Paco Alcacer: Valencia’s rising starlet

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It is almost impossible to unearth a previously unknown talent in the modern football world. With the advent of social media, amongst other tools, the chances of missing a player with potential talent is almost impossible. Youngsters are identified at ridiculously young ages now, but still only a few will reach the upper echelons of the game.

Chances for younger players to establish themselves at the top clubs are also limited due to the quality and size of most squads. Potential stars are often bought early in their development and then begin to stagnate whilst not playing for their new club. A case in point would be that of Sergio Canales, who signed for Real Madrid when he was only 18. He barely played and failed to impress his new employers, which resulted in his departure at the end of that season.

The excitement surrounding Paco Alcacer’s form for Valencia has been one of the most pleasing aspects of La Liga thus far. He is a player who has been talked about for a few years now and is seizing his chance in the first team. Having come through the youth teams ranks at the club, Alcacer’s performances this season have been particularly pleasing for the Mestalla crowd.

A player who has scored goals at every level, Alcacer’s rise has even seen him selected for the Spanish squad for their European Qualification games. These further obstacles in his career do not appear to have slowed down his progress though and he has now scored three in his first five International games. Often some young players are pushed too quickly resulting in perceived failure, but not in this instance.

With a wonderful turn of pace and the ability to shoot first time and catch a goalkeeper on his heels, the raw attributes of a successful number nine are certainly there. Despite being less than six foot tall, he possesses good physical strength for someone so inexperienced and can therefore offer his side varying methods of attack.

Los Che have produced a lot of great players in recent seasons and there is already a great fear of losing Alcacer if he continues to improve at this rate. A few of the European elite are rumoured to have watched him closely in recent years and Valencia will need to be strong to keep hold of their prodigious talent. Having lost players of the calibre of Juan Mata, David Silva and David Villa during their financial issues, the fans deserve to see one of their talents flourish.

There are very few things as pleasing in football as seeing a young player come through the ranks at a club and succeed in the first team. With the money involved in the game these days, there are fewer and fewer occasions of this happening.

Hopefully Alcacer can be a figurehead of Los Che for many years to come and on the basis of the opening few months of the season, he certainly has the ability to do so.


Written by Andy Hunter

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Football/Sports Tips: How to Effectively Communicate With Your Players

Communication is key in any sport, especially team ones such as rugby and football, where the success of the club depends on effective management of large pools of talent. Keeping track of the well-being, health and fitness of each individual player is essential to manage your resources and ensure that the group on the pitch is able to get the best results. It can also help you to avoid injury, overrunning certain players in the build up to important events, and overseeing opportunities as they arise.


Face-to-Face Communication

Whether you are training or giving the team a talk during half time, it can be difficult to get your message across clearly both to the team as a whole, and individuals who need specific advice or criticism. Especially during intense situations such as games, mistakes made by players can be frustrating for the coach and manager, but a negative approach to communication can only have adverse effects. In any situation, try to build a criticism into a compliment. Tell them what they were doing well, then how they can improve their game, and you are much more likely to get a positive response.

Listening is as important for coaches and managers as it is for the players. Instead of giving them a 5-minute talk on where they have gone wrong and how they could improve, get them more actively involved in the conversation. Ask them where they think things went wrong, and talk through their situation to come to a solution. By being approachable and willing to hear what the athletes themselves have to say, you might also be surprised at how many of them are perfectly capable of self-diagnosis, and ask for advice of their own accord.


Interacting off the Pitch

However much you might try to cover every base in the time spent with your players, you inevitably can’t keep track of each player at all times. Yet understanding their feelings and physical situation is crucial to effective team management, and a passing comment during training from a player might easily get lost in the pipeline. Equipping your players and your organisation with sports performance management software allows you to interact off the pitch.

Your players can fill in surveys on their performance and fitness, whilst you can co-ordinate their training and development remotely, accessible on mobile devices to fit around the busy lives of every member of the organisation. By doing so, you can secure on-going communication with your team, and make sure that everything is professionally tracked and recorded.

In a modern world where mobile technology offers the opportunity to interact any time, anywhere, as a sporting organisation or individual, communication on the pitch is only one half of the picture today. Investment in sports performance management software and makes interaction with your players easier and more effective. Combined with an approachable and positive style of coaching and management, you can get the best out of your team to watch the success speak for itself.


Article by Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, freelance copywriter from Yorkshire. Kelly loves the great outdoors, interesting places and fine foods. You can follow her on Twitter at @KellyGGrassam. This article is written with support from The Sports Office.

