Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich slideshow

The Bayern Munich and Germany forward believes Liverpool's attacker could make himself a real contender for the award if the Reds win Saturday
Champions League crown could fire Salah to Ballon d'Or - Muller
The Bayern Munich and Germany forward believes Liverpool's attacker could make himself a real contender for the award if the Reds win Saturday
One thousand stranded Liverpool fans’ hopes of reaching Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev were unresolved on Thursday night after the city’s mayor Joe Anderson attempted to broker landing slots for two of the three supporters’ charter flights cancelled at the last minute. Anderson tweeted that he and Kiev mayor Vitaly Klitschko, the brother of former heavyweight world champion Wladimir, and himself a former heavyweight champion, were “working closely” and “close to a solution” after a day of chaos for those who had booked charter flights. By late Thursday night, Anderson tweeted that he had secured two fresh landing slots for the charter planes at Kiev’s Borispyl airport but that the operator in question, World Choice Sports, had chosen to take only one Anderson challenged World Choice Sports to organise the planes to make use of the landing times he had negotiated saying he was “amazed it’s not been sorted”. Earlier in the day the club had confirmed that around 1,000 fans had been left without any way of reaching Saturday’s final against Real Madrid after the Widnes-based travel operator World Choice Sports said it was left with no option but to cancel flights. In a statement, World Choice Sports said that it had been forced to cancel three charter flights into Kiev’s Borispyl airport after it failed to secure the landing slots, blaming the cancellations on the destination airport. In a statement of their own, Liverpool football club said that it was trying to work with “stakeholders” over resolving the problem. Working closely with @Vitaliy_Klychko to get the Kiev flights sorted - thank you for your help & support. Close to solution now and more details will follow soon.— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) May 24, 2018 Liverpool blamed a “dispute” between World Choice Sports and Borispyl airport “over the size of the aircraft” for the cancellation of the flights from Liverpool John Lennon airport. The club said that it had worked with the city council, Uefa and the authorities in Kiev, “endeavouring to resolve the issue since it first came to light and will continue to do so until all avenues have been exhausted.” In Kiev, the first Liverpool supporters who had managed to make the final began arriving on Thursday. Jon Hemphill, 64, a retired pharmaceutical company director from Liverpool, said that he had booked his hotel last May, even before his team had made it through their qualifying tie with Hoffenheim to reach the group stages. He and friends had taken a flight from Stansted to Warsaw and then an overnight train journey to Kiev lasting 16 hours. “The train could have been better, it was definitely Soviet era,” he said. “But it was on time, it came into the station bang on 11.02.” A veteran of Liverpool’s European Cup finals at Wembley in 1978, Paris in 1981 and Istanbul in 2005, as well as the Europa League final in 2016, he said that the flights and accommodation had cost between £600 and £700. Plenty of Liverpool fans have already made it to Kiev Credit: AFP Sam Furniss, 31, from Liverpool, who works in logistics, had come on three flights from Manchester to Berlin to Vilnius in Lithuania and on to Kiev. He said that he believed Madrid reaching the final a day earlier than Liverpool had meant they were able to book the aircraft slots at the Kiev airports for planes flying in from Spain. “Why put it in a city that can’t cope?” he asked. Stuart Gee, 42, an engineer from Liverpool who lives in Perth, Western Australia, had spent around £3,600 on flying from Perth via Doha in Qatar, a cost that he conceded was “ridiculously expensive”. He said that his flight from Doha had been at least half occupied by Liverpool fans coming to the Ukrainian capital for the final. He said that the difficulty in getting to Kiev was frustrating but made the final, and being there in person, “something special”. Gillis Green, 54, a lawyer from Baltimore in the United States had brought his son Russell, 22, to see the final in Kiev as a graduation present. Gillis said: “I am embarrassed to admit we paid about $7,000 [£5,220] for the tickets and another $1,000 [$750] for the Airbnb [accommodation] and I am not going to say how much we paid for the tickets.” The two of them had become Liverpool fans watching the team in the US Premier League coverage. Mo Salah touches down in Kiev Credit: Getty images Andy Clifford, 49, from Scunthorpe, had travelled in a group of 11 from Birmingham to Warsaw, staying a night in Poland, and then on to Kiev. He and his friends had decided to book the flights after Liverpool’s first leg semi-final win over Roma at Anfield on April 25, hedging their position by also placing a bet on Roma to go through. They had since twice had Kiev accommodation cancelled and were staying in a hostel – “no stars, if anything it has minus stars” – that ordinarily cost £8 a night per person but had raised its rates to £50 per night. Walking through the city’s botanical gardens, Christian Klein-Heinz and his three friends cut an unusual sight. All four were dressed in German lederhosen and Bayern Munich shirts. They had booked their trip to Kiev in December with a mixture of hope and belief that Bayern would be in the final. “We do it every year,” said the 53-year-old IT company director. “We hope that Bayern make it and if we don’t we just go anyway and make a weekend of it. We have been to Milan and Cardiff as well in recent years. This time we are Liverpool fans. Jurgen Klopp is a good trainer. In the Bundesliga and in the final at Wembley in 2013 he always made it difficult for Bayern.”
The truth behind Liverpool fans' costly nightmare following their team to Kiev
One thousand stranded Liverpool fans’ hopes of reaching Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev were unresolved on Thursday night after the city’s mayor Joe Anderson attempted to broker landing slots for two of the three supporters’ charter flights cancelled at the last minute. Anderson tweeted that he and Kiev mayor Vitaly Klitschko, the brother of former heavyweight world champion Wladimir, and himself a former heavyweight champion, were “working closely” and “close to a solution” after a day of chaos for those who had booked charter flights. By late Thursday night, Anderson tweeted that he had secured two fresh landing slots for the charter planes at Kiev’s Borispyl airport but that the operator in question, World Choice Sports, had chosen to take only one Anderson challenged World Choice Sports to organise the planes to make use of the landing times he had negotiated saying he was “amazed it’s not been sorted”. Earlier in the day the club had confirmed that around 1,000 fans had been left without any way of reaching Saturday’s final against Real Madrid after the Widnes-based travel operator World Choice Sports said it was left with no option but to cancel flights. In a statement, World Choice Sports said that it had been forced to cancel three charter flights into Kiev’s Borispyl airport after it failed to secure the landing slots, blaming the cancellations on the destination airport. In a statement of their own, Liverpool football club said that it was trying to work with “stakeholders” over resolving the problem. Working closely with @Vitaliy_Klychko to get the Kiev flights sorted - thank you for your help & support. Close to solution now and more details will follow soon.— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) May 24, 2018 Liverpool blamed a “dispute” between World Choice Sports and Borispyl airport “over the size of the aircraft” for the cancellation of the flights from Liverpool John Lennon airport. The club said that it had worked with the city council, Uefa and the authorities in Kiev, “endeavouring to resolve the issue since it first came to light and will continue to do so until all avenues have been exhausted.” In Kiev, the first Liverpool supporters who had managed to make the final began arriving on Thursday. Jon Hemphill, 64, a retired pharmaceutical company director from Liverpool, said that he had booked his hotel last May, even before his team had made it through their qualifying tie with Hoffenheim to reach the group stages. He and friends had taken a flight from Stansted to Warsaw and then an overnight train journey to Kiev lasting 16 hours. “The train could have been better, it was definitely Soviet era,” he said. “But it was on time, it came into the station bang on 11.02.” A veteran of Liverpool’s European Cup finals at Wembley in 1978, Paris in 1981 and Istanbul in 2005, as well as the Europa League final in 2016, he said that the flights and accommodation had cost between £600 and £700. Plenty of Liverpool fans have already made it to Kiev Credit: AFP Sam Furniss, 31, from Liverpool, who works in logistics, had come on three flights from Manchester to Berlin to Vilnius in Lithuania and on to Kiev. He said that he believed Madrid reaching the final a day earlier than Liverpool had meant they were able to book the aircraft slots at the Kiev airports for planes flying in from Spain. “Why put it in a city that can’t cope?” he asked. Stuart Gee, 42, an engineer from Liverpool who lives in Perth, Western Australia, had spent around £3,600 on flying from Perth via Doha in Qatar, a cost that he conceded was “ridiculously expensive”. He said that his flight from Doha had been at least half occupied by Liverpool fans coming to the Ukrainian capital for the final. He said that the difficulty in getting to Kiev was frustrating but made the final, and being there in person, “something special”. Gillis Green, 54, a lawyer from Baltimore in the United States had brought his son Russell, 22, to see the final in Kiev as a graduation present. Gillis said: “I am embarrassed to admit we paid about $7,000 [£5,220] for the tickets and another $1,000 [$750] for the Airbnb [accommodation] and I am not going to say how much we paid for the tickets.” The two of them had become Liverpool fans watching the team in the US Premier League coverage. Mo Salah touches down in Kiev Credit: Getty images Andy Clifford, 49, from Scunthorpe, had travelled in a group of 11 from Birmingham to Warsaw, staying a night in Poland, and then on to Kiev. He and his friends had decided to book the flights after Liverpool’s first leg semi-final win over Roma at Anfield on April 25, hedging their position by also placing a bet on Roma to go through. They had since twice had Kiev accommodation cancelled and were staying in a hostel – “no stars, if anything it has minus stars” – that ordinarily cost £8 a night per person but had raised its rates to £50 per night. Walking through the city’s botanical gardens, Christian Klein-Heinz and his three friends cut an unusual sight. All four were dressed in German lederhosen and Bayern Munich shirts. They had booked their trip to Kiev in December with a mixture of hope and belief that Bayern would be in the final. “We do it every year,” said the 53-year-old IT company director. “We hope that Bayern make it and if we don’t we just go anyway and make a weekend of it. We have been to Milan and Cardiff as well in recent years. This time we are Liverpool fans. Jurgen Klopp is a good trainer. In the Bundesliga and in the final at Wembley in 2013 he always made it difficult for Bayern.”
One thousand stranded Liverpool fans’ hopes of reaching Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev were unresolved on Thursday night after the city’s mayor Joe Anderson attempted to broker landing slots for two of the three supporters’ charter flights cancelled at the last minute. Anderson tweeted that he and Kiev mayor Vitaly Klitschko, the brother of former heavyweight world champion Wladimir, and himself a former heavyweight champion, were “working closely” and “close to a solution” after a day of chaos for those who had booked charter flights. By late Thursday night, Anderson tweeted that he had secured two fresh landing slots for the charter planes at Kiev’s Borispyl airport but that the operator in question, World Choice Sports, had chosen to take only one Anderson challenged World Choice Sports to organise the planes to make use of the landing times he had negotiated saying he was “amazed it’s not been sorted”. Earlier in the day the club had confirmed that around 1,000 fans had been left without any way of reaching Saturday’s final against Real Madrid after the Widnes-based travel operator World Choice Sports said it was left with no option but to cancel flights. In a statement, World Choice Sports said that it had been forced to cancel three charter flights into Kiev’s Borispyl airport after it failed to secure the landing slots, blaming the cancellations on the destination airport. In a statement of their own, Liverpool football club said that it was trying to work with “stakeholders” over resolving the problem. Working closely with @Vitaliy_Klychko to get the Kiev flights sorted - thank you for your help & support. Close to solution now and more details will follow soon.— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) May 24, 2018 Liverpool blamed a “dispute” between World Choice Sports and Borispyl airport “over the size of the aircraft” for the cancellation of the flights from Liverpool John Lennon airport. The club said that it had worked with the city council, Uefa and the authorities in Kiev, “endeavouring to resolve the issue since it first came to light and will continue to do so until all avenues have been exhausted.” In Kiev, the first Liverpool supporters who had managed to make the final began arriving on Thursday. Jon Hemphill, 64, a retired pharmaceutical company director from Liverpool, said that he had booked his hotel last May, even before his team had made it through their qualifying tie with Hoffenheim to reach the group stages. He and friends had taken a flight from Stansted to Warsaw and then an overnight train journey to Kiev lasting 16 hours. “The train could have been better, it was definitely Soviet era,” he said. “But it was on time, it came into the station bang on 11.02.” A veteran of Liverpool’s European Cup finals at Wembley in 1978, Paris in 1981 and Istanbul in 2005, as well as the Europa League final in 2016, he said that the flights and accommodation had cost between £600 and £700. Plenty of Liverpool fans have already made it to Kiev Credit: AFP Sam Furniss, 31, from Liverpool, who works in logistics, had come on three flights from Manchester to Berlin to Vilnius in Lithuania and on to Kiev. He said that he believed Madrid reaching the final a day earlier than Liverpool had meant they were able to book the aircraft slots at the Kiev airports for planes flying in from Spain. “Why put it in a city that can’t cope?” he asked. Stuart Gee, 42, an engineer from Liverpool who lives in Perth, Western Australia, had spent around £3,600 on flying from Perth via Doha in Qatar, a cost that he conceded was “ridiculously expensive”. He said that his flight from Doha had been at least half occupied by Liverpool fans coming to the Ukrainian capital for the final. He said that the difficulty in getting to Kiev was frustrating but made the final, and being there in person, “something special”. Gillis Green, 54, a lawyer from Baltimore in the United States had brought his son Russell, 22, to see the final in Kiev as a graduation present. Gillis said: “I am embarrassed to admit we paid about $7,000 [£5,220] for the tickets and another $1,000 [$750] for the Airbnb [accommodation] and I am not going to say how much we paid for the tickets.” The two of them had become Liverpool fans watching the team in the US Premier League coverage. Mo Salah touches down in Kiev Credit: Getty images Andy Clifford, 49, from Scunthorpe, had travelled in a group of 11 from Birmingham to Warsaw, staying a night in Poland, and then on to Kiev. He and his friends had decided to book the flights after Liverpool’s first leg semi-final win over Roma at Anfield on April 25, hedging their position by also placing a bet on Roma to go through. They had since twice had Kiev accommodation cancelled and were staying in a hostel – “no stars, if anything it has minus stars” – that ordinarily cost £8 a night per person but had raised its rates to £50 per night. Walking through the city’s botanical gardens, Christian Klein-Heinz and his three friends cut an unusual sight. All four were dressed in German lederhosen and Bayern Munich shirts. They had booked their trip to Kiev in December with a mixture of hope and belief that Bayern would be in the final. “We do it every year,” said the 53-year-old IT company director. “We hope that Bayern make it and if we don’t we just go anyway and make a weekend of it. We have been to Milan and Cardiff as well in recent years. This time we are Liverpool fans. Jurgen Klopp is a good trainer. In the Bundesliga and in the final at Wembley in 2013 he always made it difficult for Bayern.”
The truth behind Liverpool fans' costly nightmare following their team to Kiev
One thousand stranded Liverpool fans’ hopes of reaching Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev were unresolved on Thursday night after the city’s mayor Joe Anderson attempted to broker landing slots for two of the three supporters’ charter flights cancelled at the last minute. Anderson tweeted that he and Kiev mayor Vitaly Klitschko, the brother of former heavyweight world champion Wladimir, and himself a former heavyweight champion, were “working closely” and “close to a solution” after a day of chaos for those who had booked charter flights. By late Thursday night, Anderson tweeted that he had secured two fresh landing slots for the charter planes at Kiev’s Borispyl airport but that the operator in question, World Choice Sports, had chosen to take only one Anderson challenged World Choice Sports to organise the planes to make use of the landing times he had negotiated saying he was “amazed it’s not been sorted”. Earlier in the day the club had confirmed that around 1,000 fans had been left without any way of reaching Saturday’s final against Real Madrid after the Widnes-based travel operator World Choice Sports said it was left with no option but to cancel flights. In a statement, World Choice Sports said that it had been forced to cancel three charter flights into Kiev’s Borispyl airport after it failed to secure the landing slots, blaming the cancellations on the destination airport. In a statement of their own, Liverpool football club said that it was trying to work with “stakeholders” over resolving the problem. Working closely with @Vitaliy_Klychko to get the Kiev flights sorted - thank you for your help & support. Close to solution now and more details will follow soon.— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) May 24, 2018 Liverpool blamed a “dispute” between World Choice Sports and Borispyl airport “over the size of the aircraft” for the cancellation of the flights from Liverpool John Lennon airport. The club said that it had worked with the city council, Uefa and the authorities in Kiev, “endeavouring to resolve the issue since it first came to light and will continue to do so until all avenues have been exhausted.” In Kiev, the first Liverpool supporters who had managed to make the final began arriving on Thursday. Jon Hemphill, 64, a retired pharmaceutical company director from Liverpool, said that he had booked his hotel last May, even before his team had made it through their qualifying tie with Hoffenheim to reach the group stages. He and friends had taken a flight from Stansted to Warsaw and then an overnight train journey to Kiev lasting 16 hours. “The train could have been better, it was definitely Soviet era,” he said. “But it was on time, it came into the station bang on 11.02.” A veteran of Liverpool’s European Cup finals at Wembley in 1978, Paris in 1981 and Istanbul in 2005, as well as the Europa League final in 2016, he said that the flights and accommodation had cost between £600 and £700. Plenty of Liverpool fans have already made it to Kiev Credit: AFP Sam Furniss, 31, from Liverpool, who works in logistics, had come on three flights from Manchester to Berlin to Vilnius in Lithuania and on to Kiev. He said that he believed Madrid reaching the final a day earlier than Liverpool had meant they were able to book the aircraft slots at the Kiev airports for planes flying in from Spain. “Why put it in a city that can’t cope?” he asked. Stuart Gee, 42, an engineer from Liverpool who lives in Perth, Western Australia, had spent around £3,600 on flying from Perth via Doha in Qatar, a cost that he conceded was “ridiculously expensive”. He said that his flight from Doha had been at least half occupied by Liverpool fans coming to the Ukrainian capital for the final. He said that the difficulty in getting to Kiev was frustrating but made the final, and being there in person, “something special”. Gillis Green, 54, a lawyer from Baltimore in the United States had brought his son Russell, 22, to see the final in Kiev as a graduation present. Gillis said: “I am embarrassed to admit we paid about $7,000 [£5,220] for the tickets and another $1,000 [$750] for the Airbnb [accommodation] and I am not going to say how much we paid for the tickets.” The two of them had become Liverpool fans watching the team in the US Premier League coverage. Mo Salah touches down in Kiev Credit: Getty images Andy Clifford, 49, from Scunthorpe, had travelled in a group of 11 from Birmingham to Warsaw, staying a night in Poland, and then on to Kiev. He and his friends had decided to book the flights after Liverpool’s first leg semi-final win over Roma at Anfield on April 25, hedging their position by also placing a bet on Roma to go through. They had since twice had Kiev accommodation cancelled and were staying in a hostel – “no stars, if anything it has minus stars” – that ordinarily cost £8 a night per person but had raised its rates to £50 per night. Walking through the city’s botanical gardens, Christian Klein-Heinz and his three friends cut an unusual sight. All four were dressed in German lederhosen and Bayern Munich shirts. They had booked their trip to Kiev in December with a mixture of hope and belief that Bayern would be in the final. “We do it every year,” said the 53-year-old IT company director. “We hope that Bayern make it and if we don’t we just go anyway and make a weekend of it. We have been to Milan and Cardiff as well in recent years. This time we are Liverpool fans. Jurgen Klopp is a good trainer. In the Bundesliga and in the final at Wembley in 2013 he always made it difficult for Bayern.”
