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    Footballers who were rich before becoming famous, like Vialli, Bamford and the Sultan of Brunei’s nephew

    FOOTBALLERS today make massive money.With the average Premier League wage now exceeding £50k-per-week, it’s no wonder boys grow up dreaming of making it pro.
    Gianluca Vialli has always enjoyed the high-lifeCredit: Instagram @lucavialli
    However, this lot were already from wealthy backgrounds before they made it to the big league.
    Let SunSport guide you through the football stars that were already swimming in riches and didn’t need the beautiful game.GIANLUCA VIALLI
    Chelsea and Italy legend Vialli was always recognised as a gentleman of the game.
    And it’s probably got to do with his upbringing.
    He was raised by his father, a self-made millionaire, in a 60-room castle called the Castello di Belgioioso in Cremona, along with four siblings.
    The Champions League and Serie A winner also loves a posh round of golf.
    He took part in the Alfred Dunhill links championship pro-am event, which is one of the richest golf tournaments played in Europe.
    Vialli was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017 but has successfully undergone treatment to be clear of the disease.
    He currently works alongside manager Roberto Mancini with the Italian national team.
    Vialli grew up in a 60-room castle called the Castello di Belgioioso in CremonaCredit: Alamy
    Dignified Vialli had a far from modest upbringingCredit: Instagram @lucavialli
    Gianluca Vialli scores for Chelsea against Nottingham Forest in 1996Credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
    The ex-Chelsea manager didn’t have to go into football, although it was an easy step for him to make.
    Lampard came from a football family, with uncle Harry Redknapp and dad Frank Lampard Snr showing him the way at West Ham United.
    He intended the posh Brentwood School in Essex that would’ve cost a fortune in school fees.
    There, he scored 11 GCSE’s and could’ve been an accountant, according to a former teacher.
    Frank Lampard went to posh Brentwood High SchoolCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
    Being half of a celebrity couple (his missus is Colombian singer Shakira), Barcelona defender Pique has made his own fortune.
    However, growing up life was easy for the defender who had a spell in England at Manchester United as a youth.
    He lived a comfortable existence in Catalonia. Dad Joan is a successful attorney and businessman, while mum Montserrat is the director of a hospital in Barcelona.
    Even Pique’s grandfather Amador Bernabeu was minted – as a former director of the La Liga champions.
    Gerard Pique’s dad Joan is a successful attorney and businessman, while mum Montserrat is the director of a hospital in BarcelonaCredit: Alamy
    Formerly of Leicester City, currently playing for Portuguese club Marítimo, Bolkiah is the nephew of the Sultan of Brunei, who has a fortune estimated to be worth £15bn.
    His dad is Jefri Bolkiah, a brother of the oil tycoon, so that makes Faiq a member of their royal family and in line to receive a nice inheritance.
    At his 50th birthday, to impress his son, he hired Michael Jackson to play a private gig just for them.
    Faiq Bolkiah is a former Leicester City trainee and nephew of the Sultan of BruneiCredit: Instagram @fjbolkiah
    The third son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Al-Saadi played for Perugia, Udinese and was on the books at Sampdoria.
    In 2011, he retired and became the commander of Libya’s Special Forces and led the army in the Libyan Civil War. In 2018, he was cleared of murder charges after he was extradited from Niger back to Libya.
    During his playing days he once employed Diego Maradona as a technical consultant, and Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson as his personal trainer.
    Al-Saadi Gaddafi was the son of Colonel GaddafiCredit: AFP – Getty
    Gaddafi played in Italy before becoming an army generalCredit: Getty – Contributor
    The Spurs goalie comes from an affluent background.
    Growing up in Nice in the South of France, his mother was an attorney, while his dad was a banker.
    He took tennis lessons as a kid, and was ranked high in his age range as a youngster.
    It meant football played second fiddle in his life until the age of 13.
    Lloris famously played through the pain of losing his mum, refusing bereavement leave to play for Nice.
    Hugo Lloris could have been a tennis star instead of a footballerCredit: AFP – Getty
    Wealthy and artisanal, Van Persie’s parents afforded the former Arsenal striker a comfortable life growing up in Rotterdam.
    His father Bob is a renowned artist and sculptor, while his mother Jose Ras is a painter, teacher and jewellery designer.
    Van Persie’s parents split up when he was younger, and he was a troublesome teen.
    His dad expected him to become an artist too.
    Robin Van Persie’s parents were artisticCredit: Instagram @robinvanpersie
    Mother Jose Ras is a painter, teacher and jewellery designerCredit: Instagram @robinvanpersie
    The fiery Italian wasn’t born wealthy.
    Balotelli originally comes from Palermo and his parents where Ghanaian immigrants.
    But he was adopted by Francesco and Silvia Balotelli family when his mum and dad couldn’t afford him.
    They were a wealthy pair, who lived in an affluent part of Brescia called Concesio.
    His birth and adoptive parents fought for custody, but it was decided it was in Balotelli’s best interests to stay put.
    Mario Balotelli was adopted when he was a kidCredit: Instagram @mb459
    Francesco and Silvia Balotelli lived wealthily in BresciaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    An elegant footballer and man, Pirlo learned about the finer things in life when he was a kid.
    His dad Luigi set up a steel company in Brescia in 1982, which Andrea still has a stake in.
    The former Juventus star enjoyed an upper class life, which he later put to use in his own way.
    Pirlo, who ended his career in the MLS, also owns his own vineyard, as rich people do.
    Andrea Pirlo learned about the finer things in life as a youngsterCredit: Instagram @andreapirlo21
    Today, refined Pirlo owns his own vineyardCredit: Instagram @andreapirlo21
    He doesn’t have to play centre forward for Leeds, you know.
    Bamford isn’t your typical footballer, being a skilled violin and piano player and attended fee-paying Nottingham High School, got five A*s at GCSE and went on to study French, history and biology at A Level.
    Bamford was even offered a scholarship at Harvard in the US, who recognised his academic prowess.
    However, he’s not related to JCB founder Joseph Bamford, as was once claimed.
    Patrick Bamford went to private school and was offered a scholarship to HarvardCredit: Instagram @patrick_bamford
    Bamford is a not relative of JCB founder Joseph Bamford as was once claimedCredit: Hulton Archive – Getty
    Most of Brazil’s best footballers lead a life that tells a rags-to-riches tale. But former Ballon d’Or winner Kaka is different.
    He was raised by father Bosco Izecson Pereira Leite, who was an engineer, while his mother Simone dos Santos was a school teacher.
    It has been reported that Kaka lived comfortably, and wasn’t raised in poverty like many of his teammates for his country.
    Brazilian legend Kaka lived a comfortable existence growing upCredit: Instagram @kaka
    Kaka’s father Bosco Izecson Pereira Leite was an engineerCredit: Instagram @kaka
    Ref books Brazilian legend Kaka before taking a selfie with him during star studded charity match More

