ferdinand’s club-mate Wayne Rooney was sent off.

“It overshadowed things. It killed that England team, that generation,” said Ferdinand.

“One year we would have been fighting Liverpool to win the league, another year it would be Chelsea.

“So I was never going to walk into the England dressing room and open up to Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry or Joe Cole at Chelsea, or Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher at Liverpool because of the fear they would take something back to their club and use it against us.”

Ferdinand, now a respected pundit who recently tried to take up professional boxing but was refused a licence, said that he regrets putting club before country.

“I didn’t realise that what I was doing was hurting England at the time,” said Ferdinand.

“I was so engrossed, so obsessed with winning with Man United — nothing else mattered.”

Ferdinand says he was most marked by cutting off almost all communication with childhood friend Lampard once they moved away From West Ham.

However, he added “the managers not being good enough” also played a role in England under-achieving at World Cups.

England qualified comfortably for the finals under Gareth Southgate and are hoping to do significantly better than their efforts in their last two major finals appearances.

Roy Hodgson lost his job after England’s embarrassing exit in the last 16 of Euro 2016 to Iceland after he had been give another chance when his team failed to get through the group stage at the 2014 World Cup.

AFP

Rio Ferdinand Launches Bid To Become Professional Boxer

(FILES) This file photo taken on April 1, 2013 shows former Manchester United English defender Rio Ferdinand gesturing during the English FA Cup quarter-final replay football match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in London.Photo: GLYN KIRK / AFP

Former England football captain, Rio Ferdinand confirmed on Tuesday he will train to become a professional boxer with the ultimate aim of challenging for a title belt.

The 38-year-old former Manchester United star, who retired from football in May 2015, is taking part in online betting firm Betfair’s “Defender to Contender” project and will be training with former WBC super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall.

Ferdinand will be seeking to qualify for a British Boxing Board of Control licence before starting training and competing for a title belt.

“Boxing is an amazing sport for the mind and the body,” said Ferdinand. “I have always had a passion for it and this challenge is the perfect opportunity to show people what’s possible.

“It’s a challenge I’m not taking lightly — clearly not everyone can become a professional boxer — but with the team of experts Betfair are putting together and the drive I have to succeed, anything is possible.”

Ferdinand, who will also work with personal trainer Mel Deane, added on Twitter: “It’s happening… Can’t wait to get started with the team @betfair have put together, @richiewoodhall and @meldeane #DefenderToContender.”

The ex-West Ham, Leeds, Manchester United and QPR defender, who currently works as a pundit with BT Sport and the BBC, will hold a press conference in London on Tuesday.

Woodhall, a former Olympic bronze medallist turned Team GB trainer, believes Ferdinand has the ability to turn professional.

“In all honesty, I think Rio can definitely box as a professional given time,” he said. “He has natural power in his right hand, is extremely fit and is very enthusiastic to learn, which is encouraging.

“Style-wise, he’s very raw and I’ll have to develop this which will take time but he has all the natural ingredients, height and reach advantages over boxers in his weight division and definitely has potential to win a title in the future.”

Ferdinand’s love of boxing is apparent on social media, with a picture on his Twitter profile showing him draped in the WBA, IBF and IBO heavyweight title belts of his friend Anthony Joshua.

The Londoner, who won 81 caps for England, was in attendance when Joshua defeated Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium in April and posed for pictures with the Olympic gold medallist.

There are also several videos on his Instagram page showing Ferdinand training with the gloves.

Former Sheffield United midfielder Curtis Woodhouse won the British light-welterweight title in 2012 after swapping football for boxing, while cricketer Andrew Flintoff won a one-off bout, of modest standard, against American Richard Dawson, having been mentored Barry McGuigan.

AFP

Ronaldo’s Return To Man Utd Would Be Fairytale, Says Ferdinand

Ronaldo’s Return To United Would Be Fairytale, Says FerdinandFormer England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand on Thursday said the prospect of Cristiano Ronaldo returning to the Premier League side would be a ‘fairytale’ for fans.

The British media has reported the Portuguese striker could be on his way out of Real Madrid after being accused of defrauding the tax authorities of 14.7 million euros ($16.39 million) and Manchester United would be in the queue to sign him again.

Ronaldo played for the northern English giants from 2003 to 2009 before he left for Spain. He has won the Champions League and domestic league titles with Real this year.

“If Cristiano Ronaldo becomes available, the best teams in the world will be queuing up to sign him, it’s simple as that. As a Man United fan, I’d love to see him go to Man United. It’s fairytale stuff, this is fans dreaming; fans have got to be allowed to dream. He’s the best player on the planet at the moment,” said Ferdinand who played for United between 2002 and 2014.

Rodgers Pleased With New Signings

RodgersLiverpool Manager, Brendan Rodgers is optimistic that the new players signed by the club will help the team compete for major titles this season despite the record sale of Raheem Sterling.

The club have already signed Adam Lallana and are on the verge of adding Aston Villa top hit man Christian Benteke to their line up.

Rodgers believes Sterling’s move will not affect the team and described the 20-year-old as a talented footballer.

