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    Where England’s 2010 Under-17 European Championship winning team are now, including ex-Man Utd ace and Chelsea outcast

    ENGLAND fans might remember 2010 as they year the Three Lions crashed out of the World Cup in the last-16 to Germany on the back of a highly contentious no-goal decision.
    But that same summer, the Young Lions were victorious at the Under-17 European Championships in Liechtenstein.

    England’s youth team fought back from a goal down to beat a Spain team featuring the likes of Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu 2-1 in the final.
    Many of the players in the squad from that day were tipped for big things in the future.
    However, despite their early promise, the starting XI have mostly flopped at senior level.
    Take a look back at the starters from that May day in 2010 and where they are now.

    Heralded as a potential goalie legend, Butland started off his career at Birmingham before moving to Stoke City in a £3.5million deal.
    He made his full debut for England in a 2012 defeat to Italy – and is still to this day the youngest goalie to ever play for the Three Lions.
    In 2015, he was handed the No1 jersey by Mark Hughes when Asmir Begovic left for Chelsea.
    However, a series of injuries to a bothersome ankle hampered his progress.

    Still only 27, Butland returned to form last season to be named player of the season by supporters.
    Currently, he’s down the pecking order at Crystal Palace after moving to the Eagles in the summer.

    Jack Butland is currently No2 at Crystal PalaceCredit: PA:Press Association
    Originally a promising Middlesbrough full-back, Pilatos signed for Swedish side Ytterhogdal in 2016 after failing to secure first-team football.
    He was released again in 2017, and in 2018 spent two months in Scotland with Livingston FC, according to his LinkedIn page.
    Currently Pilatos is a free agent.

    Predicted to be the heir to Leighton Baines, Garbutt was an attacking left-back in a similar mould to the Everton legend.
    But he failed to establish himself with the Toffees, and was sold to Blackpool in 2020.
    He also had several loans with Ipswich Town – and has enjoyed loan spells at Fulham, Wigan and Oxford United in the past.

    Luke Garbutt failed to make the grade at EvertonCredit: Dave Pinegar – The Sun
    When Chalobah was starring at centre half for England’s U17 team he was a promising Chelsea starlet, alongside brother Trevoh.
    In 2012 he enjoyed a loan at Watford, impressed at Middlesbrough and Reading, which saw a move to Napoli.
    Five years later, upon his return to the Blues, he was sold to Watford, where he has enjoyed some success but has suffered with injuries.

    Nathaniel Chalobah has struggled with injuries at WatfordCredit: PA:Press Association
    The central defender managed to make 22 appearances with Liverpool, often at right-back.
    But it was always going to be a big ask to break into a Reds side brimming with talent.
    He has been playing in the Championship with Derby since 2017 after impressing on loan there during the 2013-14 season.

    Andre Wisdom has been playing in the Championship with Derby since 2017Credit: JOHN CLIFTON
    Coady failed to make the grade at Liverpool.
    However, at Wolves he has proven to be a steady Premier League player – and is captain of the side.
    In August he was called up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad, and has played three times for the Three Lions.

    Conor Coady is now captain at WolvesCredit: PA:Press Association
    The Manchester United starlet played three times at Old Trafford, but was never good enough to make the grade.
    Most of his career has been spent plying his trade in the Championship with QPR, Sheffield Wednesday, Preston North End, before he signed for Hull and Ipswich.
    He now plays for Wigan. He has also made himself available for the Republic of Ireland.

    Former Man Utd starlet Will Keane reps Ireland nowCredit: Rex Features
    The cream of the crop after breaking into the Everton side as a teen, Barkley showed flashes of brilliance that saw him compared to Paul Gascoigne.
    Sadly, he never managed to sustain his form with the Toffees, and a move to Stamford Bridge in 2018 for £15million was seen as a chance for him to start afresh.
    He hasn’t quite lived up to expectation at Chelsea, which is why he was shipped off to Aston Villa on loan.
    But with Dean Smith’s side, the 27-year-old is showing glimpses of the old magic.

    Ross Barkley moved to Chelsea in 2018 for £15millionCredit: Alamy Live News
    Chelsea product McEachran was dubbed a class outfit at youth level for the Blues because of his brilliance on the ball.
    The tidy midfielder managed to play 11 times for the West Londoners, before he was sold to Brentford in 2017 for £750,000.
    In 2019, he moved to Birmingham for a free transfer. He was released at the end of the January transfer window in 2021.

    Josh McEachran played 11 times for the BluesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    The former Arsenal starlet was once targeted by Barcelona before committing a deal as a youngster with the Gunners.
    Following a series of loans, most successfully at Wolves when they were in the Championship, Premier League Bournemouth paid £10million for Afobe’s services.
    He failed to live up to standards of the top division, and is currently playing in Turkey for Trabzonspor – on loan from Stoke.
    He has since gone on to play for DR Congo.

    Ex-Arsenal starlet Afobe has found goals hard to come by at the top levelCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    After showing promise with Ipswich in the Championship, the powerful centre forward signed for Premier League Sunderland in a deal worth £12million in 2011.
    In his four years with the Black Cats he struggled for goals – scoring just 15 times in 91 games.
    In 2015, Crystal Palace signed Wickham for £9million – but a serious knee injury put pay to his progress in South London.
    Now, he’s on a loan deal with Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship.

