Carlo Ancelotti the archway firefighter who always pays his route | Richard Williams

2 days ago

Latest book about Bayern Munichs new director says he saw the end coming early at Chelsea and Real Madrid, and discloses the unstinting admiration of Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The captains of industry and cultural rainmakers who form the usual casting of a weekly-newspaper feature titled Lunch with the FT tend to use the opportunity to make a public demonstration of their ascetic personal habits. A small salad and a bottle of sparkling water is usually enough to induce the point about what disciplined lives they lead.

Not Carlo Ancelotti.

When the man who has won the European Cup twice as a player and the Champions League three times as a manager sat down with an FT journalist last week at a favourite Italian eatery in Mayfair, he began by ordering an 82 bottle of Guidalberto, a red wine from Tuscany. I dont need to try it, he told the waiter. I know this wine.

The contents of the bottle vanished, along with a selection of starters and a doubled order of lobster with tagliolini. You like grappa? Ancelotti asked the journalist, who prepared to honour the FTs custom by paying the bill with a twinge of anxiety when it came to a few pennies short of 250. He got out his card, merely to discover that Ancelotti had already come to an arrangement with the proprietor. No fuss.

At Ancelottis home, you always eat well, Adriano Galliani says. The long-serving general manager of Milan, Galliani was the buffer between Silvio Berlusconi and Ancelotti during the latters eight years as the team administrator, from 2001 to 2009( quite a accomplishment, given that in the past 20 years Berlusconi has hired and fired 13 managers , not counting caretakers ).

Galliani is one of the witness whose evidence appears in Quiet Leadership, Ancelottis new volume of semi-autobiography. Co-authored with the management studies expert Chris Brody and the former Chelsea director of football operations Mike Forde, it is probably intended to be racked in the business studies shelves at airport bookshops. But like its predecessor, published just as Ancelotti joined Chelsea in 2009 it is also a treasury of anecdote and insight.

Everyone likes the man who is about to take over at Bayern Munich, which is why the books other voices include Cristiano Ronaldo, Alex Ferguson, Paolo Maldini, John Terry, Alessandro Nesta and David Beckham. They all have affectionate things to say about him as a human his personal warmth, his tactical flexible, his humour, his tendency to lapse into Italian on the rare occasions when he loses his mood in the dressing room but their narratives, and his, create a picture of one style of managing a football squad: a rational approach to the job of operating a team amid the climate of lunacy found at the top of the European club football pyramid.

At Real Madrid, Chelsea or Paris Saint-Germain, however, rationality is generally in short supply. There is nothing he would love more than to recreate the sense of family he enjoyed with Milan, involving himself in a long-term project, but age and experience please give him a philosophical posture to the whims of proprietors such as Roman Abramovich, presidents such as Florentino Prez and directors of football such as Leonardo, an erstwhile friend by whom he feels betrayed.

At Chelsea he was impressed by the requirement to attend 10 meetings to discuss his ideas before being offered the job. He won the Doubled straight away but in his second season, he writes: I find the end coming months before it did, just as I would subsequently at Madrid. He[ Abramovich] would try to convince me, with all my experience to the contrary, to be stronger, tougher and more rigorous with the players. Ive heard it before and Ive heard it since, but he was wrong they are all wrong. What they hire me for is to calm the situation at a club by building its relation with the players. At some later stage that is not the approach they want any more and the relationship with the owners not the players, but the owners begins to worsen. They hire me to be kind and pacify with the players and then at the first sign of trouble along the way thats the very characteristic they point to as the problem.

Those who think of him as soft might come away from the book watching virtue in a willingness to listen to the believes of others and to step back when necessary. He lets Terry take on the job of persuading Didier Drogba to stop diving and exaggerating traumata, knowing that the lesson in English football etiquette would come more powerfully from an English player. He describes consulting Andrea Pirlo on the revolutionary positional shift that turned a very good player into a great one.

He is impressed when Beckham, before making a deal with Berlusconi and Galliani for a loan period with Milan, calls him up first. He is smart enough to know that, with his profile, it could be that he is being pressed on to a manager for reasons other than football. So he contacted me directly and would like to know whether I wanted him to come to Milan. I told him Yes. We trusted one another to speak the truth.

He is, however, a pragmatist. If Berlusconi wants to come to the dressing room to tell his gags, he writes, I have to understand that it is his dressing room. When Ronaldo indicates that he does not want to play alongside another striker in a 4-4-2 formation, Ancelotti thinks to himself: Who am I to argue? How can I change the position of a player who scores 60 aims a season? So I had to find a solution.

If he moves to a club that does not want him to bring his own support staff, he simply adapts. Bringing in tried and trusted lieutenants sounds sensible, he writes, but presumably they were also at your side when you were sacked from your previous task. I giggled at that, and thought of the newspaper pictures of Rui Faria at Jos Mourinhos side this week, while the Portuguese provocateurs negotiations with Manchester United were going on.

Ferguson writes that he tried to persuade Ancelotti to succeed him. It didnt quite work up, he says. Another time, maybe. Thats an interesting statement which might even turn out to be prophetic, bearing in mind the fact that Ancelotti has some experience of putting out Mourinhos fires.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has played for and admires them both, and who currently appears certain to start next season in Uniteds colours, makes an interesting comparing between the Italian and the Portuguese. Jos Mourinho knows how to treat a footballer, he says, but Carlo knows how to treat a person. He also pays the bill.

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Tottenham’s Harry Kane strikes four in 6-1 thrashing of Leicester

11 days ago

Spurs Harry Kane scored four goals to take the lead in the Golden Boot standings while Son Heung-min added two in their sides 6-1 stunning win at Leicester

A team does not necessarily need a title to depict their class, although Tottenham Hotspur do crave one. Spurs demonstrated their excellence at the King Power by swatting aside last seasons champs with regal aplomb and, in the process, Harry Kane struck four goals to enhance his chances of being crowned as the Premier Leagues top scorer for the second season in a row. His tally for the campaign stands at 26, two more than Evertons Romelu Lukaku with one round of matches to go. Spurs cannot catch Chelsea but they have no intention of stopping their glory hunt.

Son Heung-min contributed to the rout here by scoring Tottenhams other two aims. That amounted to six damaging blows to Craig Shakespeares prospects of landing the Leicester managerial chore on a permanent basis. Ben Chilwell scored for the home squad but that was no consolation to their caretaker manager. There are no positives, said Shakespeare. We were totally second-best.

Shakespeare should not be judged too harshly on this performance, as the main cause of this thrashing was Tottenhams exceptional slickness and their encouraging bloodlust. Mauricio Pochettino had demanded his team maintain their high standards despite the title being beyond them. They had faded at a similar stage last season once Leicester get beyond their reach so the Argentinian wanted to see evidence of a positive evolution since then. His wish was granted, and this time Leicester were left looking like a rabble.

