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  • FIFA interviewed Pele and fellow legends for his 80th birthday
  • Others: Calvert-Lewin, Firmino, Neymar, Oblak, Rakitic & Richarlison
  • Former players: Baresi, Cafu, Matthaus, Milla, Taffarel & Xavi

“Pele revolutionised football. Pele stopped a war. Pele united countries, united families. There was no race problem, language problem. I was born in 1970. In 2002, I became a world champion. I was captain. I had the honour of receiving the World Cup Trophy from no less than whom? Pele! Man! If I say any more I’ll cry. It’s really emotional!”
Cafu

“In Pele’s 80 years, the only thing that’s missing is to land on the moon. When there’s football on the moon, I’ll go there and have a little kickaround.”
Pele

“One hundred per cent football. He’s on another level. With all respect to the other greats, there’s only one number one – it’s Leo. To play 311 games next to him, it was a dream. I enjoyed it so, so much. I just want to say this: ‘Thank you for everything, Leo, because you’ll never know how much it meant to me to play next to you.’”
Ivan Rakitic on Lionel Messi






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Rakitic on emulating Maradona, Modric and Messi




“He’s a phenomenon. He’s already got everything, and at such a young age. He’s already a leader. He’s quick, robust and makes the right runs. He’s got the passion. He’s got everything a top-class striker needs.At some point he’ll follow in the footsteps of Ronaldo or Lewandowski. He’s already got a lot of attributes that others didn’t have at 20.”
Lothar Matthaus on Erling Haaland




Matthaus on Lewandowski, Neuer, Haaland & Germany


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Matthaus on Lewandowski, Neuer, Haaland & Germany




“Maradona. I’m a big fan of Maradona. The way he played was such a pleasure to watch – the way he fought for his team on the pitch, his incredible technique. If you say anything against Messi, you need a bullet in your head. Look at what he does for Barcelona. His statistics are astonishing. He’s a phenomenon. I don’t like to make comparisons. Both had their own time. Maradona was the best and now, without doubt, Messi is the best in the world. Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been on a different level for years. I don’t like to compare, but it was a joy to watch Maradona.”
Taffarel in August on the best player he’d seen in his life




Taffarel exclusive on Maradona, Hagi, Alisson, Messi & Neymar


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Taffarel exclusive on Maradona, Hagi, Alisson, Messi & Neymar




“Kylian is a phenomenon. He has the potential to become one of the best players in history. To have him as a team-mate is a huge honour. We understand one another very well on the pitch and off it too. I love him!”
Neymar on Kylian Mbappe




Neymar on Mbappe, Messi & Qatar 2022


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Neymar on Mbappe, Messi & Qatar 2022




“That feeling of seeing the No9 next to my name in the dressing room and pulling on the England shirt, it was absolutely amazing. Then going on the pitch and scoring… it’s emotional, you think about how proud your family will be. It’s something I want more of. I’m addicted. I want to lead the line for England in major competitions and be the man they rely on to score goals.”
Dominic Calvert-Lewin




Calvert-Lewin on Everton, England, Rashford & Lewandowski


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Calvert-Lewin on Everton, England, Rashford & Lewandowski




“You look up to him obviously, but when you start sharing things with him, he is so transparent that, instead of telling him what you think of him, you feel more like asking him about his little kids or of reminding him of the time he took you out with his studs up in a Valencia-Barcelona game (laughs). When he becomes your captain, you’d go to war for him if he asked you to.”
Rodrigo de Paul on Lionel Messi




De Paul: I’d go to war for Messi if he asked me to


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De Paul: I’d go to war for Messi if he asked me to




“Ronaldinho Gaucho. He was so unpredictable, he could do things you couldn’t even imagine. He was almost unmarkable.”
Cafu on the toughest player he ever faced




Cafu exclusive on Ronaldo, Zidane, Ronaldinho & Neymar


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Cafu exclusive on Ronaldo, Zidane, Ronaldinho & Neymar




“Football can arouse similar feelings to those that fire you up in an opera theatre, in some ways. In its sense of ritual, in its capacity to attract healthy fanaticism and hyped-up tribalism, football also projects life into the experience of the game. It invokes challenges to the death, impulses of generosity and heroism, fatal mishaps and magnificent victories. A game that thrills and moves, that unites and divides.”
Andrea Bocelli




Andrea Bocelli on his World Cup memories & singing at Leicester


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Andrea Bocelli on his World Cup memories & singing at Leicester




“I don’t like it, but only because Magda’s so annoying as a defender! Honestly, once we’re on the pitch, it’s not an issue. I forget about the fact she’s my girlfriend, and she’s the same. She definitely doesn’t hold back!”
Pernille Harder on playing against Magda Eriksson




Harder & Eriksson: Pride and power


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Harder & Eriksson: Pride and power




