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

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

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

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    Man Utd legend Gary Neville NEVER received a single transfer enquiry from another club but wouldn’t have left anyway

    MANCHESTER UNITED legend Gary Neville once revealed that no club EVER enquired about signing him – and said he would never have left Old Trafford anyway.The Red Devils icon, 47, said his head was never once turned during his time in the red half of Manchester.
    Gary Neville says no club ever came in for him – and that he wouldn’t have quit anyway
    A 2020 trip to Miami made Neville realise what he may have missed out on during his careerCredit: Instagram @gneville2
    While Neville claimed he never wanted to quit Old Trafford, travelling to the US for Inter Miami’s first-ever home game – with ex-team-mate David Beckham the team owner – opened his eyes to what he missed out on as a player.
    Nev made the incredible revelations during a chat with Geoff Shreeves on Sky Sports’ Off Script podcast in April 2020.
    When asked by Shreeves if any other club came knocking for him during his playing days, Neville replied: “None that I’ve ever been made aware and none that I’ve known of.
    “I imagine that Sir Alex in his post-Manchester United career or in his interviews when I left the club would have said that someone would have come in for me or something like that.
    “It would have come out. So no, I’m unaware of any interest that’s ever been shown in me.”
    I imagine that Sir Alex in his post-Manchester United career or in his interviews when I left the club would have said that someone would have come in for me or something like thatGary Neville
    Neville went on to say that, even if another team had made a move for him, he wouldn’t have accepted.
    The ex-England defender said: “Never for one second did I ever take the blinkers off.
    “I could never understand, for instance just before David Beckham left I knew a months before that there was probably something brewing.
    “I couldn’t get my head around it at the time – with me being so Manchester United – how any player that was at the club would ever think to want to leave.
    “I just couldn’t compute it at all. For myself it never once entered my head.
    “My contract negotiations, the longest was probably three meetings, when Peter Kenyon was the CEO.
    “They were normally done inside one or two meetings. They were always long contracts.”
    ANY REGRETS?
    But that’s not to say Neville thinks he was necessarily right to be a one-club man.
    His trip to the US in 2020 to watch Beckham’s MLS side, Inter Miami, play their first home game made Neville realise what he may have missed out on.
    Nev continued: “I remember thinking that what I thought in my mid-20s, when David left, I couldn’t understand it.
    “But then when I saw the furore around his first game in Miami.
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    “He’s played at Real Madrid, he’s played at AC Milan, he’s played at Paris Saint-Germain, he’s played in LA, he’s now got a club in Miami…
    “The experiences that he’s had in his life are just out of this world, and obviously if he’d stayed at Manchester United he would never have experienced them.
    “So is he richer in his experience for the bold decision that he made? He definitely is.”
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    Cristiano Ronaldo once slammed Gary Neville for ‘disgraceful farmer’s field’ tactics as Valencia drew with Real Madrid

