Planet Football


More and more Brazil nuts: Hardly a month goes by at TalkSport, the English radio station, when presenter Alan Brazil, the former Scottish international, doesn't produce a moment that leaves his listeners bewildered. Football 365 picked up on his latest offering recently, when Brazil debated who was the greatest sportsman of all time.

"In football, was it Pele or Maradona?" he asked, "in boxing, was it Mohammed Ali or was it Cassius Clay?". Hmm, we'd go for a tie on the boxing one, those two are almost inseparable. Best of all, though, was Brazil's tribute to Lance Armstrong who, he told us, had won the Tour de France seven years running after he "battled back from dying". What can you say? Except "Brazil Nuts", perhaps?

Quotes of the summer

"I have not accepted I will be moving on this summer. The manager has told me my future is at Manchester United. As far as I am concerned that is the end of the story."

- Phil Neville, roughly a week before being sold to Everton.

"He said he got mixed up concerning the date when he sent his letter of complaint about us to the SFA. If Yorkston was a woman and he was that uncertain about dates he'd be pregnant."

- Livingston owner Pearse Flynn on his Dunfermline opposite number John Yorkston.

"You should only say good things when somebody leaves. Robert has gone - good!"

- Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd bidding a non-tearful adieu to Portsmouth-bound Laurent Robert.

"In football there is always something to write about the Beckhams, same as people want to write about Rooney or Hooney, or whatever his bloody name is."

- Bernie Ecclestone, boss of Formerly Won, or whatever it's called.

"I played Gaelic football with some local boys. I enjoyed it. It was very fast, very tough. Maybe they should wear crash helmets."

- Liverpool's Xabi Alonso recalling his 1997 stay in Meath when he came to Ireland to learn English. So now he speaks English with a Spanish/Scouse/Kells twang. Wacky.

"It was always my ambition to join a big club."

- Darius Vassell on leaving Aston Villa for, em, Manchester City.

Modest chaps

"The winner of the Premier League will come from a small bunch of one."

- Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon, continuing to make new friends whenever he opens his mouth.

"I was worried about the fans' reaction at Wrexham but it was understandable, they were close to losing their best player."

- Steven Gerrard talking about, well, Steven Gerrard.

"I can say to him in the next 10 years we will compare trophies at Chelsea and at Liverpool. And he will lose."

- Jose Mourinho graciously accepting Gerrard's decision to stay at Liverpool.

"He is the best. He reminds me of me."

- Pele on Brazilian wonderkid Robinho. And himself.

Tribute of the summer

"When you see Damien coming out of the shower you'd never believe he's a professional footballer."

- Didier Drogba on the man known in the trade as The Duffer.

Moyes' language lesson

We were well impressed with Dutch international Mark van Bommel's efforts to learn some Spanish ahead of his move to Barcelona. "I locked myself away in a monastery with Spanish nuns for a week to start to learn the language," he said. "It was the ideal place to concentrate on the first Spanish words".

You just can't see Craig Bellamy doing the same, can you? It is a language-learning route Frenchman Eric Skora might have wished he'd taken when he joined Preston North End in 2001, then managed by David Moyes. Skora, according to, recently revealed that on his arrival he asked team-mate Sean Gregan for some help with useful English phrases, like "you look beautiful". Gregan, bless him, was only too happy to oblige.

That evening the players attended a club dinner, where Moyes was accompanied by his wife. Eager to impress and, perhaps, to display a little Gallic charm, Skora approached her and attempted to tell her she looked beautiful. Instead, thanks to Gregan, he said: "Mrs Moyes, you look minging". Eric, by all accounts, enjoyed his resulting loan spell at FC Siberia.

More quotes of the summer

"We're not a selling club any more. If we still had the goldfish we would keep them now. Unfortunately, we had to eat them."

- Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell on how money constraints at Elland Road had his players living on goldfish, chips and mushy peas.

"United is not Chelsea-Abramovich. They don't need one man. United is stronger than anybody in the world! I don't care about him! I don't need him! I don't need nobody!"

- Eric Cantona. Still not taking the medicine.

"Everton are animals and nothing matters to them. All my body is in pain. My calf, my left chest, my right thigh. The first time I left the goal to take the ball I received a big blow. I was furious and I knew the game was kill or to die."

- Villarreal goalkeeper Manuel Barbosa shares his fond memories of his Champions League trip to Goodison Park.

"I've got players here I can't give away."

- Harry Redknapp's admission hardly boosted his hopes of a Southampton summer clear-out.

"They thought we were just country bumpkins with our berets and a baguette in the pocket . . . England have won the Olympics but Chelsea will not get Michael Essien."

- Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas. Are you thinking what we're thinking: like the Olympics, Essien will inevitably end up in London?

"You know what it's going to be like: straw hats and trumpets."

- Alex Ferguson previewing the game at Everton. Eh?

Beckham and the shepherd

One of the English Sunday papers carried an admission from Victoria Beckham that she has never read a book in her entire life. She was, she said, just too busy. Too busy, perhaps, reading David's arms. His latest tattoo, written in Hebrew: "I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me, who grazes sheep in rose-like pastures." So that's why Victoria's so busy, she spends her time in Madrid shepherding sheep? Right.

Liverpool, as you know, made a BIG signing this summer in the form of six feet, eight inch Peter Crouch. Rafa Benitez will hope that he troubles defences as much as he's, eh, troubling photographers this weather (you can blame for this one).