THEY really, really simply cannot help it, can they?We all know footballers are paid ridiculous money in the modern game.
Former footballer Stephen Ireland is a serial offender when it comes to car crimes
And, put simply, sometimes footballers have so much they don’t know what to do with it all.
And that has led to some rather outlandish decisions in the garages over the years.
Case in point, these car-lovers who seem to deliberately do their best to ruin their class motors with the oddest customising imaginable, or they just have rather unique tastes.
The likes of Mario Balotelli, Stephen Ireland and Djibril Cisse have all committed crimes against cars.
But who do you think is the worst offender?
Join SunSport in giving you the definitive run-down of footballers’ most astonishing-looking cars.
Let’s start with Stephen Ireland…
The ex-Stoke City midfielder has always been a little out there with his car choices, as you can see.
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A pink-trim Ranger Rover did little for his street-cred, while his blue and white resprayed Audi R8 (when he played for Manchester City) was flashy.
What made his R8 even more ridiculous was its Superman petrol cap! Why?
He once bought his wife, Jessica Lawlor a £260k Bentley too, paying £1,000 to have the iconic ‘B’ motif on the bonnet changed to her initials.
The car also featured red leather seats with ‘To Jess, Love from Stephen’ written in stitches on them, as well as hearts stitched on the headrests.
Over the years, Ireland has splashed hundreds of thousands on garish motorsCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The ex-Stoke City midfielder loved customising his carsCredit: Cavendish
Ireland once got his missus a special £260k BentleyCredit: Eamon and James Clarke
The trouble with El Hadji Diouf…
The notorious Senegal star regularly found himself in hot water, whether it was with managers, referees or even the authorities.
On the pitch, he liked to stand out from the crowd, showing off silky footwork with some crafty step-overs, sometimes bamboozling defenders.
Off the pitch, he was equally as flamboyant and his gold-plated Cadillac Escalade was an ultimate statement of wealth.
You could say he acted as inspiration for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who covered his Lamborghini in a gold wrap.
El Hadji Diouf’s gold-wrapped Escalade was a fright for sore eyesCredit: Alamy
On the pitch, Diouf was just as controversialCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Go, Go Power Ranger…
Former Newcastle star Nile Ranger wasn’t afraid to wear his colours on his car.
He had his own customised Range Rover in white with a black strip running through the middle of it. But that wasn’t why it was offensive to the eye.
The fact the bad boy swapped out ‘Rover’ on the bonnet for his own surname was a bit too much to take for us.
Nile Ranger wasn’t afraid to wear his colours on his carCredit: Rex Features
Ranger’s customised Range even had his name on it
The gall of Gallas…
When you’ve got an amazing car – in this case a Mercedes McLaren SLR – its beauty speaks for itself.
But if you’re ex-Arsenal and Chelsea star William Gallas, you’ll want to add your own personal touch to proceedings.
He had his £200k-plus car wrapped in chrome, making it look more like a disco ball. What was he thinking?
William Gallas had his car wrapped in chrome like a shiny disco ball
Gallas committed a serious hate crime against his Mercedes McLaren SLRCredit: PA:Empics Sport
Must train harder…
When David James was at Portsmouth, then-manager Tony Adams made a rule that the worst trainer in the squad had to drive a 1992 Robin Reliant the next day to training.
The ex-England goalie was reportedly behind the wheel most days because he was terrible.
And over the years, Pompey’s pros threw money at the vehicle to customise it – once making it look like Mr T’s A-Team van!
When David James was at Pompey he had to drive the club’s Robin ReliantCredit: The Digital South
Balotelli has balls…
The controversial Italian striker once asked, ‘Why Always Me?’ on a hidden shirt revealed after he scored against Man Utd for his old club, City.
And when he was in Manchester, he loved going out – and whether or not he was trying to be inconspicuous with his camouflage Bentley, we don’t know.
But the garish sight certainly meant he stood out from the crowd.
It is unclear if Balotelli still owns the garish Bentley after he sold off a load of his supercar collection including a Lamborghini and Ferrari.
Mario Balotelli’s camo Bentley always caused a stir in ManchesterCredit: Splash News
Wayne Rooney’s first car…
Since then, he’s definitely had an upgrade, eh? Over the years, we’ve seen Roon driving a Range Rover, a BMW i8 and even an Audi Q7.
But when he was a whipper-snapper at Everton, the then-teenager invested in his first car.