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    Inside England football’s day of shame as report reveals appalling behaviour before Euro 2020 final

    A YOB hijacked a disabled child in a wheelchair to get into Wembley for the Euro 2020 Final amid violence and chaos which “could have cost many lives”, a report revealed yesterday.The heartless moron donned a hi-viz jacket to impersonate a steward and wheel the youngster away from his dad through a disabled entrance.
    England fans without tickets gathered outside Wembley StadiumCredit: Reuters
    A drunk fan was pictured with a flare in his bottom before the gameCredit: Elliott Franks
    A probe led by Baroness Casey of Blackstock highlighted the horrific ruse among a string of “appalling” incidents on a day of “national shame” at the England v Italy game.
    The dossier condemned the Football Association, the Metropolitan Police and local authorities over blunders which resulted in a “perfect storm” of lawlessness.
    The damning report states: “That it should happen at our national stadium and on the day of our biggest game of football for 55 years is a source of national shame.”
    Huge crowds of rowdy troublemakers had thronged the showpiece venue for hours before the 8pm kick-off on July 11, boozing wildly and openly snorting cocaine after Covid restrictions eased.
    And 2,000 ticketless yobs stormed through security cordons before and during the match as police and security staff lost control.
    Baroness Casey wrote of the wheelchair stunt: “In one appalling incident, a ticketless fan tried to impersonate a steward and hijack a disabled child and separated him from his father, in order to trick his way through a pass gate.”