“He’s phenomenal. You simply can’t say that he’s not a magician. He has magical powers. He produces plays that don’t exist, that you couldn’t make up. You always have to watch replays of his plays to understand what he’s done. He’s an unbelievable player. He’s one of the very best players in the world.”
Firmino on Philippe Coutinho




Firmino on Alisson, Coutinho, Neymar & Qatar 2022


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Firmino on Alisson, Coutinho, Neymar & Qatar 2022




“You couldn’t describe it. There was a lot of joy obviously. We would have loved to have gone further because we really had what it took to do more. I’m convinced we could have gone all the way. We were welcomed as heroes when we returned to Cameroon and that was when you realise that you’ve achieved something big.”
Roger Milla on Cameroon at Italy 1990




Milla: My record will be very difficult to beat


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Milla: My record will be very difficult to beat




“Absolutely incredible. What an experience. My family and I attended many of the games as well as the Final. I have never seen South Africa and all its people come together as a country like that and sadly not again since. The atmosphere was simply amazing and I thought we did a superb job as hosts.”
Gary Player on South Africa 2010




Gary Player on Pele, Messi, Fati and Mbappe


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Gary Player on Pele, Messi, Fati and Mbappe




“That feeling of knowing you have made history is incredible. I remember the celebrations vividly, having the cup in our possession and travelling on a convertible bus through Madrid. The joy that the victory brought to everyone in Spain was immense and it is something that will live in my memory for the rest of my life.”
Xavi on Spain’s South Africa 2010 triumph




Xavi on South Africa 2010, tiki-taka & the Qatar 2022 favourites


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Xavi on South Africa 2010, tiki-taka & the Qatar 2022 favourites




“I hope they don’t all get taken from me! While [Robert] Lewandowski broke my record for the most goals (scored by a foreigner in the Bundesliga), they’ll have a hard time getting the record for the oldest Bundesliga player to score a hat-trick off me!”
Claudio Pizarro on his records




Pizarro: The only thing missing was a World Cup


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Pizarro: The only thing missing was a World Cup




“It’s my trademark! Of course I’ve imagined doing the pigeon dance in the World Cup. The supporters really like it, it especially appeals to kids. I’ve done it for the Seleção together with Neymar, I do it for my club, and I want to score goals and do it many times at the 2022 World Cup.”
Richarlison




Richarlison exclusive on Neymar, James Rodriguez & Qatar 2022


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Richarlison exclusive on Neymar, James Rodriguez & Qatar 2022




“Real football fans know how important defenders are and they appreciate them. If I had to name names, then the one who really stands out is Virgil van Dijk, who’s shown the quality, character and strength that a defender needs to have to be a successful leader of a team like Liverpool.”
Franco Baresi




Baresi on his World Cup experiences & the all-time greats


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Baresi on his World Cup experiences & the all-time greats




“Even though I understood after the World Cup that things couldn’t get any better, unless we win the EURO, I felt I owed it to our team and our fans to stay, because those fans showed so much affection and love towards the players – and myself. I believe that other job offers will always be there, but being in this position – trying once again to bring unbelievable happiness to your country – is priceless.”
Zlatko Dalic on why he chose to remain Croatia coach after Russia 2018




Dalic: My life completely changed after the World Cup


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Dalic: My life completely changed after the World Cup




“At Arsenal, if we had a game on Saturday, by Monday Patrick Vieira was getting dirty on the pitch. As a young player I’m thinking, ‘Ok, put the quality aside because you’re never going to be him but in terms of commitment and work ethic, there’s no way this guy is doing this and you’re not at least matching that.’ I knew by doing that I would have a good chance of staying in the industry for many years.”
Gael Clichy




Clichy on Arsenal's 'Invincibles', learning from Pep & Basaksehir


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Clichy on Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’, learning from Pep & Basaksehir




“Cristiano is an indisputable great. What he does in matches, his statistics, say everything. Perhaps what sets him apart is that he’s good at every aspect of the game. And he’s a really cool guy. We chat about everything. He has a very human side. He’s always asking things about Brazil. For example, during COVID he’s always asking how the situation is in Brazil. He worries about it. He’s very human, really nice.”
Danilo on Ronaldo




Danilo on Cristiano, Pirlo, De Bruyne & Neymar


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Danilo on Cristiano, Pirlo, De Bruyne & Neymar




“When I was a boy, I saw Slovenia qualify for EURO 2000 and then the 2002 World Cup. We later reached the 2010 edition too. Having seen how happy people were, I’d love to bring that joy back to the country – and not just for them. For me, playing at a World Cup or EURO would be the fulfilment of a childhood dream, so I’m going to do everything I can to achieve it.”
Jan Oblak




Oblak on his idols, Atleti & the World Cup


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Oblak on his idols, Atleti & the World Cup




