More stories

  • in

    25 greatest football stadiums around world, from the Bernabeu to San Mames… but Tottenham’s £1bn ground down in 21

    ATMOSPHERE, capacity and the quality of the toilets are all taken into consideration when fans argue about the best stadiums in the world.And a poll to determine which ground holds that honour has revealed some surprising results.
    Boca Juniors’ La Bombonera home in Buenos Aires is one of the most iconic stadiums in the worldCredit: Getty
    Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium is also one of the most well knownCredit: Getty
    Tottenham splashed out a staggering £1BILLION on their new North London home which currently ranks just 21st despite being the most expensive stadium ever built.
    But surprisingly, it’s a stadium in Egypt that sits in the No 1 spot.
    Here SunSport reveals the results of a poll conducted by Spanish outlet Marca in 2020.
    Home team: Al Ahly
    Capacity: 75,000
    Location: Cairo, Egypt
    Cairo International StadiumCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Home team: Real Madrid
    Capacity: 81,044
    Location: Madrid, Spain
    Santiago Bernabeu stadiumCredit: Getty – Contributor
    3 NOU CAMP
    Home team: Barcelona
    Capacity: 99,354
    Location: Barcelona, Spain
    Nou CampCredit: Getty
    Home team: Colo Colo
    Capacity: 47,347
    Location: Santiago, Chile
    Monumental de ChileCredit: Getty
    Home team: Athletic Bilbao
    Capacity: 53,289
    Location: Bilbao, Spain
    San Mames stadiumCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Home team: Atletico Madrid
    Capacity: 68,456
    Location: Madrid, Spain
    Wanda MetropolitanoCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Home team: Liverpool
    Capacity: 54,074
    Location: Liverpool, England
    AnfieldCredit: Getty
    Home team: Boca Juniors
    Capacity: 49,000
    Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Boca Juniors’ La BomoneraCredit: Getty
    Home team: Borussia Dortmund
    Capacity: 81,360
    Location: Dortmund, Germany
    WestfalenstadionCredit: Getty – Contributor
    10 MOHAMED V
    Home team: Raja and Wydad Casablanca
    Capacity: 52,000
    Location: Casablanca, Morocco
    Mohamed V Stadium – CasablancaCredit: Africa Cup of Nations

    Home team: Tunisian national team
    Capacity: 60,000
    Location: Rades, Tunisia
    Stade Olympique de RadesCredit: Getty
    12 WEMBLEY
    Home team: England national team
    Capacity: 90,000
    Location: London, England
    Wembley StadiumCredit: Alamy
    Home team: Manchester United
    Capacity: 76,000
    Location: Manchester, England
    Old TraffordCredit: PA:Press Association
    Home team: Brazil national team, Flamengo, Fluminense
    Capacity: 78,838
    Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Maracana stadiumCredit: Getty
    15 SAN SIRO
    Home team: AC Milan, Inter Milan
    Capacity: 80,018
    Location: Milan, Italy
    San SiroCredit: Getty
    Home team: Bayern Munich
    Capacity: 75,024
    Location: Munich, Germany
    Allianz ArenaCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Home team: Marseille
    Capacity: 67,394
    Location: Marseille, France
    Stade VelodromeCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Home team: Benfica
    Capacity: 65,647
    Location: Lisbon, Portugal
    Estadio da Luz, LisbonCredit: Getty
    Home team: Ajax
    Capacity: 54,990
    Location: Amsterdam, Holland
    Johan Cruyff arenaCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Home team: River Plate
    Capacity: 70,074
    Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Monumental, Buenos AiresCredit: AFP
    Home team: Tottenham Hotspur
    Capacity: 62,303
    Location: London, England
    Tottenham Hotspur StadiumCredit: Getty
    Home team: Mexico national team, Club America and Cruz Azul
    Capacity: 87,523
    Location: Mexico City, Mexico
    Estadio AztecaCredit: Getty
    Home team: South Africa national team, Kaizer Chiefs
    Capacity: 94,736
    Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
    Soccer City StadiumCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Home team: Celtic
    Capacity: 60,411
    Location: Glasgow, Scotland
    Celtic ParkCredit: PA:Press Association
    Home team: Iran national team
    Capacity: 78,116
    Location: Tehran, Iran
    Azadi StadiumCredit: Getty More

  • in

    Roma manager Jose Mourinho’s all-time XI of players he managed includes Ronaldo and Ozil… but NO Man Utd stars

    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 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.
    Most Read In Football
    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

  • in

    Leicester City’s £100m training ground boasts 14 pitches, a nine-hole golf course and is named after late chairman

