Monthly Archives: June 2010

Kiwi captain gives a masterclass in World Cup exits

Kiwi captain Ryan Nelsen thanks the fans, hopes they had their share of beer, and explains how he dared team-mate to do the full Monty to say thank you to the fans. (Italian and French sides – take note). I shamelessly nicked this from Fleur’s Facebook page, thanks F!

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"We can shop and go to discotheque"

I was sent this earlier today – the story of France’s World Cup journey, recreated with the help of babies. The similarities are uncanny.

Game, set, and match please

Feliciano_lopezTommy_haasJames_blakeRoger_federerRafael-nadalJeremy_chardyMardy_fishTommy_robredoAndy_roddickDavid_ferrer_2

A couple of weeks after my controversial football World Cup XI, I’m still arguing the case as to a) why I refused to consider Cristiano Ronaldo, and b) how I have managed to jinx every team that had a player listed. And yet, thoughts have turned to Wimbledon this week, and inevitably to my Top 10 players to watch. So here, after a couple of weeks of consideration and serious scientific research, is my official top 10. I waive all responsibility if they under-perform (like every French player on my football list). In no particular order:

1. Feliciano Lopez, Spanish, 28, ranked 30 in the world. Has got as far as Wimbledon quarter-finals twice, and ended Tim Henman’s career there in 2007. Unfeasibly pretty.

2. Tommy Haas, dual German/American nationality, 32, ranked 34 in the world. Was no.2 in the world in 2002, before the yo-yo dominance of Federer and Nadal. Currently injured so shouldn’t really be on this list, apart from for the obvious reasons.

3. James Blake, American, 30, ranked 109 in the world. Has never reached further than the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, so glimpses of him on court are likely to be tantalisingly short.

4. Roger Federer, Swiss, 28, ranked 2 in the world but was no.1 for a record 237 consecutive weeks. Apart from the matter of six Wimbledon titles, he’s best known at SW19 for his retro tennis outfits (I liked the cardigan and long trousers look the best).

5. Rafael Nadal, Spanish, 24, no.1 in the world. Secured his place in the list when coming back after a long layoff from injury looking less bulky and more handsome. His appearance in a Shakira video is also worth viewing.

6. J??r??my Chardy, French, 23, ranked 55 in the world. Won the Wimbledon boys’ title in 2005 – my, hasn’t he grown…

7. Mardy Fish, American, 28, ranked 70 in the world. The best name on the ATP tour. Photos aren’t an accurate reflection.

8. Tommy Robredo, Spanish, 28, ranked 36 in the world. Apparently his nickname is Disco Tommy.

9. Andy Roddick, American, 27, ranked 7 in the world. Married to a Sports Illustrated model, and a very funny tweeter. Won over loads of new fans when losing to Federer in the Wimbledon final last year.

10. David Ferrer, Spanish, 28, ranked 11 in the world. Another in a line of high-class Spanish players. US Open semi-finalist in 2007.

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Stanislas_wawrinkaGilles-simonJuan_carlos_ferreroFernando_verdasco

There are a few that didn’t make the top 10 – here is the subs’ bench:

1. Stanislas Wawrinka, Swiss, 25, ranked 23 in the world. Won doubles gold at the 2008 Olympics (partnering Roger Federer) and caught my eye when playing Andy Murray in the 4th round at last year’s Wimbledon. He lost in five sets.

2. Gilles Simon, French, 25, ranked 32 in the world. Is the only man (apart from Roddick and Andy Murray) to have beaten Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.

3. Juan Carlos Ferrero, Spanish, 30, ranked 7 in the world. Was in the top 10 but was knocked out in the first round (with this performance, he was not spoiling us etc). Was devilishly handsome as a 20 year old, when I saw him win in Dubai. Nice se??or as well.

4. Fernando Verdasco, Spanish, 26, ranked 9 in the world. Yet another Spaniard and, like Ferrero, knocked out in the first round so lost his place in the top 10.

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Marat_safinPat-rafter-GoranJohn_mcenroe-253x300

Much missed

1. Marat Safin: tempestuous Russian. There’s no-one quite like Marat. Apparent
ly, his ex-girlfriend is the current squeeze of Roman Abramovich.

