All in the Game: Michael Hector’s long road to the top

Cristiano Ronaldo missing the buzz of the crowd, unlucky Celtic fan draws a blank

Fulham’s Michael Hector in action against Arsenal. Photograph: Paul Childs/PA

Fulham’s Michael Hector in action against Arsenal. Photograph: Paul Childs/PA

 

Michael Hector’s long road to the top

When Michael Hector made his Premier League debut for Fulham on Saturday it completed what must surely be the longest ever journey to playing in England’s top flight.

Hector’s first professional club was Reading from where he was sent on loan to ....... ready? ...... Bracknell Town, Didcot Town, Havant & Waterlooville, Oxford City, Horsham, Dundalk, Barnet, Shrewsbury Town, Aldershot Town, Cheltenham Town and Aberdeen.

Then, someone bizarrely, he was signed by Chelsea who sent him on loan to Aberdeen, Reading, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday, before he joined Fulham in a permanent deal last January. Hector has, then, had spells with 17 clubs (two with Aberdeen) since 2009, has played in four countries and 10 different divisions.

While that 3-0 defeat by Arsenal didn’t make it an ideal debut, Hector’s nickname suggests he should be a decent enough defender for them this season. What is it? Virgil van Mike.

Cristiano Ronaldo scores his second goal against Sweden. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/Getty/AFP
Cristiano Ronaldo scores his second goal against Sweden. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/Getty/AFP

Quote of the week

“Playing without fans is like going to the circus and not seeing clowns, it’s like going to the garden and not seeing flowers.” - Cristiano Ronaldo, not loving those empty terraces.

Number of the week

8,588,160 - The number of minutes since Leeds last played in the Premier League before Saturday’s game against Liverpool. Somebody actually counted them.

Celtic draw a blank

Ahead of the start of the new Scottish season, Celtic supporter Justin Kelly decided to treat himself to a new jersey, so he went online to the club’s store to put in his order. There was a problem, though, so he emailed them.

“I want to order the home shirt with number 10 on the back with no name but it won’t let me as the ‘name’ box is a ‘required field’. Any way around this? Would I be able to place the order via email?”

The response: “Hi Justin, no problem, just write ‘Blank’ plus your number so the team know not to print a name.”

When the shirt arrived, this was how Justin summed up his feelings:

Me: “2020 can’t get any worse.”

Celtic FC Shop: “Hold my beer.”

Yes, the shirt had ‘Blank’ printed on the back.

Word of mouth

“We all want David [ALABA]to stay with us because he’s a great guy. But he has a money-grubbing piranha as an agent, and the father is very influenced by him.” Uli Hoeness, honorary president of Bayern Munich, with the mother of all tributes to Alaba’s representative.

“Let’s just say, I have run out of knees.” Poor Nicolo Zaniolo, the Roma forward who ruptured the cruciate ligament in his right knee last January, and the one in his left while playing for Italy against the Netherlands last week.

“22. Fulham.” Sky Sports old boy Richard Keys has such little faith in Fulham’s ability to avoid relegation this season, he’s predicting that they’ll finish 22nd - in a league of twenty.

“Haaland and Gulf.” The rather excellent Irish Sun headline over their report on Norway’s 5-1 win against Northern Ireland in Belfast, during which young Erland Harland - eh, Haaland - Wolffed on the home side’s defensive frailties.

Damien Delaney is not a Stalinist

Usually when people are asked to name their dream dinner guests, living or not, they opt for the likes of, say, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Mother Teresa, Pele and Elvis Presley. But when asked by the people who put together the Crystal Palace match day programme to pick his ‘Fantasy Dinner Party’, former Republic of Ireland international Damien Delaney went down an entirely different route. A kind of a despotic one.

Ready? Delaney opted for Joseph Stalin, Genghis Khan, Chairman Mao, Napoleon - and, the poor fella, Keith Richards.

“I’m fascinated by Russian history,” he said of his choice of Joseph, “not because I’m a Stalinist, I’m not.”

Phew.

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