Rooney kept it sensible, getting himself a reliable Ford Ka – the sports model, need we add. Note the personalised reg plate.
Wayne Rooney’s first car was a Ford Ka
Djibril Cisse has always been a man who has been out there with his fashion choices.
The ex-Liverpool striker, who is now a DJ, had a snakeskin wrap on his Cadillac Escalade that took pride of place in his car collection.
But that wasn’t his ultimate statement of individuality.
On his Chrysler he had a painting of his daughter, Ilona front and centre on the bonnet.
As touching a sentiment as it is, it wouldn’t have done much for its re-sell value.
Djibril Cisse got his Escalade decorated with a snakeskin interiorCredit: YouTube
French star Cisse also had this paintwork of his daughter on his Chrysler
Cisse is a big fan of customising his cars
And Cisse also has a rather unique taste in motors unlike any other footballerCredit: Northpix – England More
THEY really, really simply cannot help it, can they?We all know footballers are paid ridiculous money in the modern game.
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RED BULL chief Christian Horner is used to living life in the fast lane working in F1.But when it comes to his personal life, the team principal of the motorsport giants prefers a more quiet and slower existence away from the race track.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner lives a life of luxury in the countryCredit: Instagram @christianhorner
Horner poses on the grounds of their Oxfordshire farmhouse with son MontagueCredit: Instagram @therealgerihalliwell
He shares TWO stunning country homes with wife, Spice Girl Geri in Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire and their brood.
The former property is, perhaps, the most lavish and most shared online – boasting its very own duck pond, which they use for boating.
Their farm also houses three miniature donkeys, horses and goats in the estate’s stables.
For Horner, living on a farm offers the ideal existence away from the stresses of the F1 circuit.
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Back in 2019, he told Luxury London that the sprawling country abode was the “perfect home to relax in.”
“Restoring the farm has been my hobby – the way I put racing out of my mind,” he added.
“The main house is finished but now the barns are being converted. We’re currently putting the finishing touches to an indoor swimming pool.”
Certainly, it’s the property in Oxfordshire that gets the most love from Geri on Instagram, who regularly shares candid snaps of her family life.
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Horner, who last year celebrated Max Verstappen regaining the F1 Championship, is stepdad to Geri’s daughter Bluebell Madonna, 17, and the couple share a son, Montague, who is 6.
He also has another daughter, Olivia, 10, from a previous relationship with ex-partner Beverley Allen.
Christian has been spied alongside his boy riding matching John Deere tractors.
He’s also been seen standing with his vintage Aston Martin DB5, which was Sean Connery’s car of choice as James Bond in Goldfinger.
F1’s Horner poses on the steps of the home with daughter Olivia from his previous relationshipCredit: Instagram @christianhorner
Son Montague and dad have matching John Deere tractorsCredit: Instagram @christianhorner
An Aston Martin DB5 sits proudly in Horner’s garage
Horner is married to Spice Girl GeriCredit: Instagram @therealgerihalliwell
Geri shows off the home’s swimming poolCredit: Instagram @therealgerihalliwell
Geri appears happy to play the role of housewife, often sharing photos in the kitchen rustling up treats.
A budding chef, she has shown off her baking skills by crafting cakes using a customised Ginger Spice KitchenAid mixer, which Christian had specially designed for her.
And with four separate ovens to choose from with the AGA range the kitchen boasts, she has plenty of space for her other favourite pastime – making bread.
You can bet, Christian, who also loves using the outdoor barbecue, and the kids are well fed in the Horner household with Geri’s production line of cakes and bread.
Geri is often spied in the kitchen and loves bakingCredit: Instagram @therealgerihalliwell
Christian shows off his grilling skills with the outdoor barbecueCredit: Instagram @christianhorner
Christian and Geri have a number of reception rooms to entertain from.
However, the most popular one appears to be where a £16,000 original Wurlitzer can be found.
When she celebrated her 45th birthday, Geri posted a video online singing along to Michael Jackson hit Billie Jean while thanking Christian for the music, which suggested it was a gift for her.
Another living room shows off a stunning chandelier, as well as a marble fireplace.
A £16,000 vintage Wurlitzer can be seen in a reception room, which was a gift from Christian for Geri’s 45th birthdayCredit: Instagram @therealgerihalliwell
The Oxfordshire property boasts several reception roomsCredit: Instagram @therealgerihalliwell
A spacious dining room was seen when Montague celebrated his birthdayCredit: Instagram @therealgerihalliwell
The glam couple also have a bar space in their propertyCredit: Instagram @therealgerihalliwell
The family love taking advantage of the huge grounds on offer at their farmhouse.