One thousand stranded Liverpool fans’ hopes of reaching Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev were unresolved on Thursday night after the city’s mayor Joe Anderson attempted to broker landing slots for two of the three supporters’ charter flights cancelled at the last minute. Anderson tweeted that he and Kiev mayor Vitaly Klitschko, the brother of former heavyweight world champion Wladimir, and himself a former heavyweight champion, were “working closely” and “close to a solution” after a day of chaos for those who had booked charter flights. By late Thursday night, Anderson tweeted that he had secured two fresh landing slots for the charter planes at Kiev’s Borispyl airport but that the operator in question, World Choice Sports, had chosen to take only one Anderson challenged World Choice Sports to organise the planes to make use of the landing times he had negotiated saying he was “amazed it’s not been sorted”. Earlier in the day the club had confirmed that around 1,000 fans had been left without any way of reaching Saturday’s final against Real Madrid after the Widnes-based travel operator World Choice Sports said it was left with no option but to cancel flights. In a statement, World Choice Sports said that it had been forced to cancel three charter flights into Kiev’s Borispyl airport after it failed to secure the landing slots, blaming the cancellations on the destination airport. In a statement of their own, Liverpool football club said that it was trying to work with “stakeholders” over resolving the problem. Working closely with @Vitaliy_Klychko to get the Kiev flights sorted - thank you for your help & support. Close to solution now and more details will follow soon.— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) May 24, 2018 Liverpool blamed a “dispute” between World Choice Sports and Borispyl airport “over the size of the aircraft” for the cancellation of the flights from Liverpool John Lennon airport. The club said that it had worked with the city council, Uefa and the authorities in Kiev, “endeavouring to resolve the issue since it first came to light and will continue to do so until all avenues have been exhausted.” In Kiev, the first Liverpool supporters who had managed to make the final began arriving on Thursday. Jon Hemphill, 64, a retired pharmaceutical company director from Liverpool, said that he had booked his hotel last May, even before his team had made it through their qualifying tie with Hoffenheim to reach the group stages. He and friends had taken a flight from Stansted to Warsaw and then an overnight train journey to Kiev lasting 16 hours. “The train could have been better, it was definitely Soviet era,” he said. “But it was on time, it came into the station bang on 11.02.” A veteran of Liverpool’s European Cup finals at Wembley in 1978, Paris in 1981 and Istanbul in 2005, as well as the Europa League final in 2016, he said that the flights and accommodation had cost between £600 and £700. Plenty of Liverpool fans have already made it to Kiev Credit: AFP Sam Furniss, 31, from Liverpool, who works in logistics, had come on three flights from Manchester to Berlin to Vilnius in Lithuania and on to Kiev. He said that he believed Madrid reaching the final a day earlier than Liverpool had meant they were able to book the aircraft slots at the Kiev airports for planes flying in from Spain. “Why put it in a city that can’t cope?” he asked. Stuart Gee, 42, an engineer from Liverpool who lives in Perth, Western Australia, had spent around £3,600 on flying from Perth via Doha in Qatar, a cost that he conceded was “ridiculously expensive”. He said that his flight from Doha had been at least half occupied by Liverpool fans coming to the Ukrainian capital for the final. He said that the difficulty in getting to Kiev was frustrating but made the final, and being there in person, “something special”. Gillis Green, 54, a lawyer from Baltimore in the United States had brought his son Russell, 22, to see the final in Kiev as a graduation present. Gillis said: “I am embarrassed to admit we paid about $7,000 [£5,220] for the tickets and another $1,000 [$750] for the Airbnb [accommodation] and I am not going to say how much we paid for the tickets.” The two of them had become Liverpool fans watching the team in the US Premier League coverage. Mo Salah touches down in Kiev Credit: Getty images Andy Clifford, 49, from Scunthorpe, had travelled in a group of 11 from Birmingham to Warsaw, staying a night in Poland, and then on to Kiev. He and his friends had decided to book the flights after Liverpool’s first leg semi-final win over Roma at Anfield on April 25, hedging their position by also placing a bet on Roma to go through. They had since twice had Kiev accommodation cancelled and were staying in a hostel – “no stars, if anything it has minus stars” – that ordinarily cost £8 a night per person but had raised its rates to £50 per night. Walking through the city’s botanical gardens, Christian Klein-Heinz and his three friends cut an unusual sight. All four were dressed in German lederhosen and Bayern Munich shirts. They had booked their trip to Kiev in December with a mixture of hope and belief that Bayern would be in the final. “We do it every year,” said the 53-year-old IT company director. “We hope that Bayern make it and if we don’t we just go anyway and make a weekend of it. We have been to Milan and Cardiff as well in recent years. This time we are Liverpool fans. Jurgen Klopp is a good trainer. In the Bundesliga and in the final at Wembley in 2013 he always made it difficult for Bayern.”
The truth behind Liverpool fans' costly nightmare following their team to Kiev
One thousand stranded Liverpool fans’ hopes of reaching Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev were unresolved on Thursday night after the city’s mayor Joe Anderson attempted to broker landing slots for two of the three supporters’ charter flights cancelled at the last minute. Anderson tweeted that he and Kiev mayor Vitaly Klitschko, the brother of former heavyweight world champion Wladimir, and himself a former heavyweight champion, were “working closely” and “close to a solution” after a day of chaos for those who had booked charter flights. By late Thursday night, Anderson tweeted that he had secured two fresh landing slots for the charter planes at Kiev’s Borispyl airport but that the operator in question, World Choice Sports, had chosen to take only one Anderson challenged World Choice Sports to organise the planes to make use of the landing times he had negotiated saying he was “amazed it’s not been sorted”. Earlier in the day the club had confirmed that around 1,000 fans had been left without any way of reaching Saturday’s final against Real Madrid after the Widnes-based travel operator World Choice Sports said it was left with no option but to cancel flights. In a statement, World Choice Sports said that it had been forced to cancel three charter flights into Kiev’s Borispyl airport after it failed to secure the landing slots, blaming the cancellations on the destination airport. In a statement of their own, Liverpool football club said that it was trying to work with “stakeholders” over resolving the problem. Working closely with @Vitaliy_Klychko to get the Kiev flights sorted - thank you for your help & support. Close to solution now and more details will follow soon.— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) May 24, 2018 Liverpool blamed a “dispute” between World Choice Sports and Borispyl airport “over the size of the aircraft” for the cancellation of the flights from Liverpool John Lennon airport. The club said that it had worked with the city council, Uefa and the authorities in Kiev, “endeavouring to resolve the issue since it first came to light and will continue to do so until all avenues have been exhausted.” In Kiev, the first Liverpool supporters who had managed to make the final began arriving on Thursday. Jon Hemphill, 64, a retired pharmaceutical company director from Liverpool, said that he had booked his hotel last May, even before his team had made it through their qualifying tie with Hoffenheim to reach the group stages. He and friends had taken a flight from Stansted to Warsaw and then an overnight train journey to Kiev lasting 16 hours. “The train could have been better, it was definitely Soviet era,” he said. “But it was on time, it came into the station bang on 11.02.” A veteran of Liverpool’s European Cup finals at Wembley in 1978, Paris in 1981 and Istanbul in 2005, as well as the Europa League final in 2016, he said that the flights and accommodation had cost between £600 and £700. Plenty of Liverpool fans have already made it to Kiev Credit: AFP Sam Furniss, 31, from Liverpool, who works in logistics, had come on three flights from Manchester to Berlin to Vilnius in Lithuania and on to Kiev. He said that he believed Madrid reaching the final a day earlier than Liverpool had meant they were able to book the aircraft slots at the Kiev airports for planes flying in from Spain. “Why put it in a city that can’t cope?” he asked. Stuart Gee, 42, an engineer from Liverpool who lives in Perth, Western Australia, had spent around £3,600 on flying from Perth via Doha in Qatar, a cost that he conceded was “ridiculously expensive”. He said that his flight from Doha had been at least half occupied by Liverpool fans coming to the Ukrainian capital for the final. He said that the difficulty in getting to Kiev was frustrating but made the final, and being there in person, “something special”. Gillis Green, 54, a lawyer from Baltimore in the United States had brought his son Russell, 22, to see the final in Kiev as a graduation present. Gillis said: “I am embarrassed to admit we paid about $7,000 [£5,220] for the tickets and another $1,000 [$750] for the Airbnb [accommodation] and I am not going to say how much we paid for the tickets.” The two of them had become Liverpool fans watching the team in the US Premier League coverage. Mo Salah touches down in Kiev Credit: Getty images Andy Clifford, 49, from Scunthorpe, had travelled in a group of 11 from Birmingham to Warsaw, staying a night in Poland, and then on to Kiev. He and his friends had decided to book the flights after Liverpool’s first leg semi-final win over Roma at Anfield on April 25, hedging their position by also placing a bet on Roma to go through. They had since twice had Kiev accommodation cancelled and were staying in a hostel – “no stars, if anything it has minus stars” – that ordinarily cost £8 a night per person but had raised its rates to £50 per night. Walking through the city’s botanical gardens, Christian Klein-Heinz and his three friends cut an unusual sight. All four were dressed in German lederhosen and Bayern Munich shirts. They had booked their trip to Kiev in December with a mixture of hope and belief that Bayern would be in the final. “We do it every year,” said the 53-year-old IT company director. “We hope that Bayern make it and if we don’t we just go anyway and make a weekend of it. We have been to Milan and Cardiff as well in recent years. This time we are Liverpool fans. Jurgen Klopp is a good trainer. In the Bundesliga and in the final at Wembley in 2013 he always made it difficult for Bayern.”
Mauricio Pochettino has handed Tottenham Hotspur a huge boost by signing a new five-year contract worth up to £8.5million-a-year. The deal, which runs to 2023, makes Pochettino one of the highest earning managers in the Premier League behind Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. The Argentine has been rewarded for guiding Spurs into the Champions League for a third successive season and means he will lead the club into the new stadium. Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are among the admirers of Pochettino, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has convinced the 46-year-old that he can achieve his ambitions in North London. “I am honoured to have signed a new long-term contract as we approach one of the most significant periods in the club's history and be the manager that will lead this team into our new world-class stadium,” said Pochettino. ✍️ pic.twitter.com/Ao8MAbh9zh— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 24, 2018 “This is just one of the factors that makes this one of the most exciting jobs in world football and we are already making plans to ensure we continue to build on the great work that everyone has contributed to over the past four years.” The timing of the new contract could not be better for Spurs with Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid future likely to be the subject of debate after Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool. Telegraph Sport revealed last month that Tottenham were confident Pochettino would recommit himself to the club this summer. He raised doubts over his future by urging Levy to back him in entering a new phase with Spurs, but the pair held positive talks last week and have now struck an agreement. Pochettino plans a £150m overhaul of his Tottenham squad this summer to try to secure a first piece of silverware with the club. Manchester United target Toby Alderweireld is expected to head the list of players departing with Spurs also willing to listen to offers for left-back Danny Rose and midfielder Mousa Dembele. Telegraph Sport told you so | How Matt Law led the way In terms of incoming players, Pochettino has targeted the likes of forwards Anthony Martial and Wilfried Zaha, left-back Ryan Sessegnon and central defender Matthijs de Ligt. Martial is also a target of Chelsea, but the Frenchman is thought to be keen on the idea of moving to Spurs to work under Pochettino. The former Southampton manager wants Spurs to do their business as early as possible and the swift announcement of his contract will help the club try to attract new players ahead of their rivals. “Daniel and I have spoken at length about our aspirations for this football club,” added Pochettino. “We both share the same philosophies to achieve long-term, sustainable success. “This is a special club - we always strive to be creative in the way we work both on and off the pitch and will continue to stick to our principles in order to achieve the success this club deserves.” Daniel Levy says he is 'delighted' at the news Credit: Getty images Pochettino’s new contract will help Spurs keep all their stars with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Jan Vertonghen, Hugo Lloris and Christian Eriksen all set to be offered new deals over the coming weeks and months. Pochettino’s previous Tottenham contract, which ran to 2021, was worth around £5.5m, meaning he has earned a £3m pay rise for his work over the last two years. His new deal also means Pochettino will earn around £3m more than new Arsenal head coach Unai Emery, who was this week confirmed as Arsene Wenger’s successor. As well as Pochettino, there are new Tottenham contracts for his staff – Jesus Perez, Miguel D’Agostino and Toni Jimenez. Levy said: “I am delighted that we have agreed a new, extended contract with Mauricio. We have been on an extraordinary journey and the times ahead look even more exciting as the club enters the next phase in its history. “Mauricio has fostered an incredible spirit in the team and has embraced a style of play our fans have loved watching. I know they will welcome this commitment by Mauricio.”
Mauricio Pochettino signs new five-year Tottenham contract worth £42.5m
Mauricio Pochettino has handed Tottenham Hotspur a huge boost by signing a new five-year contract worth up to £8.5million-a-year. The deal, which runs to 2023, makes Pochettino one of the highest earning managers in the Premier League behind Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. The Argentine has been rewarded for guiding Spurs into the Champions League for a third successive season and means he will lead the club into the new stadium. Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are among the admirers of Pochettino, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has convinced the 46-year-old that he can achieve his ambitions in North London. “I am honoured to have signed a new long-term contract as we approach one of the most significant periods in the club's history and be the manager that will lead this team into our new world-class stadium,” said Pochettino. ✍️ pic.twitter.com/Ao8MAbh9zh— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 24, 2018 “This is just one of the factors that makes this one of the most exciting jobs in world football and we are already making plans to ensure we continue to build on the great work that everyone has contributed to over the past four years.” The timing of the new contract could not be better for Spurs with Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid future likely to be the subject of debate after Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool. Telegraph Sport revealed last month that Tottenham were confident Pochettino would recommit himself to the club this summer. He raised doubts over his future by urging Levy to back him in entering a new phase with Spurs, but the pair held positive talks last week and have now struck an agreement. Pochettino plans a £150m overhaul of his Tottenham squad this summer to try to secure a first piece of silverware with the club. Manchester United target Toby Alderweireld is expected to head the list of players departing with Spurs also willing to listen to offers for left-back Danny Rose and midfielder Mousa Dembele. Telegraph Sport told you so | How Matt Law led the way In terms of incoming players, Pochettino has targeted the likes of forwards Anthony Martial and Wilfried Zaha, left-back Ryan Sessegnon and central defender Matthijs de Ligt. Martial is also a target of Chelsea, but the Frenchman is thought to be keen on the idea of moving to Spurs to work under Pochettino. The former Southampton manager wants Spurs to do their business as early as possible and the swift announcement of his contract will help the club try to attract new players ahead of their rivals. “Daniel and I have spoken at length about our aspirations for this football club,” added Pochettino. “We both share the same philosophies to achieve long-term, sustainable success. “This is a special club - we always strive to be creative in the way we work both on and off the pitch and will continue to stick to our principles in order to achieve the success this club deserves.” Daniel Levy says he is 'delighted' at the news Credit: Getty images Pochettino’s new contract will help Spurs keep all their stars with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Jan Vertonghen, Hugo Lloris and Christian Eriksen all set to be offered new deals over the coming weeks and months. Pochettino’s previous Tottenham contract, which ran to 2021, was worth around £5.5m, meaning he has earned a £3m pay rise for his work over the last two years. His new deal also means Pochettino will earn around £3m more than new Arsenal head coach Unai Emery, who was this week confirmed as Arsene Wenger’s successor. As well as Pochettino, there are new Tottenham contracts for his staff – Jesus Perez, Miguel D’Agostino and Toni Jimenez. Levy said: “I am delighted that we have agreed a new, extended contract with Mauricio. We have been on an extraordinary journey and the times ahead look even more exciting as the club enters the next phase in its history. “Mauricio has fostered an incredible spirit in the team and has embraced a style of play our fans have loved watching. I know they will welcome this commitment by Mauricio.”
Mauricio Pochettino has handed Tottenham Hotspur a huge boost by signing a new five-year contract worth up to £8.5million-a-year. The deal, which runs to 2023, makes Pochettino one of the highest earning managers in the Premier League behind Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. The Argentine has been rewarded for guiding Spurs into the Champions League for a third successive season and means he will lead the club into the new stadium. Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are among the admirers of Pochettino, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has convinced the 46-year-old that he can achieve his ambitions in North London. “I am honoured to have signed a new long-term contract as we approach one of the most significant periods in the club's history and be the manager that will lead this team into our new world-class stadium,” said Pochettino. ✍️ pic.twitter.com/Ao8MAbh9zh— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 24, 2018 “This is just one of the factors that makes this one of the most exciting jobs in world football and we are already making plans to ensure we continue to build on the great work that everyone has contributed to over the past four years.” The timing of the new contract could not be better for Spurs with Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid future likely to be the subject of debate after Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool. Telegraph Sport revealed last month that Tottenham were confident Pochettino would recommit himself to the club this summer. He raised doubts over his future by urging Levy to back him in entering a new phase with Spurs, but the pair held positive talks last week and have now struck an agreement. Pochettino plans a £150m overhaul of his Tottenham squad this summer to try to secure a first piece of silverware with the club. Manchester United target Toby Alderweireld is expected to head the list of players departing with Spurs also willing to listen to offers for left-back Danny Rose and midfielder Mousa Dembele. Telegraph Sport told you so | How Matt Law led the way In terms of incoming players, Pochettino has targeted the likes of forwards Anthony Martial and Wilfried Zaha, left-back Ryan Sessegnon and central defender Matthijs de Ligt. Martial is also a target of Chelsea, but the Frenchman is thought to be keen on the idea of moving to Spurs to work under Pochettino. The former Southampton manager wants Spurs to do their business as early as possible and the swift announcement of his contract will help the club try to attract new players ahead of their rivals. “Daniel and I have spoken at length about our aspirations for this football club,” added Pochettino. “We both share the same philosophies to achieve long-term, sustainable success. “This is a special club - we always strive to be creative in the way we work both on and off the pitch and will continue to stick to our principles in order to achieve the success this club deserves.” Daniel Levy says he is 'delighted' at the news Credit: Getty images Pochettino’s new contract will help Spurs keep all their stars with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Jan Vertonghen, Hugo Lloris and Christian Eriksen all set to be offered new deals over the coming weeks and months. Pochettino’s previous Tottenham contract, which ran to 2021, was worth around £5.5m, meaning he has earned a £3m pay rise for his work over the last two years. His new deal also means Pochettino will earn around £3m more than new Arsenal head coach Unai Emery, who was this week confirmed as Arsene Wenger’s successor. As well as Pochettino, there are new Tottenham contracts for his staff – Jesus Perez, Miguel D’Agostino and Toni Jimenez. Levy said: “I am delighted that we have agreed a new, extended contract with Mauricio. We have been on an extraordinary journey and the times ahead look even more exciting as the club enters the next phase in its history. “Mauricio has fostered an incredible spirit in the team and has embraced a style of play our fans have loved watching. I know they will welcome this commitment by Mauricio.”