Our attitude and internal motive was good, said Pochettino. We have been talking a lot about why we finished so badly last season. This type of performance shows that the team is improving and has learned a lot from last season. This is fantastic.

Leicester constructed the better start but began to tremble as soon as Spurs bared their teeth. That was the beginning of a nightmare for Yohan Benalouane, including with regard to, as the centre-back was made to look ditzy by Spurs artful attackers. Especially Kane. The striker threatened to open the scoring a couple of times before he eventually did so in the 25 th minute.

Toby Alderweireld uncovered flat-footedness in Leicesters rejigged defence by falling a long pass over them from deep inside his own half. Christian Fuchs, a makeshift centre-back, failed to cut it out and Benalouane undermined the offside strategy. Son took advantage, scampering on to the ball before playing a square pass to Kane, who scored from close range.

Spurs began to run amok. They increased their lead 11 minutes later with a sumptuous objective, an intricate move culminating with Dele Alli scooping the ball over the head of Benalouane before Son swept a volley into the net from 10 yards.

At half-time Shakespeare had to find a way to stop the bleeding, at the least. He introduced Islam Slimani for Shinji Okazaki and Leicester made a strong start to the second period. In the 59 th minute their uprising assembled momentum when Chilwell scored with impressive equanimity. Hugo Lloris had rushed out of his box to intercept a pass to Jamie Vardy but Leicester kept possession and when the ball was played to Chilwell, the 20 -year-old sidestepped a defender and stroked it into the net from 12 yards despite Eric Diers attempt to clear off the line.

Belief in a home comeback lasted four minutes. That is how long it took Spurs to re-establish their superiority. Alderweireld cantered down the right and floated a cross to the back post, where Victor Wanyama headed it back across to Kane, who nodded in from two yards. Eight minutes later Son struck again, ridiculing Wilfred Ndidi at the leading edge of the box before sweeping a low shoot into the net. The uprising had been quashed with imperious style.

Kane was not finished. He had his eyes on a personal prize as well as an emphatic team triumph. He rifled in a low 20 -yard shot to complete his hat-trick, then fired in his fourth in time added on. That was the first four-goal haul of his career and he acknowledged he was driven by his pursuit of Lukaku at the top of the scoring charts.

Id be lying if I said I wasnt, he said. I was looking to take it into the last game, but now Im in the driving seat. Im not resting on my laurels, and Ill go to Hull[ on Sunday] looking to get four more hopefully.

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Lucas Leiva: a role model who is leaving Liverpool after 10 rollercoaster years

17 days ago

The Brazilian, who has joined Lazio, was heavily criticised where reference is joined from Grmio in 2007 but earned the respect of his team-mates and the 30 -year-old will be sorely missed in the Anfield dressing room

Lucas Leiva had heard the lament many times before but it was still a astound when it was repeated at his testimonial dinner by Jrgen Klopp. An atypical Brazilian “wouldve been” politest summary of the Liverpool managers on-stage tribute in April, when he devoted thanks that he could at least rely on Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino to sprinkle the team with ingenuity and flair. It ran unsaid but Liverpool could rely on the duo less-heralded compatriot for almost everything else.

The Liverpool squad have lost their longest-serving player with Lucas 5m transfer to Lazio. The club is not losing its most gifted or decorated player and many is likely to be bemused by any fuss over the midfielders departure after 10 years but Klopp is losing an asset that he, and Liverpool managers before him, came to trust implicitly and value for his influence on and off the pitch.

That Lucas remained at Liverpool long enough to have a testimonial tribute and Klopp was the fifth director to appreciate its own contribution reflects a successful fight for recognition. He exits having constructed 346 competitive appearances for the club he joined from Grmio for 5m in 2007 and with a certain degree of respect that would have been difficult to see during his initial conflicts in Rafael Bentezs team. Lucas competed with Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano for a central midfield stance and was judged by their lofty criteria. The shouts of shoot, shoot whenever Lucas took possession in his final game at Anfield, against Middlesbrough on the last day of the season, when Liverpool reclaimed entry into the Champions League, underlined how far his relationship with supporters had come.

Lucas was an attacking midfielder where reference is joined from Gremio for 5m in 2007. Photo: Bevilacqua/ Rex Shutterstock

Its been an incredible 10 years, said Lucas that day, after being presented with a memorial trophy by Kenny Dalglish. We all is well aware been a little bit like a rollercoaster, a lot of ups and downs, but Im so proud to wear this shirt every day of my life. This club stimulated me better as a person, as a player, I have two kids born in Liverpool. For sure, my kids will be really proud when they grow up, come to Anfield and watch games, and know their dad played for Liverpool.

The words, and the ovation they triggered, were heartfelt. Lucas and his family have always intended to return to Brazil when his playing days objective but have subsequently considered maintaining a base in Liverpool too, such is their affection for the club and the city. A rollercoaster has its downs and being booed by a section of the Anfield crowd against Fulham in November 2008 was the worst moment, he later acknowledged. There was hardly an interview with Lucas during his early years on Merseyside that did not reference criticism from the crowd.

A cruciate ligament injury expense the midfielder the opportunity to play in two Wembley finals under Dalglish and two years of his international career. Liverpools merely trophy during Lucas hour at the club, the 2012 League Cup, arrived three months after he suffered the trauma in the quarter-final victory at Chelsea. His participation in the beaker run was enough for Lucas to take great pride in his wins medal, presented to him at Melwood after Dalglish and the then director of football Damien Comolli had ordered an extra one.

The battle for acceptance extended to Liverpool managers too with the exception of Bentez, who signed him and stood by him throughout. Klopp, like Brendan Rodgers, did not have Lucas in his first-choice schemes but turned to him at key moments. Having been selected in central defense ahead of established defenders last season, Lucas created a dominant human of the match showing when restored to midfield against Everton in April. His reaction on the final whistle demonstrated how much it meant to someone from Dourados, Brazil, to win one last Merseyside derby, and silenced perhaps even his own doubts about contributing at the highest level.

Lucas applauds fans after an FA Cup tie against Plymouth in January, when he wore the captains armband. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/ Reuters

Behind the scenes there was no doubting the extent of Lucas contribution in the Liverpool dressing room. Fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese he took the lead in helping foreign importations resolve , not least Coutinho whose happiness on Merseyside has brought reassurance for Klopp amid the reported interest from Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. Lucas hurled himself into ambassadorial responsibilities for the Liverpool Foundation, the clubs charity arm, with equal relish.

As captain Jordan Henderson reflected following the Anfield derby last season: Any person joining Liverpool who is looking for a role model or an example to follow then, for me, you look no further than Lucas Leiva. In simple terms he sets the standard of professionalism and posture of what it is to be a Liverpool player. In the dressing room there is no one who is respected or admired more.

I guess from the outside he is often portrayed as being the go-to person for our lads from his own country or any Spanish or Portuguese-speaking players who join Liverpool but that does him a massive disservice. It doesnt even scratch the surface of his influence. I came from the north-east and the help and support he gave me initially and still gives me to this day is massive. It doesnt matter to Lucas whether youre from Runcorn or Rio, hell make time for you and look to offer his experience to help individuals or the team when its needed.

