Top 10 British Sporting Cities

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Britain truly is the home of organised sport, and her sporting influence is felt across the globe. Whether you’re a South American footballer, a North American golfer, an Indian cricketer, an Australasian Rugby star, or a Chinese snooker player, you owe it all to the sporting heritage of the UK.

This article aims to tap into the lucrative market of British sporting tourism. The ten featured cities range from the metropolis of London, to smaller destinations such as Preston and St. Andrews.



London is easily the UK’s largest city, so it not surprising that some of the nation’s most famous sporting venues are found here. The north London skyline is dominated by the newly refurbished Wembley Stadium, which plays host to international matches, and domestic cup finals, such as the F.A. Cup. In addition to the national arena, there are also a dozen league clubs to be found in and around London.

The English Rugby Union side also play their home games in North London, at the majestic Twickenham Stadium, with its 80,000 capacity. Tennis enthusiasts flock to the lawns of Wimbledon for a fortnight each summer, to view the oldest Grand Slam tournament.

Whilst the spiritual home of World Cricket is also to found in London, at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Finally, from 2012 onwards the sporting tourist will have the chance to visit the Olympic Stadium in the East End of the capital.



Whereas Aintree in Lancashire claims the Grand National, the town of Cheltenham holds the three-day racing festival that offers the tourist the best atmosphere of any Horse Racing event in the world.

This is due in part to the pleasant Cotswold Hills that overlook the Race Course, and the high standard of equestrianism, but above all the wave of Irish punters who flock annually to this elegant corner of England.

Every March the usually sleepy town is transformed into a home from home for thousands of Irish racing enthusiasts, even when there isn’t an Irish trained winner, the Guinness is sure to flow long into the night.



Rugby Union was invented in an English Public School almost two hundred years ago, but the spiritual home of British rugby is undoubtedly in South Wales. There are many proud ‘Rugger’ towns in the vicinity, but Cardiff is the site of the Millennium Stadium, with its retractable roof.

Built as a replacement for Cardiff Arms Park, the most hallowed of twentieth century rugby grounds, the Millennium Stadium represents not only the pastime of Wales, but also the regeneration of the Welsh capital.

The Millennium Stadium also hosted the English F.A. Cup between 2001 and 2007, during the renovation of Wembley Stadium.



The East Midlands city of Nottingham is the smallest English city with two football teams, Notts. County and Nottingham Forest, the latter having twice won the European Cup. The riverside stadium of Trent Bridge is a scenic venue for Test Match cricket.

In addition, the National Water Sports Centre is one of the most impressive leisure facilities in Britain. The fast-flowing artificially created rapids challenge Britain’s elite canoeists, kayakers, and white water rafters.

Whilst the two kilometre long Regatta Lake caters for the needs of Britain’s hugely successful Olympic rowing team.



Both Sheffield football teams, Wednesday and United have been crowned English champions, but perhaps the hilly Yorkshire city’s most famous sporting association is with snooker.

The Snooker World Championship is held every spring in Sheffield, in what is literally the most dramatic setting for any high profile sporting event, the Crucible Theatre.



Yorkshire is perhaps the proudest of all English cricketing counties, and there are few venues in the world that can match Headingly for nostalgia, and passionate support. Cricket is a way of life in Yorkshire, and until very recently only those born within the Four Ridings of Yorkshire could qualify for the county team.

The cricketing ground is next door to the home of Leeds Rhinos Rugby League Club, who have enjoyed recent successes that Leeds Football Club can only dream of.

However, despite its tenants falling on hard times, the footballing stadium of Elland Road still makes an impact on the visitor.



There’s more to Manchester than Old Trafford, though the home of Man. United does attract fans from around the World. Local rivals Manchester City also boast an impressive stadium, which was originally constructed for the Commonwealth Games of 2002.

In addition to the two large stadia that between them can hold 125,000 spectators, the city also hosts the Manchester Velodrome, one of the World’s premier cycling venues.

For fans of the oval ball, the rugby league towns of Salford, Wigan, and St. Helens are a just a short hop away.



The small Lancashire city of Preston has one major claim to fame, namely being the Mecca of world club football. Preston’s unparalleled footballing heritage, centres around the recently refurbished Deepdale stadium, home of the famous Preston North End Football Club.

Deepdale is the oldest professional football ground anywhere on Earth (football was first played here in 1880), and consequently the English F.A. chose as the site for the National History Museum, a must-see for football fanatics of any allegiance.

The Museum has an extensive collection of artefacts from the nineteenth century to the present day. There are also many interactive amusements for children, and the opportunity to view the hallowed turf of Deepdale itself.

Preston has excellent transport links due to it’s proximity to the M6, and the West Coast railway that connects the Midlands to Scotland.



Glasgow, not Edinburgh, is the footballing capital of Scotland, as testified by the majestic sight of Hampden Park. Hampden is the headquarters of the SFA, the second oldest football association in the World, and it also holds the Scottish Football Museum.

The rivalry between the two main Glaswegian teams, Celtic and Rangers is perhaps the fiercest in Europe. Rangers have won the Scottish League more times, but Celtic was the first British team to lift the European Cup back in 1967.