    Describing the incident, the boy’s dad told the review: “He’s then taken my son’s wheelchair and pushed it towards the door.
    “Just as we got to the door, we twigged what was going on and it turned out he’s just an England fan in a hi-viz jacket that was literally hijacking a wheelchair to get into the stadium.”
    Baroness Casey added: “Disturbingly, it is clear that ticketless fans targeted disabled supporters in a predatory fashion near the turnstiles.”
    The inquiry heard that concerns about supporters were raised by a Brent Council official who alerted colleagues, the FA, Wembley bosses and police as early as 9.02am.
    His WhatsApp message read: “Talking to fans . . . none with tickets, just here for the occasion. Might be a big feature of the day.”
    By noon, 10,000 fans had arrived around Wembley hoping to cheer Harry Kane and the England stars to a historic victory.
    But transport staff were shocked by the drunken behaviour of some.
    A London Underground official said: “I’ve been doing this for over a decade and have worked on various other celebratory events, including New Year’s Eve.
    “I have never seen drunkenness like this so early on in the day.
    “I remember walking into the control room at about 9am and there were England fans drinking as I walked in.
    I have never seen drunkenness like this so early on in the day.London Underground official
    “The alcohol was flowing. And I thought, ‘This is going to be a hard day’. I felt it was going to be really challenging.”
    A probe by The Sun had exposed two Wembley ­stewards who attempted to sell their hi-viz bibs and security passes for £4,500 in a worrying security lapse.
    The pair sauntered away from their posts at 4pm to meet a Sun investigator who tipped off police, leading to their arrest and prosecution.
    Mounted police charged crowds soon afterwards in a vain bid to stop ­hundreds of fans storming and swarming through barriers.
    An official at Brent Council — which was also criticised in the report — said at its height, the disorder resembled a “medieval siege”.
    One witness told the review: “I saw bottles and cans being thrown at people, children cowering behind parents, trees being ripped up and thrown, people climbing on roofs and throwing things into crowds.”
    Analysis showed 17 mass breaches as yobs gained entry by “tailgating” fans with tickets or forcing their way through disabled access gates and emergency fire doors.
    The breaches stretched from 90 minutes before kick-off up to the penalty shoot-out at the end.
    All agencies responsible for ­staging the final had been caught off-guard, the review found, with police deployed too late at 3pm — when crowds were already beginning to run riot.
    Almost half of respondents to a fan survey detailed in the report saw drug-taking in and around the ground.
    That this should happen anywhere in 21st-century Britain is a source of concern.Baroness Casey
    Baroness Casey said the authorities’ “collective failure to foresee risk” turned the landmark event into a virtual war zone.
    She added: “I am clear we were close to fatalities and life-changing injuries for some, potentially many, in attendance. That this should happen anywhere in 21st-century Britain is a source of concern.”
    The report warned the chaos came close to causing a repeat of the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster which cost the lives of 97 Liverpool fans after a security breakdown.
    Baroness Casey said: “Some of what happened was sadly foreseeable, even if the scale of it was not. The events at Hillsborough in 1989 have weighed heavily on my mind.”
    She added after the report was published yesterday: “Our team of role models were in our first major final for 55 years.
    “However they were let down by a horde of ticketless, drunken and drugged-up thugs who chose to abuse innocent, vulnerable and disabled people, as well as police, volunteers and Wembley staff, creating an appalling scene of disorder.
    “We are genuinely lucky that there was not much more serious injury or worse.
    “No one was fully prepared for what happened that day and it can’t be allowed to happen again.
    Our team were let down by a horde of ticketless, drunken and drugged-up thugs who chose to abuse innocent, vulnerable and disabled people creating an appalling scene of disorder.Baroness Casey
    “Law-abiding fans, our national team and our national game deserve better.”
    FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “The FA apologises for the terrible experience that many suffered within Wembley on what should have been a historic night for the game.
    “The review makes clear that the circumstances leading up to the match led to a perfect storm of lawlessness.
    “No event is set up to deal with such disgraceful behaviour from thousands of ticketless fans.
    “Collectively, we must never allow this to happen again.”
    The Met Police said yesterday it was “deeply sorry” so many people faced “unacceptable scenes of disorder”.
    Commander Rachel Williams said the final was “tarnished by groups of ticketless, anti-social and thuggish football fans”.
    She added: “We regret that we were not able to do more to prevent those scenes unfolding.”
    Yobs attempt to get through a door meant for disabled access at Wembley StadiumCredit: Reuters
    Security meltdown at Wembley as groups of thugs breach barriers and staff watch helplessly
    England skipper Harry Kane applauds fans during the Euro 2020 final against ItalyCredit: AP
    England boss Gareth Southgate consoles Bukayo Saka after his penalty miss in the finalCredit: Getty
    ITV reveal fans without tickets did manage to break into Wembley before England’s huge Euro 2020 final game against ItalyWe pay for your stories!Do you have a story for The Sun news desk? More

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    The wackiest goalkeeper incidents, from De Gea fouled by Fred, to Lehmann urinating and Barthez pretending it’s offside

    AS the saying goes, you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper… and these No1’s have provided us with some eccentric moments.In between the sticks for Manchester United, David De Gea conceded the most bizarre goal against Arsenal, when his own team mate Fred trod on his heel, leaving him on the deck as Emile Smith Rowe volleyed in from the edge of the area.
    David De Gea lays on the floor after being injured by his own player in Man Utd’s game against ArsenalCredit: AP
    Earlier, De Gea was trod on by his own team mate Fred
    The controversial goal was allowed to stand with referee Martin Atkinson failing to blow the whistle before the ball crossed the line to stop play.
    But that’s not the only bizarre moment involving the keeper as SunSport looks back at some classic incidents…
    Former Blackburn goalie Tim Flowers’ unfortunate error always appears on blooper shows.
    In fairness to the ex-England shotstopper, he got his body behind a tame shot from Stan Collymore in a game against Liverpool in 1996.
    But what he forgot to take into consideration was the divot he created moments earlier for his goal kicks.
    Not only did the ball hit said divot, it flicked the ball over the hapless goalie’s head.
    Tim Flowers was left red-faced when the ball hit a divot on the pitch an flicked over his headCredit: Sky
    On a beach, a beach ball is lots of fun. But on the football pitch, it’s a potential hazard for goalkeepers
    Just ask ex-Liverpool and Spain keeper Pepe Reina, who saw a shot from Sunderland striker Darren Bent deflect off one past him in a 1-0 defeat in 2009
    Ironically, the ball was thrown onto the pitch by a Liverpool fan.
    Some years later, Reina would tweet “Who the hell put a ball in there?”, accompanied with a picture of the incident.
    Pepe Reina was deceived by a beach ball in a defeat to SunderlandCredit: Getty
    It’s the most remarkable save you’ll ever see.
    England were hosting Colombia in 1995, in what ended up being a drab 0-0 draw.
    However, it was livened up by madcap Rene Higuita’s now infamous scorpion kick.
    An overhit cross from Jamie Redknapp floated towards goal. The curly-haired shotstopper let it float over his head, before volleying back where it came from – mimicking a scorpion’s tail stinging its prey.
    Rene Higuita seen doing his infamous scorpion kick at Wembley StadiumCredit: YouTube
    He’s behind you!
    Clearly, Shay Given didn’t get the memo that 6ft 2in centre forward Dion Dublin was sneakily hiding behind him.
    So, the Irishman decided to roll the ball out in front of him as he prepared to launch the ball forward for Newcastle in a game against Coventry City during the 1997-98 season.
    Cue Dublin pouncing on the loose ball and sweeping it home.
    Dion Dublin celebrates after Shay Given’s embarrassing errorCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
    Spare a thought for his rival, Ben Foster because no goalie wants to be scored against by his opposite number.
    But that’s exactly what happened to the Watford shotstopper, when ex-Spurs star Paul Robinson unleashed a monster free kick from deep in his own half in a game from 2007.
    Inexplicably, Foster completely misread the bounce of the ball as it skidded off the turf and over his head.
    “It was just one of those things – a freak goal. Out of respect for Ben I didn’t want to run off celebrating looking like I meant it,” Robinson later said.
    Paul Robinson launches a free kick from his own halfCredit: BBC
    Rival Ben Foster looks on in horror as the ball bounces over him and into the netCredit: Jamie McPhilimey

