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    I won the title with Arsenal in 1991… and then went on to become a firefighter and save lives

    DAVID HILLIER was climbing a ladder to success when he won a top-flight league winners medal with Arsenal in 1990-91, and made one appearance for the England Under-21s.A quarter of a century later the former midfielder was climbing different ladders – as one of our brave firefighters based at Avon Fire & Rescue in Bristol.
    Arsenal hero David Hillier became a firefighter after quitting footballCredit: Supplied
    A boyhood Arsenal fan, the aspiring midfielder was fulfilling his dreams by helping his beloved Gunners to glory in the early 90s.
    Sadly, his career was blighted by injury that forced him out of the club’s FA and League Cup successes in 1993 and the Cup Winners’ Cup victory over Parma the following year.
    He later joined Portsmouth (1996-99) and Bristol Rovers (1999-2002) before ending his career at Barnet with just six appearances in 2003.
    Hillier told SunSport in 2019: “I never set targets when I was playing.
    “I now look back at my 15 years in the game and I am very proud that I played for some great clubs at some of the world’s great stadiums alongside some of the great players.
    “What is so wonderful is I still enjoy media work with Arsenal and go back and have a wonderful rapport with the club and the supporters. The football ‘family’ is brilliant for that.”

    A NEW CHAPTER
    He revealed that it was his wife, Zoe, who suggested a new life in the fire brigade a couple of years after he quit playing in 2003.
    He said: “We were out shopping one day and we passed a fire station and she said that it would be the perfect job for me.
    “Ian Holloway – who I played alongside at Bristol Rovers – also has something to do with it. Olly’s brother-in-law was a fireman and we had met and talked about the fire brigade.
    “Now he is one of the bosses in the service.
    “Because of my football career I joined the brigade late and when I started it was a bit like students tutoring the teaching because everyone seemed younger than me.
    “But I have never had a problem with that. I was aware of what I needed to do to progress.
    Hillier achieved his dream, playing for his boyhood clubCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    In 1991 Hillier won the First Division with the GunnersCredit: Rex Features
    “The fire brigade suits me because I’m on a two or more pump station which means 8-12 of us are involved and we spend two days and two nights away – which is like a football team staying in a hotel before a game.”
    AN ‘ADRENALINE-RUSH’
    The down-to-earth London-born ex-midfield ace says the adrenaline-rush of a big job is on a completely different scale to playing football.
    “It can be incredibly difficult at times and it’s a job where you have to deal with tricky and horrific scenarios.
    LATEST FOOTBALL FEATURES
    “We are confronted with all sorts of scenes and the most frustrating part is not being able to do more.
    “Being forced back by smoke and not knowing where you are going can be very claustrophobic. But, yes, I have also rescued cats out of trees too!”
    Yet even after 15 years in the service, the ex-Gunner says: “It’s strange but when it comes to footballer or fireman I always think of myself as a footballer.”
    Hillier still has ties at Arsenal, doing media work for the clubCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Occasionally, Hillier plays for Arsenal’s legends’ sideCredit: Getty – Contributor More

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    What happened to the ‘Next Messis’, from youngest LaLiga star Romero to ex-Man City ace Patrick Roberts

