More stories

  • in

    Jose Mourinho told to have dinner with Donald Trump as ex-Man Utd and Chelsea boss makes new bizarre claim

    JOSE MOURINHO has been told to “have dinner with Donald Trump” after making a bizarre claim.The Roma boss is preparing his side for the start of the Europa League tonight as they head to Moldova to face FC Sheriff.
    Fans have mocked Jose Mourinho after the Roma manager’s bizarre claimCredit: Rex
    Mourinho, 60, led the Serie A side to the final of the competition last season but suffered penalty shootout heartbreak against Sevilla.
    The Portuguese coach was fuming with the match officials afterwards.
    He was hit with a four-match ban for directing abusive language at English referee Anthony Taylor during the game in Budapest.
    Footage then emerged of Mourinho launching a foul-mouthed tirade at the officiating team in the stadium car park as he called their performance a “disgrace”.
    That was then followed by Taylor and his family being harassed and abused by angry supporters at the airport the following day as they headed back to the UK.
    And it seems that Mourinho is still fuming about that night back in May and is even REFUSING to accept that his team were beaten.
    During his pre-match press conference ahead of taking on Sheriff, he said: “It is a different season to the last, a different competition.
    “I will also continue to say until the bitter end that we did not lose that final in Budapest. Every time people talk to me about it, I will tell them that we did not lose.
    Most read in Football
    “Having said that, today we start from scratch and the first objective is to qualify for the next phase.
    “Last year we started the group with a defeat and that complicated matters, having to go through the play-offs, so winning the group would obviously be important.”
    Mourinho’s refusal to accept defeat soon had rival fans taking the mick on social media, with one saying: “Him and Trump should have dinner together.”
    Another tweeted: “Wake up Jose , it is painful but accept defeat.”
    While a fellow fan commented: “Just checked and you absolutely 100% categorically lost that game, Jose. Big style. Let me know if you need anything else.”
    Roma’s hangover from that Europa setback continued into the start of the current campaign.
    They collected just one point from their opening three Serie A matches, but they bounced back in style at the weekend as they thrashed Empoli 7-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday. More

  • in

    Forgotten former Premier League star and Euro legend, 49, to take over as Turkey manager in shock decision

    FORMER Premier League star Vincenzo Montella is set to be appointed as Turkey’s new boss.This comes after manager Stefan Kuntz was sacked following a two-year spell in charge.
    Vincenzo Montella is set to become manager of TurkeyCredit: EPA
    The Italian hero previously played for FulhamCredit: PA:Press Association
    The Turkish FA initially denied he had been fired but two days later confirmed the German had been axed ahead of Euro 2024 next summer.
    Montella, 49, is now set to take over, having been out of work since agreeing to mutually part ways with Adana Demirspor in June.
    He had guided the side to a fourth place finish in the Turkish Super Lig last season.
    Montella previously managed Sampdoria, AC Milan, Sevilla and had two reigns at Fiorentina.
    As a player, the striker is best remembered by his days at Roma.
    The Italian won Serie A in 2001 and played a total of 258 games for the club, finding the back of the net 102 times.
    He also featured in Euro 2000 as Dino Zoff’s side lost in the final to France 2-1.
    Montella also had a short spell in the Premier League on loan at Fulham in 2007.
    Most read in Football
    He swiftly became popular with the club’s fans, scoring six goals in 15 matches for them.
    But he rarely started under then manager Chris Coleman and after Lawrie Sanchez was appointed the loan move was terminated a week prior to it expiring.
    Montella will now be hoping to lead Turkey to Euro 2024 with the country currently sitting second in qualification Group D behind Croatia and narrowly ahead of Armenia and Wales.
    But it will be a tough job for him after Kuntz demanded his players need to work harder and that he “shouldn’t take all the blame.” More

  • in

    AC Milan invite Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to training ahead of Champions League clash against Newcastle