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Valencia: The Bats start their journey back to the elite with the help of Singaporean billions and Portuguese agents

The omnipresence of Jorge Mendes in this summer’s transfer window has been hard to escape, even before FIFA and UEFA officially turned the spotlight onto the super-agent with their investigation into the ubiquitous practice of third-party ownership. Mendes has this summer dominated the European transfer market as a representative of among others Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa, Eliaquim Mangala and James Rodriguez, transferred this summer for a total in excess of £200 million.

It has taken his career as an agent to one that, without any intended hyperbole, has taken the European game into the palm of his hands. If one of the biggest talents on the continent are to make a move, there is a guarantee Mendes will be behind it, smiling next to the player as he is unveiled by his new club, delighted by another round of millions coming into the bank. It is far from the humble deal that took Nuno Espirito Santo from Vitoria Guimaraes in 1997, the transfer that saw Mendes’ career as an agent initially take off.

This summer he was involved again with Santo, delivering him to Valencia but this time as a coach to replace the outgoing Juan Antonio Pizzi who, after inheriting a shambles from Miroslav Djukic, was able to guide Los Che to a respectable eighth placed finish last term, as well as the semi-finals of the Europa League. Still, it was the first time in 16 years that 2004 La Liga champions Valencia had failed to qualify for European completion and Pizzi was ousted at the mercy of new owner Peter Lim, seeking a fresh presence in the Mestalla dugout for the beginning of the new era.

Nuno arrived from Rio Ave whom he took to both finals of Portugal’s two domestic in his second season at the club, in the process managing to deliver continental football, in the form of the Europa League, for the first time in their history. He will now be charged with delivering European football back to Valencia and their 55,000-capacity Mestalla, with Lim having already ratified the signings of 10 players across a summer of overhaul.

The start couldn’t have gone much better with Nuno having delivered 14 points from the opening six games, leading a still unbeaten Valencia to second behind league leaders Barcelona. At home they have dispatched Malaga, Espanyol and Cordoba while Getafe were beaten 0-3 away in the Valencian derby.

Hard-fought points were secured away at Sevilla on the opening day and most recently at Real Sociedad in respective 1-1 draws. The resilience of just 3 goals conceded so far, mixed with the 14 goals their fluid football has scored, has brought weight and optimism to the targeting of Champions League qualification that Nuno voiced at the start of September.

It is a while since that word was found around the Mestalla, with the club inhibited by crippling debts which saw them placed into the hands of local government in 2013. The plan for a new stadium has had to be shelved then downsized while a series of players, Juan Mata, David Silva, David Villa, Jordi Alba and Roberto Soldado to name a select few, have been sold to ease the financial mess.

The takeover of Lim, a Singaporean billionaire, has been a long drawn out process with club’s main creditor, Spanish bank Bankia, though he finally managed to seize ownership in May after buying out 70.4% of the club’s shares. Once Lim completes settles a debt dispute with Bankia, the money will be free to pour in, the club president Amadeo Salvo Lillo believes it will be the third biggest takeover in world football.

Lillo had been searching for months for somebody with the financial muscle to rescue Valencia from turmoil and again Mendes was instrumental, turning the billionaire into the club’s direction after he was planning to put a stake in Atletico Madrid. Lim’s initial investment is likely to be around the €400 million mark.

Lim’s takeover will also make the loan deals of Rodrigo and Joao Cancelo, both taken from Benfica, permanent, as well as the £13 million investment in Andre Gomes, with Lim arranging through Mendes the securing of players before he is in place as Valencia’s sole owner. A similar loan deal was also completed for Alvaro Negredo, the Manchester City striker who hit 31 goals for Sevilla the last time he was in La Liga.

The 29 year old striker hasn’t yet managed a single minute of football for his new club after arriving with fitness troubles, though he hasn’t really been required thanks to the scintillating form of the hugely-talented Paco Alcacer, the heir to Soldado’s number-9 shirt, who has already hit 4 goals and registered 3 assists in 5 league games. The 21 year old has also marked his form by earning his first Spain caps.

Club captain Daniel Parejo and Pablo Piatti both have 2 goals each while Gomes and Rodrigo have both already broken their ducks. It all makes for an ominous attack-line, with Nuno possessing a versatile pack that can switch between the favoured 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3. Sofiane Feghouli is central to that shift, an electrifying right-sided winger that Nuno has so far preferred as an impact sub, the Algerian has already managed to set-up 2 goals as well as scoring 1. Even Carles Gil, the 21 attacking midfielder who Nuno handed a debut to last month, has contributed, netting in the 1-1 draw with Sociedad.