2. Pat Rafter: greatest Wimbledon match I ever saw was the final between Rafter and Agassi. Rafter – possibly the greatest man to play on the hallowed courts of SW19 – divine inspiration.

3. Goran Ivanisevic: good Goran, bad Goran, any Goran.

4. John McEnroe: you still would.

Le football, les Bleus, les ’emos’

Blankets

I feel touched that the French subs sent out a subtle message to the
Auld Alliance by using tartan rugs to keep their failing, ageing legs
warm – the closest the Scots have got to this World Cup. That line-up
is just so typically French: frowning, bofffff-ing at each other,
eyebrows raised, and complaining about the weather. They’re like
teenage girls.

The beautiful game

Following on from my in-depth analysis of the players to watch at this year’s World Cup: here are some moments of glory from World Cups past. (This was sent to me on Twitter by @_NSL – thanks!)

My top XI World Cup players to watch

Carlos_bocanegraRoque_santa_cruzFernando_torresFabio_cannavaro_300Thierry-henryHarrykewellTim-howardYoann_gourcuffGigi_buffonIker_casillasDavid_silvaSilva_ikerPattoStuart-holdenBenny-feilhaber

I like lists. I like lists of lists. And most of all, I like favourites lists. I have spent much of this week “sharing” my love of football with anyone that will listen: in some cases, this has focused on discussions over team tactics, particularly the shocking display by the French side and the impressive masterclass from the Germans. But??for many of my friends, the only way I can get them to be interested in the beautiful game is to persuade them of the talent on display. By talent, I refer to looks and make few apologies for this.

So, here’s my World Cup top XI, in no particular order, plus three youngsters for the subs bench. Needless to say, they all play pretty well too.

1. Carlos Bocanegra: captain of the American team, and staggeringly handsome. The photo doesn’t do him justice.

2. Roque Santa Cruz: plays for Manchester City and is the highlight of the Paraguay side.

3. Fernando Torres: who could fail to be won over by the freckled loveliness of Nando? Hero of Liverpool, and equally key to the Spanish side, let’s hope his skills didn’t suffer when he chopped off his blond locks.

4. Fabio Cannavaro: captain of the beautiful Azzuri, he’s the rock on which the Italian team is built – FIFA named him World Player of the Year in 2006. He is heading to Dubai for next season, having signed for Al Ahli club. (who? exactly)

5. Thierry Henry: old school va-va-voom. His popularity dipped after his hand ball knocked Ireland out of the World Cup qualifiers, and his legs aren’t what they used to be (in terms of speed), but he can’t be left out of the list.

6. Harry Kewell: this Aussie is almost British – he plays for Galatasaray now, but used to play for Leeds and Liverpool, and is married to former Emmerdale actress Sheree Murphy.

7. Tim Howard: the American goalkeeper plays for Everton at club level. A safe pair of hands.

8. Yoann Gourcuff: plays for Bordeaux at club level and is the darling of the French team (from a female perspective at least). Wasn’t too impressive on the pitch in France’s opening game, but is always impressive off the pitch.

9. Gigi Buffon: a veteran of the game, with a World Cup winner’s medal under his belt from 2006. Plays for Juventus, and is recognised as one of the best goalkeepers in the team. His spot in my top XI was under threat, but his commitment and services to the Azzuri means he sneaks back in (despite his tendency to wear a comedy headband).

10. Iker Casillas: Spanish goalkeeper. A real man.

11. David Silva: this Spanish pocket rocket plays in midfield for Valencia at club level. Really, it’s just an excuse to show this fabulous photo from training of Silva and his keeper Iker.

Subs bench – young players to watch
1. Alexandre Pato: Brazilian striker. Sizzling. Still only 20. Plays for AC Milan at club level.
2. Stuart Holden: born in Scotland, raised in Texas. Came on as a sub in the England vs USA game and looks worth following.
3. Benny Feilhaber: another young Yank.

Sorely missed
David Beckham; Alessandro del Piero; Zinedine Zidane; Paolo Maldini.

Red carpet moment

I received this video from Signature Hits (thanks!) of the Legacy premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival – it seems so long ago now. You can’t tell from the video how cold it was that night, or how crazy it was when our stars arrived. I’m just to the left of the red carpet off camera, handing out guest tickets and checking out exits and entrances to the cinema!