    AC MILAN have invited veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic to their training ground ahead of their Champions League clash against Newcastle.The 41-year-old hung up his boots for good in June – but has been spotted back watching training.
    AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli with Zlatan IbrahimovicCredit: Getty
    Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made a return to AC Milan after hanging up his boots in JuneCredit: Getty
    Zlatan Ibrahimović has joined AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli ahead of UCL game vs Newcastle 🔴⚫️🇸🇪This happens in the training session before the game and after losing the Milano derby on Saturday.— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 18, 2023

    Ibrahimovic returned to AC Milan in 2020 for a second spell with the club.
    The former Swedish striker’s age finally caught up with him after he was sidelined for the remainder of last season due to a calf injury.
    He said farewell to AC Milan fans in the final Serie A match of the season against Verona.
    The former Man Utd star was snapped at AC Milan training on Monday morning.
    The Swedish legend joined Stefano Pioli to give the squad a boost after their humiliating 5-1 defeat against rivals Inter Milan on Saturday.
    He was spotted in conversation with Pioli and assistant Giacomo Murelli as the first team warmed up.
    Pioli was forced to play striker Olivier Giroud in the Milano derby even though he was carrying an ankle injury.
    Ibrahimovic was back at his former club to watch AC Milan’s final training session before their Champion League group stage opener against Newcastle.
    Most read in Football
    Ibrahimovic – who turns 42 in October – has no official position at the club.
    He scored 93 goals in 163 appearances for the Rossoneri.
    Zlatan scored 511 club goals while playing for illustrious clubs including Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Barcelona, Inter, PSG, Man Utd, LA Galaxy, as well as those spells at AC Milan.
    For Sweden, he scored 62 times in 122 games and is their all-time top scorer. More

  • in

    I was a football icon and even won polo trophy but I was in so much pain after retiring I asked docs to amputate my legs

    GABRIEL BATISTUTA was widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers of his generation.The Fiorentina legend made a name for himself with his powerful shots in the days when Italian football ruled Europe.
    Gabriel Batistuta is a footballing iconCredit: Reuters
    The Argentine striker is a hero at Fiorentina and in ArgentinaCredit: Getty
    He has begun playing poloCredit: Alamy
    He once finished third in Fifa’s World Player of the Year competition in 1999.
    But since hanging up his boots the 54-year-old has had unusual experience with both pain and the sport of polo.

