Peru’s brilliant Copa America operate recollects 1975 and their finest hour20 days ago
La Blanquirroja have already disposed of Brazil this month and a quarter-final meeting with Colombia brings back happy memories for the team
The year was 1975 and the South American Championship had a new name: Copa Amrica. There would be no host nation and the matches would be played by 10 Conmebol nations between July and October across South America. Peru were experiencing their second golden era, and in retrospect its not outrageous to suggest that they had the best midfield in the world heading into the tournament. Led by the nations greatest ever player, Teofilo Nene Cubillas who practically devised the artistry of the misleading free-kick( sorry Dimitri Payet) the squad had a supporting cast of some magical playmakers, who have now been forgotten by many football historians.
Hugo Cholo Sotil had just won La Liga with Johan Cruyff and Barcelona, and Csar The Left-Footed Poet it voices better in Spanish Cueto, was a human highlighting reel .~ ATAGEND Above talent, however, this was primarily a squad who implemented a quintessential Peruvian trait: garra, or heroism. Peru played with a carefree doctrine, assaulting from kick-off as if the latter are 3-0 down. That may seem like a familiar trait for many South American countries, but La Blanquirroja took it to another level: they simply did not care who the opposition was. In 1975 their garra helped them beat Brazil in semi-finals and Colombia in the final to lift the trophy for only the second time in their history.
Fast forward to this summers Copa where a controversial victory over Brazil again watches Peru face Colombia in Friday nights quarter-final and the similarities between this squad and the heroes from the 1970 s are striking , not so much in talent but in ideology. Since his appointment, Ricardo Gareca, Perus Argentinian manager, wanted to make one thing clear: irrespective of tactics and delivery, from a physical standpoint, leave everything on the field. As simple as such attitudes may seem, it can be a difficult theory to achieve if you dont have players with the right mindset( Leicester City being a perfect instance ). So for this tournament, Gareca decided to prioritize position and garra over reputation when picking his team. Garecas ultimate objectives is reaching the Football world cup, and with qualifiers resuming in September, the Centenario is the perfect audition to see who fits with his philosophy.
From an international perspective, this squad is highly inexperienced. Seventeen of the 23 squad members play their club football in Perus Primera Divisin, and against Brazil, nine starters had fewer than 10 caps. This is a significant contrast with other teams, who have a large number of European-based players: even Haiti entered this tournament with more experience.
The work-rate from the young, energetic core has helped propel Peru so far, but the principal shining moments have come from two experienced players who bring as much quality to the squad as they do leadership. Before the tournament started Christian Cueva, the attacking midfielder who plays like he has three lungs , was highlighted as one to watch: his ability to change direction should be studied for research. But all eyes are on the dramatically skillful Paolo Guerrero, Copa Amricas resulting scorer in the last two tournaments. The captain has the fearlessness of Atahualpa, spearheading the line like a Peruvian Gerd Mller. His goal against Haiti cemented his place in history, as he surpassed Cubillas to become the nations all-time resulting scorer with 27.
So with Brazil defeated arrives the the issues to: how will Peru do on Friday against the supremely athletic Colombia? Jos Pekerman is one of the smartest managers in world football, and controlling James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado will be no easy task. And David Ospina may play Robin to Peter Cechs Batman for Arsenal but for his country no one commands more presence than the 27 -year old stopper from Medellin. The ex-Atletico Nacional player has only confessed one goal in 180 minutes of play for his country.
History, however, is on Perus side. In 2011 s Copa Amrica, the nations met in the quarter-finals and last year they were in the same group. Los Cafeteros failed to win either game. But that was then and this is now, and the romanticism that comes with the knockout stages paints a simple image: how we got here means nothing, everyone is blest with a clean slate.
