The Euro Zone



James Nolan: HonouredWhile most of his Republic of Ireland team-mates have had some time off before returning to club duty, Robbie Keane, of course, headed straight back to LA Galaxy, scoring in their 3-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night.

After his goal, Keane paid tribute to Irish supporter James Nolan, who died in Poland during his visit there for the tournament, holding up a shirt bearing the 21-year-old’s name.

“I called his father to send my condolences and to say that my thoughts were with him and the family,” said Keane. “It was just a gesture because the Irish people are very close and they stick with each other through good times and bad times. He was a big, big soccer fan and it was a shame, so it was just a show of respect really.”

Keane said he plans on sending the jersey to James Nolan’s family.

Nutella and dead bulldogs: Players speak in tongues

“I’ve never had problems off the pitch, not even when I didn’t score. I didn’t have, as some journalist put it, ‘my arse in the Nutella’.”

– Mario Balotelli. Sorry, can’t help. Although you could probably take a guess.

“Why Milner starts I don’t know. Okay, he trains hard but what’s more important? Getting three points or running around like a nutter on the training pitch?”

– Stoke City’s Jermaine Pennant taking to Twitter to wish James Milner all the best before last night’s game.

“The English are slightly favoured because they appear concentrated and humble for once.”

– Diego Maradona, before bedecking himself in blue last night.

“We’re like 11 bulldogs who will never give up and basically die on the pitch.”

– Ashley Cole’s tribute to himself and team-mates was grand, really, until the “die” bit.

No mixed Mess(i)ages: Ronaldo's loud and clear

After he scored Portugal’s winning goal against the Czech Republic last week Cristiano Ronaldo (below), you might remember, headed straight for a television camera on the sidelines and sent a message of some description.

The consensus at the time was that he had said something along the lines of “Messi? Na, na, na, na, na”, which would have been a bit silly and not very nice.

Portuguese lip-readers on the interwebs, though, have been chucking their eyes in a heavenwardly direction ever since, pointing out that what he actually said was: “Son, it’s for you.”

In Portuguese, obviously. A tribute to his little fella. Cristiano jnr, not Lionel.

'Alonsomania' en Espana

Spare a thought for the Spanish sporting press, they’d hardly got their breath back after Rafa Nadal won his seventh French Open title and yesterday they had a dilemma over who should hog the headlines on their websites: Fernando Alonso after he won the European Grand Prix or 100-cap-collecting Xabi Alonso after his two goals against France.

Marca solved the problem by squeezing the two Alonsos in to the one headline. It can’t be easy for them, coping with all this sporting success. Your heart would go out to them.

Not using the head

“If you look at the whole game, Spain had one chance, one penalty and that’s about it.” – Karim Benzema looking on the bright side after Saturday’s defeat. Alas, two chances, two goals.

Wee shall not: Oh go on then

English and Italian supporters visiting Kiev for last night’s quarter-final were, no doubt, relieved by the decision of city officials in the Ukrainian capital not to fine visitors for urinating in public.

“People come to have a good time, so let them enjoy themselves,” Oleksandr Popov told the Mirror. But? The ban hasn’t been lifted for locals, if they’re caught short in a public place they’ll still be fined the equivalent of €12.

A way around it, of course, would be for them to don, say, England shirts, and say “awfully sorry old chap, just couldn’t make it to the lavatory in time” when approached by the wee police.

Backlash: Russian style

We thought we’d read the liveliest of reaction in Russia to the team’s early exit from Euro 2012, but David Hills picked out a few more gems for the Observer yesterday:

Communist politician Sergey Malinkovich: “Kim Jong-il would send such idiot football traitors to the rice fields. What stops us sending ours to construction sites?” The headline on a piece in newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets analysing the team’s performances: “Bastards”.

And most cutting of all – ex-player Aleksandr Panov: “Our men behaved like women.”

Unmasked: 10,000 Robbies

If, by any chance, you get to attend LA Galaxy’s July 4th game against the Philadelphia Union, don’t worry about yourself if you think you’ve spotted 10,000 Robbie Keanes sitting around you – your eyes won’t be deceiving you.

Chevrolet, one the club’s sponsors, will be handing out Keane masks to the first 10,000 fans who turn up, and will then be urging them to “take Robbie on the road with you and share your photos with us on Twitter using #letsdothisgalaxy”.

Keane had to make an ad for the LA Galaxy website to promote the upcoming giveaway, and looked as bemused about the whole business as those who’ll be surrounded by 10,000 Robbie Keanes are likely to be.

Fowl of praise

“Running around like a chicken with no head?”

– Paul Parker, the former England defender, was actually praising Scott Parker – honest – in a chat with and forecasting that he would nullify Andrea Pirlo.

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