    CRISTIANO RONALDO once slammed Gary Neville for his “disgraceful farmer’s field” tactics during Valencia’s draw with Real Madrid in 2016.Neville endured a horror stint as manager of Valencia in the 2015-16 season – lasting just THREE months before being sacked.
    Neville has revealed he wound Ronaldo up after their LaLiga meeting in 2016
    The former Manchester United full-back failed to record a single win in his first nine matches and left with the Spanish giants 14th in LaLiga.
    But amongst the dark moments was one shining light – as his side twice battled from behind to draw 2-2 with a star-studded Real Madrid side.
    In a fiery encounter, now-Chelsea star Mateo Kovacic was sent off as Paco Alcacer secured a late leveller to seal a point.
    And Neville has now revealed how that game got under Ronaldo’s skin.
    ‘NO CHANCE’
    Nev told Sky Sports’ Off Script podcast: “The 2-2 draw with Real Madrid where we almost won it late on was an incredible night.
    “Rafa Benitez was Madrid manager and that was his last game before he got sacked.
    “What I remember most about that game was our tactic of leaving the grass really long.
    “We didn’t water the pitch so the ball wouldn’t travel as quick in the hope of slowing down Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
    “It was like a farmer’s field.
    “Cristiano came over to me before the game and said ‘it’s a disgrace, cut the pitch’ – I said ‘absolutely no chance’.
    “There was no way he was dribbling that night.”
    .css-qu9fel{border-top:1px solid #dcdddd;}.css-b9nmbi{margin-bottom:16px;border-top:1px solid #dcdddd;}.css-1qsre5o{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;height:100%;-webkit-align-items:flex-start;-webkit-box-align:flex-start;-ms-flex-align:flex-start;align-items:flex-start;-webkit-align-content:flex-start;-ms-flex-line-pack:flex-start;align-content:flex-start;-webkit-box-flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-wrap:nowrap;-ms-flex-wrap:nowrap;flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;justify-content:space-between;}.css-q8gelu{margin-bottom:24px;}.css-7ysxcx{padding:0;text-transform:uppercase;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-7ysxcx:hover:not(:disabled){-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-jkwlot{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;height:100%;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-flex-direction:row;-ms-flex-direction:row;flex-direction:row;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;justify-content:space-between;padding:0;text-transform:uppercase;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-jkwlot:hover:not(:disabled){-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-1x7hydu{font-family:The Sun;font-size:24px;line-height:1.1666666666666667;font-weight:400;letter-spacing:0%;font-stretch:semi-condensed;padding:1px 0px;}.css-1x7hydu::before{content:”;display:block;height:0;width:0;margin-bottom:calc(-0.24520833333333342em + -0.5px);}.css-1x7hydu::after{content:”;display:block;height:0;width:0;margin-top:-0.2333333333333334em;}.css-1lobn43{display:inline;font:inherit;margin:0;color:rgba(0,0,0,1);}.css-1lobn43 svg{fill:rgba(0,0,0,1);}MOST READ IN FOOTBALL.css-1gojmfd{margin-bottom:16px;}.css-zdjvqv{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;height:100%;-webkit-align-items:flex-start;-webkit-box-align:flex-start;-ms-flex-align:flex-start;align-items:flex-start;-webkit-align-content:flex-start;-ms-flex-line-pack:flex-start;align-content:flex-start;-webkit-box-flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-wrap:nowrap;-ms-flex-wrap:nowrap;flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-box-pack:space-around;-ms-flex-pack:space-around;-webkit-justify-content:space-around;justify-content:space-around;margin-top:calc(-12px/2);margin-bottom:calc(-12px/2);}.css-zdjvqv:before,.css-zdjvqv:after{content:”;display:block;}.css-1meuhfk{display:-webkit-inline-box;display:-webkit-inline-flex;display:-ms-inline-flexbox;display:inline-flex;margin-top:calc(12px/2);margin-bottom:calc(12px/2);}
    Dropping those two points ultimately cost Los Blancos greatly, as they missed out on the LaLiga title to Barcelona by ONE point.
    But it still wasn’t enough for Neville to save his job, as he was sacked just weeks later.
    Neville hasn’t managed since, instead sticking to punditry on Sky Sports. More

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    Cristiano Ronaldo’s special bond with Sir Alex Ferguson revealed, from five Ballon d’Or wins to Man Utd showdown talks

