The Iker Casillas Saga: When Parting Is Not Sweet Sorrow.

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Iker Casillas has left the building.

The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, that is.

It was one of the longest drawn-out goodbyes/breakups in recent football history.  And boy, was it messy. Predictably, a sizeable amount of Real Madrid fans are still on meltdown mode.

I am not a Real Madrid supporter. I do, however, admire and dare I say it, love some of their past and current players. They are a very interesting team to watch, and they are probably the biggest Reality Show in Football (N.B. There also have been comparisons made with Game of Thrones, and really, they are not far wrong).

I have expected Iker’s departure for months now; the only question was to which club he will end up in. The Arsenal rumours were there for a long time, until they managed to snag Petr Cech from Chelsea which effectively put them out of the running. Roma, Fenerbache and a few other clubs were tossed around, but none of those apparently made the grade. Then came Porto.

It’s almost a strange joke by destiny; Iker ending up with the Portuguese club that is so strongly linked with Jose Mourinho—the Special One, a.k.a that Manager he famously fell out with during his tenure at Real Madrid (and possibly, that became the tipping point of everything). Not quite a few scratched their heads at this. Porto? The Portuguese League? Iker Casillas is a World Cup/2x European Champion for Spain and has had more than his fair share of titles and cups with Real Madrid. So how come no bigger club has taken an interest in him?

How did it all come to this?

One side of it is, Iker—nay, San Iker—wants us to believe that he has been unceremoniously pushed out from the beloved club he has dutifully served for 25 years. He was cheated financially, bullied, and pressured from all sides. The president and the board has allegedly mounted a multi-season smear campaign against him and despite his repeated wishes to stay on and fight for a place in the starting lineup, he was simply not wanted anymore. The now-infamous interview of his parents in El Mundo revealed juicy details that make up wet dreams of British tabloids.

(Sidebar: What bothered me most about that El Mundo interview was the bit where it was revealed that Iker has been estranged from his family for years now due to monetary/personal reasons. How come this hasn’t been picked up by the press sooner? Or perhaps I just missed it somehow?)

Conversely, the club wants us to believe that the Saint the public adores is not really a Saint but just a regular, even greedy footballer that got too big for his boots and tried to take on a club that has nurtured him for most of his career. The nerve! He was good, became a great and then throughout time, somehow turned …toxic. He leaked secrets, pushed out a manager and fellow players, and slowly became a symbol of division.   

There are three sides to this story: Iker’s, the Club’s and the Truth. Sadly, it seems we will never truly know the real score.

To quote Cersei Lannister-Baratheon, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

Perhaps Iker should have demanded Trial by Combat instead, because he sure got mercilessly battered and lost the Public Trial that ensued.

Tears were unabashedly shed by Iker as he read his farewell statement—alone, and the event was simply attended by photographers and journalists. Not the ideal sendoff befitting a player of his caliber. Predictably, backlash ensued not just from the RM fans but from football fans in general, and so a “proper” farewell was arranged by having him stand in the middle of the Bernabeu pitch with the trophies he has won and letting fans inside the stadium for him to say adios to. Let us not forget the mini testimonial, and then photo calls with the President, holding his “Legacy Shirt” and being forced to put on smiles as though he means them.

It was a ridiculous and insulting charade and we all know it.

Perhaps Iker can take comfort from the fact that this was not the first time this has happened to a football player, and this will certainly not be the last.

Screw or be screwed. Sad, but this sums up the business of Football in this age.

Can time really heal all wounds? We shall see.

At the back of my mind, I think there will come a time when Iker will return to the Bernabeu; he will don the club shirt yet again and maybe play in one of the Corazon Charity Matches with his former colleagues. He will be glad to be back and put the ghosts of the past behind him, but for now, he needs to live with the choices he has made and start over.

Meanwhile, the fans can busy themselves expressing all their hatred and obscenities at Perez, but in the end, they will still buy their match tickets and the replica shirts of the new players. They will fill the stadium and resume singing the club songs. They will make new legends of fresh, unsuspecting players. They will perhaps remember Iker in passing and think, “He was good, and he was one of us.”

And life in the Santiago Bernabeu will go on.

 

Thoughts On Michael Owen: My Story.

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In case you haven’t noticed (or you’re new to this blog), I am and forever will be a Michael Owen fan. Let’s just get that out of the way already.

Despite having read his autobiography Off The Record, I’m still very much interested in anything Owen-related, so of course it was a much pleasant surprise when I found out that LFC TV has produced an interview/documentary entitled Michael Owen: My Story. It’s about time!

It was not easy for me as an overseas fan with no access to LFC TV content to see it, but I finally got hold of it from a fellow LFC fan who kindly uploaded it for me (you know who you are and you’re awesome!).

So where do I even begin?

What stands out about Michael Owen was just how confident he was (and still is, I suppose) about his talents and abilities not just as a football player but as a person. Money, image, fame and the like never factored into his journey—for him it was all about playing football and scoring goals. That clinical, almost single-minded approach earned him equal parts admiration and derision. But really, that’s just the way he was as a player, and I’m glad that up to now he stays true to himself and makes no apologies for it.

The first half discussed his humble beginnings, his meteoric rise to the Liverpool and England Senior Squad, as well as that extraordinary 2001 Treble Year that he was a part of. It was amusing how even winning the European Football Player of the Year 2001 wasn’t that much of a big deal to him (at that time), and the gravity of it only sank into him a few years later. Seeing snippets of his goals as a Liverpool player made me feel as if I’m a teenager again, and that nothing mattered but the beautiful game that is Football.