    Batistuta began his career in his homeland, playing for prestigious trio Newell’s Old Boys, River Plate and Boca Juniors.
    He moved to Europe in 1990 and scored 203 goals in 331 games for Fiorentina while also enjoying spells at Roma and Inter Milan.
    The man nicknamed Batigol and El Angel Gabriel won the 2001 Serie A and eventually ended his career in Qatar with Al-Arabi just three years after lifting the league.
    Batistuta has now left behind his life as a footballing icon after having a unique relationship with the beautiful game.
    He once admitted to never truly loving the sport, saying: “I don’t like football, it’s only my job.
    “When I was playing I never enjoyed it that much, I was never happy. If I scored two goals, I wanted a third, I always wanted more.
    Most read in Football
    “Now it’s all over I can look back with satisfaction, but I never felt that way when I was playing.”
    Since retiring, Batigol has suffered with terrible pain due to an injury that led to him once begging doctors to amputate his legs.
    The two-time Copa America winner’s goalscoring took a toll on his body and he underwent surgery a year after finishing his career.
    He endured daily agony and insist it’s more common than many are aware of.
    In an interview with Corriere della Sera in 2014, Batistuta lifted the lid on the problems he suffered with his ankles.
    He said: “I felt pain, pain and more pain. The operation was a solution I’d been chasing for at least six to seven years.
    “In 40 days, once I remove the brace, we’ll know if the pain has disappeared and I can finally walk like a normal person again.
    “As soon as I stopped playing, I found my ankles to be in pieces.
    “Bone against bone, supporting a weight of 86-87 kilograms. The slightest movement became agony.
    “I had the same problem as [Marco] Van Basten, who said enough was enough at 28 years of age.
    “I couldn’t get out of bed on some days. Overnight I couldn’t walk. I wet the bed even though the bathroom was only three metres away.
    “It was 4am and I knew if I stood my ankle would kill me. I’d be crying with anger and I said to myself: ‘It can’t go on like this.’
    “I felt sick, so sick that I went to a doctor friend of mine and asked him to amputate my legs.
    “I prayed to him, I insisted. I told him that this was no longer life.”
    The doctor turned down his request to cut off his limbs and instead performed surgery to relieve the pressure on his cartilage and tendons by putting screws in his ankles.
    His condition did improve as it prevented the bones from hitting each other when he walks.
    But Batistuta’s mobility is still a battle and he sometimes has difficulties on bad days.
    With 55 international goals, only Lionel Messi has found the back of the net more for Argentina than him.
    And to satisfy his competitive side, Batigol took up new sports in his days of pain.
    The legend remembered by his distinctive look of long hair in the La Viola shirt is now an avid golfer and even plays polo.
    Batistuta got so good on the back of a horse that his team won the prestigious Stella Artois Cup.
    He began riding as a child but didn’t take up the sport until he was invited to join in by a friend after his days at Fiorentina.
    Batigol opened up about his venture into polo, insisting he is still a novice: “It’s a hobby, but I always try to improve my standard, because the better I play, the more fun I have.
    “Playing polo gets my adrenaline going.
    “It is a very tactical sport and I’m devoting time to getting better. I’m having fun, but my character demands that I do things well, so I’m making and effort to learn and practice.
    “I feel some pressure when I play polo because people ask for goals, reflecting my football career.
    “I met Adolfo Cambiaso, the world’s best polo player, and he invited me to play a match with his team.
    “We entered the Stella Artois Cup and we won it, which was fantastic although it doesn’t stand comparison with playing football for Argentina at El Monumental in Buenos Aires.”
    Gabriel Batistuta attends the Argentina Polo Tour and played in the Loro Piana TeamCredit: Alamy
    He suffered with severe pain after hanging up his bootsCredit: AFP – Getty
    Gabriel Batistuta was granted with the freedom of FlorenceCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd More

  • in

    Italy wonderkid Udogie is hitting right notes at Tottenham after flying start – and Azzurri call-up may not be far away