    Few men would defy chain-smoking Maurizio Sarri.
    However, Kepa Arrizabalaga must have had a death wish at Chelsea for this act of lunacy.
    The Italian manager wanted to take the goalie off in the 2019 League Cup final, ahead of a penalty shootout against Manchester City, believing he was injured.
    Sarri ordered penalty-saving specialist Willy Caballero to warm up, then tried to make the change. Kepa wasn’t having any of it though, and waved his manager off and stayed on the pitch.
    Kepa later accepted: “I was wrong, and I am sorry for everyone who was involved: for Maurizio Sarri, who it seemed like I had undermined in public; for Willy, a teammate and a great professional; and for all my teammates and Chelsea fans who had to put up with everything – all the noise that was generated during the game and then in the days after.
    “Inside the club it was no big deal. I had a chat with the boss, we talked about how we had each seen the situation, and we cleared the air.”
    Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to come off as a sub in a League Cup final for ChelseaCredit: PA:Press Association
    Jason Cundy slams De Gea for staying down for Arsenal’s opener More

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    Michael Carrick’s incredible journey from two-year Champions League depression to successful stint as Man Utd caretaker

    AFTER 15 years, Michael Carrick said an emotional goodbye to Old Trafford.The former Red Devil announced he was leaving the club following a successful stint as caretaker boss and a rollercoaster playing career that saw him hit the highest highs and plummet into a devastating depression.
    Michael Carrick walks away from Old Trafford with his head held high after a successful stint as caretaker bossCredit: Reuters
    His final act, a 3-2 win over fierce rivals Arsenal, meant he ended unbeaten in his three games – with two victories and one draw.
    Speaking to Amazon Prime after the game, he revealed: “It’s not been an easy decision to make but I feel it’s the right one.
    “I was going to take time off after I finished playing and it never happened. It feels like the right time to step away and what a way to finish.
    “It’s 100 per cent my decision. Over the last week I was conscious I respected the club and the manager coming in. I thought it was the right thing to do for the club and for Ralf [Rangnick] and I’m quite happy with that.
    “We were in a situation where there was a responsibility to see these games through. The loyalty to Ole is a little bit of a factor but there were a lot of things that came into my decision.
    “I’ve had great times, great memories and I’m proud of the players over the past three games.
    “I just told them and they were a bit shocked and surprised, a bit emotional in the changing room. I held it together, just about. It’s not been easy to keep it away from people but I had a job to do.”
    Although his future now may belong in managing, it’s as a player West Ham, Spurs and United fans also remember him fondly.
    It all started at Upton Park for the humble Wallsend-born midfielder.
    Often an underrated cog in a side, he provided stability for his defence while delivering simple passes to more attacking players.
    Wallsend-born Carrick began his football career at West HamCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
    It was at Man Utd Carrick enjoyed most success, winning five Premier League titlesCredit: Getty – Contributor
    In 2008 Carrick lifted the Champions League trophyCredit: Action Images – Reuters
    Carrick enjoyed a trophy laden career at UnitedCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
    After making his debut aged 18 for the Hammers, where he was a member of their FA Youth Cup team in 1999, he lost two seasons through injury after a growth spurt.
    But he would end up playing 159 times in the East End, winning an Intertoto Cup, before moving to Spurs.
    Two seasons later, Sir Alex Ferguson paid £15million to bring him to the North as a successor to Roy Keane in midfield.
    Trophies that had eluded him at his previous clubs came aplenty at United.
    In all, he won five Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups, the Champions League and Europa League.
    He was also named Manchester United’s Players’ Player of the Year in 2012-13.
    Louis Van Gaal called Carrick his “trainer coach during the game”. So, it was inevitable what his next move would be.
    Made club captain when Wayne Rooney left, Carrick announced he would retire after the 2017-18 season.
    Awaiting him was a coaching position and working alongside Jose Mourinho and his assistant Rui Faria.
    “He has qualities we believe that can make him a good coach,” the Special One said before his final game at Old Trafford.
    When Mourinho was sacked, Carrick was kept on at the club and began working with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
    Jose Mourinho handed Carrick his coaching apprenticeshipCredit: Reuters
    When Mourinho left, Carrick worked alongside Ole Gunnar SolskjaerCredit: Getty – Contributor
    After becoming caretaker boss, Carrick made the decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo to the benchCredit: Rex
    The pair formed an alliance, often seen deep in conversation in the dugout over tactics.
    But, his calling would soon come as caretaker boss when the Norwegian was dismissed.
    In his first game, he saw off Villarreal in the Champions League with a 2-0 win.
    Then, he his gambled decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo saw his side fight for a 1-1 draw away at Chelsea.
    For his last game, Carrick would bring back a rejuvenated Ronaldo who would score twice, including a winner from the spot in a 3-2 win over Arsenal.
    However, despite his assured persona, Carrick has had to battle his demons.
    He admitted he punished himself so badly for gifting Barcelona a goal in the 2-0 Champions League final defeat in 2009 that it left him hardly wanting to play for the next 12 months.
    The former United midfielder opened up about his torment in his autobiography Michael Carrick: Between The Lines.
    Carrick wrote: “I was loose with a header and Iniesta was on it in a flash, passing to Messi. Barcelona are ruthless in transition.
    “I was close to Messi but couldn’t prevent him passing back to Iniesta who got ahead of me and Anderson. Iniesta slipped the ball to Eto’o, who got away from Vidic.
    “I slid in but only got close enough to Eto’o to see him score.
    Carrick admitted he punished himself for gifting a goal to Barcelona in a 2-0 Champions League final defeatCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
    Humble Carrick admitted his mistake saw him sink into a deep depressionCredit: Getty
    “In quiet moments in the weeks after our 2-0 defeat, that passage of play kept returning to haunt me. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It sounds melodramatic, but I’ve never recovered from it.
    “The memory of conceding such a soft goal is always there in my mind. Giving the ball away to any team was dangerous, but to Barcelona it was suicidal.
    “That was the worst I’ve felt on a football pitch after a game by a mile. I was mentally devastated, angry and frustrated by my performance and by United’s.
    “I’ve never talked about Rome with the Boss. I can’t, it’s too painful. Even now, almost a decade on, the gloom from Rome has not completely gone.”
    As the dust settles, and Carrick leaves the Theatre of Dreams with his head held high, the question of what happens next remains.
    He will, no doubt, spend time with his family before embarking on his next chapter.
    Harry Maguire was one of the Man Utd stars who said an emotional goodbye to Carrick after the gameCredit: EPA
    Cristiano Ronaldo also wished his old team-mate and manager well for the futureCredit: Getty