Both grounds are worth a visit; Celtic Park (Parkhead to traditionalists) is the bigger of the two, and holds over 60,000 supporters, however it lacks the red-bricked elegance of Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium.

In fact, Glasgow is the only European city that can claim three football venues with a capacity of over 50,000. However in the summer of 2014, football will for once take a back seat, as Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games.


St. Andrews

Scotland’s association with golf goes back many centuries, in fact it is said that Mary Queen of Scots enjoyed the game. Though the Fife town has a population of little more than 15,000, it is home to the world’s most famous golf club, the Royal and Ancient (founded in 1754), plus a dozen pristine golf courses in the vicinity of this historical university town.

The advantage of a trip to this seaside location, is that any party members who are not interested in golf, can enjoy the beach, or the rustic charm of St. Andrew’s many old buildings.


Written by Brian Heller

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Toni Kroos: Bayern’s former midfield star proving his class at Madrid

It must have been a tough 2014 for Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos. A Bundesliga title, won in record time under new coach Pep Guardiola, a World Cup winners medal for Germany during the summer followed by a move to Real Madrid after being courted by almost all of Europe’s elite. At the age of 24, life must have seemed pretty good.

Of course, all of the success that Kroos enjoyed last year was a reflection of his incredible ability aligned with a desire to be as successful as he possibly can be. A wonderful midfield player with a range of passing very few can better.

Following on from their ‘la decima’ celebrations last May, Real Madrid surprisingly decided to sell both Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria. Both were instrumental in their success against city neighbours Atletico in the final and the departures of both were unexpected to say the least. However, the pursuit of Kroos had been on going for some time and with the chance to add one of Europe’s best midfielders Madrid had made up their mind.

Having developed through the Bayern youth set up, from the age of 16, playing for a big club with big expectations was nothing new to the German international. Indeed, at his press conference, he remarked that playing with the pressure at Madrid would be an even bigger challenge to the one he faced at Munich. It certainly seemed that the deal was going to be beneficial to both parties from the outset.

With an attacking array such as Real’s, there is a definite need to have someone to pull the strings. Over at bitter rivals Barcelona, they have had Xavi Hernandez conducting the play throughout their successful period a few seasons ago and the position has become an integral part of the modern game. The ability Kroos has to pick a pass and execute it perfectly is something that can only help the likes of Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo to score more regularly.

However, there were certainly some doubts about how good Real could be defensively without Alonso sitting in front of the back four. Throughout his time at Tottenham, Modric was never known as fantastic defensive player and Kroos’ game is based more around attacking than defending.

However, a good understanding appeared to be developing before Modric sustained an injury that would keep him out of the side. Despite this initial fear though, Madrid managed a winning streak of 22 games and demonstrated that their midfield was more than capable.

The start to 2015 has been somewhat indifferent for Real Madrid, but Kroos has remained consistent despite some of the players around him. It seems likely that the summer may bring some changes in personnel at the Bernabeu, but the German’s future looks incredibly secure.

At 24, he has been brought to the club to be the mainstay of the midfield for a decade and so far he has looked a very good buy.


Written by Andy Hunter

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Nolito: Celta Vigo’s plucky late-blossoming underdog

On Sunday evening Villarreal host Celta Vigo at El Madrigal as they go in search of their 8th consecutive home win in La Liga which will equal a record for the Yellow Submarine. Currently sitting sixth, 8 points off 4th-placed Valencia in the race for the Champions League qualification places, Villarreal are in devastating form having lost 2 of their last 15 games and are firm favourites to beat Celta as manager Marcelino welcomes back a number of first-team options.

After a patched-up team earned a 1-1 draw against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu last week, Marcelino will once again his most creative player, winger Denis Cheryshev, available after the Madrid loanee was prevented from playing against his parent club. Front two Uche and Luciano Vietto were left on the bench in Madrid while so too centre-back pairing Mateo Mussachio and Victor Ruiz in a ploy designed to keep players fresh for the Copa Del Rey semi-final which was lost to Barcelona in mid-week.

With that out of the way, Marcelino is able to place more of a focus on running Valencia and Atletico for the last two Champions League spots so he is likely to return to the full-strength, barring his injured captain Bruno Soraino, side that has often proved irresistible this season. However among all the gifted players appearing in yellow on Sunday evening, Celta will also have a precious talent in their ranks in the form of Nolito Agudo-Duran.

Celta are on an impressive run of form of their own having gone five unbeaten and Nolito has been central to the upturn which has Eduardo Berizzo’s men looking upwards once again. The winner over Cordoba, the penalty which set up the 2-0 win over Atletico and the late equaliser to earn a point away at Real Sociedad were all vital in a run that has seen Celta acquire 11 points from 15 to move up from 12th to 9th.

For Nolito, who as a 28 year old won his very first call-up and cap for Spain against Germany in a friendly last November, the timing of a resurgence in form has been perfect as he aims to stay in Vincent Del Bosque’s plans for La Roja’s Euro 2016 qualifier with Ukraine next month.