    DESTINY UDOGIE was born in Verona, the setting from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – and it is fair to say the Spurs fans have fallen in love with the left-back already.The Italian, 20, born to Nigerian parents was actually signed last summer from Udinese for £15million.
    A young Destiny Udogie at Hellas Verona. Credit: Andrea Molinari of
    But with Antonio Conte already having Ivan Perisic and Ryan Sessegnon on the left, it was thought best that the whizkid return to the club that sold him for a season-long loan.
    Now he is flourishing in the Premier League but not in the position the club originally signed him for at wing-back under Conte, but as an inverted full-back in Ange Postecoglou’s attack-minded, 4-3-3 system.
    Supporters have been hugely impressed with rapid Udogie’s composure and talent on the ball, becoming an auxiliary midfielder at times, as well as his defensive discipline.
    Udogie has been a revelation so far this season
    He has already grabbed two assists in the top flight and at such a tender age, his potential is huge.
    Yet with the focus primarily on new boss Postecoglou, plus James Maddison and Yves Bissouma stealing the limelight, Udogie’s quick impact may have gone under the radar for fans outside the club.
    The defender’s last name is pronounced ‘ooh-doggy’ and his Nigerian first name of Iyenoma translates to ‘Good News’.
    His dad Franklin has been a driving force in his career, never missing a home game of his son’s back in Italy even on a Sunday when Udogie Snr would attend church. 
    But it was actually his mum Kate who first encouraged his passion for the game after noticing, as Udogie himself told SunSport in Perth this July, that “when I was a baby, I was kicking everything I saw around the house”.
    Most read in Football
    Then when Kate was taking older brother Uwa to football practice, she convinced the coach to allow a tearful Destiny to play too.
    Kate told “Destiny couldn’t stop crying. He wanted to be with Uwa. So I asked the coach to let them train together. He was four years old, Uwa was five. That’s how it all started.”
    Destiny quickly impressed while at local side Nogara, with one on-looker from affiliated club Atalanta, not believing the youngster was actually six by the way he played and, according to Franklin, wanted to check his documents just to be sure!
    Nonetheless, it was a case of try, try, try again for Udogie when it came to joining hometown side Hellas Verona, who rejected him twice after trials.
    Allegedly, it was only thanks to the father of an older team-mate who played in Destiny’s brother’s team alerting the Hellas to the future Spurs star’s talents that he finally joined the Venetian side.
    Udogie played up the ranks with Verona before a move to Udinese in 2021, initially on loan and then permanently.
    His fantastic season with the Bianconeri, netting five Serie A goals, alerted Spurs and Inter Milan but it was the former who won his signature.
    A young Udogie with his family. Credit: Andrea Molinari of
    Back he went to Udinese for the campaign where he did not quite hit the same heights, performing brilliantly against the big sides like AC Milan and Napoli but less well against the lesser sides, as the team won between October and March.
    There was also an incident with a car accident where Udogie lost control of his Mercedes around 3am and crashed into the front of a bar, destroying 12 chairs, three tables, two umbrellas, five large plant-holders and about ten plants.
    The owner described the damage as if “a bomb went off”. Udogie apologised and was fined.
    Udogie was kicking a ball around from a very early age. Credit: Andrea Molinari of
    Udogie, who idolised Real Madrid legend Marcelo as a kid, has certainly put any dip in form from last term well and truly behind him at Spurs, where he has hit the ground running.
    He has fit in extremely well into Postecoglou’s team – and the same can be said off the pitch.
    Udogie is particularly close to fellow Italian and new signing Guglielmo Vicario, who has described the left-back as like his “little brother”.
    But the huge tennis and basketball fan also gets on with pretty much everyone in the squad, helped by his laid-back character who appears unfazed by anything. 
    That latter attribute has certainly helped him put in some mature displays in the few games he has played so far, as has the fact that he will have had 80 senior games under his belt when he starts at home to Sheffield United on Saturday.
    Udogie in action as a youngster. Credit: Andrea Molinari of
    Postecoglou certainly seems to trust him already – the Aussie is a big believer in if you are good enough, you are old enough – and has been pleased with Udogie’s punctuality.
    The Spurs boss said: “He’s been great.
    “I think with Destiny, Micky (Van de Ven) and Pape Sarr, these 20-year-olds, 21-year-olds, and say to them look, ‘You’re not going to be judged on your performances in these early games, not by me, so just go out there and play’.
    “I think they’ve embraced that. They’ve enjoyed that freedom and belief that there was nothing that was going to happen out there that was going to say to me that they’re never going to be a player for this football club, because I was putting them out there.
    “But for them it’s not easy, just putting them out there in the Premier League. It wasn’t just one I was putting in, it was three or four.
    “We spoke about it as a coaching staff, for that first team selection, it could have been easier to go safer. Absolutely.
    “But we needed to change and we needed to challenge things. Guys like Destiny and Micky and these players who have not just gone in there and found their feet, they’ve gone in there and tried to smash it. That’s what I want.”
    Yet there is still some surprise within the club at just how well Udogie has taken to the Premier League, given most foreign signings, particularly young ones, need time to settle.
    His hot form is expected to drop off a bit, as most youngsters fluctuate with their performances.
    But with the way he is going, it seems a first call-up to Italy’s senior side will not be far away.
    Indeed, reports from his homeland suggest Azzurri chief Luciano Spalletti sees Udogie as one of a handful of starlets he may bring into the fold next month. More

  • in

    Cristiano Ronaldo ‘to take legal action against Juventus over £17m unpaid wages from Covid’ as team-mate withdraws case