    MORE than a dozen players have been dubbed the ‘Next Messi’ over the years.But none have ever reached the heights scaled by PSG and Argentina World Cup winner Lionel Messi… not even close.
    The ‘Next Messis’ from all around the world
    Luka Romero, the ‘Mexican Messi’, made his debut for Mallorca age 15Credit: EPA
    In 2020, the ‘Mexican Messi’ (we’ve had one before in Diego Lainez) Luka Romero made LaLiga history.
    At just 15, the diminutive teen came on as a sub against Real Madrid in June 2020 and became the youngest player to play in the Spanish top-flight, also showing fans what the fuss is all about with some neat touches, before signing for Lazio in 2021.
    While, Arsenal were once linked with what was then the latest ‘Next Messi’ – Iranian Bayer Leverkusen star Sardar Azmoun.
    In the summer of 2019, Manchester United were said to be monitoring Trabzonspor teenager Abdulkadir Omur, the ‘Turkish Messi’.
    The world map has almost been filled in with different ‘Next Messis’ from around the globe.
    From Peru to South Africa and Japan to Iran, two dozen countries have produced their own version of the little genius.
    Even Scotland had one while England have two.
    Here’s how they got on…
    Lionel Messi is still arguably the best player in the worldCredit: Getty – Contributor
    The English Messi – Patrick Roberts
    Burst on to the scene as a teenager at Fulham and after some impressive performances as a teenager, Man City splashed £12million on him.
    He barely got into the City side before a long loan spell at Celtic.
    Although he won seven trophies under Brendan Rodgers, Roberts had a number of injury issues and did not hit the heights expected of him.
    Another loan spell to Girona last season didn’t really work out – while stints at Norwich and Middlesbrough last term have been uninspiring.
    Roberts went on loan at Derby, who narrowly avoided relegation to League One with a thrilling 3-3 draw on the final day of the Championship season.
    Now, he’s at League One side Sunderland.
    Mini Messi – Fran Kirby
    One of the players most deserving of the tag, the England and Chelsea star is one of the biggest stars in the women’s game.
    Kirby, who stands at just 5ft 2in, is a former PFA and FWA player of the year and has been a vital player in all of the Lionesses’ recent success, including winning the Euros.
    In 2021, Kirby was voted the 10th best player in the world in the Ballon d’Or list.
    England star Fran Kirby has been dubbed Mini Messi – and is one of the best players in the women’s gameCredit: PA:Press Association
    Scottish Messi – Ryan Gauld
    Gauld was 17 when he made his debut for Dundee United and began tearing it up in Scotland, helping The Terrors reach the Scottish Cup final in 2014.
    After being shortlisted for Young Player of the Year, Gauld was snapped up by Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon.
    But Gauld only made two league appearances for Sporting, all in 2014 and early 2015, and went on four unsuccessful loan spells.
    He’s now at MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps FC, after a spell at Portuguese second tier side Farense.
    Swiss Messi – Xherdan Shaqiri
    The Messi comparisons are definitely a step too far but Shaqiri – formerly of Liverpool – is quite obviously a talent good enough for most teams in the world.
    He has played at some of the biggest clubs and scored at two World Cups and the European Championship.
    Injuries limited his impact at the Reds, and he moved to Lyon before plying his trade in the MLS with Chicago Fire.
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    Egyptian Messi – Mohamed Salah
    Speaking of whom, there was a time when Salah being compared to Messi would have been impossible to imagine… namely at Chelsea.
    Now thriving at Liverpool, the Egyptian king isn’t quite at Messi’s level – but he’s pretty damn close.
    This was a tag from when the forward was still at Basel and, in all honesty, it’s quite fair.
    Salah is now one of the best players in the world and will soon have players being dubbed the ‘Next Salah’.
    Mohamed Salah is now at the level were other players are dubbed the ‘Next Salah’Credit: AFP or licensors
    Catalan Messi – Gerard Deulofeu
    Certainly has enough natural talent to earn comparisons to one of the best ever.
    But the winger, now at Udinese following stints at Everton and Watford, does not have the consistency or work rate to compare himself to Messi.
    Deulofeu struggled in two spells at Barca but was instrumental to the Hornets getting to the FA Cup final in 2019.
    German Messi – Marko Marin
    Arrived at Chelsea in 2012 with a massive reputation but – like so many other Blues youngsters – never got a fair chance at Stamford Bridge.
    Was sent on four loan spells in three seasons and managed just six Premier League games in West London.
    Marin has since won trophies in Greece, Spain and Serbia before retiring last year while at Hungarian side Ferencvarosi.
    Croatian Messi – Alen Halilovic
    Another Barcelona graduate, the diminutive Croatian international has the technique but has struggled with the physicality of senior football.
    Loan spells at Sporting Gijon have brought little success.
    He is currently at Croatian club HNK Rijeka, after spells at Championship side Reading and AC Milan, where he failed to play a single Serie A game. Dutch side Heerenveen, Standard Liege, and Birmingham also feature on his CV.
    Norwegian Messi – Martin Odegaard
    One of the most hyped teenagers in Europe, the Norwegian jumped from Stromsgodset to Real Madrid in 2015.
    He initially struggled to live up to the hype and a two-year loan spell at Heerenveen brought inconsistent play.
    But last season on loan at Real Sociedad, Odegaard was excellent – putting himself in the frame to break back into the Madrid first-team.
    The Norwegian signed for Arsenal in a permanent deal in 2021, after a loan spell and his form has fired the Gunners to the top of the Premier League.
    Martin Odegaard was one of the most hyped teenage players everCredit: EPA
    Irish Messi – Alan Judge
    Definitely a tongue-in-cheek nickname, the winger earned the title while starring for Brentford for five years between 2014 and 2019.
    Judge helped the Bees reach the Championship and stay in the second tier, and was named in the PFA teams of the year in 2013 and 2016.
