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    Fifa World Cup 2026 final stadium revealed as raging fans say it was ‘the worst possible option’

    THE 2026 World Cup final will be held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.During a live broadcast from Miami, Fifa revealed the venues schedule for the bumper 48-team tournament.
    MetLife Stadium will host the 2026 World Cup finalCredit: Getty
    The stadium holds 82,500 fans at NFL gamesCredit: AP
    The US, Mexico and Canada will host the expanded tournament, which will take place over 39 days.
    Cases were made for alternative final venues, including Texas’ AT&T Stadium.
    But it will be MetLife Stadium that hosts the showpiece occasion on July 19, 2026.
    The 82,500-seater venue is one of seven that will need to have artificial surfaces replaced by grass for the tournament.
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    Fans have been left less than enthused by today’s announcement, particularly given the surface.
    MetLife Stadium is the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets.
    Earlier in this NFL season, Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a ruptured Achilles while playing at MetLife.
    Upon the final venue announcement, one fan wrote on social media: “This was literally the worst possible option…”
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    While a second commented: “MetLife turf is an injury monster. Hope they install real grass or a different surface.”
    A third moaned: “Arghhhh. Thought Dallas would be the pick!”
    And a fourth said: “Wait until they see that turf.”
    Another added: “Have fun trying to get back to Manhattan after this game.”
    Some were more positive, however, with one saying: “If you think about it. The travel hub of nyc, and the public transportation system of NYC and Nj makes this the ideal choice to host a final.”
    And another posted: “East Coast fans rejoice.”
    The opening match of the tournament will be hosted by Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca on June 11.
    The iconic venue previously hosted World Cup finals in 1970 and 1986.
    Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca will host the opening game of the 2026 World Cup on June 11Credit: Alamy More

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    Who is Kyle Walker’s ex-wife Annie Kilner and how many children do they have?