Lucas has more to offer aged 30 than a bit-part role on the pitching at Liverpool. Klopp, despite the jokes at Liverpools atypical Brazilian, recognised as much with some reluctance.

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Rio 2016: British Cycling chief resigns amid discrimination claims

19 days ago

( CNN) British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton has resigned from his role, amid claims of sexism and discrimination towards cyclists.

Sutton was suspended Wednesday morning after the organization opened a formal investigation into alleged derogatory commentaries he had made.

For all the Russia 2018 describe razzmatazz, darknes cast by Olympics takes off gloss | Martha Kelner

23 days ago

Moscow stages the World Cup draw on Friday but Russias systematic doping at Sochi 2014 and beyond has undermined what should be footballs crowning glory

The darkness will be thick and the temperature below freezing in Moscow when the first ball is drawn but the historic snow-dappled domes of St Basil’s Cathedral remain visible from the Kremlin palace even at night.

As a set for the World Cup describe it is a perfect showcase, the imposing houses of the fortified complex and Red Square totemic of Russian power and influence. There are Christmas suns, an ice skating rink and hot sausage stallings in the shadow of one of the most uncompromising political regimes of the modern era.

That contrast between fun and fear will be embodied by next summer’s World Cup. A chance to watch Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, to follow England around this vast country but also the knowledge that the host country has serious questions to answer on its attitudes to race, sexuality and human rights. It is understood Vladimir Putin, although not a football fan, will provide an opening address at the depict, keen presumably to take advantage of the political capital on offer.

For all the understandable wariness of Russia 2018, Moscow has offered a window into what the World Cup may be like when it gets under way on 14 June. Access has been closely controlled by the security services but an army of volunteers, decked in red, demonstrated an eagerness to please and experiences have been mostly positive.

The foreign media, often cast as an foe faction by Putin, were treated to a special performance by the Moscow State Academic Theatre and offered gifts of notepads and Russian dolls from the 11 host cities.

” There is an exhilaration about the World Cup ,” one local said.” People are looking forward to it and want to put one over a present- but perhaps not as much as before the Olympics when it was thought it could change how the world viewed Russia. They’ve learned how incorrect the latter are .”

Sochi 2014 and the systematic doping that blighted that event and at least the three preceding Olympics has only reinforced negative views of Russian culture, its attitude towards athletic and fair play. On Thursday evening, as Gordon Banks and Fabio Cannavaro spoke of their pleasure at being chosen by Fifa as draw deputies, news filed through of another two positive narcotics tests from Russian athletes at London 2012. Of 226 samples collected from Russian athletes who participated in London and retested, 21 have been dirty.

Vitaly Mutko, the country’s athletics pastor at that time, is now not only Putin’s deputy but the head of the Russian FA and will be a key figure at the describe. This is despite the publication this week of diaries belonging to the Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, a former head of the Moscow drug lab, which detail sessions with Mutko and offer the strongest evidence yet that Mutko fully knew of the systematic doping programme.

The rehearsal for the 2018 World Cup depict at the Kremlin. Photo: Matthias Hangst/ Bongarts/ Getty Images

While Mutko may be on borrowed period pending farther revelations, it is too late now for there to be any realistic prospect of Russia being stripped of the World Cup.

At the hotel where Fifa executives are remaining, Michel D’Hooghe, the chairman of the medical committee, was at pains to insist doping control would be kept out of the hands of the hosts.

” The anti-doping control is likely to be done by medical officers of Fifa not Russia- nothing will be in the hands of the Russian organisers ,” he said.” With the rumours around Russia it’s one reason more to say we devote nothing of the doping control to Russian physicians, to the Russian authorities, to the local organising committee .”

Nevertheless, there is understandably widespread disquiet about a country guilty of such craven cheating being given the honour of hosting football’s biggest showpiece.

Even before the doping program was uncovered, the style Russia came to win the 2018 bid was the subject of much consternation. It was Gary Lineker who revealed to a group of British journalists that England would be knocked out in the first round of voting despite being among the favourites to host.

He violated ranks from assembled dignitaries in Zurich in December 2010 to express his abhorrence. Most of the Fifa executives who voted on Russia and Qatar 2022 have been uncovered as having been part of an organisation characterised by bribery and corruption.

It was only six months ago Lineker tweeted:” Fifa bidding process created a murky world where favour/ bribes were just thrown around. Stinks .”

So his decision to accept the governing body’s invitation to co-host the describe alongside the Tv presenter Maria Komandnaya prompted some created eyebrows.

Some commentators believe Lineker’s involvement is wrong because it gives a cape of legitimacy to the governing body. If Lineker, once such an ardent critic, is willing to align himself with it then things cannot be so bad, surely?

The golden boot win defended himself.” There is a new guard ,” he said.” If it were still Blatter and his brigade I would not have done it. I was approached by[ Fifa’s technical development director] Marco van Basten and[ deputy general secretary] Zvonimir Boban. They are two good football people. I hope and think Fifa is changing. New people deserve a chance to prove it is, we will see .”

Whether the world will offer the same olive branch to Russia as Lineker has to Fifa remains to be seen.

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Golden Aim: Esteban Cambiasso for Argentina v Serbia& Montenegro( 2006) | Gregg Bakowski

1 month, 3 days ago

It took 25 pass for Argentina to score their second in a memorable World Cup 2006 win but for Jos Pkerman it was the realisation of years of work

There can be few things in life more satisfying than watching years of hard work culminate in one fleeting but beautiful moment. In 2006 Jos Pkerman stood in the technological region at Gelsenkirchen and experienced just that, bathing in the warm glow of fulfilment as he saw the stars align in 54 glorious seconds.

Two years earlier, Pkerman had been entrusted with the Argentina job, succeeding Marcelo Bielsa, with whom he shared many deeply held beliefs about how the game should be played. The appointment induced perfect sense. Pkerman could try to improve on the fine but flawed work of his meticulous predecessor but better still, he would be working with players whom he had helped to sculpt into steely winners in his role as the under-2 0 coach.

Between 1994 and 2001 he supervised a golden era of Argentinian youth football, winning the World Youth Championship three times in four tournaments. It was an unprecedented period of success with Juan Pablo Sorn, Esteban Cambiasso, Pablo Aimar, Juan Romn Riquelme, Javier Saviola and Maxi Rodrguez among the players whom Pkerman schooled in a highly effective kind of possession football that he hoped would serve Argentina well in the future. Underpinning his doctrine was the keenly held belief that a composed approach will always be rewarded more richly than a hurried one.