But Peruvians and I count myself among their number believe that we can progression: after all , not many people thought wed get this far in the first place. The appetite is surely there: while many games in this tournament have been played in half-empty stadia Fridays quarter-final is a sell-out, with more than 80,000 fans packed into the New Jerseys Metlife Stadium. More than a few of them will be dreaming of a repeat of 1975.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Has José Mourinho already got third-season syndrome at Manchester United? | Jamie Jackson1 month, 27 days ago
The Portugueses criticism of his players after defeat to Fenerbahce on Thursday provoked memories of his unravelling at both Chelsea and Real Madrid
Jos Mourinho may have felt he had to give his Manchester United players a very public rollicking following Thursday nights debacle at Fenerbahce. To get to this point so early in his tenure, though, shows the crisis that threatens to engulf United unless results and performances are turned around quickly.
In his 16th competitive fixture, Mourinho oversaw a 2-1 loss in a Europa League group game that was a quasi-disaster of disjointedness that featured his players losing the plot 69 seconds in when Moussa Sow opened the scoring.
Mourinho decided he had no option but to question the teams commitment and effort: the base elements any professional footballer has to possess. It shows the slide Mourinho and his side are on. For any manager, the exposure of players the men on whom their own success or failure depends in the media is the nuclear option. Sir Alex Ferguson rarely did this during 27 years at the club.
Yet afterwards the Portuguese compared Uniteds effort to that of a summer friendly. These are strong words which may be deserved but was this really the cutest play given footballers fragile egos and his own high-maintenance style?
The problem Mourinho has is his track record of blowing up at clubs. Some may view his response at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium as evidence he is entering his own particular thirdseason syndrome two years early.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal story heading for a final, unhappy paragraph | Richard Williams2 months, 11 days ago
Arsne Wenger watched Arsenal defeated on the opening day against Liverpool and it proved the Frenchman and his side have lost the tough approach that brought them league titles
It is rare that a good novel fails to extol its promise on its opening page. Which is why the crowd at the Emirates Stadium were so distraught at the final whistling last Sunday. As opening pages of a new football season go, this one could be endlessly parsed for meaning and omen, but with only one conclusion: the insipid nature of Arsenals football in recent seasons seems likely to continue, along with a regular drowning of illusory optimism in an ocean of disappointment.
Here was the football equivalent of the post-modern classic that begins: You are about to begin reading Italo Calvinos new novel, If on a Winters Night a Traveller The message from Arsne Wengers Arsenal was that their followers were about to begin a new season of watching Arsne Wengers Arsenal, with all that has come to mean since they last won the league 12 years ago.
On a glorious early August afternoon in north London, the first line of Samuel Becketts Murphy seemed even more appropriate: The sunlight shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. Writing in 1938, a year in which Arsenal won the league title under the largely hands-off management of the former journalist George Allison, Beckett might have foreseen the passive approach Wenger would take to the summer transfer window, failing to correct his teams long-established deficiencies with a series of half-hearted bids for unsuitable targets.
Afterwards the Frenchman merely 90 minutes into the new campaign, but already ashen-faced offered the conventional excuses. The squad was short, he told. Short in numbers, short of fitness. There were absences through injury, including Per Mertesacker, Gabriel Paulista, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere, and through other significant players Mesut zil, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny being granted widened holidays after reaching the later stages of the European Championship.
After the convulsive 4-3 defeat by Liverpool, Wenger could justify the extended break for those players by pointing to the hamstring injury suffered during the match by Aaron Ramsey, who had returned to action after appearing in the quarter-final of the Euro and will now be unavailable until September. No one can say, of course, whether another weeks remainder would inevitably have prevented the Welshmans injury, but the sight of Koscielny sitting in the stands seemed to confirm a pervasive softness in the clubs mentality.
When Gary Neville claimed that the absent centre-back would not have been able to prevent the goal with which Adam Lallana gave Liverpool the leading and shattered Arsenals composure, he was wrong: even a half-fit Koscielny would not have been able permitted the passageway of indecisive defending that instantly preceded it.
It seemed symbolic that Wenger should announce Mertesackers elevation to the club captaincy, in succession to the departed Mikel Arteta, a couple of weeks after the German centre-back suffered a knee trauma that will probably keep him out for four months.