    WHEN Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Manchester United as a talented 17-year-old in 2003, the wheels were set in motion for one of football’s special bonds.It started a powerful relationship between the handsome young star and his dour Scottish manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
    The moment Sir Alex Ferguson and Cristiano Ronaldo met a special bond formedCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Sir Alex congratulates Ronaldo for winning Euro 2016Credit: Getty – Contributor
    The Manchester United manager go on to become a father-figure to the Portuguese superstar.
    He played a  key role in helping Ronaldo return to the club that made him nearly 20 years later, in 2021.
    And now Sir Alex, 89,  is being be called in to plead with CR7 to stay at the club after one turbulent season.Ronaldo has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid and Sporting Lisbon, after reportedly growing disillusioned at the club.
    Until today, he skipped training – but has now reported to Carrington to talk about his future along with his agent Jorge Mendes.
    Joining the discussion will be Ferguson, who will ultimately do his best to persuade his dear friend to stick with the Premier League giants.
    It’s a ploy United use last summer, when it seemed nailed on that the all-time leading international goalscorer would sign for United’s arch-rivals Manchester City.
    However, Fergie stepped in at the 11th hour to stop the move in its tracks.
    .css-qu9fel{border-top:1px solid #dcdddd;}.css-b9nmbi{margin-bottom:16px;border-top:1px solid #dcdddd;}.css-1qsre5o{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;height:100%;-webkit-align-items:flex-start;-webkit-box-align:flex-start;-ms-flex-align:flex-start;align-items:flex-start;-webkit-align-content:flex-start;-ms-flex-line-pack:flex-start;align-content:flex-start;-webkit-box-flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-wrap:nowrap;-ms-flex-wrap:nowrap;flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;justify-content:space-between;}.css-q8gelu{margin-bottom:24px;}.css-7ysxcx{padding:0;text-transform:uppercase;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-7ysxcx:hover:not(:disabled){-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-jkwlot{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;height:100%;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-flex-direction:row;-ms-flex-direction:row;flex-direction:row;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;justify-content:space-between;padding:0;text-transform:uppercase;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-jkwlot:hover:not(:disabled){-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-1x7hydu{font-family:The Sun;font-size:24px;line-height:1.1666666666666667;font-weight:400;letter-spacing:0%;font-stretch:semi-condensed;padding:1px 0px;}.css-1x7hydu::before{content:”;display:block;height:0;width:0;margin-bottom:calc(-0.24520833333333342em + -0.5px);}.css-1x7hydu::after{content:”;display:block;height:0;width:0;margin-top:-0.2333333333333334em;}.css-1lobn43{display:inline;font:inherit;margin:0;color:rgba(0,0,0,1);}.css-1lobn43 svg{fill:rgba(0,0,0,1);}most read in football.css-1gojmfd{margin-bottom:16px;}.css-zdjvqv{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;height:100%;-webkit-align-items:flex-start;-webkit-box-align:flex-start;-ms-flex-align:flex-start;align-items:flex-start;-webkit-align-content:flex-start;-ms-flex-line-pack:flex-start;align-content:flex-start;-webkit-box-flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-wrap:nowrap;-ms-flex-wrap:nowrap;flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-box-pack:space-around;-ms-flex-pack:space-around;-webkit-justify-content:space-around;justify-content:space-around;margin-top:calc(-12px/2);margin-bottom:calc(-12px/2);}.css-zdjvqv:before,.css-zdjvqv:after{content:”;display:block;}.css-1meuhfk{display:-webkit-inline-box;display:-webkit-inline-flex;display:-ms-inline-flexbox;display:inline-flex;margin-top:calc(12px/2);margin-bottom:calc(12px/2);}
    “A lot of people played their part (in bringing Ronaldo back) and I contributed knowing that really Cristiano wanted to come here and that was important,” he told Viaplay before the ex-Real Madrid star made his return to Manchester United.
    Ronaldo, himself, acknowledged the manager’s contribution. “PS — Sir Alex, this one is for you…” he wrote in a social media post celebrating his move from Juventus.
    Now, the fiery Scot has said Ronaldo deserves a sixth Ballon d’Or title, after his goalscoring exploits for club and country.
    Through the years, Fergie has been credited with making him the player he is today.
    Sparing him the infamous hairdryer treatment, Fergie filled Ronaldo’s head with confidence – giving him the freedom that allowed him to become a five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
    The “Boss”, as Ronaldo affectionately calls him, was even there for his protege’s most famous moment for his country – winning Euro 2016 – giving him a hug from the stands as he collected his winners’ medal.
    Their father/son relationship has blossomed through the years, so much so it was recently revealed that Ronaldo was set for a sensational return to Old Trafford until Fergie’s retirement in 2013 halted a deal.