To be honest, most of it was perfectly straightforward, nothing that a longtime Liverpool or Owen fan doesn’t already know, and although ex-teammates were mentioned in passing, only Carra’s name cropped up a lot. I know Michael and Jamie are still good mates until this very day, but what I really wanted the interviewer to touch on is how Michael and Steven Gerrard’s relationship are these days. I know Stevie wasn’t particularly happy when Michael signed for rivals Manchester United, and although they have crossed paths a number of times in Anfield, I have not heard of them interacting together like the old friends they once were. Am I being paranoid or are my suspicions valid? Anyway, the Owen-Gerrard rift (or lack thereof) shall have to remain a mystery for now.

And then things got really interesting.

“…Liverpool is in my heart…”

So that move to Real Madrid was finally brought up: Ten years may have passed (dear me, has it really been that long?!) but I still feel a knot in my stomach every time he talks about it.

And boy, did he talk about it. For the first time in years, the usually calm Owen surprisingly displayed a bevy of emotions as he discussed leaving Liverpool for Real Madrid, being denied a return by Newcastle and then making the decision to play for blood rivals Manchester United.

He still looks visibly hurt when he talked about being twice denied the opportunity to return to Liverpool, which he fondly called “his first love”, as well as being booed on his Anfield return and the strain in his relationship with some LFC fans. I just wanted to reach out and hug the screen because he sure looked like he needed a big one. (cue Take That’s “Back For Good”)

Saint Michael, The Wonderboy: He is human, after all. You never really forget or get over your first love.

The atmosphere was mostly relaxed, there was never a hint of sensationalism nor forced controversy. Overall, it was candid, earnest, at times heartbreaking and bittersweet.

Haters: All your arguments have been proven invalid.

Although some questions have been answered, I still have a hundred more unanswered ones. I’m still hoping that at some point in time, Michael will update his autobiography one more time to expound on his adventures. I feel like he has so much more to say. Forty-six minutes just weren’t enough—I want more of that emotionally-charged last 10 (or so) minutes!

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Bouncebackable Footballer: Xabi Alonso.

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The Midfield Maestro. The Long Ranger. Flawless GQMF.

It is with equal parts shame and pride that I’ll confess to not liking him when news first broke of his move to Liverpool from Real Sociedad in 2004. Firstly, he was one-half of the Spanish twosome (the other being Luis Garcia) whose purchase was partly-funded by the money Real Madrid CF paid Liverpool FC for the sale of Michael Owen, and since my “I’ve-just-lost-my-favourite-footballer-to-another-club” wound was still so raw that it was seriously impairing my ability to think clearly, it was with near-complete disdain that I assessed his arrival. Secondly, he was handed the number 14 shirt, which was then an empty number for several years, and since it’s my favourite number, my line of thinking was that even a football demigod wouldn’t be deemed worthy to have that number on their back (real mature of me, I know). I immediately decided that I was not going to like this Spaniard–Ever.

However, Alonso proceeded to prove me wrong on every account of my rather-superficial and highly-irrational disdain for him with every single match that he played, with every single pass he completed. The fluidity of his passing and sheer awareness of the game made me appreciate the midfield wars and tactics as much as I anticipate the elusive attacking breakaways. I consider him as one of the most clever and intelligent footballers out there–he’s calm in the face of a storm, confident without being arrogant and a natural leader without being an usurper. Far from being a flashy player, he still ends up as one of the most powerful and influential players in any match when he is at his absolute best. From club football to international football, his sheer class shines through. Eminence grise, indeed.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Liverpool v Middlesbrough - Anfield

Bossing the Liverpool Midfield.

Even though he resisted the overtures of Juventus, when Real Madrid came a-calling, it was an offer he could not refuse, and when he left Anfield to come back to the Spanish La Liga to join Los Blancos, I felt a deep and immeasurable sadness stemming from the knowledge that Liverpool FC will never be the same again.

This year though has brought about a double whammy: His time in the International stage and in La Liga has come to a close. True, he will still be very much visible in club football terms as he is now part of the German Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, but now that he has vacated the number 14 La Roja and Real Madrid shirts, the hole that was left is truly a Herculean task to fulfill.

And so in the end, I was (partly) right—in my eyes, no one can possibly wear the number 14 shirt of Liverpool FC (and La Roja) ever again and be really, truly, categorically worthy of it. It’s just not possible. Xabi Alonso set the bar far too high.

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Football Rap-Off: Jose Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola.

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Another Clasico has come and gone, and the controversy and animosity between Spain’s biggest clubs remains on a high. Apparently, even the managers got in on some off-pitch action and had a rap-off to the tune of Kelis’ Milkshake:

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Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid started off the throw down:
Mi equipo brings all the girls to the yard
And they’re like, ‘We’re hotter than yours!’
Damn right, I’m their entrenador!
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

Mi equipo brings all the fans to the yard
And they’re like, ‘Vamos, Galacticos!’
Damn right, I’m their entrenador!
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

I know you want it,
The thing that makes me
What the world goes crazy for
They lose their minds
I’m the Special kind
I think it’s time
La la la la la
Turn it up
La la la la la
The world is watching
La la la la la
Turn it up
La la la la la
Special One is rapping

Mi equipo brings all the girls to the yard
And they’re like, ‘We’re hotter than yours!’
Damn right, I’m their entrenador!
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

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Pep Guardiola of FC Barcelona shot back:
Mi equipo brings all the cups to the yard
And they’re like, ‘Y’all suck at Clasicos!’
Damn right, we’re The Fantasticos
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

Mi equipo brings all the cups to the yard
And they’re like, ‘We play better than yours!’
Damn right, we’re equipo mejor!
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

I have to see you on it,
You want me to teach the…techniques that win us points
It can’t be bought, we dive, don’t get caught
Watch if you’re smart
La la la la la
Ham it up
La la la la la
The refs are watching
La la la la la
Act it up
La la la la la
The refs are watching…

Mi equipo brings all the cups to the yard
And they’re like, ‘Y’all suck at Clasicos!’
Damn right, we’re The Fantasticos
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

(And we all know who “won” for this round.)

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Daamn. Who says these two aren’t hollaback boys?! Way to keep it OG, hombres.