    IN January 2024, the wife of footballer Kyle Walker revealed that the pair had called time on their marriage.Here we take a look into the life of Annie Kilner, the reason behind their separation, and the children they share.
    Kyle Walker and Annie Kilner pictured in 2018
    Who is Kyle Walker’s wife Annie Kilner?
    Annie Kilner and Kyle Walker started dating in their teens.
    The brunette beauty said: “When we started going out it was love at first sight.”
    They were together for over nine years before splitting in May 2019, after reality star Laura Brown opened up about romps in Walker’s £200k Bentley.
    After splitting from Kilner in 2019, the England ace was embroiled in a number of steamy encounters – culminating in a coronavirus lockdown sex party with two sex workers in April 2020.
    Walker then became a dad for the fourth time after a short-term relationship with Lauryn Goodman.
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    Annie branded him “gutless” after he broke the news over the phone.
    Brave Annie told a friend: “He’s a fool for risking his family for this.
    “When he told me I was heartbroken. I also felt physically sick. All the air in your body leaves you.
    “My world completely caved in on me in that second.
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    “It was the worst-case scenario, the one thing I dreaded most but knew was possible, given his track record with women.
    “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Not only had he cheated on me but she was pregnant with his baby.”
    In 2020, Annie told SunSport: “Kyle says he wants his future with me and the kids. He wants to marry me but he’s caused a lifetime of damage. But when you have children they come first.
    “My kids want their daddy. Until you’re in this situation you don’t know what you’d do.”
    And SunSport revealed how Annie held secret talks with lawyers over a share of Walker’s £30million fortune.
    Despite the challenges in their relationship, Walker and Kilner put their troubles behind them and got married at the beginning of 2022 after the England star proposed with a £250,000 engagement ring.
    In March 2023, the pair were spotted kissing in public, with life seemingly back to normal.
    However, that same month, Walker was seen dancing with another woman on a night out, suggesting that the couple were not as happily married as they seemed.
    Have Kyle Walker and Annie Kilner split up?
    In January 2024, Kilner revealed that the pair had called time on their marriage.
    A statement from Kilner shared to social media read: “I am posting this in response to growing recent media enquiries about my marriage to Kyle and in an effort to protect my family against the intensity of the media spotlight.
    “Sadly, after many years of marriage and three wonderful children together, I have decided to take some time away from Kyle.
    “I do not wish to comment on the position any further. For now, I ask that the privacy of myself and our three young children is respected during this difficult time.”
    On January 11, 2024, The Sun exclusively revealed that Walker was dumped after his wife confronted him over claims he’d fathered a second child with model Lauryn Goodman.
    The influencer also has a three-year-old son with Walker, from a brief relationship while he and Annie were apart.
    The Sun was told of how she has booted out the England ace – and how her fuming dad has also begged her not to go back to the footballer, or he will disown her.
    Lauryn became pregnant three months after a secret rendezvous with Walker in London and gave birth to a girl in July last year.
    Sources say Annie was “floored” after receiving a message on Boxing Day which made the same claim.
    Lauryn, 32, told her: “I don’t have two baby daddies. I have one.”
    She then forwarded a photo of Kyle secretly enjoying a playdate with their two children in a park.
    The source added: “He’d humiliated her once and now Annie suspected he’d done it again with the same woman.
    “It came out of the blue, it couldn’t have been a worse time.”
    Following the statement, Annie has privately vowed to proceed with a divorce and has even hired Coleen Rooney’s victorious Wagatha Christie lawyer, Paul Lunt.
    Sources said Kyle and Annie’s marriage had been on the rocks in the months after Lauryn gave birth and that the latest scandal is the “final straw”.
    Walker is now living in a rented apartment nearby.
    He apologised to Annie last week after she confirmed she was “taking time away”.
    The post read: “Annie is an amazing woman and I can only apologise for the upset I’ve caused her.
    “She’s been part of my life for so long and that will never change for the sake of our children.
    “I would ask for privacy for all of our family, and especially our young children, whilst we work through these difficult times.”
    It comes as Lauryn spoke in an exclusive interview with The Sun on Sunday, and said she revealed the truth so they could all “live their lives like adults”.
    Revealing why she delivered the news to Annie over Christmas, Lauryn said: ‘’I kept saying to Kyle, ‘You need to tell Annie that you are our daughter’s father and you’re having a relationship with your children.
    “We need to start 2024 out in an open way. If everyone knows where they stand. they can make their own adult choices in life.”
    Lauryn said she did not want to cause “any more heartache” for Annie but said Kyle was too weak to tell the truth.
    She added: “I didn’t want them to split up but it had to be out in the open for all of our sakes.”
    A source insisted Kyle was never in a relationship with Lauryn.
    Do Kyle Walker and Annie Kilner have any children?
    Annie and Kyle have three sons together: Roman, Riaan, and Reign.
    Annie had expressed that she’d quite like a girl, telling OK! Magazine: “I really want a little girl. I love my boys, but I’d really like a daughter as I’m outnumbered in this house.”
    In 2020 Annie revealed that she suffered a miscarriage.
    Is Annie Kilner pregnant?
    On January 15, 2024, The Sun exclusively revealed that Walker met with his estranged wife Annie Kilner – who is six months pregnant with their fourth child.
    The pair were pictured together for the first time since the split as Annie handed over their eldest son Roman Kyle, in Prestbury, Cheshire.
    Annie, who was not wearing her wedding band, is due in March and gave a glimpse of her bump.
    A source confirmed to The Sun: “Annie is six months pregnant with their fourth child. It should be a time of great joy and excitement.
    “Instead, she’s struggling greatly with the fall-out from his latest sex scandal.
    “She’s understandably fragile but doing everything to protect her children and prepare for the arrival of their fourth.
    “To his credit, Kyle is trying to put on a united front to limit the damage they have been exposed to.
    “It’s a little bit too late, but he’s trying.”
    The source said Annie told only a handful of friends and family about the pregnancy and was desperate to keep it quiet.
    They added: “She was distraught after speculation emerged at the weekend.
    “It’s every woman’s right to be able to announce they’re expecting — not someone else.
    “She was deeply hurt by what was said, especially at a time when her world is currently in free fall.”
    The source also denied claims Kyle was kicked out five months ago, and said he was given his marching orders after Lauryn told Annie the truth. More

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    World Cup final in line for unprecedented change with Fifa under pressure to ensure a faster paced game