A run of 5 goals in his first 8 games, which positioned Celta 6th in La Liga at the end of October, a barren sequence of 12 games without a goal would follow as Celta went 10 games without victory between November and late January. For both club and player it has been a welcome return to goal-scoring form.

What makes Nolito’s rise to prominence is that the 28 year old winger hasn’t done it the easy way. After learning the game on a concrete court near his flat in Cadiz as a young boy, Nolito started with Andalusian side Ecija Balompie in the Spanish third-tier, he was then noticed by Barcelona who took him to Catalonia as a 22 year old.

Even though he continued to thrive in the third division for the B side, scoring 16 goals over two seasons as the B team won promotion to the 2nd level after an 11 year absence, he would make just 2 senior appearances under Josep Guardiola and an offer of a professional contract at the Nou Camp would be rejected.

Nolito has admitted that his move to Barcelona was made too early but the impression Luis Enrique, who coached him with the B side at Barca remained huge. “Luis Enrique has marked me for good and for bad. He is a person who has always been direct and clear with me, has always told me the good and bad things he says, “It marked my career because it was a stage in my life was going up or going down. Luis Enrique was key.”

The winger then moved to Benfica where he would complete just one season of the five year deal he initially signed, even though it was successful as he netted 15 goals in 48 games as the Portuguese giants won the domestic cup. In his second season he managed just 6 games for the reds and he was shipped back to Spain on loan with Granada as chances of long-term future at the Stadium of Light wavered.

Flashes of his brilliance were only sporadic as Nolito seemed to stagnate once more, but his move to Celta in July 2013 proved pivotal as he was re-united with Enrique. 14 goals followed in his debut season and even though his coach has since departed for Barcelona, the winger has continued to thrive under Berizzo.

The audacious back-heel to tee-up Joaquin Larrivey for the game’s only goal as Celta stole a 0-1 win in the Nou Camp back in November would have been particularly sweet; he was finally finding the platform to produce his brilliance on a regular basis while the coach who seemed to be the only one who could coax that consistency from him was sitting on the opposite bench.

Nolito has made all 24 of his appearances for Berizzo on the left of a three-pronged attack and he has produced a total of 8 goals and 6 assists, as well as creating a total of 61 chances for his team-mates in a productive campaign so far. His 8 yellow cards shows an edgy side to his game that he will have to smooth out but for a player whose confidence has often appeared brittle in the past, Nolito has also produced in the big games, assisting against Barcelona and scoring two penalties in the 2 meetings with Atletico, the second a reward for a sensational performance in which he was man of the match.

Nolito has been here before however, having been the stand-out performer in Enrique’s Barcelona B side that contained the likes of Marc Bartra, Martin Montoya, Christian Tello and Thiago but not quite making the cut in Catalonia, he is fully aware how quickly a player can fall from grace.

He will line up against another bright young talent in Villarreal’s Vietto, who is interesting the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool, on Sunday evening, aiming to keep the striker at bay in the competition for the Spain squad at the end of March.

With Villarreal’s array of stars on show, don’t be surprised if it is Nolito, Celta’s plucky late-blossoming underdog, who has a huge say in the proceedings.


Written by Adam Gray

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English Football League: A brief history of its beginnings and evolution

Tottenham’s Double-winning side of 1961

The English Football League kicked off with its first round of matches on September 8 1888. Conceived 6 months earlier in Anderton’s hotel, Fleet Street, London twelve teams from the midlands and north began their quest to be crowned the nation’s first champions.

That first season Preston North End became the original “invincibles”, winning the competition without losing a game. In addition to the league title they also added the FA Cup to their trophy cabinet that season as well, becoming the first side to record “the double” (It would be 73 years, during the 1960-61 season, before this feat would be repeated; by Bill Nicholson’s Tottenham Hotspur). Although Preston would retain the league championship the following season, the most successful 19th century team were in fact Aston Villa, who by the turn of the century had helped themselves to 5 titles.

No single side would dominate the early part of the 20th century, with 10 different teams having being crowned champions by 1923. However, that all changed when, starting with the 1923-24 season, Huddersfield Town recorded 3 successive championship victories. The first two of these were masterminded by Herbert Chapman, who then moved to Arsenal and built a team that would emulate this success in the 1930s.

Sadly Herbert never witnessed how great his team would become; dying prematurely from pneumonia in January 1934, midway through Arsenal’s hat-trick of titles that would conclude with victory in the 1934-35 season. (Incidentally, Chapman had already guided Arsenal to the top in 1930-31).

After a 7 year hiatus due to World War II the return of the competition coincided with Matt Busby taking the reins at Manchester United and building a team forever immortalised as the “Busby Babes”. However, in 1958 having won the league the two previous seasons, tragedy struck when eight team members, plus another 15 passengers and crew, were killed in the Munich air crash.

Barely surviving the disaster himself Busby eventually recovered and assembled another two-time championship winning team in the 1960s. Although, surprisingly, their 1966-67 success was to be United’s last with the league in its traditional format.