Video of the Day: The Special One Gets Catty (And Pokey).

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Post-Supercopa loss to Barcelona with a 5-4 aggregate tally, Mourinho of Real Madrid walks over to Barca’s Assistant Coach Villanova and gives him a poke in the ear/neck.

Was The Special One being a sore loser, or was he just being cheeky (given that he has prior connections with Barca as a staff member)? You decide.

All I can say is that his Evil Genius has somehow found a way to take a piece of the limelight off Barca’s victory. Well played, Sir. Well played.

101 Random And (May Not Be) Obscure Football Trivia.

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Let’s face it, the Off-Season is hard. And long. Still, it does not mean that we football fans can allow ourselves to stagnate whilst our favorite players are off lounging and tanning themselves somewhere sunny and expensive.

So whether you’re merely passing time, simply bored or you’re genuinely open to the possibility of learning something new football-wise, have a look at the list below and consider yourself schooled (or maybe not).

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Ground-ed.

* Stamford Bridge, home ground of Chelsea, was originally offered to Fulham, who turned it down.

* In 2004, FC Porto was the only club in the whole world to have 2 operating grounds: Antas and Dragon Stadion (Dragão). Due to problems with the grass on the new ground, the team regularly changed grounds between games.

* Villa Park’s dressing rooms were used as bomb shelters in WW2.

* Before the demise of the Wembley Stadium in 2000, the last time England played a tournament match home fixture away from Wembley was in 1966 for the World Cup Quarter Final against Poland at Goodison Park.

* In 1956, Portsmouth’s homeground Fratton Park staged the first ever floodlit Football League match (against Newcastle United).

* The stand redevelopment of Newcastle United’s St. James’ Park has created the largest cantilever structure in Europe.

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Girl Power.

* The last time the Queen attended the FA Cup Final was in 1976.

* Karren Brady is known as the “First Lady of Football”. Oh, and she has also sold her footballer husband, Paul Peschisolido, twice. Ruthless.

* Milene Domingues, the ex-wife of Ronaldo, is the female world record holder for keepie-uppie: She kept the ball up in 9 hours and 6 minutes in 55,188 touches.

* Patsy Kensit brought up son Lennon as a Manchester United fan to spite his Manchester City-supporting father and her ex-partner, (ex?) Oasis frontman, Liam Gallagher.

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Famous Fanatics.

* Current Agent 007 (James Bond to you and I) Daniel Craig is a Liverpool FC supporter.

* Future England Monarch and England FA Head Prince William is an Aston Villa supporter.

* The spare heir Prince Harry, however, is an Arsenal supporter.

* Mick Hucknall named his band “Simply Red” in honor of his beloved club, Manchester United.

* King of Tweens Justin Bieber recently aligned himself with FC Barcelona.

* Scottish tennis player Andy Murray did not endear himself to the English crowd in Wimbledon when he was seen wearing a Portugal NT shirt during a match warmup, prior to the England v Portugal WC 2006 Quarterfinal match.

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It Figures.

* Only 7 teams have competed in all Premiership seasons: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs.

* 7 Managers who have played football on the same side as David Beckham: Mark Hughes, Gareth Southgate, Steve Bruce, Stuart Pearce, Paul Ince, Roy Keane and David Moyes, who played for Preston North End when Beckham was on loan to them!

* Portsmouth and Huddersfield were the first two teams to wear shirts numbered 1-11 in a club match, in their FA Cup semi-final encounter at Highbury in 1939.

* Shirt numbers were first worn as an experiment in the 1933 FA Cup Final when Everton beat Manchester City 3-0.

* Scientists have measured data that records a 20 percent drop in testosterone levels in supporters following a match defeat, and a converse increase for the winners.

* Oldham suffered the heaviest defeat in League history losing 13-4 on Boxing Day 1935 to Tranmere Rovers.

* Crystal Palace is the English club that sent the most men to service during World War II  (98).

* In 1998, Jose Camacho was sacked from his managerial position at Real Madrid after just 23 days, and without taking charge of a single match. He returned to the position in 2004, lasting 115 days before being fired for the second time.

* It took a triple bypass heart surgery to get Dutch legend Johan Cruyff to finally stop smoking.

* In 1999, a research by New Scientist found that footballers are especially susceptible to a condition called SARA: Sexually Acquired Reactive Arthritis, which causes inflammation in different parts of the body at different times.

* Leicester City have appeared in the most FA Cup Finals without winning the trophy (4).

* The Azteca Stadium in Mexico City stands at 7000 feet above sea level.

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The Cup Of Life.

* The unenvied record of most games without a win belongs to Bulgaria, who went on a streak of 17 winless matches in tournaments from 1962-1974, 1986 and 1994.

* Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is the only captain to lose 2 World Cup Finals: 1982 and 1986.

* No Team Captain has held the World Cup trophy aloft more than once.

* The first player to be sent off in a World Cup match was Peruvian Mario de Las Casas against Romania in 1930.

* Alfredo di Stefano was capped 6 times for Argentina but then went on and moved to the National Team of Spain, where he was capped 31 times.

* The World Cup mascot was introduced during the 1966 World Cup in England. It was a happy, football-playing lion named World Cup Willie.

* The mascot for France ’98, a smiling cockerel, was named Footix.

* The yellow Brazil shirt worn by Pele in the 1970 World Cup Final was sold at a Christie’s auction for 157,750 pounds, a record for a football shirt at an auction.

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Monickers.

* The first “Red Devils” were Salford Rugby League Club.

* The Bournemouth FC from England are nicknamed “The Cherries”.

* Dundee United from Scotland are known as “The Arabs”.

* A little-known nickname of Chelsea FC is “The Pensioners”.

* “The Robins” is used by 5 British clubs: Bristol City, Cheltenham, Charlton, Swindon, and Wrexham.