    FIFA chiefs are under pressure to confirm the venue for the 2026 World Cup final.And there are signs that the biggest game in football could be played indoors for the first time.
    There are signs the World Cup 2026 final will be held for the first time in an indoor stadiumCredit: Getty
    New York’s MetLife Stadium had long been considered the front-runner.
    An East Coast venue would allow a mid-afternoon kick-off, prime time in Europe.
    But temperatures in the Big Apple in mid-July regularly hit 90F-plus, likely to mean stifling conditions and a slow-paced game.
    So expectations are increasing that Dallas could be the chosen option.
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    The Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, 19 miles from the city, is called the world’s largest air-conditioned room,   with the retract- able roof helping set a temperature of 70F.
    It would mean a kick-off at 2pm local time to fit the demands of European audiences and likely lead to a faster game.
    Dallas and Miami — home of the North and Central American and Caribbean confederation Concacaf — are alternatives for Fifa bigwigs’ main tournament base away from New York.
    Argentina won the last World Cup in Qatar in December 2022 in an epic final against France.
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    This was the first-ever World Cup held in the winter and bang in the middle of the European football season.
    Victory gave Argentina their third World Cup win, and provided a fitting finale for captain and talisman Lionel Messi.
    La Albiceleste secured the title after winning 4-2 on penalties at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.
    Like the other stadiums planned for the 2022 World Cup, the 88,000-capacity stadium was air-conditioned to keep players cool using solar power. More

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    Watch behind-the-scenes footage of World Cup 2022 with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in Netflix series trailer

    NETFLIX’S new World Cup 2022 series gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at the tournament.The final trailer for the show features both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo during their bid for glory in Qatar.
    Lionel Messi stars in Netflix’s new World Cup docuseriesCredit: X @NetflixUK
    Cristiano Ronaldo also appears in the final trailer for ‘Captains of the World’Credit: X @NetflixUK
    “Captains of the World” will release on the streaming platform on Saturday and features exclusive access to all 32 teams from the tournament.
    Netflix have billed the show as “the definitive story of the Fifa World Cup 2022”.
    The trailer shows the emotions of the tournament with footage from the crowds in the stadium and fan parks around the world.
    Viewers will also be able to see behind-the-scenes footage from inside the dressing rooms before, during and after matches.
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    Interviews with the likes of Messi and Ronaldo are also included, as shown in the trailer.
    The veteran stars headed into the tournament with the prospect of it being their last shot at winning the World Cup.
    For Ronaldo, who scored in Portugal’s opening match against Ghana, the journey would end in the last eight.
    He was even dropped for his country’s last 16 win over Switzerland and again started on the bench as they crashed out to Morocco.
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    The show includes exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from the tournamentCredit: X @NetflixUK
    Cameras followed Messi and Argentina’s run to World Cup gloryCredit: X @NetflixUK
    It would be the opposite set of emotions for Messi, though, as he inspired Argentina to their third World Cup triumph.
    The Inter Miami forward scored in all but one match as he notched seven goals and three assists to win the tournament’s Golden Ball.
    Fans will be able to see the emotions of all 32 teams from the 2022 World CupCredit: X @NetflixUK
    Ronaldo and Portugal were dumped out in the quarter-finalsCredit: X @NetflixUK More

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    Wales can qualify for Euro 2024 without talisman Gareth Bale, says former assistant manager