And why not when you’ve got an incredible duck pond so big you can go boating on it.
Horner and Geri can even take their dogs for a walk around the expansive gardens.
The pair have even been seen zooming around on a quad bike, as well as picking raspberries in the garden with Montague.
Miniature donkeys live in the stables
The grounds are vast on the Horner’s Oxfordshire plot
The Horners show off their horses and have their own stableCredit: Instagram @therealgerihalliwell
Geri picks raspberries with Montague in their lush gardenCredit: Instagram @therealgerihalliwell
The duck pond on the property has its own boat
Christian and Geri live the country life away from the racing circuitCredit: Instagram @therealgerihalliwell
Of course, no farm would be complete without animals either.
And Christian and Geri boast three miniature donkeys that are housed in the stables, as well as some goats.
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The singer often shares videos online when it’s feeding time.
Clearly, you can forget the fancy racing circuit of heading to places like Dubai or Monte Carlo. A farmhouse is where it’s at. More
DAVID BECKHAM left Spanish-speaking members of the Real Madrid squad jealous thanks to being part of the Brazilian clique at the club, according to Robinho.The 39-year-old Brazilian and former Manchester City star recounted his time at the Bernabeu to Italian media outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport.
David Beckham was a popular member of the dressing room at Real MadridCredit: Reuters
Beckham spent four seasons at the Bernabeu before leaving for LA Galaxy in 2007Credit: EPA
In April 2020, he spoke of the chemistry in the team and his ex team-mate Beckham, who owns MLS side Inter Miami, saying: ”When Madrid came, I saw that they had a large Brazilian presence in the team and they had Vanderlei Luxemburgo as their coach at the time.
”So, why go to Barcelona? There was a great harmony among the Brazilians in the squad. Beckham was always with the Brazilians. He was part of our group.
”The Spaniards were jealous because he spoke more Portuguese than Spanish, so he ended up spending more time with us.”
After scoring more than 80 goals over four seasons at Santos, Brazilian Robinho moved to Europe and helped Real Madrid win back-to-back LaLiga titles in 2007 and 2008.
Spanish giants Barca had had their eyes on the starlet at around that time, but Real swooped in with a deal before their rivals had the chance to steal their prize.
He then stayed in Spain for three seasons before moving over to City in 2008.
Things did not end on good terms for him and Real when his time with the club came to its eventual end.
He also told Gazzetta: ”My goal was to go to Chelsea. But things ended badly with Real Madrid.
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”They didn’t like Chelsea selling shirts with my name on them before the deal was concluded.
“I don’t regret leaving Madrid. But I am sorry I made mistakes with them when I left.
”Madrid was the club that opened my doors and offered me the opportunity to conquer Europe.”
Former England captain Beckham joined LA Galaxy from Real in 2007 and part of his contract gave him the option to buy an MLS franchise at a reduced rate in the future.
It took him several years, but he took up that option and now owns Inter Miami.
And the ex-Manchester United winger recently recruited Lionel Messi to his franchise. More
MANCHESTER CITY almost failed to secure Pep Guardiola as manager after struggling to meet his luxury accommodation demands, a book revealed.Guardiola wrapped up his fifth Premier League title in May after inspiring his City stars to an incredible run of form to overhaul Arsenal.
Pep Guardiola secured the Treble for his club last seasonCredit: Getty
The Guardiolas eventually moved to trendy DeansgateCredit: Manchester Evening News
The Man City manager now lives at the plush City Suites in the city centreCredit: Manchester Evening News
The City manager can unwind in the private swimming poolCredit: Manchester Evening News
The ex-Barca boss then watched his side defeat Manchester United 2-1 in the FA Cup Final at Wembley.
They capped off a remarkable and historic season to secure the Treble, by defeating Inter Milan 1-0 in the Champions League final.
But the extraordinary spell of success he has had might never have happened due to the coach’s specific living requests.
Guardiola agreed to succeed Manuel Pellegrini in February 2016 but Etihad officials were left sweating on whether he may change his mind before the following season.
In a book entitled Pep’s City: The Making of a Superteam – written by Pol Ballus and Lu Martin – club chiefs were worried the then-Bayern Munich manager would go back on his word.