In 1970-71 Arsenal became the third “double” winning side although subsequently the 70s and 80s were to be dominated by Liverpool, who in the 15 seasons up to 1989-90, carried the trophy back to their Anfield home on ten occasions with teams guided by Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish. Dalglish’s first success, Liverpool’s own “double” winning season of 1985-86, being as player-manager. Although it should also be remembered that during this period Brian Clough, first with Derby County and then later with Nottingham Forest, became only the 2nd manager to win the league with two different clubs.

However, these decades were also the darkest times for English football. Hooliganism inside and outside the ground was rife, racism on the terraces was still prevalent and the three disasters at Bradford, Heysel and Hillsborough meant that both attendances and sponsorship levels were dwindling.

It took the onset of all-seater stadia, and England’s thrilling, but ultimately heartbreaking, World Cup semi-final run in 1990 to re-ignite the public’s love for the game. The resurgence was swifter than anyone could have imagined as a nation, inspired by Gazza’s tears, regained its love for the game; so much so that by the time Leeds United became champions in 1991-92 big business was beginning to take an interest and the game in England was about to be overhauled.

Inspired by how fashionable the game was becoming, motivated by the marketing opportunities football now presented, and financed by Sky TV’s desire to sell its new satellite dishes, a fresh competition was to come into being that would turn the Football League into a second class citizen.

The Premier League was coming and it was to be “A Whole New Ball Game”….


Written by Owen Brooker

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João Mário: Sporting’s midfield pearl

It’s been quite a year for João Mário. Just over twelve months ago, the then 20-year-old Sporting Lisbon prospect was sent on loan to fellow Portuguese top flight club Vítoria de Setúbal. It was felt he had outgrown the club’s B-team and a more advanced level was required to develop his precocious talent.

The decision was fully vindicated as Mário enjoyed a fabulous half season, making himself an undisputed starter and helping his new team turn around their season. Vitória were fighting the threat of relegation when Mário joined, but finished the season 7th, narrowly missing out on Europa League qualification. The midfielder’s contribution was key to the upturn in fortunes and he was picked in Portugal coach Paulo Bento’s 30-man long list for the Brazil World Cup, although he did not make the final cut.

Back at Sporting ahead of the 2014/15 kick-off, Mário had to show patience as part of the first-team squad, but just like with his loan period, when his opportunity came – in late September – he grabbed it with both hands, providing two assists in his first start in a 4-0 victory at Gil Vicente. He has not looked back since, subsequently making himself an integral part of Sporting’s midfield and winning his first full Portugal caps.

Endowed with marvellous vision and superb long-range passing ability, João Mário has been used effectively as a deep-lying midfielder on occasion. However, his quick thinking and execution, creative spark and eye for goal suggests his best position is further up the field as a No10 or even as a second support striker. Mário has notched 6 goals in 29 appearances for Sporting this season thus far.

His considerable skill set is allied to an imperturbable temperament. Nothing seems to ruffle his smooth and elegant style, gliding around the pitch, distributing the ball accurately and quickly, or shooting powerfully, with remarkably mature decision making considering his age and relative lack of experience.

The quality of Mário’s displays in his first year of senior football augur for a brilliant future in the game.


Written by Tom Kundert

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George Puscas: Can Inter Milan’s Romanian prodigy emulate his prodigious namesake?

George Puscas is an 18-year old Romanian forward, who plays for Internazionale Milano. He joined the club from Liberty Oradea in 2013, although he had also trained with Arsenal for a short period. He is a fairly versatile player as he can play as a center forward, second striker, or a left winger. He is a very technical player with great football intelligence and maturity for a player his age, as well as great finishing and the ‘killer’ instinct when it comes to scoring goals. His dribbling, touch, and pace are all up to scratch as well, although his stamina and strength may need work as he tries to adapt to the level of the Serie A at his young age (he was exhausted after 60 minutes in the Cup game he started against Napoli).

Puscas has scored 16 goals in 11 matches for Inter’s Primavera side this season, as well as 4 goals in 7 games for Romania U19 and 2 in 3 for Romania’s U21 side, including one in a friendly against Italy. Although Puscas was named to Inter’s bench for a Serie A match last season, he had not featured in an actual Serie A game until recently (as well as a couple Coppa Nazionale games).

In Inter’s 3-1 loss to Sassuolo at the start of the month, George bagged only 12 minutes of game time and still made a significant impact on the game. He showed more than Podolski did and was played out wide on the left wing, with one particularly great run down to the box and a shot that was well-saved by the opposition keeper.

That chance can be viewed at 4:00 on the video on this page.

He also scored for Inter’s first team in a friendly against Haladas from the Hungarian top flight.

Puscas also started and played most of the cup game against Napoli, showing very good signs on the ball and intelligence off it. He is a player that plays without fear and is already seemingly both mature enough to have himself a solid spot in the first team and is well-trained with loads of talent. Mancini even recently said that he is a better option than Cassano when there were rumours of him returning from Parma. In recent weeks, he has become a regular in making the Serie A matchday squads for the club.

