London 2012 blogs

  • Louis van Gaal celebrates Netherlands' win over Brazil (Reuters)

    Louis van Gaal leaves the Netherlands and heads for Manchester United with his considerable reputation much enhanced.

    Not only did he guide a relatively unfancied Dutch side to third place, he pulled off a couple of tactical masterstrokes and plundered huge wins over the World Cup holders and the most successful team in the tournament’s history.

    Much of the tournament has played out to "the sound of Louis van Gaal being right", particularly in a British media giddy at the prospect of Louis and his colossal cojones gracing the Premier League.

    But did Van Gaal and the Dutch really have such a stellar tournament? Let’s take it game by game.

    - - -

    Netherlands 5-1 Spain, Group B, Salvador

    Good: A truly

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  • When people suggested after the group stage brimming with goals that this was the greatest World Cup ever, the common rebuttal held that this was a tournament high on goalmouth action but lacking in truly great teams.

    In a couple of weeks, the script has flipped.

    Only one match in the knockout stage produced more than three goals (no prizes for guessing which), but it saw the crowning of a wonderful German side that bears comparison with any in the competition’s history.

    Deciding whether Jogi Loew’s men could beat Brazil ’70 or Argentina ‘86 is a parlour game for another day.

    What we do know is that Germany were the best team at this World Cup, and they exhibited all the qualities required of great champions – skill, discipline, unity and determination.

    And while the narrative for the final pitted an exceptional individual in Lionel Messi against an exceptional team, one should not lose sight of the fact that Germany were packed with wonderful players.

    Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Ph

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  • England captain Steven Gerrard squats dejected (Reuters)

    Calls for the FA to restore England to the international football elite ignore one sobering fact - we have never been elite.

    If the sheer limpness of their exit from Brazil achieved anything, it was to dampen the wailing and recrimination over their performance.

    [LANG: WHERE DO BRAZIL GO FROM HERE?]

    They were nearly out after losing to Uruguay, then definitely out after Costa Rica beat Italy, and by the time they had played their last game all anyone wanted to talk about was Luis Suarez’s front teeth.

    Suarez saved Roy Hodgson much scrutiny – but as Germany crushed Brazil the question inevitably surfaced: why can’t we play like them?

    England play like Germany? You might as well put a dog at a grand piano and expect him to bang out a Beethoven concerto just because you've given him the sheet music.

    Apart from one glorious anomaly in 1966 – when Alf Ramsey’s side played every game at Wembley – England’s history does not even bring them close to qualifying as an elite international team

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  • How to analyse a collapse so complete, so traumatic that it goes far beyond the normal realms of sport?

    How to explain the seemingly inexplicable? How did the World Cup hosts and pre-tournament favourites suffer excruciating embarrassment twice in a week?

    We are used to sportsmen and women choking – Greg Norman, Jana Novotna, Allan Donald – snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    This was more than a choke. This was a team, almost to a man, buckling in extraordinary and almost unwatchable fashion.

    Brazil! Five-times winners and the greatest football nation in history. In the final stages of the World Cup. On home turf.

    Saturday’s 3-0 capitulation to the Netherlands represented the epilogue to their semi-final loss against Germany, and took their goals against tally to 10 in four days.

    The matches were two parts of the same tragedy – one that will mark a nation as profoundly as their 1950 failure against Uruguay.

    Brazil. At home. Losing 10-1 over two consecutive matches. This sort

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  • "Happy, happy, happy, happy / Happy, happy, happy happy / Happy, happy, happy, happy."

    Pharrell Williams's ode to joy was never going to trouble Bob Dylan for lyrical complexity, but it does have a habit of getting lodged immovably in your brain.

    Never more so than in the last two days, when my mental soundtrack has consisted of Pharrell's backing singers' mantra on repeat.

    It doesn't take Freud to work out why - and it's not because football creaks with irritating one-word chants.

    No, the World Cup is here. Ahead of us, untouched like virgin snow, lie 64 matches. There are heroes to be made, villains to transgress. A month of drama, controversy, delight and recrimination.

    [World Cup - Opening Day: LIVE]

    You'd need a heart of stone not to feel a thrill at the sheer possibility of what might happen in Brazil.

    Football's return to its spiritual home has been overshadowed by a dismal build-up.

    [Brazil 360: Mixed emotions about World Cup some never wanted]

    Concerns over Brazil's readi

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  • Manchester City players hold Manuel Pellegrini aloft (Reuters)

    A faint scent of anti-climax hangs over the Premier League after Manchester City clinched their second title in three years.

    That's always a risk when your first one comes with two stoppage-time goals to deny your cross-city rivals after 44 barren years.

    In one of the most bizarre seasons in memory, Manchester City became champions again simply by taking care of business.

    Defeat to Liverpool followed by a home draw with Sunderland last month left City all but out of it, six points off the top - but as their rivals buckled, City reeled off five wins in a row and surged to the front.

    [MANCHESTER CITY CROWNED CHAMPIONS]

    Their nerveless dismissal of Aston Villa and West Ham in the final week were a world away from their madcap win over QPR in 2012.

    This time they were slick, professional, deadly - just what champions are meant to be.

    It's just that City, for all their extraordinary goalscoring prowess, do not fit any of the comfortable narratives so beloved by the football media.

    Manchester City fans celebrate winning the Premier League (Reuters)

    The ro

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  • Manchester United won't miss Nemanja Vidic's influence on the pitch when he leaves Old Trafford.

    Not because they have a ready-made replacement for their imposing captain, but because they are already missing him.