So used to losing major squad talents, Valencia used this summer to shed themselves of fringe players, with Dorlan Pabon, Phillipe Senderos, Ever Benega, Aly Cissokho and Adil Rami all moved on, while the £17 million gained from Barcelona for Jeremy Mathieu was a welcome fee. The loss of 21 year-old left-back Juan Bernat to Bayern Munich for just £8 million would have been disappointing but they seem to have found a more than able replacement in 19 year old Jose Gaya, also from a Valencian youth-system that still continues to produce precious talents.

Ruben Vezo and Nicolas Otamendi, with the £7.4 million World Cup winner Shkodran Mustafi in support, have begun to forge a stable centre-half pairing in the absence of Mathieu while they are protected in midfield by Parejo alongside Javi Fuego, the veteran defensive midfielder who has made a superb start to the season, ensuring Benega won’t be too much of a miss. Such is the wide variety of options available to Nuno that he has already used 20 players in his first 6 games in charge.

Before October’s international break Valencia will face a huge test in the form of champions Atletico Madrid’s visit to the Mestalla, which with momentum behind them and with the feel-good factor borne out of Nuno’s early impact and Lim’s impending riches, Valencia may target another victory.

If they manage it, most of the plaudits will go to Nuno Santo and Peter Lim, but Jorge Mendes must not be forgotten as he orchestrates Valencia’s rise back to the top.



Written by Adam Gray

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Football Entertainment: Soccer Saturday Bingo

Soccer Saturday is a football institution in the UK and Ireland and has been ever since its inception in 1992. Broadcast on Sky Sports, the premise of the program is simple in that there is a host and four studio guests that review the Saturday afternoon football matches that play as they happen. There are also roving reporters at many of the other matches around the country and these are visited throughout the afternoon.

While the premise would make the program sound boring, the fact that it has been on air for 22 years is down to the on screen chemistry of the host, Jeff Stelling, and the studio guests makes the program watchable each and every week. The studio guests are currently former Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier, former Arsenal defender Paul Merson, ex Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson and Celtic and Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas.

As a result of the on screen chemistry between the five in the Soccer Saturday studio as well as their familiarity with each other as well as the passion of these football men appearing while watching the matches we are often treated to a display of football analysis that is usually reserved for time spent in the pub with your mates, except on prime time TV!

The nature of the program, as well as the occasion faux pas from the studio guests, has led to many spin offs for people to join in at home. The most famous of this is the Soccer Saturday drinking game where shots of beer or Jagermeister are to be drunk at times of different things happening during the program.

However, for those of us that do not want to spend our Saturday afternoon’s getting heavily drunk we have come up with a bingo version of the game that allows you to play the same game without being unable to function for Saturday evening!

To play, just print off this bingo card from Butlers Bingo or write down the below situations and hand them out to all of the people playing the game. The winner is the first person to get all of their situations to appear on screen.

  • A goal is scored
  • A sending off
  •  Half time
  • Chris Kamara is talking
  • Paul Merson uses stupid rhyming slang (i.e.”he’s hit the beans on toast”!)
  • Swindon Town appear on the vidiprinter
  • Dundee appear on the vidiprinter
  • Phil Thompson says ‘Stevie Gerrard’
  • Jeff makes an ‘A Trialist’ joke
  • Your team scores two goals
  • Jeff calls Kenny Deucher ‘The Good Doctor’
  • Hartlepool score a goal
  • A pundit shouts off camera
  • LeTiss is mentioned in connection with a takeaway
  • Chris Kamara says “it’s unbelievable Jeff”
  • Jeff mentions “dancing in the streets of TNS
  • Jeff says “its Doom and Gloom at…”
  • The team ‘Keith’ is referred to as just being one guy
  • Brighton & Hove, or Daggers & Redbridge are jokingly referred to as two different teams playing the same oppo
  • When Arbroath striker Kevin Webster scores and Stelling says “ohh, Sally will be pleased”
  • Something bad happens to Craig Bellamy (injury, og, booked, arrested for assault etc.)
  • Northampton Town appear on the vidiprinter.
  • Jeff sings “I feel good” when James Brown scores for Hartlepool

These are just a taste of the situations that occur during Soccer Saturday, and feel free to add more of your own making to spice up for your Soccer Saturday bingo session! Once you’ve played this, jump online to play free games at any bingo site. You can win big and use it to spice up your Soccer Saturday fun!

Would you prefer to just play football instead of sitting at home? So basically you want to be a professional footballer? Click here!