Although Mancini has not subbed him on or started him much, he is expected too soon with the likes of Podolski not really stepping up to the plate, and so him and Bonazzoli could be the young guns to make a real impact up front given the chance. Additionally, Corriere della Sera just reported that Inter will renew his contract and transfer him permanently to the first team in the coming days, which is a big step forward for the young lad and (hopefully) a sign of things to come.

With more experience and the right nurturing, he could very well turn into a world class player for both club and country; maybe even turn out to be a legend like his Hungarian namesake Ferenc Puskas, after whom the FIFA Puskas Award is named.


Written by Filip Buduru

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Domenico Berardi: European football pays notice to Italy’s unflappable teenage striker

In 2010, a 15 year old Domenico Berardi travelled to Modena to visit his older brother Francesco at university, only to start a professional career out of a regular five-a-side game between the siblings and a group of friends.

One of his brother’s friends was so startled at Domenico’s talent he made a phone call to the assistant of the academy at Sassuolo, a professional club near to the university. Luciano Carlino made the journey to take a look and Berardi’s life changed.

“I didn’t even wait a day” Carlino told Italian newspaper Tuttosport, “I immediately went to my Sporting Director to ask him to give the boy a trial”. 20 minutes was enough to convince Sassuolo that he was worth a contract and Berardi became a member of the club’s academy.

At the age of 15, the 560 mile distance between his former youth team Cosenza and Modena meant little to Berardi, the fearless desire to grasp the opportunity to become a professional was clear from the start.

He began his career with Sassuolo playing against Allievi (domestic student professionals) and Primavera teams (under-19 level) while the senior side managed to make the Serie B play-offs only to lose to Sampdoria. Club owner Giorgio Squinzi appointed Eusebio Di Francesco who immediately promoted the most talent from the academy in the hope it would complete the run to Serie A.

Berardi was handed his senior début on the opening day of the the 2012/13 season, scored his first goal five days later and made 37 appearances, totalling 11 goals, as Sassuolo reached the Italian top-flight for the first time in their history- the smallest Italian town to ever inhabit a Serie A team.

Berardi is a gangly, long-limbed versatile and naturally two-footed forward who was used predominantly by Di Francesco on the left-side of a front three, utilising to best effect his electric pace and ability to dribble past defenders.

“For his light touch and ability to cut in with pace, he reminds me of [Arjen] Robben”, said Carlino, his quality in one-on-one situations earning the comparison to the Dutch winger. “He is very attack-minded and the way he dribbles reminds me of a Brazilian player,” Sassuolo youth chief Paolo Mandelli once said.

After both Manchester clubs and Liverpool courted the teenager during his time in Serie B, Juventus were quick to make a deal with Sassuolo last summer, completing a co-ownership deal to own 50% of the player’s registration rights. Juventus paid £3.7 million and also threw in striker Luca Marrone, but Berardi was allowed to remain in Emilia for the 2013/2014 campaign.

He needed just 14 matches to show how much of a shrewd deal the Bianconeri had pulled off as he joined Carlos Tevez, Juventus’s current striking incumbent, as joint-second to Giuseppe Rossi in the Serie A scoring charts back in early January.

In the second match back from the winter break, Berardi reached 11 goals in astonishing circumstances; with AC Milan 2-0 up in Reggio Emilia within the opening quarter hour, Berardi struck 4 times in 47 minutes to become the first player ever to hit four goals in a match against the Rossoneri as Sassuolo recorded a famous victory.

“Berardi makes a mockery of Milan” was the headline of Il Giornale and it was true. He sprung the offside trap to round Christian Abbiati for his first, pounced on an error from Daniele Bonera to hook a second before he met a cross on a superb half-volley to make it 3-2. Moments after half-time Berardi deflected in another shot off Bonera to make it 4, a goal that immortalised the 19 year old in Italian football history.

It was a showcase of his ability to score any type of goal, whether the snapshot-belter of his third or the instinctive poaching of his second, Berardi can do the lot. He can also provide, 30 chances have been created and 3 assists have been made, though a pass completion rate of 69.9% from an attempted 621 passes, and a total of 71 shots that has yielded a host accuracy of just 49% could be improved on, though it is hard to remember Berardi is still a teenager with imperfections still inevitably in need of ironing out.

Goals have come at Roma, where he earned the minnows a late point, at Sampdoria where he struck another hat-trick, and in wins over Bologna and Atalanta. His last strike came as a consolation in the 3-1 defeat to Livorno in late January, a game in which he also picked up his 6th yellow card of the season.

His fiery temperament was called into question as he was sent off within 48 seconds of the Emilia derby with Parma, and he was also banned for the first 3 games of this season as for fighting with the goalkeeper of Livorno last year.

Indiscipline has also dogged his progress with the national team, refusing a call-up to Italy’s under-19s last summer and picking up an 8 month ban for failing to provide an explanation. After apologising to coach Gigi Di Biagio, Berardi made his return to the national fold with the under-21s in February but senior coach Cesare Prandelli has faced calls to go one step further and take him to Brazil with the Azzurri in the summer.

However, by a coach who prides discipline and professionalism, those hopes have been quashed as the Italian boss ruled it out as too soon. “He only recently restarted his path with the under-21 side and will not be taken into consideration until he has completed that journey”, he said.