Ballus and Martin tell of how Etihad director of football Txiki Begiristain told player liaison manager David Quintana to hold crunch talks in Munich with Guardiola over the situation.
Begiristain had said ominously: “It seems we’ve got a problem with the German.”
And in the book, Ballus and Martin confirm: “They did indeed. In Munich, the Guardiola family had lived in a spacious mansion on Sophienstrasse.
“Pep demanded accommodation of a similar standard in Manchester and the issue was in danger of becoming a deal-breaker.
“Quintana and Pep met over a leisurely three-hour lunch in a local Vietnamese restaurant.
“Lunch was spent discussing key elements of the club’s organisation, infrastructure, players, but the issues around the Guardiolas’ new home remained unsolved.
“The problem was that Pep was refusing to live anywhere but the city centre and there just wasn’t the right property there to suit him.
“It didn’t exist. Begiristain could see all his plans going up in smoke. The deal to bring Pep to City was under threat.”
The in-demand ex-Barcelona manager was assured by Quintana, however: “No worries; if we have to, we’ll build you what you want. It might take a few more months but we’ll make it happen.”
The Guardiolas eventually moved to a luxurious apartment in the Deansgate City Suites in the centre of Manchester.
And they were soon joined in the plush building by his first signing Ilkay Gundogan – who scored the fastest goal in FA Cup Final history before departing for Barcelona in the summer.
City legend Sergio Aguero was also tempted in by the true city slicker lifestyle at the time.
The Argentine swapped his countryside pad to become one of the first residents of the brand new West Tower in the city centre Deansgate development.
The City manager’s eventual choice of home in Manchester means he can keep himself in shape in the private gymCredit: Manchester Evening News
The City boss can cook up a feast in the kitchen… or rely on the ground floor restaurant’s top chefCredit: Manchester Evening News
The building Guardiola lives in is a 16-storey high riseCredit: Manchester Evening News
Guardiola can chill out in the luxurious living areaCredit: Manchester Evening News
Each apartment has a plush modern bathroomCredit: Manchester Evening News More
EX-FOOTBALL manager Andre Villas-Boas broke the mould when he traded management for rally car racing.The 45-year-old, who is now without a club following a spell with Marseille from 2019-2021, was once considered one of the most exciting young managers in Europe.
Andre Villas-Boas gave up football management to race rally cars
He entered the Dakar Rally in 2018Credit: AP:Associated Press
But he had to withdraw after crashing into a sand duneCredit: Jordi Rierola
Villas-Boas attracted attention after an unbeaten season with FC Porto, in which he won the league title as well as the Europa League.
This saw him be appointed to Chelsea in 2011 but was sacked a year later and moved to Tottenham.
When he left Spurs in 2013, he boosted the record win percentage of any of the club’s managers in the Premier League era.
Before leaving the North London club, Villas-Boas revealed that he would leave management in the next decade with the aim of rally racing.
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He told the Portuguese newspaper O Jogo: “My passion for football makes me live it very intensively over 11 months and dedicate myself to that, but I think life allows you to enjoy other things.
“For me, there is a limit and, in the next five to 10 years, I will quit coaching.
“To compete in the Dakar Rally is a lifetime ambition for me and is something I know I have to do.
“It went from a passion to an obligation, a destination of life, but I can only do it when I leave football. I will do it.”
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After spells in Russia and China, Villas-Boas announced that he would take a break from management and instead compete in the Dakar Rally in 2018.
However, he had to withdraw from the rally after crashing into a sand dune on the fourth stage in Peru and injuring his back.
He then participated in the Baja TT do Pinhal in 2018 while driving a Can-Am Maverick X3.
The Portuguese boss returned to club management between 2019 and 2021 when he took charge of Ligue 1 side Marseille.
Andre Villas-Boas had to end his chase to complete the Dakar Rally after crashing on a sand dune but managed to walk away from the incidentCredit: Getty Images – Getty
He managed in England at Chelsea and Tottenham HotspurCredit: AFP
His last club was Ligue 1 side MarseilleCredit: Reuters
He was admired by many players in football, as Aleksandr Kokorin revealed to Foot Mercato: “André Villas-Boas, I worked with him for a few months, he’s really the best coach I’ve had in my career, a great coach, a wonderful person.
“A great guy, a great coach, always available when I called him, able to keep the confidence. A really great man.”
He then raced again in 2022 in the WRC Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
After the race, Villas-Boas admitted that it was a “dream come true”.