This was something he tried to drum into his under-2 0 players on a personal level as well as a tactical one. He left Aimar, among his most heralded players in 1997, on the bench for the final of the World Youth Championships in Malaysia, apparently with the sole intention to teach him the lesson that haste, whether on the football pitch or in progressing a career, isnt always the best style forward. Having had to wait for his chance to manage Argentina after a career that weaved in and out of football following the early curtailment of an undistinguished playing career, Pkerman knew the value of patience.

There were signs in the buildup to the 2006 World Cup that Argentina could be a force with a manager at the helm who knew the players so well. None more so than at a raucous Estadio Monumental on 8 June 2005, when just under 50,000 fans bore witness to a devastating first-half display in which Argentina danced around a spellbound Brazil, their rhythmic passing providing a joyous backing way as they raced into an insurmountable 3-0 lead against the world champs to seal World Cup qualification. There was also a rare glimpse of peak Riquelme, with the enigmatic playmaker swivelling away from Roque Jnior with graceful ease before unleashing an unstoppable 25-yard ten-strike into the top-left corner.

Freeing Riquelme to influence games as a imperil metronome was the chief reason that Pkermans side were so easy on the eye in Germany. There had been criticism in Argentina that Riquelme was often have been able to get away with too much in matches, paying scant regard to tracking back and scoffing at the idea of winning back possession. But the truth is that by playing one or both of Cambiasso and Javier Mascherano behind him, most of the time Riquelme didnt need to.

When Mascherano stole the ball with Ivory Coast on the attack and Argentina only 1-0 up in the first group game in Germany, they looked perfectly set for a scald counterattack. Instead, Argentina took eight considered touches, never accelerating the move until within striking distance. It was Riquelmes wand of a right boot that set up Saviola to stab home. The patient approach had worked again and given us a clue of what was to come. It appeared Pkerman had come up with the magic formula. The grumblings of acceptance for Argentinas style of possession football afterwards would become a chorus following the game against Serbia and Montenegro.

Among Argentina advocates there was a whiff of anticipation about what was possible against Serbia and Montenegro. Two years earlier the same sides, containing a good portion of the players lining up in Gelsenkirchen, had met at the Athens Olympics, which Argentina went on to win. The rating? Argentina 6-0 Serbia and Montenegro.

Perhaps that is why Argentina had a swagger about them from the start. Six minutes into the game, a delicious move on the left resulted in Saviola bursting into the box, where he poked the ball across to Rodrguez to jab home and prompt Diego Maradona, high up in the stands, to begin merely the first of his many crazed festivities that evening. It would take a further 24 minutes for the lead to be increased, but it was a period in which Argentinas grip on the game became so unbearably tight that something had to give. It did. The most wonderful objective, as Hernn Crespo described it.

Diego Maradona celebrates during Argentinas mesmeric display of possession football against Serbia& Montenegro. Photograph: Achim Scheidemann/ EPA

It begins in much the same way as the second goal scored against Ivory Coast, with the opponents pocket being picked while on a dangerous-looking attack. On this occasion it is Rodrguez who does the pilfering, chasing back and hooking the ball away from Mateja Kezman, in full gallop. He then demonstrates he has the intelligence to match his industry, floating off into space and dragging three opponents to the left of the pitch before popping a little pass back to Sorn, who takes them out of the game by coming back inside.

The patient pas continues over to the right-hand side of the pitching, with Mascherano, Riquelme and Cambiasso all getting a touch and appearing to move in slow-motion as their adversaries huff and puff around them. The ball , now on first-name terms with Argentinas midfield, is worked back over to the left in sophisticated style, never in danger of being stolen away. Its at this point that you become aware that the unhurried motion of both players and ball has begun to mesmerise.

There is an opportunity to quicken the two attacks as the ball arrives over on the left again but these Argentina players, schooled as they have been by Pkerman to be patient at all hours, demonstrate their intelligence, choosing to shun the first opportunity to attack down the left wing and instead frustrate their opponents to the degree that five Serbia and Montenegro players are drawn towards the ball as Argentina play it backwards again. Now, this is when the slow-slow-quick approach kicks in, with Mascherano fizzing a pass out to Sorn, who is hugging the touchline, before find Saviola, the catalyst for the deadliest part of the attack. He explodes inside from the touchline and plays a cute one-two with Riquelme, who for all his influence on the game, plays only a minor role in this wonderfully-crafted aim.

Saviola picks up the return from Riquelme( pass 22 in case youre interested) and curls the ball out towards the edge of the box, where Cambiasso is lurking. Its not an easy pass to control, bouncing awkwardly in front of a player who had only come on 12 minutes earlier, as a substitute for the injured Luis Gonzlez, and had never been famed for his attacking prowess. But sometimes in life, moments arrive that hint at perfection and must not be undo. There is a sense that Cambiasso was acutely aware of this as his first touch, a feathered dink with the outside of his left foot, feeds Crespo perfectly. The big striker then depicts incredible deftness himself, taking one delicious touch with his left instep, delaying to allow Cambiasso to catch up, and then teeing him up with his right heel. Impeccable link-up play.

Crespo said afterwards that he knew that something great was happening as the move was gradually and skilfully stitched together behind him. Perhaps Cambiasso did too, and it is why, when the series of 25 pass was nearing its glorious end, neither player dared shirk the responsibility of assuring to it that it was given the final prosper it deserved.

There is utter exhilaration and intense relief as Cambiasso drills the ball high into the net. In some routes goals the hell is built through patient passing moves are similar to 147 transgress in snooker. As they reach their denouement, the pressure mounts. Dont ruin it, must have been the recurring believe as Cambiasso and Crespo realised it was up to them to do justice to what had gone before them. They did not. As Cambiasso raced off to celebrate, clutching his shirt with two hands, Pkerman roared his approval from the sidelines, having watched his team score a aim that he had helped make possible by drumming into them the value of possession when many were still kids.

It would have particularly pleased Pkerman that it was Cambiasso, the epitome of a team player, “whos” the right place at the right time to score one of the great squad goals. There were echoes of the recently passed Carlos Albertos iconic goal for Brazil in the 1970 World Cup final in Cambiassos effort, merely with an even greater number of passes and a finish that was not as emphatic but still exhaustively assertive. A decade after it was scored, this goal is now considered by many as being the precursor to tiki-taka, when possession itself became a potent weapon in football.

It still haunts many Argentina fans that the class of 2006 did not go further than the quarter-finals, with Pkerman accused of blundering against Germany, going against his principles and substituting his pass master Riquelme for the more defensive qualities of Cambiasso in the 80 th minute and thus ceding the attacking initiative. Germany went on to equalise as Argentina became far less assured in possession. They lost on penalties, of course. Worse still, they disgraced themselves as a fight broke out at the end.

A fight breaks out at the end of Germanys victory over Argentina on penalties at the 2006 World Cup. Photograph: Frank Augstein/ AP

Pkerman resigned after the defeat. It is a great disgrace. His methods had imbued Argentina with the kind of on-the-ball authority that would serve Spain so well in their period of dominance between 2008 and 2012. But Pkerman can be proud that his team created something wonderful in Gelsenkirchen, something he deserved to oversee and take credit for given his key role in developing the players who induced it happen. The fact that it took a while to arrive built it all the more beautiful.