    A fateful knee injury sustained in Basel in 2011 reduced him to a cruel parody of the man who formed, with Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar, a defensive barrier formidable enough to keep the Somerset levels bone dry.

    Although he seemed more likely than Ferdinand to adapt to his new physical limitations and maintain his influential presence - as John Terry has done at Chelsea - Vidic has played only sporadically alongside a variety of flawed partners.

    So Vidic's departure in itself is not the problem - it's what it means for United, and what he leaves behind.

    Why exactly is he going? Because, at 32, he wants one last big payday? Surely not. As United's captain, he would not struggle to renegotiate a bumper deal if he stayed put.

    Vidic talked about a new challenge. Transla

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  • Trying to pick the worst aspect of Manchester United latest slump in form is like selecting the least amusing scene from a Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special.

    There is much to choose from, and in many ways there's no wrong answer - in the end it's all part of the same desolate, depressing spectacle.

    [MATCH REPORT: Sunderland inflict more woe on United]

    Still, at least people actually seem to like Mrs Brown (and if you're one of them, you can stop reading now). There might have been people laughing last night, but none of them supported United, whose fanbase has been sucked into a collective state of near-catatonic despair.

    Playing the role of the cross-dresser who glues himself to the toilet is, of course, David Moyes.

    He's an obvious fall guy; his failure to strengthen the squad in the summer; his prehistoric tactics; his glazed and helpless look as United slump to another defeat; the way he isn't Sir Alex Ferguson.

    Moyes is making the job of replacing Fergie look even harder than i

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  • This blog won't argue that Joe Hart is in the form of his life. Anyone with eyes knows he isn't. His errors against Bayern Munich continued a worrying trend of high-profile mistakes.

    However, despite the drop in his performance level, the Manchester City goalkeeper remains England's best and should play the World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland.

    This week's trendy pretender is Celtic's Fraser Forster, who put in an admirable display in the 1-0 defeat to Barcelona on Tuesday.

    He's already been in the senior England squad and you can make a strong case for him to win his first cap. Just not in the two most important matches of this World Cup cycle.

    [Counterpoint: Desmond Kane - Forster head and shoulders above Hart]

    The weight of playing in nets for England has brought down enough keepers for us to know that gambling on an uncapped upstart for two vital games is a bad idea.

    How did it go for Scott Carson, whose howler against Croatia at Wembley cost England a place at Euro

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  • I hope Manchester United manager David Moyes and chief exec Ed Woodward were watching Jose Mourinho's post-match interview on TV last night.

    That, gentlemen, is how you conduct your transfer business in public.

    Mourinho's recent utterances on Wayne Rooney have been a study in masterful duplicity.

    Last week he reassured United that, out of respect, he wouldn't make another bid for Rooney until after they played Chelsea on Monday.

    Translation: We'll definitely bid again. But not now - we'd rather leave it hanging over you for a while so he’s still in limbo when we play you.

    Last night he praised the 'special' United fans who cheered Rooney despite a summer of trying to be anywhere but Old Trafford. Mourinho said if Rooney wanted to stay, he'd be the first to respect it.

    Translation: We still want you, buy you have to tell us if you still want to come.

    That's the stuff - brazen pursuit of Rooney somehow dressed up as 'respectful'.

    This ultimatum leapt on to many of the back pages, shovi

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  • It's Christmas morning for football fans.

    From wide-eyed kids to hard-bitten hacks, we've all got that giddy feeling of anticipation as we prepare to tear into our presents.

    Inside the stocking marked 'Premier League 2013/14' are 380 little gifts. And as with Christmas, it's almost more fun to think about what they might be than to rip open the wrapping paper to discover yet another pair of grey socks (this increasingly tortured metaphor's version of Fulham 0-0 Stoke).

    Look, the Premier League has its bad points.

    It rarely lives up to the hype; it's amoral at best, immoral at worst; it rips off fans; it whips adults who should know better into a terrifying frenzy of anger and irrationality.

    And yet the fact that so many people invest such massive emotional and physical supplies only really goes to show just how much we love it.

    The Football League has much to admire, while the continent's top teams take the game to new levels of technical sophistication.

    But the argument for the Prem

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  • If there are other reasons to care about tonight's England versus Scotland game than Wayne Rooney, I certainly don't know of any.

    At a different time of year - say, not three days before the start of the Premier League - and in a competitive setting, you could present a case for the fixture carrying some of the old Home Internationals' sporting and cultural significance.

    But not tonight. All anyone wants to do in an international friendly is not get injured, and you won’t see a clearer example than at Wembley this evening.

    So thank heaven for Rooney, whose will-he won't-he drama looks set to enliven the boredom.

    Manchester United withdrew him from the Community Shield citing injury.

    Roy Hodgson claims the player has been fit for some weeks.

    Yesterday Steven Gerrard said he was not 100% but desperately wanted to play. And it looks like he will, though possibly not from the start.

    In pre-season I watched a Manchester United game in Japan, in which the TV director cut away to Shinji Kag

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  • Assem Allam's decision to change Hull City's name to Hull City Tigers has been met with predictable dismay within football.

    Here's a flavour of the reaction.

    It's not at all surprising, but it's thoroughly misguided.

    What's rather sad i

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  • "There has been total disrespect of the club ... I will take strong, decisive action, absolutely ... My job is to fight and protect the club ... (An apology is) something I will ensure before anything happens in the future."

    Strong words from the Liverpool manager.