    He was at Ipswich, helping the Tractor Boys to ninth in League One in 2020-21, before signing for Colchester.
    Peruvian Messi – Raul Ruidiaz
    Actually nicknamed ‘Little Messi’, the Peruvian scored a mountain of goals in Peru and Mexico before moving to MLS in 2018.
    The striker has been sensational for the Seattle Sounders, winning the MLS Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
    Kosovan Messi – Edon Zhergrova
    Edon Zhegrova became a YouTube sensation back in 2014 after compilations of the then 15-year old’s dazzling goals gained thousands of views.
    The Arsenal, PSG and Barcelona moves did not materialise, but a move to Belgium’s Standard Liege and then Genk did, where he is coming through the ranks.
    Basel then decided to take a longer look at him with an 18-month loan deal.
    The No10 played a handful of games for the club before moving to Lille.
    Indian Messi – Lallianzuala Chhangte
    The Chennaiyin winger became the youngest Indian international when he made his debut in 2015.
    But, now aged 24, the hype has died down a bit with Chhangte unable to build on that early promise.
    And he now playing for Indian side Mumbai City.
    Japanese Messi – Takefusa Kubo
    Still just 22, Kubo has the best chance of any player to live up to the moniker.
    The former FC Tokyo forward even came through the ranks at Barcelona, where he was a youth star, before returning to Japan.
    He would have stayed at La Masia but after Barca’s transfer ban he was no longer eligible to play in competitive matches, so decided to return to his homeland.
    He is the youngest player to play and score in the J.League and has been a regular in the FC Tokyo side.
    Kubo was snapped up by Real Madrid, a major coup for Los Blancos – but was quickly loaned to Mallorca before joining Getafe on a short-term deal earlier in 2021.
    Barcelona had wanted the playmaker – but were fooled into thinking he was not available until next January after an error on the Transkfermarkt website.
    Real Madrid knew the correct date his contract was up and swooped.
    Kubo, who has been brilliant in Japan’s successful World Cup campaign in Qatar, is currently at Real Sociedad after joining last summer.
    Takefusa Kubo (left) came through the ranks at Barcelona before joining Real MadridCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Greek Messi – Giannis Fetfatzidis
    The little winger never lived up to the moniker after coming through at Olympiacos.
    Has since played in Italy and Saudi Arabia, but is now at Qatari side Al-Sailiya.
    Iranian Messi – Sardar Azmoun
    A number of European clubs were interested in Azmoun a few years ago, including Arsenal, who offered £2m for the rapid forward.
    Azmoun starred in Russia for Zenit St Petersburg, where he has scored 62 times in just 104 games while winning three Russian Premier League titles.
    However, he’s now at Bayer Leverkusen – where he has scored just once across two seasons.
    Iranian Messi Azmoun has been linked to ArsenalCredit: AFP or licensors
    Indonesian Messi – Egy Maulana Vikri
    Aged just 21, Egy is already a full international having been a prodigy at youth level.
    He had scored 15 goals in 16 matches for Indonesia Under-19s, attracting attention from big clubs in Europe.
    Eventually, Maulana chose Lechia Gdansk where he also impressed for the reserves, scoring 12 goals in 14 matches in the Polish fourth tier.
    He made his full debut in 2020 and is now a 17-cap senior international for Indonesia.
    He moved to Slovenian side FK Senica, and now plays for ViOn Zlaté Moravce in the same league.
    Another Mexican Messi – Diego Lainez
    The 22-year-old has the potential to be a big star and has consistently been named as one of the players to keep an eye on in the coming years.
    The teenager is already a full international for El Tri and was signed by Real Betis for £9m in January 2019.
    This season, he was sent on loan to Primeira Liga club Braga for much-needed first team experience.
    Diego Lainez is already a full Mexican international and moved to Real Betis for £9mCredit: Getty – Contributor
    South Korean Messi – Lee Seung-woo
    Lee was once hailed as South Korea’s great hope of the future and was another graduate of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy.
    He moved to Catalonia in 2011, but managed just one appearance for Barcelona B, before moving to Hellas Verona in 2017.
    Now 25, the winger plays for South Korean side Suwon FC but became a national hero for his exploits in the Asian Games.
    Lee provided the assist for Tottenham’s Son Heung-min to score a winner – the goal also meant the Spurs man would avoid national service.
    Malaysian Messi – Faiz Nasir
    One of the smallest players in world football, Nasir stands at just 5ft.
    But there is plenty of talent in those little legs, with the Terengganu FC star scoring on his international debut.
    Nigerian Messi – Stanley Okoro
    Nicknamed ‘Little Messi’, Okoro spent time in Spain with Almeria but struggled to make a breakthrough.
    He certainly likes the nickname, however, stating: “I don’t mind when people call me Little Messi.
    “It’s a pleasant thing to be compared with the best footballer in the world – I don’t have a problem with that.”
    But having played back in his homeland of Nigeria, Okoro is now without a club.
    Thai Messi – Chanathip Songkrasin
    Songkrasin is known as ‘Messi Jay'”or just ‘Jay’ but actually took inspiration from another Argentine legend.
    His father apparently trained him with the intention of copying Diego Maradona.
    He became a fans’ favourite across Thailand for his dribbling skills, with 58 international caps so far, and now plays in Japan for Kawasake Frontale.
    South African Messi – Tebogo Tlolane
    The winger was nicknamed Messi from a young age because of his dribbling skills.
    He even managed a two week trial at Barcelona but failed to make the grade – Tlolane is now back in South Africa with Orlando Pirates. 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.
    BLOODED BY HENRY
    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.
    CONFIDENCE IN HIS ABILITY
    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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    Croatia legend Luka Modric is an ex-refugee whose granddad was shot dead when he was just six but still became an icon