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As Kaepernick’s racial injustice protest makes the road, a country begins to talk | Dave Schilling

1 month, 9 days ago

Dave Schilling: As Colin Kaepernick took the field for his first game since his anthem protest made a media maelstrom, a nation continues to grapple with the implications

Ive almost slipped in vomiting twice since Ive is right there. The usual suspects have lunged their insults at one another from across the street. Ignore the chatter and this is just a football game a preseason football game, at that. Colin Kaepernick, the embattled San Francisco 49 ers quarterback, has come to San Diego to play the Chargers above all else. His silent protest against racially motivated police barbarism and the fight of the average African-American in this country sitting for the pre-game sing of “the member states national” anthem rather than standing is only part of the narrative. Football life goes on. A game must be played while the rest of us debate what it means.

The irony of Kaepernicks first game since his protest became a national talking phase being the 28 th annual Military Appreciation Night in a city that blithely plays host to all manner of armed forces facilities is lost on no one. This is a conservative town , not one to take lightly the notion that American has anything to learn from a millionaire black athlete. According to the 2010 United States Census, San Diego County is 64% white and under a full percentage black. Barack Obama was the only the second Democratic presidential candidate to win the county since World War II.

Kaepernick is not alone today. Hes joined in protest by team-mate Eric Reid and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane, who is playing in Oakland. Still, Kaepernicks entrance is booed. His first snap under centre is booed. And his second. And his third. In fact, every time he steps on the field, the crowd explosions in unvarnished abhorrence. Were treated to parachute teams carrying POW flags, fireworks showings, misty-eyed tributes, and a black Navy man, petty officer Steven Powell, singing the Star-Spangled Banner and God Bless America. The 49 ers march down the field and rating on their first drive 16 plays, 85 yards in eight minutes and 11 seconds. Kaepernick is unfazed, which only gives the Charger faithful more to jeer.

The second half begins and all goes back to normal. The haze of controversy lifts and behind it is preseason football contested by two teams that are unlikely to construct the playoffs. In the press box, unlike the rest of the stadium , no one is drunk enough to feign theyre having fun. There are no boos for the quarterbacks who take over for Kaepernick in the second half, Jeff Driskel and Christian Ponder. The 49 ers claw their route back from a deficit to win a meaningless tune-up contest. Its sports again. Nothing more , nothing less.

Two black Chargers fans from San Diego Andrea and Porsche wait for a ride home. I frankly dont know that much about it, Porsche says when I ask her about the disagreement. You didnt hear the boos, I shoot back. We didnt hear it from where we were sitting, Andrea answers, reminding me of the race and class disparity that is so pronounced at sporting events. But people were mad. They was mad at Jesus Christ, Porsche says. When I finally ask her about the problems behind Kaepernicks protest, Porsche sighs and whisperings, Im just tired. I dont blamed her.

At the hotel, two older white people emerge from a taxi: Joe, 56, a UPS delivery driver from Los Angeles Countys South Bay region and his mother Sandy, 73 both die-hard 49 ers fans enjoying their teams comeback victory and eager for a celebratory drinking. Unfortunately, Courtney, our bartender tells us the hotel bar is closed. After a little bit of good-natured pester, she agrees to sell all of us one drinking so we can discuss the above heady topic of race in America while slightly intoxicated.

Joe is a prototypical working class American male stout, thick, jovial, moralistic, but with a puckish curiosity about how the other half lives. I was hurt, he says when I enquire about his feelings toward his teams quarterback. I thought he was disrespectful to the nation. I understand his thoughts and notions about whats going on in this country, but I didnt exactly agree with the way “hes been gone” about it.

Tonight, instead of sitting during the course of its anthem, Kaepernick took a knee. Thats better than sitting on your ass. Im OK with taking a knee. Miraculously, Joe says he came to see the protest in a different lighting thanks to a lengthy conversation with Wesley, the hotel maintenance man who fixed his air conditioning. I agree to an extent the racial profiling that goes on in this country. I get it, he says. His mom isnt quite so pliable.

Me personally, I dont like the guy, Kaepernick. I call him another name, but I wont tell you because you cant print it, she says. But its the internet, we can say almost anything. I call him Cold Pecker. Ive always called him Cold Pecker and I always will. I mishear her. Cole Pecker? Is this a play on Daunte Culpepper? Because hes like a cold penis? He just seemed to have an attitude. I thought he didnt show well.

Quarterbacks are known for posture, for swagger, and for outsized personalities, arent they? The style he strolled, the style he talked, the style he acted, wasnt a Joe Namath, he wasnt a Joe Montana, she responds. Well, Joe Namath was pretty outspoken. In a different way. He was fun. This guy doesnt seem to have a personality about him. Hes not personable.

Such is the conundrum of the black athlete in America do it the route we tell you or dont do it at all. Mom is 73. Moms old-fashioned. I believe in the flag, I believe in saluting the flag. Honoring your parents and your elders and being nice to people, Sandy continues. I cant help but mention Muhammad Ali, a vocal black athlete who ran in so far as to refuse to serve in the military because of his notion. Not the same, she says. He was a showman. And the style he did it, he did it with a degree of class. He was funny. African-Americans can chase respectability, but the bar keeps moving. Even a silent, peaceful protest the is a lack of action can elicit disgust.

He shows up on our TV screen, dedicating a press conference, trying to find that line of respectability and class. Hes told reporters after Thursdays game that hes donating$ 1m of his salary to organizations that help communities. He means no harm toward the military. Taking a knee is a compromise. I like Joe and Sandy they mean well and they want to reach out to black folks but they have their moments too. If you stereotype people, and I sometimes do that, but he looks like a terrorist to me. Im sorry, but he does. Ill probably end up get sued. I respond: Fortunately for you, in this country, you can say that. Freedom of speech.

My wife was telling me whats going on in Baltimore. I havent considered any of that, Joe says as Wesley, the maintenance man shows up. I almost want to laugh, because theres something of the clich Magical Negro archetype from the movies in him. Its as though he materialized out of someones imagination to explain racism to these white people. Like Joe, hes a rugged working man with nary a clue of pretension, but an active mind.

I dont even think he “ve thought about it”, Wesley says to me about Kaepernick. Its just something that he did, because I dont think he was prepared for it. Im sure he knew thered has become a backlash, but he wasnt prepared for this backlash. That first interview he did after the social media universe went off on him, it was so choppy and so spotty and nothing was together. I dont think he thought it was going to make such an impact.

He continues: I think that theres a disparity in perspective. I think that we all see things differently. Instead of hearing why hes protesting, they assure the disrespect. Theyre not listening to what hes saying. Hes talking about something thats genuinely a problem.