He told reporters: “It is one of those things you dream of as a boy. I have been watching rallies since I was a little boy, and Formula One as well.
“It is a very special, it is a great opportunity as we do it for our causes for good.
“It is very stressful to tell you the truth. I wasn’t aware of how intense it was.
“But we did well and finished on a good note, happy with the jump because I was scared to death.”
Last year the former manager also spoke of how he collects cars and how he always wanted to rally.
Villas-Boas told WRC.com: “I like to collect cars with prestige, I always wanted to own a rally car, so I started investigating.
“At first, I was in limbo about which rally car to own.
“I have, fortunately, a good relationship with the PSA Group, and the first car that came up was actually a [Citroën] C4 from Loeb.
Villas-Boas is still open to a return to football managementCredit: AFP
“It was a great car with six wins, but it needed rebuilding.
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“It was actually a car that had been around for a while, was sold by Citroën and then was around a few drivers, so the ten years of its life were very intense.”
However, he is still open to a return to football management before 2026, as he admitted that he wants to take charge of a national side. More
ARSENE WENGER endured an up-and-down time as Arsenal manager.During his 22 years at the club, he led the side to an unprecedented period of success – including the 2003-04 Invincibles campaign.
But he lost the fans towards the end as results suffered on the pitch, the squad fell apart and he failed to replace leaving stars in the transfer market.
It wasn’t necessarily for a lack of trying, with Wenger linked to a host of star names down the years.
However, more often than not, the former Gunners chief missed out – and we’ve compiled a best XI of players he tired and failed to sign.
Goalkeeper — Gianluigi Buffon
Juventus star Gianluigi Buffon lines up in goalCredit: Getty Images
At 45 years of age, Italian legend Gigi Buffon finally announced his retirement this month, following a spell with boyhood club Parma.
Although it was always hard to imagine the World Cup winner lining up for any other side, back in 2011 it looked as though the veteran stopper could leave the Serie A giants and Arsenal weighed up a move.
Buffon was also thought to favour London should he leave Italy for England, but a transfer never got off the ground and he remained in Turin.
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Defender – Gerard Pique
Barcelona ace Gerard Pique is one of three centre-backsCredit: AP:Associated Press
Wenger wanted to bring La Masia product Gerard Pique to North London at the same time as Cesc Fabregas, and was incredibly close to doing so before a failed work permit scuppered the deal.
Arsenal instead signed Philippe Senderos from Servette, while Pique joined Manchester United a year later.
Defender — Vincent Kompany
Vincent Kompany won the Premier League four times during his time at Manchester CityCredit: Reuters
The four-time Premier League champion may have consistently struggled with injuries in his final years as a player, but for a time Kompany was one of the best central defenders in Europe.
Arsenal almost signed the Belgium international from his first club Anderlecht but Wenger didn’t want to part with the £5million transfer fee.
Hindsight doesn’t reflect well on that particular bit of prudence.
Defender — Raphael Varane
Arsene Wenger also missed out on signing current Manchester United defender Raphael Varane
Frenchman Varane is easily one of the planet’s top defenders, with the player swapping Real Madrid for Manchester United in 2021.
The Gunners had scouted the young defender during his time with Lens – and failed to bring him to the Emirates.
In 2013, Wenger revealed: “He was at Lens, and we might well have caught him there.”
Central midfielder — N’Golo Kante
Chelsea star N’Golo Kante takes his place in midfieldCredit: Getty Images
Wenger once admitted he enquired about France star N’Golo Kante before the France international moved to Chelsea from Leicester.
However, it was the club’s failure to sign the player during his time in Ligue 1 that gets him onto this list.
The club looked into a move for the energetic midfielder before the Foxes snapped him up for just £5.6m — a paltry sum for a player who has won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, Europa League, Champions League and World Cup.
Central midfielder — Yaya Toure
Manchester City icon Yaya Toure was targeted by the Gunners as a youngsterCredit: Getty Images
Kolo Toure is a legend at Arsenal, and his younger brother Yaya could have well ended up at Highbury aged 20.
The then-K.S.K. Beveren youngster was close to joining up with his older sibling in London – even playing in a pre-season friendly for the Gunners – only to be declined a work permit, leading to Wenger abandoning the deal.
Given the success the Ivorian enjoyed at Barcelona and City, it may well have been worth showing a bit more patience.