* Ten Players with only 4-Letter Names: Pele, Deco, Xavi, Dani, Cafu, Didi, Kaka, Alex, Zico, Mido.

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Quote Them On That.

* When Wimbledon stunned Liverpool to win the 1988 FA Cup final, commentator John Motson described it as “A victory for the Crazy Gang over the Culture Club”.

* Football demigod Pele was once quoted as saying that “A penalty is a cowardly way to score.”

* Jose Mourinho calling Arsene Wenger a “voyeur” in an interview sparked a big row between the two back in October 2005.

Time out for bickering toddlers…er, managers Arsene and Jose.

* Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola on ex-teammate Dennis Wise: “Ninety-five percent of my language problems are the fault of that stupid little midget.”

* In 1997, Sepp Blatter proposed outlawing sliding tackles, saying they are “too dangerous and were not allowing skillful footballers to show their true style.”

* While in April 2004, his new idea was to eradicate dull draws from football, telling a German journalist: “Every game should have a winner. When you play cards or any other game, there’s always a winner and a loser. We should have the courage to introduce a final decision in every game of football.”

The strange logic Mr. Sepp Blatter.

* “There are three things in life where you do not need a common language– football, music and sex.” Turkish footballer Rustu Recber turns into a philosopher.

* In 1997, Barcelona Vice-President Joan Gaspart further inflamed tensions between his club and Real Madrid by saying, “The most educated person at Real Madrid is the woman who cleans the toilets.”

* “If brains were chocolate, he wouldn’t have enough to fill a Smartie.” Ex-player Alan Birchenall sums up the infamous Robbie Savage.

* “Maybe because he is blond and pretty, referees are capable of sending him off for that” Uruguayan Pablo Garcia offers an explanation on why Real Madrid teammate David Beckham was sent off (it was actually for ironic applause directed at an official).

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Show-offs.

* Arthur Friedenreich, half-German and half-Brasilian player, is the King of Brasilian football. He scored 1329 goals throughout his 26-year career.

* Which Englishman has played the most games under Sven Goran-Eriksson? Des Walker.

* The one player to have played in the Manchester, Merseyside and Glasgow Derbies? Andrei Kanchelskis.

* Scott Parker starred in a McDonald’s advert, playing keepy-uppy, when he was just 13 years old.

Aw, bless Scotty’s little cotton socks.

* Nicky Byrne of Westlife once tried out as a goalkeeper for Leeds United.

* Rosenborg was the Norwegian League Champions from 1992 to 2004 (Yes, that’s 12 seasons in a row). In 2005, Valerenga finally broke their streak and became new champs.

* Jose Luis Chilavert became the first goalkeeper to score a hat-trick in the history of football, for Velez Sarsfield against Ferro Carril Oeste in 1999.

* The “Great Dane”, goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel scored 13 goals, including an International goal for Denmark, in his long and distinguished career history.

* Birmingham City were the first English club to tour China, back in 1979.

* Milan is the only city to have won the Champions’ League with two different teams– Inter and AC.

* Five clubs have been awarded the Champions’ League trophy permanently: Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool.

* The first winner of the European Football Player of the Year award, or Ballon D’Or, is then-Blackpool player Stanley Matthews (1956).

* Liverpool is the only city – through Everton or Liverpool – to have staged top-flight football in every League season since 1888.

* Fabio Cannavaro was one of the ballboys during the 1990 World Cup held in Italy.

* In 1992, Denmark, a late replacement for the banned Yugoslovia, went on to win the European Championships by beating Germany 2-0.

* Daniel Agger is a certified Tattoo Artist.

* Clarence Seedorf is the only player to have won the Champions’ League with 3 different clubs: Ajax (1995), Real Madrid (1998) and AC Milan (2003).

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Swots.

* Arsene Wenger has a degree in Economics.

* Steven Harper was all set to study at Liverpool’s John Moore University, until Newcastle United offered him a contract as a goalkeeper.

* Famous existentialist Albert Camus was a goalkeeper for the University of Algiers.

* Iain Dowie has a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

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That Round Thing They Play With.

* The English FA did not stipulate the exact size of the football until 1872.

* In the first World Cup Final of 1930, a different ball was used in each half after a
dispute between Uruguay and Argentina.

* The first World Cup Final played with a synthetic ball was in 1986.

* Footballs were once brown and tanned, or orange in the memorable case of the 1966 World Cup Final.

* Law Two of the FA rules states that the referee must check the ball for weight (410-450 grams), size (68-70 cms circumference), shape (spherical), pressure (0.6-1.1 atmospheres) and material (leather or other approved material).

*  In leagues for the partially sighted, 150 ball bearings are placed inside a standard football to create a ball that you can hear coming.

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We Are Family.

* Harry Redknapp and Frank Lampard Sr. are brothers-in-law (which of course makes Jamie Redknapp and Frank Lampard Jr. cousins).

* Former Liverpool player Richie Partridge married the younger sister of his ex-teammate, Michael Owen.

* The younger brother and only sibling of Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Unai, is a lifelong Barcelona supporter.

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What’s In A Name?

* Italy’s oldest football club, Genoa, founded by Englishmen in 1893, have opted to keep their “English” name and have rejected a change of name to the city’s Italian name, Genova.

* Iker Casillas would have been called Ainhoa if he was born a girl.

* Arsenal is one of two teams to not be named after a place, the other being Port Vale.

* Arsenal were once known as Dial Square FC.

* West Ham United were once known as Thames Iron Works FC.

* Manchester City were once known as Ardwick FC.

* Dennis Bergkamp was named after Scottish football legend Denis Law, but his parents changed the spelling because Denis is a girl’s name in Holland.

* The famous Buenos Aires club River Plate adopted the anglicised name rather than the Spanish Rio de la Plata, after some of the founders spotted the name on a ship’s container down by the docks.

* West Ham United once had a player named “Marco Boogers” in their books, during the 1995 season.