No doubt Mertesacker will fill the role admirably, but of more immediate important is leadership on the pitch during the vital going weeks. There is something to be said for the approach of Bill Shankly, who reacted to the absence of injured players by carrying on as if they did not exist, concentrating his energy entirely on organising his available forces, an attitude Jos Mourinho was reported to share.
Life sometimes seems to be too easy for Wengers current generation, whose reaction to adversity or even momentary letdown has never seemed to be that of the kind of bred-in-the-bone winners cherished by certain other managers.
All too often the reaction from Giroud to a header over the bar from a good posture or from Ramsey to a close-range shoot skewed wide is a telegenic astonishment, the hands created to the face, eyes wide and mouth open in a theatrical expression of dismay with simply a clue of rueful laughter that suggests the influence of a malign and quixotic fate rather than mundane technological failings.
At the end of Sundays defeat, a smiling Santi Cazorla could be seen sharing a hug with Philippe Coutinho, whose two goals had done such damage caused to Arsenal. The Spaniard seems to be a cheerful fellow as well as a fine footballer, but it would surely have been wise to postpone the expressions of fraternal warmth.
Like letting Theo Walcott take the penalty he had just won, with all too predictable outcomes, it offered evidence of the managers failure to prioritise the kind of mental strength and leadership once represented by Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira.
It is surely time to stop offering him the ritual thanks for his modernising influence on English footballs daily habits and to hold him to account instead for what Arsenal have become since his patron, David Dein, stepped down from the board nine years ago.
Deins departure removed the only voice capable of asking constructive the issue of the approach of a administrator who let Gilberto Silva and Lassana Diarra go from central midfield while spotting neither Paul Pogba nor NGolo Kant fellow Frenchmen, at that as potential replacements, and whose faith in a succession of young forwards Carlos Vela, Marouane Chamakh, Jrmie Aliadire, Ryo Miyaichi, Yaya Sanogo, Nacer Barazite, Park Chu-young demonstrated unfounded.
The knack of maximising the talents of players discarded by other big clubs Vieira by Milan, Dennis Bergkamp by Internazionale, Thierry Henry by Juventus also seems to have deserted him. Alexis Snchez and zil are extremely fine footballers, but in Arsenals colourings they are doing little on a consistent basis to attain Barcelona and Real Madrid regret opting for upgrades.
Wengers past decade has furthermore demonstrated that, in football at least, good husbandry can be an overrated virtue. Arsenal constructed a 60,000 seat home at a cost of 390 m. But where once they had a proper football ground, vibrant with history and designed to allow the fans passion to influence the mood of a match , now they have an elegant bowl where the feelings are easily disengaged and the most familiar one is dissatisfaction.
No manager currently working in the Premier League has more control over his surrounding than Wenger. Last Sunday it was his only job to put out a team capable of making a persuading start to the season on their own ground. Now, a week subsequently, he goes to the home of Leicester, the underdogs who decisively beat them to last seasons title with a chance to set things right.
As the pages turn ever more quickly, the concluding chapter of his time in north London is approaching the final paragraph and it grows harder to believe in a happy ending.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Tiemoue Bakayoko: a deft midfield monster who could become a superstar at Chelsea2 months, 12 days ago
Tiemou Bakayoko made an inauspicious start at Monaco, with his attitude questioned, but under Claude Makeleles guidance he has developed into a player of spectacular potential
There was a period not so long ago when Chelsea could have looked at Monacos midfield and congratulated themselves on their foresight, since Tiemou Bakayoko was being maintained out of the French clubs starting lineup by another youngster who was on Chelseas volumes and still is.
Mario Pasalic, a Germany-born Croatia international six months older than Bakayoko, has belonged to Chelsea since joining from Hajduk Split 3 years ago but has yet to contest a single game for them. Instead, like most of the speculative investments in Chelseas vast player portfolio, he has been rented out to others via a series of loan moves, including one the season before last to Monaco, where for the first several months of the campaign he was regularly selected ahead of the player on whom Chelsea have just splurged a fee that could rise to 39.7 m.
