All in the game


MARY HANNIGANlooks back at 2012


“It’s true that I don’t know much about the players in Ligue 1 – but for sure, they know who I am.”

The ever bashful Zlatan Ibrahimovic on his arrival at Paris Saint-Germain. As his agent Mino Raiola put it: “Now I think the people in Paris will have something else to see besides the Mona Lisa.”

Honourable mention: “On an individual level I give my season a 10/10, but collectively we are a 9/10 because we want to win more.”

Oi, Cristiano Ronaldo? There’s no “i” in team.

“If I could, I’d vote for myself. Being too humble isn’t good. In Portugal, we say ‘Too much humility is vanity’.”

Yep, Cristiano.

“When I score, I don’t celebrate because it’s my job. When a postman delivers letters, does he celebrate?”

The one and only Mario Balotelli.


“You’re just a **** Andy Carroll.”

England supporters chant in the direction of Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And then he scored just the four goals, including that overhead gobsmacker. And with that the England supporters fell strangely silent.

Honourable mentions: “He cheats, he dives, he hates the Jackson 5, Luiz Suarez, Luiz Suarez.”

That one echoed around most English football grounds this year.

“You’re just a fat Spanish waiter”

Now, Rafa Benitez has become well used to this little ditty from the terraces over the years, but from his own supporters during his first game in charge of Chelsea? Not good.

Especially when they followed it up with: “F*** off Benitez, you’re not wanted here.”


“I like Balotelli: he’s even crazier than me. He can score a winner, then set fire to the hotel.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic doffs his cap.

Honourable mentions: When asked if he knew how many managers Manchester City had employed during his 25 years with United, Alex Ferguson threw a kiss in in the current incumbent’s direction: “Fourteen, but I wish it was 15.”

“He has been a great player and had great success,” said Giovanni Trapattoni of Roy Keane. Ah, nice. But then added: “I don’t know if he achieved the same results as coach or manager.”


“Gerrard has good skills, unlike normal English players.”

Zlatan again, this time praising Stevie G and insulting all normal English players.


“Why for the life of me have the likes of Pirlo not played in England? Is he homophobic?”

Former Hull City manager and BBC radio pundit Phil Brown asking a question to which there really was no answer.

Honourable mentions: “He’s got such a great leap. It’s like an NFL basketball player.”

Martin Keown showing off his knowledge of American sports while complimenting Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Hello, my name is Catherine

Deneuve.” Claudio Ranieri, at his unveiling as Monaco manager, on being asked if he could speak French.

And: “Spain’s play is like love without the sex. It lacks a bit of spice.”

Bixente Lizarazu confessing that, bizarrely, tiki-taka fails to get him hot under the collar.

“Sometimes you want Obertan to open his legs and do something a bit exciting.” Newcastle supremo Alan Pardew looking for a little more from his French winger Gabriel.

“Some of the greatest players that I’ve ever played with, people who everybody looks up to, we’ve seen do it. I dived a few times. The country’s changing. Twenty years ago, when a piece of bread got brought into a restaurant, you got a lump of butter with it. Now you get olives, oil and vinegar.”

Gary Neville.

Beyond that? Nope, sorry.

No love lost

“Clarification: I said ‘dirty a***hole’, and not what he thinks he heard.”

Lille’s Aurelien Chedjou clears up his exchange with Ajaccio’s Johan Cavalli who was under the impression he had been called “a dirty Corsican”.

Honourable mention: “I remember a few years ago when Liverpool beat us 4-1 at Old Trafford. That genius Benitez said they had planned to beat us by playing long balls behind us. Remember that? Clown.”

It’s an undeniable “fact”: Alex Ferguson isn’t madly fond of the Rafa man.

“Montpellier champions of France? If I was Marseille, Paris, Lyon, Lille or Rennes, I’d stab myself in the a**e with a sausage! What an embarrassment it would be for them.”

Montpellier president Louis Nicollin, just before Montpellier were crowned champions of France. And Marseille, Paris, Lyon, Lille and Rennes walked uncomfortably all summer.

Oh dear 

“For the second time on Merseyside this week, justice has been done.”

Sky Sport’s Alan Parry after Everton equalised against Newcastle, having had a perfectly good goal disallowed. The problem was, the first bit of justice he was referring to was the Hillsborough report.

Soon after: “This one rather more trivial than last week’s, for sure.”

Honourable mention: “BWING ON THE EUWOES! We’ll see you in Ukwaine against Fwance.”

The Sun’s headline after the appointment of Roy Hodgson as England manager, the most common response being: “OMG.”

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