Aston villa striker Christian Benteke has been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool, who now have money in their pocket following the sale of Sterling to Manchester City in a deal worth up to 49 million pounds.

The Reds are closing in on Benteke who has a 32.5 million pound buyout clause in his contract.

However Aston Villa manager, Tim Sherwood reiterated the club’s stance that he would not be leaving unless the clause was activated.

Rodgers Hails Gerrard’s Recovery After Penalty Miss

Gerrard
Steven Gerrard celebrates his winning goal during Liverpool’s English Premier League match against QPR at Anfield on May 2, 2015.

Liverpool Manager, Brendan Rodgers, has hailed the determination and quality of Steven Gerrard after the Liverpool captain recovered from a penalty miss to earn his team a 2-1 win against Queens Park Rangers.

The Reds created a host of chances at Anfield and took a lead during the first half when Rickie Lambert expertly teed up Philippe Coutinho to send a curler beyond Robert Green.

But Leroy Fer levelled for the Londoners on 73 minutes and Gerrard was thwarted from 12 yards by a reflex save from the QPR goalkeeper in front of a stunned Kop.

But those same supporters were on their feet in the final moments as the No.8 leapt to meet Coutinho’s corner and glance a header home, securing all three points.

“It’s world-class talent,” said Rodgers to media after the match.

“There’s a very, very small group of players in that bracket, where in the big games they score the big goals and make the big contributions.

“He’s done that, everyone has seen that throughout his entire career at Liverpool.

“He missed the penalty and sometimes you think it may go against us, but there is no-one more determined to score and make up for it than Steven. It was a very, very good header.

“He was very determined, especially after the penalty. You sometimes find with a lot of players that when they miss a big penalty like that, normally their game goes and their confidence goes.

“But he’s the total opposite. He’s one of a unique group of players that whenever they need to respond, they normally do. It was an outstanding header and obviously gets us the win.”

Gerrard left the field to a standing ovation in the closing seconds, marking his penultimate Anfield appearance before he bids farewell to the club at the end of the season.

The personal joy he took from the winner was clear, as was the appreciation from every corner of the stadium, with the time to say emotional goodbyes moving ever closer.

Rodgers continued: “His career is probably all flashing before his eyes now.

“It was brilliant to get it at the Kop end as well – it was a really special moment for him. It all goes very quickly, but you can see he is still contributing at this level.

“There was no-one better, especially when he missed the penalty. I knew that if you keep him on, you’ve got every chance of getting a goal. He always steps up to the plate.”

The victory halted a disappointing run for the Reds.

In the two league matches since enduring the heartbreak of defeat at Wembley against Aston Villa, Rodgers’ side drew against West Bromwich Albion before losing out against Hull City at the KC Stadium earlier this week.

Rodgers concluded his press conference with a message of support for Rio Ferdinand and his family after the QPR defender confirmed the tragic news of the passing of his wife, Rebecca.

He said: “I’d just like to say one thing on behalf of us all here for Rio Ferdinand and his family. I think football was secondary today, with all due respect.

“This is a guy who has been an incredible player and today, when I was coming to the training ground, I heard the news about his wife.

“So on behalf of us here at Liverpool Football Club – the players, fans and the people of the city – we pass on our condolences and respect to him and his family.”

 

Culled from http://www.liverpoolfc.com

Fashola Receives UEFA Champions League Trophy, Ruud Gullit In Lagos

Fashola GullitLagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday received the UEFA Champions League trophy on a tour of the State from former World Footballer of the Year, Ruud Gullit, with a challenge that Nigerians must take benefit of the power of football as tool for growing economies and alleviating poverty.

The Governor who spoke at the Conference Room of the Lagos House, Ikeja, when he received the trophy team from the Nigerian Breweries Plc. led by the Marketing Director, Mr Walter Direnth, added that millions of kids can be taken off the streets in addition to millions of people who can benefit as jobs could be created in stadia through stewards, food vending and transportation.

He said that the tour of the trophy to the country presents an opportunity for Nigerians to begin to think deeply about how they can turn what is a global passion into a great economic opportunity for the region, state and community.

According to the Governor, though the UEFA Champions League Cup is a European Cup, there are opportunities and lessons that Nigeria could learn from what Europe has done with its club football.

“Can we increase the sponsorship for the African Champions league and can we increase television rights pay offs and so on. It is really in our hands in terms of what to do. We have all of the big brands here, we have television coverage now, the internet reach and the media reach is also increasing”, he stressed.

The Governor explained that the trophy  symbolizes many long nights of engagements and passion in Nigerian homes and communities and thanked the Nigerian Breweries Plc for bringing it to Nigeria and to Lagos and expressed the hope that the inspirational purpose of the trophy’s tour  would be served.

He also sought the possibility of getting some school kids in the state to make contact with the trophy before it leaves the country by arranging a gathering in the stadium with the kids so that they can have a feel of the visit of an accomplished player like Ruud Gullit.

He recalled that some of the things that his administration has done include bringing in players who are still in currency and those who have retired, adding that Rio Ferdinand and Emmanuel Adebayor were in Lagos in the past on similar visits.