* The 6 Confederations of FIFA are: 1. Asian Football Confederation (AFC); 2. Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF); 2. Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF); 4. Confederacion Sudamericana de Futbol (CSF); 5. Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and 6. Union des Associations Europeennes de Football (UEFA).

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W.T.F?

* Michael Owen once jokingly signed a photo commemorating one of the international records Wayne Rooney broke with, “Stop stealing my records, you ugly arse!”

* Francesco Totti once celebrated a goal by assuming the position of a woman giving birth.

Not your most flattering angle, Mr. Totti.

* Norwegian Svein Grondalen had to withdraw from an international match during the 1970s after colliding with a moose while out jogging.

* Kasey Keller knocked out his front teeth in 1998 while pulling his golf clubs out of the boot of his car.

* Brazilians Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, and Robinho once rolled on their backs and wiggled their arms and legs to celebrate a goal against Alaves, interpreted by many as doing “The Cockroach”. The complains from the Alaves Chairman fell on deaf ears.

* Paul Gascoigne (Gazza to the adoring masses) once walked into the Middlebrough canteen and ordered lunch wearing nothing but his training socks.

* Argentinian Carlos Roa refused to discuss a new contract with his then-club Real Mallorca, for he was a member of a religious sect that believed the world will end in the year 2000.

* In 2005, Robert Pires was fined 35,000 pounds by the French FA for giving an interview while wearing a Puma shirt. His national team was sponsored by Adidas.

* Middlebrough supporter Adrian Carr was arrested by the stadium police for falling asleep during a match in 2003.

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There you have it. Hopefully you are now armed with some delightfully-meaningless information which you can either use to impress your friends or to win a couple of quid in a pub quiz somewhere. Sorry, I cannot give you back the minutes you’ve lost while reading this. I never promised you satisfaction, (you fickle-minded football fan) did I?

If You Can’t Beat Them, Tweet Them: Footballers on Twitter.

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Image via memegenerator.net

From the famous to the infamous to the downright inconspicuous (on and off the pitch), the Twitterverse has now been invaded by football players of all colors, shapes and sizes. They are here to stay, so go on, and don’t fight the urge to send them your best bit of banter/adulation in the space of 140 characters.

Why did I compile their accounts? So you didn’t have to.

Active Players:

A

Mehdi Abeid- http://twitter.com/reelM_abeid

Charlie Adam- http://twitter.com/Charlie26Adam

Freddy Adu- http://twitter.com/FreddyAdu11

Sergio Aguero- http://twitter.com/aguerosergiokun

Marc Albrighton- http://twitter.com/12Albrighton

Paco Alcacer- http://twitter.com/paco_alcacer

Thiago Alcantara- http://twitter.com/Thi_Alcantara91

Diego Alonso- http://twitter.com/TornadoOfficial

Marcus Alonso- http://twitter.com/marcosalonso28

Mikel Alonso- http://twitter.com/alonsomik

Xabi Alonso- http://twitter.com/XabiAlonso

Dani Alves- http://twitter.com/daniAlvesd2

Fernando Amorebieta- http://twitter.com/la_grulla5

Bruno Andrade- http://twitter.com/Brunsky36

Nicolas Anelka- http://twitter.com/anelkaofficiel

Juan Pablo Angel- http://twitter.com/JUANPABLOANGEL

Nadine Angerer- http://twitter.com/NAngerer

Cesar Arzo- https://twitter.com/carzo4

Alvaro Arbeloa- http://twitter.com/aarbeloa17

Gai Asulin- http://twitter.com/GaiAsulin

Peter Aylmer- http://twitter.com/Peter_Aylmer94

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B

Ryan Babel- http://twitter.com/RyanBabel

Edgar Badia- http://twitter.com/edgarbadia

Javier Balboa- http://twitter.com/javibalboa85

Ever Banega- http://twitter.com/Ever21Banega

Elyaniv Barda- https://twitter.com/ElyanivBarda

Karen Bardsley- http://twitter.com/klbardsley

Joey Barton- http://twitter.com/Joey7Barton

Sebastien Bassong- http://twitter.com/BassongOfficiel

James Beattie- http://twitter.com/JSBeattie

Alejandro Bedoya- http://twitter.com/AleBedoya17

Yossi Benyaoun- https://twitter.com/YossiBenayoun15

Darren Bent- http://twitter.com/DBTT39

Ryan Bertrand- http://twitter.com/RyanBertrand3

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov- http://twitter.com/Bilyaletdinov_7

Dexter Blackstock- http://twitter.com/dexblackstock23

Carlos Bocanegra- http://twitter.com/BocaBoca3

Veronica Boquete- http://twitter.com/VeroBoquete

Aly Borromeo- http://twitter.com/alybor11

John Bostock- http://twitter.com/johnbostock1

Bobby Boswell- http://twitter.com/bobbyboswell

Reece Brown- http://twitter.com/ReeceBrown1991

Titus Bramble- http://twitter.com/19tmb

Alex Bruno- http://twitter.com/alexbruno34

Edson Buddle- http://twitter.com/EdsonBuddle

Nacho Buenache- http://twitter.com/NachitoBF

Diego Buonanotte- http://twitter.com/Diego_Buona

Maor Buzaglo- https://twitter.com/maorbuzaglo

.