“That was always going to be the biggest goal in my career, no matter what came after, because it touched so many lives and brought joy to so many people. I’ll always love it – it’s beautiful – but the goal is bigger than me as an individual. Although it happened ten years ago, it still feels like yesterday because I get reminders and messages from people about it every single day. It’s very humbling.”
Siphiwe Tshabalala




Tshabalala: My 2010 goal touched so many lives


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Tshabalala: My 2010 goal touched so many lives




“I’ve really got into it since I went to the Olympics in 2016. We could basically go and watch whatever we wanted to, and I’d never seen a soccer game on any type of real level. What better place to watch it than at the Olympics? So we went and watched Neymar and Brazil win. I knew it was going to be crazy, because it was Brazil playing in Brazil in the final. I knew it was going to be on a completely different level to an American football game or a basketball game. It was a high-level game and the crowd was just so into it. It felt like nobody ever sat down, nobody was ever quiet. It made me love the game and my curiosity about soccer grow a lot.”
Jimmy Butler on how he got into the sport




Jimmy Butler on Neymar, Mbappe, Pogba & the USWNT


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Jimmy Butler on Neymar, Mbappe, Pogba & the USWNT




“After the third goal, the goal that put it out of Italy’s reach, I was overwhelmed by emotion. I started crying and I couldn’t stop. I was thinking about everything I’d been through to get to that World Cup. I travelled across the world for surgery on my eye. I was so close to not being allowed to go and almost didn’t get called up. It was really difficult to get used to playing again. When I realised we were going to be world champions, I couldn’t stop crying.”
Tostao on crying during the latter stages of the Mexico 1970 Final




Tostao: Maradona, Messi and Cristiano weren’t on Pele’s level


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Tostao: Maradona, Messi and Cristiano weren’t on Pele’s level




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Olympic Football Tournaments 2020 – Men – News – Ripoll: France’s youngsters are gifted, dependable and committed

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Men’s Olympic Football Tournament









© imago images


  • Men’s Olympic Football Tournament kicks off in exactly six months
  • We talk to Sylvain Ripoll, coach of France’s Espoirs (U-21) team
  • “I’m part of a generation that dreamed of going to the Olympics”

This Friday 22 January marks six months to the day before the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament kicks off in Tokyo. The tournament will see France back on the Olympic stage 25 years after reaching the quarter-finals at the Atlanta Games in 1996.

So what has caused such a prolonged absence from the Olympics? “I can’t give you an exact answer, since I wasn’t there,” says Sylvain Ripoll, coach of the France Espoirs (U-21) team since 2017. “Qualification for such a prestigious competition is always on a national federation’s wish-list, but for some reason we’ve been unsuccessful in recent times. In any case, we’re delighted to be back with the French team in a major tournament like the Olympics,” said the 49-year-old strategist.

“I’m part of a generation that dreamed of the Olympics – just talking about it always makes our eyes light up,” says the man who was not yet 13 when Les Bleus won gold at Los Angeles 1984. “And I think it’s the same with my players,” he adds. “It generates so many memories and great moments that just being part of it is bound to be an honour.”




The France football team pictured wearing their gold medals



© Getty Images


For now, though, it is still too early to be focusing on Tokyo, with tournaments looming before then both for the U-21s and senior team. “We have the EURO (11 June-11 July) taking place shortly before the Olympic Tournament (22 July-7 August), so one event will influence the other. Before that, there’s the European U-21 Championship, which we’ve qualified for, starting in March in Hungary and ending in June. So, the best thing we can do is to deal with those in the order they come.”

There is no point then in Ripoll looking too far ahead or contemplating which three players over the age of 23 he might include in his squad for Japan, as permitted under the rules of men’s tournament. “Logically, the priority will always be the France senior team,” says the Rennes native, who was nevertheless amenable to remarks last year by Kylian Mbappe, who expressed his desire to take part in the Tokyo Olympics. “We can only rejoice that we have a player in France of the calibre of Mbappe who thinks this way.”

An insatiable talent scout, Ripoll carefully monitors a good 60 players, including 20 who play abroad. He works closely with France’s World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps, who is always looking for new blood to energise his squad. “Didier and I talk a lot about the Espoirs’ potential to establish themselves into the senior team. You need to be performing regularly at the highest level for some time to break into the senior side, whereas with the Espoirs, that process can happen much more quickly,” he explains.




France coach Sylvain Ripoll looks on Serravalle 21-06-2019 Stadio San Marino Stadium Football UEFA Under 21 Championship Italy 2019 Group Stage - Final Tournament Group C France - Croatia.



© imago images


“Didier and his staff keep a very close eye on the Espoirs and watch a lot of their matches. We talk a lot about the players’ mentality, commitment and potential,” adds Ripoll, who takes immense pride in seeing one of his young players called up. He also regularly talks with the selectors of the younger age-category teams to try to progress the most promising talents through the ranks.