    LUKA MODRIC has enjoyed a stunning career, including winning the Ballon d’Or title in 2018, and will lead his country out against Argentina in the semi-final of the World Cup tonight.But his upbringing could not have been tougher.
    Luka Modric endured a tough childhood
    Growing up in Zadar, Modric won accolades for his local teamCredit: Collect
    The burned-out former house Modric lived in with his grandfatherCredit: Getty – Contributor
    When the Croatia and Real Madrid superstar was just six years old, his entire existence was rocked by the shooting of his beloved granddad at the hands of militant Serbian thugs and he was forced to live life as a refugee in his war-torn homeland.
    But despite such hardship, that didn’t stop the ambitious kid from going on to become one of the best players on the planet and still, aged 37, a global superstar.
    In 2018, he was voted the best player on the planet, ending the decade of dominance of the award by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
    But on December 8, 1991, during Croatia’s war of independence, violent Serbian militia stormed Modrici, a small village near the Velebit mountains in northern Dalmatia and wrought terror on Croatian families who hadn’t escaped.
    One of those caught in the crossfire was Luka Modric Snr, who was walking his cattle up an abandoned street when he was cornered by a group of Serbians.
    They brutally executed him along with five other locals.
    The idea behind the barbaric act was to send a message to other Modrici residents that they must leave their town behind, but it robbed the future Real Madrid midfielder of his grandfather.
    Modrici was where Modric was raised before his family fled to ZadarCredit: Getty – Contributor
    An early football club registration card from Modric’s childhoodCredit: Collect
    Modric was just six when his granddad was murdered by Serbian militia
    Modric has gone on to great success with the Croatian national team and Real MadridCredit: AFP or licensors
    Many Croatians were forced out of their villages by Serbian forcesCredit: Ron Haviv
    It hit Luka hard.
    At the time, he was raised by Modric Snr while his parents Stipe and Radojka worked long hours in a knitwear factory to support the family financially.
    And amazing footage emerged during the 2018 World Cup of a young Luka herding goats.
    I was six years old. These were really hard times. I remember them vividly but it’s not something you want to remember or think about
    After the incident, his parents were forced to leave Modrici and they sought refuge at the Hotel Iz in the town of Zadar.
    Without any electricity or running water, the sound of grenades and bullets became a daily occurrence for little Luka and his sister Jasmina, not to mention avoiding landmines potentially buried around any corner.
    But that didn’t stop the boy from kicking a small, punctured football around the hotel car park, dreaming that one day he would be able to leave his war-torn existence behind.
    The family home Modric grew up in still stands todayCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Families were torn apart, while an estimated 140,000 lost their lives during the warCredit: Toni Hnojčik
    The town of Zadar became Modric’s home when he was forced out of ModriciCredit: AFP – Getty
    Modric went from rags-to-riches through hard work and determinationCredit: Getty – Contributor
    The Yugoslav Civil War began in 1991 and ended in 2001Credit: Romeo Ibrišević
    The town of Modrici is near Croatia’s Velebit mountainsCredit: Getty – Contributor
    It’s a rags-to-riches tale that’s testament to the five-time Champions League winner’s dedication and determination to succeed in the wake of an awful tragedy.
    Modric rarely talks about his hardship, but when he signed for Spurs back in 2008, he briefly addressed the issues that blighted his childhood.
    “When the war started we became refugees and it was a really tough time,” Modric revealed.
    “I was six years old. These were really hard times. I remember them vividly but it’s not something you want to remember or think about.
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    Croatia’s captain led his team to the final of the 2018 World Cup and now the semi-final four years laterCredit: EPA
    Modric began his footballing education at Dinamo ZagrebCredit: AFP – Getty
    As a young teen, Modric starred in midfield for Dinamo ZagrebCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Serbian military volunteers were responsible for intimidating Croatian familiesCredit: Imre Szabo
    Many children were affected by the events of the Yugoslav Civil WarCredit: Christopher Morris
    Just a stone’s throw away from Modric’s abandoned home, a sign warns of the dangers of landmines nearbyCredit: Getty – Contributor
    “We lived in a hotel for many years as we struggled financially, but I always loved football.
    “I remember my first shin pads had the Brazilian Ronaldo on them and I loved them.
    “The war made me stronger, it was a very hard time for me and my family. I don’t want to drag that with me forever, but I don’t want to forget about it either.”
    It’s that mental toughness that has served Modric well during his career.
    Family man Modric has a son called IvanoCredit: AP:Associated Press
    Modric met his wife Vanja Bosnic in 2007 at the Mamic sports agencyCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Ivan Rakitić and Luka Modric formed a terrific midfield partnership for Croatia at the 2018 World Cup, but Rakitić retired from international duty in 2020Credit: Instagram @lukamodric10
    In Croatia’s stunning run to the Russia 2018 final, he overcame missing a penalty in normal time versus Denmark in the last-16 to step up in the shootout and send his side through.
    He also took a pen in his country’s second penalty shootout win over Russia in the quarter-finals that ensured their semi-final berth.
    Fast-forward four years and faced with the same pressure situation against Brazil in Qatar, Modric calmly buried another crucial penalty.
    However, when Modric was 10 years old he was written off by a number of coaches who thought he was too frail and shy to make it in the game.
    Hajduk Split passed on him and it was only when Tomislav Basic, a coach of a team that Modric played for in Zadar, stepped in and used his contacts to get Luka a trial at Dinamo Zagreb.
    At Spurs, Luka Modric was a cult heroCredit: PA:Press Association
    In 2012, Modric moved to Real Madrid for a fee of £30mCredit: Getty – Contributor
    During his career with Real Madrid, Modric has lifted the Champions League four timesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    From there his talent flourished, he went on to Tottenham and Real Madrid and is now a star for both club and country, as well as being one of the most respected footballers in the world.
    And his personal life couldn’t be much better either.
    He married Vanja Bosnic, who also acts as his agent, in 2010 in the Croatian capital of Zagreb. The pair first met at Mamic sports agency, where she worked.
    Modric’s former Tottenham and Croatia team-mate Vedran Corluka was the best man at their wedding.
    The couple’s first child, son Ivano, was born just three weeks after their big day.
    Since then, they have had two daughters; five-year-old Ema and Sofia, who was born in 2017.
    Vanja Bosnic poses for a snap with son Ivano and daughters Ema and Sofia
    Modric has been recognised as one of the world’s best playersCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Bosnic and Modric married in 2010 in ZagrebCredit: Instagram @lukamodric10
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    Bosnic is said to have such an influence on his life, she was deemed to be the person responsible for orchestrating his £30m move to Real Madrid.
    Modric’s remarkable rise to the top of world football was confirmed when he won the Ballon d’Or.
    No wonder his father Stipe was so emotional, saying: “I am the happiest and proudest father in the world.
    “You are my genius. I can’t find words.” More

