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    Former Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink believed 2009 Champions League semi-final vs Barcelona could have been ‘fixed’

    GUUS HIDDINK thought Chelsea’s 2009 Champions League semi-final defeat to Barcelona might have been fixed – even though the referee owned up to making mistakes.The Blues were denied a spot in the final after the official Tom Henning Ovrebo made a series of blunders.
    Guus Hiddink had to hold back a furious Didier Drogba after the 2009 tieCredit: AP:Associated Press
    Hiddink, manager of Chelsea at the time, branded the officiating as ‘the worst refereeing I have ever seen’.
    He told Ziggo Sport in 2020: “The referee performance surprised me, because in the past he’d had perfect performances.
    “Is it the worst refereeing I’ve ever seen? I think so.”
    The Dutchman alleged: “This is the only time I thought a match could’ve been fixed.”
    Barca went on to beat Manchester United in the final with the Blues waiting until 2012 to claim their maiden crown – a tally they doubled in 2021.
    Hiddink claims football chiefs would not have wanted a repeat of the all-English final between Chelsea and United the year before, won by the Red Devils on spot-kicks.
    But in an interview with SunSport in February 2018, Norwegian whistler Ovrebo admitted to making genuine mistakes during the match.
    Ovrebo, who works as a psychologist in Oslo now, turned down FOUR Blues’ penalty claims before Chelsea were cruelly eliminated by Andres Iniesta’s 94th-minute strike for Barca which put them through on away goals.
    Death threats were made after the game, while straight after the match Blues striker Didier Drogba verbally attacked the ref, and later received a five-match ban.
    Ovrebo said: “I was happy with 95 per cent of my decisions. But there were some decisions that were not dealt with in the correct manner.
    “One handball earlier in the game should have been a penalty. People will always have different opinions about the game.
    “But everyone agrees the refereeing that night was not optimal. And I am the first to agree with them.”
    At the time Uefa dismissed the conspiracy theories around the game.
    Uefa general secretary David Taylor said: “If anything it’s a media conspiracy against Uefa.
    “It does make me angry. It really annoys me because it’s a load of rubbish.” More

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    Real Madrid flop Eden Hazard is keen to play for Fenerbahce before retiring, claims former chief of Turkish giants

    EDEN HAZARD has vowed to play for Turkish giants Fenerbahce before he retires, according to former club chief Hasan Cetinkaya.The Belgium talisman, who moved to Real Madrid from Chelsea in a £150million deal in 2019, has told Cetinkaya he will play for the Turkish Super Lig side one day.
    Eden Hazard has vowed to play for Fenerbahce before his career ends, claims the club’s former chief
    Cetinkaya revealed last year: “Eden Hazard is an old friend of mine, I’ve known him since he was 15 or 16 years old and still played for Lille.
    “He had incredible sympathy for Fenerbahce and gave me his word: ‘Hasan, one day I’ll play for Fenerbahce, I just do not know when that will be.'”
    Cetinkaya, who is now vice-president of Belgian club Westerlo, revealed that Fenerbahce were interested in Hazard, 32, at the start of his career.
    He also revealed that Fenerbahce were interested in Hazard at the start of his career.
    Cetinkaya said: “He was 16 when he played for Lille, they had him, Gervinho and Sow, but we could only attract Sow to us.
    “And then Hazard reached a different dimension, he was one of the greatest talents in Europe, and I wish he had, time will tell, Eden Hazard will one day play for Fenerbahce.”
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    Hazard has endured a frustrating time at Real after being hit by countless injuries.
    He even APOLOGISED for his flop spell at the Santiago Bernabeu last year.
    And he also admitted he could seek a transfer exit next summer – which could be Fenerbahce on red alert.
    Hazard told Marca: “I’m sorry. I’m trying, but … I’m sorry.
    “I have one more year and I have to show [what I can do] but it isn’t easy. I’m not playing, I want to play more. I’m really sorry about what has happened.
    “In January it’s impossible (to leave, because I have my family and I like the city)
    “But in the summer it’s possible that I leave. I have a year left on my contract and it’s a decision for the club.
    “If the club says ‘Eden, thanks for these four years, but you have to go’ I’ll have to accept it.