If we add to the mix the exemption that allows the inclusion of the 1997 generation that was eligible for the postponed Olympics last summer, then there will be a particularly large group to choose from when deciding on the final squad for Tokyo.

For all that, Ripoll already has grounds to be satisfied with his current crop. “This is the second generation I’ve been in charge of since I arrived four years ago. Apart from being gifted, which has been the case for many years in France, given our enormous reservoir of talent, I find them to be very dependable and committed. For now, I feel my players are very focused on their goals, and I hope that remains the case,” says the coach, whose aim is not to assemble only a squad of big names for Tokyo.

“There are a lot of criteria that come into play when you put together a squad for a tournament like this. There are performances, of course, but the priority is to have the best possible squad, which doesn’t always mean you only take the best players. We have to assess how squad members complement each other and perform together.”



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Boxing schedule for 2021: Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim, Angelo Leo vs. Stephen Fulton on tap

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After a tumultuous 2020 that saw many major fights canceled or postponed, boxing is ready to head into 2021. As many champions and pound-for-pound elites hung on the sidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, boxing missed out on some big-time fights. However, as the year went out, fighters slowly started to trickle back into the ring, albeit not against the competition we would like to see.

But with guys like Anthony Joshua, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence, Canelo Alvarez and GGG all getting in some tune-up fights, things are looking bright for 2021. And things got rolling with a strong start from Ryan Garcia, who rallied from an early knockdown to stop Luke Campbell and claim the interim WBC lightweight title. Garcia, along with Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Teofimo Lopez and Devin Haney are setting up the prospects of some tasty matchups over the next 12 months in the 135-pound division.

Now as we head into the early part of the year, there’s a plethora of big fights on the books already. IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Plant is set to take on Caleb Truax at the close of January in his first action in nearly a year. Plus, Canelo Alvarez will make his return to the ring rather quickly when he takes on mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Alvarez is hoping to fight three times this year and could be on a path to facing Plant down the road now that he’s a promotional free agent.

Below is a running list of boxing main events for the 2021 year.

Note: This will be updated constantly with changes and additions.

Jan. 23Uncasville, ConnecticutAngelo Leo (c) vs. Stephen FultonWBO junior featherweight titleShowtime
Jan. 30Los AngelesCaleb Plant (c) vs. Caleb TruaxIBF super middleweight titleFOX
Feb. 13Indio, CaliforniaJoseph Diaz (c) vs. Shavkatdzhon RakhimovIBF junior lightweight titleDAZN
Feb. 20TBAAdrien Broner vs. TBAJunior welterweightsTBA
Feb. 20Las VegasMiguel Berchelt (c) vs. Oscar ValdezWBC junior lightweight titleESPN
Feb. 27Miami Gardens, FloridaCanelo Alvarez (c) vs. Avni YildirimWBC super middleweight titleDAZN
Feb. 27LondonJamel Herring (c) vs. Carl FramptonWBO junior lightweight titleESPN+
March 5TBAClaressa Shields (c) vs. Marie-Eve Dicaire (c)Super welterweight unificationPPV
March 6TBAAlexander Povetkin (c) vs. Dillian WhyteWBC “interim” heavyweight titleDAZN
March 13TBAJuan Francisco Estrada vs. ‘Chocolatito’ GonzalezSuper flyweight unificationDAZN
March 20MoscowArtur Beterbiev (c) vs. Adam DeinesWBC, IBF light heavyweight titlesESPN



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Recent Match Report – West Indies vs Bangladesh 2nd ODI 2020-2022/23

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Report

Kjorn Ottley came in place of Chemar Holder

West Indies chose to bat vs Bangladesh

After being outplayed in the opening game, West Indies captain Jason Mohammed opted to bat in the second ODI in a bid to keep the series alive.

While Jason expected his batsmen to put up a good total, Bangladesh captain Tamim Iqbal said he anyway wanted to bowl first because “you never know with this wicket”.

West Indies had fielded six debutants in the first ODI. On Friday, they handed another debut, to left-hand top-order batsman Kjorn Ottley who came in place of Chemar Holder. That was the only change they made. Bangladesh, meanwhile, went with an unchanged XI.

The match is being played on the same pitch as the first ODI. So spinners are once again expected to get good purchase. There is no forecast of rain.

Bangladesh 1 Tamim Iqbal (capt), 2 Liton Das, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Shakib Al Hasan, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Soumya Sarkar, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Rubel Hossain, 10 Hasan Mahmud, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

West Indies 1 Sunil Ambris, 2 Kjorn Ottley, 3 Joshua Da Silva (wk), 4 Andre McCarthy, 5 Nkrumah Bonner, 6 Jason Mohammed (capt), 7 Rovman Powell, 8 Kyle Mayers, 9 Raymon Reifer, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Akeal Hosein

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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