    LEICESTER CITY unveiled their stunning new £100million training complex in 2020, which is as good as anyone else’s in the country.Chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha delivered the legacy promised by his late father Vichai, who first had the vision to transform a former golf course in Leicestershire into a state-of-the-art futuristic facility.
    Leicester City unveiled their £100million training complex in 2020
    The club trained in the ground for the first time in December, 2020
    It includes 14 full-size training pitches
    Nine of those 18 holes have been kept intact with Jamie Vardy and co free to test their skills.
    The Foxes’ new lair also boasts 21 training areas, 14 full-size training pitches and a 499-seater pitch for youth team matches.
    The seven-building complex includes a dedication to Vichai – with the administrative and medical hub named after the late owner.
    It’s the most significant investment in the club’s history, if you think of everything they’ve done, the owners, since they’ve been hereBrendan Rodgers
    Their former Belvoir Drive facility – which has been Leicester’s training since 1964 – is now home to the club’s women’s team.
    Read more on Leicester City
    Meanwhile, the training complex possesses a swimming pool with room for a restaurant and features such as customised gym.
    Former Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said at the time of its opening: “To be able to move into one of the most advanced training facilities in the whole world is something we’re all so excited about.
    “I’ve been dropping in there over the last number of months and now it’s finally arrived, the time that we can look to go in, we’re really looking forward to it.
    Most read in Football
    “It’s amazing and, now we’re going to this new site, it just takes you into a different world altogether and it’s a world we’re looking forward to being in.
    “It’s the most significant investment in the club’s history, if you think of everything they’ve done, the owners, since they’ve been here. This facility is going to help improve players, but also people.
    “The essence of Leicester City – and I’ve really found this since I’ve been here – is a genuine want to develop people and help people, whether you’re a player or a member of staff.
    “That’s something which comes from the very top. To have that at the top of your club, of course we’re all very lucky to be able to work here and experience that.”
    Leicester transformed a former golf course into a state-of-the-art facility
    Ex-Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers claimed it was the most significant investment in the club’s history
    Leicester had been training at the Belvoir Drive facility for nearly 60 years More

  • in

    Worst tattoos on sports stars, from Beckham to Sancho, Bellerin, Dele, Hart and a Tokyo 2020 mistake

    THEY say money can’t buy you taste.And for all the millions today’s top athletes make – whether it be footballers or any other sports star – it appears that mantra has never been more true than when applied to tattoos.
    Goalkeeper Joe Hart shows off his eyesore of a tattooCredit: Refer to Caption
    Former England goalkeeper Joe Hart proved that with the massive block of ink across his right shoulder.
    And not even the unofficial King of Cool David Beckham is immune to an occasional style blunder.
    Here’s a look at some of the worst around.
    Dele Alli
    Dele Alli has a tattoo of Bamm Bamm from the Flinstones on his forearm
    Look past the gold bling and you will see former Spurs star Alli’s permanent tribute to Bamm Bamm from the Flinstones.
    A somewhat unconventional choice, Alli – whose first name is Bamidele – is thought to have got it because his nickname is Bam Bam.David Beckham
    England legend Becks has an intricate grouping of planets inked on his headCredit: Rex Features
    A fashion icon the world over and hugely admired midfielder, we’ll let Becks off for this one given he’s barely put a foot wrong in the past, apart from that sarong, those cornrows and that all-leather get-up…
    Beckham has more than 40 tattoos but this one is probably the strangest, not least because of where it is.
    Derlis Ayala
    The Olympic runner got Tokyo 2020 tattooed on his calf – before the Games was postponed by a year due to coronavirus.
    Ayala qualified for Tokyo after finishing fifth overall in the Buenos Aires Marathon in September 2019.
    He previously represented Paraguay in the 2016 Olympics in Rio in the marathon where he finished in 136th place – got the Olympics rings plus the date and location inked on.