Mauricio Pochettino signs new five-year Tottenham contract worth £42.5m
Mauricio Pochettino has handed Tottenham Hotspur a huge boost by signing a new five-year contract worth up to £8.5million-a-year. The deal, which runs to 2023, makes Pochettino one of the highest earning managers in the Premier League behind Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. The Argentine has been rewarded for guiding Spurs into the Champions League for a third successive season and means he will lead the club into the new stadium. Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are among the admirers of Pochettino, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has convinced the 46-year-old that he can achieve his ambitions in North London. “I am honoured to have signed a new long-term contract as we approach one of the most significant periods in the club's history and be the manager that will lead this team into our new world-class stadium,” said Pochettino. ✍️ pic.twitter.com/Ao8MAbh9zh— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 24, 2018 “This is just one of the factors that makes this one of the most exciting jobs in world football and we are already making plans to ensure we continue to build on the great work that everyone has contributed to over the past four years.” The timing of the new contract could not be better for Spurs with Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid future likely to be the subject of debate after Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool. Telegraph Sport revealed last month that Tottenham were confident Pochettino would recommit himself to the club this summer. He raised doubts over his future by urging Levy to back him in entering a new phase with Spurs, but the pair held positive talks last week and have now struck an agreement. Pochettino plans a £150m overhaul of his Tottenham squad this summer to try to secure a first piece of silverware with the club. Manchester United target Toby Alderweireld is expected to head the list of players departing with Spurs also willing to listen to offers for left-back Danny Rose and midfielder Mousa Dembele. Telegraph Sport told you so | How Matt Law led the way In terms of incoming players, Pochettino has targeted the likes of forwards Anthony Martial and Wilfried Zaha, left-back Ryan Sessegnon and central defender Matthijs de Ligt. Martial is also a target of Chelsea, but the Frenchman is thought to be keen on the idea of moving to Spurs to work under Pochettino. The former Southampton manager wants Spurs to do their business as early as possible and the swift announcement of his contract will help the club try to attract new players ahead of their rivals. “Daniel and I have spoken at length about our aspirations for this football club,” added Pochettino. “We both share the same philosophies to achieve long-term, sustainable success. “This is a special club - we always strive to be creative in the way we work both on and off the pitch and will continue to stick to our principles in order to achieve the success this club deserves.” Daniel Levy says he is 'delighted' at the news Credit: Getty images Pochettino’s new contract will help Spurs keep all their stars with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Jan Vertonghen, Hugo Lloris and Christian Eriksen all set to be offered new deals over the coming weeks and months. Pochettino’s previous Tottenham contract, which ran to 2021, was worth around £5.5m, meaning he has earned a £3m pay rise for his work over the last two years. His new deal also means Pochettino will earn around £3m more than new Arsenal head coach Unai Emery, who was this week confirmed as Arsene Wenger’s successor. As well as Pochettino, there are new Tottenham contracts for his staff – Jesus Perez, Miguel D’Agostino and Toni Jimenez. Levy said: “I am delighted that we have agreed a new, extended contract with Mauricio. We have been on an extraordinary journey and the times ahead look even more exciting as the club enters the next phase in its history. “Mauricio has fostered an incredible spirit in the team and has embraced a style of play our fans have loved watching. I know they will welcome this commitment by Mauricio.”
Soccer Football - Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 1, 2018 Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Juan Medina
Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich
Soccer Football - Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 1, 2018 Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Juan Medina
Soccer Football - DFB Cup Final - Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt - Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany - May 19, 2018 Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez looks dejected after the match REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
DFB Cup Final - Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Soccer Football - DFB Cup Final - Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt - Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany - May 19, 2018 Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez looks dejected after the match REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Mauricio Pochettino has handed Tottenham Hotspur a huge boost by signing a new five-year contract worth up to £8.5million-a-year. The deal, which runs to 2023, makes Pochettino one of the highest earning managers in the Premier League behind Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. The Argentine has been rewarded for guiding Spurs into the Champions League for a third successive season and means he will lead the club into the new stadium. Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are among the admirers of Pochettino, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has convinced the 46-year-old that he can achieve his ambitions in North London. The timing of the new contract could not be better for Spurs with Zinedine Zidane’s future likely to be the subject of debate after Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool. Pochettino has demanded Tottenham back him in the transfer market this summer Credit: AP Telegraph Sport revealed last month that Tottenham were confident Pochettino would recommit himself to the club this summer. He raised doubts over his future by urging Levy to back him in entering a new phase with Spurs, but the pair held positive talks last week and have now struck an agreement. Pochettino plans a £150million overhaul of his Tottenham squad this summer to try to secure a first piece of silverware with the club. Toby Alderweireld is expected to head the list of players departing. But Pochettino’s new contract will help Spurs keep all their stars with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Jan Vertonghen, Hugo Lloris and Christian Eriksen all set to be offered new contracts. ✍️ pic.twitter.com/Ao8MAbh9zh— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 24, 2018 Pochettino’s previous Tottenham contract, which ran to 2021, was worth around £5.5m, meaning he has earned a £3m pay rise for his work over the last two years. In a statement on the club's official website, Pochettino said: "I am honoured to have signed a new long-term contract as we approach one of the most significant periods in the Club's history and be the manager that will lead this team into our new world-class stadium. "This is just one of the factors that makes this one of the most exciting jobs in world football and we are already making plans to ensure we continue to build on the great work that everyone has contributed to over the past four years. Daniel Levy says he is 'delighted' at the news Credit: Getty images "Daniel and I have spoken at length about our aspirations for this football club. We both share the same philosophies to achieve long-term, sustainable success. "This is a special club - we always strive to be creative in the way we work both on and off the pitch and will continue to stick to our principles in order to achieve the success this Club deserves." Spurs chairman Daniel Levy added: "I am delighted that we have agreed a new, extended contract with Mauricio. We have been on an extraordinary journey and the times ahead look even more exciting as the Club enters the next phase in its history. Mauricio has fostered an incredible spirit in the team and has embraced a style of play our fans have loved watching. I know they will welcome this commitment by Mauricio."
Mauricio Pochettino signs new five-year Tottenham contract worth £42.5m
Mauricio Pochettino has handed Tottenham Hotspur a huge boost by signing a new five-year contract worth up to £8.5million-a-year. The deal, which runs to 2023, makes Pochettino one of the highest earning managers in the Premier League behind Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. The Argentine has been rewarded for guiding Spurs into the Champions League for a third successive season and means he will lead the club into the new stadium. Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are among the admirers of Pochettino, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has convinced the 46-year-old that he can achieve his ambitions in North London. The timing of the new contract could not be better for Spurs with Zinedine Zidane’s future likely to be the subject of debate after Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool. Pochettino has demanded Tottenham back him in the transfer market this summer Credit: AP Telegraph Sport revealed last month that Tottenham were confident Pochettino would recommit himself to the club this summer. He raised doubts over his future by urging Levy to back him in entering a new phase with Spurs, but the pair held positive talks last week and have now struck an agreement. Pochettino plans a £150million overhaul of his Tottenham squad this summer to try to secure a first piece of silverware with the club. Toby Alderweireld is expected to head the list of players departing. But Pochettino’s new contract will help Spurs keep all their stars with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Jan Vertonghen, Hugo Lloris and Christian Eriksen all set to be offered new contracts. ✍️ pic.twitter.com/Ao8MAbh9zh— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 24, 2018 Pochettino’s previous Tottenham contract, which ran to 2021, was worth around £5.5m, meaning he has earned a £3m pay rise for his work over the last two years. In a statement on the club's official website, Pochettino said: "I am honoured to have signed a new long-term contract as we approach one of the most significant periods in the Club's history and be the manager that will lead this team into our new world-class stadium. "This is just one of the factors that makes this one of the most exciting jobs in world football and we are already making plans to ensure we continue to build on the great work that everyone has contributed to over the past four years. Daniel Levy says he is 'delighted' at the news Credit: Getty images "Daniel and I have spoken at length about our aspirations for this football club. We both share the same philosophies to achieve long-term, sustainable success. "This is a special club - we always strive to be creative in the way we work both on and off the pitch and will continue to stick to our principles in order to achieve the success this Club deserves." Spurs chairman Daniel Levy added: "I am delighted that we have agreed a new, extended contract with Mauricio. We have been on an extraordinary journey and the times ahead look even more exciting as the Club enters the next phase in its history. Mauricio has fostered an incredible spirit in the team and has embraced a style of play our fans have loved watching. I know they will welcome this commitment by Mauricio."
Soccer Football - Bundesliga - FC Cologne vs Bayern Munich - RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne, Germany - May 5, 2018 Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Bundesliga - FC Cologne vs Bayern Munich
Soccer Football - Bundesliga - FC Cologne vs Bayern Munich - RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne, Germany - May 5, 2018 Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper has not played for club or country since last September, but is expected to be ready for duty in Russia this summer
Germany boss Low upbeat over Neuer's World Cup hopes
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper has not played for club or country since last September, but is expected to be ready for duty in Russia this summer
Soccer Football - DFB Cup Final - Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt - Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany - May 19, 2018 Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their first goal with James Rodriguez and Thiago Alcantara REUTERS/Michael Dalder DFB RULES PROHIBIT USE IN MMS SERVICES VIA HANDHELD DEVICES UNTIL TWO HOURS AFTER A MATCH AND ANY USAGE ON INTERNET OR ONLINE MEDIA SIMULATING VIDEO FOOTAGE DURING THE MATCH.
DFB Cup Final - Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Soccer Football - DFB Cup Final - Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt - Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany - May 19, 2018 Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their first goal with James Rodriguez and Thiago Alcantara REUTERS/Michael Dalder DFB RULES PROHIBIT USE IN MMS SERVICES VIA HANDHELD DEVICES UNTIL TWO HOURS AFTER A MATCH AND ANY USAGE ON INTERNET OR ONLINE MEDIA SIMULATING VIDEO FOOTAGE DURING THE MATCH.
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper has not played for club or country since last September, but is expected to be ready for duty in Russia this summer
Germany boss Low upbeat over Neuer's World Cup hopes
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper has not played for club or country since last September, but is expected to be ready for duty in Russia this summer
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich
Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
What is it? Real Madrid and Liverpool will compete in the final of the European Cup - for the first time since 1981 - in a mouth-watering match to decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 1. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com or follow the game here with Telegraph Sport. Liverpool in Europe: Finals ranked and rated What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Goals aplenty made Roma vs Liverpool a semi-final to sing and dance about Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Champions League final 2018: What time will Liverpool vs Real Madrid kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? Real Madrid and Liverpool will compete in the final of the European Cup - for the first time since 1981 - in a mouth-watering match to decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 1. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com or follow the game here with Telegraph Sport. Liverpool in Europe: Finals ranked and rated What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Goals aplenty made Roma vs Liverpool a semi-final to sing and dance about Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
What is it? Real Madrid and Liverpool will compete in the final of the European Cup - for the first time since 1981 - in a mouth-watering match to decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 1. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com or follow the game here with Telegraph Sport. Liverpool in Europe: Finals ranked and rated What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Goals aplenty made Roma vs Liverpool a semi-final to sing and dance about Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Champions League final 2018: What time will Liverpool vs Real Madrid kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? Real Madrid and Liverpool will compete in the final of the European Cup - for the first time since 1981 - in a mouth-watering match to decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 1. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com or follow the game here with Telegraph Sport. Liverpool in Europe: Finals ranked and rated What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Goals aplenty made Roma vs Liverpool a semi-final to sing and dance about Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
Zinedine Zidane deserves more credit, says Steve McManaman
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
Zinedine Zidane deserves more credit, says Steve McManaman
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
Zinedine Zidane deserves more credit, says Steve McManaman
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
FILE - In this April 15, 2017 fiel photo Bayern head coach Carlo Ancelotti arrives to the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich in Leverkusen, Germany. Napoli's president has thanked coach Maurizio Sarri for his contributions after the Serie A club reportedly reached a deal to hire Carlo Ancelotti as his replacement. Napoli have not announced Sarri's departure, but a messaged posted on Twitter by president Aurelio De Laurentiis on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 and retweeted by the club's official account, seemed to confirm he is leaving. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
Napoli hires Ancelotti as coach, replacing Sarri
FILE - In this April 15, 2017 fiel photo Bayern head coach Carlo Ancelotti arrives to the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich in Leverkusen, Germany. Napoli's president has thanked coach Maurizio Sarri for his contributions after the Serie A club reportedly reached a deal to hire Carlo Ancelotti as his replacement. Napoli have not announced Sarri's departure, but a messaged posted on Twitter by president Aurelio De Laurentiis on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 and retweeted by the club's official account, seemed to confirm he is leaving. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
Ancelotti, who was sacked by Bayern Munich last September, replaces Maurizio Sarri who led the club to second in Serie A behind Juventus this season.
Serie A: Napoli name Carlo Ancelotti as Maurizio Sarri's successor as ex-Bayern Munich manager signs three-year deal
Ancelotti, who was sacked by Bayern Munich last September, replaces Maurizio Sarri who led the club to second in Serie A behind Juventus this season.
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - September 27, 2017 Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - September 27, 2017 Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - September 27, 2017 Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - September 27, 2017 Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
The football transfer market has been buzzing these days. Unai Emery announced his appointment as Arsenal manager, while Carlo Ancelotti might be heading back to Italy. Further, Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski could be on the move as Manchester United are in the hunt for a new left-back. Here are all the transfer rumors from across Europe.
Football: Lewandowski and Sandro could be on the move
The football transfer market has been buzzing these days. Unai Emery announced his appointment as Arsenal manager, while Carlo Ancelotti might be heading back to Italy. Further, Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski could be on the move as Manchester United are in the hunt for a new left-back. Here are all the transfer rumors from across Europe.
Soccer Football - Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 1, 2018 Real Madrid's Keylor Navas celebrates after Karim Benzema scores their second goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich
Soccer Football - Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 1, 2018 Real Madrid's Keylor Navas celebrates after Karim Benzema scores their second goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Soccer Football - Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 1, 2018 Real Madrid's Keylor Navas celebrates after Karim Benzema scores their second goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich
Soccer Football - Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 1, 2018 Real Madrid's Keylor Navas celebrates after Karim Benzema scores their second goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
'Not a Bayern Player': Lothar Matthaus Pulls No Punches in Criticism of Munich Playmaker
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
'Not a Bayern Player': Lothar Matthaus Pulls No Punches in Criticism of Munich Playmaker
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
'Not a Bayern Player': Lothar Matthaus Pulls No Punches in Criticism of Munich Playmaker
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
If Real Madrid allow Mohamed Salah the space they gave Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller in the Champions League semi-final, Liverpool could be devastating down their right flank.
Liverpool face key call over how to use Mohamed Salah against Real Madrid
If Real Madrid allow Mohamed Salah the space they gave Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller in the Champions League semi-final, Liverpool could be devastating down their right flank.
What is it? For the first time since 1981, Real Madrid and Liverpool will compete in the final of the European Cup in a mouth-watering match to decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 1. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com. Liverpool in Europe: Finals ranked and rated What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Goals aplenty made Roma vs Liverpool a semi-final to sing and dance about Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Champions League final 2018: When is Liverpool vs Real Madrid, what TV channel is it on and what is the venue?
What is it? For the first time since 1981, Real Madrid and Liverpool will compete in the final of the European Cup in a mouth-watering match to decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 1. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com. Liverpool in Europe: Finals ranked and rated What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Goals aplenty made Roma vs Liverpool a semi-final to sing and dance about Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Former Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti is set to take over as Napoli coach, according to reports in Italy on Tuesday.
Serie A: Carlo Ancelotti reportedly holds talks with Napoli president, poised to replace Maurizio Sarri as manager
Former Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti is set to take over as Napoli coach, according to reports in Italy on Tuesday.
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final (AFP Photo/Christof STACHE)
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final (AFP Photo/Christof STACHE)
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper has not played for club or country since last September, but is expected to be ready for duty in Russia this summer
Germany boss Low upbeat over Neuer's World Cup hopes
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper has not played for club or country since last September, but is expected to be ready for duty in Russia this summer
Soccer Football - DFB Cup Final - Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt - Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany - May 19, 2018 Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their first goal with James Rodriguez and Thiago Alcantara REUTERS/Michael Dalder DFB RULES PROHIBIT USE IN MMS SERVICES VIA HANDHELD DEVICES UNTIL TWO HOURS AFTER A MATCH AND ANY USAGE ON INTERNET OR ONLINE MEDIA SIMULATING VIDEO FOOTAGE DURING THE MATCH.
DFB Cup Final - Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Soccer Football - DFB Cup Final - Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt - Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany - May 19, 2018 Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their first goal with James Rodriguez and Thiago Alcantara REUTERS/Michael Dalder DFB RULES PROHIBIT USE IN MMS SERVICES VIA HANDHELD DEVICES UNTIL TWO HOURS AFTER A MATCH AND ANY USAGE ON INTERNET OR ONLINE MEDIA SIMULATING VIDEO FOOTAGE DURING THE MATCH.