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Feature: Much awaited football tournaments in the world

Soccer as it is called in the United States and Canada and football to the rest of the world, is one of the most popular sporting extravaganza played by millions worldwide.

The game is played with different formats with different pitch and team sizes but the most prevalent one feature two teams with eleven players each, playing on a grass pitch measuring approximately 105m x 68m with the main aim of kicking or heading a ball into their opponent goal. Men’s football was introduced into Olympics Games in 1908 while the women’s competition was added in 1996.

There is various international football tournaments played all around the world which are eagerly awaited by soccer fans.

Visit Carlton Leisure to book flights to various destinations around the world to enjoy these precious moments of various tournaments.


FIFA World Cup

Ask a football fan what delights him the most and undoubtedly you get the answer as FIFA World cup. There is no greater sports competition than this ultimate sports extravaganza. The next FIFA World Cup is held in Brazil from 12th June 2014 to 13th July 2014.

Come and enjoy the game of stamina and passion and see your favorite football giants competing against each other.


The UEFA Champions League

The UEFA Championship League is the most glamorous club competition in the football tournaments. The competition is organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

Since 1992 it has become one of the most prestigious club competitions in European football which has helped to turn Europe into football’s most financially powerful continent.

The finals of 2012-13 UEFA championship is the most watched sporting events in 2013 worldwide drawing over 360 million television viewers. There is no club competition to match the champion league.


The Copa America

It is one of the oldest existing continental football competitions. It is a South American international Association Football Competition contested between CONMEBOL as well as two other nations, frequently Mexico, Costa Rica or the United States.

Brazil and Argentina are referred as South American football’s “Big Two” current holders but it is the Uruguay which is the most successful team of the tournament with 15 wins till date.


The FA Cup

The Football Association Challenge Cup which is commonly known as the FA Cup is an annual knockout cup competition in English football. It is the most famous domestic competition in the world.

A women tournament is also held known as FA Women’s cup. Established in July 1871, it is arguably the oldest association football competition in the world.


Africa Cup of Nations

It is a main international association football competition in Africa that pits the continents greatest international sides against each other in a fascinating battle of supremacy. It was first held in 1957 and since 1968, it has been held every two years.

The tournament is held in the month of January and the continent’s most successful side is Egypt which has won this tournament a record seven times.


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La Liga: This season’s title race promises the most dramatic conclusion in years

The gap in competition was made evident in Europe again this week as Barcelona and Atletico Madrid took major steps towards a passage into the last 8 of the Champions League. A 0-2 lead will be taken back to the Nou Camp as Manchester City were beaten on Tuesday night while 24 hours later, Diego Costa gave Atletico a valuable 0-1 lead against AC Milan, an away goal to cherish as they seek a way into their first quarter-final of Europe’s premier competition for the first time in 17 years.

The spread of competition in La Liga maybe undermined by a woeful disparity in television revenue distribution but with English and Italian opposition being slain on the continent, there was further evidence that the Spanish domestic summit remains extremely high.

Perhaps rivalled only by Germany who boast little on the same parity of Bayern Munich, the ferociously gifted machine that took their own first-leg lead away from England on Wednesday night.

Chelsea, guided by the nous and the fiery drive of Jose Mourinho, may pose some threat to Munich’s European crown but with Real Madrid facing Schalke, the German side who sit 4th in the Bundesliga and 19 points adrift of Bayern’s runaway lead, in the next glut of last-16 matches next week, it is likely that La Liga will still boast 3 representatives when the competition moves into its last 8. Those 3 clubs are locked in battle for their own domestic crown, all on 60 points after 24 games played and all with identical records, Barcelona’s goal-difference posting them top.

With Juventus leading Serie A by a margin of 9 points over Roma and Paris St Germain and Monaco leading the way in a top-heavy French League dominated by obscene levels of cash, the excitement of Spain’s title run-in is matched only by England where Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and league leaders Chelsea are separated by just 4 points.

It is Liverpool’s inclusion that is particularly intriguing, having taken advantage of Manchester United’s turbulent introduction to life after Sir Alex Ferguson not only to become favourites for a return to Champions League after a four year absence, but to also give themselves a legitimate chance of winning a title they last won 23 years ago.

A slightly shorter period separates Atletico Madrid from their last league win, 17 years to be precise, and their involvement in this year’s Spanish title race is arguably more welcome than Liverpool’s over in the Premier League.

It is approaching a decade since the El Clasico hegemony was last broken as a result of an outrageously top-heavy distribution of television rights which posts the £140 million income of Real Madrid and Barcelona almost 100% ahead of the next two biggest-earning teams, Valencia and Atletico.