    Connor Wickham celebrates scoring for Crystal PalaceCredit: PA:Empics Sport

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    Bayern Munich shock signing Omar Richards, 23, owes career to single parent mum and had Fulham heartbreak before Reading

    FAIRYTALES do come true.
    Last season, Omar Richards was grateful to have established himself as a first team regular at Reading.

    Omar Richards will join Bayern Munich in the summer following a pre-contract agreementCredit: Rex Features

    Now, he’s the talk of the football world since securing a sensational move to Bayern Munich.
    The 23-year-old left-back will link up with the Bundesliga champions this summer, after signing a pre-contract agreement on a four-year deal.
    It’s the pinnacle, so far, of a remarkable journey for Richards, who has been capped once at England U21 level.
    And it’s a path he’s managed to negotiate thanks to his mum, who made sure he followed his dreams.

    Richards was raised in Lewisham, South London by his single parent mother, along with two brothers.
    He rarely saw his dad, in what were difficult circumstances. But football was his passion.
    The youngster played Sunday League football, before training with Fulham and then Reading.
    And it was his mother who made sure he never missed an opportunity to play the game.

    “Growing up, my mum made a lot of things happen for me,” he said.

    Richards grew up in South London and said he owes his career to his mum

    Now 23, Richards only established himself as a first team regular last seasonCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    “With football, she’d be taking me up and down to training and to matches all over the country. I’m very fortunate for that.
    “I grew up with my mum, single parent, I didn’t see too much of my dad. I’m fortunate for her making a lot of things work for me.
    “I owe a lot of it to my mum.
    “If it wasn’t for her taking me to all these training sessions from such a young age, I’m not sure I would have been so driven and stayed on with football, so a lot of it is down to her.
    “Even now, she comes to the games when she can.”
    Richards, who started out as a left-winger, established himself in the Royals first team in 2019.
    The same year he was called up to England’s U21 squad and made his debut against Slovenia in a 2-2 draw.
    But before he became a pro, he played Sunday League football for his local side.
    It was there that clubs started to take note of his ability.

    Dedicated Richards played Sunday League football before he was scouted

    Reading offered Richards a scholarship after he was released as a 16-year-oldCredit: Rex Features
    “I’m not really sure how I got into football originally, but I started to play Sunday league with my local team,” he said.
    “I didn’t really know if I was any good at it, but I just played for fun then they signed me up down there.
    “I played there for a couple of years but then that team ended up folding, so I moved on to another local team where I went on to get scouted for Charlton, Chelsea and Fulham.”
    After a successful trial with the Cottagers, he joined the West London side at 10.
    However, he was left heartbroken six years later.
    “I remember getting released by Fulham at 16, and I didn’t know where football was going for me at that time.”
    Luckily for Richards, the late Eamonn Dolan, Reading’s former academy manager, saw his potential and invited him to earn a scholarship.
    “When I came over to Reading and got signed, that was a big moment in my career – just to keep going and keep sticking with my dream,” Richards said.
    “Eamonn put belief in me, after getting released I lost quite a bit of confidence and he was able to restore that, and he helped me get where I am today.”

    The late Eamonn Dolan, Reading’s former academy manager, recognised the potential in RichardsCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Richards wasn’t always a defender and often played as a forwardCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    An enforced switch before a youth game saw Richards play left-back and he’s been there ever sinceCredit: Rex Features

    And it was an enforced switch ahead of a youth game by academy coach David Dodds that Richards discovered his skills would be best set as an attacking left-back.
    “Before I was more of an attacking player, I used to be a number 10 or a winger – I liked the way David Silva used to play, I always looked at that,” Richards said.
    “I was a first-year scholar and the scholars didn’t have a left-back, David Dodds put me there for one game and it kind of worked – so I’ve been there ever since!”

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    Lionel Messi scored his first goal for Argentina 15 years ago, will he FINALLY win the World Cup in Qatar in 2022?

    MONDAY was the fifteenth anniversary of Lionel Messi’s first goal for Argentina.
    It was on March 1st 2006, in the early stages of a friendly against Croatia being played in Switzerland, that Messi cut across the defence – in what was soon to be characteristic fashion – before planting a left footed shot into the far corner.

    Lionel Messi, scoring against Serbia in the 2006 World Cup, has 71 goals for his countryCredit: Reuters

    Heartbreak against Germany in the 2014 final was the closest Messi got to winning the World CupCredit: AFP – Getty

    There is an eruption of joy on the Argentina bench. They know they have something special on the hands, and they are well aware that this is going to be the first goal of many.
    But, of course, they have no way of knowing how many.
    In fact, there have been 70 more goals for his country, and there is still time for the total to rise.
    He is by some distance Argentina’s top scorer, with 17 more than second place Gabriel Batistuta, and more than twice the total achieved by Diego Maradona.

    But Maradona has the big prize. The heights he reached in the 1986 World Cup, arguably not seen before or since in the competition, carried Argentina to the trophy.
    Messi is still waiting – and at the age of 33, his time in the waiting room is limited.
    Back in March 2006 he could already point to the previous year’s triumph in the Under-20 World Cup. And two years later he added an Olympic gold medal.  But there is no senior World Cup.
    There is not even a Copa America, a tournament Messi has disputed five times and been on the beaten side in three finals. The big one, though, is the World Cup.