    Should that be as a manager, well he has the endorsement of arguably the greatest player the world has ever seen.
    “Michael Carrick was a class act as a player and he can become a great coach as well,” Cristiano Ronaldo revealed on Instagram after news broke that Carrick was leaving.
    “Nothing is impossible for this guy. Personally, I’m proud to have played with him by my side as well as with him as a manager on our bench.”
    Michael Carrick reacts to Man Utd’s 3-2 victory against Arsenal More

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    Inside Ralf Rangnick’s chaotic rise to Man United boss – burnout, touchline scuffles, divorce & row with Playboy

    MANCHESTER United fans are in for a rollercoaster ride with new boss Ralf Rangnick if his past escapades are anything to go by.The 63-year-old German, who is replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the helm, has fallen out with star players, referees, management – and even his childhood sweetheart.
    Ralf in happier days with his ex-wife Gabriela, who he met when he was 17Credit: Getty
    Ralf during a scuffle with goalkeeper Sven Ulreich in 2017Credit: Getty
    Rangnick has been hired as an “interim” manager, but if he brings the club the success they so desperately crave he could stay on beyond the end of the season.
    Even if he does start winning there is a risk the so-called “tactical genius” could suffer another burnout.
    The man credited with inspiring Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has a reputation for not sticking with clubs.
    Six months into his job as head coach at Schalke in 2011 – having resigned from TSG Hoffenheim after reportedly clashing with owner Dietmar Hopp – Rangnick quit due to extreme burnout syndrome.
    He then took a 10-month sabbatical before lining up a role as sports director at Red Bull Salzburg.
    Five years ago – by which point Rangnick was sports director at RB Leipzig – rival fans put up a poster which read “Ey, Ralf we’re eagerly awaiting your next burnout.” 
    Around the same time he was secretly suffering from marital heartache.
    Rangnick split with wife Gabriela – his childhood sweetheart whom he’d met at school when he was just 17 – in 2017.