Left winger — Gareth Bale
Ex-Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale was another played that was eyed up by Arsenal
Arsenal were monitoring the progress of Welsh superstar Bale at the same time as Theo Walcott while the pair were at Southampton.
But in the end only Walcott made the switch to the Emirates — with Bale ending up at north London rivals Tottenham.
The former Real Madrid man started his career as a left-back, and as Wenger already had Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy filling that position, the club never followed through with their interest.
Wenger has since admitted not signing Bale was “a huge mistake”. Yep.
Right winger — Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo was linked with a switch to North London when he was at Sporting Lisbon
The 38-year-old might have lit up the Emirates before moving to Old Trafford had it not been for a friendly match between Sporting Lisbon and Manchester United in 2003.
A young Ronaldo had been shown around Arsenal’s London Colney training complex, while a £4m deal was agreed for the then-18-year-old forward.
But after the skilful youngster gave the United defence the run-around in a preseason friendly, Sir Alex Ferguson made sure the Portuguese star headed to Manchester.
Attacking midfielder — Lionel Messi
Barcelona legend and current PSG star Lionel Messi could have joined Arsenal
Arsenal could’ve had not only one, but both of the world’s best players in their starting XI had Lionel Messi opted to leave Catalonia for England along with pals Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas.
The Gunners had offered the Argentine a contract at the end of the 2002-03 season, but the teenager chose to remain with his boyhood club at 16 and, well, you know the rest.
Striker — Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen could have joined Arsenal six years agoCredit: Getty
Victor Osimhen’s career could have gone down a completely different path before he joined Wolfsburg in 2017.
He has confirmed he held talks with then Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger about joining the club, only to go elsewhere.
Speaking to CentreGoals, he said: “I spoke with Arsene Wenger and he wanted me to come to Arsenal but it was not the best option at the time.”
Osimhen has gone on to bag 53 goals in 91 games for Napoli, including 25 in 29 games this term.
His sensational scoring form is inspiring Luciano Spalletti’s side to their first Serie A title in 33 years.
They hold a remarkable 19-point lead at the top of the table, with their crowning moment only a matter of time.Striker — Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is another player that got away for Arsenal
Considering the impact Zlatan had on the Premier League at the age of 35 with Man Utd, who knows what a hard time the Swede would’ve given defences had he arrived to these shores at a younger age.
Arsenal had the chance to find out when they came close to signing the then 19-year-old Ibrahimovic while he was still at Malmo, but the striker didn’t respond well to being asked to play in a trial match.
The player later admitted he responded to that by saying: “No way, Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.”The Bench
Petr Cech and Didier Drogba are both on the benchCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Goalkeeper — Petr Cech
The Czech Republic stopper may have finally played for Arsenal in his career, but Wenger had the chance to sign a younger, less error-prone Cech from Rennes in 2004.
Defender — Roberto Carlos
Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos had claimed to be keen on a move to the Emirates after his contract with Real Madrid expired in 2007, but he ended up at Fenerbahce instead.
Midfielder — Xabi Alonso
Bizarrely enough considering the career he went on to have with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, there was a time when it looked as though Xabi Alonso would be shown the door at Anfield in favour of Gareth Barry, and a £15m switch to Arsenal seemed to be on the cards in 2009.
The deal falling through left Fabregas infuriated.
Midfielder — Angel Di Maria
Angel Di Maria struggled to live up to his £59.7m price tag for United, but he would’ve found it easier to justify the amount Arsenal could have paid for him at 17 — nothing.
Again, failure to secure a work permit scuppered the deal.
Striker — Didier Drogba
Wenger revealed in 2009 that he passed up the opportunity to sign Didier Drogba from Le Mans for £100,000, but the Arsenal boss wasn’t convinced the then 24-year-old striker was ready. More
JOSE MOURINHO revealed his all-time XI of players he has managed – but it had NO Manchester United stars selected.The Special One was appointed as United boss in May 2016, but despite winning the Europa League and Carabao Cup in his first season, fans never really took to him.
Mourinho was sacked in December 2018, his time at the club blighted by rumours of fall-outs with Paul Pogba.
Unsurprisingly the French midfielder doesn’t make the all-star XI, as reported by AS in 2020.
And there are certainly plenty of surprise omissions considering some of the world class players Jose – who now manages Roma in Serie A – has worked with in the past. Perhaps Tammy Abraham or Paulo Dybala might have made the cut, if he had picked the team more recently.
Sergio Ramos, David De Gea, Iker Casillas and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could easily have bagged a spot in the team too.