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    Meet Britain’s richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who wants to buy Man Utd, owns Nice and is nicknamed Bond villain Dr No

    BRITAIN’S richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe – worth a staggering £15billion- is plotting to buy Manchester United.The billionaire businessman wants in after the Glazer family put the club up for sale – as long as it’s for the right price.
    Britain’s richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, wants to buy Man UtdCredit: Getty – Contributor
    United announced on Monday that the Glazers were “looking to explore strategic alternatives” for the club.
    Ratcliffe, 70, is a lifelong Red Devils fan and it was revealed in the summer he was interested in taking over the club.
    A spokesperson said: “If the club is for sale, Jim is definitely a potential buyer.
    “If something like this was possible, we would be interested in talking with a view to long-term ownership.
    “This is not about the money that has been spent or not spent. Jim is looking at what can be done now and, knowing how important the club is to the city, it feels like the time is right for a reset.”
    Back in April, Ratcliffe put in an offer for Chelsea after speaking with former Blues chairman Bruce Buck, when sanctions placed on Roman Abramovich triggered a fire sale.
    Ratcliffe is a petrochemicals tycoon who at his peak was worth around £21BILLION.
    He runs multi-billion-pound chemicals giant Ineos, which owns French club Nice, Swiss side Lausanne, plus a third of Formula One team Mercedes.
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    Speaking in October about taking over United, he said: “If it had been for sale in the summer, yes, we would probably have had a go, following on from the Chelsea thing.
    “But we can’t sit around hoping that one day United will become available.”
    Now United IS available, and billionaire businessman Ratcliffe is ready to negotiate a potential takeover.GROWING UP
    Ratcliffe was born in Failsworth,  LancashireCredit: AFP or licensors
    Ratcliffe was born in Failsworth, Lancashire, a commuter town just outside of Manchester.
    His father was a joiner and his mother worked in accounts, with the family living in a council house until the age of ten, before eventually moving to Hull, Yorkshire.
    His father later ran a factory making lab furniture.
    Ratcliffe previously admitted that despite having a Chelsea season ticket for many years, he is actually a Manchester United fan.
    He said: “I am a season ticket holder at Chelsea, have been for years, although I’m a Manchester United fan really.
    “Or was!”
    After attending Beverley Grammar School, Ratcliffe graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in chemical engineering.
    He also attended the London Business School, studying management accounting and graduating in 1980.
    CAREER
    Back in 2019, Ratcliffe forked out £91m to buy NiceCredit: Jamie McPhilimey – The Sun
    Ratcliffe’s first job was with oil firm Esso, before moving to American private equity group Advent international in 1989.
    He only became an entrepreneur at 40, as co-founder of INSPEC and then in 1998 forming Ineos in Hampshire, buying out his partners.
    The company used high-yield debt to finance deals, buying unwanted operations from bigger firms such as ISI and BP.
    In 2006, Ineos bought BP’s refining and petrochemical arm Innovene, giving the company refineries in five European countries and Canada.
    Ineos quit the United Kingdom in 2010, moving their head office from Hampshire to Rolle, Switzerland.
    The move is said to have saved Ratcliffe and his firm around £100million annually because of lesser tax.
    We’d look at businesses that were unfashionable or unsexy… We’d run them a bit better, reduce the costs, make them busy, and over the cycle they are very profitableSir Jim Ratcliffe on how his company made their billions
    He did return in 2015, however, putting the chemicals and energy branch of Ineos in Knightsbridge, London, saying he was “very cheerful” about being back in the UK and untroubled by Brexit.
    In fact, Ratcliffe had voted for Brexit.
    However, he quit the UK in 2018, moving to tax haven Monaco.
    The same year, the Sunday Times named Ratcliffe as Britain’s Richest Man, with a personal wealth of £21.05bn.
    Ineos, which employs around 19,000 people across the globe, makes fuels and lubricants, food packaging and construction materials that are a huge part of everyday life.
    It also supplies natural gas to homes and produces plastics, acids and polystyrene.
    In 2018, Ineos had a turnover of £45bn and is valued at £35bn.
    He previously revealed to The Times how he made his money, saying: “We’d look at businesses that were unfashionable or unsexy, facilities owned by large corporations where you’d know they would be sloppy with the fixed costs.
    “We’d run them a bit better, reduce the costs, make them busy, and over the cycle they are very profitable.”
    Ratcliffe has been called secretive and reclusive and according to the Financial Times has been given some nefarious nicknames by rivals and staff.
    They reported he has been called JR after the scheming oil tycoon from 1980s hit show Dallas, as well as Dr No – after the Bond villain/mad scientist.
    Ratcliffe’s company, Ineos, produces a range of plastics, lubricants and products used in everyday life – such as bottle tops and toothpasteCredit: Reuters
    Ratcliffe is a supporter of controversial drilling process frackingCredit: PA:Press Association
    PERSONAL LIFE
    Ratcliffe, who is a vocal supporter of fracking, was married to Amanda Townson in 1985, before divorcing in 1995 – the couple had two sons.
    He also has a daughter from his second wife, Alicia, whom he married in the late 1990s.
    Ratcliffe had properties in Chelsea and Hampshire before quitting the country for the French Riviera.
    His move to the tax haven, where he already had a property, saved him around £4BILLION in tax.
    Ratcliffe was also made a Knight Bachelor in the 2018 Birthday Honours list for services to business and investment.
    He has owned two large super-yachts, the Hampshire, which he sold in 2011 to take order of the Hampshire II, which he still owns.
    The Hampshire II cost £130million is 257ft 6in and can house 14 guests and 23 crew.
    It features six large cabins, has a swimming pool on one of the decks, a helipad, Jacuzzi, sauna, cinema and beach club.
    The helipad can even be transformed into a special sports area fit for tennis, badminton, basketball, baseball or football.
    His other toys include FOUR private jets and a fleet of cars – although it’s not known which cars he has.
    However, he is a known lover of Land Rover Defenders and has financed his own line of cars to rival his favourite 4×4.
    The Ineos Projekt Grenadier starts at £55,000.
    Ratcliffe is a lover of sports and the outdoors – and financed a new 4×4 to replace the Land Rover DefenderCredit: Jon Bond – The Sun
    The billionaire’s super-yacht, the Hampshire II, cost £130m and includes a swimming pool, helipad and room for 14 guestsCredit: YouTube / Feadship
    SPORTS
    Sir Jim has always been a huge fan of sport and physical activity.
    As well as growing up a Manchester United fan, he has made expeditions to the North and South Poles and also spent three months on a motorbike trek across South Africa.
    Ratcliffe is also said to have completed the London Marathon in 2007.
    Before his interest in buying Man Utd, Ratcliffe and Ineos had already bought another football team: Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport.
    He completed the purchase of the team in November 2017, with the club sitting fifth in the Swiss Super League.
    However, The Blue and Whites were RELEGATED in his first season at the helm, dropping down to the Challenge League.
    The club are currently fourth in the table.
    Ineos then paid £91million to take over French Ligue 1 side Nice in 2019.
    Elsewhere, Ratcliffe completed a move for cycling outfit Team Sky – and turned them into Team Ineos.
    He said: “Cycling is a great endurance and tactical sport that is gaining ever more popularity around the world.
    “Equally, cycling continues to mushroom for the general public as it is seen to be good for fitness and health, together with easing congestion and pollution in city environments.
    “Ineos is delighted to take on the responsibility of running such a professional team.”
    In 2018, Ratcliffe teamed with Olympic hero Sir Ben Ainslie to form Ineos Team UK, and they competed for the America’s Cup from 2021.
    It is believed he spent more than £110million on the project.
    Clearly, with money to burn, Man Utd fans will be getting excited at the prospect of Ratcliffe backing their club.
    Ratcliffe is a keen sailor and teamed with Olympic hero Sir Ben Ainslie to form Ineos Team UK – the billionaire has already spent £110m on the projectCredit: Getty Images – Getty More

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    England’s best and worst football kits, from Moore’s iconic 1966 shirt to Seaman’s garish Euro 96 goalie jersey

    THROUGH the years the likes of Umbro, Admiral and Nike have encouraged us to reach deep into our pockets to buy an England jersey.Some of those kits have been memorable, often linked to the team’s performance, and have become collector’s items.
    England, wearing the jersey they’ll wear for the 2022 World Cup, have sported a variety of shirts over the yearsCredit: Getty
    Others, however, have been simply forgettable – mainly because they were rarely worn or their design was simply too garish.
    SunSport has delved into its wardrobe to pull out the best and worst kits we’ve ever seen England perform in. There are some crackers… but there are some true stinkers too.THE BEST
    5. 2010-11 HOME KIT
    This special kit was one for the hipsters.
    Designed by Peter Saville, the graphic designer responsible for creating album artwork for Joy Division, Pulp, Suede and more, it was produced by Umbro.
    The cross of St George was carefully stitched onto the shirt and socks to give it that extra patriotic feel.
    While the shorts were a royal blue colour – that certainly suited Chelsea legend John Terry.
    In 2010 iconic graphic designer Peter Saville created this England top
    One for the hipsters, the flag of St George was stitched into the jersey and socks
    4. 1990-92 THIRD KIT
    One for the purists.
    Designed for Italia 90, it only ever got one outing – and that wasn’t just from Bernard Sumner in New Order’s World In Motion video.
    Dennis Wise and Co wore it for a game against Turkey in 1991, and it never appeared again.
    It did look very similar to Manchester City’s shirt of the same era though, that also featured a diamond pattern running through it.