    The couple were together for over 40 years, share two grown-up sons, Kevin and David, and seemed to have the perfect relationship.
    News of their separation was only made public a year later, with Rangnick insisting no one else was involved and it was amicable.
    The former couple even bought a house together in Mallorca for the family to use at the end of 2017.
    Rangnick said: “Each of us deserves the chance of a new life and a new partner. Gaby and I have known each other for 42 years. She was 15 and I was 17 when we met at school.”
    Playboy row
    Rangnick’s famously closed about his personal life. In 2018, an interview with him was due to appear in Playboy Germany, but it was pulled after his agent cut it extensively – the first time the magazine decided not to print an authorised article.
    Rangnick acknowledged the fact it had been heavily edited, arguing the interview went off topic.
    He said: “I should have got up after half an hour and said, ‘You know what, we don’t need to do an interview like that with Playboy.’ We had agreed other things in advance.”
    While he and his wife parted on good terms, the same can’t be said of Rangnick when it comes to the majority of his ex-clubs – and on occasion his players.
    Man Utd’s prima donna stars had better curtail their bling lifestyles if they want to get on the right side of the disciplinarian.
    Last year he blasted his RB Leipzig players after they flew in a top British barber, Sheldon Edwards, to cut their hair – before they lost a game 2-0. 
    Rangnick said he was “stunned”, adding: “That is decadent and not a far cry from a golden steak.”
    That is decadent and not a far cry from a golden steakRalf Rangnick
    Record signing Paul Pobga, who changes his hairstyle almost as often as he changes his shirt, has been warned.
    Premiership referees won’t get an easy ride, either. 
    In echoes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Rangnick makes his feelings clear to the men in the middle.
    Touchline scuffle
    In 2017 he was fuming when his Leipzig side were denied a penalty during a cup clash with Bayern Munich.
    At the half-time whistle he stormed from the VIP stand towards the referee team around Felix Zwayer, brandishing his phone to show video evidence it was the wrong decision.
    It angered Bayern star Mats Hummels and a scuffle ensued between the pair, who were eventually separated by Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulreich.
    While Solskjaer was known for his mild-mannered approach, Rangnick does not shy away from making his feelings known.
    The first signs of his temperamental tendencies appeared in 1996 when he quit amateur side SSV Reutlingen after falling out with management.
    Rangnick was then accused at VfB Stuttgart of overzealously trying to convey his ideas and concepts to the club.
    In particular, the suspension of the player Krassimir Balakow in autumn 2000 attracted a lot of flak.
    At Hannover 96 he repeatedly clashed with president Martin Kind and sporting director Ricardo Moar.
    During his first stint at FC Schalke 04 he fell out with the club’s general manager, Rudi Assauer.
    Despite his position becoming untenable, in December 2005, before a game against Mainz, he set off on his own lap of honour around the stadium – infuriating the board who sacked him the next day.
    Tough upbringing
    Born in 1958 in Backnang, a Swabian part of Germany, Rangnick didn’t have the easiest start in life.
    He said: “I come from a refugee family. My parents met in Saxony in 1945/46. My mother had just come from Breslau [Poland], my father from Königsberg, before the cities were destroyed by the Allies. 
    “We had nothing. I earned my own money and used it to finance my studies. From the age of 18, I basically no longer burdened my parents financially. Apart from that, this teacher/coach gene crystallised in me early on.”
    Fears of failure and sleep disorders shaped his childhood, and have made him sensitive when dealing with his players’ personal issues.
    Rangnick said that a serious illness of his mother was decisive: “I had to take on responsibility early in my life, was already in a kind of adult role as a child.
    “I was an only child, my father went to work in the morning and often gave me the message, ‘Please take good care of mum’.”
    Since then Rangnick has put people and family first: “If I find a player has big personal problems or is urgently needed at home, that takes priority.”
    I was an only child, my father went to work in the morning and often gave me the message, ‘Please take good care of mum’Ralf Rangnick
    In 1977 Ralf studied to be a teacher of sport and English at Stuttgart University.
    During a study trip to the University of Sussex in England, he played amateur football for the West Sussex club FC Southwick in the 1979/80 season which proved to be a painful experience.
    Rangnick recalled that during his second game: “I had direct experience of being tackled from behind.
    “I broke three ribs and one of them punctured my lung. I was in hospital for three weeks in Chichester on a ward with 60, 70, 80 year olds and I was out of action for four months.”
    He took a very academic approach to coaching and was nicknamed the “professor” after using a blackboard to explain his tactics during an appearance in the ZDF sports studio in 1998.
    Rangnick is considered to be the pioneer of counter-pressing – the fast-paced, quick-thinking control game that has made it all the way to the Premier League and into the English vocabulary thanks to Klopp, also a native Swabian.
    Rangnick himself speaks more of the “rock ‘n’ roll football” he wants to play, a term used by the Liverpool manager. 
    He devotes much of his spare time to analysing games, often sitting for hours watching back footage or discussing tactics with coaching staff over a glass of wine.
    That tough work ethic could spell problems for United’s rivals.
    Just as long as Rangnick doesn’t put so many hours in that he burns himself out again.
    Ralf suffered a collapsed lung while playing non-league football in England
    Jurgen Klopp (left) was inspired by the “heavy metal” tactics developed by RangnickCredit: AFP
    Rangnick is a passionate boss, who gets animated on the touch lineCredit: Reuters
    Ralf Rangnick’s Man Utd appointment slammed as Souness says he doesn’t get it ‘on any level’ More

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    Man Utd boss Ralf Rangnick had wheel of fortune at Leipzig with forfeits like making stars train in a ballerina’s tutu

    MAN UTD’S new boss Ralf Rangnick was a disciplinarian at previous club RB Leipzig, where he had a wheel of fortune containing forfeits for disobeying stars.The German manager, 63, was finally confirmed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s successor this week, and will join the club as interim manager before staying on as a consultant for a further two years.
    Man Utd’s stars could play Ralf Rangnick’s wheel of forfeits if they behave badly
    Ralf Rangnick’s wheel of misfortune with 12 forfeits from his time at RB Leipzig
    And it could mean that Red Devils stars Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo might face punishments like training in a ballerina’s tutu or working in the club shop, if they step out of line.
    Rangnick came up the idea after scrapping fines believing a professional footballer’s time is more valuable than money.
    He said in 2018: “Fines rarely bring anything. It hurts the players more when they have less time.”
    And his assistant Jesse Marsch mentioned the idea of a wheel with he had picked up from America.
    The concept is simple; spin the wheel and await your forfeit. There are 12 outcomes – 11 bad, and one ‘Get out of jail free’ card.
    Here’s the 12 outcomes on Ralf’s dreaded wheel.
    1. Pump up the balls, get them on the pitch, clean them
    For 30 minutes per day for a week, this task will see a player having to make sure balls are pumped up and ready to use.
    Better still, they’ve got to be spotless.
    Footballs will have to be pumped up by misbehaving starsCredit: Getty
    2. Train an academy team
    An essential part of United’s success has been through their kids.
    If a player lands on this, they will have to train one of the academy teams for four hours when they have a free day.
    3. Stadium tour guide
    It would be your lucky day, if you were a supporter and Ronaldo was showing you around Old Trafford.
    But, should a star misbehave they will have to act as a tour guide for the Theatre of Dreams for one hour.
    Players will have to act as tour guide at Old Trafford if they step out of line with RangnickCredit: Getty
    4. Get Lucky
    View it as a get out of jail free card.
    Should a player spin and fall on this, they will face absolutely no punishment and will be counting their lucky stars.
    5. Mow and take care of training pitch
    As you can expect, the pitches at Carrington are perfectly manicured.
    This task would see a player assisting the groundsman in mowing the grass and tending to the training areas for four to six hours within a training week.
    Groundsman at Carrington will be assisted in looking after training pitches by naughty starsCredit: Rex