And, of course, there is Mourinho’s former star striker Harry Kane at Spurs – but he failed to make the cut as well.
In goal Mourinho has gone for Petr Cech, who was his No1 during some glorious spells at Chelsea.
In defence, John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho, two of Mourinho’s rocks during his Chelsea days, are at centre-half, with William Gallas and Javier Zanetti occupying the full-back slots.
Zanetti is the only player to feature from Inter Milan, where Mourinho coached between 2008 and 2010 and won the Champions League as part of a treble in his final season.
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The Chelsea core continues throughout the rest of the team.
Claude Makelele sits in the defensive midfield position. Frank Lampard plays just in front of him alongside ex-Arsenal star Mesut Ozil, who Mourinho managed during his time at Real Madrid between 2010-13.
Eden Hazard and Cristiano Ronaldo will cut in from the flanks to provide the goals and assists for frontman Didier Drogba.
Jose Mourinho has managed some of the greatest footballers of all timeCredit: Getty Images – Getty More
ROYSTON DRENTHE recalls drinking vodka on the team bus while he was playing in Russia.The former Real Madrid star partied with the likes of Guti and Wesley Sneijder during his time in Spain, but rapidly saw his career spiral in the opposite direction to those greats.
Royston Drenthe played with the likes of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo at Real MadridCredit: Getty – Contributor
Drenthe helped Los Blancos win the La Liga title in 2008, but after loan spells at Hercules and Everton found himself surplus to requirements.
Following the expiry of his Madrid contract in 2012, the Dutchman signed for newly promoted Russian side Alania Vladikavkaz.
While the move was a good one financially, Drenthe quickly grew disillusioned with life in Russia.
Located near the Georgian border, Vladikavkaz lacked the kind of amenities that Drenthe was looking for.
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In a 2020 interview with Dutch station RTV, he said: “Vladikavkaz was not the ideal place.
“It is a totally destroyed city. You couldn’t do anything fun, despite having a lot of money.”
He went on to say that he felt his six months there had “been to forget”.
One thing he did recall doing was drinking vodka.
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He explained: “The vodka…. We drank it very often, it was one of the mainstays.
“In that perspective, it was not difficult to get used to. Also, we had vodka on the team bus. In Russia it is like that.”
Drenthe’s former team-mate Cicinho revealed he drank ten beers a day at Real Madrid and even turned up to training drunk.
Drenthe played just six games for Alania, scoring three goals, before moving back to England with Reading.
The one-cap Dutch international, now of Racing Merida, has fond memories of nights out with his former Madrid pals.
He said: “I have had so many beautiful nights with Guti.
“We often hung out with Wesley Sneijder, Robinho and Gonzalo Higuain.
“Wesley and I were flesh and blood and we could cross the red line from time to time. And there were times when Higuain signed up.”
Drenthe was later declared bankrupt after losing his £3.2million fortune and was most recently a healthcare worker in the Netherlands.
Drenthe went on to play for ReadingCredit: PA:Empics Sport More
STROLLING along Oak Road in Luton, the row of Victorian red brick terraced houses feel just like any other street.But halfway down the road, homes have effectively been cut in half to make way for two entrances to the town’s football ground, Kenilworth Road.
The entrance to Luton Town FC’s ground, Kenilworth Road, is cut into a row of terraced housesCredit: JOHN McLELLAN
Abdul Ali lives right next to the entrance for home fans at the groundCredit: JOHN McLELLAN
Home to Luton Town FC – who next play at the stadium against Gillingham in the EFL Cup on Tuesday – the ground was built in 1905 and is one of the most unique in the football league.
Visiting fans climb bright blue metal staircases perched above resident’s gardens to access the away stand, while patios from adjacent houses back onto the stadium.
Their new stand and stadium upgrade build meant their first home Premier League match was postponed.
Since then, they’ve faced a race against time after the club were handed an estimated £10million bill to rebuild its long-standing ground.
Read more Luton Town news
For locals who live on the street, the thought of the team moving to a new ground throws up mixed feelings.
Abdul Ali’s family home is metres away from the entrance and backs onto the ground.
“I’ve lived here my whole life,” he tells The Sun. “Until about seven years ago it was really easy to see into the stadium.
“We used to have footballs smashing our window every so often when they accidentally got kicked out when teams tried to score.