C

Yohan Cabaye- http://twitter.com/ycabayeofficiel

Tim Cahill- http://twitter.com/Tim_Cahill

Sergio Canales- http://twitter.com/_SergioCanales

Fabio Cannavaro- http://twitter.com/FabioCanna17

Joaquin Cañas- http://twitter.com/joaquincg3

Nacho Cases- http://twitter.com/NachoCases

Joan Capdevilla-  http://twitter.com/capde11

Juan Carlos- http://twitter.com/1uancarlos

Roberto Carlos- http://twitter.com/Oficial_RC3

Jose Maria Cases- http://twitter.com/jmcases

Andre Castro- http://twitter.com/AndreCastro16

Julio Cesar- http://twitter.com/JulioCesarGol

Giorgio Chiellini- http://twitter.com/chiellini

Simon Church- http://twitter.com/churchy18

Tom Cleverley- http://twitter.com/tomclevz23

Billy Clifford- http://twitter.com/Bclifford47

Jordi Codina-http://twitter.com/codina13

Carlton Cole- http://twitter.com/Carlton9Cole

Tino Costa- http://twitter.com/tinocostalf

Lee Croft- http://twitter.com/croft7

Carlos Cuellar- http://twitter.com/Cuellar24

Ivan Cuellar- http://twitter.com/PichuCuellar13

.

D

Stephen Darby- http://twitter.com/Stephen_Darby_

Jesse Darko- http://twitter.com/Jesse_Darko

Charlie Davies- http://twitter.com/CharlieDavies9

Curtis Davies- http://twitter.com/thecurtisdavies

Kevin Davies- http://twitter.com/kevindaviesbwfc

Scott Davies- http://twitter.com/scottd888

David Davis- http://twitter.com/Ddavis0121

Jermaine Defoe- http://twitter.com/IAmJermainDefoe

David De Gea-  http://twitter.com/D_DeGea

Alessandro Del Piero- http://twitter.com/delpieroale

Denilson- http://twitter.com/_denilson15

Lisa Devanna- http://twitter.com/L_Devanna11

Sylvain Distin- http://twitter.com/sylvaind15tin

Dwayne De Rosario- http://twitter.com/dwaynederosario

Alejandro Dominguez- http://twitter.com/Chori1708

Alvaro Dominguez- http://twitter.com/adominguez18

Maribel Dominguez- http://twitter.com/MaribelD9

Ryan Donk- http://twitter.com/Ryan_Donk18

Landon Donovan- http://twitter.com/landondonovan

Michael Doughty- http://twitter.com/mdoughty92

Shane Duffy- http://twitter.com/ShaneDuffy34

Ed Dzeko- http://twitter.com/EdDzeko

.

E

Robert Earnshaw- http://twitter.com/RobertEarnshaw

Emmanuel Eboue- http://twitter.com/Official_Eboue

Nathan Eccleston- http://twitter.com/NathanEccleston

Maurice Edu- http://twitter.com/MauriceEdu

Neil Etheridge- http://twitter.com/Neil38Etheridge

Jose Enrique- http://twitter.com/J_Enrique3

Jonny Evans- http://twitter.com/j23evans

Patrice Evra- http://twitter.com/patriceevra6

.

F

Luis Fabiano- http://twitter.com/luis_fabuloso

Cesc Fabregas-  http://twitter.com/cesc4official

Ibrahim Farah- https://twitter.com/Ibby_Farah

Anton Ferdinand- http://twitter.com/anton_ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand-  http://twitter.com/rioferdy5

Suso Fernandez- http://twitter.com/suso30fernandez

Jon Flanagan- http://twitter.com/jon_flan93

Steven Fletcher- http://twitter.com/stevenfletch10

Andreu Fontas- http://twitter.com/afontas26

Diego Forlan- http://twitter.com/DiegoForlan7

Jake Forster-Caskey- http://twitter.com/JakeCaskey28

Robbie Fowler- http://twitter.com/robbie9fowler

Ryan Fredericks- http://twitter.com/RyanFredericks_

Emmanuel Frimpong- http://twitter.com/Frimpong26AFC

.

G

Daniel Leon Gabbidon- http://twitter.com/DGabsey

Sam Gainford- http://twitter.com/samgainford

Jorge Garcia Torre- http://twitter.com/jgtorre

Gary Gardner- http://twitter.com/Gards38

Shay Given- http://twitter.com/no1shaygiven

Diego Godin- http://twitter.com/DGodinOfficial

Henok Goitom- http://twitter.com/Henok_Goitom

Daniel Gomez- http://twitter.com/danidanigomez

Hercules Gomez- http://twitter.com/herculezg

Jonas Gonçalves- http://twitter.com/oficialJonas07

Grafite- http://twitter.com/graffa23

Esteban Granero-  http://twitter.com/eGranero11

John Guidetti- http://twitter.com/superguidetti

Chris Gunter- http://twitter.com/Chrisgunter16

Guti-  http://twitter.com/Guti_SER

Brad Guzan- http://twitter.com/bguzan

.

H

John Heitinga- http://twitter.com/Johnheitinga

Marcel Henry-Francis- http://twitter.com/_MHenryFrancis

Pablo Hernandez- http://twitter.com/phernandez19

Ander Herrera- http://twitter.com/anderherrera8

Gonzalo Higuain- http://twitter.com/G_Higuain

Scott Hircombe- http://twitter.com/ScottHircombe

Stuart Holden- http://twitter.com/stuholden

Matt Holland- http://twitter.com/mattholland8

Aaron Holloway- http://twitter.com/AaronHollz

Tom Huddlestone- http://twitter.com/TomHuddlestone6

Nacho Huertas- http://twitter.com/NachoHuertas10

David Hunt- http://twitter.com/DavidJHunt

.

I

Andres Iniesta-  http://twitter.com/andresiniesta8

Emiliano Insua- http://twitter.com/EmilianoInsua

.

J

Jordan Jackson- http://twitter.com/JordzOfficial

Nathaniel Jarvis- http://twitter.com/N_Jarvis

Frankie Jay- http://twitter.com/FrankieJay_

Jermaine Jenas- http://twitter.com/jjenas8

Raul Jimenez- http://twitter.com/Raul_Jimenez47

Miles John- http://twitter.com/Milesjohn95

Adam Johnson- http://twitter.com/AJohno_11

Gethin Jones- http://twitter.com/GethinJones8

Glen Johnson- http://twitter.com/glen_johnson

Brad Jones- http://twitter.com/Brad_Jones1

Jake Jones- http://twitter.com/jakejonesofcl

Rafa Jorda- http://twitter.com/RafaJorda

Bojan Jorgacevic- http://twitter.com/BojanJorgacevic

.