    - Might they have come in October 2011, when Luis Suarez's melodramatic shrieking got Jack Rodwell sent off in the Merseyside derby (a red that was later rescinded)?

    - Or how about in December 2011, when an FA independent regulatory commission found him guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra and banned him for eight games.

    - And then the following February, when he refused to shake the hand of his victim before kick-off in the next Liverpool-United game?

    - What about when his handball led to the goal that knocked non-league Mansfield Town out of the FA Cup this January?

    -And finally, perhaps the Anfield gaffer might have been moved to castigate his man in such unflinching terms when he chomped on the a

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  • Let's just get the formalities over with and give Andy Murray that knighthood right now. Why wait until the New Year?

    The Scotsman has achieved feats every bit as skyscraping as Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Steve Redgrave.

    In fact, Murray has surpassed that remarkable trio, and should go down as the greatest British sportsman of the modern era.

    Let me explain, for this is not simply the knee-jerk reaction of a blog drunk on emotion and Pimm's.

    Though he is still ranked number two, Murray looks very much like the best tennis player in the world. He holds two Grand Slams plus the Olympic title. He won Wimbledon. Andy Murray won Wimbledon. Wimbledon!

    I wanted Murray to win 2012's Sports Personality award, but acknowledged that a US Open title won at 2am and an Olympic gold claimed just after the delirium of Super Saturday - though extraordinary accomplishments - would not be enough to convince a nationwide audience.

    The public have been suspicious of Murray ever since a br

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  • Where Wayne Rooney wants to go and who actually wants him are not the same thing - despite the England striker's global profile and 214 career goals, the world is not quite his oyster.

    A combination of huge wages, a poor 2012/13 season and over 10 years of wear and tear make him a gamble for potential buyers.

    So where will he end up?

    Bayern Munich - 5/4

    The Bavarians have been installed as short-priced favourites as incoming manager Pep Guardiola looks to spruce up his strikeforce. Rooney would certainly represent a major coup, but with Mario Goetze already signed and Robert Lewandowski likely to follow, is there really room at the Allianz Arena?

    Chelsea - 11/4

    Although Rafa Benitez has revived Fernando Torres's form somewhat, Chelsea still look short of a striker. And in Rooney they have a player who can hit the ground running alongside several England team-mates. Chelsea can afford him, too - but would Rooney really want to burn his bridges with the United fans?

    Paris Saint-Germain - 4/1

    T

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  • Luis Suarez against Chelsea (Reuters)

    It's official - what happened on Sunday was officially the joint sixth-worst thing a player has ever done in the history of English football.

    The only things to have earned a longer ban:
    -Kung-fu kicking a fan (Eric Cantona, nine months)
    -Testing positive for cocaine (Mark Bosnich, nine months)
    -Missing a drugs test (Rio Ferdinand, eight months)
    -Getting sent off then committing violent conduct twice (Joey Barton, 12 matches)
    -Pushing the referee over (Paolo Di Canio, 11 games).

    Luis Suarez's nibble on Branislav Ivanovic was worse than:
    -Punching your opponent and breaking his jaw (Paul Davis, nine games)
    -Racially abusing your opponent (Luis Suarez, eight games)
    -Elbowing your opponent half to death (Ben Thatcher, eight games)
    -Racially abusing your opponent (John Terry, four matches)
    -And every leg-breaking tackle ever perpetrated.

    Ten games. We await the FA's written reasons, but it seems inconceivable that Suarez's previous hasn't played a part. His lengthy rap sheet is

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  • Mario Goetze (c) trains ahead of Dortmund's game in Madrid (AFP)

    Borussia Dortmund's Juergen Klopp has crafted a reputation as one of Europe's ablest managers.

    Yet even he could have been forgiven for throwing his hands up in resignation when, two days before the biggest game of his life, news leaked that Dortmund were selling their star player to their biggest rivals.

    Bayern Munich, Bundesliga winners and fellow Champions League semi-finalists, had paid Mario Goetze's €37 million (£32m) release clause to bring him Bavaria.

    At 20, Goetze's potential appears limitless; already one of Europe's best attacking midfielders and a regular in the German national team, with a decade of improvement ahead.

    And yet to Dortmund fans he represents more than just a brilliant player. He joined the club aged eight. He came through the ranks. He publicly said he would not leave. He was their man. And now he has gone.

    Except he hasn't yet. Goetze must play out the rest of the season in supremely awkward circumstances.

    Less than 48 hours after the news emerged - the

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  • It all started off so friendly. A grand occasion, played between two historic teams in a manner worthy of Sir Matt Busby and Santiago Bernabeu.

    Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho said it should have been the final, while Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson unleashed an epic blast of his misty-eyed Euro-love in his programme notes:

    "People ask me why I don't retire after so many years in the game, but how could anyone with an ounce of passion for football in their soul voluntarily walk away from the opportunity to be involved in this kind of occasion?"

    Imagine him saying that about a trip to Stamford Bridge.

    United tend to see their English rivals as an irritant that they must periodically swat away. Europe? Something else entirely. Majestic, romantic, somehow nobler than the domestic game. Just sharing a stage with Real Madrid validates them.

    Cristiano Ronaldo received an extraordinary hero's welcome, given an ovation that extended beyond the kick-off. It was a strangely euphoric re

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  • Eurosport-Yahoo! has been profiling sporting Heroes of 2012 all week. Today, you get an arbitrary selection of heroes.

    It's not meant to be comprehensive or objective. It's just a list of people who have enhanced the year in sport for me, in alphabetical order.

    Please add your own selections at the bottom of the page.