    Trophies at international level, including the Copa America, have eluded MessiCredit: Getty – Pool

    Messi will have the opportunity to finally win the World Cup in 2022Credit: AFP – Getty
    The best chance may well have come later in that year of 2006. It was when Argentina had their most solid team in recent years. And this time, it is impossible to blame Messi.
    He was left kicking his heels on the bench in the quarter final against hosts Germany. He should surely have been introduced when Argentina were protecting a lead.
    Instead he could only watch from the sidelines as his team lost a penalty shoot out.
    Four years later he was on the field. But could do nothing as Argentina lost at the same stage to the same opponents – but this time by the margin of 4-0.
    By this time the team had clear defensive problems. But Maradona, now coaching, got carried away and selected an ultra-attacking line up which always looked like too much of a gamble.
    The 2014 campaign ended in the final, with Argentina once more going down to Germany, this time by a single goal near the end of extra time. 
    Messi did what he could to carry the side. Come the end of the competition he cut a very tired figure, rationing himself to brief bursts.  It was nearly enough, but not quite.
    Russia 2018 was an entirely predictable disaster. They lacked the defensive pace and goalkeeping quality to play the type of high pressure attacking game favoured by coach Jorge Sampaoli, and could have crashed out before losing to France in the second round.
    Without Messi’s brilliance they would not have made it to Russia. He missed a number of the qualifying rounds, and they struggled desperately without him.

    Messi celebrates his last goal in open play for Argentina at the 2018 World CupCredit: Reuters

    At 33, Messi’s time is coming to an endCredit: EPA

    Messi would cement his legacy as Argentina’s greatest if he wins the World Cup in QatarCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Their place was still in doubt going into the final round, when they needed to win away to Ecuador at the altitude of Quito – a task made even harder when they conceded right at the start. Messi scored an extraordinary hat trick to dig them out of trouble.
    That was in October 2017. Since then, the numbers tell a worrying tale. In the subsequent three and a half years, Messi has only scored one goal from open play in a competitive match – a memorable strike against Nigeria in the last World Cup.

    There have been penalties in the Copa America and in 2022 World Cup qualification. But no more of those trademark bursts across the defence finished off with the shot caressed inside the post.
    Does he still have it in him?  There is one more crack at the World Cup coming his way in Qatar at the end of next year.
    Can he rise to the occasion, and produce the scenes of joy on the Argentina bench that were seen for the first time on March 1st 2006?

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    Liverpool legend Daniel Agger became a tattoo artist and invested in sewers, after his career ended prematurely

    DANIEL AGGER’S retirement is much like his playing career – mixing dirty work and artistry.
    Following his premature retirement in 2016, at the age of 31, the former Liverpool hard-man decided to put money into his passion and necessity: tattoos and poop.

    Former Liverpool defender Daniel Agger is a qualified tattoo artist

    The Danish defender trained to be a tattoo artist and is now part of one of the biggest parlours across the world, called Tattoodo.
    But for Agger that was not it, as he had more money to invest in s***.
    Now 36, Agger launched a company in 2013 called KloAgger, putting £450,000 into a company that manages sewage systems in Denmark.
    So how did they come up with the name? KloAgger translates to ‘Agger toilet’.

    Danish defender Agger has also invested in a sewage companyCredit: Kloagger

    He runs it alongside his brother Marco and a friendCredit: Kloagger

    The name KloAgger translates directly to ‘Toilet Agger’Credit: Kloagger

    Agger’s sewage company is only based in his homeland of DenmarkCredit: Kloagger

    Agger leaves the daily running of the company to his brotherCredit: Kloagger
    Agger is regularly involved with the firm but his younger brother Marco and their friend Rune Rasmussen oversee it day-to-day.
    Inked-up Agger is more interested in the tats.
    He started and finished his career at Danish club Brondby, and it was as a 15-year-old youth player that he got his first work done.
    “I was about 15 and on a school trip to Paris,” Agger said in an interview on Tattoodo’s website.

    The 35-year-old is more into his tattoosCredit: Twitter @danielagger

    Agger got his first tattoo while a 15-year-old boy on a school tripCredit: Action Images

    The former Liverpool centre-back has a vikings graveyard across his backCredit: Getty – Contributor

    Agger signed for Liverpool in 2006, brought in by Rafael BenitezCredit: AFP – Getty

    He won the Community Shield and League Cup during his 12 years at the clubCredit: PA:Press Association
    “It wasn’t something I’d thought about before. Me and a friend went into the shop and said that’s what we’re going to have and we got it. I still have it today.”
    But it’s been added to dramatically, with almost every inch of his body containing a tattoo.
    There’s the viking graveyard across his back, the love hearts on his calves, Latin proverbs all over his body and the names of his family members etched in.
    “I see it as one piece,” Agger, a qualified tattooist, said. “When I speak to people I talk about my tattoo as one piece but obviously every tattoo has a story, some better than others.”

    Agger sees his tattoos as just one big art workCredit: Instagram @danielagger22

    The Dane is a qualified tattoo artist and invested in a big parlour called TattoodoCredit: Instagram @danielagger22

    Agger left Liverpool for Brondby in 2014Credit: PA:Empics Sport
    One of the more recent is the ‘YNWA’ stamped onto his knuckles – the well-known Liverpool acronym for Anfield’s anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone.
    “Timing was quite good,” Agger said. “[There were] a lot of rumours sending me to another club for a lot of money but I knew I was staying.
    “Somehow I wanted to show that to the footballing world and this was a way I wanted to show it.”
    Agger did eventually leave Liverpool in 2014 and spent two years at Brondby before ending his career earlier than expected.
    Back problems throughout his career saw Agger relying on painkillers to see him through, but he believes they were his downfall.