    “[I’d give myself] a zero in terms of playing, because I haven’t played,” he said, when asked to grade his time at Madrid. “But a 10 in terms of how I feel in this moment with the team. I’m not playing, but being a Real Madrid player was my dream as a kid. I want to play for this club.” More

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    Chelsea transfer target Benoit Badiashile was France wonderkid, once told off by Thierry Henry for his bad manners

    YOU always want to be on the good side of your manager.But when French wonderkid Benoit Badiashile was just 19, he forgot his manners in front of former Monaco boss Thierry Henry, he was quickly reminded.
    French wonderkid Benoit Badiashile has signed for Chelsea
    But Badiashile once upset Thierry Henry when he forgot to tuck his chair in after a press conference
    A lot has changed for the uncompromising centre-back – who has reportedly agreed terms with Chelsea, ahead of a blockbuster move to the Blues for a fee reported fee north of £35million.
    But in December 2018, at a press conference ahead of Monaco’s must-win match against Borussia Dortmund in a Champions League tie – Badiashile was reprimanded for not putting his manager’s needs first.
    Badiashile was sat alongside the Arsenal legend answering reporters’ questions, and when the pair finished they jumped up from their seats to leave the room.
    However, poor Benoit forgot to tuck his chair in and Henry glared at him like a naughty schoolboy until the youngster returned to the table to correct his mistake.
    Since then, Badiashile has risen through the ranks – impressing under Niko Kovac and most recently Philippe Clement to become one of the most sought-after defenders in world football.
    Despite infuriating his ex-manager, Badiashile was bled into the team by Henry who quickly realised the towering defender’s qualities.
    This season Badiashile has become a key part of Monaco’s defence as they chase the Ligue 1 titleCredit: AFP or licensors
    The 6ft 4in France under-21 international has gone on to play 135 times for the club since making his debut in the 2018-19 season.
    And when Henry was fired from the Stade Louis II, experienced manager Leonardo Jardim continued to integrate the prodigy into his side – installing a greater defensive discipline into Badiashile, although his appearances were more limited.
    And in reent seasons Badiashile has shone as manager have come and go.BROTHERS IN ARMS
    Born in France, and raised by Congolese parents – Badiashile dreamed of playing professional football.
    But it was his elder goalkeeping brother who made the grade first.
    Henry gave Badiashile his debut for MonacoCredit: AFP or licensors
    Loic Badiashile, now 24, is also highly thought of at Monaco – and made his first team debut in a UEFA Champions League qualifier against Fenerbache in 2016.
    It ended in a disappointing 2-1 loss, and it seems that bad results on their debuts runs in the Badiashile family.
    When Benoit was thrown into the side against PSG, the Red and Whites were taught a lesson.
    He was helpless as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and former striker Edinson Cavani put Monaco to the sword, with the Uruguayan netting a hat-trick.
    It was a rude awakening for the teen sensation, but it didn’t destroy his confidence and he showed incredible mental strength to shrug that disappointment off.
    That courageous spirit is just one of Badiashile’s many qualities tha caught the eye of Europe’s top club, including Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Man Utd
    For his strong frame, his pace and ability to read the game and snuff out danger before it arrives is reminiscent of Chelsea star Kalidou Koulibaly,
    A powerhouse at the back, he’s tough to get past, but as with most young defenders positionally he can drift away from his man.
    That said, coaches for the French national team believe he’s the next big thing and have high hopes for Badiashile.
    Badiashile is strong, athletic and reads the game wellCredit: Getty – Contributor
    A France under-21 international, Badiashile is expected to become a full internationalCredit: Instagram
    Badiashile could be a big hit in the Premier League if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decides to sign him from FranceCredit: Instagram
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    He’s been capped at under-16 level – all the way through to the under-21’s for France – and has two caps at full level.
    Benoit revealed that Manchester United DID bid for him in 2020, however he snubbed a £22million move. His time in the Premier League, though, is now set to come. More

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    Chelsea talent Charlie Webster, 18, has been called the ‘next Jadon Sancho’ and wowed Kevin De Bruyne in KDB Cup