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper has not played for club or country since last September, but is expected to be ready for duty in Russia this summer
Germany boss Low upbeat over Neuer's World Cup hopes
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper has not played for club or country since last September, but is expected to be ready for duty in Russia this summer
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
How it feels to win - and lose - the most pressurised game in football
Ahead of the Championship play-off final between Fulham and Aston Villa this Saturday, Ivan Speck speaks to those caught up in play-off drama of years gone. 'I said to the linesman - if I save this, do we win?' May 30, 1999: League Two play-off final Manchester City 2 (Horlock 90, Dickov 90+5) Gillingham 2 (Asaba 81, Taylor 87) After extra time, City won 3-1 on penalties Blue Moon rising. Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor gave Gillingham a late 2-0 lead. With City fans streaming out of Wembley, Kevin Horlock reduced the deficit before, controversially, referee Mark Halsey added on five minutes. In the last of those, Paul Dickov equalised. In the penalty shoot-out, 20-year-old City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver saved two Gillingham spot-kicks. Nicky Weaver, Manchester City goalkeeper I wasn’t that nervous beforehand. I think I played 55 games that year. I’d just turned 20 and the nerves don’t really kick in at that age. That said, early in the second half, I came out of my area and kicked the ball straight to one of their midfield players, who missed an open goal. If that had gone in, I could have been the villain, not the hero. I remember thinking it was only a few nights before that Manchester United had scored two in the dying minutes in Barcelona against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. It wasn’t impossible, but something had to happen quickly. When we equalised, I came running down the pitch and did a big slide, Klinsmann-style. Everyone was just going wild. We’d come back from absolutely nowhere. I can’t imagine how the Gillingham players felt. Carl Asaba tries to break away from Manchester City's Lee Crooks in the 1999 play-off final Credit: PA We’d practised penalties every day after training, but I wasn’t that great at saving them that week. The biggest thing was that they were taken at the City end. When it came to the decisive kick, I remember saying to the linesman: ‘If I save this one, is that it?’ I made myself as big as I could, dived to my left, got two big hands on the ball, pulled a stupid face and went off on a mad run around Wembley. I just didn’t want the feeling inside me to end. I should have gone straight over to their keeper, but I was young and it didn’t enter my mind. It was life-changing for me. I had so much nervous excitement within me that I went on holiday and just sat on a sunbed for two weeks to come back to reality. That game was the first step in City getting back to where they needed to be. I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up. To see where City are now, it’s unthinkable. Andy Hessenthaler, Gillingham captain We were massive underdogs. We had finished pretty much neck and neck in the table but on status, City were always going to be favourites. We rode our luck early on. They should have had a penalty in the first minute, but we got stronger and they were getting frustrated. When we scored, we were dreaming. You’d be a liar if you were on that pitch and you didn’t think you had won that match at 2-0. I certainly did. When five minutes went up on the board, my first thought was: ‘Where have the officials got that from?’ I just couldn’t work it out. I still can’t. Extra-time was a non-event because everyone was so shattered. Deep down I wasn’t that confident about penalties because of what had happened. It didn’t surprise me that we lost. There were lots of tears. It took me a while to pull myself together, I was that emotional. When you’re watching their captain lift the trophy, you think it should be you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Fortunately, we went back to Wembley the year after and beat Wigan this time. 'I missed the penalty, and our fans started singing my name' May 25, 1998: Championship play-off final Charlton Athletic 4 (Mendonca 23, 71, 103, Rufus 85) Sunderland 4 (Quinn 50, 73, Phillips 58, Summerbee 99) After extra-time, Charlton won 7-6 on penalties The most open play-off final ever. Sunderland fan Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick with Richard Rufus heading in Charlton’s other goal. Sunderland replied through their attacking duo of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, as well as Nicky Summerbee. Sunderland-born Michael Gray missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. Alan Curbishley, Charlton manager Going into the final, we had to win it. We had big plans for The Valley, but there were bids on the table from Premier League clubs for three or four of our players. If we didn’t make it, we would have had to sell them. The team would have been broken up. We measured out a training pitch the same size as Wembley to help us, but the heat made it such an open game. I expected goals, but no-one in their wildest dreams expected it to be 4-4. It’s an iconic final. Clive Mendonca was our striker, and he was Sunderland born and bred. I knew we had signed a centre forward who could get us promotion or near promotion. He was a deadly finisher but come the day of the final, he was as nervous as anybody, playing against his boyhood team and trying to get us into the Premier League. But you won’t see a better hat-trick at Wembley for its coolness. None of the goals were ever in doubt. Clive Mendonca scores the opening goal at Wembley Credit: Action Images I felt confident about the penalty shoot-out. Our goalkeeper Sasa Ilic had turned up at the training ground with his kit eight months before and asked if he could have a trial. After the first couple of training sessions, I told him: ‘We’re going to give you some travel expenses.’ I paid it out of my own pocket because I didn’t want him to wait a month for them. I watched every penalty up until Mickey Gray’s last one for Sunderland. My assistant Keith Peacock said: ‘Don’t watch this one. It’s a left-footer and he’s going to miss it.’ I put my head in my hands. When I didn’t hear the roar from their fans, I knew we had won. Peter Reid was the first person to come in our dressing room. He congratulated every one of our players on winning promotion. I’m not too sure I could have done that. The Sunderland coach had inadvertently blocked ours in after the game, so the only way we could get to our reception near Wembley was by walking with the trophy along Wembley Way. The Sunderland fans clapped us and wanted their photo taken with the trophy and the players. So when Sunderland went up the next year, we sent them a case of champagne. Michael Gray, Sunderland defender The heat felt like 120-degrees pitch-side and we had been designated to wear our away shirt, which was double-layered. It felt like you were wearing an overcoat. Every time we scored a goal, we thought that was it, they’re not going to get back into it, but they kept coming and coming. There were some great goals and Clive Mendonca was incredible. We’d practised penalties at the Stadium of Light. I’d taken maybe 20 and stuck every one of them away, but I remember Peter Reid saying: ‘Let’s wait until there are 80,000 there and see if you fancy taking one then.’ He was right. It went to sudden death. I was only 23, but I looked at our two centre-halves Darren Williams and Jody Craddock who were younger than me and then at our centre forward Danny Dichio. His boots were off and he was sat on the floor. That walk to the penalty spot is the loneliest walk you’ll ever make in your life. Even though there are 80,000 people there, you can actually hear yourself put the ball down on the grass. I picked my spot but as I ran up I saw Sasa Ilic shuffling across to his left, which was where I was going. I knew he was going to save it even when it was rolling there. Sasa Ilic celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out at Wembley Credit: Getty Images The kit man came over, then Quinny, Kevin Ball and Lee Clark. Then Peter came across and gave me a big hug. It felt like forever, but it was only five or six minutes. It was a lonely place. And then all I could hear was the Sunderland supporters starting to sing my name. I’ve never forgotten that. Never. That emotion, the feeling of missing that penalty stayed with me for as long as I wore a Sunderland shirt, which was 12-and-a-half years. Peter Reid was first class with me. I got back home after Wembley. He rang up and said: ‘Pack a bag, you’re coming to stay with me for three days.’ It was exactly what I needed. It got me away from everybody. Peter Reid consoles Michael Gray after his missed penalty Credit: ALLSPORT There wasn’t a day went by without someone wanting to ask me about it. I knew what it meant to everybody. My life was Sunderland. It was my club and I didn’t want to let anybody down ever again. I tried to block it out, but my only freedom from that question was crossing the white line and playing football. I went back to pre-season two weeks earlier than everybody else just to get a head start. No distractions. The next season we won the league with over 100 points. But it was always there. I knew what had happened the season before. That penalty miss was probably the defining moment of me becoming an adult. I was a bit of tearaway and it made me a stronger character to reach the goals I dreamed of when I was a young kid – getting promoted with Sunderland, playing for my country, playing at Wembley again. But it still hits you hard, even 20 years on. 'Party? I was in bed by half past 10' May 24, 2014: Championship play-off final Queens Park Rangers 1 (Zamora 90) Derby County 0 Grand larceny. After quietly dominating, Derby exerted total control in the second half when Rangers’ Gary O’Neil was sent off for a 58th-minute professional foul. The Derby onslaught of the QPR goal continued until Rangers broke away in the 90th minute and substitute Bobby Zamora stroked home an undeserved winner. Steve McClaren, Derby manager Harry Redknapp, QPR’s manager, and I were friends and we worked together for three months at Rangers that season. We developed a great relationship over that time - Harry was a delight to work with. Fantastic experience, great stories, nice restaurants and red wine on a Friday night! But going back to Derby was huge for me. It was a job I always wanted because I’d played there and I’d been assistant to Jim Smith, so to return as manager was completing the set. Walking out took me back to the first England game at the new Wembley when we opened it against Brazil. I had the same feeling of pride walking out with my team. Football is all about those moments. In terms of the match, we were exactly where we wanted to be. They had gone down to 10 men, we were camped in their box and I felt it was just a matter of time – wear them down, keep them running and moving. That’s what we’d done to teams all season and that would see us across the line. I could only see one scenario, us winning. I didn’t even mind if we went into extra-time because we were in total control. Until we ran out of control. Bobby Zamora's superb strike seals victory for Derby in the play-off final Credit: Action Images But then came Bobby Zamora’s goal - probably our only mistake of the afternoon. They had barely got across our halfway line, but they got into our box at the worst possible time. It was devastating for us because it was a near perfect performance of controlling the game. The Gods weren’t with us. The commentator said: ‘Harry Houdini’ and he certainly was. We all felt like sinking to the ground because of the injustice and the devastation of losing. Harry Redknapp, QPR manager Steve McClaren’s enthusiasm and coaching were top-class when he worked for us, but the Derby job came along and he was a loss to us when he went. There was very little in the game in the first half - they had a penalty shout - but then the sending-off came. I thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. All I thought about then was extra-time and penalties. Could we hang on? We came under severe pressure, but it wasn’t like they were peppering us. Everybody thinks they battered us, but I don’t remember Rob Green making many world-class saves. Still, I couldn’t see us scoring. And then what an amazing goal from Bobby Zamora. Poor Richard Keogh made a ricket and had a bad touch. Bobby didn’t hesitate and stuck it straight in the top corner. I went back to Loftus Road and popped my head into the party there for about two minutes. Then I just shot out, had something to eat and had an early night. I think I was in bed by half past 10. Sky Bet is the proud title sponsor of the EFL.
Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich
Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
What is it? Real Madrid and Liverpool will compete in the final of the European Cup - for the first time since 1981 - in a mouth-watering match to decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 1. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com or follow the game here with Telegraph Sport. Liverpool in Europe: Finals ranked and rated What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Goals aplenty made Roma vs Liverpool a semi-final to sing and dance about Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Champions League final 2018: What time will Liverpool vs Real Madrid kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? Real Madrid and Liverpool will compete in the final of the European Cup - for the first time since 1981 - in a mouth-watering match to decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 1. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com or follow the game here with Telegraph Sport. Liverpool in Europe: Finals ranked and rated What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Goals aplenty made Roma vs Liverpool a semi-final to sing and dance about Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
Zinedine Zidane deserves more credit, says Steve McManaman
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
Zinedine Zidane deserves more credit, says Steve McManaman
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
Zinedine Zidane deserves more credit, says Steve McManaman
Zinedine Zidane will eclipse the greatest managers in history if he wins a third consecutive Champions League, but a sneering campaign has shadowed his Real Madrid reign. Only two managers, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but not in successive years. Despite Zidane being on the threshold of unprecedented success, cynics continue to damn him with faint praise. The Frenchman is often portrayed as the fortunate recipient of an expensively assembled squad, rather than the architect of ­mesmerising performances. For those who know him, the withering assessments of his work are fed by jealousy and ignorance. “He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” says Steve McManaman, Zidane’s former team-mate at the start of the glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century. “The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops. “He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful. McManaman used to play with Zidane Credit: getty images “If he wins, everyone says it is down to players, but he is the one who has turned them into a happy bunch. “I understand some managers don’t appear to be so proactive – I had that when I played under Vicente del Bosque. He was not a shouter or a super architect with elaborate training sessions, but he kept the camp happy and everyone knew where they stood. He did not feel the need to give chest-thumping speeches. He let the leaders in the dressing room – the Spanish players – do all that. Zizou looks like he has taken the same approach. “On the pitch, it is Sergio Ramos, or Cristiano Ronaldo who are the leaders. “The ability to control and mould that is a management skill as important as any when you have such a strong dressing room. You can’t tell players like Cristiano what to do. It is the same with Lionel Messi for Barcelona managers. They are too powerful. But you have to keep them happy to get the best out of them. “I am not saying they have a huge ego, but they are superstars – some of the best players in football history – so you need a special character to man-manage them well. Zizou should be there forever, given what he has achieved.” McManaman won the European Cup twice with Real, having joined from Liverpool in 1999, two clubs whose identity is defined by the competition. Zidane is chasing yet another trophy Credit: AP “It was not a huge difference for me moving from Liverpool to Madrid because, at Liverpool, we were obsessed with the titles we had won and the European Cups. It was exactly the same at Madrid,” says McManaman, who will be a BT Sport pundit covering the final. “They wanted to win everything, but in terms of importance, yes, the European Cup was always a major target. “When I joined, I was immediately made aware of the ethos of Madrid. I was given a book – more of a pamphlet if you like – chartering the history of Real Madrid and the values of the club. It was all about winning with grace, but also being graceful in defeat. They told me, ‘At Real Madrid we do not want to win with arrogance’, and they gave me a shirt of Alfredo Di Stefano [five-time European Cup winner]. “Di Stefano was the symbol of the club, his name is always in the background. He was honorary president at that time and you see him around the stadium or his image on the walls. “To be honest, I had a lot of these values instilled in me coming through at Liverpool. These were the same as those Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans bred in all Liverpool’s players. “These are world-renowned clubs. No disrespect to those who have won the European Cup once, but there is a list of teams who are at the top, those who you remember. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “You always think of the games when they won and you know the players who did it. That sets these clubs apart. If you mention Istanbul to anyone in the world, they will immediately think about Steven Gerrard.” McManaman was also a scorer in the final, a spectacular volley in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in 2000. “It was a massive moment in my career. In terms of relevance you are defined by the Champions League,” he says. But despite the affection for his old side, McManaman says his former colleagues in Madrid understand he is not emotionally torn ahead of the final. “When Liverpool got to the final, my friends in Spain were texting saying, ‘Congratulations for getting there’,” he says. “I think they understand where my loyalties are.” Watch Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League final on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 4K UHD from 6pm on Saturday. For more info visit BT.com/sport.
FILE - In this April 15, 2017 fiel photo Bayern head coach Carlo Ancelotti arrives to the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich in Leverkusen, Germany. Napoli's president has thanked coach Maurizio Sarri for his contributions after the Serie A club reportedly reached a deal to hire Carlo Ancelotti as his replacement. Napoli have not announced Sarri's departure, but a messaged posted on Twitter by president Aurelio De Laurentiis on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 and retweeted by the club's official account, seemed to confirm he is leaving. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
Napoli hires Ancelotti as coach, replacing Sarri
FILE - In this April 15, 2017 fiel photo Bayern head coach Carlo Ancelotti arrives to the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich in Leverkusen, Germany. Napoli's president has thanked coach Maurizio Sarri for his contributions after the Serie A club reportedly reached a deal to hire Carlo Ancelotti as his replacement. Napoli have not announced Sarri's departure, but a messaged posted on Twitter by president Aurelio De Laurentiis on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 and retweeted by the club's official account, seemed to confirm he is leaving. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
Ancelotti, who was sacked by Bayern Munich last September, replaces Maurizio Sarri who led the club to second in Serie A behind Juventus this season.
Serie A: Napoli name Carlo Ancelotti as Maurizio Sarri's successor as ex-Bayern Munich manager signs three-year deal
Ancelotti, who was sacked by Bayern Munich last September, replaces Maurizio Sarri who led the club to second in Serie A behind Juventus this season.
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - September 27, 2017 Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - September 27, 2017 Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - September 27, 2017 Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Paris St Germain vs Bayern Munich - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - September 27, 2017 Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
The football transfer market has been buzzing these days. Unai Emery announced his appointment as Arsenal manager, while Carlo Ancelotti might be heading back to Italy. Further, Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski could be on the move as Manchester United are in the hunt for a new left-back. Here are all the transfer rumors from across Europe.
Football: Lewandowski and Sandro could be on the move
The football transfer market has been buzzing these days. Unai Emery announced his appointment as Arsenal manager, while Carlo Ancelotti might be heading back to Italy. Further, Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski could be on the move as Manchester United are in the hunt for a new left-back. Here are all the transfer rumors from across Europe.
Soccer Football - Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 1, 2018 Real Madrid's Keylor Navas celebrates after Karim Benzema scores their second goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich
Soccer Football - Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 1, 2018 Real Madrid's Keylor Navas celebrates after Karim Benzema scores their second goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Soccer Football - Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 1, 2018 Real Madrid's Keylor Navas celebrates after Karim Benzema scores their second goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich
Soccer Football - Champions League Semi Final Second Leg - Real Madrid v Bayern Munich - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 1, 2018 Real Madrid's Keylor Navas celebrates after Karim Benzema scores their second goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
'Not a Bayern Player': Lothar Matthaus Pulls No Punches in Criticism of Munich Playmaker
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
'Not a Bayern Player': Lothar Matthaus Pulls No Punches in Criticism of Munich Playmaker
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
'Not a Bayern Player': Lothar Matthaus Pulls No Punches in Criticism of Munich Playmaker
​Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus has come out and hinted that the club should be looking to move Thiago Alcantara along this summer. The 57-year-old has claimed that the Spaniard has not been up to standard over recent weeks, and doesn't look like a Bayern player. Thiago arrived at the Allianz Arena alongside Pep Guardiola back in 2013. Since then, the midfielder has gone on to help his side lift five ​Bundesliga titles, putting in impressive performances along the way. So much so that he...
If Real Madrid allow Mohamed Salah the space they gave Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller in the Champions League semi-final, Liverpool could be devastating down their right flank.
Liverpool face key call over how to use Mohamed Salah against Real Madrid
If Real Madrid allow Mohamed Salah the space they gave Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller in the Champions League semi-final, Liverpool could be devastating down their right flank.
What is it? For the first time since 1981, Real Madrid and Liverpool will compete in the final of the European Cup in a mouth-watering match to decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 1. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com. Liverpool in Europe: Finals ranked and rated What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Goals aplenty made Roma vs Liverpool a semi-final to sing and dance about Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Champions League final 2018: When is Liverpool vs Real Madrid, what TV channel is it on and what is the venue?