    1990-92 Replica Third Shirt, £35 from Pro Direct Soccer – buy here

    England’s third kit looked like Man CityCredit: Getty – Contributor
    The Umbro kit was only worn once in a friendly against Turkey before it was shelvedCredit: Getty – Contributor
    3. 1990-93 HOME SHIRT
    A jersey linked with special memories.
    From David Platt hammering home a last-minute volley against Belgium to Gazza’s tears and Gary Lineker’s goals, it was worn infamously during the 1990 World Cup, where England reached the semi-finals.
    Its design is steeped in the 90s, with subtle zig-zags adorning a slightly flammable material.

    1990-93 Replica HOME Shirt, £30 form Pro Direct soccer – buy here

    Paul Gascoigne made England’s 1990-93 home jersey iconicCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Gary Lineker and England reached the semi-finals in Italia 90Credit: Getty – Contributor
    2. 1980-83 HOME KIT
    While England didn’t lose a game at the 1982 World Cup, where they wore this number created by Admiral, they failed to make it past the second group round.
    Two frustrating draws against West Germany and Spain, the latter in which an unfit Kevin Keegan missed a sitter of a header saw the Three Lions crash out.
    But in the style stakes, we definitely had the best kit – with a stonking v-neck flanked by a blue and red pattern either side of it.

    1980-83 Replica HOME shirt, £30 from Pro Direct Select – buy here

    Admiral’s England kit is recognised as one of their coolestCredit: Mark Leech Sports
    From 1980-83 England wore a v-neck collar
    1. 1966 AWAY SHIRT
    It had to be.
    Worn expertly by Bobby Moore and Sir Geoff Hurst as we marched to World Cup glory at Wembley defeating West Germany 4-2, it was only worn because (strangely) our opponents were the designated home team that day.
    But its simple design and round collar screams the 1960s, and it’s still a jersey you see fans wearing in the stands today.
    The question is; would it be number one if we hadn’t won the World Cup? Who cares, we did and that’s history.

    1966 Replica AWAY shirt, £25 from Pro Direct Soccer – buy here

    Bobby Moore wears the iconic red 1966 World Cup jerseyCredit: Getty – Contributor
    England only wore red that day because West Germany were the designated home teamCredit: Hulton Archive – Getty

    THE WORST
    5. 1999-2000 HOME KIT
    Desperate to recreate the feel of England’s 1966 shirt, Umbro introduced a round collar for this effort in time for Euro 2000.
    But even David Beckham couldn’t pull it off – as we fell to a last minute goal against Romania in a 3-2 loss in our last group game and were eliminated.
    The fact the shirt only retailed for a year showed you what the FA thought of it.
    Umbro brought back the round neck collar for this design in 1999Credit: Getty Images – Getty
    In 2000 after a dismal Euros the shirt was in the binCredit: Getty – Contributor
    4. 1997-1998 HOME KIT
    Ironically, its predecessor wasn’t much better.
    Another Umbro effort, it did have an iconic moment attached to it when an 18-year-old Michael Owen waltzed past several Argentina defenders to slam home one of the best World Cup goals.
    But in terms of design, it was all over the place – with a bulky trophy neck collar and strange stripes on the side not adding to its glory.
    The centralised badge was a bit too radical too.

    1997-98 Replica HOME shirt, £30 from Pro Direct Soccer – buy here

    Michael Owen’s iconic goal against Argentina made the 1998 jersey memorableCredit: AFP – Getty
    But placing the badge in the centre of the kit went against traditionCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    3. 2016 AWAY SHIRT
    When an England legend speaks out about a kit, it must be bad.
    In 2016, Gary Lineker tweeted: “Can’t think of a worse England strip” when the red away jersey was unveiled for the first time.
    And he wasn’t the only one, as fans online lambasted its design.
    For some reason it came with bright blue socks too. Just, no.

    2016 AWAY shirt, from £45, at Vintage Football Shirts – buy here

    England legend Gary Lineker was one of the first to criticise England’s 2016 away jerseyCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    For some reason Umbro paired bright blue socks with the red away kitCredit: PA:Press Association
    2. 1995-1996 AWAY SHIRT
    Sorry, Umbro.
    But when a company designs a shirt they hope looks good with jeans, is grey, and is said to be ‘indigo blue’ you know you’re in trouble.
    The strip was only worn three times, against Bulgaria, then against Georgia and finally against Germany in the Euro 96 semi-final.
    That defeat certainly put the nail in the coffin for it, and the kit was shelved soon after.

    1996-97 AWAY shirt, from £60, at Vintage Football Shirts – buy here

    England’s indigo blue shirt was created by Umbro with the idea it would look good with jeansCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
    After England’s Euro 96 heartbreak against Germany the kid was never seen againCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    1. POOR DAVID SEAMAN
    The Arsenal goalie had a momentous tournament at Euro 96.
    A penalty save against Scotland that inspired the Three Lions to victory, the hero in a penalty shootout win over Spain, he became renowned as one of the world’s best keepers soon after.
    latest football features
    But this kit he wore did him absolutely no favours, even if he did stand out from the crowd.
    A bright red colour, mixed with a splash of green, yellow, purple made it look like something someone who had indulged in too many Skittles might’ve thrown up.
    And why was the E backwards on it? We’ll never know.
    David Seamans goalie jersey from Euro 96 was a monstrosityCredit: Getty – Contributor
    For some reason the E was backwards on the jersey

    Ranking every England manager More

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    Meet England World Cup star James Maddison’s stunning girlfriend Kennedy Alexa, who is a model and lived in Los Angeles