    FAN BOY
    After Sir Alex retired, he enjoyed going to live events – from the Oscars to various European finals.
    At Euro 2016, Fergie was in the stands to watch Portugal defeat France 1-0 after extra-time.
    As the Portuguese players walked down the steps after receiving their medals, a proud Ferguson embraced Ronaldo and gave him a huge hug.
    Then, a year later he was a special guest at the 2017 Champions League final, in which Ronaldo won man of the match and scored twice in a 4-1 rout of Juventus.
    Of course, it was Fergie that give him his award that night.

    Ronaldo is given his man of the match award by Sir Alex after the Champions League final in 2017Credit: AP:Associated Press
    FAMILY COMES FIRST
    Back in 2005, as Ronaldo was beginning to establish himself at Old Trafford, his father Jose Dinis Aveiro fell ill in hospital after years of alcohol abuse.
    Immediately, Fergie ordered him to take compassionate leave – even though it meant his star player would miss key games during the season.
    “When my daddy was sick in London, and he was in hospital very bad in a coma,” Ronaldo revealed Sir Alex Ferguson: Secrets of Success’ in 2015.
    “I had a conversation with him [Ferguson] and I said: ‘Boss, I don’t feel good.’
    “We are in a key moment in the Champions League, and I said I don’t feel good and I wanna see my dad. He said: ‘Cristiano – you wanna go one day, two days, one week? You can go. I’m going to miss you here because you are important, but your daddy is the [priority].’
    “When he told me that, I feel like this guy is unbelievable. He is the father of football for me.”
    As the years have passed their relationship has been akin to a father and sonCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Fergie ordered Ronaldo to take compassionate leave when his father was on his death bedCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    RED HERRING
    Fergie knew Ronaldo’s dream was to play for Real Madrid, and he wasn’t going to stop him from joining the La Liga giants.
    That said, he did try to pull a fast one when it was reported that Los Blancos were deep in talks with CR7.
    “You don’t think we’d get into a contract with that mob, do you?,” Sir Alex said back in 2008.
    “Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t sell them a virus. So that’s a no — there is no agreement between the clubs.”
    Six months later, Ronaldo moved to Spain – with Fergie in agreement all along.
    Ferguson never got in the way of Ronaldo’s dream to play for Real MadridCredit: AFP – Getty
    Ronaldo and Ferguson embrace at the end of a Champions League match between Man Utd and Real Madrid in 2013Credit: Getty Images – Getty
    A FITTING TRIBUTE
    In 2012, at the unveiling of a statue of Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, Ronaldo made an appearance by video link to pay tribute to his former boss.
    He began by apologising for not being there in person because of his hectic schedule.
    “I think you 100 per cent deserve it for what we did with you,” Ronaldo continued in the clip.
    He even joked, “I hope to see you soon, because I need to practice my English, not my Scottish!”
    Sir Alex and Ronaldo have always been happy to praise one anotherCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
    In 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson was the special recipient of the BBC Sports Personality Diamond Award for the show’s 60th edition.
    Again, Ronaldo took to video link to heap praise on Sir Alex.
    “You were like a football father to me,” Cristiano said.
    “You deserve this award because you are a fantastic manager, a fantastic person and the number one.”
    Ronaldo has referred to Fergie in the past as his football fatherCredit: Getty – Contributor