Whats remarkable about watching Joe, Sandy and Wesley talk is that no matter who is speaking, the others listen. Before tonight, the two sides of this argument were strangers. Now, Joe has Wesleys cell number. He didnt change my intellect entirely. He gave me a new viewpoint, Joe says. What Colin Kaepernick did was beyond the scope of a football match, much more important than some boo during a preseason game. What hes done is force us to talk to each other about a topic that is almost too painful to approach head-on.

There are still some people that dont insure our struggle as a number of problems, Wesley says. Its that lack of empathy, that disinterest that is so maddening for so many black people in this country. People say were disrespectful. Were just saying theres something going on here. Lets work together. We can band together when theres someone else outside of our country attacking us, but when its in house, we take no offense to it. When youre household, you take offense if anyone says something about the black sheep of the family. We dont look at all Americans as household.

Id instead smooth it out and say hey, can we gratify in the middle somewhere, Sandy says as we finish our drinks. Tonight, that middle is a hotel bar in San Diego, but for the rest of the country, its a dreaming that sometimes feels too distant. Despite everything we disagree on, Sandy and I find common ground: we both order a vodka tonic. Its a start.

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Celtic beat Lincoln Red Imps to put Champions League slip-up behind them

1 month, 10 days ago

Celtic beat Lincoln Red Imps 3-0 to seal a 3-1 win on aggregate following the shock 1-0 defeat in the first leg of the Champions League qualifying tie

Lincoln Red Imps will prove nothing more than a footnote to the tenure of Brendan Rodgers at Celtic.

There should never have been any real doubt about that, the obvious raising of eyebrows after the Northern Irishmans first competitive game in charge of the Scottish champions resulting in defeat in Gibraltar aside. Celtic were the overwhelming favourites to turn this Champions League qualifying tie around on their own turn and duly did emphatically. In front of a close-to-capacity mob, Rodgers presided over a summertime stroll that was over as a competition within half an hour.

Even Celtics manager, in time, may raise a smile when the issue of Gibraltar is raised. Scottish football has not yet sunk to depths where glaringly limited sides such as the Red Imps can prevail over two legs. The next round, where Astana of Kazakhstan lie in wait, will provide Rodgers and his humen with a different exam entirely. Yet, Rodgers has visibly raised high levels of optimism during the course of its early weeks in post.

I was delighted with the attitude of the players, Rodgers said. I was delighted with the way we took to the game right from kick-off. We scored three but I believe their goalkeeper stopped it being doubled figures.

I am pleased to qualify. That was the objective here. The intensity from the start was outstanding.

By round three, Celtic hope to have added necessary depth of talent to a lopsided squad. Rodgers has targeted a centre-back and a winger as matters of priority. We have another difficult tie-in, on a plastic pitching, but we will be ready for it, Rodgers said of Astana.

Rodgers had not so much been taken aback by the scale of reaction to last weeks loss in Gibraltar as refused to cow to it. The former Liverpool manager played down any sense of first-leg shock and, in doing so, staunchly refused to scold his players. That approach was notable and perhaps admission of shortcomings of his own, the deployment of two holding midfielders among them. Within one Glasgow half, Rodgers sense of calm had been fully endorsed.

Celtics set-up was altered here. A three-man defense was utilized, with Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembl afforded opportunity to stake their suit as a forward pairing.

The hosts swarmed around the Red Imps from kick-off. Celtic believed they had a 10 th-minute penalty, only for the referee to alter his decision and award a free-kick instead. Griffiths flamed that over.

Within seconds, Callum McGregor had crashed a shot off the crossbar.

Already, there was inevitability attached to Celtic squaring the affiliation. McGregor was denied again with 18 minutes played, this time by a terrific low save from Ral Navas. Mikael Lustig was to provide the opening objective, the Swedish defender swivelling before turning the ball home. Red Imps had earlier failed to clear a Stuart Armstrong free-kick from Celtics right flank.

Griffiths soon doubled the Celtic advantage. The striker, so prolific last season, continued this theme with a fierce drive from 18 yards. Only 25 minutes into the game, it was already a matter of how many Celtic would choose to score. Red Imps were chasing shadows.

Patrick Roberts notched the third and one are worth praise, despite the lowly level of opposition. The Manchester City loanee danced through the visiting defence, playing a neat one-two with McGregor before rendering an equally composed finish. Roberts was the standout musician of the opening period and a constant menace to a bamboozled Red Imps defence.

Celtics superiority entailed the second half was always likely be an exercise in “re going through” the motions. It duly transpired as such. Red Imps had brief flirtings with the edge of the Celtic penalty area but never seemed to have the faith or talent to make that presence counting. At the other aim, Navas saved brilliantly when Griffiths bore down on goal.

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Mesut Ozil adopts the mantle of Arsenal’s double-winning mentality

1 month, 15 days ago

Arsenals Premier League title bid has, in no small component, been down to Mesut Ozil, who does the damage and is inducing the difference

One year ago, a debate about which players Arsenal might really depend on if the pressure was on would not often indicate Mesut Ozil as written answers. At the time the clubs record signing, yet to overrule a general consensus that he was a luxury item, had been off the radar for a while. Having come back from the 2014 World Cup tired, he drifted through the first couple of months of the season, got injured and spent three months regaining. Last January he reappeared not that many imagined he was about to step on to an upward curve so captivating it may as well have been crafted with a brush of his left foot.

Perceptions about Ozil have been revised over the past year. Where his languid body language built critics carp , now it represents clever, elusive movement. Where resisting defenders sought to rough him up and squeeze him out of video games , now they know he is strong enough to handle it and slice them open. Where fans doubted he would be the protagonist in the biggest challenges , now they expect him to wave his wand.

Arsene Wenger, grateful to welcome Ozil back into his team after skipping two out of the last three games( he took a breather for the FA Cup third round and rested his sore toe for last weekends trip-up to Stoke) gave an interesting insight into how the 27 -year-old has become an unexpected leader in his own way at Arsenal. He will never be a shouty commandant but on the pitching he is a technological leader and off it emits the various kinds of presence that ensures when he talks, everyone listens.

Hes not an extrovert, as you know, says Wenger, but hes demanding from his partners. That description applied to Dennis Bergkamp, and the comparing made Wengers eyes light up. Bergkamp was a huge figure in the dressing room in his time. He could be an introvert but was also funny, sharp, observant, and spoke with piercing accuracy. Yes, Ozil is a bit like that, adds Wenger. He is not that guy who stands up and speaks too much but every time he says something it is just straight to the point. The manager snaps his fingers for emphasis.

Going back to Bergkamp, there is the story of Tony Adams feeling a compulsion to say a few strong terms to the Dutchman when he saw him sitting quietly on the team bus after an FA Cup fourth-round match at Middlesbrough in January 1998. Youve is right there two and a half years now, Dennis, isnt it about day you won something? Adams asked. It would be a disgrace not to, with your ability.

Arsene Wenger lauds Mesut Ozil.