    Nicola Adams - Thumped people, hard. Then went to Nando's.

    Sergio Aguero - Completed the most ridiculous end to a football season we will ever see.

    Ben Ainslie - Four consecutive Olympic golds. The ultimate competitor.

    Hashim Amla - Impossible to get out.

    Usain Bolt - Still the guy everyone else wants to be.

    Danny Boyle - Is an opening ceremony sport? Maybe not, but it was fantastic.

    Seb Coe - Did more than the guy who got stuck on a zip wire.

    Alastair Cook - Like Kevin Pietersen, only sensible.

    Orlando Cruz - First professional boxer to come out as gay.

    Jody Cundy - Paralympic cyclist whose disqualification provoked the year's best rant.

    Dr Andrew Deaner - Cardiologist

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  • "I want people to understand there are no miracles in my life.

    "It's true I had a big accident, my heart stopped seven times and the doctors gave me no chance of survival. The odds were 100 per cent against me. But here I am. And one and a half years later, the same people who shed tears because they thought I had passed away saw me back at the Lausitzring circuit doing more or less the same thing I was doing before. I can understand that from the outside this looks like a great miracle.

    "It's the same when a guy one day quits motorsport and takes up hand cycling, which he has never done before, and two years later he wins a gold medal. To pick up a tough new challenge - people look at this, and it does look like a miracle.

    "I am so pleased that these sort of fireworks have been able to shoot in my life and capture people's imagination. It becomes very inspirational, and I'm sure I would be inspired if I looked at it from a different pair of shoes. But as Alex Zanardi I know everythi

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  • This is my favourite photo of 2012 by far.

    As you know, it's Laura Trott and Jason Kenny - fresh from winning two Olympic gold medals apiece - indulging in a public display of affection at London 2012.

    The pair pitched up at Horse Guards Parade, to drink beer and enjoy a mildly tipsy snog in front of the beach volleyball. All very sweet.

    Of course, it's not a conventionally great photograph. The background is boring, the lighting harsh, and then there's that idiot with his head blocking our view of Kenny... wait a minute! I know that guy! Hey Becks, get your head down!

    And that's what makes it so brilliant. Faced with a clear shot of the most famous man in the world (give or take), the paps chose instead to focus on Trott and Kenny, probably the fifth and sixth best-known cyclists in the British team (behind Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton).

    What's more, it was front page 'news'. Inconsequential tittle-tattle it might have been, but it was proper Oly

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  • We begin our series looking at the year's greatest sporting heroes with a profile of US Open and Olympic champion Andy Murray, making the case for him to win BBC Sports Personality.

    For as long as I can remember, Britain has been hopeless at tennis.

    One of my first sporting memories is Boris Becker winning Wimbledon in 1985.

    That year, seven of the eight British men went out in the first round - the exception, John Lloyd, lost to Henri Leconte in the third round.

    Throughout my formative years there was no point complaining about Lloyd or Jeremy Bates or Andrew Castle, because they were the best we had. The cream of a dismal crop.

    (I focus on the men, but the same could be said of our top ladies, as Annabel Croft and Sam Smith battled heroically against insurmountable odds.)

    British tennis failure was written into our genes.

    That's what made Greg Rusedski exciting - if the tennis gods still considered him Canadian, who knew what was possible?

    Even when Rusedski and the hugely underrat

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  • There wasn't much to say about Chelsea sacking Roberto Di Matteo, except: "Yes, that's what they do."

    The statement announcing the manager's departure contained no pretence that this was a difficult or gut-wrenching decision.

    Here's what it said: "The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season."

    In other words, the way to spice things up heading into the busy Christmas period is to change the manager.

    A switch in the dug-out might be just the thing to jolt them out of their autumn slump.

    And so the appointment of Rafa Benitez comes as little surprise. Here is a man to supply some steel and organisation; a man capable of making an instant impact.

    He may be just a quick fix, but that is all Chelsea require.

    Based on recent history, it is impossible to conclude that Chelsea have any interest in securi

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  • A Sunday afternoon in West London

    On Sunday night, after the Premier League's weekly Carnival of Hate, I watched the X-Factor results.

    The sing-off featured an identikit boy-band called Union J, who wept, wailed and displayed the kind of faces usually reserved for discovering your entire family has been devoured by a flesh-eating virus. They looked like right chumps.

    Their opponent was a young mum named Jade Ellis, who smiled, took criticism with good grace and retained her composure. She appeared to have a proper idea of the competition's importance.

    Faced with that rare beast - a reality TV contestant with a sense of perspective - the judges predictably booted her out and handed a reprieve to the gibbering Harry Styles clones.

    Gary Barlow's assessment of Jade was: "I worry I want this for you more than you do." Translation: "You're not crying enough."

    X-Factor may not be much of a singing competition, but as a barometer for where we are as a nation, it has its uses.

    Here was proof: enjoying yourself is out. You cann

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  • Robert Huth, erm, unintentionally treads on Luis Suarez

    It takes a lot to make me feel sympathy for Luis Suarez. But this week's unending torrent of anti-diving sentiment has done just that.

    Brendan Rodgers has been mocked for describing Suarez as "vilified" and a "victim" - largely because it's fun to point and laugh when Liverpool press the 'conspiracy' button.

    But what other conclusion can you draw when you see the bile aimed at the Uruguayan?

    It is Suarez's misfortune that his ludicrous drive against Stoke took place before an international week, when the lack of real news caused this cycle to spin on and on.