That is not to tell Chelsea would have been better advised to put more trust in Pasalic, who may leave Stamford Bridge for good this summer. Rather the point is to underline that it is never easy to know how young players are going to develop. At 22 Pasalic is a handy player who did well again on loan at Milan last season and looks likely to have a fine career. Bakayoko, meanwhile, has become more than that, a deft monster who can stomp or glide through topclass midfields and could be heading for superstar status. That evolution owes much to Bakayokos somewhat tardy waken and the influence of a former Chelsea midfielder, Claude Makelele.
Back when Pasalic was get picked ahead of him, Bakayoko seemed to be at risk of being written off at Monaco. The club, who are among Europes shrewdest recruiters and developers, bought the player as a 19 -year-old from Rennes for around 6m in 2014 but a year later the manager, Leonardo Jardim, had become exasperated by the midfielders failure to progress. That feeling began to form pretty fast after the players infamous debut in August 2014, when Jardim amazingly selected Bakayoko to start against Lorient ahead of the club captain, Jrmy Toulalan, merely to repeal the vote of confidence after 32 minutes and haul off the floundering, furious teenager.
It was more than two months before Bakayoko started another match and, thereafter, the rest of his season was marred by trauma, inconsistency and a relationship between player and manager that Bakayoko admitted was a little broken. Bakayoko felt he was being treated unfairly while the manager believed the player was not helping himself, occasionally turning up late for meetings and not always training with full intensity.
Bakayoko, who was rejected by Frances prestigious Clairefontaine academy at 14 partly because local schools report indicated he was hard work, but who recovered to build great strides at Rennes, was going through another awkward stage. That pattern continued into the next season, when Pasalic, rather than Bakayoko, tended to play in the position vacated by Geoffrey Kondogbia, sold to Internazionale.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
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Why Hector Bellerin told no to Pep Guardiola and Manchester City | David Hytner3 months, 14 days ago
Arsenal right-back was perfect fit for Citys new director a young player with Barcelona DNA and an education in the Premier League
The overtures started around February time, when Manchester City had announced that Pep Guardiola would become their new administrator at the end of the season. Guardiola wanted a full-back with searing pace and assaulting instincts, somebody to build the play out from the back, and he wanted Hctor Bellern of Arsenal.
To Guardiola, it was the perfect fit a young player with Barcelona DNA and an education in the Premier League. These days, there is little doubt that, at only 21, the former Barcelona youth-team player is the finest right-back in England. Bellern was named in last seasons PFA Team of the Year and this month he was shortlisted for the Fifpro World Team of the Year, alongside only one other Premier League defender Chelseas David Luiz. The squad will be announced in January.
And so City began Operation Bellern. They opened talks with his people and sought to sell the merits of the be removed from a playing perspective. Above all, they made it clear they would be able to offer him a massive wage far in excess of anything Arsenal would grant him. The transfer fee would not be a problem. The message from City was that they were prepared to pay whatever it took.
Other clubs were interested in Bellern, including Barcelona, Manchester United and Atltico Madrid. But City were the most persistent. By far. They refused to take no for an answer. And they had the cash to be extremely persuasive.
The way many major transfers work is that the interested club plug away through intermediaries, outlining what they can offer and, once the player is keen, they go in through the front doorway with an official bid to his employer. It never got to that point with City and Arsenal over Bellern.
Arsenal had get wind of things and their stance was resolute: Bellern would not be for sale at any price. Arsne Wenger joked on Friday morning that City were good clients, having previously taken Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Tour, Samir Nasri, Gal Clichy and Bacary Sagna from him. But, he added, those days were over.
Today, we can give fiscal gratification and supporting aspirations and values that can stimulate the players happy at this club, Wenger told, as he prepared for his squads trip to City on Sunday. Before, due to the Emirates Stadium build, perhaps the financial gap was too big a difference to maintain our players. We could not compete. We had to sell players.
It was Bellern who told no to City and the riches on offer, because he wanted to stay at Arsenal. In November he signed a six-and-a-half-year contract, worth 115,000 a week but, the Guardian understands, he could have got substantially more at City.