    Agger got YNWA printed onto his knuckles during speculation over his future at LiverpoolCredit: Instagram @danielagger22

    Agger wanted to show that he did not plan to leave Anfield

    He was part of a strong Liverpool side alongside Steven GerrardCredit: Instagram @danielagger22

    Agger retired in 2016 at the age of 31 which he believes was due to painkillersCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd

    “I have taken too many anti-inflammatories in my career,” he told Jyllands-Posten.
    “I know that full well, and it sucks, but I did stop it [in the end]. I am not gaining anything personally from saying this but I can only hope that other athletes do.
    “It could be that others take a pill or two less.”

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    Inside Eden Hazard’s amazing futuristic £10m mansion with six bedrooms and a pool he bought from a Spanish pop star

    EDEN HAZARD’s stop start career at Real Madrid continues.
    It appeared he had settled, bagging his first Champions League goal for the club against Inter Milan at the tail-end of last.

    Eden Hazard paid £10m for this plus home in the reputable La Finca neighbourhood of MadridCredit: ROCKEFELLER Luxury Collection

    Plenty of Real Madrid stars choose to live in the areaCredit: ROCKEFELLER Luxury Collection

    Eden Hazard, pictured with his family, has struggled with life at Real MadridCredit: Getty – Contributor

    The Belgium star, 30, has struggled with his weight and fitness, but will be hopeful he can justify the £88million outlay the La Liga Giants paid for him back in 2019.
    And he lives in a home fitting for a Galactico – a £10million futuristic mansion in the plush La Finca neighbourhood, where his team mates live. 
    Designed by Spanish architect Joaquin Torres, the property is distinctive for its black stone and state-of-the-art furnishings.
    It boasts six bedrooms and 10 bathrooms for Hazard’s family – wife Natacha and their sons Yannis, Leo and Samy.

    The ex-Chelsea playmaker has a pool, as well as a gym – meaning the mansion is quarantine-ready.
    And the amenities don’t end there. There’s a spa, should the family wish to wind down and a tennis court.
    The family can also snuggle down together for movie night in their home cinema room.
    Meanwhile, the entire house is automated with blackout blinds and other top-of-the-line gadgets able to be set and run by computer for optimal comfort.

    Some of the walls are even made with giant crystals that give an impressive contrast to the stone without allowing any light to get through.

    Some of the walls are made of crystal which does not allow any light throughCredit: ROCKEFELLER Luxury Collection

    What footballer’s mansion would be complete without a pool?Credit: ROCKEFELLER Luxury Collection

    The whole house is kitted out with automated gadgetsCredit: ROCKEFELLER Luxury Collection
    Hazard bought the home from famous Spanish singer, 17-time Grammy winner Alejandro Sanz.
    However, it hasn’t brought him the luck he would’ve hoped for – appearing just 27 times in all competitions for the club since his arrival, and testing positive for the coronavirus earlier this month.

    There are TEN bathrooms to choose from in the stylish homeCredit: ROCKEFELLER Luxury Collection

    A cinema room big enough for the whole family to relax inCredit: ROCKEFELLER Luxury Collection

    Six bedrooms mean Hazard will have plenty of space for his Chelsea palsCredit: ROCKEFELLER Luxury Collection

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    The best 25 Barcelona youth players from La Masia academy, including Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and Mauro Icardi

    IN 1979, Barcelona decided they wanted a steady stream of homegrown talents to one day blossom in their first team.
    They launched their now famed La Masia (Catalan for ‘The Farmhouse’), a state-of-the-art academy designed to train youngsters the Barça way, and has since produced a slew of top-class footballers.

    Lionel Messi (in the mask), Cesc Fabregas (back row, second right) and Gerard Pique (back row, third left) are Barcelona youth productsCredit: PA:Press Association

    They were schooled at Barcelona’s famous La Masia AcademyCredit: Simon Jones – The Sun

    Many have gone on to become legends at the club, while others have slipped away and grown at pastures new.
    Here are their best 25 best academy trainees.
    The Spanish left-back is one of the most sought-after defenders in world football at the moment.
    Currently starring at Benfica, he has been linked with a move to Tottenham.

    Barcelona let him go for £1.5million in 2015, without playing a game in the first team.
    Originally, he was plucked from Valence in 2008 – spending four years with the Catalans until he was sold.

    Alex Grimaldo has made his name at BenficaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    24. DANI OLMO
    Olmo is the most recent promising youngster that left Spain for a new challenge.
    The Spanish 21-year-old midfielder, who moved in January 2020 to Bundesliga club RB Leipzig, arrived at La Masia aged just nine.

    But in a surprising move, Olmo decided to leave Barça when he turned 16 and signed for Dinamo Zagreb.
    Barcelona were rumoured to be looking at bringing him back to Catalonia before he moved to Germany.
    He has since starred in the Bundesliga and is a regular in the Spain squad.

    Dani Olmo gambled with his career leaving Barcelona aged 16 for Dinamo ZagrebCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    23. NAYIM
    Arsenal fans won’t want to be reminded of Nayim’s most famous moment in his career.
    But before he was lobbing David Seaman from the halfway line, he was a young hopeful at La Masia.
    He joined Barcelona aged 12 – leaving his hometown Cueta.
    But his chances were limited in a team that was managed by Terry Venables.
    He later joined the former Three Lions boss at Spurs.