    (WATCH THE DIVE HERE - VIDEO IN UK ONLY)

    On Sunday night, Stoke boss Tony Pulis rounded on Suarez, calling for a three-match ban to stop him "falling over" - he said something similar about Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic last month.

    Rodgers' plaintive defence of his star man seemed only to increase the scorn, as Stoke winger Michael Kightly steamed in.

    "Referees have to try to stamp down on it," he said without apparent irony.

    If K

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  • It has been a rough couple of years for Rio Ferdinand.

    In 2010 he was set to captain England at the World Cup, only for an injury to rule him out of the tournament, heralding the sad petering-out of his England career.

    The following season he led England twice before Capello returned the armband to the once-disgraced John Terry - a decision on which history will not look kindly.

    Fast forward to Terry's second sacking, when the captaincy passed to Steven Gerrard and Ferdinand found himself vilified by some England fans.

    Why? For daring to be related to someone who believed he was the victim of racial abuse. The traitor.

    Then came Rio's omission from Euro 2012 for 'football reasons' while toxic Terry bagged a window seat on the plane to Eastern Europe.

    Small wonder Ferdinand sees Terry's international retirement, a bizarre act of self-immolation, as an opportunity to get back into the England team.

    He can put his misfortune behind him and end his impressive career on the high note it d

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  • During the Olympics there was a strong feeling that Britain's gold-medal winners were true heroes and the kinds of people the country should look up to, unlike those who appear on reality TV shows and are covered in the celebrity magazines.

    But just a couple of weeks after the Games we have seen one Olympian in the Big Brother house and two more going on Strictly Come Dancing, with others appearing in the papers at every photocall, PR launch and advert their advisors send them to .

    Is it right that Olympians are crossing over into the world of celebrity culture and blurring the boundaries between sporting excellence and prime-time entertainment? We asked our writers from Eurosport and omg! to argue the toss...

    "Trash TV comes with consequences" - Reda from Eurosport

    Louis Smith is competing in the new series of strictly (BBC)

    Erudite, hard-working, and victorious — what wasn't there to like about our Olympic heroes? They forced their way into the public consciousness with what they did, displacing the stars of reality TV from our screens.

    Much

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  • Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis and Andy Murray

    Andy Murray's US Open victory capped off an extraordinary sporting summer.

    Hours after Britain's Olympians and Paralympians received a tumultuous ovation as they paraded through the streets of London, Murray produced a magnificent final flourish across the Atlantic in New York.

    The Scot's epic win over Novak Djokovic made him a leading challenger in probably the strongest Sports Personality of the Year field ever assembled.

    Let's take a look at the top 10 contenders for the coveted BBC award.

    Bradley Wiggins - Cycling (6/5 favourite)

    What he did: Back in July, Wiggo became the Britain's first Tour de France winner. The nation's favourite mod followed it up with a devastating gold medal performance in the Olympic time trial. At the point he won his gold, bookmakers Ladbrokes paid out on bets on Wiggins to scoop the award - which is far from certain now.

    Andy Murray - Tennis (5/2)

    What he did: Ended Britain's 76-year wait for a Grand Slam champion with an epic win in the US Open final.

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  • The Paralympics has had the capacity to inspire and amaze on a near daily basis, but one achievement amid all the incredible stories coming out of London 2012 stands out.

    American swimmer Brad Snyder triumphed in the 400m freestyle at the Aquatic Centre on Friday night for his second gold of the games - a fantastic achievement.

    However, it was even more remarkable when you consider that this moment of triumph came exactly one year after he was blinded in Afghanistan when trying to defuse a bomb.

    The navy lieutenant trod on an improved explosive device in Kandahar and the explosion took away his sight permanently.

    Exactly 365 days later, though, he conquered the world in his discipline at the Paralympic Games.

    "I don't think about what happened every day, but especially today it was hard not to," he said.

    "But they don't cause me pain. They are great memories, in a way, because they contrast all the fun we've had today with what was a relatively miserable day a year ago."

    Despite his o

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  • On the night that Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah won their three gold medals, many wondered whether there would be another night in British sport quite like it.

    The Olympic Stadium hummed with anticipation then erupted in celebration — the noise grew louder with every new success.

    It was the high point of a Games which had delivered on an unprecedented scale.

    But just a month on, in the same venue, it might just have been eclipsed at the Paralympics.

    It began on Thursday when Hannah Cockroft, the sprint sensation, ripped up the track to win the T34 200m final and add gold to her 100m title.

    Later on, it was David Weir's turn. Weir may yet add the marathon to his burgeoning list of gold medals in London, but if he even if he does not, he has a minimum of three, winning the T54 800m to go with his 1500m and 5000m titles.

    There had barely been time to rearrange the starting blocks before the next event — possibly the most anticipated Paralympics race in history — the T44 10

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  • Oscar Pistorius (left) not happy with his silver as Alan Oliveira shows off gold

    Oscar Pistorius shocked many Paralympics fans on Sunday when he complained that gold-winning 200m rival Alan Oliveira's artificial legs gave him an unfair advantage.

    Pistorius, who made history this summer when he became the first Paralympian to run in the Olympic Games, lost out on gold to Oliveira by 0.07 seconds, but blamed his defeat on his rivals' legs.

    "We're not running in a fair race," he said. "I can't compete with Alan's stride length."

    Pistorius has now apologised, and the IPC have confirmed that he will not face any disciplinary action despite only saying sorry for the timing of his comments, rather than the substance of his complaint.

    But why exactly does Pistorius believe that his Brazilian rival had an unfair advantage? Our Q&A explains why.