The latter’s residency at the top this year has satisfied some complaints about Spain’s lack of competition for the big two, though it should not deflect attention away from a system that is desperately in need of reform. The majority of clubs remain crippled by debts, mainly money owed to the Spanish government to the tune of a total in the region of £700 million and almost half the league has struggled to land sponsorship.

Atletico’s emergence has convinced some that the chasm can be breached, though it has been a meticulous project, led by Diego Simeone since his appointment in 2011, financed by a reported debt of 120 million Euros. While Atletico, winners of the Europa League and the Copa Del Rey in recent years, have brought a discernible threat to Barca and Real’s dominance on the field, they are still finding it hard to compete with them off it.

A summer spending spree of £21 million, on deals with a clear eye on the future in Toby Alderweireld, Joshua Guilavogui and Leo Baptistao, was dwarfed by Real Madrid’s £80 million capture of Gareth Bale as well as £26 million deals for Isco and Asier Illaramendi while Barcelona signed Neymar for £50 million, a fee later reported to be more in the region of £90 million.

Atletico did pull off a huge summer coup in David Villa in a £4 million deal that weighed heavily in clauses and instalments as well as wages and there was no escaping the fact the Spaniard had become a cast-off from a side Atletico were planning to rival.

What Simeone’s team have lacked in significant investment they have made up for in rugged determination and fortitude, becoming a perfect representation of the doggedness and industry that typified their Argentine coach during his playing days. Diego Costa, who scored his 26th goal in 28 games in the San Siro on Wednesday, has led the line powerfully alongside Villa whose 11 league goals and experience have proved invaluable.

Arda Turan, Gabi and Tiago have worked tirelessly in midfield to allow Koke, whose 9 assists are bettered only by Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas, to pull the strings. Of course, a solid defence always helps and Atletico’s is the best in the league, conceding just 16 goals. The back four of Felipe Luis, Miranda, Diego Godin and Juanfran, complimented by the superb talent of Thibaut Courtois in goal, have kept 12 clean sheets in total, a tally equalled only by Barcelona.

There is a fear, exacerbated by the way he saw his team brushed aside in the semi-finals of the Copa Del Rey by Real, that Simeone may again fall short due to a lack of genuine strength in depth, though a January loan of Wolfsburg’s Diego Ribas, who was excellent in his last spell at the Calderon two years ago, may have the galvanising effect that is needed, especially in attack where they have sometimes looked short of ideas in the face of teams willing to just sit and stifle.

It is a similar problem that faces the other two, though Real Madrid, who possess the phenomenal Cristiano Ronaldo, are packed with the fire-power required to deal with any concerted defensive effort, as are Barcelona who have Lionel Messi.

The duo’s scoring rivalry has not been as intense as recent seasons but both occupy impressive numbers all the same. Ronaldo’s 22 league goals from 21 games is typically outstanding though Messi’s 13 from 15, in a season hampered by injury and destabilising accusations of tax-fraud, is equally marked.

Even though in Carlo Ancelotti and Gerardo “Tata” Martino the big 2 have managers yet to experience success in Spain, their star players have both been there, done it and with both motivated by a vehement desire to outdo each other, faith will be rightfully installed in them to drive them over the line.

Just as vital however will be the supporting cast, the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi who make-up the wonderfully gifted spine of Barcelona, and Madrid’s Angel Di Maria and Karim Benzema, who have both shown discernible improvement during the transition from Jose Mourinho to Ancelotti.

Luka Modric has developed into one of the league’s prized assets and has formed a fearsome midfield together with Xabi Alonso, while Gareth Bale has settled into La Liga life very well indeed even if without the headlines, scoring 9 goals and registering as many assists. The emergence of Jese Rodriguez has also been promising, the 20 year old winger helping himself to 5 goals and 4 assists in 15 appearances, only 3 of which have been starts.

Alexis Sanchez, Barcelona’s 15 goal right winger, has cut a totally difference force from the troubled one that laboured on the periphery of matches last year, while Pedro has managed 13 from the opposite flank. It is perhaps due to the more direct style in operation under Martino, one that utilises more long balls and faster counter-attacking, one that saw them cede possession for the first time in five years at Rayo Vallecano earlier in the year.

A defence that lumbers on in the absence of a yet-to-be-replaced Carles Puyol has managed well enough, though Valencia and Sofiane Feghouli showed what could be done if pressure is applied on Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano, earning a recent shock 2-3 victory in the Nou Camp.