What is it? For the first time since 1981, Real Madrid and Liverpool will compete in the final of the European Cup in a mouth-watering match to decide who will be awarded the coveted Champions League trophy. The defending champions and 12-time winners Real are bidding for their third successive title while Liverpool are seeking the sixth in their history. When is it? Saturday, May 26, 2018. Where is it? The 2018 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. It is the home of Dynamo Kiev. The stadium previously hosted the Euro 2012 final and holds a maximum capacity of 63,000 - the second largest in eastern Europe. What time is kick-off? 7.45pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport 1. But you can also watch the match for free on the BT Sport app or via BTSport.com. Liverpool in Europe: Finals ranked and rated What happened in the semi-finals? In the first semi, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich committed a huge blunder as holders Real edged into the final. Ulreich missed a backpass to gift a vital second goal to Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu Stadium, and the Frenchman's double in a pulsating 2-2 draw ensured Real progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Bayern had led early through Joshua Kimmich and a strike from James Rodriguez - who is on loan at the German club from Real - set up a tense finish. However, the hosts withstood considerable pressure to keep their bid for a third successive title on track. Just confirming this actually happened and is not a FIFA '18 bugpic.twitter.com/nNsfSDZvm4— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 1, 2018 The following night, Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico. A chaotic 4-2 semi-final second leg loss to Roma saw Liverpool progress 7-6 on aggregate, with victory secured thanks to Sadio Mane's 19th of the season and the rare sight of Georginio Wijnaldum's first away goal in almost three years. A fortuitous own goal by James Milner inbetween had put the hosts back in the game, while Edin Dzeko's strike shortly after half-time ensured the Reds endured a testing conclusion and two late goals for Radja Nainngolan - including a penalty with the last kick of the game - came too late for Roma. Roma v Liverpool Can I still get tickets? The window for buying standard tickets is now closed. It ran on Uefa's website from March 15-22. Hospitality tickets are still on sale on Uefa's website, with prices starting from €3,200 per person. How do I get to Kiev? The City has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system. Blaggers guide to speaking Ukrainian (source Uefa.com) Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on' Goal: Гол – Ghol Most European Cups What are they saying? Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has said his team will be "on fire" for the final: "We were in a League Cup final and didn't win it. People don't tell me in the street since then: 'Thank you for bringing us to the final'. We were in the Europa League final too. Nobody tells me thank you. "I see no trophies after these games. They don't hang silver medals at Melwood. That's a pity, but that's the game. There's still a job to do. "You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid. "I think 80 per cent of their team played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire." Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head Road to the final Zinedine Zidane's side won their first two games but a home draw with Tottenham followed by a loss at Wembley meant they finished second in their group. Despite failing behind to Paris St Germain at the Bernabeu, they won 5-2 on aggregate in the last 16 then overcame an almighty scare against Juventus, advancing thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's last-gasp penalty despite a 3-1 home loss. A semi-final first leg victory in Munich proved pivotal as a 2-2 draw with Bayern in Spain got them over the line. Liverpool had to come through a qualifying round against Hoffenheim and then drew the opening two games in their group. They also threw away a three-goal lead against Sevilla in a 3-3 draw but thumped both Maribor and Spartak Moscow to finish top of Group E. They beat Porto 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie, won both legs in the all-English clash with Manchester City and then saw off Roma 7-6 on aggregate following a 5-2 first-leg win at Anfield. Who fizzed and who flopped in the Champions League semi-final decider? Star men Real have the current Ballon d'or winner. Liverpool may have the next one. Cristiano Ronaldo is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer - with 120 goals, Real Madrid's all-time top scorer and a four-time winner of the competition. Ronaldo, who turned 33 this year, has scored 42 club goals this season. Yet Mohamed Salah has already exceeded that tally. The former Roma winger has enjoyed an incredible first season at Anfield, becoming just the third player in Liverpool history to score 40-plus goals in a single season and winning a slew of personal accolades. If he can outshine Ronaldo in Kiev, the ultimate individual prize may be next. Managers Zidane and Jurgen Klopp have experienced contrasting fortunes in finals. The former has won both of the Champions League finals he has been involved in as a boss. Meanwhile, Klopp has lost his previous five finals as a manage, including in the Europa League against Sevilla two seasons ago. Jurgen Klopp celebrates with his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tactics Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, when their BBC (Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo) strikeforce was in full flow and Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ran the midfield. This team is more pragmatic. Centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane and defensive midfielder Casemiro form a strong spine and Zidane can usually rely on Ronaldo for a moment of magic. Klopp's gegenpressing style has been used to devastating effect this year thanks to the relentless front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool will pin their hopes on that trio and their harassing style. History This is a meeting of the two of the most decorated clubs in the competition's history. No team has won more European Cups than Real Madrid's 12. Los Blancos won five in a row between 1956 and 1960 and last year they become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era. Only Real and AC Milan have won more European Cups than Liverpool. The five-time winners' most recent success came in an astonishing 2005 final against AC Milan, who exacted revenge in the 2007 final. The Reds also beat Real in the 1981 final when Alan Kennedy scored the winner. Goals aplenty made Roma vs Liverpool a semi-final to sing and dance about Salah vs Ronaldo: A comparison Liverpool and Real Madrid will be looking to Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to make the difference for their respective teams on May 26. Here, we look at the numbers behind the two players' astonishing campaigns: Club appearances (all competitions): Salah (Liverpool) 49, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 41 Club goals (all competitions): Salah 43, Ronaldo 42 Domestic league goals: Salah 31, Ronaldo 24 Domestic league assists: Salah 9, Ronaldo 5 Champions League goals (includes qualifiers): Salah 11, Ronaldo 15 Champions League assists (includes qualifiers): Salah 4, Ronaldo 2 Braces: Salah 7, Ronaldo 11 Hat-tricks: Salah 0, Ronaldo 1 Four goals in a game: Salah 1, Ronaldo 1 Longest scoring streak: Salah 7 games, Ronaldo 12 games Longest run without a goal: Salah 3 games, Ronaldo 3 games *Includes all competitive games except internationals. How Spanish sides have dominated past decade What are the odds? Real Madrid to win 6/5 Draw 11/4 Liverpool to win 2/1 What is our prediction? Real have not been as dominant as previous seasons, although they still managed to see off PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final. If Liverpool are to win, much will depend on their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and their harassing style. There will be goals aplenty, and this feels like Liverpool's time. Predicted score: Liverpool win 4-3 in extra time. Liverpool's Champions League campaign | In Numbers
Former Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti is set to take over as Napoli coach, according to reports in Italy on Tuesday.
Serie A: Carlo Ancelotti reportedly holds talks with Napoli president, poised to replace Maurizio Sarri as manager
Former Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti is set to take over as Napoli coach, according to reports in Italy on Tuesday.
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final (AFP Photo/Christof STACHE)
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final
Keylor Navas quietened his critics with an impressive showing against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final (AFP Photo/Christof STACHE)
Wolfsburg players celebrate beating Bayern Munich in the German Cup final
Wolfsburg players celebrate beating Bayern Munich in the German Cup final
Wolfsburg players celebrate beating Bayern Munich in the German Cup final
Wolfsburg players celebrate beating Bayern Munich in the German Cup final (AFP Photo/Marcel Kusch)
Wolfsburg players celebrate beating Bayern Munich in the German Cup final
Wolfsburg players celebrate beating Bayern Munich in the German Cup final (AFP Photo/Marcel Kusch)
On paper, there is nothing this season to separate Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah, each boasting 44 goals in all competitions and each building a persuasive case to capture the Ballon d’Or. But when invited yesterday to choose, Zinedine Zidane was adamant. “I would not swap Cristiano, or any of my players,” said the Real Madrid manager, galvanising his team in their quest for a third Champions League title in a row. “Liverpool have a brilliant front three, everyone talks about their attackers, but we can find ways to damage them. We fear nothing.” It was this type of attitude that pervaded Valdebebas, Real’s gleaming, manicured training compound, carved out of the arid scrub beside Barajas Airport. One would have hesitated to call it hubris, more a serene conviction that an extension of supremacy was theirs for the taking. Where other institutions might be superstitious about the number 13, Real plastered it everywhere here, regarding a 13th European Cup triumph less as an ambition than a fate preordained. Take Toni Kroos, for example. The German midfield conjurer, not a man given to hyperbole, predicted that he and his team-mates would confront “11 animals” in Kiev on Saturday night. And yet he did not appear remotely unnerved by the prospect, explaining that Real would counter Liverpool’s ferocity with composure and precision. “We will be better on the ball,” said Kroos, the anchoring figure who has variously been described as the “axle” and “one-man orchestra” for this Real side, with Barcelona’s Xavi anointing him as his natural successor in the game. “I am calm, not very nervous – that’s my character. I have a lot of confidence from my previous finals, which allows me not to have the same nerves as some other players. I don’t see Liverpool being hungrier than us. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “To end up in three Champions League finals, you must be at the top in terms of motivation. If not, you don’t beat Paris St-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich in succession.” Throughout an hour of open training yesterday, Real showcased their slickness to full effect. It is at moments like this that the value of Zidane, for all the doubts over his future stirred by a distant third-place finish in La Liga, becomes clear. Time and again, during volleying practice, he delivered the ball on a dime for Ronaldo and Luka Modric to crack it into the top corner. It was as if the pair were trying to replicate their manager’s own greatest goal, a delicious volley to win the Champions League for Real in 2002. Ronaldo, Zidane knows, represents the key to Real adding to their unparalleled loot. In each of their past two European finals, he was front and centre, providing the decisive penalty in Milan in 2016 and scoring two of the deftest goals in last June’s glory over Juventus in Cardiff. While his form dipped periodically over the past domestic campaign, Zidane expressed little doubt that the competition’s top scorer would be rejuvenated when it mattered most. “I believe that a player knows he may have a complex moment, but for Cristiano it’s the other way round,” he said. “When he doesn’t score, he still knows that he will score three or four times in a row. “Some players cannot handle pressure. But with him, the more pressure you create, the more you criticise, the better he plays. He is the best, so he will be of the utmost importance.” Ronaldo size Ronaldo, for his part, left no room for confusion in anticipating what Saturday’s outcome would be. “I have a lot of respect for Liverpool, but I think Madrid are better,” the Portuguese said. “We need to recognise the history we can make and to show our experience.” There was no evidence of the ankle injury that Ronaldo sustained earlier this month in the 2-2 draw with bitter rivals Barcelona. Indeed, he played and scored against Villarreal last weekend, promising that he would be “120 per cent” fit for Kiev. The one imponderable in Zidane’s plans concerns the role of Gareth Bale. While the Welsh winger has hinted at a return to his best in recent weeks, with four goals in three games, the state of his relationship with the manager seldom seems rock-solid. In particular, Zidane’s decision to leave him on the substitutes’ bench for the 2-1 semi-final win over Bayern was a chastening blow. Bale stands poised to claim a remarkable fourth Champions League winner’s medal in five years if he can overcome Zidane’s reservations, but for now the smart money is on the Frenchman keeping faith with Isco for the final.
Zinedine Zidane: I wouldn't swap any Real Madrid player for Mo Salah
On paper, there is nothing this season to separate Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah, each boasting 44 goals in all competitions and each building a persuasive case to capture the Ballon d’Or. But when invited yesterday to choose, Zinedine Zidane was adamant. “I would not swap Cristiano, or any of my players,” said the Real Madrid manager, galvanising his team in their quest for a third Champions League title in a row. “Liverpool have a brilliant front three, everyone talks about their attackers, but we can find ways to damage them. We fear nothing.” It was this type of attitude that pervaded Valdebebas, Real’s gleaming, manicured training compound, carved out of the arid scrub beside Barajas Airport. One would have hesitated to call it hubris, more a serene conviction that an extension of supremacy was theirs for the taking. Where other institutions might be superstitious about the number 13, Real plastered it everywhere here, regarding a 13th European Cup triumph less as an ambition than a fate preordained. Take Toni Kroos, for example. The German midfield conjurer, not a man given to hyperbole, predicted that he and his team-mates would confront “11 animals” in Kiev on Saturday night. And yet he did not appear remotely unnerved by the prospect, explaining that Real would counter Liverpool’s ferocity with composure and precision. “We will be better on the ball,” said Kroos, the anchoring figure who has variously been described as the “axle” and “one-man orchestra” for this Real side, with Barcelona’s Xavi anointing him as his natural successor in the game. “I am calm, not very nervous – that’s my character. I have a lot of confidence from my previous finals, which allows me not to have the same nerves as some other players. I don’t see Liverpool being hungrier than us. European Cup final 2018 | Real Madrid vs Liverpool “To end up in three Champions League finals, you must be at the top in terms of motivation. If not, you don’t beat Paris St-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich in succession.” Throughout an hour of open training yesterday, Real showcased their slickness to full effect. It is at moments like this that the value of Zidane, for all the doubts over his future stirred by a distant third-place finish in La Liga, becomes clear. Time and again, during volleying practice, he delivered the ball on a dime for Ronaldo and Luka Modric to crack it into the top corner. It was as if the pair were trying to replicate their manager’s own greatest goal, a delicious volley to win the Champions League for Real in 2002. Ronaldo, Zidane knows, represents the key to Real adding to their unparalleled loot. In each of their past two European finals, he was front and centre, providing the decisive penalty in Milan in 2016 and scoring two of the deftest goals in last June’s glory over Juventus in Cardiff. While his form dipped periodically over the past domestic campaign, Zidane expressed little doubt that the competition’s top scorer would be rejuvenated when it mattered most. “I believe that a player knows he may have a complex moment, but for Cristiano it’s the other way round,” he said. “When he doesn’t score, he still knows that he will score three or four times in a row. “Some players cannot handle pressure. But with him, the more pressure you create, the more you criticise, the better he plays. He is the best, so he will be of the utmost importance.” Ronaldo size Ronaldo, for his part, left no room for confusion in anticipating what Saturday’s outcome would be. “I have a lot of respect for Liverpool, but I think Madrid are better,” the Portuguese said. “We need to recognise the history we can make and to show our experience.” There was no evidence of the ankle injury that Ronaldo sustained earlier this month in the 2-2 draw with bitter rivals Barcelona. Indeed, he played and scored against Villarreal last weekend, promising that he would be “120 per cent” fit for Kiev. The one imponderable in Zidane’s plans concerns the role of Gareth Bale. While the Welsh winger has hinted at a return to his best in recent weeks, with four goals in three games, the state of his relationship with the manager seldom seems rock-solid. In particular, Zidane’s decision to leave him on the substitutes’ bench for the 2-1 semi-final win over Bayern was a chastening blow. Bale stands poised to claim a remarkable fourth Champions League winner’s medal in five years if he can overcome Zidane’s reservations, but for now the smart money is on the Frenchman keeping faith with Isco for the final.
Antonio Conte will consider taking a break if he is sacked as Chelsea head coach, which would be a blow to the club’s hopes of avoiding an expensive compensation package. Conte has been left in the dark over his future since leading Chelsea to FA Cup success last Saturday, with a game of brinkmanship threatening to be played out. The Italian has made it clear he will not walk away from the final year of his contract, meaning Chelsea must sack him and risk paying a compensation bill of up to £9million to replace him. One simple solution to the impasse would be for Conte to walk straight into another job, but the potential options for him are running out. Roberto Mancini has taken over the Italian national team, Thomas Tuchel was appointed by Paris Saint-Germain and Max Allegri looks set to stay at Juventus. Inter Milan are preparing to keep Luciano Spalletti after qualifying for the Champions League and Carlo Ancelotti is being touted as a possible replacement for Maurizio Sarri if the 59-year-old leaves Napoli. FA Cup final reaction and analysis | How Chelsea held their nerve against United Conte is believed to be willing to wait for one of Europe’s top jobs if he is forced to leave Stamford Bridge, which could be costly for Chelsea. The Blues would have to continue to pay Conte for the remaining 12 months of his contract while he is out of work, meaning a year-long sabbatical would cost them the full £9m. There is also the issue of Conte’s staff, who would be due pay offs even if the Italian quit but it is not certain that they would all follow the former Juventus manager out of Chelsea. Goalkeeping coach Gianluca Spinelli is thought to be prepared to stay at Chelsea, particularly if Conte leaves without a job to walk back into. Spinelli, who was part of Conte’s staff with the Italian national team, has worked well with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and is highly rated by the Belgian and within Stamford Bridge. Other than saving them money, Spinelli could solve a possible problem for Chelsea if he stayed on, as former goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon, who is still employed by the club, does not get on with Courtois. Courtois is yet to sign an extension to his contract that only has 12 months to run and the prospect of working with Lollichon again could be enough to convince him to leave Chelsea. Chelsea may look to offload Alvaro Morata this summer Credit: Getty images Despite uncertainty over Conte and his staff, Chelsea are making transfer plans for the summer and could be forced to make a big decision over record signing Alvaro Morata. Juventus have already shown an interest in taking Morata back and AC Milan are the latest club to investigate whether or not they could afford to sign the Spaniard. It is not believed AC could match Chelsea’s £57m valuation of Morata, but the Italians could look to take him on loan with a view to a permanent move. Chelsea are not desperate to sell Morata, who they believe will be better next season, but they are willing to let him go if he asks to leave or if they can finance a move for a replacement by cashing in. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski and Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, who is also of interest to Tottenham Hotspur, are two forwards on Chelsea’s radar.
Chelsea face hefty compensation package as Antonio Conte considers break from football
Antonio Conte will consider taking a break if he is sacked as Chelsea head coach, which would be a blow to the club’s hopes of avoiding an expensive compensation package. Conte has been left in the dark over his future since leading Chelsea to FA Cup success last Saturday, with a game of brinkmanship threatening to be played out. The Italian has made it clear he will not walk away from the final year of his contract, meaning Chelsea must sack him and risk paying a compensation bill of up to £9million to replace him. One simple solution to the impasse would be for Conte to walk straight into another job, but the potential options for him are running out. Roberto Mancini has taken over the Italian national team, Thomas Tuchel was appointed by Paris Saint-Germain and Max Allegri looks set to stay at Juventus. Inter Milan are preparing to keep Luciano Spalletti after qualifying for the Champions League and Carlo Ancelotti is being touted as a possible replacement for Maurizio Sarri if the 59-year-old leaves Napoli. FA Cup final reaction and analysis | How Chelsea held their nerve against United Conte is believed to be willing to wait for one of Europe’s top jobs if he is forced to leave Stamford Bridge, which could be costly for Chelsea. The Blues would have to continue to pay Conte for the remaining 12 months of his contract while he is out of work, meaning a year-long sabbatical would cost them the full £9m. There is also the issue of Conte’s staff, who would be due pay offs even if the Italian quit but it is not certain that they would all follow the former Juventus manager out of Chelsea. Goalkeeping coach Gianluca Spinelli is thought to be prepared to stay at Chelsea, particularly if Conte leaves without a job to walk back into. Spinelli, who was part of Conte’s staff with the Italian national team, has worked well with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and is highly rated by the Belgian and within Stamford Bridge. Other than saving them money, Spinelli could solve a possible problem for Chelsea if he stayed on, as former goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon, who is still employed by the club, does not get on with Courtois. Courtois is yet to sign an extension to his contract that only has 12 months to run and the prospect of working with Lollichon again could be enough to convince him to leave Chelsea. Chelsea may look to offload Alvaro Morata this summer Credit: Getty images Despite uncertainty over Conte and his staff, Chelsea are making transfer plans for the summer and could be forced to make a big decision over record signing Alvaro Morata. Juventus have already shown an interest in taking Morata back and AC Milan are the latest club to investigate whether or not they could afford to sign the Spaniard. It is not believed AC could match Chelsea’s £57m valuation of Morata, but the Italians could look to take him on loan with a view to a permanent move. Chelsea are not desperate to sell Morata, who they believe will be better next season, but they are willing to let him go if he asks to leave or if they can finance a move for a replacement by cashing in. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski and Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, who is also of interest to Tottenham Hotspur, are two forwards on Chelsea’s radar.
Antonio Conte will consider taking a break if he is sacked as Chelsea head coach, which would be a blow to the club’s hopes of avoiding an expensive compensation package. Conte has been left in the dark over his future since leading Chelsea to FA Cup success last Saturday, with a game of brinkmanship threatening to be played out. The Italian has made it clear he will not walk away from the final year of his contract, meaning Chelsea must sack him and risk paying a compensation bill of up to £9million to replace him. One simple solution to the impasse would be for Conte to walk straight into another job, but the potential options for him are running out. Roberto Mancini has taken over the Italian national team, Thomas Tuchel was appointed by Paris Saint-Germain and Max Allegri looks set to stay at Juventus. Inter Milan are preparing to keep Luciano Spalletti after qualifying for the Champions League and Carlo Ancelotti is being touted as a possible replacement for Maurizio Sarri if the 59-year-old leaves Napoli. FA Cup final reaction and analysis | How Chelsea held their nerve against United Conte is believed to be willing to wait for one of Europe’s top jobs if he is forced to leave Stamford Bridge, which could be costly for Chelsea. The Blues would have to continue to pay Conte for the remaining 12 months of his contract while he is out of work, meaning a year-long sabbatical would cost them the full £9m. There is also the issue of Conte’s staff, who would be due pay offs even if the Italian quit but it is not certain that they would all follow the former Juventus manager out of Chelsea. Goalkeeping coach Gianluca Spinelli is thought to be prepared to stay at Chelsea, particularly if Conte leaves without a job to walk back into. Spinelli, who was part of Conte’s staff with the Italian national team, has worked well with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and is highly rated by the Belgian and within Stamford Bridge. Other than saving them money, Spinelli could solve a possible problem for Chelsea if he stayed on, as former goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon, who is still employed by the club, does not get on with Courtois. Courtois is yet to sign an extension to his contract that only has 12 months to run and the prospect of working with Lollichon again could be enough to convince him to leave Chelsea. Chelsea may look to offload Alvaro Morata this summer Credit: Getty images Despite uncertainty over Conte and his staff, Chelsea are making transfer plans for the summer and could be forced to make a big decision over record signing Alvaro Morata. Juventus have already shown an interest in taking Morata back and AC Milan are the latest club to investigate whether or not they could afford to sign the Spaniard. It is not believed AC could match Chelsea’s £57m valuation of Morata, but the Italians could look to take him on loan with a view to a permanent move. Chelsea are not desperate to sell Morata, who they believe will be better next season, but they are willing to let him go if he asks to leave or if they can finance a move for a replacement by cashing in. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski and Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, who is also of interest to Tottenham Hotspur, are two forwards on Chelsea’s radar.