    6. Wear a tutu
    Possibly the worst on the list and most embarrassing.
    Play up in front of Rangnick, and you’ll be forced to wear a pink ballerina’s tutu for 90 minutes at training.
    7. Fill water bottles
    Rehydration is crucial to athletes when it comes to training.
    This forfeit would mean the naughty player will have to mix drinks ahead of training and fill water bottles for 20 minutes per day for the whole week.
    Filling water bottles for team mates is one of Rangnick’s forfeits on his wheel of fortuneCredit: Getty
    8. Club shop assistant
    Here’s a punishment you wouldn’t want to face during the festive period.
    This would see a player having to work as an assistant at the Manchester United’s Megastore for three hours.
    9. Serve food in team cafe and clean tables
    For 30 minutes per day, a star would have to serve his team mates their dinner cooked by the chef.
    Worse still, he would be expected to clean up after them when they’ve finished.
    Cristiano Ronaldo might be serving up club team mates their dinner, if he misbehavesCredit: Getty
    10. Work as a kit assistant
    Again, not a glam job for a well-paid United star.
    This task would see someone have to take care of dirty shirts, and make sure boots are clean for 30 minutes per day.
    11. Load the team bus
    Man Utd have an amazing team bus, worth £400,000. So, you can imagine you can get a lot of stuff in it.
    And that would be expected of you, if you mess Ralf about.
    For an hour and a half on an away day, you’d have to load the bus with bags.
    Players may have to load up the team bus if they cross RangnickCredit: Getty
    12. Buy gifts for staff
    With the salaries United players are on, this won’t dent their wages too much.
    But, land on this one and you’ll have to buy small gifts for up to 60 members of staff.
    So, will Rangnick enforce his wheel of forfeits on United’s stars?
    Time will tell if you see Paul Pogba training in a tutu.
    Ralf Rangnick’s Man Utd appointment slammed as Souness says he doesn’t get it ‘on any level’ More

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    Ex-Liverpool and Fulham star Ryan Babel is now a rapper, who has released his autobiography as a hip-hop album

    FORMER Liverpool ace Ryan Babel has released his autobiography… as a rap record.The Dutch star, 34, always held an interest in hip-hop and toyed with the idea of releasing music as he juggled a career in football.
    Ryan Babel has released his autobiography as a rap recordCredit: Alamy
    Dutch star Babel played for Liverpool between 2007-2011Credit: Getty
    But, with the game taking up most of his time, he instead set up a record label when he was 22 and appeared on other artist’s songs.
    Now, with his career winding down, Babel has stepped up to the mic with a truly inventive idea.
    On The Autobiography – Chapter 1, the Netherlands international sings about his relationship with Rafa Benitez, how Louis van Gaal didn’t believe in him and aims a dig at former team mate Ibrahim Affelay.
    It was boredom that inspired Babel, who had two spells in the Premier League with the Reds and Fulham, as he twiddled his thumbs during the first lockdown.
    He was on loan at Ajax from parent club Galatasaray, where he plays today, when a journalist asked him if he planned on penning his memoir.
    At the time he thought he was too young. But when football stopped, last year Babel got creative.
    He rang up his pals in the music industry and told them of his novel plan to detail his life story in a hip hop album.
    “I was aware that, if I wanted to make it authentic, I had to share stuff that maybe isn’t always comfortable to tell,” he told The Guardian.
    “But at the same time I was prepared mentally to do that and the process of writing was very inspiring with the people who were involved. I’m really proud of what I was able to tell in the final product and the way I was able to tell it.
    During the first lockdown, Babel admitted boredom got the better of himCredit: Alamy
    Already interested in music, Babel set out making a record about his careerCredit: Instagram @ryanbabel
    The Autobiography – Chapter 1, album cover shown, is the fruit of Babel’s laboursCredit: Instagram @ryanbabel
    “In the past when I was making little things in the studio it was more like bragging, you know how rappers do in general.
    “It’s easy to lie and say, ‘Oh, I’m rich this and rich that’ but that wasn’t interesting for me and definitely not what I wanted to do. I wanted to be as authentic as possible and share my truth.”
    During his storied career Babel has played for, and with, some of the most famous names in football.
    Open Letter, the third single to be taken from his debut LP, was the one that caused the most stir in his homeland.
    In the song, he bashes Louis Van Gaal and Rafa Benitez – but saves his more potent venom for Ibrahim Affelay.
    “Open Letter is a song that is divided into two parts and has two different beats,” Babel said.
    “The first part of the song is basically me taking you back on a journey I have walked from the very start. I describe moments where I felt certain coaches didn’t believe enough in me.
    “I describe conversations with old football players like Winston Bogarde, who had a tough conversation with me and told me that if I wanted to make it I needed to step it up.
    “I involve the current head coach of the Netherlands, Louis van Gaal, who at the time was the sporting director of Ajax and didn’t believe enough in me to give me a contract but still did because the coach, Danny Blind, believed in me.
    Babel leaves no stone unturned with some of his controversial lyricsCredit: Instagram @ryanbabel
    Ibrahim Affelay and Babel in better times before the rapper dissed his former team mateCredit: Alamy
    [embedded content]
    “I talk about those things that happened back in 2003-2004 and I have never shared before.
    “There is also a moment where I describe my little relationship with Rafa Benítez at Liverpool, and then you go to the second part of the song which is more about the current time and where I give my opinion on journalism in Holland and a situation with an old colleague who became a journalist (Afellay).
    “People in Holland took it as a diss-song but it was more an expression of my disappointment in this individual because we had been teammates for so long and now he turned into a pundit who, in my opinion, tried to score points to make his position look good in the pundit world.”
    Babel was signed by Benitez for £11.5million in 2007.
    However, he struggled to set England alight with the Reds – despite an early prediction from Liverpool legends Kenny Dalglish that he had the potential to set the Premier League alight.
    Babel is believes he could have got more support from the Spanish manager during his time at Anfield.
    “It was, in my opinion, a weird relationship [with Benítez] because when he signed me I looked at him as the big uncle who wanted to give me a chance and help me succeed,” Babel divulged.
    “But then as we went on he left me totally on my own and only judged me for the things I didn’t do right instead of telling me how to solve or improve the things I had to improve.
    After arriving at Anfield in 2007 alongside Yossi Benayoun, Babel struggled with boss Rafa BenitezCredit: PA:Press Association
    Babel, still only 34, currently plays for Turkish side GalatasarayCredit: Rex