    Sergio Aguero
    Ex Man City star Sergio Aguero isn’t quite sure what his Lord of the Rings tattoo saysCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Those are not hieroglyphics down the prolific striker’s forearm but the Elvish language from Lord of the Rings.
    Aguero must be a pretty big fan of the film, then, huh?
    Er, no. But he must at least know what it means? Nope – he hasn’t even seen the movie.Nicolas Otamendi
    Most people get tattoos of the things that are most important to them – family members, dates and religious symbols.
    Former Man City ace Otamendi, though, clearly loves watching TV so much and has inked stars from hit shows Breaking Bad, Peaky Blinders and Vikings on his back.
    At the top of his back, the Benfica defender has Walter White, the main character in Breaking Bad, while lower down there is an image of Peaky Blinders protagonist Thomas Shelby.
    Nicolas Otamendi showed off his impressive tattoo collectionCredit: Rex Features
    The main characters from Breaking Bad – Walter White – and Peaky Blinders – Thomas Shelby – feature on the Argentinian’s back
    To the left appears to be Ragnar Lothbrok from Vikings.
    They make up what is an impressive collection including a pocket watch, a lion, a bear and the more regular tattoos such as names of some of his family members.
    Jadon Sancho
    Man Utd star Jadon Sancho sporting his cartoon tattoos at during a Borussia Dortmund training session
    It’s easy to make the link between rapid England winger Sancho and his tattoo of Sonic the Hedgehog.
    After that, things become a bit of a stretch.
    Having the Simpsons daubed on his arm can perhaps be likened to his former team Dortmund side’s famous Yellow Wall – if you were really trying.
    But Spiderman? There’s only so much Cartoon Network one man can need.Hector Bellerin
    Hector Bellerin has the word ‘two’ tattooed on his leg to match his shirt numberCredit: Getty – Contributor
    When he’s not flaunting questionable clobber at fashion shows, Bellerin likes to pose in retro-style photos, get tattoos and play football.
    Here, he dedicates his commitment to his defensive position by getting his shirt number permanently etched on his thigh.
    Erik Lamela
    Lamela has a tattoo of a dog on his thighCredit: Reuters
    Dodgy tattoos have no allegiance and could not care less about who ruled North London.
    But when Erik Lamela was playing for Spurs, he showed off this corker of a tattoo.
    Yes, it’s a picture of a loveable bulldog.Artur Boruc
    Artur Boruc’s hideous monkey tattoo in all its gloryCredit: Willie Vass
    Word cannot do justice to just how bad the former Bournemouth’s keeper monkey tattoo is around his belly button
    Just awful.
    No. Not even doing a ‘monkeying around’ pun for this.Eljero Elia
    Eljero Elia spelled Feyenoord incorrectly and got the date of his Cup final win as May 24 rather than April 24Credit: Instagram
    Spell the name of your club incorrectly? Check. Get the date wrong of the final you played in and won? Check.
    Feyenoord winger Elia had a stinker with this tattoo back in 2016, but got it corrected to display the correct details.Uros Vitas
    Vitos’ inking was a nice thought… but should have remained just a thought
    Fair play to Serbian defender Vitas for showing off the love of his life, Andrijana, in tattoo form.
    Shame it looked so frightening.
    Marcelo Brozovic
    Brozovic’s weird hand tattoo is one of a kindCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Inter midfielder Brozovic got this ‘epic Brozo’ tattoo to match his equally epic celebration whenever he scores.
    Not only is it in a peculiar position on the top of his hand, he also opened a bar in his native Croatia with the name Epic Brozo and, yep, you guessed it, an image of the winking face.Amato Ciciretti
    How will Amato Ciciretti’s social media tattoo have aged by the time he’s 50?Credit: Twitter
    He is the journeyman Italian who now plays for Ascoli in Serie B, but Ciciretti must be social media famous to go to the lengths of having his Twitter handle tattooed on his calf?
    Surprisingly, no. Instead, the 29-year-old removed his account after amassing just over 2,000 followers, and tweeting just 31 times Any regrets, Amato?Nile Ranger
    Nile Ranger is among the footballers with the world’s worst tattoosCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Nile Ranger got his surname tattooed across his headCredit: Jamie McPhilimey – The Sun
    Perhaps it was just in case he forgot. Nile Ranger – or, as the tattoo would suggest, Nile Ranges – went through the unnecessary pain of having his surname printed above his eye.
    To be fair to the former Newcastle striker who has a smiley face tattooed inside his mouth, there wasn’t much space left on the rest of his body.
    Layvin Kurzawa
    The belly-button should have one job, and one job onlyCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Not quite as bad as Boruc, but here’s another footballer who mistook the belly-button’s purpose for postnatal artwork.
    The Paris Saint-Germain left-back, on loan at Fulham, needs to keep his shirt on with the terrifying face on his stomach.Daniele de Rossi
    Retired Italian midfielder sent a message to opponents with his calf tattooCredit: AFP
    At first glance, the retired Italian’s calf looks more like it should be placed outside the gents’ loo.
    Instead, De Rossi’s hazard warning tattoo backs up his hardman image as the tough-tackling midfielder snapping at opponent’s ankles.Marko Arnautovic
    Marko Arnautovic could not quite decide which font to haveCredit: Getty – Contributor
    A message of motivation is blazoned across the former West Ham forward’s stomach.
    The problem is Arnautovic seemed as certain about the font he wanted for the tattoo as he was about which club he’d be playing for the following season.Mauro Junior
    An iconic image with a motivational message?Credit: Getty – Contributor
    There was, perhaps, an oversight when PSV’s young midfielder got a famous image tattooed down his left forearm.
    Some will see King Arthur attempting to pull the legendary sword from a stone. Others? Well, we’ll leave that to you..Ricardo Quaresma
    Chelsea flop Ricardo Quaresma has some questionable facial tattoosCredit: —
    Is there something the former Porto and Chelsea man needs to tell us?
    In most quarters, teardrop tattoos tend to signify the amount of people the wearer had killed in prison.
    Quaresma’s short stay at Stamford Bridge didn’t include much lethal work.Jay Bothroyd
    On first look, the former England striker appears to have a random arsenal pictured down his ribs.
    Tilt you head slightly and the weapons just about spell out the word ‘love’. Awww?
    Do you love it or hate it?Credit: Twitter More