    FILM STAR
    In 2015, Cristiano Ronaldo’s amazing life made it to the big screen.
    He opened himself up to the world in his documentary ‘Ronaldo’ – which Fergie wasn’t going to miss for the world.
    The Scot stood side-by-side with Ronaldo on the red carpet for its premiere in London.
    Both beaming with pride, Ronaldo and Fergie looked like father and son.
    Sir Alex Ferguson stood side-by-side with Ronaldo at the premiere of his documentaryCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Again, the pair couldn’t hide their affection for one another
    MESSAGE OF SUPPORT
    When Sir Alex suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2018, Ronaldo and the whole footballing world were praying that he would pull through.
    Taking to Instagram, Ron shared an image of them together with the caption: “My thoughts and prayers are with you, my dear friend. Be strong, Boss!”
    Ferguson made a miraculous recovery and the pair met up when Juventus played Manchester United at Old Trafford.
    “A great coach and above all a wonderful man,” Ronaldo shared with a photo in a tweet.
    “Taught me so many things inside and outside the pitch. Great to see you in good shape, Boss!”
    A great coach and above all a wonderful man. Taught me so many things inside and outside the pitch. Great to see you in good shape, Boss! pic.twitter.com/Ql4dcuJvCW— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) October 24, 2018

    TEAR-JERKER
    In 2020, Ronaldo won the Portuguese Player of the Year award for a record 10th time.
    It was Fergie’s time to record a moving video message for his former student.
    “Congratulations on a great achievement and a wonderful night you’re going to have in Portugal,” Ferguson said in the clip.
    “I’m really sorry I can’t be with you, but I look back and see you as a young lad at 17 years of age who came to Manchester United, how you have progressed as a human being and a fantastic sportsman.
    Ronaldo receives the 2008 Ballon d’or from FergusonCredit: Offside
    Fergie has revealed he is eternally proud of the man Ronaldo became when he left Man UtdCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
    .css-qu9fel{border-top:1px solid #dcdddd;}.css-b9nmbi{margin-bottom:16px;border-top:1px solid #dcdddd;}.css-1qsre5o{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;height:100%;-webkit-align-items:flex-start;-webkit-box-align:flex-start;-ms-flex-align:flex-start;align-items:flex-start;-webkit-align-content:flex-start;-ms-flex-line-pack:flex-start;align-content:flex-start;-webkit-box-flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-wrap:nowrap;-ms-flex-wrap:nowrap;flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;justify-content:space-between;}.css-q8gelu{margin-bottom:24px;}.css-7ysxcx{padding:0;text-transform:uppercase;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-7ysxcx:hover:not(:disabled){-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-jkwlot{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;height:100%;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-flex-direction:row;-ms-flex-direction:row;flex-direction:row;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;justify-content:space-between;padding:0;text-transform:uppercase;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-jkwlot:hover:not(:disabled){-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-1x7hydu{font-family:The Sun;font-size:24px;line-height:1.1666666666666667;font-weight:400;letter-spacing:0%;font-stretch:semi-condensed;padding:1px 0px;}.css-1x7hydu::before{content:”;display:block;height:0;width:0;margin-bottom:calc(-0.24520833333333342em + -0.5px);}.css-1x7hydu::after{content:”;display:block;height:0;width:0;margin-top:-0.2333333333333334em;}.css-1lobn43{display:inline;font:inherit;margin:0;color:rgba(0,0,0,1);}.css-1lobn43 svg{fill:rgba(0,0,0,1);}latest football features.css-1gojmfd{margin-bottom:16px;}.css-zdjvqv{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;height:100%;-webkit-align-items:flex-start;-webkit-box-align:flex-start;-ms-flex-align:flex-start;align-items:flex-start;-webkit-align-content:flex-start;-ms-flex-line-pack:flex-start;align-content:flex-start;-webkit-box-flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-wrap:nowrap;-ms-flex-wrap:nowrap;flex-wrap:nowrap;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-box-pack:space-around;-ms-flex-pack:space-around;-webkit-justify-content:space-around;justify-content:space-around;margin-top:calc(-12px/2);margin-bottom:calc(-12px/2);}.css-zdjvqv:before,.css-zdjvqv:after{content:”;display:block;}.css-1meuhfk{display:-webkit-inline-box;display:-webkit-inline-flex;display:-ms-inline-flexbox;display:inline-flex;margin-top:calc(12px/2);margin-bottom:calc(12px/2);}
    “I want to say to you, and your mother, and all your family, and all of your kids; well done.
    You have been an absolute pleasure for me to have known, to have worked with, and to have seen you progress into the footballer you were.
    “So, good luck, have a great night, and well done.” More