One would predict that will not be before too long, even though the goals have dried up with Berardi failing to register in his last 8 games. He is likely to rejoin Juventus in the summer where there is a chance to strike up a devastating partnership with Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez.

There may also be conjuring memories of former Turin legend Alessandro Del Piero who needed 17 games to reach the same goal tally of 7 Berardi managed in just his first ten Serie A games. He is a phenomenal talent.


Written by Adam Gray

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Real Madrid: A Memorable Day At The Stadium Tour

Football fans who are visiting Madrid absolutely must visit the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Should you not be able to make that visit, then at least take some of your visit time to take a stadium tour of the most impressive football stadium in the world. You’ll be standing on top of the world when you visit this stadium.

No visit to Madrid is complete without this fantastic stadium tour. Whether you’re a football fan or not, young and old alike will appreciate and enjoy learning more about the historical facts of this venue.


Pricing For The Stadium

Inexpensively priced for adults and even less for children who are under 14, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the stadium and dream for a moment about the Champions League Final in which you’re the key player. Let yourself sit back and picture your life as a championship player.

Children will enjoy the fantasy and you’ll feel the energy of the crowd as you make that winning goal. If you’re wondering about other possible discounts, you’ll also get a steep discount if you’re a member of the fan club. Well worth the time and effort. Young and old alike will appreciate this visit.


Plenty To Enjoy On Your Visit

Tours are available year round between 10:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday through Saturday. Sunday has reduced hours. On match days it may be a bit more difficult to gain access to the changing area but it is still possible.

Visitors are given free reign to peruse the Trophy Room which is interactive. Children love interactive tools and exhibits so plan to spend some time simply interacting with all that they have to offer on your visit to the Trophy room. With a lot of great exhibitions including tributes to many legendary figures.

You’ll appreciate and enjoy the finer details of this stadium. Take a stroll around the pitch and up into the gods via the top of the stadium. Make sure to snap some fabulous photos for your own collection. Sit down and picture yourself coaching in Madrid and impersonate Jose Mourinho or Carlo Ancelotti.

Feel the power as you picture them emerging from the tunnels. One day, you can say to your grandchildren “I was there” and of course tell them all about your fabulous trip and how you stood in the stadium in that very spot.

Don’t forget to visit the press rooms and practice interviewing your friends before you move on to the rest of your trip. For a brief moment you can say you were there, at the best football club in the world. Be sure to grab some video of it to share with friends and family.

Have The Most Amazing Time

Now that you’ve taken the trip, think about your stay and let others know your reviews:

Both soccer and Madrid fans will say it’s one of the most amazing stadium tours available. the trophy room is put together very nicely and you’ll be able to appreciate the history behind the club. Even someone who doesn’t follow the game can enjoy this as much as you. This is a definite highlight of the stay.

Even if your favorite team isn’t Real Madrid, you’ll enjoy and appreciate the museum and feel the history of soccer in the tour. You’ll never regret the time you took to take this tour.

One of the most amazing tours in Madrid and even more unique when you enjoy a trip to the Bernabeu. Enjoy and appreciate the views as you walk along the Stadium and revel in the breathtaking tour.


Other Great Tours To Enjoy While You’re In Madrid


The Prado Museum Tour

Housing one of the largest art and sculpture collections in the world, this museum houses paintings by the likes of Tintoretto, Goya and El Greco. Picasso and Rubens are also showcased. reasonably priced and if you go during the last few hours of the day, your entry fee is free.

Make this your afternoon or evening closing sight for any day.


Retiro Park (Also Known As Parque del Retiro)

Known as the lungs of Madrid, this park is very close to the Prado. Ideal for a combined visit. Set on over 320 acres and completely enclosed with Palaces as well as museums and lakes with boating and beautiful gardens to walk through. Something is always going on as you take a moment to stroll around and enjoy local musicians who are entertaining the crowds.

You’ll enjoy stalls with plenty to see and do. You’ll enjoy taking a leisurely stroll through the park and learning more about Spain’s military history.

If you enjoy Charlton Heston, you’ll like visiting the El Cid’s sword that is on display from the movie El Cid he starred in.

Royal Palace of Madrid

No trip to Madrid would be complete without a visit to the Royal Palace. With over 2000 opulently decorated rooms you’ll get a taste of the luxury from bygone eras. Take along your passport as there is an entry fee however, it is free if you’re from EU.

These special free hours are during winter months from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm and in summer months from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. You won’t be sorry you took the time to visit this palace.

Picture your life living here and living in such opulence.


Amy Rice writes for when not writing I enjoy spending time with my daughter, going to the gym and playing adventure golf.

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Christian Eriksen: Danish catalyst in an English project

With the departure of Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur lacked a catalyst in their ambitious André Villas-Boas-inspired project. While Spurs are most definitely not “there” yet, they have seemingly picked up a player this past summer who will - I have no doubt about this - prove to be THE player to take their project forward, if the Danish international is given time to adapt and grow.

Step forward - Christian Eriksen.