    - - -

    What is Pistorius's complaint?

    The South African believes that Oliveira's blades are too long, giving him an unfair advantage by letting him take longer strides. This was mainly sparked by Oliveira's decision to change to longe

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  • Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was left red-faced after being roundly booed by the Olympic Stadium crowd when he made an appearance at the Paralympics.

    The Conservative MP presented medals to the top three runners in the Men's T38 400m, an event won by Mohamed Farhat Chida of Tunisia.

    The public have embraced the event, filling stadiums and supporting athletes, but they turned on Osborne, 41, when he was announced to the crowd.

    The boos swelled around the Olympic Stadium. Initially the politician tried to laugh it off, but looked progressively more uncomfortable as the booing continued.

    The Chancellor had admitted at the weekend that it was "not surprising" that the man in charge of the UK's budget should be unpopular at present.

    Britain is currently in recession for the second time in four years, and many people blame the austerity measures implemented during Osborne's time in office for the difficult economic times.

    Osborne was not alone in being booed - there was a mixe

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  • Team GB enjoyed unprecedented success at the London 2012 Olympics - but UK Sport believes that the nation's athletes can do even better in four years' time at Rio 2016.

    This summer's Games saw British athletes win 65 medals, more than at any Games since 1908 - and back then the Games were a very different affair, with just 22 countries taking part compared to the 204 who lined up in London.

    Yet UK Sport believe that this is just the beginning of a new era of success for Britain at the Games.

    "In terms of winning medals we think it is entirely possible to see progress in the next four years," said UK Sport's chief executive Liz Nicholl. "We can deliver more."

    There is one caveat, however: while we could win more medals in Rio, matching London's achievement of 29 gold medals will be a tall order, with UK Sport's outgoing strategy guru Peter Keen admitting that he'd been shocked to see 45 per cent of Britain's medals end up being gold.

    "What we can't take any credit for is the 29 golds.

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  • British team

    Team GB finished a historic third in the medal table with a record-breaking haul of 65 medals at London 2012.

    Britain won a greater number of medals than at any Games since the 1908 event in London, at which the home nation topped the medal table for the first and only time in its history with 146 medals.

    UK Sport had targeted at least 48 medals by British athletes from 12 or more different sports.

    But how did each sport fare according to those targets? And which sports offered the British public the best value per medal won?

    According to a report in the Daily Mail, tennis was the best value - though only because it receives no Olympic funding. Of the sports which do receive public money, boxing was the best value at £1.9m per medal while hockey was the worst, at £15m for the solitary bronze won by the women's team.

    Here's the full table:


    The gold tally of 29 was 10 more than in 2008 and the overall haul was 18 up on Beijing.

    Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, said: "It's an ou

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  • Keshorn Walcott

    Britain's Olympic champions have been recognised with golden postboxes and special stamps. In America, new champions have been given a healthy $25,000 cash bonus.

    But none of that can hold a candle to the prizes lavished upon Trinidad and Tobago's champion Keshorn Walcott.

    The 19-year-old was a shock winner of the javelin, taking advantage of the world's best all having off-days as he came through to claim victory with a relatively unremarkable throw of 84.58m.

    But while his throw was rather modest by Olympic standards (it was the shortest winning effort since 1988), the prizes it brought him are anything but: on his return to his home country Walcott was given £100,000 in cash, a luxury home, 20,000 acres of land and - best of all - a free lighthouse!

    As if that weren't enough, Walcott - who is the first athlete from outside Europe to win the javelin in 20 years - will also have a yet-to-be-determined national landmark named in his honour, while Caribbean Airlines will name a plane af

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  • Leading economists have said that ultimately the London Olympics will starting making the city money - although not until 2021.

    The Games came in at a revised budget of £10 billion, although the Centre for Economics and Business Research also said that people who stayed at home or took holidays during the Olympics cost the economy £1bn — taking the total cost of the Games to £11bn.

    The Stratford area of East London was transformed by the Games and CEBR said that if politicians properly exploited the regeneration of the area then they could start generating an extra £1.8bn-a-year into the economy.

    Their report, which was authored by Douglas McWilliams and Daniel Solomon, said: "We have done some simple econometrics which indicates that countries that have had Olympic Games or equivalent events have had slightly more growth than might have been expected in the three to five years afterwards.

    "Provided that both national and local politicians are single minded about focussing on growth,

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  • The London Olympic Games was the most watched sporting event in Britain on record, according to the BBC's viewing figures.

    In total 87 per cent of British people watched at least 15 minutes of the Games —  which equates to a staggering number of 50.2 million.

    Football World Cups have previously topped the list but they have never reached more than 85 per cent since 2002 when such figures were collated.

    The two most watched events at the Games were the opening (26.9 million) and closing (26.3m) ceremonies.

    From a purely sporting standpoint Usain Bolt's victory in the 100m final came in ahead of Jessica Ennis (Heptathlon) and Mo Farah (10,000m) victories on 'Super Saturday.'

    Fifth on the list was Tom Daley's bronze medal in the diving, the closing stages of which were viewed by 15.9 million on BBC One.

    Daley's performance in the 10m platform diving final also helped BBC Three secure their highest ever viewing figures of 6.6 million.

    However, if you were to take the sporting events on a

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  • Bolt's technique during the Olympic relay victory ceremony clearly impressed legendary bowler Warne

    Usain Bolt has once again taken athletics by storm. But one sport doesn't appear to be enough for the charismatic runner, who is now considering an invitation from Shane Warne to play Twenty20 cricket in Australia next season.