    GENERATIONAL talents are becoming the norm at Stamford Bridge.In the past few years, thanks to Frank Lampard, Thomas Tuchel and now Graham Potter, Chelsea’s youth talents are thriving in the first team.
    Chelsea wonderkid Charlie Webster is next off the conveyor belt at Stamford BridgeCredit: Getty
    Webster might get his opportunity in the Chelsea first team under Grahan PotterCredit: Getty
    Mason Mount wowed all and is the back-to-back Chelsea player of the season, while Reece James seems to be winning the bumper race to be Gareth Southgate’s first-choice right-back.
    And now, there’s another name you can add to the list of youngsters hoping to get their chance under Potter.
    England’s Charlie Webster, 18, is a rising star and has already been tracked by Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.
    He’s been called the ‘next Jadon Sancho’, and with the Bundesliga giants losing the Three Lions winger last summer they might just make a beeline for Charlie.
    At just 15, Webster had Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne wowed by his ability.
    The setting was the prestigious KDB Cup – an international U15 tournament named after the Belgium ace – with the midfielder as the guest of honour.
    Players from clubs including Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and PSG were on show – all desperate to impress.
    It was Chelsea that ended up being victorious – beating Racing Genk on penalties after an exciting 2-2 draw.
    Star of the show was Webster, and his performances didn’t go unnoticed.
    Blues starlet Webster has been called the ‘next Jadon Sancho’
    Webster starred at the KDB Cup in 2019

    He was awarded player of the tournament – winning a golden ball, as well as a signed De Bruyne shirt.
    One feels it could be the first of many awards headed Webster’s way in the future.
    In similar vein to Billy Gilmour, who joined Brighton in the summer, Webster is a cultured midfielder – good on the ball and smart in possession.
    However, unlike the Scot who prefers to dictate play from deep – Webster likes to get in the box and score goals.
    He started playing football at the Pezzaz Street Soccer academy, which have bases in Wiltshire and Hampshire, before joining Chelsea in 2016 at the age of 12.
    Coaches there believe he has a bright future in the game, and in the past Webster has spoken about his football dream.
    “Obviously, it’s to play for this brilliant club,” he told a reporter at the KDB Cup after starring for the Blues.
    Webster is a cultured midfielder, good on the ball and in possession
    In the past Webster has said it was his dream to play for “brilliant” ChelseaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Webster’s qualities have seen him earmarked as a leader.
    In 2019, he captained England’s U16 team in a match against Republic of Ireland – scoring his first international goal.
    He’s also played for the Three Lions’ U17s – coming off the bench in a 4-1 rout over the USA in 2020.
    And that was the same month Webster made his U18 Premier League debut for Chelsea against Southampton, followed by his U23 debut last April.
    Then in January 2021, Charlie signed his first professional contract with the club on his 17th birthday. Given his progress, you can imagine it’ll be the first of many.
    Webster has captained England at U16 levelCredit: Getty More

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    Chelsea stars Reece and Lauren James become the first brother and sister pair to play for England and are ‘living dream’

    IN the case of the James clan, it’s very much about keeping it in the family.This weekend, Lauren James earned her first cap for England – coming as a substitute against Austria as Sarina Wiegman’s European Champions booked their place at the World Cup with a 2-0 win.
    Chelsea stars Reece and Lauren James are the first brother and sister to play for EnglandCredit: EPA
    Reece and Lauren James have become professional footballers with the help of dad NigelCredit: Instagram / @rjames
    James made her debut for the Three Lions against Austria over the weekend
    In doing so, she joined her famous brother Reece in becoming a full England international. They are now the first brother and sister to play for the Three Lions, in what is a remarkable achievement.
    While Reece has just signed a new five-year deal with the Blues