Earning his Spurs at Ajax:

Hailed as a huge talent in his homeland as a teenager, Eriksen had trials with a number of clubs, such as Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United. There was talent there, no doubt about that, but without the right coaching, talent is nothing. Where better to sharpen the tools of his playmaking trade than in Amsterdam?

“I came to Chelsea, the first time at 14, a little kid. I went to Chelsea a second time, and AC Milan and Barcelona. We talked with the sports director at Odense and all thought that the Dutch league would be the best with my style. Of course when you mean Dutch, you mean Ajax. When Ajax came in it was ‘boom’, right away.”

“My first step should not be too big. I knew that playing in the Netherlands would be very good for my development. Then Ajax arrived and that was a fantastic option.”

- Eriksen on his decision to join Ajax

As with being a seemingly prodigious Danish youngster, Eriksen was labelled “The Next Michael Laudrup”. Rather than be crushed by the pressure of such a tag, Eriksen has risen above it and is now well on his way to realising his immense potential.

2.5 years after joining the Dutch giants, Eriksen, with the number 51 on his back, made his 1st-team debut in January 2010 against NAC Breda. Impressing with his displays for Ajax in the 2nd half of the 2009/10 campaign, the young Dane was called-up to Denmark’s squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.

Over the course of his time at Ajax, Eriksen took on increasing responsibility with each passing year, picking up an invaluable “winning mentality” as Ajax won a plethora of domestic - 3 consecutive Eredivisie, 1 KNVB Beker & 1 Johan Cruyff Schaal - titles and participated in the UEFA Champions League in each of those years.

It cannot be emphasised enough how important a winning mentality is in successful teams, even more so in the development of up-and-coming promising youngsters. It instils the insatiable hunger to win that the top players have, where they are already looking towards their next win after winning a match, their next trophy after winning a trophy.

Individually, Eriksen was named, among a plethora of other awards, Dutch Footballer of the Year in 2011 and Danish Footballer of the Year in 2011 and 2013. With regard to the international stage, Eriksen was fast-tracked through the Danish set-up, moving from the U17s to the senior squad within the short space of 3 years.

A particular highlight of his rise is his Man-Of-The-Match display against England in a 1-2 home loss. The young Dane was widely praised, including by more established names like Morten Olsen, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard.

With a year left on his contract, Eriksen decided that the time was right for him to leave the Eredivisie and Ajax to take a step up the footballing ladder. Linked with numerous clubs - inclusive of AC Milan, Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund et al - over the years, Andre Villas-Boas’ project at an ambitious Tottenham Hotspur was the one Eriksen chose to hop aboard.


Potential impact at Tottenham Hotspur:

With the departure of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, AVB’s project needed a new focal point, a new playmaker. This is where Christian Eriksen comes in. The young Dane has proved in the Eredivisie and, mainly in his last year at Ajax, the Champions League that he has both the technical ability and Football intelligence to possibly become 1 of the best playmakers in World Football over the next decade or so.

Eriksen’s numbers at Ajax, where he predominantly played as a Number 10, are impressive. After 1 goal and 1 assist in 21 senior appearances in his debut season (2009/10), Eriksen proceeded to score 8 and assist 16 in 47 games the following season.

A 19-year-old Eriksen didn’t stop there, pushing on to score 8 goals and provide 22 assists in his 2nd full season at 1st-team level in 2011/12. 2012/13, his last full year at Ajax, nicely rounded off his time at the Amsterdam giants with 13 goals scored and 23 assists in a total of 46 appearances.

Along the way, Eriksen also scored 3 goals and provided 6 assists in 39 appearances for Denmark at senior level, making his aforementioned World Cup debut in 2010 and also playing in all of his nation’s matches at the UEFA European Championship in 2012.

Whilst he most often played as a Number 10 at Ajax, Eriksen has the potential to be rather versatile, even playing as a False 9 on a number of occasions under Frank de Boer. While a False 9 will seemingly not be utilised at White Hart Lane, it does give AVB another tactical possibility.

Yes, there’s more-or-less no chance that we’ll see Eriksen play as a False 9 at Spurs, but put it this way - Would you say no to having a extra $10/$20/$50 in your pocket? Exactly.

Looking at the current Spurs squad, I’d confidently say that none of the other players can bring to the table what Eriksen can offer. Gylfi Sigurdsson is a good attacking midfielder, but is much more of a goalscoring threat than a creative playmaker. Lewis Holtby, while being an intelligent midfielder and a fine player in his own right, does not have Eriksen’s vision and technical excellence.

Nacer Chadli, who is an interesting attacker, has been utilised out wide since joining the club, and it seems certain that that will be his predominant role at Spurs. Erik Lamela has impressed hugely at Roma and I believe he’ll eventually prove to be a success at White Hart Lane, but he’d be more of a partner to Eriksen than a direct competitor.

The prospect of the Dane and Argentine dovetailing into a formidable, incisive and classy playmaking partnership is certainly one that Villas-Boas will have had on his mind since Spurs signed them this part summer. Right from the off, Eriksen is nailed on to be a regular starter at Spurs.