    Former La Masia product Nayim scored the winner the Cup Winners’ Cup final against ArsenalCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    The former Liverpool midfielder had two spells with Barcelona.
    First as a 12-year-old youth player, where he starred in their reserve team.
    But having failed to break into the first team, he was sold to Atletico Madrid in 2002.
    However, after impressing with Atletico, Barcelona exercised a clause in Garcia’s contract to buy him back a season later.
    Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez moved for the playmaker in 2004 – having had him at Tenerife on loan in 2000-01.

    Luis Garcia had two spells at Barcelona but never made the gradeCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    Another surprise, in-demand Ajax keeper Andre Onana had a spell at Barcelona from 2010-15.
    He joined the club after starting out at the Samuel Eto’o Academy, but failed to make the grade there.
    Five years ago he signed for the Dutch giants, and has since become their No1.
    He is currently suspended for 12 months for a doping violation.

    In-demand Andre Onana had five years at La Masia before moving to AjaxCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    It was right-back Ferrer’s dream to play for Barcelona – having grown up in the city.
    And he appeared in 221 La Liga games during nine seasons with his boyhood club, after he was signed as a 13-year-old.
    In 1998 he moved to Premier League with Chelsea in a £2.2m deal, where he retired aged 33.

    Albert Ferrer was a local lad who got to represent his boyhood clubCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    19. PEPE REINA
    The son of former Barcelona goalkeeper Miguel Reina, Pepe was always destined to follow in his father’s footsteps.
    He joined La Masia in 1995, and from 1999 he was playing for their reserve side in the third tier of the Spanish football pyramid.
    Reina was never more than an understudy at the Camp Nou, and was told he could leave in 2002.

    Pepe Reina was surplus to requirements to Barcelona in 2002 after being an understudy for yearsCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Benidorm-born Amor became one of Barcelona’s most important players under Cruyff in the 1990s.
    He joined La Masia in 1980 – winning five league titles and a European Cup.
    With Barcelona in his blood, it is unsurprising he is now responsible for the club’s youth system.

    Former youth product Amor now manages Barcelona’s youth set-upCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    The Arsenal full-back might speak like a cockney, but he’s Barcelona through and through.
    Bellerin was also eight when he joined the club – but after eight years at La Masia he moved to the Gunners.
    Now vice-captain of the Premier League giants, Bellerin has been linked with a move back to Spain.
    Could he follow in the footsteps of Cesc Fabregas before him and return to the club where it all began?

    Hector Bellerin left Barcelona for Arsenal and has played against his old side several timesCredit: PA:Press Association
    16. SERGI
    The marauding Spanish left-back joined Barcelona in 1988, and went on to become a club legend – appearing 382 times and winning three league titles.
    He was handed his Barça debut by Cruyff in a heated Champions League match away at Galatasaray
    From then on, he became a mainstay before he was sold to Atletico Madrid. He hadn’t lost that nastiness that made him a tricky player to play against either – earning 33 yellow cards in his three seasons there.

    Sergi won three La Liga titles after coming through La MasiaCredit: Icon Sport – Getty
    Barcelona never really saw the best of Motta.
    Like Pedro, he was signed late – aged 17 from local side Clube Atlético Juventus – and was assigned to the B side.
    He made his debut in 2001, but his time at Barcelona was robbed from him by a serious knee injury.
    Eventually, he found himself at Inter Milan, where Jose Mourinho got the best out of him – winning the Champions League in 2010.

    Thiago Motta never fulfilled his potential at BarçaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    The hype around De La Pena, nicknamed “Little Buddha”, was immense when he was a teen.
    The child prodigy joined La Masia in 1991 from Racing Santander and initially looked to have a big future at the club.
    But fallouts with Cruyff and Van Gaal, who were frustrated with his work-rate, saw his progress curtailed and he had more success with city rivals Espanyol.

    De La Pena had fallouts with Johan Cruyff and Louis Van GaalCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    Last season, Wolves winger Traore has finally shown the potential Barcelona youth managers believed he had.
    He joined the Spanish champions aged just eight, making his debut aged 17, but failed to break into the first team under managers Gerard Martino and Luis Enrique.
    The speedy winger then moved to England, and had an ill-fated spell at Aston Villa before rediscovering his potential at Middlesbrough.

    Adama Traore moved to England to get first team footballCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    The Arsenal manager is best known for his time in the Premier League playing for both the Gunners and Everton.
    But before he made it in England, Arteta dreamt of becoming pro in San Sebastian playing football on the beaches with childhood friend Xabi Alonso.
    He joined Barcelona aged 15, but struggled to break into the first team – joining PSG on loan before starring at Glasgow Rangers and returning to play for Real Sociedad with Alonso.

    Mikel Arteta struggled to break into the Barcelona first team
    Valdes is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the club’s history – having played 535 games and winning 21 major titles, including La Liga six times and three Champions League’s.
    But it looked like his time at the club had come to an end in 1995 when his family moved to Tenerife.
    However, Barça re-signed him and quickly progressed through the youth teams – making his debut aged 20.

    Victor Valdes left La Masia academy only to return three years laterCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    10. PEDRO
    The ex-Chelsea winger was a late-comer when it came to joining La Masia.
    Pedro arrived from Canary Islands team CD San Isidro aged 17 in 2004.
    But soon, he became a key member of the first team once he was promoted by Pep Guardiola.
    In the 2018-19 season Pedro became the first player to score in six different club competitions during a single season and in the same year.