Bellern bided for a number of reasons, including a slightly unusual one in 21 st-century football the sense of loyalty that he feels towards Wenger and the club. He has not forgotten how the manager stood by him after his disastrous full debut in the Champions League defeat at Borussia Dortmund in September 2014 and his poor performance in the loss at Stoke City in December of that year.
Moreover, Bellern considered how a number of former Arsenal players had fared since their departures. He thought about Clichy, Sagna and Nasri together with Cesc Fbregas and Alex Song. Has the grass been greener for the first three at City? Did Fbregass dream return to Barcelona really work up? Song also went to Camp Nou, and he did not enjoy regular football.
You can understand why City tried to sign Hctor over the summer because he has developed into a superb talent, told Terry Burton, who was the head of coaching at Arsenal between 2012 -1 4, where “hes working with” Bellern. Im sure he will continue to be a target for clubs of Arsenals standing. Theres not many better right-backs around to have.
Am I astounded that he turned down more fund from City to stay at Arsenal? In the general climate, yes. But in Hctors suit , no. Hes an intelligent player and he understands that if he continues to be the best right-back in the Premier League, Arsenal will reward him again in the next contract. He is sensible enough to realise that hes on fantastic wages for a 21 -year-old and farther rewards will come with continued success.
Hctor feelings loved at Arsenal and I think hes one of those that does need to feel loved. Hes constructed a lot of good relations at the club and Arsenal are barely the worst one in the world to be playing for. Hes made some good decisions. One was signing for Arsenal when he did, as a 16 -year-old in 2011, and another has been staying with them now.
Burton, the head of emerging talent at Southampton, recollects the time when Bellerns decision-making was not quite as sound. He talks about the concept of danger and reward, which has long been central to his coaching in other words, when and where it is worthwhile to take a risk.
We fell out after a NextGen European youth game in Marseille[ in October 2012 ], Burton told. We required a describe and it was 0-0 in injury-time. Hctor tried to nutmeg someone just outside of his defensive third and they transgressed away to score the winner. I devoted him a rocket, which he took. Hes a great lad and hes got a really great attitude. It was an important learning situation, which allows you hammer home the point. Young players have to learn game management.
Bellerns pace and determination to attack were marked where reference is arrived at Arsenal from Barcelona; he was a winger at the time. But the club saw that he could be converted into a right-back, and they worked hard on the defensive side of his game.
Could he defended the back post? Burton said. Was his body shape right? Was he aware of people coming in on him? Could he back in and jumping and defend at the back post. With his pace, could he get out and shut people down in broad the regions and block crossings? But it was also in possession, and to its implementation of turnovers. He took a lot of chances in defensive areas. It was that decision-making, because he did turn the ball over quite a bit in his defensive third. He needed the awareness that his first pass, in certain areas, had to be a safe one.
Bellern has come to tick all the boxes the velocity of his developing has been astonishing and, having committed to Arsenal, he has emerged as a emblem of Wengers latest project. Bellern has talked of Arsenal feeling like home and how signing the new contract was the right thing in order to be allowed to do. He believes Arsenal are get stronger each year and closer to the title. City will watch him on Sunday with a degree of regret.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Chelsea ready to sanction PS6 0m sale of Oscar to Shanghai SIPG3 months, 19 days ago
Chelsea are ready to sanction the sale of Oscar to Shanghai SIPG after the Chinese Super League club tabled an offer worth up to 60 m for the Brazil midfielder
Chelsea have sanctioned the sale of Oscar to Shanghai SIPG after the Chinese Super League club , now managed by Andr Villas-Boas, formalised their long-standing interest and tabled an offer worth up to 60 m for the Brazil midfielder.
The Premier League leaders is cognizant of the fact that bid on the working day the latter are fined 100,000 by the Football Association for the portion they played in the touchline melee in stoppage day at Manchester City this month. The level of that sanction reflected current realities it was their fifth charge of failing to control their players within 19 months City, who had two players sent off, must pay only 35,000 but did mean Chelsea avoided a points allowance for recurred any infringement of rule E20a.