    GARETH BALE was impossible for Wales to replace.But ex-Dragons assistant boss Kit Symons reckons Robert Page’s new cycle can qualify for Euro 2024 without their superman.
    Kit Symons was part of the Wales backroom staff who reached three major tournament finalsCredit: PA
    Without Bale, Robert Page has guided Wales to the brink of Euro 2024Credit: Getty
    Two Group D wins for Wales, starting today against Armenia in Yerevan before hosting Turkey in Cardiff on Tuesday night, will book a fourth major tournament in five attempts.
    Symons was part of the backroom staff for the previous three finals but left his post after last year’s World Cup disappointment in Qatar.
    Wales’ first World Cup since 1958 was also ex-captain Bale’s swansong.
    The Welsh legend hung up his boots on a glittering international career which yielded a record 111 caps and 41 goals for his country.
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    But Symons reckons Page’s Euro dreamers can achieve success and reach the finals in Germany next summer.
    Symons said: “Wales are capable of qualifying. It’s in their own hands. Armenia and Turkey are big games and it’s all to play for.
    “You’d have expected us to beat Armenia at home but we didn’t and got taught a lesson. It was a really bad performance and result.
    “But we can certainly beat them away from home. Can we beat Turkey? We’ve done that before so we can qualify.”
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    Bale’s final Welsh appearance came in the 3-0 group exit defeat to England almost a year ago.
    But Symons, who was also Chris Coleman’s long-standing No2, has been encouraged by Harry Wilson, Kieffer Moore, Brennan Johnson and David Brooks sharing the attacking load.
    Symons, 52, added: “We have found a different way of playing and being successful.
    “Baleo has left and, while we have good players, there’s no superman to come in and score goals out of nothing for us. 
    “It’s impossible to replace Gareth. He was world-class, a talisman and even if he wasn’t having his best game he’d pop up with a moment of magic.
    “It was incredible what he did for Wales and how he achieved it. It’s got to be a different way now and we have to share out the goals and assists.”
    Page parted ways with Symons after the World Cup, which the ex-Fulham manager describes as a ‘fairytale’ as the Dragons qualified for a first global finals in 64 years.
    Symons said: “I’m really disappointed about how I left because it was a brilliant job that meant a lot to me.
    “But I also feel blessed. I’ve been the assistant manager three times now and been to three major tournaments.
    “I had a brilliant time and was given great opportunities so I don’t have any regrets. 
    “As a player, we had near misses like the Romania game for USA ’94 so to qualify for the World Cup was a fairytale.
    “We got to the tournament and the fairytale came to an end and reality hit home.
    “We played really good sides, some of the players had been injured or weren’t fully match-fit and that took its toll. We couldn’t alter that.
    “There wasn’t much we could have done to achieve different results.
    “You’re on the biggest stage of world football and if you have any frailties or problems they get magnified and blown up.
    “I still think Wales qualifying for a World Cup was a huge and monumental achievement.
    “Of course, everyone was disappointed with the performances, apart from the second half of the USA game.
    “But if you reflect and look at where we were and take into account the factors we were dealing with, it wasn’t that big a surprise.
    “We had a group of players who had been incredible and quite a few of them were coming to the end of the cycle. 
    “Gareth and Joe Allen were so important for Wales and the way we played. When we played well, they were pivotal to it.
    “I’m just really pleased they got a chance to play at a World Cup.
    “Now it’s a different time and the start of another cycle. It will take time.
    “Reaching the Euro 2016 semi-finals was incredible but we also lost 6-1 in Serbia with Baleo, Joe, Ashley Williams, the nucleus of the same team.
    “People need to be patient, trust in the process and support what they believe in.” More

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    Wales hatch genius plan to get around VAR stoppages in Euro 2024 qualifiers after Premier League stars’ injuries