    Pedro was a late-comer to La Masia, joining aged 17Credit: PA:Empics Sport
    Argentina striker Icardi had a spell at La Masia from 2008-11, after rejecting overtures from Real Madrid, Arsenal and Liverpool.
    But the goal poacher failed to show his class in Spain and was shipped out on loan to Sampdoria in 2011, which became a permanent move six months later for just £400,000.
    He has since become one of the most sought-after strikers in European football, boasting a remarkable goalscoring record.
    Icardi always stood by his decision to leave Barça, because it ultimately benefitted his career.

    Super poacher Mauro Icardi failed to impress at La MasiaCredit: FC Barcelona
    Another one that got away, but returned to become a hero.
    Pique played in the same youth teams as Messi and Fabregas from 1997, although he was deployed as a defensive midfielder in his early years.
    Manchester United snapped him up in 2004 on a pro-contract, without having to pay a fee.
    In 2008, he returned to Catalonia for a fee of £5million and has gone on to play 531 times for the club, as well as bag a celebrity wife in Shakira.

    Pique returned to Barcelona after a spell at Man Utd and bagged a celebrity missus in ShakiraCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    One-club man Busquets has become one of the greatest defensive midfielders of his generation.
    At youth level though he bounced around a few teams playing for the likes of Badia, Barbera Andalucia, Lleida, and Jàbac Terrassa, before settling at Barcelona in 2005,
    Guardiola promoted Busquets to his first team in 2008, but it’s his former international manager Vincente Del Bosque who provided this accurate quote about his abilities.
    He said: “If you watch the whole game, you won’t see Busquets – but watch Busquets, and you will see the whole game.”

    Sergio Busquets has established himself as the best defensive midfielder of his generationCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    Fabregas trained at La Masia for six years before making the bold move to Arsenal in 2003, believing his chances would be limited at the Nou Camp.
    With the Gunners he soon established himself into one of the Europe’s most promising players – replacing Patrick Vieira in the heart of their midfield, before eventually being named captain.
    In 2011 he returned to Barcelona for £35m, and in three seasons played 96 times for them before moving to Chelsea for £30m in 2014.
    Cesc won the World Cup and the Euros twice, and has been capped 110 times by Spain.

    Fabregas returned to Barcelona after making his name at ArsenalCredit: Action Images – Reuters

    Johan Cruyff called him one of the best midfielders of his generation, and it’s hard to argue with that seeing he was a major influence in playing style of the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas.
    Guardiola joined La Masia at 13, and within six years the deep-lying playmaker made his debut against Cadiz.
    In 1998 Louis van Gaal made him captain, but in 2001 he left for Serie A side Brescia after years of injury problems with a troublesome calf.

    Pep Guardiola became Barcelona captain after making it through their youth ranksCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Arguably the most un-Barcelona-like player.
    But Puyol became a cult hero as an inspirational captain with his uncompromising style of defending.
    He joined La Masia in 1995, playing as a defensive midfielder before converting to full-back and then centre-half.
    But Puyol almost left the club three years later when Barça accepted an offer from Malaga after deeming him surplus to requirements.
    However, seeing Xavi getting a chance in the first team encouraged Puyol to stay, and the rest is history.

    Puyol became a cult figure at Barcelona but nearly left the clubCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    Plucked from Albacete at the age of 12, Iniesta never looked back.
    He steadily climbed up the youth ranks, making his debut aged 18 in 2002.
    Iniesta would go on to become the most decorated Spanish footballer in history – winning 35 trophies, including nine LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues.
    Famously, he helped Spain win the 2010 World Cup – scoring the winner against Holland.

    Iniesta joined La Masia as a 12-year-oldCredit: Rex Features
    2. XAVI
    The greatest playmaker of his generation, and the embodiment of their tiki-taka passing style, Xavi joined La Masia at 10.
    At that age though it wasn’t Michael Laudrup he idolised, but in fact British-based stars like John Barnes, Paul Gascoigne, and Matt Le Tissier.
    “I’ve been lucky enough to be brought up on the Barcelona ethos,” he once revealed.
    “Which has taught me the value of being part of a team. ‘Today for you, tomorrow for me.’ Those qualities are essential for life in general.”

    Xavi idolised Paul Gascoigne, Matt Le Tissier and John Barnes growing upCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    Without doubt the best youngster to come from Barcelona’s youth set-up, and the best to ever play for the club.
    Messi joined the LaLiga giants in 2001 from Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, who he had trained with since the age of six.
    Realising they had such a prodigious talent on their hands, Barcelona agreed to pay for his treatment after he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency.
    However, this season might be his last – with Manchester City desperate to bring Messi to the Premier League.

    Messi graduated from La Masia to become Barcelona’s greatest ever playerCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    ‘Lionel Messi can leave Barcelona for free at the end of the season’ says ESPN’s Sid Lowe More

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    Top 10 richest Wags, including Georgina Rodriguez, Wanda Icardi, Victoria Beckham and Perrie Edwards but who’s on top?

    THESE Wags are doing it for themselves.
    Forget their other (sometimes) more famous other halves, these incredible women have made their own money.

    Whether it’s from being a famous pop star, presenter or even an author, they’ve earned a mint as their footballing partners have grafted on the pitch.
    But who is the richest Wag today? Let SunSport tell you all.
    One half of the ‘Posh and Becks’ money-making brand, Victoria was famously one of the world conquering Spice Girls.
    And even though they’re back together, Victoria, now 46, still refuses to tour with Geri Halliwell and Co.