    CRISTIANO RONALDO is reportedly set to sue Juventus over a whopping £17MILLION in unpaid wages.The five-time Ballon d’Or winner agreed to defer his salary from the Italian giants during the pandemic to alleviate their financial woes.
    Cristiano Ronaldo agreed to defer his Juventus wages during the pandemicCredit: REX
    The Old Lady are now facing legal action from Ronaldo as they haven’t stumped up the cashCredit: Rex
    But the Old Lady have reportedly not made good on their promise to stump up the outstanding cash in a suitable time for Ronaldo.
    According to Sports Mediaset, both parties have yet to reach “an economic agreement” over the matter.
    Ronaldo, 37, recently requested “investigation documents from the Turin Prosecutor’s Office” in the ongoing Prisma legal case.
    And he’s upped the ante by preapring filing a lawsuit against his former club, who also asked ex-star striker Paulo Dybala to defer his wages during the pandemic.
    Dybala has now decided not to take any action against them.
    News of Ronaldo’s possible lawsuit comes just days after former Juve skipper Leonardo Bonucci launched legal action against the club.
    The Italy international is requesting damages over the way he was frozen out of the club by manager Max Allegri.
    The defender was exiled from the first team and has requested “compensation for damages due to the alleged lack of adequate training and preparation conditions” made available to him afterwards.
    Most read in Football
    Should he be successful, Bonnuci plans to donate all of the damages to charity.
    Leonardo Bonucci is also suing JuventusCredit: REX
    Juventus are also dealing with a potential anti-doping scandal involving star midfielder Paul Pogba.
    The France international tested positive for synthetic testosterone after Juve’s 3-0 win over Udinese in August.
    Pogba, 30, has denied intentionally ingesting any performance-enhancing drugs and has blamed his positive test on a tainted supplement.
    His agent – Rafaela Pimenta – said: “We are waiting for the results of the counter-analysis and cannot say anything until then.
    “The only certain thing is that Paul Pogba never intended to break the rules.”
    Juventus will be back in action on Saturday afternoon, welcoming Lazio to the Allianz Stadium. More

  • in

    Paul Pogba is a huge talent but never learnt to live with the fame… now his career could be over

    LIVING with fame is hard for some footballers. With Paul Pogba it is a revolving ordeal.Now just as we thought the Frenchman was settled with Juventus, that headline writers here could stop trying to find rhyming nouns with the Frenchman’s strange (to us, anyway) surname, up he pops again.
    Paul Pogba has tested positive for testosterone and his career could be overCredit: Rex
    This time with an alleged offence that could end his football career.
    The World Cup winner is reported to have had a positive test for testosterone, a drug that has been taken illegally for years in helping build muscle and bone mass.
    Sylvester Stallone uses it and look where it took him. Maybe Stallone and many other testosterone replacement therapy users also rather liked the idea of its association with increased aggression, violence and sex drive.
    For Pogba, if correct, it would appear to have been aimed at extra zip.
    Whether the Italian authorities noticed a difference in his performances in matches for Juventus is doubtful but someone discovered evidence for a possible long-term red card.
    Pogba’s second time at Old Trafford was a mockery of his then-world-record transfer of £89million, paid in 2016.  His agent, the late ingrate Mino Raiola, was paid at least £27m by Juventus for his part.
    I’m reasonably sure he wasn’t from Mars but sometimes his colourful haircuts made me wonder what David Bowie would dream up for him.
    There were times when he could rule a match and on £15m a year so he should.
    Most read in Football
    Pogba could be banned for up to four yearsCredit: EPA
    Karren Brady says Pogba has struggled to deal with fame and notorietyCredit: Getty
    United fans will judge whether he was good value. He did play three times for them as a lad in 2010-11 and 236 games with 39 goals in the six seasons after he returned from Juventus.
    United were rewarded with two trophies and a variety of upsets in and out of the dressing room.
    Because, by then, Pogba, such an independent spirit that in various times he fell out with Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho could be named alongside the world stars of football.
    He had been directed towards that target by his mother whose marriage split up soon after the family moved from Guinea to east Paris.
    Young Paul was a huge talent and the temptations to move from Le Havre boys’ team to one of the biggest clubs in the world were sufficient for him to sign at 16. Le Havre contested it but eventually went away.
    I suspect Pogba is not as self-confident as he appears. Karren Brady
    I suspect Pogba is not as self-confident as he appears. Surrounded no doubt by hangers-on and chancers, threatened with extortion by one of his twin brothers, kidnapped, often injured and derided, it would be surprising if he did not feel cornered by his notoriety.
    It says a good deal that he has never branched out from the only two clubs for which he has ever played.
    Fame is no protection, nor are yes-men as other stars discovered… from Paul Gascoigne to George Best to Diego Maradona.
    The glamorous lifestyle did not hide the weaknesses, controversy chasing them through the post-football years. Will Pogba go the same way? Now 30, he could be banned from playing for two to four years.
    This is how he feels: “Sometimes I was just by myself thinking: ‘I don’t want to have money anymore. I just don’t want to play anymore. I just want to be with normal people, so they will love me for me — not for the fame, not for the money’.”
    It’s heart-breaking. More