K

Tasha Kai- http://twitter.com/tasha_kai00

Kaka- http://twitter.com/KAKA

Kei Kamara- http://twitter.com/keikamara

Dekel Keinan- https://twitter.com/DekelKeinan

Martin Kelly- http://twitter.com/MartinKelly1990

Harry Kewell- http://twitter.com/Hkewell10

Joshua King- http://twitter.com/joshuaking92

Sacha Kljestan- http://twitter.com/SachaKljestan

Vincent Kompany- http://twitter.com/VincentKompany

Leon Knight- http://twitter.com/leonknight82

Bojan Krkic-http://twitter.com/BoKrkic

Dirk Kuyt- http://twitter.com/Dirk_18_Kuyt

.

L

Eric Lamela- http://twitter.com/Coco_Lamela

Lucas Leiva- http://twitter.com/LucasLeiva87

Aaron Lennon- http://twitter.com/AaronLennonpsl

Aaron Lescott- http://twitter.com/aaronlescott

Fernando Llorente-  http://twitter.com/llorentefer19

Angel Lopez- http://twitter.com/AngelLopez6

David Lopez- http://twitter.com/David_Lopez_7

Alberto Lora- http://twitter.com/AlbertoLora11

Lee Lucas- http://twitter.com/leelucas31

David Luiz- http://twitter.com/DavidLuiz_4

Jordan Lussey- http://twitter.com/jordanlussey

.

M

Shaun MacDonald- http://twitter.com/ShaunMac20

Michel Macedo- http://twitter.com/Michelmacedo16

Florent Malouda- http://twitter.com/realflorentm

Ivan Marcano- http://twitter.com/Marcano_23

Eric Martin- http://twitter.com/Eric18Martin

Javier Martinez- http://twitter.com/Javi24kikiteam

Sergio Martinez- http://twitter.com/MantecaOfficial

Juan Mata- http://twitter.com/juanmata10

Chris Mavinga- http://twitter.com/Chris_Mavinga

Jay McEveley- http://twitter.com/jaymcev03

Steven McGarry- http://twitter.com/stevenmcgarry

John Meades- https://twitter.com/JMeadesy

Neil Mellor- http://twitter.com/NeilMellor33

Felipe Melo- http://twitter.com/_FelipeMelo_

Alvaro Morata- http://twitter.com/AlvaroMorata

Adam Morgan- https//twitter.com/AMorgan94

Bryn Morris- http://twitter.com/BrynMorris1

Fabrice Muamba- http://twitter.com/fmuamba

Iker Muniain- http://twitter.com/IkerMuniain27

.

N

Nani- http://twitter.com/luisnani

Samir Nasri- http://twitter.com/nanas08

Louisa Necib- http://twitter.com/LNecib10

Gary Neville- http://twitter.com/GNev2

Phil Neville- http://twitter.com/fizzer18

Lee Nguyen- http://twitter.com/LeeNguyen24

Nacho Novo- http://twitter.com/nnovo1010

.

O

Marvin Ogunjimi- https://twitter.com/Marvinogunjimi

Jamie O’Hara- http://twitter.com/mrjamieohara

Alberto Olmedo- http://twitter.com/alberolmedo1

Oguchi Onyewu- http://twitter.com/OguchiOnyewu5

Tommy O’Sullivan- http://twitter.com/tomosullivan10

Michael Owen-  http://twitter.com/themichaelowen

.

P

Dani Pacheco- http://twitter.com/dani37pacheco

Fernando Pacheco- http://twitter.com/92pacheco

Dani Parejo- http://twitter.com/DaniParejo

Jamie Paterson- http://twitter.com/jamiepaterson12

Marc Pelosi- http://twitter.com/marcPelosi

Kris Penny- http://twitter.com/krispence95

Kristoffer Peterson- http://twitter.com/KrisPeterson7

Steven Pienaar- http://twitter.com/therealstevenpi

Kevin Pietersen- http://twitter.com/kevinpp24

Gerard Pique-  http://twitter.com/3gerardpique

Robert Pires- http://twitter.com/piresrobert7

Lukas Podolski- http://twitter.com/Podolski10

Chris Pontius- http://twitter.com/ChrisPontius13

James Poole- http://twitter.com/jpoole1990

Darren Purse- http://twitter.com/darrenpurse4

Carles Puyol-  http://twitter.com/Carles5puyol

.

Q

.

R

Sergio Ramos- http://twitter.com/SergioRamos

Aaron Ramsey-  http://twitter.com/aaronjramsey

Pepe Reina- http://twitter.com/reina_official

Koke Resurreccion- http://twitter.com/KOKE_32

Jose Antonio Reyes- http://twitter.com/JoseReyes_19

Micah Richards- http://twitter.com/OfficialMR2

Rohan Ricketts- http://twitter.com/RohanRicketts

Ali Riley- http://twitter.com/RileyThree

John Arne Riise- http://twitter.com/RealJohnARiise3

Hector Rodas- http://twitter.com/hectorrodas4

Jadson Rodrigues- http://twitter.com/jadson_8

Alejandro Rodriguez- http://twitter.com/AlejandroRod10

Pedro Rodriguez- http://twitter.com/_Pedro17_

Toni Rodriguez- http://twitter.com/toni_rodrguez

Jack Rodwell- http://twitter.com/JackRodwell26

Ronaldinho- http://twitter.com/10Ronaldinho

Cristiano Ronaldo- http://twitter.com/Cristiano

Wayne Rooney- http://twitter.com/WayneRooney

Manuel Rosales- http://twitter.com/mrosales21

Danny Rose- http://twitter.com/Danny_Rose25

Tomas Rosicky- http://twitter.com/rosicky_tomas7

Giuseppe Rossi- http://twitter.com/GiusepeRossi22

Rufo- http://twitter.com/rufinho9

.