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    Christian Eriksen makes Man Utd transfer U-turn after ‘snubbing club due to promise to Tottenham chief Daniel Levy’

    CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN has made a Manchester United U-turn after agreeing to join Erik ten Hag’s side on a free transfer.The Daily Mail say the creative midfielder made a promise to Tottenham owner Daniel Levy in 2017 that he would not join a London club out of respect for Spurs.
    Christian Eriksen is full of respect for his former clubCredit: Reuters
    Daniel Levy didn’t want to see Eriksen play elsewhere in EnglandCredit: Alamy
    And Eriksen, now 30, apparently extended his promise to all English clubs when United’s interest came out.
    Former United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was hoping to secure an £80million deal for the playmaker but failed to land his man.
    Eriksen handed in a transfer request in 2019 after outlining his desire for a new challenge.
    That sparked plenty of interest with both Real and Atletico Madrid joining Juventus in the hunt.
    But the Spurs ace eventually joined Inter Milan for £17m in 2020 as his contract began to run down.
    After initially struggling, Eriksen found his form under Antonio Conte and helped Inter win their first Serie A title since 2010.
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    The popular star went into cardiac arrest on the pitch while playing for Denmark in their Euro 2020 opener against Finland last summer.
    Eriksen was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator after thankfully making a full recovery.
    But the Italian FA said in July that the Dane would need it to be removed in order to play for Inter again.
    After his contract was terminated, he joined Brentford as a free agent and has enjoyed a remarkable season for the Bees.
    He played 11 games, scoring once and contributing four assists – but left at the end of June when his six-month contract expired.
    Eriksen has now agreed to join Man Utd, going back on his promise, but completing an extraordinary comeback to the top of football.
    He is set to pen a three-year deal at Old Trafford.
    Eriksen is said to have informed United of his desire to join the club, with the midfielder now set for a medical.
    The playmaker worked with United boss Ten Hag briefly when he trained with Ajax before making his comeback to football with the Bees earlier this year.
    He is now set to follow left-back Tyrell Malacia through the doors at Old Trafford.
    Malacia was pictured arriving at Carrington this morning to finalise his initial £13m move from Feyenoord.
    But the pair may NOT have Cristiano Ronaldo as a teammate next season.
    CR7 has sensationally told United chiefs he wishes to leave the club to play in the Champions League. More

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    Man Utd’s new manager Erik ten Hag lives above supermarket, studies Guardiola’s teams and loves Van Gaal and Cruyff