Come the summer of 1998, Bergkamp had inspired Arsenal towards the double and was voted Footballer of the Year. Adams point was that he wanted to push Bergkamp, to elevate his performances so that they had substance as well as style. Do the damage. Make the difference.

Ozil appears to have had his own eureka moment. As well as being more robust, the consequence of extra work at the gym to bulk up during that post-World Cup lay-off, these days he carries himself with more swagger. He now wants to do the damage. Make the difference. I am super happy with the No10 position and I will confirm that trust, Ozil pledged on this seasons eve. So far “hes having” been true to his word.

When he was shunted out of Real Madrid in 2013 as they sought to raise funds to buy Gareth Bale, perhaps it is understandable if he saw the move to Arsenal as a step down, something that would be easy. To flourish, he needed to reboot himself. Arsenals Ozil 2.0 plays with heightened levels of responsibility and determination. If he had been without Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla for several weeks a year ago to share the creative energy, would he have been able to pull the team along as he has recently? Apart from the 4-0 blip at Southampton on Boxing Day, Arsenal have coped quite well in this phase without Sanchez, Cazorla and the supporting act Francis Coquelin.

This hardened spirit is what Wenger wants over the next few weeks ahead as Arsenal try to push on in the title race. He has guided squads over the line, and others that fell short. The ability to keep our fighting spirit and togetherness is what he believes induces the difference.

The qualities that have come out of our team up to now are essentially mental. To keep that spirit is necessarily be vital for us because every game is very tight. Sometimes before, we had a team that had a margin of security. What has changed now in the Premier League is that every game is a massive fight.

Spirit is a bit like the climate in England. It can change very quickly. And we have to take care of that. It is something that is very fragile, to maintain that under pressure, frustrations, traumata. That is our task. Thats why all the older players have this kind of responsibility to take care of our unity.

Wenger is looking to his experienced men for that. The knowhow of Petr Cech, Per Mertesacker, Sanchez and Ozil, who have all won major accolades, will be leaned on.

Although Arsenal might have ideally wanted more points from their last two away games at Liverpool and Stoke, keeping their momentum going while missing leading player sets them up for the visit of Chelsea, the first in a sequence of four home games from five before the sudden change of pace that will come with the Champions League visit of Barcelona.

Wenger believes his squad have become stronger, perhaps a little wiser, since they last fulfilled Chelsea. That defeat in September riled because of the ugly episode involving Gabriel and Diego Costa, on which the game hinged.

The Arsenal manager agrees that his team needed to show a bit more spite to cope with the toughest tournaments. I believe we have shown since that game that we can do it, we can face big opposes, he says. We have improved on that front. We have to combine the fighting spirit with a relaxed stance and a controlled attitude. We have to be controlled. Discipline is very important in big games.

Would he go in so far as to ask his players to perform on the edge that Costa treads? I dont know, he meditates. Its difficult for me to talk too much about Chelsea. We can master and control our own behaviour. What is important is that we focus on us. Experience helps but what will help more than anything is the quality of our performances. Sunday is a big one for us on that front.

The onus is on the big talents to lead the way.

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Tyson Fury: the boxer who picked a fight with the world | Barney Ronay

1 month, 20 days ago

Over the Christmas weekend, United Airlines was accused by a passenger of stealing her first class seat and devoting it Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. Via Jean-Marie Simon, the passenger:
Sheila Jackson Lee( D-Texas) in seat 1A the one I paid for dearly, and the one United dedicated to her without my consent or knowledge! Fellow congressman on same flight said she does it repeatedly. @united Q2c6u6B0Yp

— Jean-Marie Simon (@ JeanMarieSimon1) December 23, 2017

According to Simon, a” fellow Congressman” told her that Lee does this all the time: BTAG 2 TT 12/18: United gave my paid 1stclass seat( 1A) on #788 to Sheila Jackson Lee. United: “not our fault, “but SJL escorted on by uniformed United b/ 4 pre-board military, babies, disabilities. Fellow Congressman said he saw her do it 3x; it’s”embarrassing.” #sheilajacksonle #unitedAIRLINES

— Jean-Marie Simon (@ JeanMarieSimon1) December 19, 2017

BTAG 3 TT Rep. SheilaJacksonLee( D-TX) took my United 1A seat Houston-DC on 12/18/ 17. I was at Gate E IAH w/ 1st class boarding pass, early; she had United wipe my seat and entire reservation from system.Congressman on plane said he’s considered her do it 2x before. Dishonor on you! @JacksonLeeTX18

— Jean-Marie Simon (@ JeanMarieSimon1) December 21, 2017

The AP reported that United has since apologized to Simon, and that’s been picked up by a variety of other media outlets: BTAG 4 TT United Airline apologizes after giving passenger’s seat to a congresswoman https :// fYwSukjs6 7

— TIME (@ TIME) December 26, 2017

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Read more: https :// gregp-3 534/2017/ 12/26/ united-has-not-apologized-woman-who-accused-rep-sheila-jackson-lee-of-stealing-her-seat-fact-checks-media /~ ATAGEND

The new heavyweight champ has caused outrage with his comments about homosexuality, women and religion. More than 80,000 have demanded his disqualification from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. But is there another side to this divisive sporting star?

The year 2013 is right for Jessica Ennis-Hill, the early favourite for this years BBC Sports Personality of the Year( Spoty) awarding. Already an Olympic champion, Ennis-Hill was made a CBE and offered the Freedom of the City of Sheffield. Similarly, Andy Murray, the second favourite for this years BBC gong, won Wimbledon, watched by his wonderfully supportive family, and later became an OBE.

For Tyson Fury, the newly crowned heavyweight champ of the world and a late entrant on the listing for the BBCs top award, 2013 was a bit more complicated. Rewind two years and Fury, an foreigner even in an outsider athletic, was busy telling an interviewer before his first oppose at Madison Square Garden that he would hang his own sister if she was promiscuous. In March that year, he was fined APS3, 000 for calling fellow fighters David Price and Tony Bellew gay lovers. In September, he was publicly pleading for the release from prison of his father, Gypsy John Fury, who was serving nine years for gouging a mans eye out during a street oppose albeit a human who was, according to Gypsy John, attempting to chew his face off at the time.

Tyson Fury cannot be a dickhead and win Sports Personality of the Year, says BBCs Clive Myrie.

Little wonder the presence of Fury on the Spoty shortlist has created such friction over the past week. More than 82,000 people have now signed a petition indicating Furys opinions on homosexuality should disqualify him from the BBC awards. The trigger was an interview before his title fight with Wladimir Klitschko last month. Fury had, as he tends to, begun discussing Armageddon and the end of the world, offering up the opinion that the legalising of abortion, paedophilia and homosexuality equivalents in his scriptural reads would signify a kind of Old Testament-derived reckoning.