After their transfer movements in the summer, Spurs now have a very good and potentially title-winning squad. The foundations are there for them to push on, onwards and upwards, and cement their place at the top table of English Football as 1 of the perennial title contenders from here on out.

Whilst the sale of Gareth Bale has indeed been a blow to Spurs’ side, they now have a much stronger and more well-balanced squad - from Hugo Lloris to Jan Vertonghen, from Paulinho & Sandro to Eriksen & Lamela.

What Spurs need is to replace their previous catalyst - Gareth Bale - with another. Eriksen is precisely THE player to step in and fill that void. Eriksen knows when to hold onto the ball and try a dribble, when to delay or quicken playing a pass for a split-second when splitting a defence, when to play a simple sideways pass to keep the ball moving and when he should play a long pass to switch the play and stretch the opposition defence.

In short, he has “it”. By “it”, I mean the level of Football intelligence that is required to play in the upper echelons of the Beautiful Game. With his technical excellence and sublime Football intelligence, Eriksen has the potential and ability to be the catalyst that to push Tottenham from challenging for UEFA Champions League Football to going beyond that and fight for the English Premier League title.

Though he hasn’t yet truly taken flight and dominated games, there have been glimpses of his potential ability at Spurs. The goals that Sigurdsson scored against Norwich City and Chelsea in September were created by brilliance on the part of Eriksen and, against Chelsea, Roberto Soldado. There were signs of a potentially brilliant playmaker-striker partnership between Eriksen and his Spanish team-mate Soldado.

On his debut, Eriksen was mesmeric against Norwich City. Floating between the lines and orchestrating Spurs’ play, he delivered a sublime performance and also played in Sigurdsson for the Icelandic midfielder’s goal.

As if that weren’t enough for a debut display, the Dane also provided a “secondary assist”, playing in Paulinho out wide, with Sigurdsson slotting home to seal a 2-0 home win from the Brazilian’s cross. Cue the inevitable standing ovation that Eriksen received from the White Hart Lane faithful when he was subbed off by AVB.

“It was a great debut (vs Norwich City) for Christian, he is a pure number 10, a creative player and his individual quality made all the difference.”

- Andre Villas-Boas on Christian Eriksen

Though Eriksen is currently out injured, having suffered an injury whilst on international duty with Denmark, I firmly believe that these last few months of being in and out of Villas-Boas’ Starting XI will prove to be merely a stepping stone to being 1 of the premier playmakers of the English Premier League.

The talent is there. All Eriksen needs is patience and time to make his mark, then we’ll see the “real” Eriksen. The Christian Eriksen whose star shone so so brightly at the Amsterdam ArenA.

The likes of Ruud Gullit, Ronald Koeman and Dennis Bergkamp are previous winners of the Johan Cruyff Award (Dutch POTY). Likewise, Mateja Kezman, who proved to be a flop signing for Chelsea, has also won it. Will Christian Eriksen prove to be another Mateja Kezman, Afonso Alves or another Dennis Bergkamp, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder? Time will tell. I’d trust Johan Cruyff’s words.

“He’s a player I really like with all my heart. This prize(Dutch Football Talent of the Year) is just the beginning, a stimulus to get the maximum out of his career. The talent is there, the recognition also; now it is up to the player himself. He is a typical product of the Danish school. You can compare him with Brian and Michael Laudrup. Only time will tell if Eriksen can reach the same level as them.”

- Johan Cruyff on Christian Eriksen


Written by Mark Ooi

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Liverpool: Enrique hails the Reds’ midfield duo

Jose Enrique has hailed Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard after an excellent start to the season.

As Unibet football betting fans know, the 33-year-old has helped the Reds to second in the Premier League table after 12 games, four points (now seven after today’s matches) behind leaders Arsenal.

The Liverpool skipper has scored only two league goals, both from the penalty spot, but has laid on many more for the likes of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

Gerrard’s lack of goals can be attributed to a different role in the side. He has gone from playing behind the striker to sitting in front of the back four.

Enrique believes Gerrard is still contributing as much as he did when he was a foil for Fernando Torres.

“Gerrard has been playing fantastic as always, our captain is really important for us,” said the Spanish left-back.

“He is playing with Lucas (Leiva) in a role he did not play when he was younger but the quality of the passes, crosses and free-kicks he is still doing the same thing. His quality is amazing.”

Enrique, who recently underwent knee surgery and will be out of action until February, also praised the way Jordan Henderson has performed this term.

Much was expected of Henderson after his £16million move from Sunderland but had a slow start to life Anfield. He has recovered from that and did enough in the early part of the season to earn an England recall.

“Jordan is a hard worker and has been doing really well in training and now he is getting the results,” added Enrique.

“He is still young, you can’t forget that, he is 22 and he is playing fantastically.”

Liverpool supporters will be hoping that the duo continue their fine form for the duration of the season. Brendan Rodgers’ Reds have done fantastically well so far, surprising many and against all odds.

And if the duo, as well as other key elements such as Luis Suarez and top scorer Daniel Sturrdige, maintain their form, then they well may well beat all odds and seal a return to the Champions League next season.


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