    ERIK TEN HAG famously previously lived above a supermarket in Amsterdam, but the only shelf he stacked was his club’s trophy cabinet.The ex-Ajax boss, 52, has now officially started work as Manchester United’s manager – signing a three-year deal with the club.
    Erik ten Hag is Man Utd’s new managerCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    The Dutch tactician is now in the Old Trafford hot-seat and is expected to be handed a £200million war chest to improve the fortunes of the Red Devils – although he is still waiting for his first signing.
    The quiet thinker had a 13-year playing career in Holland, before he revived the glory days at Ajax with a vibrant young team.
    In 2019, with a side that featured homegrown talents like Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Donny van de Beek and Hakim Ziyech, he reached a Champions League semi-final.
    Ten Hag, a keen golfer with a high-pitched voice, worked wonders given Ajax had not even competed in the knockout stages since 2005-06.
    Having already surpassed par, Ten Hag is becoming a Master. That’s why he was United’s hierarchy’s first choice.
    AJAX ICONS
    On the wall of his modest office at the club’s De Toekomst training ground hang photos of Johan Cruyff, Rinus Michels and Louis van Gaal.
    In an era when Ajax are surrounded by financially beefed up opponents, he has ensured the club have stayed competitive. This season, they were narrowly beaten by Benfica over two legs to exit the Champions League in the Round of 16 stage.
    So how has the former centre-back from a rural town in Twente transformed their fortunes?
    Ten Hag’s education in coaching goes some way to explain.
    In 2013, having spent his entire career in Holland, he moved abroad to work with the master of management.
    At Bayern Munich, Ten Hag cut his coaching teeth with the reserves while watching closely as Pep Guardiola revolutionised the German giants’ style.
    “Every day I get to work with him, I look forward to it. He inspires me,” he gushed.
    Ten Hag worked closely with Pep Guardiola for two years as Bayern Munich II’s managerCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Ten Hag is a disciple of Guardiola with his focus on attacking and attractive footballCredit: AFP or licensors
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    And his approach to training shows Ten Hag is a disciple of Guardiola, such is the obsession with detail.
    He has a particular focus on the character of a player.
    Ten Hag will note down how each individual responds to minor errors, losing the ball or committing a foul, and works out the mentality of his team to suit their opponent.
    Before being appointed at Ajax in 2017, these skills helped him guide Utrecht into the Europa League.
    DEVELOPING YOUTH
    Ten Hag suited Ajax due to his ability to nurture young talent into stars.
    Frenkie de Jong joined Barcelona in a deal worth £65million in 2019. Matthijs de Ligt joined Juventus for the same fee – boosting the club’s coffers.
    Ten Hag played a key role in the development of players like Memphis Depay, at PSV, and Marko Arnautovic, at FC Twente.
    He transformed Depay from a central midfielder to a wide position, with the coach’s focus constantly on attacking and attractive football.
    Yet, Ten Hag is also able to identify what his team needs.
    Among his youthful stars, are seasoned veterans including former Manchester United man Daley Blind and ex-Southampton midfielder Dusan Tadic.
    Both were brought in 2018 by Ten Hag to redress the team’s inexperience.
    The Dutchman has spoken of his lofty ambitions to manage a bigger club.
    And with Ajax now firmly established back as one of Europe’s big guns under Ten Hag, felt his work at the club was done.
    Now, the challenge of the Premier League awaits. Can he succeed where other Dutch coaches have failed? Time will tell.
    Ten Hag’s first managerial job was with Dutch side Go Ahead EaglesCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Ten Hag rose to prominence in Holland by taking Utrecht to the Europa LeagueCredit: Rex Features
    Former defender Ten Hag focuses on developing youth by gaining their trustCredit: Getty – Contributor More

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    Getting thrashed by Hungary is unacceptable… but Southgate can WIN the World Cup for England, says Harry Maguire

    HARRY MAGUIRE has come out fighting for under-fire England boss Gareth Southgate.Manchester United’s captain told SunSport the 4-0 home loss to Hungary was “unacceptable” with some fans and pundits calling for Southgate to be fired.
    Defender Harry Maguire backs under-fire Gareth Southgate to guide England to a serious challenge for World Cup glory this winterCredit: Getty
    Jude Bellingham and Marc Guehi, with Kalvin Phillips behind, look stunned after Hungary blitzed to a 4-0 win at MolineuxCredit: Getty
    But centre-back Maguire, 29,  who came on as sub in Tuesday’s defeat, claims the Three Lions ARE still heading in the right direction.
    Maguire said: “Gareth is the most successful England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey in 1966. We all can’t wait to work with him and the backroom team again at the World Cup.
    “His managerial record is as good as anyone currently out there in international football.
    “There’s no reason why we can’t do really well and our goal is to improve on our previous tournaments and make the country proud.”
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Sun;font-size:18px;line-height:1.333;font-weight:700;letter-spacing:0%;font-stretch:normal;display:inline;}.css-i1acvs:hover:not(:disabled){-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Dave Kidd .css-8h3gc3{margin:0;padding:0;color:rgba(34,37,38,1);-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;font-family:The Sun;font-size:18px;line-height:1.333;font-weight:700;letter-spacing:0%;font-stretch:normal;display:inline;}.css-8h3gc3:hover:not(:disabled){-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Forget World Cup excitement… Hungary loss will make Southgate even MORE cautious
    In a disastrous end to the season, England are bottom of the Nations League after four games.
    The Three Lions lost twice to Hungary and drew with both Germany and Italy.
    Southgate’s team have just two matches against Germany and Italy in September before the World Cup opener in Qatar against Iran on November 21.
    Maguire said: “We deserved more from the first three games but against Hungary on Tuesday wasn’t acceptable.
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    “We all know that. Everyone needs a break now and a recharge. The spirit in the camp has been great despite the results.”
    The centre-back has also found himself a target of fans’ anger for both United and England.
    There were jeers when he replaced Bukayo Saka in the 85th minute at Molineux with the substitution coming because of the sending off of fellow defender John Stones.