    Instead, she’s focused on her self-named fashion label – that is reportedly in financial trouble after the Covid-19 crisis.
    In 2019, it was revealed the label reported widening losses of £15.9million.

    Victoria Beckham is wealthy outside the Beckham brandCredit: Instagram

    Beckham is the wealthiest Wag in the worldCredit: Instagram
    2. SHAKIRA, £220M
    The Colombian singer’s Hips Don’t Lie, and neither does her bank account.
    Worth a whopping £220million, her net worth absolutely crushes her partner Gerard Pique’s £30million wealth.

    Back in January, Shakira, 44, sold the rights to her music for a tidy sum.
    Having sold 80 million records worldwide, she is the biggest selling female Latin artist in history.

    Shakira recently sold the rights to her musicCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Her £220m fortune dwarfs partner Gerard Pique’s £30m
    3. COLEEN ROONEY, £14M
    As her husband Wayne Rooney’s career thrived on the pitch, Coleen made a pretty penny off it with some shrewd moves.
    She wrote celebrity fashion columns for celeb magazines OK! and Closer, fronted a George at ASDA campaign, sold an exercise DVD and even became a children’s author, among other things.
    In recent months, however, she was embroiled in a dispute and dubbed ‘Wagatha Christie’ in a row with Rebekah Vardy over leaked Instagram messages.
    Rooney, 34, was ordered to pay £23,000 in court costs back in November.

    Coleen Rooney has amassed a £14m wealth through the yearsCredit: Getty – Contributor

    Rooney wrote columns for celeb gossip magazines and is an author of children’s booksCredit: The Mega Agency
    Spanish beauty Georgina, 27, is, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo’s partner.
    Thanks to her Instagram page that has 24 million followers, she’s the most marketable Wag around today.
    The brunette has a deal with Italian swimwear company Yamamay, and recently showed off her curves in their new collection.
    She has appeared in photoshoots with magazines, including Nova Gente, Lux, VIP, Women’s Health, and LOVE, and now has her own fashion brand called OM by G.

    With her stunning looks, Georgina Rodriguez has appeared in various magazine photoshootsCredit: Instagram @instylespain

    Rodriguez is brand ambassador for Italian swimwear company YamamayCredit: The Mega Agency
    Pop star Perrie, 27, rose to fame on the X Factor in 2011 through the group Little Mix.
    They split with Simon Cowell’s Syco label in 2018 because they wanted more independence with the music they were making.
    Perrie’s bandmate Jesy Nelson sensationally quit the band last year due to mental health issues, which could harm their future earnings as a threesome moving forward.
    But Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s other half is still worth a cool £6million.

    Perrie Edwards has made a £6m fortune since starring on X Factor in 2011Credit: Rex Features

    Edwards is in the band Little Mix and dates Alex Oxlade-ChamberlainCredit: Instagram
    Christine was making her own dough well before she got together with former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard.
    The presenter, 42, hosted The One Show for three years from 2007, Dancing on Ice with Phillip Schofield from 2012-14, as well as This Morning from 2013-16.
    It’s also worth noting Christine also appeared on Strictly Come Dancing all the way back in 2008.
    She’s now a regular on ITV’s Loose Women.

    Glam Christine Lampard presents a variety of shows, including Loose WomenCredit: Darren Fletcher – The Sun

    Her other half is former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard
    Oriana, who dates Juventus superstar Paulo Dybala, is Argentina’s answer to Katy Perry.
    A singer in South America, she famously kissed a girl in a saucy promo for a pop single.
    And in January, she revealed that she is bisexual – but plans on marrying Dybala in the future.
    Oriana, 24, is the niece of former tennis beauty Gabriela Sabatini.

    Oriana Sabatini is Argentina’s answer to Katy Perry

    Sabatini recently revealed she was bisexual
    8. WANDA ICARDI, £3M
    TV personality, model, football agent… there’s plenty of strings to Wanda’s bow.
    The gorgeous Argie, 34, regularly shares sexy photos to her 7.4 million followers on Instagram.
    When her husband – PSG star Mauro Icardi – Wanda was queen of Italian TV.
    Now, she’s selling her own cosmetics range.

    Gorgeous Wanda Icardi leaves little to the imagination in a saucy Instagram postCredit: Instagram wanda_icardi

    Wanda is a TV personality and has a cosmetics brandCredit: Instagram wanda_icardi
    9. ABBEY CLANCY, £2.5M
    Peter Crouch’s wife Abbey, 35, appeared alongside her hubby in the latest Paddy Power TV ad.
    Otherwise, the model has appeared in campaigns for Triumph motorbikes, Umbro and walked the catwalk for Giles Deacon in his spring collection.
    Clancy also hosted Britain’s Next Top Model, the show she was discovered on, for 12 seasons until 2017.
    She has earned herself a respectable £2.5million.

    Abbey Clancy has a £2.5m fortune from her modelling and TV workCredit: Instagram

    Peter Crouch and Clancy share a snap to their followers on InstagramCredit: Instagram
    Rosie Webster in Coronation Street, blonde bombshell Flanagan, 30, appeared on the ITV soap for 2000-12 – returning in 2017 until going on maternity leave in 2018.

    The actress, currently pregnant with her third child, has been in a relationship with Scott Sinclair since 2009.
    However, she recently told The Sun exclusively that she won’t be having any more children after suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum.
    With Sinclair recently signing for Preston North End, Flanagan is close to the Corrie set again. Don’t rule out a third return.