    LEICESTER CITY ace James Maddison has finally got the call he deserves.The midfielder, 25, has been in inspired form for the Foxes, which Gareth Southgate could not ignore, and has picked him for England’s World Cup squad to go to Qatar.
    Kennedy Alexa is the stunning girlfriend of England ace James MaddisonCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    Maddison began dating Kennedy in 2020Credit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    Alexa and Maddison have as son called Leo
    Cheering him in Qatar will be his gorgeous Wag and mother of his son, Leo.
    The playmaker charmed stunning model Kennedy Alexa, 28, in 2020 – and they have been inseparable ever since.
    The pair became Instagram official when they shared a snap on Christmas Eve wearing matching pyjamas.
    Gushing Maddson revealed in 2021 that he loved his new girlfriend in a romantic social media post of the pair taking a stroll.
    Read more in football
    They then welcomed baby Leo in the summer of the same year, with the nipper already accustomed to life at the King Power Stadium and seeing daddy play.
    LA LADY
    But the pair have always remained tight-lipped on when they first began dating one another.
    And they’re so private, we’re not even sure how they met. But, we can assume it was in late 2020.
    Most read in Football
    According to her social media, English-born Alexa only moved back to the UK that same year.
    Previously, she lived in Los Angeles where she enjoying hiking on Runyon Canyon.
    Alexa got into American sports, including baseball.
    She also marched on a Black Lives Matter rally in West Hollywood.
    Gorgeous Kennedy shows off her stunning bikini body
    Gorgeous brunette Alexa is a modelCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    Alexa used to live in Los Angeles, where she enjoyed hikingCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    The brunette stunner also got into American sports, like baseballCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    Alexa shows off her curves in a sexy swimwear photoshootCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    On Instagram Alexa gives followers a glimpse of her fashion shootsCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    Proud Kennedy will be delighted for Maddison’s England call-up
    MODEL CITIZEN
    It’s no surprise that Alexa models for a living.
    A quick glimpse through her Instagram, that has almost 60,000 followers, shows the gorgeous brunette posing in various fashion shoots.
    She shot a campaign for the Princess Polly online boutique, and has taken to Wag life well – living a glam lifestyle.
    Maddison and Alex went Instagram official in matching pyjamas on Christmas eveCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    In recent years Alexa has modelled for the likes of American swimwear brand MontceCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    Alexa moved back to England from America in 2020Credit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    It is assumed Alexa began dating Maddison in 2020Credit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    Baby Leo has already been to see dad play football live with his mum
    Alexa also showed off her amazing bikini body for American swimwear brand Montce.
    In terms of her own fashion style, she has a penchant for Nike Air trainers – showing off her collection online.
    LOVES TO TRAVEL
    Being a model, Alexa gets to travel to some amazing destinations.
    On Instagram, she shared snaps from some incredible holidays – including stays in Hawaii and a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Prickly Pear Island in the Caribbean island of Anguilla.
    Add trips to Miami for glam photoshoots, life is beautiful for Alexa.
    Alexa loves to travelCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    On Instagram Alexa regularly shares her trips to glam placesCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    Alexa and Maddison have been gushing about each other on social mediaCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    Maddison told Alexa he loved her on InstagramCredit: Instagram @kennedyalexa
    And being a footballers’ Wag will bring plenty more where that came from.
    In a post, ‘Madders’ told Alexa: “Love you.”
    Judging by these snaps, it’s easy to see why. More

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    Security measures footballers use, from spending £50k on panic rooms to splashing up to £40k on guard dogs