    ROBERT PAGE is ready to put his Wales stars through a warm-up during a Euro 2024 qualifier if there is a lengthy VAR check.The Dragons boss saw the results of a seven-minute break during Spurs’ 4-1 Premier League defeat by Chelsea last week when Micky van de Ven pulled his hamstring a few minutes later.
    Micky van de Ven limped off with a hamstring injury just minutes after a lengthy VAR checkCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun
    Wales manager Robert Page will leave no stone unturned in Euro 2024 qualifiersCredit: Rex
    The PFA fear long VAR checks will lead to more player injuries.
    And Wales boss Page is primed if there are delays in crunch Group D clashes against either Armenia in Yerevan on Saturday or Turkey at home next Tuesday.
    When asked about conducting a warm-up due to VAR checks and the fear of injuries, Page replied: “We are going to have to take that into consideration with the way VAR is going.”
    Tottenham fans suggested the delay may have contributed to Dutchman van de Ven’s injury with players cooling down and then being forced to sprint in quick succession.
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    VAR has blighted the Premier League and Champions League but last year’s World Cup was also affected.
    And Scott McTominay’s goal being ruled out for Scotland in Spain last month sparked fury from team-mate John McGinn.
    Ex-Sheffield United defender Page, whose side are two wins away from qualifying for the Euro finals next summer, reckons football is miles behind rugby in its use of technology.
    Page, 49, added: “The TMO in rugby is way ahead of where football’s VAR is.
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    “In the rugby World Cup it was clear, every supporter in the stadium can listen and know the process.
    “You could hear every conversation. The referee in the final was under severe pressure but he was confident, assertive and it was done in 30 seconds, not nine minutes. 
    “Everyone understood what was happening and the game moved forward.
    “No arguments, get on with the game. In football, fans are in the dark so we need to be more transparent.”
    Page reckons the Prem has changed its tact since the ‘shambolic’ and ‘amateurish’ VAR cock-up which saw Luis Diaz’s goal for Liverpool at Tottenham in September wrongly ruled out for offside.
    He said: “There’s been a definite change in VAR since the Tottenham and Liverpool game with the awful miscommunication. It was shambolic and so amateurish. 
    “There are jobs at stake, it’s a multi-billion pound industry so we can’t have VAR incidents like that. 
    “VAR should get involved if you need a definitive answer. If it’s a push or not, we don’t need VAR for that, let the referee make that call.
    There’s been a definite change in VAR since the Tottenham and Liverpool game with the awful miscommunication. It was shambolic and so amateurishRob Page on VAR
    “In the Newcastle v Arsenal match, I thought it was a foul but the referee has got to make that decision. Give the referee the power to do that again.
    “VAR is there to assist the referee, not the other way round.
    “I get (Mikel) Arteta’s frustration because of the effort he and his coaching staff go into to get the analysis right.
    “Mikel’s assistant Albert (Stuivenburg) worked here with Wales and I know how intense they are.
    “If you want to win games you have to put the work in so to see standards not being met elsewhere is frustrating.
    “It’s ironic that it wasn’t unusual in the World Cup last year to see 100-minute games because they wanted the ball in play more for the sake of the supporters.
    “But we’re not seeing that now. We are seeing longer games but the ball is in play less.
    Page says he can understand Mikel Arteta’s frustration with VARCredit: Getty
    “The Tottenham versus Chelsea game had the ball in play for a ridiculous number of minutes compared to how long the match lasted and the reason was for VAR checks. 
    “The game is stopping too many times. We want the ball in play a lot more.
    “Supporters want to see the play on the pitch, not players stood still or not knowing what VAR are looking at.”  More

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    Inside incredible journey of former Welsh lifeguard who is now aiming to manage 170th-ranked Fiji at first World Cup