The incident has, however, served as a reminder to Antonio Contes side that the threat of the most severe punishment is real as they seek a 10 th successive Premier League win, at Sunderland, on Wednesday. They are expected to be without Oscar for that game on Wearside, with the Brazilian understood to have told his team-mates he will leave at the end of the month. The 25 -year-old had started the first five Premier League games of Contes tenure, but has been reduced to a bit-part role since and has played 36 minutes, encompassing four substitute appearances, of the nine-match winning run.
Villas-Boas, who endured an unhappy eight-month spell in charge at Stamford Bridge, is a long-time admirer and had first attempted to sign the attacking midfielder, then with Internacional, for Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2012 merely for the Brazilian to opt to move to Chelsea in a 19.5 m bargain. He has constructed 99 Premier League starts in the period since and won the Premier League, Europa League and League Cup. But, having grown frustrated on the fringes at Chelsea of late, he will now take over the lucrative new challenge in China.
Both Guangzhou Evergrande, coached by another former Chelsea manager in Luiz Felipe Scolari, and Jiangsu Suning, who built their own interest known last summer, had continued to way Oscar, but Villas-Boas is confident he will be able to deflect any late rival bids and secure the player. Oscar will join his compatriots Hulk and Elkeson at Shanghai SIPG and expects to double his wages in China. Hulk, who is believed to earn more than 300,000 a week, is currently the clubs record signing at 48 m, though that fee will now be eclipsed by the offer submitted for Oscar.
It will be the second January in succession that Chelsea generate a substantial fee for one of their Brazilian contingent, having sold Ramires to Jiangsu Suning in last seasons mid-winter window. That deal was worth in excess of 20 m, with the player signing terms worth around 200,000 a week.
This sale would award Conte considerable leeway in the market as he seeks to reinforce his squad, with interest likely to be expressed in the Southampton centre-half Virgil van Dijk. That potential move is more likely to progress at the end of the season, with the Dutch defenders club reluctant marketers. Regardless, the sale of Oscar will rule out any transfer for Cesc Fbregas mid-season, with Conte having reiterated on Tuesday that the Spaniard remains an important player.
Conte, more used to Italys winter break, is about to experience his first festive its own programme of matches, with the Sunderland game a first of five in 22 days. As part of his preparations for that period he will seek to dissuade his squad from arranging a formal Christmas party amid the cluttered schedule, though he has uncovered he is more than happy for his players to enjoy a beer immediately after games.
David Luiz posted a video on Instagram on Sunday of the post-match celebrations in the dressing room at Stamford Bridge after the hard-fought 1-0 win against West Bromwich Albion, with the footage proving Costa dancing with a brew in hand. The head coach has apparently sanctioned one post-match drink, when players are still effectively burning calories after their exertions out on the pitch. After the game, for rehydration, you can beverage Coca-Cola, or one brew, Conte told. Its good for recovery. But one. Not a lot. And, after you finish the game, you must drink it quickly , not an hour after the end.
Yet, while the club organise a festive event for the players and their families, Conte is more circumspect over his squad conducting their own pre-Christmas jaunt, conscious that focus must be on retaining the teams current momentum.
Im sure I have great professionals in my players so, with that the suit, I dont believe a coach-and-four or a director can say: Do this or Dont do this, said the Italian, who will develop his players on Christmas Day. I have great professionals and I know they will have the very best stance and behaviours in this situation. But, I must be honest, Id favor they stayed at home and celebrated with the family. Not[ have] a great party.
We are preparing to celebrate with our families during the week before Christmas, to stay together with most children, with our families, and on the 26 th we play the game[ against Bournemouth ], a tough match. So maybe a glass of red wine one on Christmas Day is good.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Cheick Tiote, former Newcastle and Ivory Coast midfielder, dies aged 303 months, 26 days ago
The former Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiot has died following a reported heart attack while training with his club in China
The former Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiot has died after reportedly suffering a heart attack while developing with his club in China.