Chelsea face hefty compensation package as Antonio Conte considers break from football
Antonio Conte will consider taking a break if he is sacked as Chelsea head coach, which would be a blow to the club’s hopes of avoiding an expensive compensation package. Conte has been left in the dark over his future since leading Chelsea to FA Cup success last Saturday, with a game of brinkmanship threatening to be played out. The Italian has made it clear he will not walk away from the final year of his contract, meaning Chelsea must sack him and risk paying a compensation bill of up to £9million to replace him. One simple solution to the impasse would be for Conte to walk straight into another job, but the potential options for him are running out. Roberto Mancini has taken over the Italian national team, Thomas Tuchel was appointed by Paris Saint-Germain and Max Allegri looks set to stay at Juventus. Inter Milan are preparing to keep Luciano Spalletti after qualifying for the Champions League and Carlo Ancelotti is being touted as a possible replacement for Maurizio Sarri if the 59-year-old leaves Napoli. FA Cup final reaction and analysis | How Chelsea held their nerve against United Conte is believed to be willing to wait for one of Europe’s top jobs if he is forced to leave Stamford Bridge, which could be costly for Chelsea. The Blues would have to continue to pay Conte for the remaining 12 months of his contract while he is out of work, meaning a year-long sabbatical would cost them the full £9m. There is also the issue of Conte’s staff, who would be due pay offs even if the Italian quit but it is not certain that they would all follow the former Juventus manager out of Chelsea. Goalkeeping coach Gianluca Spinelli is thought to be prepared to stay at Chelsea, particularly if Conte leaves without a job to walk back into. Spinelli, who was part of Conte’s staff with the Italian national team, has worked well with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and is highly rated by the Belgian and within Stamford Bridge. Other than saving them money, Spinelli could solve a possible problem for Chelsea if he stayed on, as former goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon, who is still employed by the club, does not get on with Courtois. Courtois is yet to sign an extension to his contract that only has 12 months to run and the prospect of working with Lollichon again could be enough to convince him to leave Chelsea. Chelsea may look to offload Alvaro Morata this summer Credit: Getty images Despite uncertainty over Conte and his staff, Chelsea are making transfer plans for the summer and could be forced to make a big decision over record signing Alvaro Morata. Juventus have already shown an interest in taking Morata back and AC Milan are the latest club to investigate whether or not they could afford to sign the Spaniard. It is not believed AC could match Chelsea’s £57m valuation of Morata, but the Italians could look to take him on loan with a view to a permanent move. Chelsea are not desperate to sell Morata, who they believe will be better next season, but they are willing to let him go if he asks to leave or if they can finance a move for a replacement by cashing in. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski and Manchester United’s Anthony Martial, who is also of interest to Tottenham Hotspur, are two forwards on Chelsea’s radar.
Wanda Nara claims interest is already being shown in the striker, with Real Madrid, PSG and Bayern Munich among those to have been linked
Icardi's agent reveals 'big clubs' willing to trigger €110m release clause
Wanda Nara claims interest is already being shown in the striker, with Real Madrid, PSG and Bayern Munich among those to have been linked
Wanda Nara claims interest is already being shown in the striker, with Real Madrid, PSG and Bayern Munich among those to have been linked
Icardi's agent reveals 'big clubs' willing to trigger €110m release clause
Wanda Nara claims interest is already being shown in the striker, with Real Madrid, PSG and Bayern Munich among those to have been linked
Chelsea will push on with ambitious summer transfer plans despite the crisis that threatens to engulf owner Roman Abramovich, with the club making Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski their No 1 target. Abramovich’s visa application has been delayed, with the Government set to ask the Russian oligarch how he acquired his wealth if it is to be renewed. There is also huge uncertainty over the future of Antonio Conte, with both the manager and the club hopeful of a parting of the ways but Chelsea unprepared to pay the kind of compensation – at least £10 million – that it would cost to get rid of the Italian and his nine staff. Despite that upheaval, Chelsea are still trying to advance with a deal for Lewandowski, who they believe is ready for a move away from the German club and could cost in excess of £100 million. If Chelsea were successful in their pursuit of Lewandowski his fee would likely be offset by the sale of club-record signing Alvaro Morata, with the Spaniard struggling after he moved to Stamford Bridge for £68 million last summer. Roman Abramovich's uncertain future will not affect Chelsea's transfer plans Credit: Getty Images The 25-year-old did not even make the 23-man Spain squad named for the World Cup finals by Julien Lopetegui on Monday, having scored just three goals since the turn of the year. Shortly after the squad was announced, Morata tweeted: “Good luck at the World Cup! I will be supporting you and encouraging you right to the end, as always!” The striker’s club-mates Cesc Fabregas and Marcos Alonso were also left out by Lopetegui, as was Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin. Although Lewandowski’s age is not ideal for the kind of hefty price Chelsea would have to pay – he turns 30 in August – he does fit the bill for a proven European goal-scorer and his arrival would also be a crucial way of persuading Eden Hazard, and Thibaut Courtois that Chelsea are serious about challenging again for the Premier League and the Champions League after a disappointing fifth-place finish. Both players are holding off on their contract renewals until they see firm evidence that the club are prepared to compete with rivals for the best players, although Hazard yesterday gave his strongest hint yet that he was looking to the future at Stamford Bridge. “We have a lot of top players who are used to winning trophies. We’ll be ready next season,” Hazard told The London Evening Standard. “I think all of the players and the club want one thing and that’s to win the title. Of course, we will see if we can bring in some new players. But we will be focused on winning the title.” FA Cup final reaction and analysis | How Chelsea held their nerve against United Lewandowski was the subject of a public reminder last June from Bayern that he had a contract until 2021, with the club clearly suggesting that they were aware a market was being created for the striker. Real Madrid have always been considered the first in the queue for the highly-rated Poland international but in the past two years the Champions League finalists have had to sell players in order to stay in profit and it is likely that they would have to do the same again to buy Lewandowski. Morata is now represented by Pini Zahavi, the Israeli agent who was such a key player in the acquisition of Roman Abramovich’s first Premier League-winning Chelsea team in the midpoint of the last decade. Bayern were robust in seeing off interest in the player last summer and he finished top of the Bundesliga goalscorers with 29 goals – almost twice as many as any other player in the league. The stand-off with Conte and his assistants continues this week with the compensation bill expected to top £10 million if Chelsea wish to move on the Italian and his sizeable entourage form the last year of his contract. As well as his brother Gianluca, Conte has built up an extensive group of coaches assistants, analysts and nutritionists.
Exclusive: Chelsea make Robert Lewandowski main summer target as they plan spending spree
Chelsea will push on with ambitious summer transfer plans despite the crisis that threatens to engulf owner Roman Abramovich, with the club making Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski their No 1 target. Abramovich’s visa application has been delayed, with the Government set to ask the Russian oligarch how he acquired his wealth if it is to be renewed. There is also huge uncertainty over the future of Antonio Conte, with both the manager and the club hopeful of a parting of the ways but Chelsea unprepared to pay the kind of compensation – at least £10 million – that it would cost to get rid of the Italian and his nine staff. Despite that upheaval, Chelsea are still trying to advance with a deal for Lewandowski, who they believe is ready for a move away from the German club and could cost in excess of £100 million. If Chelsea were successful in their pursuit of Lewandowski his fee would likely be offset by the sale of club-record signing Alvaro Morata, with the Spaniard struggling after he moved to Stamford Bridge for £68 million last summer. Roman Abramovich's uncertain future will not affect Chelsea's transfer plans Credit: Getty Images The 25-year-old did not even make the 23-man Spain squad named for the World Cup finals by Julien Lopetegui on Monday, having scored just three goals since the turn of the year. Shortly after the squad was announced, Morata tweeted: “Good luck at the World Cup! I will be supporting you and encouraging you right to the end, as always!” The striker’s club-mates Cesc Fabregas and Marcos Alonso were also left out by Lopetegui, as was Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin. Although Lewandowski’s age is not ideal for the kind of hefty price Chelsea would have to pay – he turns 30 in August – he does fit the bill for a proven European goal-scorer and his arrival would also be a crucial way of persuading Eden Hazard, and Thibaut Courtois that Chelsea are serious about challenging again for the Premier League and the Champions League after a disappointing fifth-place finish. Both players are holding off on their contract renewals until they see firm evidence that the club are prepared to compete with rivals for the best players, although Hazard yesterday gave his strongest hint yet that he was looking to the future at Stamford Bridge. “We have a lot of top players who are used to winning trophies. We’ll be ready next season,” Hazard told The London Evening Standard. “I think all of the players and the club want one thing and that’s to win the title. Of course, we will see if we can bring in some new players. But we will be focused on winning the title.” FA Cup final reaction and analysis | How Chelsea held their nerve against United Lewandowski was the subject of a public reminder last June from Bayern that he had a contract until 2021, with the club clearly suggesting that they were aware a market was being created for the striker. Real Madrid have always been considered the first in the queue for the highly-rated Poland international but in the past two years the Champions League finalists have had to sell players in order to stay in profit and it is likely that they would have to do the same again to buy Lewandowski. Morata is now represented by Pini Zahavi, the Israeli agent who was such a key player in the acquisition of Roman Abramovich’s first Premier League-winning Chelsea team in the midpoint of the last decade. Bayern were robust in seeing off interest in the player last summer and he finished top of the Bundesliga goalscorers with 29 goals – almost twice as many as any other player in the league. The stand-off with Conte and his assistants continues this week with the compensation bill expected to top £10 million if Chelsea wish to move on the Italian and his sizeable entourage form the last year of his contract. As well as his brother Gianluca, Conte has built up an extensive group of coaches assistants, analysts and nutritionists.
Chelsea will push on with ambitious summer transfer plans despite the crisis that threatens to engulf owner Roman Abramovich, with the club making Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski their No 1 target. Abramovich’s visa application has been delayed, with the Government set to ask the Russian oligarch how he acquired his wealth if it is to be renewed. There is also huge uncertainty over the future of Antonio Conte, with both the manager and the club hopeful of a parting of the ways but Chelsea unprepared to pay the kind of compensation – at least £10 million – that it would cost to get rid of the Italian and his nine staff. Despite that upheaval, Chelsea are still trying to advance with a deal for Lewandowski, who they believe is ready for a move away from the German club and could cost in excess of £100 million. If Chelsea were successful in their pursuit of Lewandowski his fee would likely be offset by the sale of club-record signing Alvaro Morata, with the Spaniard struggling after he moved to Stamford Bridge for £68 million last summer. Roman Abramovich's uncertain future will not affect Chelsea's transfer plans Credit: Getty Images The 25-year-old did not even make the 23-man Spain squad named for the World Cup finals by Julien Lopetegui on Monday, having scored just three goals since the turn of the year. Shortly after the squad was announced, Morata tweeted: “Good luck at the World Cup! I will be supporting you and encouraging you right to the end, as always!” The striker’s club-mates Cesc Fabregas and Marcos Alonso were also left out by Lopetegui, as was Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin. Although Lewandowski’s age is not ideal for the kind of hefty price Chelsea would have to pay – he turns 30 in August – he does fit the bill for a proven European goal-scorer and his arrival would also be a crucial way of persuading Eden Hazard, and Thibaut Courtois that Chelsea are serious about challenging again for the Premier League and the Champions League after a disappointing fifth-place finish. Both players are holding off on their contract renewals until they see firm evidence that the club are prepared to compete with rivals for the best players, although Hazard yesterday gave his strongest hint yet that he was looking to the future at Stamford Bridge. “We have a lot of top players who are used to winning trophies. We’ll be ready next season,” Hazard told The London Evening Standard. “I think all of the players and the club want one thing and that’s to win the title. Of course, we will see if we can bring in some new players. But we will be focused on winning the title.” FA Cup final reaction and analysis | How Chelsea held their nerve against United Lewandowski was the subject of a public reminder last June from Bayern that he had a contract until 2021, with the club clearly suggesting that they were aware a market was being created for the striker. Real Madrid have always been considered the first in the queue for the highly-rated Poland international but in the past two years the Champions League finalists have had to sell players in order to stay in profit and it is likely that they would have to do the same again to buy Lewandowski. Morata is now represented by Pini Zahavi, the Israeli agent who was such a key player in the acquisition of Roman Abramovich’s first Premier League-winning Chelsea team in the midpoint of the last decade. Bayern were robust in seeing off interest in the player last summer and he finished top of the Bundesliga goalscorers with 29 goals – almost twice as many as any other player in the league. The stand-off with Conte and his assistants continues this week with the compensation bill expected to top £10 million if Chelsea wish to move on the Italian and his sizeable entourage form the last year of his contract. As well as his brother Gianluca, Conte has built up an extensive group of coaches assistants, analysts and nutritionists.
Exclusive: Chelsea make Robert Lewandowski main summer target as they plan spending spree
Chelsea will push on with ambitious summer transfer plans despite the crisis that threatens to engulf owner Roman Abramovich, with the club making Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski their No 1 target. Abramovich’s visa application has been delayed, with the Government set to ask the Russian oligarch how he acquired his wealth if it is to be renewed. There is also huge uncertainty over the future of Antonio Conte, with both the manager and the club hopeful of a parting of the ways but Chelsea unprepared to pay the kind of compensation – at least £10 million – that it would cost to get rid of the Italian and his nine staff. Despite that upheaval, Chelsea are still trying to advance with a deal for Lewandowski, who they believe is ready for a move away from the German club and could cost in excess of £100 million. If Chelsea were successful in their pursuit of Lewandowski his fee would likely be offset by the sale of club-record signing Alvaro Morata, with the Spaniard struggling after he moved to Stamford Bridge for £68 million last summer. Roman Abramovich's uncertain future will not affect Chelsea's transfer plans Credit: Getty Images The 25-year-old did not even make the 23-man Spain squad named for the World Cup finals by Julien Lopetegui on Monday, having scored just three goals since the turn of the year. Shortly after the squad was announced, Morata tweeted: “Good luck at the World Cup! I will be supporting you and encouraging you right to the end, as always!” The striker’s club-mates Cesc Fabregas and Marcos Alonso were also left out by Lopetegui, as was Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin. Although Lewandowski’s age is not ideal for the kind of hefty price Chelsea would have to pay – he turns 30 in August – he does fit the bill for a proven European goal-scorer and his arrival would also be a crucial way of persuading Eden Hazard, and Thibaut Courtois that Chelsea are serious about challenging again for the Premier League and the Champions League after a disappointing fifth-place finish. Both players are holding off on their contract renewals until they see firm evidence that the club are prepared to compete with rivals for the best players, although Hazard yesterday gave his strongest hint yet that he was looking to the future at Stamford Bridge. “We have a lot of top players who are used to winning trophies. We’ll be ready next season,” Hazard told The London Evening Standard. “I think all of the players and the club want one thing and that’s to win the title. Of course, we will see if we can bring in some new players. But we will be focused on winning the title.” FA Cup final reaction and analysis | How Chelsea held their nerve against United Lewandowski was the subject of a public reminder last June from Bayern that he had a contract until 2021, with the club clearly suggesting that they were aware a market was being created for the striker. Real Madrid have always been considered the first in the queue for the highly-rated Poland international but in the past two years the Champions League finalists have had to sell players in order to stay in profit and it is likely that they would have to do the same again to buy Lewandowski. Morata is now represented by Pini Zahavi, the Israeli agent who was such a key player in the acquisition of Roman Abramovich’s first Premier League-winning Chelsea team in the midpoint of the last decade. Bayern were robust in seeing off interest in the player last summer and he finished top of the Bundesliga goalscorers with 29 goals – almost twice as many as any other player in the league. The stand-off with Conte and his assistants continues this week with the compensation bill expected to top £10 million if Chelsea wish to move on the Italian and his sizeable entourage form the last year of his contract. As well as his brother Gianluca, Conte has built up an extensive group of coaches assistants, analysts and nutritionists.
We're into the busiest week the managerial merry-go-round may ever see, and Antonio Conte's future is one of the main issues to be resolved. Relations have long-since broken down at Chelsea and there is every expectation that Conte will leave this week, once the spiky issue of a £9 million payout has been addressed. If Conte does leave, there's a long list of potential replacements at Stamford Bridge, but the bookies have their favourites already... Luis Enrique - 2/1 The most likely man to take charge of Chelsea according to the odds. He has been linked with a move to London for months on end, but for the majority of that time Enrique was also apparently on Arsenal's radar. With Mikel Arteta looking likely to take the job at the Emirates, Enrique's chances of going to Chelsea have increased markedly. He is out of work having taken a year off after leaving Barcelona, and should be fresh and raring to take on a new challenge. He does represent an expensive option, so his appointment could hinge on Conte's willingness to accept a lower pay-off for being sacked. Or if Roman Abramovich gets desperate enough, he might just cough up for Enrique anyway. Maurizio Sarri - 5/2 Sarri has had a successful but frustratingly trophy-shy time at Napoli, and he may be tempted into moving to Chelsea, where he might feel there is a greater chance of winning silverware. Contract talks have broken down between Sarri and his superiors at Napoli Credit: Reuters He admitted at the weekend that he cannot be sure he will stay at Napoli if the club cannot guarantee the players will be there. Contract talks have stalled and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis says "time is up" for Sarri to make a decision. It sounds very much as though the door is open should Chelsea want Sarri as their manager. Antonio Conte - 5/1 The cost of sacking Conte could lead to a stand-off between club and manager. The club do not want to pay Conte to leave, but Conte doesn't want to leave without being paid. Could stubbornness mean Chelsea end up with the same manager for another year? Conte is one of the most likely options to be in charge of Chelsea for the first game of next season. If that happens there could be an interesting summer in the transfer market. Brendan Rodgers - 6/1 Rodgers has history at Chelsea and may well believe he has achieved all he can at Celtic, where he completed a second successive domestic treble this weekend. Brendan Rodgers has won a double treble at Celtic Credit: PA However, the two clubs have fallen out over a lack of playing time afforded to Charly Musonda, who had been loaned to Celtic, and Rodgers could be in Chelsea's bad books as a result. Carlo Ancelotti - 6/1 Has been out of work since leaving Bayern Munich last year and a return to Chelsea would be a popular move among the fans. Ancelotti had been linked with the Italy job before Roberto Mancini took it, but he remains out of work and also, just about, in the running for the Arsenal job, too. Could be a good, reliable yet still exciting short-term option. Mauricio Pochettino - 8/1 Chelsea still retain some hope of luring Pochettino across London, probably with the promise of millions in spending money, a lack of which has hamstrung him at Spurs. However, Pochettino looks likely to extend his Tottenham contract and it would be strange for him to jump ship with the new stadium on its way. Leonardo Jardim - 10/1 An exciting young option who has done a wonderful job at Monaco, but may find PSG's dominance of French football a little frustrating. Chelsea would certainly represent an attractive alternative, though living on the French Riviera probably has its upsides. He has 15 years of managerial experience despite only being 43 years old, and he has also won a few trophies in his time, too. Remains an option. Max Allegri - 14/1 Ruled out leaving Juventus this summer by saying "If they don't fire me, I see myself as staying at Juventus next year too" last week, as he still feels he has unfinished business in Turin. Massimiliano Allegri exclusive interview He is keen on moving to another country at some point and we will probably see him in the Premier League eventually, but probably not just yet. Jorge Sampaoli - 14/1 Sampaoli is focused on taking Argentina to the World Cup this summer and that may mean he isn't ready to discuss a new job until after the tournament. Chelsea, meanwhile, might not be willing to wait that long. Diego Simeone - 16/1 The dream move for so many top clubs but Simeone's love affair with Atletico Madrid is showing no signs of ending just yet. He has just won the Europa League and has a brilliant relationship with everyone at the club, and is thinking about strengthening for next season rather than leaving. Laurent Blanc - 20/1 A strangely underwhelming option considering just how much he won as manager at Bordeaux and PSG (plus his many, many trophies during his playing career), but Blanc just isn't considered a top manager across Europe. He is reportedly on Abramovich's radar but remains an outsider for the role. Rui Faria - 25/1 Mourinho's right-hand man has decided to go it alone, and his previous links with Chelsea were always going to mean he was talked about for the job. Rui Faria was Jose Mourinho's assistant at Chelsea Credit: Philip Brown He is, however, being more strongly linked with Benfica, and it is pretty unlikely that Chelsea will give him his first managerial gig. Unai Emery - 25/1 Out of work having left PSG at the end of the season and a long shot for the Chelsea job. His reputation took a hit in France, where he only won seven trophies in two years, having won the Europa League three times in a row with Sevilla. He is clearly a talented manager and will get another top job, but for now he is on the periphery of considerations at Stamford Bridge.