    Bolt retained his 100 and 200 metres titles at the London 2012 Olympics, as well as setting a new world record time in the men's 4x100m relay to claim gold with his Jamaican team-mates.

    But the sprinter also has a knack for other sports, and has played cricket in his home nation at junior level.

    Bolt, a massive fan of the sport, admitted to Australia's Channel Nine that legendary leg-spinner Warne has offered him the opportunity to participate in Australia's Big Bash League and that he is giving it some serious thought.

    "If I get the chance I will definitely try because I know it's going to be a lot of fun," Bolt said.

    "I don't know how good I am. I will probably have to get a lot of practice in."

    Bolt certainly played plenty of cricket as a young boy growing u

    ...Read More »

  • The Olympic Velodrome roars its approval as Jason Kenny wins gold

    What a wonderful, unforgettable fortnight.

    London has staged sport's biggest party, and has done so with efficiency, hospitality and good cheer.

    It is pointless to elect a 'greatest Olympics ever', but the fact that people - and not just Britons - are talking in those terms is testament to a glorious success story.

    From a personal standpoint, the biggest triumph of all has been the fans.

    Over 10 million poured into sold-out venues to roar on Olympic achievement in all its forms - highlights like Usain Bolt's pyrotechnics and Britain's amazing gold run, but also the less-heralded likes of water polo and weighlifting.

    From the world-famous to the obscure, London 2012's crowds have cheered every participant like a champion.

    It has been an immense privilege to witness this first hand on my Olympic travels. I have seen an Olympic 100m final, gold medals for Britain in rowing and track cycling, and watched stars like LeBron James and Ryan Lochte, Tom Daley and Victoria Pendleton.

    But some

    ...Read More »

  • Anthony Joshua

    DAY 16 IN A NUTSHELL

    Big man steps up: Anthony Joshua faced the scrap of his life as he stepped into the ring for the third round of his super-heavyweight final against Roberto Cammarelle, knowing he needed to make up a three-point deficit. But he was equal to it: time and again he found a way through his opponent's guard to punch the Italian in the face, and Britain was left celebrating its 29th and final gold medal.

    BRITS IN ACTION

    Anthony Joshua beat Italy's Roberto Cammarelle in the super-heavyweight boxing final

    Freddie Evans met more than his match as he lost to Serik Sapiyev in the welterweight gold medal match to end up with silver

    Samantha Murray won the silver medal in the women's modern pentathlon

    Mhairi Spence was also in action in the modern pentathlon, but finished 21st

    Lee Merrien finished 30th in the marathon

    Liam Killeen crashed out of the men's cross country mountain bike race on the second lap

    WASTED PARTY INVITATION

    Great Britain's Liam Killeen had high hopes of c

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  • So that's it! The London 2012 Olympics are at an end, and for the host nation it has been probably the greatest ever sporting spectacle witnessed on these shores.

    The stunning performances of British athletes left the nation a comfortable third in the medal table with more medals than in any games since 1908, which was also held in London and at which just 22 nations took part compared to the 204 this year.

    And to mark that, some of Britain's brightest Olympic stars have taken part in an enjoyably cheesy musical farewell to say goodbye to the Games. Sit back and enjoy...

    Read More »

  • Azerbaijan's Khetag Gazyumov

    A wrestler who was taken to hospital by ambulance after his heart started racing during a quarter-final defeat got up from his bed and returned to win a bronze medal at the London Olympics on Sunday.

    Azerbaijan's Khetag Gazyumov, 29, left the wrestling mat in a wheelchair after his heart rate soared to a dangerous 260 beats per minute, compared to a typical 60-100.

    But he decided to return to the Games when he heard he had earned a place in the bronze medal play-off because he had been beaten by one of the eventual finalists.

    "I clenched my fist and decided to do the best I could for my country," he said. "It's strange, but it's sport."

    Gazyumov claimed the bronze medal by default against Iran's reigning world champion Reza Mohammed Yazdani, who refused to fight because of an injury he himself had sustained.

    The event was made all the more remarkable for the fact that Egyptian Saleh Emara was disqualified after arriving half an hour late for Sunday morning's qualification session.

    ...Read More »

  • Why do divers shower? Why do athletes bite their medals? We look at (and attempt to answer) the top questions of the Games.

    What is that tape athletes are wearing?

    Kinesio tape, developed by a Japanese doctor over 30 years ago, is much more than just a fashion statement -- though athletes like German beach volleyball player Katrin Holtwick use it for both. It takes a special certification just to be licensed to apply it and once on, it separates the upper layer of the skin from muscle tissue. This extra space allows for muscles to fire and recover more quickly.

    ++

    Why do divers shower after getting out of the pool?

    Since the water in the diving pool is typically warmer than the conditions in the venue, divers like Canada's Riley McCormick and Britain's Tom Daley will take a warm shower (or sit in a hot bath, or both) upon exiting the pool to keep their muscles warm. Without it, they could cramp, preventing the flexibility and agility required to execute their dives.

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    Why do track e

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  • There are many strange and wonderful things about the modern pentathlon, but perhaps the most extraordinary of the lot comes in the equestrian section.

    Rather than bring their own horses, athletes are randomly assigned a horse 20 minutes before they're set to compete.

    Sometimes, it goes well. At other times, you have what happened to South Korea's Woojin Hwang, who was thrown from his unruly mount, Shearwater Oscar, at the beginning of his ride.