A week afterward, interviewed about his previous interview, Fury threatened to have the journalist involved violently beaten up by his entourage. In the same interview, he was asked his opinion of Ennis-Hill. Thats the runner, isnt it? Shes good, shes won quite a few medals, she slaps up good as well, Fury replied. When shes got a dress on she seems quite fit.

He was, to be fair, fostering on matters of female boxers, applauding their choice to enter the athletic, before adding weirdly: I believe a womans best place is in the kitchen and on her back. Thats my personal notion. Making me a good cup of tea, thats what I believe. Tyson, thanks. And on that bombshell its back to you, Sue Barker, in the studio.

If there is something startling about hearing these kind of views voiced by an -Alist sportsperson in the mainstream media, then the sense of worlds colliding, of something raw and genuinely other about the current heavyweight champ, extends route beyond the BBCs annual vicars tea party. Those hearing that jabbering Lancastrian monotone for the first time, taking in that 6ft 9in( 2.06 m) shaven-headed, motor-mouthed, deeply menacing figure, might be seduced to reject Fury as simply a bully and a goon, a Twitter troll induced flesh, Dapper Laughs with muscles. Seem a little bit closer and it might be easy to write him off as a injury plenty, some deep male nightmare of rage and exclusion, unformed and raw, blinking in the illumination, Beowulf licking his chops.

Wladimir Klitschko v Tyson Fury in DA1/ 4sseldorf on
29 November. Photograph: Rolf Vennenbernd/ DPA/ Corbis

The truth, as ever, is less clear-cut. Fury is more than simply a cartoon, something other than simply a tedious loudmouth. At the very least, hes an interesting loudmouth, by all close accounts that rare specimen, the tender and personable bully, a macho braggart who also acknowledges to being terribly fragile beneath the bluster.

But then boxing is a athletic that has always inhabited the margins. This is a genuinely extreme sort of human activity, a matter of formalised violence and sculpted rage, practised in the main by those with little opportunity to pursue anything else.

For all the noise and violence, it is impossible to become a champion boxer without possessing supreme high levels of discipline, competitive intelligence and tactical wit. Fury spoke like a dolt either side of his world title bout in Dusseldorf last month. But, in the midst of it all, he fought a brilliantly controlled, intelligent heavyweight bout to take the title, a staggering achievement for a man who, five years ago, was living in a caravan in Morecambe, and whose life has been a peculiarly extreme mixture of the disorderly and the doctrinal.

Born in Manchester into a family of Irish Traveller heritage, Fury was named after Mike Tyson by his father, himself a former pro heavyweight. He has described his childhood as a kind of rolling trauma. When I was a kid, we didnt have a family life. My mom and parent were always hollering and calling and reaching each other. My dad had different women and different kids down the road. My mum had 14 pregnancies but only four of us survived.

Fury was trained by his father and uncles, and was a good, if not exactly stellar, junior, becoming national champ in 2008. Success now is unlikely to change a comparatively humble lifestyle. Fury still lives in Lancashire. Husband to Paris, parent to Venezuela and Prince, with another baby on the way, he can be, according to those who know him, a hospitable, gentle, funny, talkative, slightly disarming presence.

He has apologised for his comments about Price and Bellew. A statement put under by his uncle Peter Fury last week read: I would like to put on record that I am not homophobic. I have homosexual friends and I do not judge them because of their sexuality. My commentaries that you may have read are from the holy scriptures, and this is what I live from.

Fury in 2008. Photograph: Manchester Evening News Syndication

If there is a degree of disarray in Furys public positions, there is a clarity in his view of his own fighting fate, which he sees as a mix of two righteous traditions. Not only was his father a fighter, Fury is also a remote relative of Bartley Gorman, the bare-knuckle king of the 1970 s and 80 s who fought in quarries and at horse fairs, and who remains a Traveller legend. I am fighting royalty, Fury once said. I have Gypsy kings on both sides of the family.

This ethnicity is, for Fury, crucial. People have got to understand that our lifestyle is altogether, entirely different, he has said. We may be the same colour, and we may speak the same speech, but deep inside we are nothing alike. We are aliens. In Furys version, this is a muscular, patriarchal world of blood ties and blood feud, where women have no rights( In our culture it is all about “the mens”, the men can do everything, and women only clean and cook and have children and look after that man ).

It was here, in the idea of noble familial tradition, that the idea of murdering his sister first cropped up in public: That is our route. Just like the Muslims have their routes. We have our routes. There are these girls who want to open their legs to every Tom, Dick and Harry. But they are looked upon as rubbish in our community. We dont do stuffs like that. If I had a sister who did that Id hang her. She would bring disgrace on the family. It is a very, very bad thing to do. We dont do that. Women have to be pure and respectful.

Men, meanwhile, must oppose. If you want to fight, you take your shirt off, you go outside and you have a knuckle-up, and the best man shakes his hand and they go off for a beverage, Fury has said. Ive had hundreds of challenges at Traveller meets. They get a few beers in them and they start thinking they are Tyson or Ali; throwing punches, swearing and jumping around with their big fat bellies. Id love to knock a few of them out.

Fury celebrates with his wife Paris after beating Klitschko. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/ Reuters

There is almost an underdog warrior monarch aspect to all this, a Hollywood-ish quality, in an emissary of this fat-bellied, car-park-fighting tradition becoming the heavyweight champion of the world. That is, if you are able soft-pedal the other side of this twin sense of fate: Furys rigidly censorious kind of born-again Christianity. Like quite a few violently newsworthy young men these days, the current heavyweight champ is also a religious zealot. Fury was radicalised by his uncle Ernest, a born-again Christian and preacher. It is from his read of the Bible that his more controversial, illiberal faiths appears to springtime, including the idea that the correct penalty for paedophiles( a recurrent theme, for some reason) would be to let them in a room with me and two hammers, Ill smash them to pieces.

Beyond religion, beyond family, the third component in this holy trinity of outsiderdom is depression. Those who gratify Fury often talk about his sudden tenderness, the startling contrast between a boxers bombast and some genuinely open and frank dark-night-of-the-soul stuff. Others can feel disturbed by a human who talks about the world ending, and objective it all, with alarming frequency. I do sometimes suppose life is pointless, Fury told the Guardian Donald McRae in 2011. One minute Im over the moon and the next minute I feel like get in my automobile and running it into a wall at a hundred miles an hour. I dont know whats wrong with me. Im messed up.

As, for now, is the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, clouded not only by Furys presence but by a more generalised sense of embarrassment. Certainly, the idea that sportspeople should be ushered out of sight because a voluble majority aversion their political and religion opinions is unlikely to leave us with many left to look at. Hopefully I dont win @BBCSPOTY as Im not the best roll model[ sic] in the world for the children, give it to someone who would appreciate it, Fury tweeted shortly after the petition against his presence had been launched. Ragged, raw, funny, blinkered, tetchy, champing, dunderheaded: Fury is both a genuine sport superstar and a voice from the fringes, unvarnished, untempered, unapologetic. One thing is certain: he is unlikely to go away any time soon.

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