    “I was very young and I just needed guidance. I don’t want to blame the coach for me not having the ultimate career at Liverpool but I felt it could have been closer in terms of guidance and support.
    “You can compare it to when you’re trying to teach someone something and it doesn’t stick, but then someone else says the same thing in a different way and all of a sudden it clicks.
    “The way the coach at that moment tried to make things click, it didn’t click.”
    Ryan Babel’s The Autobiography – Chapter 1 is out now and available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, and Deezer. More

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    Hulk stars for Atletico Mineiro, while Martinelli scores for Arsenal, as clubs in Brazil favour veterans over youth

    THE same weekend that Gabriel Martinelli scored a wonderful goal for Arsenal, Hulk scored two to take Atletico Mineiro to the brink of their first Brazilian league title since 1971.That was the year Charlie George helped Arsenal to the double and when no one imagined that 60 years later strikers from Brazil would be making a mark in the English game.
    Hulk celebrates firing Atletico Mineiro to the brink of the Brazilian titleCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Brazil youngster Gabriel Martinelli was also on target for Arsenal over the weekendCredit: Reuters
    The comparison between Martinelli and Hulk is a clear example of some of the trends in today’s football.
    Not so long ago, someone like Martinelli would be living the dream by turning out for one of the giant teams in his home city of Sao Paulo – Corinthians, perhaps, or recently crowned champions of South America, Palmeiras.
    Instead he did not even get close to the Brazilian first division. He chose to play for Ituano, a small club an hour’s drive outside Sao Paulo, because the connection with Juninho would make it easier for him to move to England. A globalised generation have globalised dreams.
    And the big European clubs want to make those dreams come true as early as possible. They want to strip South American football of its best talent while they are still teenagers.
    The idea is to take them across the Atlantic early, to help them adapt to life and to football in a different culture.
    And so these days the outstanding players in the Brazilian game are often the veterans rather than the wonderkids.
    Hulk is an excellent example. He played a grand total of two games in Brazil back in 2004. Still an unknown, he was fixed up with a move to Japan.
    And after a long career taking him on to Portugal, Russia and China, this year he has gone back home to join Atletico Mineiro. Some doubted him. But he has been the best player in the league.
    He is the first division’s top scorer, and after his team had fallen behind against Fluminense on Sunday he added two more to win the game and make Atletico almost certain champions.
    His strike partner is the former Chelsea and Atletico Madrid centre forward, Diego Costa.
    Saturday also staged the showpiece occasion of South American football,  the Copa Libertadores final between two Brazilian giants, Palmeiras and Flamengo. 
    It was striking that the starting line ups featured just two players under 25. Palmeiras sold Gabriel Jesus to Manchester City.
    Flamengo have concentrated on producing future stars for Europe – such as Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior and Lucas Paqueta of Lyon – and using the proceeds to bring back two types of player from the other side of the Atlantic.
    One is the veterans, those looking to end their careers with a last attempt at silverware – the recently acquired David Luiz is an example.
    Brazil’s top clubs are turning to veterans like David Luiz for successCredit: Getty

    The other is players in their mid 20s who have not been able to find space in the deep European clubs.
    There are several examples of this in the Flamengo line up. A recent one is midfielder Andreas Pereira, on loan from Manchester United.
    But on Saturday this did not have a happy ending. With the match at 1-1 in extra time, it was a glaring error from Andreas Pereira that gifted the game to Palmeiras – an outcome that Gabriel Jesus was certainly celebrating.
    Brazilian national team trains ahead of huge World Cup qualifier against Messi’s Argentina More