The Ivory Coast international joined the Chinese League One side Beijing Enterprises in January having spent seven years at St James Park. The 30 -year-old was reported to have collapsed at the training ground on Monday and been taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
I can confirm that my client Cheick Tiot sadly passed away today after collapsing in training with his club Beijing Enterprises, his agent, Emanuele Palladino, said in a statement. We cannot say any more at the moment and we request that his familys privacy be respected at these difficult times. We ask for all your prayers.
A statement from Beijing Enterprises added: During a routine train conference at 6pm today, Ivory Coast player Cheick Tiot suddenly fainted and the club instantly rushed him to hospital, but unfortunately efforts to save him failed and he passed away at 7pm. The players relatives have been informed. Beijing Enterprises football club conveys its deep sorrow and profound condolences for Mr Tiots untimely death.
It is understood that Tiot has been living in China on his own since leaving the north-east in January and his wife Madah is expecting their third child this week. His former manager at Newcastle, Alan Pardew, said he was devastated by the news.
From the moment I arrived at Newcastle Cheick was a wonderful presence around the dressing room and his performances on the field often defied notion, said Pardew. There were days when he must have covered every blade of grass on a football field.
None of us will ever be borne in mind that incredible day when our Newcastle team came from 4-0 down to draw an unbelievable Premier League game against Arsenal, with Cheicks incredible aim. I loved him. He was everything that you want in a Newcastle player. Life is not fair sometimes and I will remember Cheick Tiot as a giant of a midfielder whom I loved to manage.
His former Newcastle team-mate Demba Ba, who had a spell in China but now plays for the Turkish club Besiktas, was among the first to offer his condolences. May Allah dedicates award you jannah brother Tiote, he tweeted.
Steven Caulker:’ I’ve sat here for years hating myself … This year was nearly the end’3 months, 27 days ago
The QPR defender talks powerfully about his struggles with mental illness, his addictions to gamble and drinking and why he is thankful still to be alive
Steven Caulker has a narrative to tell and, as hard as it is to hear, it is best simply to listen. His stream of consciousness veers from scoring on his England debut less than five years ago and the thrill at potential being realised to the horrific mental health issues that have almost aimed it all in the period since. A player who, from the outside, seemed blessed with talent and possibility speaks of desperate anxiety and self-loathing.
He contemplated killing himself in his darkest moments with his track one of self-destruction. Attempts at escapism expense him hundreds of thousands of pounds, wages frittered away in casinos. Then came the drinking is targeted at numbing the pain. The 25 -year-old detects himself recollecting the times spent in custody watching CCTV footage of his misdemeanours, his lawyer at his side, and not recognising the vile person on the screen.
Football is still coming to words with mental illness and Caulker, an international and a last lingering reminder at Queens Park Rangers of financially misguided days as a Premier League club, has been an easy target. He is not seeking to make excuses or win sympathy. These are details he determines painful to recount. Ive sat here for years disliking myself and never understand why it is I couldnt merely is just like everyone else, he tells. This year was almost the end. I felt for large periods there was no light at the end of the passageway. And yet he has not placed a gamble since December, or touched alcohol since early March. The mending process that they are able restore him to the top level is well under way, with this interview, one he sought out, potentially another step on the road to recovery.
A little under a year ago Caulker had spoken to the Guardian about a life-changing week were used in Sierra Leone, of humbling yet inspiring charity work with ActionAid that had provided him with a sense of perspective. He returned to be galvanised under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at Loftus Road and, having spent the previous season on loan at Southampton and Liverpool unfulfilling stints which fuelled his latent insecurities was ready to give his all. Early season performances against Leeds and Cardiff suggested confidence had been restored, reward for a summer of incessant fitness work.
The trigger that would send him spiralling to rock bottom would be injury. He tore his groin at Barnsley and played in pain for weeks, dreading a spell back in rehabilitation, before succumbing to an associated hip grievance. I owed it to QPR to try, he tells, but I was naive thinking I could still perform with the tear. He has not played since last October, with the period marked by personal turmoil and, merely of late, revival. Talking publicly, he suggested, may point younger players towards trying assistance if they find themselves treading the same route, or experiencing the same sense of desertion, in a brutal industry. The real hope is the workout, as brave as it is, may ultimately prove more cathartic for Caulker himself.