    ROB SHERMAN knows a thing or two about the beach after his time as a champion lifeguard on the Welsh west coast.But he is certainly not taking things easy in his new role as the national football team manager of Fiji – 10,000 miles from home.
    Rob Sherman is the new national team manager of FijiCredit: www.phototek.nz / Fiji Football Federation
    The ex-footballer, left, with his brother Stuart on the Welsh surf lifesaving tour of Australia in 1982Credit: Rob Sherman
    Fiji have never played at a World Cup but could benefit from the extra qualifying spot for OceaniaCredit: www.phototek.nz / Fiji Football Federation
    The 63-year-old took over as head coach in July.
    As well as his remit to develop the beautiful game in the beautiful South Pacific country, Sherman has strong ambitions of leading the nation ranked 170th out of 207 in the Fifa rankings to their first World Cup.
    Those chances were boosted by Oceania now getting 1.5 qualifying spots, up from 0.5 for Qatar 2022, which will see one country from the federation guaranteed a place at the 2026 tournament and another entering an inter-continental play-off.
    New Zealand are the dominant team, reaching South Africa 2010 before losing play-offs for the last three World Cups.
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    But Sherman, who will get a first proper chance to assess his squad in their Pacific Games opener against Northern Marianas Islands in the Solomon Islands on Saturday, believes Fiji can spring a surprise when qualifying gets underway in September 2024.
    Asked whether the Bula Boys can book a spot at United States, Canada and Mexico 2026, Sherman told SunSport: “The extra qualifying spot raises the ambition of all the nations but in particular Fiji. 
    “The ideal is to win the one slot, that’s not beyond the realms if I’m honest. But at the very least an inter-continental play-off raises the profile of football in the region and if you do make the World Cup then happy days. 
    “Personally, qualifying would be a real moment of actualisation. I’ve coached since I was 17.
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    “Because I didn’t make it as a player, being a decent coach has been my way of compensating – so getting Fiji to the World Cup would be a moment of great satisfaction.
    “Getting to the world’s biggest sporting event would be huge for all Fijians across the world.
    “Fiji are very competitive within Oceania. 
    “New Zealand are the top-ranked country with lots of professional players. Then it’s the likes of the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Papa New Guinea, Vanuatu and ourselves.”
    Sherman, whose son Drew was the youngest international manager when he took charge of the Cook Islands aged 28, is based in Christchurch, doing his job remotely before flying the three-and-a-half hours to Fiji for camps. 
    However, he is unable to select some players due to strict Fijian government laws regarding passports. 
    Anyone applying for a Fijian passport for the first time after turning 18 needs to spend five years living in the country, thus ruling out a host of talent abroad with a Fijian grandparent, for example, who would be eligible under Fifa legislation.
    Many of the stars in the Fiji team play in the amateur national league and have regular jobs, from police and army to labouring. 
    FIJI’S FITNESS FIX
    Therefore improving fitness levels is a key priority for Sherman and his backroom team including ex-Premier League goalkeeper Les Cleevely, especially after the “jaded” Under-23s team lost 9-0 to New Zealand in September’s Olympic qualifying final.
    And he sets a high standard having completed an Ironman in 2000, the year after running the New York Marathon. 
    Born and bred in Aberystwyth, Sherman has always prided himself on his ridiculous fitness levels and even represented his country at THREE different sports – plus played off a single-figure golf handicap.
    Football was his primary sport, playing for the Wales Under-18s after being scouted to join Cardiff City as a teenager. 
    He was also an accomplished athlete, holding the national junior 400m hurdles record, as well as competing for his country at the surf lifesaving championships, too.
    But his football career spiralled downwards thanks to a rotten stroke of bad timing at Cardiff.
    On a Tuesday in November 1978, Jimmy Andrews told Sherman he would get his debut on the Saturday – but the manager lost his job on the Thursday.
    Sherman never played for the first team.
    Sherman, far left, representing his country in the beach sprintCredit: Rob Sherman
    The former footballer played for Wales Under-18sCredit: Rob Sherman
    Sherman, bottom row second right, lines up with his Red Ravens team-matesCredit: Rob Sherman
    Sherman held the 400m hurdles junior national recordCredit: Rob Sherman
    The ultra-fit athlete has also completed a triathlon, marathon and IronmanCredit: Rob Sherman
    The national team is unable to select certain players who live abroad due to strict Fijian passport rulesCredit: www.phototek.nz / Fiji Football Federation
    A brief stint under John Toshack at Swansea followed but his playing days “faded out” and he turned to coaching full-time, migrating with his wife to New Zealand in 2007 when he was headhunted to be technical director of the football federation.
    Sherman, who has coached at three Women’s World Cups and helped Canada win Olympic bronze in 2012, was also technical director of Australia and Wales, training many of the Dragons’ ‘Golden Generation’ that reached the Euro 2016 semi-finals. 
    The Welshman said: “There was a series of things at Cardiff, I was asked to do something and refused, a legal matter, and I never had a look in after that.
    “I was lucky enough to go to Swansea but a little bump in the journey became a mountain. I was damaged goods from a mental perspective. 
    “Ironically I coached my son’s team when he was about seven and realised how little I knew. That was the catalyst and I re-did my coaching awards. I’m in it for the player, not for me. 
    “I patrolled the beaches as a lifeguard in my hometown. I was British beach sprint champion. It’s essentially a 100m sprint, the idea being you get to patients quickly to improve rescue efficiency. 
    The athletic potential of Fijian players is enormous… Oceania is untapped for its talent due to the geographyRob Sherman
    “I did it until I was 16, then had four years without it then the Welsh Championships were in Swansea. We didn’t have a game so I went and won. The following year I was out of football so it was a nice diversion.”
    But super-fit Sherman knows the journey for Fiji to the World Cup is a marathon not a sprint, especially when rugby is the country’s beloved No1 sport.
    Fiji beat England at Twickenham in August then stunned Australia at the Rugby World Cup before losing a tight quarter-final to the Red Rose in France. 
    Sherman is determined to use the Flying Fijians’ success as inspiration for his Bula Boys and believes that can unlock a huge new scouting market for top clubs.
    The head coach added: “The athletic potential of Fijian players is enormous.
    “In terms of inspiration, the rugby performances have shown there are no limitations and there is massive opportunity. 
    “Obviously, rugby is their favoured sport, regularly playing against Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. That illustrates the difference, they are professional players and many play in Europe. 
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    “This is the long-term objective for football. South America and Africa have a traditional yield for scouting whereas Oceania is untapped for its talent due to the geography.
    “Through a World Cup or exposure of a good qualifying campaign, some very talented players could get opportunities in professional football, maybe in Australia or directly to Europe.”
    The U23s reached the Olympic qualifying final while the U20s went to the 2023 World Cup in ArgentinaCredit: www.phototek.nz / Fiji Football Federation
    Fiji’s rugby team stunned Australia at the World CupCredit: AFP
    Sherman coached a number of players in Wales’ team that reached the Euro 2016 semi-finalsCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Sherman led Llantwit Major FC to the Corinthian Cup in his first coaching roleCredit: Rob Sherman
    Sherman did not make a first-team appearance for CardiffCredit: Rob Sherman
    Bad timing meant Jimmy Andrews never gave Sherman his Cardiff debutCredit: Rob Sherman
    Sherman represented Wales in three different sportsCredit: Rob Sherman
    Sherman in action on his debut for hometown club Aberystwyth Town as a 16-year-oldCredit: Rob Sherman
    The Welshman has been director of football for three different countriesCredit: Rob Sherman
    Taking Fiji to the World Cup would be a ‘moment of great personal satisfaction’Credit: Fiji Football Association More