S

Louis Saha- http://twitter.com/louissaha08

Bruno Saltor- http://twitter.com/brunosaltor2

Toto Salvio- http://twitter.com/totosalvio14

Jordan Santiago- http://twitter.com/jordansantiag0

CJ Sapong- http://twitter.com/BigAfrika88

Jonathan dos Santos- http://twitter.com/jona2santos

Robbie Savage- http://twitter.com/RobbieSavage8

Lotta Schelin- http://twitter.com/L8schelin

Kasper Schmeichel- http://twitter.com/kpschmeichel1

Alex Scott- http://twitter.com/Alexscott2

Caroline Seger- http://twitter.com/Cseger9

Gilverto Silva- http://twitter.com/GilbertoSilva15

Danny Simpson- http://twitter.com/dannysimpson12

Bradley Simmonds- http://twitter.com/Bradley_Simmo

Christine Sinclair- http://twitter.com/sincy12

Kelly Smith- http://twitter.com/kjs8eng

Wesley Sneijder- http://twitter.com/sneijder101010

Kike Sola- http://twitter.com/kike_sola

Roberto Soldado- http://twitter.com/R9Soldado

Raheem Sterling- http://twitter.com/sterling31

Jordan Stewart- http://twitter.com/jordanstewart3

Wojciech Szczesny- http://twitter.com/53Szczesny53

Luis Suarez- http://twitter.com/luis16suarez

.

T

Kevin Thomson- http://twitter.com/k33vvt8

Fernando Torres- http://twitter.com/torres

Miguel Torres- http://twitter.com/MiguelTorres24

Roger Torres- http://twitter.com/Rogertorres_20

Sean Tse- http://twitter.com/skktse

Matt Tubbs- http://twitter.com/MattTubbs

Blair Turgott- http://twitter.com/blairturgott

.

U

.

V

Victor Valdes- http://twitter.com/1victorvaldes

Antonio Valencia- http://twitter.com/AntoV25

Rafael Van der Vaart- http://twitter.com/rafvdvaart

Gregory Van der Wiel-  http://twitter.com/Gvanderwiel

Ruud Van Nistelroy- http://twitter.com/RvN1776

Robin Van Persie- http://twitter.com/Persie_Official

James Vaughan- http://twitter.com/vaughany08

Alvaro Vazquez- http://twitter.com/AlvaroVazquez8

Frederic Veseli- http://twitter.com/fredericveseli

Thomas Vermaelen- https://twitter.com/T_Vermaelen05

David Villa- http://twitter.com/guaje7villa

.

W

Reece Wabara- http://twitter.com/ReeceWabara

Stephen Warnock- http://twitter.com/StephenWarnock3

Vladimir Weiss- http://twitter.com/VladiW7

John Welsh- http://twitter.com/jwelsh08

Theo Wharton- http://twitter.com/theojw1

Ellen White- http://twitter.com/ellsbells89

Faye White- http://twitter.com/faye_white

Alex Whittle- http://twitter.com/AliWhitts

Ashley Williams- http://twitter.com/AshWills84

Jack Wilshere- http://twitter.com/jack_wilshere

Michael Wilson- http://twitter.com/MikeWilson95

Luke Woodland- http://twitter.com/Woodyluke

.

X

.

Y

Josh Yorwerth- http://twitter.com/JoshYorwerth

James Younghusband- http://twitter.com/JYH53

Phil Younghusband- http://twitter.com/PhilYHusband

.

Z

Pablo Zabaleta- http://twitter.com/pablo_zabaleta

.

.

Retired Players:

John Aldridge- http://twitter.com/realjohnaldo

Mark Bosnich- http://twitter.com/TheRealBozza

Mark Bright- http://twitter.com/Mark__Bright

Santiago Cañizares- http://twitter.com/santicanizares

Stan Collymore- http://twitter.com/TSCollymore

Kenny Dalglish- http://twitter.com/kennethdalglish

Paul Dalglish- http://twitter.com/pauldalglish

Lee Dixon- http://twitter.com/LeeDixon2

Iain Dowie- http://twitter.com/MrIainDowie

Jason Euell- http://twitter.com/#!/jasoneuell

John Hartson- http://twitter.com/#!/JohnHartson10

Shaka Hislop- http://twitter.com/ShakaHislop

Chris Kamara- http://twitter.com/chris_kammy

Nigel Martyn- https://twitter.com/nmartyn25

Neil Mellor- http://twitter.com/NeilMellor33

Pedro Nieto- http://twitter.com/Pedronieto23

Richie Partridge- http://twitter.com/rpart1

Pele- http://twitter.com/Pele

Mick Rathbone- http://twitter.com/MickRathbone

Jamie Redknapp- http://twitter.com/JRedknapp_SS

Mark Robinson- http://twitter.com/robboma3

Ronaldo- http://twitter.com/ClaroRonaldo

Peter Schmeichel- http://twitter.com/Pschmeichel1

David Seaman- http://twitter.com/thedavidseaman

Gareth Southgate- http://twitter.com/GarethSouthgate

Ian Taylor- http://twitter.com/IanTaylor7

Phil Thompson- http://twitter.com/Phil_Thompson4

.

.

Did I miss anyone? Leave a comment and I’ll update the list as soon as possible. Thanks!

Footballers in Product Placements: Featuring Kaka

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Image via thedieline.com

This just might be the reason we’re not seeing much of the Brazilian midfielder on the pitch lately–Kaka’s too busy hawking this Thai snack food. Can’t blame him, though, he and his wife are expecting baby no. 2 soon so the man’s gotta work!

In other news, do any of you reckon he and his injured self are going to be shipped to the English Premier League this summer?