He recognises his football ability as a gift but also a curse. It took him from Sunday League at 15 into the Premier League four years later, to the 2012 Olympics with Great Britain and into Roy Hodgsons England side for a friendly in Sweden subsequently that year. His talent has persuaded some of the most respected managers he is worth seeking. Yet, while he could still get away with it on the pitch, he lived in denial. It was more than six years into his career before he accepted he needed help. You always think you can rein it back in again and the money provides a false sense of security. But at Southampton I realised, mentally, I was gone. I wasnt playing, my career was going nowhere and I had to reach out to someone. The doctor there tried to help me but others were just telling me got to go on the pitching and express myself.
There was no understanding as to what was happening in my head. I know theyd brought me in to do a job and they werent there to be babysitters. Simply like at QPR, I needed to justify the money the latter are paying me but I was in a state and, at some phase, there has to be a duty of care. Football does not deal well with mental illness. Maybe its changing but the support mechanisms are so often not there. Ive spoken to so many players who have been told to go to the Sporting Chance clinic and theyve rejected because they know, if they take time off, theyll “losing ones” place in the team. Someone steps in and does well, so youre run. That dissuades people from get assistance. You feel obliged to get on with things.
I would recommend chaps to speak to the PFA, to speak to their administrator, and not be scared about being dropped if they are feeling like I did. Be brave enough to say you need help before its too late. The nervousnes Id always needed something to take the edge off. Football was my escape as a kid but that changed when I was chucked into the first team as a teen and suddenly football came with pressure. My way of dealing with it, even in the early stages of my career, was gambling. Im an addict. Im addicted to winning, which people say is a positive in football but certainly not when it extends to gambling. I was addicted to trying to beat the organizations of the system, because you convince yourself there is a system to it and you can beat it. You can never get your head around why you arent.
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She could have been a top US soccer player. Problem was, she was undocumented4 months ago
Allyson Duarte was good, worked hard, and dreamed of playing soccer at a top US college. But she soon learned talent means nothing when you dont have papers
She came to America to chase a soccer career only to learn that talent means nothing here when you are undocumented. Now 25 -year-old Allyson Duarte sits inside an airport named Reagan, gazing at a city called Washington, and wonders which politicians will ruin their own lives next.
Through a giant window at Reagan national airport she can see the US Capitol gleaming in the late-day sun. The day before she had been inside under its dome with 1,000 other Dreamer- undocumented high school graduates brought here as children like her- asking Congress to pass a Dream Act that protects high school and college graduates without criminal records.
But as she waits for a flight back to Texas, where she has lived since eighth grade, she worries that supportive words from representatives and senators might not be enough, a legislative solution won’t be reached for Dreamer and he will be shipped back to Mexico.
What is the American Dream any more? Once she thought she knew. That was back when she was 13 in Veracruz, Mexico, wanted nothing more than to access the US soccer system, go to college and play professionally. She believed the American Dream all the way through high school in McAllen, Texas, where she had a 3.8 grade point average and an ability to play almost stanceon the field. She thought those things alone would get her into almost any top soccer school, until she realise those colleges sometimes flew to away matches and because she had no government ID she wouldn’t be able to get on the planes. If she couldn’t fly, she couldn’t play college soccer.
By the time Barack Obama generated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012 letting her to procure a work permit( that lets her fly) her chance to play college football had passed.
” I was this close ,” she says, leaning forward in her seat, pinching her thumb and index fingers virtually together.” That’s how I started questioning meritocracy and the American Dream. I had to grapple with their own problems of not having access to the American Dream .”
Then she slumps back in the chair, sighs heavily and gazes in silence at the city that has reduced people like her to a television talking point.
As a child, Duarte loved soccer, playing it every day on the street outside her mothers’ home in Veracruz. She didn’t care the other players were all boys. She could play rough. She could play fast. When she was 12 she joined a local women’s club. The players were all 18 and essentially adults. But playing with them stimulated her realize how good she could be. She was convinced she could play professionally.
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