    Hwang Woojin, of South Korea, and his horse Shearwater Oscar, fall down after the horse bucked after the starting bell sounded to start their run in t

    The trouble started almost immediately. Shearwater Oscar didn't take kindly to a new face, bucking and neighing at the outset.

    And when his new rider both refused to get off, and then accidentally guided him into one of the obstacles, that was that .

    Woojin Hwang, of Korea, lays on the ground after getting bucked off his horse Shearwater Oscar, in the equestrian show jumping stage of the men's mode

    Each athlete has an official page on the London 2012 website. Some athletes have bios that run thousands of words (Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, for instance). Others have scant information. The only nugget that appears in Hwang's bio: "Nickname is 'Careless' [because he makes many small mistake

    ...Read More »

  • With the Olympics now in his rear-view mirror, Michael Phelps is doing the most American thing of all: going on a reality show.

    Thankfully for most fans of the greatest Olympian in history, Phelps won't be trying to secure a wife or bunking up with a bunch of tanning-machine-enhanced, hair-product-addled loons. Instead, Phelps will be the star of the latest installment of famed golf instructor Hank Haney's instructional series "The Haney Project."

    ''I'm excited about this project with Golf Channel," Phelps said in a statement, "and I'm looking forward to working with Hank and see what we can do together on the golf course."

    Phelps thus joins Charles Barkley, Ray Romano and Rush Limbaugh as a student taking very public lessons on Haney's reality show. Haney is best known for coaching Tiger Woods, of course, and remains a visible presence in the golf world to this day.

    The series will likely run into eight episodes, and will feature Phelps playing on the world's best courses. (Jealous t

    ...Read More »

  • After years of gruelling training, two Egyptian wrestlers crashed out of the Olympics without breaking sweat on Sunday after they were late for the start of their competition.

    The pair were disqualified after they arrived late at the wrestling arena on the last day of the Games.

    Sunday's bouts started at an earlier 08:30 a.m. British time - rather than the usual 1:00 p.m. - because the competition must end before the closing ceremony of the London Olympics later in the day.

    It was a sad end to the Games for Abdou Omar Abdou Ahmed, 23, who competes in the 66kg freestyle, and Saleh Emara, 30, a 96kg wrestler.

    "They thought they were wrestling at 1 p.m. like normal but because of the closing ceremony they changed the timing to 8.30 a.m. and the team didn't know about it," an Egyptian team spokesman said.

    "It was in the booklet but they didn't see it and because of that they were a little bit late.

    "We know it is our mistake. We are investigating the matter now. We are calling the admini

    ...Read More »

  • The BBC were forced into an embarrassing on-air apology after referring to gold medal-winning boxer Luke Campbell's mother and sister as dead — while his mother had been alive and in attendance for his moment of triumph.

    The 24-year-old outpointed Ireland's John Joe Nevin in the final match of the bantamweight division to pick up Great Britain's 28th Olympic gold of the medal at the London 2012 Games.

    Presenter Gabby Logan, praising the fighter on his victory, mentioned his triumph over adversity, given the loss of Campbell's mother and sister in a car crash in 2006.

    However Campbell's background was confused with that of fellow British fighter Freddie Evans, whose mother Tracy and sister Scarlett passed away in 2006. Evans will box for the gold medal in the welterweight division later today.

    Fans took to Twitter to send their congratulations and commiserations to Campbell — only to find out that Campbell's family were indeed fine from users who knew better.

    And Logan had to make a h

    ...Read More »

  • Our sister site in the States, Yahoo! Sports, has published a 'report card' on how they felt London did in hosting the Olympic Games.  Read their thoughts below:

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    Great Britain doesn't like to be made fun of, and heading into these Olympic Games one of the primary concerns for the locals was not being embarrassed.

    Following the extraordinary and lavish display of national pride that was Beijing, 2008 was going to be a difficult act to follow, and Londoners feared a calamity-ridden Games that would give the city and the country a black eye in front of the world.

    Throw in the administrative hurdle of a global economic downturn, and London had plenty of factors stacked against it, but has managed to get to the finish line without any major issues.

    As ever at the end of an Olympics, thoughts turn to how it stacks up against those that came before it. So how did London fare?

    Crowds: B+

    The ones that got in were terrific. Eighty thousand per night at track and field, swimming and boxing

    ...Read More »

  • Zofia Noceti-Klepacka of Poland won the bronze medal in the women's RS-X at the London Olympics, a windsurfing event that involved a heavy sailboard.

    Now she intends to sell it — but for a very worthy cause.

    Noceti-Klepacka has a neighbuor named Zuzia, a five-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis. She requires constant care, and that care has proven to be a financial challenge to her family. She's also Noceti-Klepacka's biggest fan.

    So Noceti-Klepacka vowed before the Summer Games that if she won a medal, she would put it up for auction, with the proceeds going to Zuzia and her family.

    She placed third in the women's RS-X final, finishing just three seconds ahead of a rival from Finland and capturing the bronze medal for Zuzia.

    No word yet on how and where the medal will be auctioned.

    Via Polskie Radio, Noceti-Klepacka said:

    "Susan is my neighbour, I've known her since birth. I've seen that she has had problems, how many times she was in the hospital, she spent so much time there with h

    ...Read More »

Medal Count

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States 46 29 29 104
2 China 38 27 23 88
3 Great Britain 29 17 19 65
4 Russia 24 26 32 82
5 South Korea 13 8 7 28
6 Germany 11 19 14 44
7 France 11 11 12 34
8 Italy 8 9 11 28
POLL

Will Britain top their 2012 medal haul at Rio 2016?

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