  • in

    Faiq Bolkiah is the richest footballer in world, whose uncle is Sultan of Brunei, and is heir to £13bn fortune

    MEET the world’s richest footballer Faiq Bolkiah, the nephew of the Sultan of Brunei.Faiq Bolkiah now plays for Thai League 1 club Chonburi., following unsuccessful spells with Leicester City and Portuguese side Maritimo.
    Faiq Bolkiah is the richest young footballer in the world and was formerly of Leicester CityCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Faiq Bolkiah is the nephew of the Sultan of BruneiCredit: Instagram @fjbolkiah
    The dynamic winger, 24, is one of the heirs to Hassanal Bolkiah’s £13billion fortune.
    That dwarfs the worth of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – making Bolkiah the wealthiest living footballer.
    His dad is Jefri Bolkiah, a brother of the oil tycoon, so that makes Faiq a member of their royal family.
    But that hasn’t stopped Faiq from shunning his family’s billions to pursue a career in football.
    Let SunSport introduce you to the man who really doesn’t need to work for a living.
    Competition was fierce for him in his youth days…
    After playing youth football for AFC Newbury, Faiq signed a one-year deal with Southampton’s famed youth academy in 2009.
    He didn’t quite turn enough heads to secure a full-time contract and went on trial at Arsenal in 2013, playing for the Gunners in the 2013 Lion City Cup.
    Faiq Bolkiah could have lived in a palace like the Sultan of BruneiCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Faiq Bolkiah was once on Chelsea’s booksCredit: Chelsea FC
    Faiq Bolkiah playing for Leicester City’s reservesCredit: Getty – Contributor
    A Rolls Royce like this could have been a chariot for Faiq BolkiahCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Faiq got himself on the scoresheet in that tournament against a Singapore youth selection.
    Alerted to his availability, Chelsea then swooped and offered him a two-year deal in 2014. But he left Stamford Bridge in December, 2015 to sign for Leicester in a three-year deal.
    He captains his international side…
    Despite not playing a professional game in England yet, Faiq has pulled on the international shirt of Brunei six times, finding the net once.
    Faiq Bolkiah has captain the Brunei international football teamCredit: Getty – Contributor
    He even captained the side in the 2017 Aceh World Solidarity Tsunami Cup.
    Incidentally, he was born in Los Angeles, so he could’ve represented the United States. But he was loyal to his family and stayed close to his roots.
    Faiq Bolkiah was loyal to his family and turned down a chance to play for the USCredit: AFP – Getty
    Faiq’s dad is quite the character…
    He may have an innocent demeanour, but his father Jefri Bolkiah was known as the playboy of the Brunei royal family.
    Jefri reportedly lived quite the life of excess, reportedly blowing around £10billion in 15-years as head of the Brunei Investment agency.
    At one point, he was said to be spending £35m a month on cars, watches, erotic white gold pens and up to a £1m a hit on karaoke parties with a swarm of beautiful women.
    Jefri Bolkiah celebrates his birthday with his sonCredit: Instagram @fjbolkiah
    Jefri Bolkiah was the playboy of the Brunei royal familyCredit: Rex Features
    Faiq Bolkiah might have had an easier life and lived like a prince if he wasn’t a footballerCredit: 1998 Julian Parker
    Faiq Bolkiah’s cousins enjoy a lavish lifestyle in their own countryCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Jefri was also believed to have owned 2,300 cars at the height of his wealth, including a fleet of Bentleys, Ferraris and Rolls-Royces.
    However, his pride and joy is a yacht inappropriately called ‘Tits’ which had tenders called ‘Nipple 1’ and ‘Nipple 2’.
    Faiq Bolkiah stands to inherit a boat called TitsCredit: Big Pictures
    The Tits has tenders called Nipple 1 and Nipple 2Credit: Big Pictures
    Jefri wasn’t afraid to embrace erotica either, once commissioning artist J. Seward Johnson to create a £500,000 sexually-explicit statue of himself and his ex-fiancee.
    Amusingly, he once splashed around £5million on a rug that was woven with gold thread and jewels.
    A £5m rug bought by Jefri BolkiahCredit: PA:Press Association
    A set of erotic pens in white gold owned by Jefri BolkiahCredit: PA:Press Association
    An erotic watch owned by Jefri Bolkiah made of white gold and platinumCredit: PA:Press Association
    Michael Jackson was on speed dial when he needed him…
    Being a rich kid has its perks, especially if you’re Faiq.
    When dad Jefri wanted to celebrate his milestone 50th birthday, he also wanted to impress his then 7-year-old son.
    Michael Jackson performed a private concert for Faiq BolkiahCredit: Getty – Contributor
    So what did he do? He only flew in the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson to perform a private concert for him and his family.
    Jefri paid Jacko around £12.5 million for the privilege, which was chump change for the Brunei royal family.
    The privilege of having Michael Jackson perform privately cost Jefri Bolkiah £12.5mCredit: Reuters
    Faiq Bolkiah has shunned a throne like the Sultan of Brunei for a rainy night in LeicesterCredit: AFP – Getty
    Making sure Michael was suitably catered for, Jefri also built an entire stadium for the occasion.But Faiq is determined to shun his riches to make it as a professional footballer…
    “I’ve played football since as early as I can remember and from a young age I’ve always enjoyed going out on the field and having the ball at my feet,” he once said in a rare interview.
    latest football features
    Ex-Wolves boss Nuno Espirito was said to be interested in signing Faiq BolkiahCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    “My parents have always been supportive in helping me to achieve my dreams of being a footballer.
    “They trained me hard both psychologically and physically through my childhood years, so I have to say they are my role models.”
    Faiq Bolkiah turned his back on a lavish lifestyle full of goldCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Sultan of Brunei has an estimated worth of £22bnCredit: Reuters
    Faiq Bolkiah insists his family have had a big influence on his careerCredit: AFP or licensors
    With determination like that, he might just succeed in the game.
    However, if it doesn’t work out for him, it’s not as if he’s got nothing to fall back on. More