    Coronation Street beauty Helen Flanagan closes out the top 10Credit: Getty – Contributor

    Flanagan poses for an underwear shoot for Pour MoiCredit: The Mega Agency

    In a relationship with Scott Sinclair, Flanagan is expecting their third childCredit: Instagram

    Watch naked Georgina Rodriguez give camera cheeky wink in backstage clip of Cristiano Ronaldo’s girlfriend’s photo shoot More

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    Roman Abramovich’s yachts, from Chelsea owner’s new £430m Solaris to the £1BILLION Eclipse

    ROMAN ABRAMOVICH certainly doesn’t do things in halves.
    The Chelsea owner, worth a cool £10bn, is overseeing the development of his latest toy, Solaris – a superyacht that promises to be the most powerful yacht in the world.

    Roman Abramovich’s new yacht Solaris is currently in developmentCredit: Carl Groll/

    The Russian, 54, must love travelling by sea – because he has had a private navy of yachts – with SunSport believing Solaris to be his EIGHTH over the years.
    The latest yacht is nearing completion and has cost £430million to build.
    A 460ft beast of the sea, it features eight decks, as well as a helicopter pad.
    The yacht is being built at the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany.

    The shed it is being constructed in is larger than Buckingham Palace.
    Solaris will have 48 cabins, accommodating up to 36 passengers, and a crew of 60.
    It’ll boast two advanced engines to be the most powerful yacht in the world.

    Solaris, costing £460m, will have 48 cabins and can accommodate 36 passengersCredit: Carl Groll/
    Roman’s current superyacht, the Eclipse – with all the work that’s been done to it – is said to now be worth £1billion.

    Built in 2010, it was completely rebuilt in 2015 to cater for the high-spec needs of a multi-billionaire.
    Incredibly, the 553ft Eclipse has its own missile defence system – should it come under attack.
    There are 24 guest cabins, two swimming pools, hot tubs, a sauna, and even a nightclub.
    It also boasts a cinema, conference room, children’s playroom, hair salon, and a mini-submarine that can dive to 50m. Yes, that’s right. It’s a yacht that boasts its own submarine.

    The colossal Eclipse sails into New York harbourCredit: Alamy

    The 553-feet long Eclipse boasts its own missile defence systemCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Eclipse has 24 guest cabins, two swimming pools, hot tubs, a sauna and a nightclubCredit: Getty – Contributor

    The Eclipse is believed to be worth £1billionCredit: Alamy
    Worth £135million, Le Grand Bleu was once Roman’s pride and joy.
    Twenty guests can stay in luxury onboard, and enjoy it’s many amenities.
    Astonishingly, as is the theme with these yachts, there are more boats on board.
    As well as a 73-foot sailboat, guests can also enjoy taking a 68-foot powerboat for a spin. And there are two more boats in its internal garage on top of that.
    It is now owned by Abramovich’s friend Eugene Schvidler.

    Le Grand Bleu, worth £135m, is now owned by Eugene SchvidlerCredit: Alamy Live News
    Currently available to buy for £16million, the Sussurro is now over 20 years old.
    It was built by Feadship, measures over 163 feet long and boasts six luxury cabins that can house 12 guests.
    Rarely used, it has been reported that the Sussorro was given to Roman’s ex-wife Irina Malandina, as part of a divorce settlement.
    With 15,000 combined horsepower, it is capable of reaching speeds of 46 knots.

    Sussorro can reach speeds of up to 46 knotsCredit: Alamy

    Sussorro was reportedly given to Abramovich’s ex-wife Irina as part of a divorce settlementCredit: Alamy
    Valued at around £110million, the Ecstasea is still one of the fastest superyachts around – boasting 43,000 horsepower and measuring 282-feet.
    Abramovich was the original owner from 2004, before it was sold to Pakistani businessman Alshair Fiyaz in 2009.
    There’s room for 14 guests, can be staffed by a crew of 25, and can be reached by helicopter, which can park on one of two helipads.
    The Ecstasea suffered damage in 2019 when it clipped the Simpson Bay Bridge in the Caribbean island of St Maarten.

    Roman Abramovich was the original owner of the Ecstasea in 2004Credit: Rex Features

    Worth £110m, Ecstasea is now owned by Pakistani businessman Alshair FiyazCredit: Rex Features
    So that’s what £270million gets you.
    Built in 2003, the 377-foot long Pelorus was briefly owned by a Saudi Arabian businessman before Abramovich got his hands on it in 2004.
    A year later, he lent it to Chelsea legends John Terry and Frank Lampard for two weeks as a bonus for helping the club win Roman’s first Premier League as owner.
    Then in 2007 he allowed Terry and his wife Toni to enjoy their honeymoon on board.
    However, it was also reportedly handed to Irina in the divorce settlement, who sold it to American film exec David Geffen in 2011.

    Abramovich got his hands on the Pelorus in 2004Credit: Alamy

    Chelsea owner Abramovich on board the cherished vesselCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    The boat boasts a speedboatCredit: Alamy

    Currently the second largest expedition yacht in the world, the Luna was delivered to Roman in 2010.
    It boats 10 VIP cabins, that are 100 square metres each, as well as a 20-metre outdoor pool.
    Like the Eclipse, it also has an anti-missile system, as well as bulletproof windows.
    In 2014, it was sold to Azerbaijani billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov for £210 million.

    Luna was delivered to Roman in 2010Credit: Rex Features

    It boasts 10 VIP cabins and an outdoor poolCredit: Getty – Contributor More