    Asked about the negative reaction from angry supporters, Southgate said: “That was directed at me, in fairness. I took off an attacker and we’re losing three nil.
    “I took an attacker off and put a defender on.
    “But by that point, we needed to solidify, we were disjointed. We were down to ten. There’s no way you’re going to win the game.
    Three Lions’ manager Gareth Southgate insists he knows what went wrongCredit: Getty
    Bukayo Saka and Co have been brought back down to earth by England’s dismal Nations League campaign over the past weekCredit: Getty
    “And you’ve got to try to protect the players on the pitch.
    “So I didn’t view that as a criticism of Harry. He’s actually had three really strong performances with us. He’s taken a real step forward in how he will feel leaving this camp.”
    Southgate, who signed a new deal keeping him in the job until 2024, has the FA’s full backing. And clearly, the Three Lions boss has the support of his players.
    He said: “I can do nothing with the players now.
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    “They need a rest, they’ve got to get away, clear their heads.
    “Some of them were not really in good shape to play. But they all wanted to be there to support each other. And so everything in terms of the Hungary defeat has to come my way and not at them.” More

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    Nemanja Matic explains why he keeps signing for Jose Mourinho as he lauds Roma boss’ ‘energy’ after Man Utd transfer

    NEMANJA MATIC revealed why he’s signed for ‘hard’ boss Jose Mourinho yet again.The Serbia anchorman praised Mourinho’s ‘energy’ after following him from Chelsea to Manchester United and now Roma.
    Serbia midfielder Nemanja Matic was with Jose Mourinho at Man Utd and Chelsea and now is reunited at RomaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Nemanja Matic and Jose Mourinho were famously also together at ChelseaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Matic has signed a one-year deal with RomaCredit: Twitter.com/@ASRomaEN
    Matic, 33, chose the Europa Conference League winners, despite links with Juventus, to set up his first taste of Serie A.
    And having signed a one-year deal on a free transfer from Old Trafford, he told RomaTV: “Everyone knows Roma is a big club and also coach Jose Mourinho, I already worked with him.
    “We have a good connection and he is one of the reasons why I came here. 
    “It’s not only easy to work with him, it can be hard! 
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    “But he’s a winner and he’s exactly what I want from my coach and exactly what I like to do in my career is to win. 
    “He’s a winner, he transmits that energy to the players. I hope we can do big things together.”
    The ex-Benfica star claims Mourinho’s men can build on winning their first ever major European trophy and finishing sixth in the Italian top flight.
    He said: “Roma has a great base of supporters, is playing in a very attractive league, so for me the decision was not so hard.
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    BETTING SPECIAL – GET £40 IN FREE BETS FOR ASCOT
    “First impressions are great, I look forward to start training with the team.”
    Matic had little choice but to exit United after five years.
    But he said once he knew he was departing: “It has been a huge honour and a privilege to play for this great club.”
    With Paul Pogba also leaving on a free transfer, the Red Devils sorely need more world-class talent in midfield, with Frenkie de Jong still their top target. More