  • in

    Mystery as missing North Korean footballer dubbed The People’s Ronaldo ‘REAPPEARS’… but it could spell tragedy

    A FOOTBALLER dubbed The People’s Cristiano Ronaldo has mysteriously “reappeared” after vanishing from the spotlight years ago.Former Juventus striker Han Kwang-song reportedly left Italy last month and returned to his native North Korea – but he might not have the warmest welcome back.
    Former Juventus striker Han Kwang-song, from North Korea, mysteriously ‘reappeared’Credit: Getty
    The 24-year-old reportedly left Italy last month and returned to his homelandCredit: Getty
    Han’s return could spell tragedy as he re-enters Kim Jong-un’s ruthless regimeCredit: Getty
    On Tuesday, sports expert Marco Bagozzi updated Radio Free Asia (RFA) on the Pyongyang-born’s latest whereabouts.
    “I recently spoke with Han Kwang-song’s close friend in Italy and he confirmed that he left mid-August,” he said.
    Marco added that Han’s Facebook Messenger account has been “unusable” ever since.
    Another source, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Asian news outlet that the footballer had left for Beijing in August and returned to his homeland with fellow North Korean residents.
    Read more on Han Kwang-Song
    The insider claims that on August 22, Han was one of 200 North Korean passengers returning from China in a state-owned Air Koryo flight.
    Jorn Andersen, who coached the North Korean national team, also told RFA: “He has not been in contact with me since last year.”
    The 24-year-old’s enigmatic “comeback” could spell some tragedy as Han re-enters Kim Jong-un’s ruthless regime.
    The promising striker could likely be deemed as a North Korean “defector”, meaning he could face harsh interrogation, a prison camp sentence, or worse – the capital punishment.
    Most read in Football
    Lee Hyun-seung, a North Korean defector currently residing in the US, told Radio Free Asia that overseas workers or civil servants would be subjected to months-long political ideological training once back to their homeland.
    “When the border is opened and overseas civil servants and worker re-enter North Korea, there is a high probability that these people will receive intensive ideological training from various Government bodies for at least three months,” he said.
    “These include units of the Organization and Guidance Department, Propaganda and Agitation Department, State Security Department, and Party cells.”
    Han’s trip to Rome from Doha in 2021 was his last known journey, CNN reports.
    That same year, Han was accused of breaching UN sanctions as he may had been funnelling his £20k-a-week wage to Kim’s nuke programme, experts believe.
    Han, the first North Korean to score in Serie A, was considered a promising young talent and was previously linked with big money moves to Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Everton.
    But Al-Duhail released him from the multi-million-pound contract he signed in 2020 amid a sanctions-busting probe by UN officials.
    Athletes are not exempt from international rules that stop North Koreans earning money overseas in case it goes to fund Kim’s nuclear programme.
    Experts told The Sun it is likely Han would have been forced to send most of his hefty pay packet back to the North Korean regime – which would have been in a blatant breach of UN sanctions.
    The promising striker could likely be deemed as a North Korean ‘defector’Credit: Getty
    Han could face harsh interrogation, a prison camp sentence, or capital punishmentCredit: Getty More