  • in

    Most costly Man Utd failures and what happened after their Old Trafford nightmares including Di Maria, Lukaku and Sancho

    MANCHESTER UNITED are still the most-successful in the Premier League era – but they have made several expensive mistakes along the way.With 13 Prem titles in the bank, the Red Devils have had countless superstars pull on their famous jersey over recent years.
    Massimo Taibi was a complete disaster for Sir Alex FergusonCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
    United have a history of making some incredible signings.
    Even as recently as last summer, they also have a knack for spending big on flops with £86million Antony still struggling to make an impact.
    From Alexis Sanchez and Angel Di Maria to Juan Sebastian Veron and Romelu Lukaku, check out our best XI of United mega-money failures.
    And we start in goal:
    GOALKEEPER – Massimo Taibi
    Cost: £4.5m from Venezia (1999)
    Sir Alex Ferguson was struggling to replace Peter Schmeichel and forked out £4.5m to Venezia for the Italian back in 1999.
    After flapping at a free-kick on his debut against Liverpool that allowed Sami Hyypia to score things failed to get better.
    In September he famously allowed a weak shot from Southampton’s Matthew Le Tissier slip through his legs and into the net, leading to him being dubbed ‘The Blind Venetian’ by a newspaper.
    Taibi only played once more for United, which was a crushing 5–0 defeat at Chelsea that October, before he headed back to his homeland.
    Matteo Darmian cost United nearly £13m from TorinoCredit: AP:Associated Press
    DEFENDER – Matteo Darmian
    Cost: £12.9m from Torino (2015)
    Darmian has played 60 times in the Premier League in four years at United, but never made the right-back slot his own.
    Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s arrival saw his surplus to requirements, and he joined Parma on a four-year deal in 2019.
    Most recently, he became a Serie A winner with Inter Milan on loan.
    Daley Blind did not have much to smile about during his stint at UnitedCredit: Getty – Contributor
    DEFENDER – Daley Blind
    Cost: £14m from Ajax (2014)
    Always a tough one to judge, Blind both proved he was a good footballer and failed to shine while at Man Utd.
    After four years at the club, Blind opted to head back to Ajax where he has gone on to become a key player once more – and helped his side reach the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
    Marcos Rojo was plagued by injuries while at Old TraffordCredit: Getty – Contributor
    DEFENDER – Marcos Rojo
    Cost: £16m from Sporting Lisbon (2014)
    Rojo was plagued by injuries and lack of form in his five years at the club.
    Back in February 2021, the Argentinian finally ended his Old Trafford nightmare by signing for Boca Juniors.
    Morgan Schneiderlin failed to hit the heights at Old TraffordCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    MIDFIELDER – Morgan Schneiderlin
    Cost: £24m from Southampton (2015)
    After seven years at Saints, Schneiderlin was supposed to be United’s midfield maestro for years to come.
    But after just two years, the France star was shipped off to Everton with 32 very underwhelming appearances under his belt.
    He’s now at Nice after his three-year stint on Merseyside.
    Sir Alex Ferguson splashed out £28m to sign Juan Sebastian VeronCredit: Getty
    MIDFIELDER – Juan Sebastian Veron
    Cost: £28m from Lazio (2001)
    Arguably one of the best midfielders of his generation, the only positive about Veron’s time at United was that at least it was better than his time at Chelsea.
    Both transfers frequently pop up in ‘worst Premier League transfers of all-time’ lists – and with good reason.
    The ex-Lazio man could have helped United be as unstoppable in Europe as they were domestically, but alas, it wasn’t to be.
    Antony has not lived up to the hype of an £86m signingCredit: Alamy
    WINGER – Antony
    Cost: £86m from Ajax (2022)
    Antony was signed with much fanfare by his former coach Erik ten Hag for a staggering £86m fee.
    And he got off to the best possible start by scoring on his debut against Arsenal at Old Trafford in a 3-1 win earlier in the campaign.
    However, since then he’s been labelled one dimensional.
    Eight goals in 39 games is a huge disappointment in his first campaign.
    Still time to turn it around, though.
    Angel Di Maria started well but soon dipped at the Red DevilsCredit: Getty
    WINGER – Angel Di Maria
    Cost: £59.7m from Real Madrid (2014)
    Superb at Real, brilliant at Paris Saint-German… bang average at United.
    Yes, we all remember his blistering first few weeks and that goal against Leicester, but what else did Di Maria do at Old Trafford? Very, very little.
    His single season at United, in which he and his family suffered a traumatic burglary while at their home, was worth nowhere near the £59.7m spent, before he went on to thrive in Ligue 1.
    Alexis Sanchez had an absolute stinker at UnitedCredit: Reuters
    FORWARD – Alexis Sanchez
    Cost: Free from Arsenal (2018)
    A free signing. What could possibly go wrong?
    Well, throwing £505,000-a-week down the drain and struggling to sell him due to his wages, that’s what.
    Former Barcelona and Arsenal star Sanchez scored three – just THREE – goals during his 18 months at Old Trafford… that’s roughly £40m in wages.
    After a loan spell, he left United for Inter Milan permanently in 2020.
    Romelu Lukaku failed to sparkle after his big move from EvertonCredit: Getty
    FORWARD – Romelu Lukaku
    Cost: £75m from Everton (2017)
    Both Chelsea and United were chasing Lukaku and Alvaro Morata in the summer of 2017.
    Maybe things would have been different for the two flop strikers had they switched destinations.
    But Lukaku – save for a few brief matches where he showed his unstoppable potential – was dreadful at United… at least, by the standard we now hold him to.
    Shipped off to Inter, Lukaku became one of Europe’s most-feared strikers thanks to his knack for scoring goals and that form secured him a £97.5m return to Chelsea.
    Although he has since struggled there and was loaned back to Inter.
    Henrikh Mkhitaryan only played 39 times for the Red Devils in the Premier LeagueCredit: PA:Press Association
    FORWARD – Henrikh Mkhitaryan
    Cost: £30m from Borussia Dortmund (2016)
    Sought-after by a host of Europe’s giants during his days in Ukraine and Germany, Man Utd won the race for Mkhitaryan’s signature.
    But after 39 disappointing Premier League appearances he was part of the ill-fated swap deal with Arsenal for Sanchez.
    He’s now performing admirably at Serie A side Roma. More

  • in

    Where are Gareth Bale’s ex-Tottenham team-mates from 2007 debut against Man Utd, including Malbranque and Chimbonda?