That weekend, Atletico went top, a perfect tribute to the late Luis Aragones, the coach who led them to their last title triumph, but a week later, top-spot was back in the hands of Barcelona after Simeone saw his side lose for the just the 2nd time this season, away at relegation-threatened Almeria.

Real meanwhile, who last held the summit on the 25th January, are the only side in consistent form having not lost since the end of October. It is an ominous run of just 4 points dropped from the past 14 games that will be put under intense scrutiny when they travel across the capital to face rivals Atletico in the first week of March.

Atletico won the season’s first derby, a 0-1 victory in the Bernebau, the first time they had beaten their more illustrious neighbours in the league since 1999. It was the moment that cemented Atletico as genuine title contenders, though Real Madrid and Barcelona, like always, are also in that group. Who makes the most irresistible case? It is too tight to say. Though none of them dare blink next.


Written by Adam Gray

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Football: What does it mean and how us fans shape our lives around it

There comes a time where we must all grow up. Young boys stop playing with little action figures and move on to games consoles, young girls stop wearing their mothers make-up and start wearing their own. We all go to secondary school, reach an age where an interest in the opposite sex grows and we watch more shows created for an older fanbase, as opposed to the kid’s TV we used to enjoy.

We can change our minds so easily when we grow up. We outgrow almost everything from our childhood, be it a show, a board game or an obsession with our favourite teddy or toy that never left our side. Even hobbies find their way of slowly drifting from our routines and finding their place in our memories, never to be forgotten.

One thing that seldom changes, however, is relationships. Some even grow stronger. Childhood friends become school friends, school friends become work friends, maybe even partners. Having an affinity with something rarely changes, and it’s the same with football.

Football can shape the childhood of children so easily. We watch and become transfixed by one player, one team or just the sport in general. For children in football mad families, it is inevitable that they will watch football from early. As a young boy in an Arsenal mad family there was no other team I was ever going to watch, and when I did watch I was hooked by Thierry Henry.

He was my first idol, the first player I fell in love with. And even today, the sight of Thierry Henry or the mere mention of his name buckles me up and takes me down the greatest evocative road I’ve ever journeyed on. Reliving the moments that lit up my childhood, experiencing those moments again. Just fantastic.

To this day, as an 18-year old, I will admit that if it come down to going on a date with a beautiful female or going to watch the Arsenal, I’d pick Arsenal. She may be upset by that so I’d invite her along. If she says no then that’s her problem, not mine. However strong that may sound, football has played a part in my life so huge that living without it would be fairly difficult. It’s an escape, and the same for many other people.

People shape their lives around football. Socially and professionally, everything is built around football. Unfortunately though, not for me, professionally speaking. I work when most Arsenal games are on, and as an 18-year old I’m sadly unable to dictate when I work.

Money comes first when you’re building for a future. Needs must. But it’s not the same for others. People book days off from work to go to games. Even if they’re just going to watch it down the pub with some friends, football comes first.

It’s a strange connection, as people who don’t love football are unable to comprehend the feeling felt by fans when a goal is scored, a pass is misplaced or the ball is controlled. All these footballers are really are just normal people who can kick a ball better than the rest of us, but it’s not as simple as that.

As kids we idolise these men and treat them as superheroes and when we grow up we just sit back and watch in awe. They become parts of our lives and on the back of interviews and performances we end up feeling like we know them.

It even influences the way we use social media, particularly on Twitter. Many people you’ll find on there use it solely to air views and discuss football. There’s something about mixing social media and watching football that results in a narcissistic belief that our views are superior to others. Opinions in the world vary, but on social media the passion we hold for our clubs exudes into 140 characters and any objection comes across as disparagement. So, naturally, we bite back.

Peronally speaking as a reserved individual, football provides a platform for conversation. With not many interests other than the beautiful game finding a middle ground is difficult, and relating to people is rare. With all this in mind, football is the most important thing in my life and it’s played a huge part in the development of me as a person. It’s taught me many different emotions and even a few swear words along the way. Like millions of my fellow humans, I don’t know where I’d be without football.

Football elicits emotion that is not comparable to anything in life. Loyalty to your club is not a choice, it is an obligation; something that is very much permanent; like a birthmark, or a mole - something we cannot remove from ourselves. No matter how frustrating we may consider our connection with a football club to be, there is no doubt that however illogical perserverance through frustration sounds, it would sound even more illogical to contemplate removing your loyalty.

So loving football isn’t necessarily a choice, it’s a requirement. And it’s fun to be part of a community that’s so widespread yet united as one. It’s a wonderful feeling. And that’s why football will always come first.