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The stand entrance has been cut into a row of Victorian terrace housesCredit: JOHN McLELLAN
Stairs lead up to the Oak Stand, running above residents’ gardensCredit: Getty
“It was kind of annoying at the time, it used to drive my dad mad.
“We complained and complained and the club finally put up netting and some corrugated iron to stop it.
“It means that my view of the pitch is gone unless I jump up and down on my bed. Then I can see a little bit of the grass, but not enough to watch the game.”
On match days, Abdul says there is always a sea of police on the street – which, he adds, comes with an unusual perk.
We used to have footballs smashing our window every so often when they accidentally got kicked out when teams tried to score… it drove my dad madAbdul Ali, Oak Road resident
“I went out during Sunday’s game to get some food and then police escorted me back to my house,” he says.
“It’s kind of cool being escorted home.”
One of the unique entrances on Oak Road provides access to The Bobbers’ Club – part of the Luton Town football ground for 89 years.
On leaving the street – where house prices cost an average of £222,500 – fans are led down a small alleyway before they clamber the iron stairs to a terrace leading onto the Oak Stand.
Anu’s garden is directly next to the stairs leading the seats for away fansCredit: JOHN McLELLAN
Rear gardens back onto the stadiumCredit: JOHN McLELLAN
Mum-of-four Anu’s garden runs beneath the terrace, and she tells us stray footballs often end up landing in it.
“They’ve only ever asked for the ball back once,” she admits. “We’ve kept the others.”
Anu, 52, says local families in the area used to get complimentary passes to matches from the club, but that’s not happened since Covid.
“We used to get a family ticket to go in the summer which was nice,” she says.
“We’d go and see a match against one of the smaller teams. It was good to get in the ground.
“My son’s bedroom in the attic enables him to see a bit of the ground so he can sometimes see the games.”
My son’s bedroom in the attic enables him to see a bit of the ground so he can sometimes see the gamesAnu, local mum-of-four
Anu’s neighbour LeeLee says she loves the buzz of match days, adding: “It makes me feel alive. I love it.
“It keeps things interesting around here. I rarely have any problems with the fans.”
Sadly Anu doesn’t share her enthusiasm.
She claims she’s fed up of hooligans chucking rubbish from the steps into her garden as they come and go.
“Last week my house was egged by fans, they leave cans and bottles in front of my house,” she tells us.
“They spray alcohol on to mine and my neighbour’s windows and drop litter from the stairs as they go into the stands.”
‘I’ll never leave’
Residents say some fans can be disruptive and cause problems on game daysCredit: Getty
Many families living on Oak Road have grown up in the area and are lifelong fans of the club.
Joumna’s childhood home backed on to the stadium and she’s since moved into her own property across the road.
The 49-year-old admits she’s noticed fan behaviour has changed over the years, adding: “I remember as a child we didn’t have as many problems.
“Now, whichever team loses, the fans are shouting and swearing. It’s a shame.”
She adds: “The stadium is alright with me. I was born on this road and I’ll probably never leave.
“It was fine when I lived overlooking it. We never had any issues.”
Driven to despair
Resident Amanpreet is fed up of having to move her car to accommodate match goersCredit: JOHN McLELLAN
Residents are required to move their cars on match daysCredit: JOHN McLELLAN
But there is one issue that drives all residents up the wall – parking.
Everyone who keeps a car on the street – a permit for which costs £60 a year – has to move it off Oak Road on game days or it will be seized.
“Parking is such a problem around here,” resident Amanpreet, 34, tells us.
“The stadium is a problem now because it attracts so many people. We have to move our car on match days but finding a space can be hard.”
Fellow resident Malik, a 37-year-old customer services worker, shares her frustration.
He claims he wouldn’t have bought a house if he’d realised how disruptive the road closures would be.
Malik says he wouldn’t have bought a house on the road if he’d realised how disruptive the road closures would beCredit: JOHN McLELLAN
“I’m not happy because I pay to park my car on this road and I have to move it regularly,” he says.
“If the game is at 5pm we have to move the car at around 10am. It’s really difficult with two young kids – it’s frustrating.”
Another local, Khuram, 38, adds: “The parking issue is a struggle.
“I have two young kids and walking them several streets over to the car on match days between fans is stressful.
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“There are lots of police on match days which is good, but we often have to show that we live here to get through at the end of the road.
“The only time I have an issue with the stadium is match days because it’s disruptive.”
Luton Town are on the cusp of moving up into the Premier League, which would mean all changeCredit: GOOGLE EARTH More