Next Chelsea manager odds: From Maurizio Sarri to Leonardo Jardim - who will be in charge next season?
We're into the busiest week the managerial merry-go-round may ever see, and Antonio Conte's future is one of the main issues to be resolved. Relations have long-since broken down at Chelsea and there is every expectation that Conte will leave this week, once the spiky issue of a £9 million payout has been addressed. If Conte does leave, there's a long list of potential replacements at Stamford Bridge, but the bookies have their favourites already... Luis Enrique - 2/1 The most likely man to take charge of Chelsea according to the odds. He has been linked with a move to London for months on end, but for the majority of that time Enrique was also apparently on Arsenal's radar. With Mikel Arteta looking likely to take the job at the Emirates, Enrique's chances of going to Chelsea have increased markedly. He is out of work having taken a year off after leaving Barcelona, and should be fresh and raring to take on a new challenge. He does represent an expensive option, so his appointment could hinge on Conte's willingness to accept a lower pay-off for being sacked. Or if Roman Abramovich gets desperate enough, he might just cough up for Enrique anyway. Maurizio Sarri - 5/2 Sarri has had a successful but frustratingly trophy-shy time at Napoli, and he may be tempted into moving to Chelsea, where he might feel there is a greater chance of winning silverware. Contract talks have broken down between Sarri and his superiors at Napoli Credit: Reuters He admitted at the weekend that he cannot be sure he will stay at Napoli if the club cannot guarantee the players will be there. Contract talks have stalled and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis says "time is up" for Sarri to make a decision. It sounds very much as though the door is open should Chelsea want Sarri as their manager. Antonio Conte - 5/1 The cost of sacking Conte could lead to a stand-off between club and manager. The club do not want to pay Conte to leave, but Conte doesn't want to leave without being paid. Could stubbornness mean Chelsea end up with the same manager for another year? Conte is one of the most likely options to be in charge of Chelsea for the first game of next season. If that happens there could be an interesting summer in the transfer market. Brendan Rodgers - 6/1 Rodgers has history at Chelsea and may well believe he has achieved all he can at Celtic, where he completed a second successive domestic treble this weekend. Brendan Rodgers has won a double treble at Celtic Credit: PA However, the two clubs have fallen out over a lack of playing time afforded to Charly Musonda, who had been loaned to Celtic, and Rodgers could be in Chelsea's bad books as a result. Carlo Ancelotti - 6/1 Has been out of work since leaving Bayern Munich last year and a return to Chelsea would be a popular move among the fans. Ancelotti had been linked with the Italy job before Roberto Mancini took it, but he remains out of work and also, just about, in the running for the Arsenal job, too. Could be a good, reliable yet still exciting short-term option. Mauricio Pochettino - 8/1 Chelsea still retain some hope of luring Pochettino across London, probably with the promise of millions in spending money, a lack of which has hamstrung him at Spurs. However, Pochettino looks likely to extend his Tottenham contract and it would be strange for him to jump ship with the new stadium on its way. Leonardo Jardim - 10/1 An exciting young option who has done a wonderful job at Monaco, but may find PSG's dominance of French football a little frustrating. Chelsea would certainly represent an attractive alternative, though living on the French Riviera probably has its upsides. He has 15 years of managerial experience despite only being 43 years old, and he has also won a few trophies in his time, too. Remains an option. Max Allegri - 14/1 Ruled out leaving Juventus this summer by saying "If they don't fire me, I see myself as staying at Juventus next year too" last week, as he still feels he has unfinished business in Turin. Massimiliano Allegri exclusive interview He is keen on moving to another country at some point and we will probably see him in the Premier League eventually, but probably not just yet. Jorge Sampaoli - 14/1 Sampaoli is focused on taking Argentina to the World Cup this summer and that may mean he isn't ready to discuss a new job until after the tournament. Chelsea, meanwhile, might not be willing to wait that long. Diego Simeone - 16/1 The dream move for so many top clubs but Simeone's love affair with Atletico Madrid is showing no signs of ending just yet. He has just won the Europa League and has a brilliant relationship with everyone at the club, and is thinking about strengthening for next season rather than leaving. Laurent Blanc - 20/1 A strangely underwhelming option considering just how much he won as manager at Bordeaux and PSG (plus his many, many trophies during his playing career), but Blanc just isn't considered a top manager across Europe. He is reportedly on Abramovich's radar but remains an outsider for the role. Rui Faria - 25/1 Mourinho's right-hand man has decided to go it alone, and his previous links with Chelsea were always going to mean he was talked about for the job. Rui Faria was Jose Mourinho's assistant at Chelsea Credit: Philip Brown He is, however, being more strongly linked with Benfica, and it is pretty unlikely that Chelsea will give him his first managerial gig. Unai Emery - 25/1 Out of work having left PSG at the end of the season and a long shot for the Chelsea job. His reputation took a hit in France, where he only won seven trophies in two years, having won the Europa League three times in a row with Sevilla. He is clearly a talented manager and will get another top job, but for now he is on the periphery of considerations at Stamford Bridge.
We're into the busiest week the managerial merry-go-round may ever see, and Antonio Conte's future is one of the main issues to be resolved. Relations have long-since broken down at Chelsea and there is every expectation that Conte will leave this week, once the spiky issue of a £9 million payout has been addressed. If Conte does leave, there's a long list of potential replacements at Stamford Bridge, but the bookies have their favourites already... Luis Enrique - 2/1 The most likely man to take charge of Chelsea according to the odds. He has been linked with a move to London for months on end, but for the majority of that time Enrique was also apparently on Arsenal's radar. With Mikel Arteta looking likely to take the job at the Emirates, Enrique's chances of going to Chelsea have increased markedly. He is out of work having taken a year off after leaving Barcelona, and should be fresh and raring to take on a new challenge. He does represent an expensive option, so his appointment could hinge on Conte's willingness to accept a lower pay-off for being sacked. Or if Roman Abramovich gets desperate enough, he might just cough up for Enrique anyway. Maurizio Sarri - 5/2 Sarri has had a successful but frustratingly trophy-shy time at Napoli, and he may be tempted into moving to Chelsea, where he might feel there is a greater chance of winning silverware. Contract talks have broken down between Sarri and his superiors at Napoli Credit: Reuters He admitted at the weekend that he cannot be sure he will stay at Napoli if the club cannot guarantee the players will be there. Contract talks have stalled and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis says "time is up" for Sarri to make a decision. It sounds very much as though the door is open should Chelsea want Sarri as their manager. Antonio Conte - 5/1 The cost of sacking Conte could lead to a stand-off between club and manager. The club do not want to pay Conte to leave, but Conte doesn't want to leave without being paid. Could stubbornness mean Chelsea end up with the same manager for another year? Conte is one of the most likely options to be in charge of Chelsea for the first game of next season. If that happens there could be an interesting summer in the transfer market. Brendan Rodgers - 6/1 Rodgers has history at Chelsea and may well believe he has achieved all he can at Celtic, where he completed a second successive domestic treble this weekend. Brendan Rodgers has won a double treble at Celtic Credit: PA However, the two clubs have fallen out over a lack of playing time afforded to Charly Musonda, who had been loaned to Celtic, and Rodgers could be in Chelsea's bad books as a result. Carlo Ancelotti - 6/1 Has been out of work since leaving Bayern Munich last year and a return to Chelsea would be a popular move among the fans. Ancelotti had been linked with the Italy job before Roberto Mancini took it, but he remains out of work and also, just about, in the running for the Arsenal job, too. Could be a good, reliable yet still exciting short-term option. Mauricio Pochettino - 8/1 Chelsea still retain some hope of luring Pochettino across London, probably with the promise of millions in spending money, a lack of which has hamstrung him at Spurs. However, Pochettino looks likely to extend his Tottenham contract and it would be strange for him to jump ship with the new stadium on its way. Leonardo Jardim - 10/1 An exciting young option who has done a wonderful job at Monaco, but may find PSG's dominance of French football a little frustrating. Chelsea would certainly represent an attractive alternative, though living on the French Riviera probably has its upsides. He has 15 years of managerial experience despite only being 43 years old, and he has also won a few trophies in his time, too. Remains an option. Max Allegri - 14/1 Ruled out leaving Juventus this summer by saying "If they don't fire me, I see myself as staying at Juventus next year too" last week, as he still feels he has unfinished business in Turin. Massimiliano Allegri exclusive interview He is keen on moving to another country at some point and we will probably see him in the Premier League eventually, but probably not just yet. Jorge Sampaoli - 14/1 Sampaoli is focused on taking Argentina to the World Cup this summer and that may mean he isn't ready to discuss a new job until after the tournament. Chelsea, meanwhile, might not be willing to wait that long. Diego Simeone - 16/1 The dream move for so many top clubs but Simeone's love affair with Atletico Madrid is showing no signs of ending just yet. He has just won the Europa League and has a brilliant relationship with everyone at the club, and is thinking about strengthening for next season rather than leaving. Laurent Blanc - 20/1 A strangely underwhelming option considering just how much he won as manager at Bordeaux and PSG (plus his many, many trophies during his playing career), but Blanc just isn't considered a top manager across Europe. He is reportedly on Abramovich's radar but remains an outsider for the role. Rui Faria - 25/1 Mourinho's right-hand man has decided to go it alone, and his previous links with Chelsea were always going to mean he was talked about for the job. Rui Faria was Jose Mourinho's assistant at Chelsea Credit: Philip Brown He is, however, being more strongly linked with Benfica, and it is pretty unlikely that Chelsea will give him his first managerial gig. Unai Emery - 25/1 Out of work having left PSG at the end of the season and a long shot for the Chelsea job. His reputation took a hit in France, where he only won seven trophies in two years, having won the Europa League three times in a row with Sevilla. He is clearly a talented manager and will get another top job, but for now he is on the periphery of considerations at Stamford Bridge.
Next Chelsea manager odds: From Maurizio Sarri to Leonardo Jardim - who will be in charge next season?
We're into the busiest week the managerial merry-go-round may ever see, and Antonio Conte's future is one of the main issues to be resolved. Relations have long-since broken down at Chelsea and there is every expectation that Conte will leave this week, once the spiky issue of a £9 million payout has been addressed. If Conte does leave, there's a long list of potential replacements at Stamford Bridge, but the bookies have their favourites already... Luis Enrique - 2/1 The most likely man to take charge of Chelsea according to the odds. He has been linked with a move to London for months on end, but for the majority of that time Enrique was also apparently on Arsenal's radar. With Mikel Arteta looking likely to take the job at the Emirates, Enrique's chances of going to Chelsea have increased markedly. He is out of work having taken a year off after leaving Barcelona, and should be fresh and raring to take on a new challenge. He does represent an expensive option, so his appointment could hinge on Conte's willingness to accept a lower pay-off for being sacked. Or if Roman Abramovich gets desperate enough, he might just cough up for Enrique anyway. Maurizio Sarri - 5/2 Sarri has had a successful but frustratingly trophy-shy time at Napoli, and he may be tempted into moving to Chelsea, where he might feel there is a greater chance of winning silverware. Contract talks have broken down between Sarri and his superiors at Napoli Credit: Reuters He admitted at the weekend that he cannot be sure he will stay at Napoli if the club cannot guarantee the players will be there. Contract talks have stalled and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis says "time is up" for Sarri to make a decision. It sounds very much as though the door is open should Chelsea want Sarri as their manager. Antonio Conte - 5/1 The cost of sacking Conte could lead to a stand-off between club and manager. The club do not want to pay Conte to leave, but Conte doesn't want to leave without being paid. Could stubbornness mean Chelsea end up with the same manager for another year? Conte is one of the most likely options to be in charge of Chelsea for the first game of next season. If that happens there could be an interesting summer in the transfer market. Brendan Rodgers - 6/1 Rodgers has history at Chelsea and may well believe he has achieved all he can at Celtic, where he completed a second successive domestic treble this weekend. Brendan Rodgers has won a double treble at Celtic Credit: PA However, the two clubs have fallen out over a lack of playing time afforded to Charly Musonda, who had been loaned to Celtic, and Rodgers could be in Chelsea's bad books as a result. Carlo Ancelotti - 6/1 Has been out of work since leaving Bayern Munich last year and a return to Chelsea would be a popular move among the fans. Ancelotti had been linked with the Italy job before Roberto Mancini took it, but he remains out of work and also, just about, in the running for the Arsenal job, too. Could be a good, reliable yet still exciting short-term option. Mauricio Pochettino - 8/1 Chelsea still retain some hope of luring Pochettino across London, probably with the promise of millions in spending money, a lack of which has hamstrung him at Spurs. However, Pochettino looks likely to extend his Tottenham contract and it would be strange for him to jump ship with the new stadium on its way. Leonardo Jardim - 10/1 An exciting young option who has done a wonderful job at Monaco, but may find PSG's dominance of French football a little frustrating. Chelsea would certainly represent an attractive alternative, though living on the French Riviera probably has its upsides. He has 15 years of managerial experience despite only being 43 years old, and he has also won a few trophies in his time, too. Remains an option. Max Allegri - 14/1 Ruled out leaving Juventus this summer by saying "If they don't fire me, I see myself as staying at Juventus next year too" last week, as he still feels he has unfinished business in Turin. Massimiliano Allegri exclusive interview He is keen on moving to another country at some point and we will probably see him in the Premier League eventually, but probably not just yet. Jorge Sampaoli - 14/1 Sampaoli is focused on taking Argentina to the World Cup this summer and that may mean he isn't ready to discuss a new job until after the tournament. Chelsea, meanwhile, might not be willing to wait that long. Diego Simeone - 16/1 The dream move for so many top clubs but Simeone's love affair with Atletico Madrid is showing no signs of ending just yet. He has just won the Europa League and has a brilliant relationship with everyone at the club, and is thinking about strengthening for next season rather than leaving. Laurent Blanc - 20/1 A strangely underwhelming option considering just how much he won as manager at Bordeaux and PSG (plus his many, many trophies during his playing career), but Blanc just isn't considered a top manager across Europe. He is reportedly on Abramovich's radar but remains an outsider for the role. Rui Faria - 25/1 Mourinho's right-hand man has decided to go it alone, and his previous links with Chelsea were always going to mean he was talked about for the job. Rui Faria was Jose Mourinho's assistant at Chelsea Credit: Philip Brown He is, however, being more strongly linked with Benfica, and it is pretty unlikely that Chelsea will give him his first managerial gig. Unai Emery - 25/1 Out of work having left PSG at the end of the season and a long shot for the Chelsea job. His reputation took a hit in France, where he only won seven trophies in two years, having won the Europa League three times in a row with Sevilla. He is clearly a talented manager and will get another top job, but for now he is on the periphery of considerations at Stamford Bridge.
We're into the busiest week the managerial merry-go-round may ever see, and Antonio Conte's future is one of the main issues to be resolved. Relations have long-since broken down at Chelsea and there is every expectation that Conte will leave this week, once the spiky issue of a £9 million payout has been addressed. If Conte does leave, there's a long list of potential replacements at Stamford Bridge, but the bookies have their favourites already... Luis Enrique - 2/1 The most likely man to take charge of Chelsea according to the odds. He has been linked with a move to London for months on end, but for the majority of that time Enrique was also apparently on Arsenal's radar. With Mikel Arteta looking likely to take the job at the Emirates, Enrique's chances of going to Chelsea have increased markedly. He is out of work having taken a year off after leaving Barcelona, and should be fresh and raring to take on a new challenge. He does represent an expensive option, so his appointment could hinge on Conte's willingness to accept a lower pay-off for being sacked. Or if Roman Abramovich gets desperate enough, he might just cough up for Enrique anyway. Maurizio Sarri - 5/2 Sarri has had a successful but frustratingly trophy-shy time at Napoli, and he may be tempted into moving to Chelsea, where he might feel there is a greater chance of winning silverware. Contract talks have broken down between Sarri and his superiors at Napoli Credit: Reuters He admitted at the weekend that he cannot be sure he will stay at Napoli if the club cannot guarantee the players will be there. Contract talks have stalled and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis says "time is up" for Sarri to make a decision. It sounds very much as though the door is open should Chelsea want Sarri as their manager. Antonio Conte - 5/1 The cost of sacking Conte could lead to a stand-off between club and manager. The club do not want to pay Conte to leave, but Conte doesn't want to leave without being paid. Could stubbornness mean Chelsea end up with the same manager for another year? Conte is one of the most likely options to be in charge of Chelsea for the first game of next season. If that happens there could be an interesting summer in the transfer market. Brendan Rodgers - 6/1 Rodgers has history at Chelsea and may well believe he has achieved all he can at Celtic, where he completed a second successive domestic treble this weekend. Brendan Rodgers has won a double treble at Celtic Credit: PA However, the two clubs have fallen out over a lack of playing time afforded to Charly Musonda, who had been loaned to Celtic, and Rodgers could be in Chelsea's bad books as a result. Carlo Ancelotti - 6/1 Has been out of work since leaving Bayern Munich last year and a return to Chelsea would be a popular move among the fans. Ancelotti had been linked with the Italy job before Roberto Mancini took it, but he remains out of work and also, just about, in the running for the Arsenal job, too. Could be a good, reliable yet still exciting short-term option. Mauricio Pochettino - 8/1 Chelsea still retain some hope of luring Pochettino across London, probably with the promise of millions in spending money, a lack of which has hamstrung him at Spurs. However, Pochettino looks likely to extend his Tottenham contract and it would be strange for him to jump ship with the new stadium on its way. Leonardo Jardim - 10/1 An exciting young option who has done a wonderful job at Monaco, but may find PSG's dominance of French football a little frustrating. Chelsea would certainly represent an attractive alternative, though living on the French Riviera probably has its upsides. He has 15 years of managerial experience despite only being 43 years old, and he has also won a few trophies in his time, too. Remains an option. Max Allegri - 14/1 Ruled out leaving Juventus this summer by saying "If they don't fire me, I see myself as staying at Juventus next year too" last week, as he still feels he has unfinished business in Turin. Massimiliano Allegri exclusive interview He is keen on moving to another country at some point and we will probably see him in the Premier League eventually, but probably not just yet. Jorge Sampaoli - 14/1 Sampaoli is focused on taking Argentina to the World Cup this summer and that may mean he isn't ready to discuss a new job until after the tournament. Chelsea, meanwhile, might not be willing to wait that long. Diego Simeone - 16/1 The dream move for so many top clubs but Simeone's love affair with Atletico Madrid is showing no signs of ending just yet. He has just won the Europa League and has a brilliant relationship with everyone at the club, and is thinking about strengthening for next season rather than leaving. Laurent Blanc - 20/1 A strangely underwhelming option considering just how much he won as manager at Bordeaux and PSG (plus his many, many trophies during his playing career), but Blanc just isn't considered a top manager across Europe. He is reportedly on Abramovich's radar but remains an outsider for the role. Rui Faria - 25/1 Mourinho's right-hand man has decided to go it alone, and his previous links with Chelsea were always going to mean he was talked about for the job. Rui Faria was Jose Mourinho's assistant at Chelsea Credit: Philip Brown He is, however, being more strongly linked with Benfica, and it is pretty unlikely that Chelsea will give him his first managerial gig. Unai Emery - 25/1 Out of work having left PSG at the end of the season and a long shot for the Chelsea job. His reputation took a hit in France, where he only won seven trophies in two years, having won the Europa League three times in a row with Sevilla. He is clearly a talented manager and will get another top job, but for now he is on the periphery of considerations at Stamford Bridge.