Written by Ryan Goodenough

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Special Feature: How Poker Can Improve Your Football Game

Most players focus on physical fitness when training for football, but that only gets you so far. In order to be the best player you can be, you have to get your head in the game as well.

There are plenty of creative ways to train your mind for football, but playing poker is probably one of the most obscure ones you’ll come across. Nevertheless, it could enhance your skills in more ways than one.

Let’s take a look at how poker can improve your football game.


Reading Your Opponents

Poker is a game of strategy much like football is. It requires the ability to read other people you are playing against and identify their strengths and weaknesses. When you’re on the football field, you need to be able to see similar strength and weaknesses so you can adjust your strategy and ultimately score a goal. A little time at the poker table could be just what you need.

You can learn from a person’s body language and his playing style in a poker game. Subtle twitches can indicate hesitance and a lack of confidence worth tapping into. If you can pick up on those signs in a soccer game, you will be able to dodge other players and successfully get the ball to someone else on your team. Your mind will be in the game then.


Maintaining Your Aggression

In order to intimidate your opponents in football or in poker, you need to be a bit aggressive. That doesn’t mean you have to start punching people in the face. It just means that you have to exude enough confidence to make people start questioning themselves.

If you can learn to be confident when you play poker, you can take that same mindset into a football game. Make the other players feel like you are superior to them. Make them shudder at the idea of playing against you. Then you will have an easier time scoring a goal.


Holding Your Bluff

You don’t always have to have a good hand to win in poker. You can make other people think you have something you don’t. In football, you can make people think you’re going to move one direction when you have other plans entirely.

This isn’t bluffing, so to speak, but it is a matter of manipulation. If you can begin reading players in poker, you can start to see what you can do to make them fold under pressure.

In soccer, you can use those reading abilities to psyche the other players out on the field. Adjust your body language, speed, and sight to indicate a move that contradicts your true plans. You can get through a game much easier after that.


Keeping Your Focus

Concentration is a large component of poker and football alike. If you cannot focus on you opponents and the game as a whole, you could be caught off guard. It is difficult to practice concentration on the playing field because you have to move your body and your mind at the same time.

With poker, you can use your brain alone. Once you get your mind trained to pay attention, you can get your body to follow suit.


Planning Your Strategy

Poker may seem like a game that happens one card at a time, but it actually involves a complex set of moves. Much like a chess player, a poker player has to think about his moves and his opponent’s future moves before deciding how to act in a hand. Should he check, wait for a bet, and then raise? Should he bet strongly from the start to weed out the potential for luck?

Both activities require the ability to think three steps ahead of the other player. You can improve your chances of strategizing on the fly after playing poker.


Releasing Your Stress

At the end of the day, poker doesn’t have to be serious and intense. It can just be a fun game to play with your buddies. If you’re stressed out from work, school, sports, and more, you may simply want to let loose from time to time. Poker is a great way to step away from reality and take the pressure off yourself for a while. Learn to use it to your advantage.

Whether you’re preparing for the World Series of Poker or the FIFA World Cup, you can benefit from the skills listed above. Tune into your true capabilities, and you will be unstoppable on the field.

Author bio: Curt D Peterson is an avid gamer, who also loves writing. He has for years played in poker tournaments around the world and made a living off it. He has also ghost written a number of articles that have been featured in reputed journals.

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Footballers and their Cars: Their Top 5 Favorites In 2013

Love them or hate them Footballers are some of the highest paid professional sports players in Europe and the rest of the world. The also court a lot of controversy with their off-the field shenanigans of wild parties and wild women.

The one thing that most of them all do when they hit pay day is to buy cars,but not just any model cars, the kind that come with a limited edition logo and cost enough money to feed a small Peruvian village. Porsches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris are amongst the many high priced cars that come with the celebrity and fame of being a footballer.



This year it would seem the Range Rover Sport is the most popular expensive toy for Premier League players. This Mother of all SUV’s has everything a boy would want, looks, performance and tricks. Its the kind of car you cannot ignore when you drive past it and it is intimidating enough to get the best Mercedes Benz move out of the way.

If cars were a reflection of the person who drives them, then Wayne Rooney, Darren Bent, Jon Obi Mikel, John Terry, Danny Rose, Javier Hernandez and Ryan Gigs should be described as intimidating, fast and tricky and maybe they are but who knows.

This powerful SUV has an impressive 385 bhp, a top speed of 140 mph and a price tag of £102,900!