    GARETH BALE called time on his stellar career in 2022.The Welsh winger, still only 33, hung up his boots following a final swansong at the World Cup in Qatar.
    Where are Gareth Bale’s team-mates from his Spurs debut now?
    But it was at Spurs where he would make his name, before earning a blockbuster move to Real Madrid
    Bale starred at Southampton in the 2006-07 season before securing a move to North London the following summer.
    The golf-mad Welshman has gone from left-back, to left-midfield to world-class right-winger during his career.
    But it was his pacey, attacking displays at Spurs between 2007 and 2013 which caught the eye of Real Madrid.
    read more on tottenham
    In that run, Bale scored 55 times in 203 games after an appalling start to life at the club.
    The Wales winger was infamously considered to be Tottenham’s “jinx”, after failing to win in any of his first 25 games.
    Of course, things turned around quickly for Bale, who – by 2013 – was a bonafide world-beater.
    Bale became a bonafide Spurs legendCredit: PA
    Real Madrid paid a then-world-record £86million to bring Bale to the Bernabeu at the end of the 2012-13 season.
    Most read in Football
    But six years earlier, Bale was still a relatively unknown making his debut for Tottenham in a 1-0 defeat against Manchester United in which Nani scored his first goal for the club.
    SunSport takes a look at Bale’s team-mates from that day and where they are now…
    GOALKEEPER – Paul Robinson
    Robinson started Bale’s debut in goal for SpursCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
    AFTER six years at Leeds, Robinson enjoyed arguably his best years at Tottenham between 2004 and 2008.
    The 41-cap England star later enjoyed spells at Blackburn and Burnley before retiring in 2017.
    Robinson is now a football speaker for events.
    RIGHT-BACK – Pascal Chimbonda
    Pascal Chimbonda enjoyed arguably his best season for Spurs in 2007-08Credit: Reuters
    CHIMBONDA is the ultimate footballing journeyman – having already played for Le Havre, Bastia and Wigan before moving to Spurs in 2006.
    Since quitting North London in 2008, the six-cap Guadeloupe and one-cap France international has moved TEN times, including for a second stint at Tottenham in 2009.
    Most-recently, Chimbonda, now 43, has bounced around non-league clubs including Washington, Market Drayton and Ashton Town.
    He is now working towards becoming a coach after earning his UEFA A licence.
    CENTRE-BACK – Ricardo Rocha
    Rocha played just 14 times for Spurs in the Premier League, including Bale’s debutCredit: AP:Associated Press
    THE former centre-back played just 14 times in the league for Spurs following stints at Famalicao, Braga and Benfica.
    Rocha spent a season at Standard Liege before finishing his career with three seasons at Portsmouth.
    The six-cap Portugal ace left the club after attempting to take on a role of dual role of player AND director of football, which was shot down by Pompey chiefs.
    CENTRE-BACK – Anthony Gardner
    Gardner started Bale’s debut but left the club at the end of the seasonCredit: EPA
    THE one-cap England star spent nearly a decade at Spurs, racking up over 100 Premier League appearances after his 2000 move from Port Vale.
    Bale’s first season would turn out to be Gardner’s last as he joined Everton and Hull on loan later that season, before joining the Tigers permanently the following summer.
    Gardner went on to play for Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday before retiring in 2014.