According to the Governor, if Ruud Gullit can find the time, government can do something and start off a development, maintaining that he was certain the kids would be thrilled just to run around with Ruud Gullit and that the State would be ready to do everything that it takes to make it happen.

“The Williams Sisters came here and it was a wonderful day sitting back and watching them in the arena, I felt really delighted about that kind of interaction for our children”, he added.

Speaking earlier, a former World Footballer of the year and Heineken Ambassador, Ruud Gullit thanked the State Government for the invitation to the team, restating that he knows how good the Nigerian national team was in the past which produced excellent players some of whom he has played against in charity matches.

He described his footballing experience as unbelievable as it is for any player in the world to have played at the pinnacle and win the Champions League which he has had the privilege of doing twice.

Also speaking, the Marketing Director of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr Walter Direnth, expressed the gratitude of the company to the State Government for the reception accorded to the team on the trophy tour.

Ruud Gullit later unveiled the trophy before presenting it to the Lagos State Governor, while the guests present including Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development, Mr Enitan Oshodi, former Nigerian internationals Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha and Sunday Oliseh had photo sessions with the trophy.

Showing Racism The Red Card

Before the start of the new English Premier League and Football League season, players will receive guidance from the Professional Footballers’ Association about tackling racist language.

According to a release by the PFA, managers of all 92 clubs have been contacted by the Association asking them to ensure the players attend the sessions that will focus on what is considered banter or acceptable jibes towards opponents and what is not.

PFA Chief Executive, Gordon Taylor confirmed the decision to educate players: “Racism is still a significant problem in football; we need to avoid any embarrassment again after recent cases.”

In the interactive sessions, players will be given scenarios where abuses can occur; either from fans or from other players and be guided on the correct response to give.  They will also be warned not to use discriminatory language referring to religion or disability.

The new FA sanctions carry a minimum five-match ban for a first offence of racist or homophobic abuse. In the last two seasons, Chelsea’s defender John Terry and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez have both received bans for racial abuse.

The letter from the PFA to the managers states that “We are looking to arrange this session in the near future and would appreciate you ensuring players attend as a matter of priority.”

Sports Palava: John Terry’s exit from the Three Lions

Van Persie’s spot-kick sinks unlucky Liverpool

Manchester United earned a much desired victory against a 10-man Reds of Liverpool at Anfield this afternoon as a Robin Van Persie late penalty did the magic for the Red Devils.

Jonjo Shelvey’s sending-off brought down the host’s team to 10 men but still managed to take the lead through Steven Gerrard’s volley seconds after the interval.

Shelvey robbed Ryan Giggs in midfield but as the ball broke free he launched himself at Jonny Evans and the inevitable outcome was a red card.

However, Rafael equalised soon after and Van Persie, one of three United players to miss from the spot this term, scored his fourth goal in as many games against the Reds – although three of those had come for former side Arsenal – nine minutes from time.

Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra shook hands in a show of unity before the game – the Liverpool forward had refused to shake the United defender’s hand in the league meeting between the sides at Old Trafford in February, having previously been found guilty of racially abusing Evra in the corresponding fixture at Anfield last season.

Second-half substitute Suso, making his Premier League debut three days after his first-team bow in Switzerland, saw his cross half-cleared to Glen Johnson. A tackle from Paul Scholes, on for Nani at half-time, succeeded only in diverting the ball towards Gerrard who volleyed home left-footed in front of the Kop.

It was short-lived, however, as within five minutes United were level when Shinji Kagawa laid the ball off for Rafael to brilliantly curl left-footed over Jose Reina and in off the far post.

Daniel Agger and Johnson collided to allow Antonio Valencia to race 50 yards into the area and although Johnson got back he could only bring down the Ecuador international. Van Persie drilled home – although Reina went the right way and almost made the stop.

EURO 2012: England can’t make it without Rooney – Nani

Portugal winger and Manchester United forward man, Nani opined that England will not go far into the Euro 2012 tournament not talk of making it out of the group stage as Wayne Rooney is not in the line-up of the three lions.

Rooney got himself suspended after the opening two games in Ukraine as he was red-carded in the qualifying clash when England faced Montenegro in October 2011.

A major headache that is for England Manager Roy Hodgson who is looking at either Danny Welbeck or Andy Carroll as possible replacements for the England striker as they prepare to face France  and Sweden on Monday and June 15th respectively.

Rooney teammate at Manchester United expressed his fear that not pitching Wayne Rooney for England will the campaign in EURO 2012 earlier than planned for he is a key player for England that will be missed in the two games and the spate of injuries to key players could mean England will be on an early plane out of Ukraine.

According to the 25 year old Portuguese player, “Rooney is angry about his absence because he knows he’s the man to score goals and he won’t be there working for the team. I sincerely want England to reach the quarter-finals, but it’s not going to be easy”.

He said the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry are vulnerable because they are suffering in all departments of the team as these players are so important for the team and their replacements are not at the same level.

However, England captain Steven Gerard claims the lower expectation levels on his side may actually work in their favour this time around.