    FOOTBALLERS can afford the ultimate luxuries in life, like sprawling homes, cars and expensive jewellery thanks to their hefty salaries.But unfortunately that makes them easy prey for opportunist thieves – who’ll target anything of value to steal.
    Dele Alli was targeted by burglars in 2020Credit: EPA
    Police arrive on the scene of Alli’s North London home after intruders broke in and stole watchesCredit: Paul Edwards – The Sun
    Manchester City ace Kyle Walker beefed up his security detail – buying a doberman for £40,000 from guard dog specialists Chaperone K9.
    Dele Alli was a victim of a robbery, where two burglars broke into his North London home, assaulted him before taking off with expensive watches, including a £150,000 Richard Mille 11-03, a £150,000 Patek Philippe 5980 Nautilus and a £50,000 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak chrono.
    Then in 2019, ex-Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac were chased by a moped gang, who tried to car-jack the German playmaker’s Mercedes G-Wagon, as the pair drove along a North London road.
    Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was burgled when he was on Champions League duty with the Reds, who were playing away against Bayern Munich.
    While the Senegalese forward was tormenting the Bavarians, his mansion was being ransacked by burglars, who nicked items including mobile phones, car keys and designer watches.
    But what security measures do footballers take to keep themselves safe from harm?
    IN THE CASE OF DELE
    Since having his timepieces nicked, Dele tried to make them too hot to handle and circulated their makes and models.
    And his football pals told him they would pass on the details to their watchmakers in the hope they could catch the thieves.
    A source told The Sun at the time: “These robbers might think they have hit the jackpot stealing these watches, but they are going to face real problems cashing them in.
    “Footballers use a handful of dealers and none will touch a stolen watch because they know it could cause serious problems down the line.
    Dele Alli’s prized watches were stolen from himCredit: Dele Instagram
    A £50,000 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak chrono was taken in the burglaryCredit: Dele Instagram
    Ali and his pals circulated their makes and models to make the goods too hot to handleCredit: Dele Instagram
    “It’s not unusual for cops in Dubai and Italy to demand to see papers for watches when passengers pass through security.
    “Can you imagine if a watch stolen in a violent robbery ends up on a wrist of a player who then gets arrested?
    “Dele is well connected through the England squad and knows players in Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool and London where all the main dealers are.
    “These dealers know if they accidentally bought any watch that turned out to be one of Dele’s, then they would never sell to a footballer again.”
    PANIC ROOMS
    One of the big trends in the last few years has seen footballers installing bulletproof panic rooms inside their lavish properties.
    Costing anywhere from between £40k to £1m, they provide a secure hiding spot for families at home during a burglary.
    David Beckham recently installed one in his family’s Kensington abode, along with a 24-hour, 60-camera CCTV system.
    Paul Weldon, managing director of The Panic Room, fits them for high-profile clients around Europe.
    He told us: “A panic room is a room that’s self-contained, that if the house becomes under some form of aggravated break-in, the family can get into that room, be safe and secure and have some independent communication to call for help.
    Former Arsenal pals Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Ozil were the subject of a car-jacking in 2019Credit: Getty Images – Getty
    The moped thugs had given chase to Ozil’s Mercedes G-Class SUV in North London
    Bosnian left-back Kolasinac bravely managed to send the attackers scarpering
    Panic rooms have become a huge trend for footballersCredit: The Panic Room Company
    A bulletproof panic room can cost anything from £40k to £1mCredit: The Panic Room Company
    Panic rooms are normally installed within an existing room in a propertyCredit: The Panic Room Company
    “In a residential home, we try to locate somewhere on the first bedroom floor where there’s a closet of two metres by two metres that can double up as a fully-blown panic room.
    “Generally, our rooms are installed inside an existing room and they have the capability to withstand bullets from a handgun and a shotgun.
    “They range from about £40,000 to £1m in price – and clients don’t just use them to protect themselves, they’ll store specialist wines, art work, and put their safes in there too.
    “But you have to remember, a panic room is a last resort. With a big, detached property you’ve got to incorporate other systems.
    “It may be at night you set perimeter alarms, or a ground floor alarm. So at least you’ve got some warning that someone is knocking around.
    “If the alarm activates outside, you can get your family inside a panic room and call the police. But it’s got to be used with other security features of a property.”
    SPECIALLY-TRAINED GUARD DOGS
    Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish, Mark Noble, Phil Jones, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jesse Lingard all swear by Chaperone K9 – a Leicestershire-based company that provides specially trained guard dogs to protect Premier League footballers’ families.
    The majority of dogs they provide are German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois, and each pooch has been put through a rigorous 12-month plus training programme.
    According to Chaperone K9’s website, the dogs are able to recognise and deal with a number of different threats, including home invasion, road rage, personal attacks on the person and their family and robbery.
    Chaperone K9 provide guard dogs to footballers, including Marcus RashfordCredit: Chaperone K9
    Mark Noble invested in two German Shepherds from Chaperone K9 to protect his familyCredit: Chaperone K9
    Man Utd star Phil Jones also believes having a Chaperone K9 dog in your home warns off intrudersCredit: Chaperone K9
    Rashford paid upwards of £15,000 for a Chaperone K9 dog to protect his Cheshire propertyCredit: Chaperone K9
    Hugo Lloris recently added a guard dog from Elite Protection to his familyCredit: Instagram
    Once given a command, they will spring into action with an apparent initial display of aggression to ward a potential assailant off simply by barking.
    If there is more than one attacker, they are taught to position themselves between you and the potential threat, continuously barking to keep the assailants at bay.
    And should the assailant continue to pose you a danger, a Chaperone K9 has learned, on command, to bite and hold the attacker until you tell the dog to release them.
    Since the Alli incident, more footballers have said to have invested in the ferocious guard dogs – also using rival firm Elite Protection, like Hugo Lloris.
    PERSONAL BODYGUARDS
    When you’re as famous as someone like the Beckhams, surrounding yourself and your children with burly security guards is a necessity.
    On the school run in LA, former members of the SAS would flank the family’s brood before they went to class.
    And when Brazil captain Dani Alves was at PSG, Titan Security were asked to look after his safety during a meet and greet.
    “When Dani launched his new clothing line in Paris, we supplied security staff for him,” Matthew Watson, director for Titan Security Europe explained.
    “Measures were taken in store where Dani was signing autographs and posing for photos with fans.
    David Beckham and his family are regularly flanked by security, some of which are SAS-trainedCredit: AFP – Getty
    “Crowd control and proximity of general public in this setting had to be considered due to the nature of it being a high-profile footballer, as well as two-way earpiece radio support to bodyguards on site.”
    Watson believes in the wake of the recent incidents more footballers will seek personal security.
    “In light of recent events, anticipation is for this market to continue to grow,” he said.
    “Affluent footballers are often a target due to lack of security around them, and they are very much in the public eye.
    “While brazen attempts to rob these individuals is becoming more frequent, with salary’s being posted and shared on social media.
    “That means footballers today are at risk more than ever.”
    Dani Alves required security detail when he was attending an event in ParisCredit: PA:Press Association
    RAISING AN ALARM
    Shield Security provide alarms and systems for footballers in the Yorkshire and Humber region, as well as the North of England.
    When Southampton forward Shane Long was plying his trade at Hull City, he enlisted their services.
    “During my time with Premier League football club Hull City, my family were fortunate enough to benefit from the services of Shield Security,” he revealed.
    “As a professional footballer, I often spend a great deal of time away from home, and with that in mind, my wife and I wanted the best security protection for our family.”
    Not only does Shield offer state-of-the-art alarms that can detect the most cunning intruder, they also offer security staff that stay at the home overnight, which is something Long invested in ahead of Hull’s ill-fated Europa League campaign in 2014.
    “We can offer guards to patrol the premises for footballers when they’re away, which is a decent visual deterrent,” Shield Security manager Alex Lee told us.
    “While some of the clients will request patrol cars visit four or five times a night to have a look around the premises.
    “But it’s mostly going technology-wise now. What happens with these burglaries is the robbers tend to know when a footballer is going away, so it’s pretty hard to prevent against.”
    Lee revealed that footballers are spending up to £20k to ensure their mansions are covered by alarms, cameras and barrier fences.
    Shield Security provide alarms, barrier fences and more for footballersCredit: Shield Security
    Shane Long asked Shield Security to provide a patrol guard to look after his property when he was awayCredit: Reuters
    CCTV cameras are installed around footballers’ homes, with video and alerts sent straight to their phones if an alarm is triggeredCredit: Getty – Contributor
    “A lot of footballers tend to live in houses that have gated houses.
    “So the first port of call is a gated intercom. They have a video camera pointing at the entrance and that goes direct to an app on their mobile phones.
    “There could also be cameras right around the site, with some players even doing internal cameras by their back doors, as well as intruder alarms.
    “We install perimeter fences too that have a laser going from pillar to pillar, so any movement over that and an alarm will be triggered.
    latest football features
    “It’s not too different to what your average Joe is getting really, but the only difference is it’s on a larger scale because of the size of their houses.
    “Most footballers’ homes are five bedroom homes, so they’re spending anywhere from £5,000 to £20,000.
    “But if that’s the price of keeping them and their family safe, they will happily pay that.”
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