    The former Spurs defender told Crystal Palace’s website he’s got into poker since hanging up his boots.
    LEFT-BACK – Lee Young-pyo
    Lee Young-pyo started just behind Bale on the left flank for the Welshman’s debutCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
    THE former full-back played 127 times for South Korea in his superb career, including a spell at Tottenham following his move from PSV Eindhoven.
    After three years at White Hart Lane between 2005 and 2008, Lee played for Borussia Dortmund, Al-Hilal and Vancounver Whitecaps before calling it quits in 2013.
    Lee has since appeared to have quit football altogether.
    RIGHT-MID – Steed Malbranque
    Steed Malbranque started on the opposite flank to Bale against Man UtdCredit: AFP
    HAVING starred at Fulham for five years, Malbranque moved to Spurs in 2008, where he would spend just two seasons.
    The Belgium-born ex-France Under-21s star moved on to Sunderland, Saint-Etienne, Lyon – also his first pro club – Caen and French fourth-tier side MDA Chasselay, before seemingly disappearing from the scene.
    CENTRE-MID – Tom Huddlestone
    Huddlestone started in the heart of midfield for Bale’s debutCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    THE four-cap England star spent nearly a decade in the heart of Spurs midfield between 2005 and 2013.
    Huddlestone later joined Hull – where he would spend four years – before enjoying three seasons at first club Derby, before he was released last summer.
    In 2021, the defensive midfielder returned to Hull City, only to be released a season later.
    Astonishingly, he was signed by Manchester United last summer as a player-coach for their U21 team.
    CENTRE-MID – Jermaine Jenas
    Jenas joined Huddlestone in the middle of the park for Bale’s bowCredit: AFP
    JENAS spent exactly the same amount of time at Spurs as Huddlestone – enjoying eight years in the team between 2005 and 2013.
    The 21-cap Three Lions ace finished his career a year later following a sole season at QPR.
    Jenas has since covered football for ITV, BT Sport and BBC Sport, where he became Match of the Day’s youngest-ever pundit.
    He is also a presenter on The One Show.
    LEFT-MID – Gareth Bale
    Bale made his Spurs debut 14 years ago in the 1-0 loss to Man UtdCredit: PA:Press Association
    BALE’S retirement in 2022 came as no surprise – with the star frozen out by Real Madrid
    Newly promoted Wrexham and their owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney recently tried to get him to reconsider, although he didn’t take the bait.
    STRIKER – Dimitar Berbatov
    Berbatov started up front against Man Utd – whom he would later joinCredit: PA:Press Association
    AFTER kicking off his career at CSKA Sofia and Bayer Leverkusen, Berbatov enjoyed two years at Spurs.
    Often criticised for being “lazy” by armchair fans, the Bulgarian’s eye for goal, intelligence and outrageous first touch attracted the attention of Man Utd.
    Four years at Old Trafford were followed by stints at Fulham, Monaco, PAOK and Kerala Blasters.
    He now works as a football pundit and speaker.
    STRIKER – Robbie Keane
    Keane joined Berbatov up top for Bale’s debut defeat at Old TraffordCredit: PA:Press Association
    THE Ireland legend spent nine years at the club – with a forgettable season at Liverpool shoehorned in the middle – between 2002 and 2011.
    Keane scored 80 times in just under 200 Premier League games, before joining Celtic and Aston Villa on loan.