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    Jordan James upstaged Real Madrid superstar Luka Modric and hailed it the ‘best night of my life’

    JORDAN JAMES hailed getting the better of Luka Modric as the best night of his life.The young Wales midfielder has been on cloud nine since last month’s stand-out display against the 170-cap Croatia captain in the shock 2-1 Euro 2024 qualifying win. 
    Birmingham rising star Jordan James has impressed for Wales in his six-cap international careerCredit: Getty
    James not only faced Luka Modric but also Manchester City’s Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo BrozovicCredit: Alamy
    There are 19 years and 164 international caps between James and Real Madrid superstar Modric. 
    When asked about getting the upper hand over the 38-year-old and Manchester City’s Mateo Kovacic in midfield, James replied: “I don’t think it gets much better than that.
    “It was the best night of my life. It was a massive win for the country as well as seeing how proud my family were in the crowd.
    “It’s difficult coming back down to earth from the biggest game of my life. But my mindset is exactly the same as it was before that game. Nothing’s changed.
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    “Whether that’s against Modric or anyone else, I’m still going to play exactly the same and hopefully I can do that in the next two games. 
    “We’ll look back on that Croatia game and take confidence into the next two. Confidence is really high but we can’t take anyone lightly. 
    “We still have a job to do. We know what it means to the country to get to these big tournaments, so that’s our focus and hopefully we can do that.”
    Birmingham ace James, 19, knows he must back up his impressive Cardiff performance in Armenia on Saturday.
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    Wales will qualify for the finals in Germany next summer if they pick up two Group D wins, starting in Yerevan before hosting Turkey on Tuesday
    James said of June’s 4-2 home thrashing by Armenia: “There is a bit of revenge there. You don’t like losing. It’s not nice and we want to get them back.”.
    James, who still lives at his family home in Hereford, admits Wales boss Robert Page picked him following Joe Allen’s retirement after last year’s World Cup.
    The six-cap midfielder is set to start again on Saturday and plans to repay Page by helping the Dragons move one win away from securing a fourth major tournament spot in five attempts.
    James added: “The last few months have been brilliant. All I’ve ever wanted to do is to play for my country. to be able to put that shirt on again and again is something I’ve always wanted to do.
    “I didn’t expect to play in these big games but you have to deal with it and I think I’ve done quite well.
    “That’s massive trust from the gaffer at such a young age. Playing for your country, there is a risk but he took it and I’m just trying to repay him for what he’s done for me.
    “There is a shortage in my position. I knew that. What Joe Allen has done for the country has been amazing.
    “For him to retire has left a space for someone to take. I wanted to be that guy. The last three games I feel I’ve been able to do that. If I can do the same thing over and over again then happy days.” More