Next Chelsea manager odds: From Maurizio Sarri to Leonardo Jardim - who will be in charge next season?
We're into the busiest week the managerial merry-go-round may ever see, and Antonio Conte's future is one of the main issues to be resolved. Relations have long-since broken down at Chelsea and there is every expectation that Conte will leave this week, once the spiky issue of a £9 million payout has been addressed. If Conte does leave, there's a long list of potential replacements at Stamford Bridge, but the bookies have their favourites already... Luis Enrique - 2/1 The most likely man to take charge of Chelsea according to the odds. He has been linked with a move to London for months on end, but for the majority of that time Enrique was also apparently on Arsenal's radar. With Mikel Arteta looking likely to take the job at the Emirates, Enrique's chances of going to Chelsea have increased markedly. He is out of work having taken a year off after leaving Barcelona, and should be fresh and raring to take on a new challenge. He does represent an expensive option, so his appointment could hinge on Conte's willingness to accept a lower pay-off for being sacked. Or if Roman Abramovich gets desperate enough, he might just cough up for Enrique anyway. Maurizio Sarri - 5/2 Sarri has had a successful but frustratingly trophy-shy time at Napoli, and he may be tempted into moving to Chelsea, where he might feel there is a greater chance of winning silverware. Contract talks have broken down between Sarri and his superiors at Napoli Credit: Reuters He admitted at the weekend that he cannot be sure he will stay at Napoli if the club cannot guarantee the players will be there. Contract talks have stalled and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis says "time is up" for Sarri to make a decision. It sounds very much as though the door is open should Chelsea want Sarri as their manager. Antonio Conte - 5/1 The cost of sacking Conte could lead to a stand-off between club and manager. The club do not want to pay Conte to leave, but Conte doesn't want to leave without being paid. Could stubbornness mean Chelsea end up with the same manager for another year? Conte is one of the most likely options to be in charge of Chelsea for the first game of next season. If that happens there could be an interesting summer in the transfer market. Brendan Rodgers - 6/1 Rodgers has history at Chelsea and may well believe he has achieved all he can at Celtic, where he completed a second successive domestic treble this weekend. Brendan Rodgers has won a double treble at Celtic Credit: PA However, the two clubs have fallen out over a lack of playing time afforded to Charly Musonda, who had been loaned to Celtic, and Rodgers could be in Chelsea's bad books as a result. Carlo Ancelotti - 6/1 Has been out of work since leaving Bayern Munich last year and a return to Chelsea would be a popular move among the fans. Ancelotti had been linked with the Italy job before Roberto Mancini took it, but he remains out of work and also, just about, in the running for the Arsenal job, too. Could be a good, reliable yet still exciting short-term option. Mauricio Pochettino - 8/1 Chelsea still retain some hope of luring Pochettino across London, probably with the promise of millions in spending money, a lack of which has hamstrung him at Spurs. However, Pochettino looks likely to extend his Tottenham contract and it would be strange for him to jump ship with the new stadium on its way. Leonardo Jardim - 10/1 An exciting young option who has done a wonderful job at Monaco, but may find PSG's dominance of French football a little frustrating. Chelsea would certainly represent an attractive alternative, though living on the French Riviera probably has its upsides. He has 15 years of managerial experience despite only being 43 years old, and he has also won a few trophies in his time, too. Remains an option. Max Allegri - 14/1 Ruled out leaving Juventus this summer by saying "If they don't fire me, I see myself as staying at Juventus next year too" last week, as he still feels he has unfinished business in Turin. Massimiliano Allegri exclusive interview He is keen on moving to another country at some point and we will probably see him in the Premier League eventually, but probably not just yet. Jorge Sampaoli - 14/1 Sampaoli is focused on taking Argentina to the World Cup this summer and that may mean he isn't ready to discuss a new job until after the tournament. Chelsea, meanwhile, might not be willing to wait that long. Diego Simeone - 16/1 The dream move for so many top clubs but Simeone's love affair with Atletico Madrid is showing no signs of ending just yet. He has just won the Europa League and has a brilliant relationship with everyone at the club, and is thinking about strengthening for next season rather than leaving. Laurent Blanc - 20/1 A strangely underwhelming option considering just how much he won as manager at Bordeaux and PSG (plus his many, many trophies during his playing career), but Blanc just isn't considered a top manager across Europe. He is reportedly on Abramovich's radar but remains an outsider for the role. Rui Faria - 25/1 Mourinho's right-hand man has decided to go it alone, and his previous links with Chelsea were always going to mean he was talked about for the job. Rui Faria was Jose Mourinho's assistant at Chelsea Credit: Philip Brown He is, however, being more strongly linked with Benfica, and it is pretty unlikely that Chelsea will give him his first managerial gig. Unai Emery - 25/1 Out of work having left PSG at the end of the season and a long shot for the Chelsea job. His reputation took a hit in France, where he only won seven trophies in two years, having won the Europa League three times in a row with Sevilla. He is clearly a talented manager and will get another top job, but for now he is on the periphery of considerations at Stamford Bridge.
We're into the busiest week the managerial merry-go-round may ever see, and Antonio Conte's future is one of the main issues to be resolved. Relations have long-since broken down at Chelsea and there is every expectation that Conte will leave this week, once the spiky issue of a £9 million payout has been addressed. If Conte does leave, there's a long list of potential replacements at Stamford Bridge, but the bookies have their favourites already... Luis Enrique - 2/1 The most likely man to take charge of Chelsea according to the odds. He has been linked with a move to London for months on end, but for the majority of that time Enrique was also apparently on Arsenal's radar. With Mikel Arteta looking likely to take the job at the Emirates, Enrique's chances of going to Chelsea have increased markedly. He is out of work having taken a year off after leaving Barcelona, and should be fresh and raring to take on a new challenge. He does represent an expensive option, so his appointment could hinge on Conte's willingness to accept a lower pay-off for being sacked. Or if Roman Abramovich gets desperate enough, he might just cough up for Enrique anyway. Maurizio Sarri - 5/2 Sarri has had a successful but frustratingly trophy-shy time at Napoli, and he may be tempted into moving to Chelsea, where he might feel there is a greater chance of winning silverware. Contract talks have broken down between Sarri and his superiors at Napoli Credit: Reuters He admitted at the weekend that he cannot be sure he will stay at Napoli if the club cannot guarantee the players will be there. Contract talks have stalled and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis says "time is up" for Sarri to make a decision. It sounds very much as though the door is open should Chelsea want Sarri as their manager. Antonio Conte - 5/1 The cost of sacking Conte could lead to a stand-off between club and manager. The club do not want to pay Conte to leave, but Conte doesn't want to leave without being paid. Could stubbornness mean Chelsea end up with the same manager for another year? Conte is one of the most likely options to be in charge of Chelsea for the first game of next season. If that happens there could be an interesting summer in the transfer market. Brendan Rodgers - 6/1 Rodgers has history at Chelsea and may well believe he has achieved all he can at Celtic, where he completed a second successive domestic treble this weekend. Brendan Rodgers has won a double treble at Celtic Credit: PA However, the two clubs have fallen out over a lack of playing time afforded to Charly Musonda, who had been loaned to Celtic, and Rodgers could be in Chelsea's bad books as a result. Carlo Ancelotti - 6/1 Has been out of work since leaving Bayern Munich last year and a return to Chelsea would be a popular move among the fans. Ancelotti had been linked with the Italy job before Roberto Mancini took it, but he remains out of work and also, just about, in the running for the Arsenal job, too. Could be a good, reliable yet still exciting short-term option. Mauricio Pochettino - 8/1 Chelsea still retain some hope of luring Pochettino across London, probably with the promise of millions in spending money, a lack of which has hamstrung him at Spurs. However, Pochettino looks likely to extend his Tottenham contract and it would be strange for him to jump ship with the new stadium on its way. Leonardo Jardim - 10/1 An exciting young option who has done a wonderful job at Monaco, but may find PSG's dominance of French football a little frustrating. Chelsea would certainly represent an attractive alternative, though living on the French Riviera probably has its upsides. He has 15 years of managerial experience despite only being 43 years old, and he has also won a few trophies in his time, too. Remains an option. Max Allegri - 14/1 Ruled out leaving Juventus this summer by saying "If they don't fire me, I see myself as staying at Juventus next year too" last week, as he still feels he has unfinished business in Turin. Massimiliano Allegri exclusive interview He is keen on moving to another country at some point and we will probably see him in the Premier League eventually, but probably not just yet. Jorge Sampaoli - 14/1 Sampaoli is focused on taking Argentina to the World Cup this summer and that may mean he isn't ready to discuss a new job until after the tournament. Chelsea, meanwhile, might not be willing to wait that long. Diego Simeone - 16/1 The dream move for so many top clubs but Simeone's love affair with Atletico Madrid is showing no signs of ending just yet. He has just won the Europa League and has a brilliant relationship with everyone at the club, and is thinking about strengthening for next season rather than leaving. Laurent Blanc - 20/1 A strangely underwhelming option considering just how much he won as manager at Bordeaux and PSG (plus his many, many trophies during his playing career), but Blanc just isn't considered a top manager across Europe. He is reportedly on Abramovich's radar but remains an outsider for the role. Rui Faria - 25/1 Mourinho's right-hand man has decided to go it alone, and his previous links with Chelsea were always going to mean he was talked about for the job. Rui Faria was Jose Mourinho's assistant at Chelsea Credit: Philip Brown He is, however, being more strongly linked with Benfica, and it is pretty unlikely that Chelsea will give him his first managerial gig. Unai Emery - 25/1 Out of work having left PSG at the end of the season and a long shot for the Chelsea job. His reputation took a hit in France, where he only won seven trophies in two years, having won the Europa League three times in a row with Sevilla. He is clearly a talented manager and will get another top job, but for now he is on the periphery of considerations at Stamford Bridge.
Next Chelsea manager odds: From Maurizio Sarri to Leonardo Jardim - who will be in charge next season?
We're into the busiest week the managerial merry-go-round may ever see, and Antonio Conte's future is one of the main issues to be resolved. Relations have long-since broken down at Chelsea and there is every expectation that Conte will leave this week, once the spiky issue of a £9 million payout has been addressed. If Conte does leave, there's a long list of potential replacements at Stamford Bridge, but the bookies have their favourites already... Luis Enrique - 2/1 The most likely man to take charge of Chelsea according to the odds. He has been linked with a move to London for months on end, but for the majority of that time Enrique was also apparently on Arsenal's radar. With Mikel Arteta looking likely to take the job at the Emirates, Enrique's chances of going to Chelsea have increased markedly. He is out of work having taken a year off after leaving Barcelona, and should be fresh and raring to take on a new challenge. He does represent an expensive option, so his appointment could hinge on Conte's willingness to accept a lower pay-off for being sacked. Or if Roman Abramovich gets desperate enough, he might just cough up for Enrique anyway. Maurizio Sarri - 5/2 Sarri has had a successful but frustratingly trophy-shy time at Napoli, and he may be tempted into moving to Chelsea, where he might feel there is a greater chance of winning silverware. Contract talks have broken down between Sarri and his superiors at Napoli Credit: Reuters He admitted at the weekend that he cannot be sure he will stay at Napoli if the club cannot guarantee the players will be there. Contract talks have stalled and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis says "time is up" for Sarri to make a decision. It sounds very much as though the door is open should Chelsea want Sarri as their manager. Antonio Conte - 5/1 The cost of sacking Conte could lead to a stand-off between club and manager. The club do not want to pay Conte to leave, but Conte doesn't want to leave without being paid. Could stubbornness mean Chelsea end up with the same manager for another year? Conte is one of the most likely options to be in charge of Chelsea for the first game of next season. If that happens there could be an interesting summer in the transfer market. Brendan Rodgers - 6/1 Rodgers has history at Chelsea and may well believe he has achieved all he can at Celtic, where he completed a second successive domestic treble this weekend. Brendan Rodgers has won a double treble at Celtic Credit: PA However, the two clubs have fallen out over a lack of playing time afforded to Charly Musonda, who had been loaned to Celtic, and Rodgers could be in Chelsea's bad books as a result. Carlo Ancelotti - 6/1 Has been out of work since leaving Bayern Munich last year and a return to Chelsea would be a popular move among the fans. Ancelotti had been linked with the Italy job before Roberto Mancini took it, but he remains out of work and also, just about, in the running for the Arsenal job, too. Could be a good, reliable yet still exciting short-term option. Mauricio Pochettino - 8/1 Chelsea still retain some hope of luring Pochettino across London, probably with the promise of millions in spending money, a lack of which has hamstrung him at Spurs. However, Pochettino looks likely to extend his Tottenham contract and it would be strange for him to jump ship with the new stadium on its way. Leonardo Jardim - 10/1 An exciting young option who has done a wonderful job at Monaco, but may find PSG's dominance of French football a little frustrating. Chelsea would certainly represent an attractive alternative, though living on the French Riviera probably has its upsides. He has 15 years of managerial experience despite only being 43 years old, and he has also won a few trophies in his time, too. Remains an option. Max Allegri - 14/1 Ruled out leaving Juventus this summer by saying "If they don't fire me, I see myself as staying at Juventus next year too" last week, as he still feels he has unfinished business in Turin. Massimiliano Allegri exclusive interview He is keen on moving to another country at some point and we will probably see him in the Premier League eventually, but probably not just yet. Jorge Sampaoli - 14/1 Sampaoli is focused on taking Argentina to the World Cup this summer and that may mean he isn't ready to discuss a new job until after the tournament. Chelsea, meanwhile, might not be willing to wait that long. Diego Simeone - 16/1 The dream move for so many top clubs but Simeone's love affair with Atletico Madrid is showing no signs of ending just yet. He has just won the Europa League and has a brilliant relationship with everyone at the club, and is thinking about strengthening for next season rather than leaving. Laurent Blanc - 20/1 A strangely underwhelming option considering just how much he won as manager at Bordeaux and PSG (plus his many, many trophies during his playing career), but Blanc just isn't considered a top manager across Europe. He is reportedly on Abramovich's radar but remains an outsider for the role. Rui Faria - 25/1 Mourinho's right-hand man has decided to go it alone, and his previous links with Chelsea were always going to mean he was talked about for the job. Rui Faria was Jose Mourinho's assistant at Chelsea Credit: Philip Brown He is, however, being more strongly linked with Benfica, and it is pretty unlikely that Chelsea will give him his first managerial gig. Unai Emery - 25/1 Out of work having left PSG at the end of the season and a long shot for the Chelsea job. His reputation took a hit in France, where he only won seven trophies in two years, having won the Europa League three times in a row with Sevilla. He is clearly a talented manager and will get another top job, but for now he is on the periphery of considerations at Stamford Bridge.
Bayern Munich fans turned up in their thousands to bid farewell to Jupp Heynckes for a second time on Sunday.
Bayern Munich fans pay tribute to Jupp Heynckes, again
Bayern Munich fans turned up in their thousands to bid farewell to Jupp Heynckes for a second time on Sunday.
Bayern Munich fans turned up in their thousands to bid farewell to Jupp Heynckes for a second time on Sunday.
Bayern Munich fans pay tribute to Jupp Heynckes, again
Bayern Munich fans turned up in their thousands to bid farewell to Jupp Heynckes for a second time on Sunday.
Heynckes is going back into retirement after leading Bayern to another Bundesliga title.
Bayern Munich fans pay tribute to outgoing coach Jupp Heynckes
Heynckes is going back into retirement after leading Bayern to another Bundesliga title.
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Supporters wave flags during the celebration of Eintracht Frankfurt winning the German DFB Cup at the 'Roemer' in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won the final match of DFB Cup 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/RONALD WITTEK
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Supporters wave flags during the celebration of Eintracht Frankfurt winning the German DFB Cup at the 'Roemer' in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won the final match of DFB Cup 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/RONALD WITTEK
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Supporters wave flags during the celebration of Eintracht Frankfurt winning the German DFB Cup at the 'Roemer' in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won the final match of DFB Cup 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/RONALD WITTEK
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's players David Abraham (L) and Alexander Meier hold the DFB trophy as they get off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's players David Abraham (L) and Alexander Meier hold the DFB trophy as they get off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's players David Abraham (L) and Alexander Meier hold the DFB trophy as they get off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt player David Abraham holds the DFB trophy at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt player David Abraham holds the DFB trophy at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt player David Abraham holds the DFB trophy at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's coach, Niko Kovac, holds the DFB trophy after getting off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's coach, Niko Kovac, holds the DFB trophy after getting off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's coach, Niko Kovac, holds the DFB trophy after getting off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's coach, Niko Kovac, holds the DFB trophy after getting off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's coach, Niko Kovac, holds the DFB trophy after getting off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's coach, Niko Kovac, holds the DFB trophy after getting off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's coach, Niko Kovac, holds the DFB trophy after getting off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's coach, Niko Kovac, holds the DFB trophy after getting off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI
Frankfurt (Germany), 20/05/2018.- Eintracht Frankfurt's coach, Niko Kovac, holds the DFB trophy after getting off the plane at Frankfurt International Airport following the team's victory in the German DFB Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, 20 May 2018. Frankfurt won DFB Cup final 3-1 against FC Bayern Munich on 19 May 2018. (Alemania) EFE/EPA/ARMANDO BABANI