    The ex-Wolves ace spent five years at LA Galaxy before hanging up his boots after a season at ATK.
    Part-time Sky pundit Keane has recently served as assistant manager to both the Republic of Ireland and Middlesbrough teams and is set to join Leeds as an assistant to Sam Allardyce. More

  • in

    Jurgen Klopp told Egypt prospect Mohamed Zidan he was ‘100 times’ a better player than Liverpool star Mo Salah

    MOHAMED SALAH has excelled since joining Liverpool from Roma back in the summer of 2017.He has bagged a quite brilliant 185 goals in 301 appearances for the Reds and been an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s transformation at the club.
    Mohamed Zidan was told by Jurgen Klopp he was ‘100 times’ better than Mo Salah while at Borussia Dortmund
    But fellow Egyptian Mohamed Zidan once revealed the former Borussia Dortmund boss told him he thought he was ‘100 times’ better than Salah while at the German side.
    Speaking to ON Sport in January 2020, Zidan said: “Klopp told me that I was better than Salah 100 hundred times but I needed to be more professional.
    “Klopp said to me that I have a great talent and skills but I need to concentrate more. If I did this I could be one of the best players in the world.”
    However, while Zidan enjoyed a solid career with teams such as Dortmund, Mainz, Hamburg and Werder Bremen, he admits he lacked a good work ethic, which meant he never hit the heights Salah has.
    “I had to be more dedicated to training and be more professional to reach Salah’s level in the past,” he added.
    “Salah is more professional than me and more dedicated to football like Ronaldo and Messi.”
    Zidan netted 102 club goals in 294 games throughout his 16-year career, but never managed to bag 20 in one season.
    One of his career highlights was scoring the only goal for Egypt in a 3–1 defeat to England in March 2010.
    Salah, on the other hand, scored 44 times in his first season for Liverpool and has 14 already this season in all competitions.
    And upon arriving at Anfield, Zidan said back in November 2018 that Salah was carrying on a long legacy of Egyptians playing in the Premier League.
    Mohamed Zidan scores for Egypt against England in 2010Credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
    Mohamed Zidan celebrates his goal against EnglandCredit: Bradley Ormesher – The Times

    Speaking to Goal, he said: “He’s a good example, as we were before – me and other Egyptian colleagues who played in Europe, like Mido, Ahmed Hassan and many other players who played in top leagues.
    “Now Mo Salah is continuing the legacy of Egyptian players in Europe to make the Egyptian kids keep dreaming, because he’s one of us.
    “Today is Mo Salah time, it is going very well, he is giving hope to all Egyptians and then in the future it will be other kids from Egypt that will play in Europe.” More