    It’s astounding that two talented footballers of the men’s and women’s game are even playing professionally, not to mention representing their country.
    But the London-born pair are living the dream. Part of their success is due to their incredible father, Nigel.
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    A motorbike accident halted his promising career, after spells at Luton Town and Southampton.
    Nigel found his true calling through mentoring youngsters and later set up Nigel James Elite Coaching programme.
    It’s testament to him, his son and his daughter would eventually become pros.
    Reece, 22, and Lauren, 20, grew up in London with football an ongoing backdrop in their lives.
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    As well as a father with footballing aspirations, their elder brother Joshua was on the books of Fulham and Reading. Their mother Emma worked admirably for the NHS.
    If the three siblings weren’t kicking a ball against a wall, they would be down the park honing their skills.
    Often, their dad who would pass on his knowledge and put the three through training drills and exercises.
    Lauren and Reece have always shared a tight bond together
    The siblings grew up in London with football as their backdrop
    Reece and Lauren enjoy a kickabout togetherCredit: Instagram @laurennjjames
    Dad Nigel coached Reece, Lauren and their brother Joshua in the local park
    “We grew up as a three,” Reece of Chelsea proudly told the Blues official website.
    “Obviously, Josh learned from my dad and then it just passed its way down. I started playing because my brother played, and my sister played because I played.
    “We all used to play every day together at the park and over time we all gradually got better. There was a field behind my house, with two pitches, and every day I’d be playing football, either in the field or in the street.”
    Lauren, who joined her brother at Chelsea this summer, echoes the sentiment that the beautiful game dominated their lives.
    “All I ever knew was football, football and football,” she told The Telegraph.
    “My brothers got me into football. Whether it was when Josh was at Fulham or when Reece was at the Chelsea academy, I was there kicking the ball against the fence.
    “I’ve always had a football and it has just taken me to where I am now.”
    Reece was an early bloomer when it came to his footballing talent.
    By the age of six he joined Chelsea’s impressive development academy, where he progressed through the ranks.
    James joined Chelsea’s youth set-up aged six
    James progressed through Chelsea’s youth teams and won a FA Youth CupCredit: Getty – Contributor
    However, it took him some time to find his best position. He started off as a striker, moved into midfield and then had to learn the art of defending.
    Once he cemented the right-back as his own, there was no stopping him. In the 2017-18 season, he appeared for England at U18, U19 and U20 level.
    A loan at Wigan Athletic the following campaign saw Reece named as their Player of the Year.
    Once he made his debut against Grimsby in the EFL Cup in 2019, scoring one and assisting two, he could no longer be ignored for a first team spot.
    Lauren might be slightly younger than Reece, but her achievements are just as impressive.
    At 13 she joined Arsenal, and because of her experience with playing with her brothers was encouraged to train with the boys’ team.
    Two years later, the prolific forward made her first team debut for the Gunners women’s team – beating Reece to the punch there.
    She created history in the process becoming the youngest player in Arsenal’s history male or female to make their bow for the club.
    In 2017, she moved to the newly reformed Manchester United women’s team to take on a new challenge in a city she never knew.
    In 2017, Lauren James joined Manchester United’s newly formed women’s teamCredit: Getty
    Since joining the Red Devils, James has thrived scoring 27 goals in 54 gamesCredit: Getty
    But that didn’t deter the brave teen, who scored 14 goals in 18 league games as the Red Devils won promotion from the Championship at the first time of asking to the Women’s Super League.
    This summer, Lauren joined Reece at Chelsea – where she has scored once in her five games so far this campaign.
    As is a sad indictment of our times, both Reece and Lauren have been targeted with online racist abuse.
    They are united in their efforts to encourage social media companies to do more with their platforms in stopping racism.
    “When we both get messages like that, we turn to each other and discuss it,” Reece said.
    “I think everyone agrees and knows that what’s happening with social media and racism is wrong. Everyone says they want to change, but not many things are changing.”
    Although they share a competitive nature on the pitch, Reece and Lauren only have a mutual respect for each other’s achievements.
    But Lauren knew she had to emulate her brother by following his footsteps into the England squad.
    “We are not usually competitive,” she revealed.
    “When he got his senior England call-up, it was like, “Right, he got his, I’ve got to get mine now. That’s probably the only time and I laugh about it now.”
    Reece earned his first cap against Wales last October, while a month later Lauren received a senior national team call-up as part of a 29-player training camp at St George’s Park.
    Despite their careers mirroring one another, Reece is adamant they can’t be compared.
    Reece James has become a regular in the England squad since his first call-up last OctoberCredit: Marc Aspland – The Times
    His sister Lauren James celebrated an England call-up last November when she was included in a 29-man squadCredit: Getty
    “I wouldn’t say there’s competition,” he said.
    “You know, she is my sister. Our games are the same, our professions are the same, but it’s still different. I play men’s football when she plays women’s football, you can’t compare them.”
    No. But you can applaud their success. They are, after all, living the dream. More