The Cayenne is Porsche’s most successful SUV so far. Everyone who is anyone would love to own this car, if not for the power then for the genius of an SUV that runs like a racing car. This car has been a favorite of many soccer players like Liverpool’s Steven Gerard and Kolo Toure to Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, Robin van Persie, Tom Cleverley and Chris Smalling.

Priced at £90,790 it is just right for these guys who pull in £70,000 a week! When pitted against the Rover, it is faster, and has more power, and has to be taken out on the open road once in a while to let it stretch itself and roar.


3. AUDI Q7

This is the Germany’s most impressive muscle car yet. It looks just as good as it runs and is favored by the likes of Chelsea’s Fernando Torres, Man United’s Rio Ferdinand and Luis Nani, Tottenham Hotspur’s Emmanuel Adebayor and Moussa Dembele.

The car is priced at £95,260, reaches 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 secs and has a top speed of 55mph.



Britain’s best car is also probably the most expensive car with a serious following amongst footballer’s and Britain’s celebrities. It is sleek, cool and super fast. Darren Bent owns a DB9; Chelsea’s Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata have also been seen in a DB9 so has Liverpool’s Glen Johnson, Man City’s James Milner and Livermore of Tottenham Hotspur.

This is a serious sports car with 470 bhp of horse power, a 4.6 seconds time o getting from 0 to 60 mph and a top speed of 190 mph. The price is a staggering £128,653.



No best car’s for football player’s list would be complete without the inclusion of the Bentley Continental. Wayne Rooney has one, Samuel Eto’o has one, Ashley Young has been seen and David Silva of Man City has had this car for some time.

At £132,150 and with all the bells and whistles that come designed into this car, you wouldn’t think anyone would want to spend £20,000 “pimping” a car that is proud of its regal roots to say happy birthday to your girlfriend but if your name is Stephen Ireland and you had a guaranteed check of £70,000, you can do whatever you want to do, and he did whilst he was at Man City.

This is the same guy who tricked out his £97,000 Audi R8 to a white and blue trim, a petrol cap shaped into a Superman and alloy wheels with a number 7 to match his jersey number.


Author Bio - Bradley Taylor is a UK freelance writer who has a passion for cars and you’ll often find him writing about luxury cars. He’s also an avid Derby FC fan! Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.

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Feature: 5 Simple Tips To Avoid Football Injury

We all love a good game of football. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, be it during the cold depths of December, or during the hot sunshine of the summer months, football is a sport you can enjoy both indoors and out. It also provides a great aerobic workout for the body, and is a fantastic way of improving your stamina.

But it’s always worth remembering that football is one of the more competitive sports, and that injuries are a common occurrence for participants. And, although it isn’t a contact sport in the same sense that rugby is, mistakes and mistimed tackles can sometimes result in serious physical harm.

If you’ve got an important event or a holiday coming up, and an injury is something you could really do without, there are ways of minimising the risk of football-related mishaps, without being a burden to the rest of your team.

If you’re looking to avoid injury and a lengthy hospital stay, here are some safety measures you should consider:


Invest in the Right Gear

Shin-pads are a must, whatever your position. When you’re going for the ball, you don’t want to be worrying about catching a stud or a boot with your ankle, or picking up a bruised shin.

Correct footwear is also essential. If you’re playing on an outdoor pitch, boots with sturdy grips will make you less susceptible to slipping. If indoor 5-a-side is more your thing, invest in a pair of trainers which have slip-proof soles.


Warm Up

Always perform a series of stretches before the game, so you don’t pull a muscle mid-match. Remember to focus on your calves, thighs and hamstrings, as well as your groin and lower back. Jog around to loosen yourself up, and throw in some short sprints to get your body ready.


Stay Away From Harsh Tackles

Winning the ball in a particularly stiff situation might feel good, but if you’ve got an important date coming up, you might want to think twice before putting yourself at risk. Avoid making sliding challenges, or tackles which leave you open to being trodden on by other players.

If you need to stay light on making tackles, talk to your teammates and opt to play in a less defensive position.


Avoid Awkward Landings

Injuries can too often result from awkward landings – and these are most common when jumping in the box for headers. If you’re trying to avoid injury, do what you can to stay grounded and don’t throw yourself into the air for the ball.


Know Your Limits

Excessive tiredness generally leads to poor judgment and mistakes, and will only make you more susceptible to picking up an injury. So if it’s coming to the end of the game, don’t exhaust yourself unnecessarily for the sake of pride – if there are subs available, let your captain or your coach know you could do with being swapped.


This article is written by Adam who recently had an injury during a game of football. Due to the initial pain, he was prescribed pain relief medication from Express Doctor who are based in the UK.

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