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Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Matty Fryatt finally finds 'closure' after injury ends playing career at 31
Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Matty Fryatt finally finds 'closure' after injury ends playing career at 31
Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Matty Fryatt finally finds 'closure' after injury ends playing career at 31
Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Matty Fryatt finally finds 'closure' after injury ends playing career at 31
Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Matty Fryatt finally finds 'closure' after injury ends playing career at 31
Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Matty Fryatt finally finds 'closure' after injury ends playing career at 31
Matty Fryatt describes the decision to finally announce his retirement from football as “closure”. He has scored in every division, racked up 135 career goals at clubs including Leicester, Hull City and Nottingham Forest, and played in an FA Cup final. But after three operations on a persistent Achilles injury spanning nearly three years, and seemingly endless trips around Europe seeking a solution, he has accepted that retirement is the only option, at the age of 31. For many professional players, it is the day they dread but, for Fryatt, it almost feels like a cathartic moment, the dispersing of a dark cloud. “This is a big moment for me, but at the same time it’s been a long time coming. I haven’t played for nearly three years now so it was only natural,” he says. “I’ve given it everything, from when it all started and thinking it was going to be a minor injury to three years later and realising the only option is to call it a day. “It would have been so much easier to just run out onto the grass, feel comfortable and play a game of football, rather than go all over the world to see a surgeon in Germany, in Holland, in Portugal and getting absolutely nowhere. Matty Fryatt (left) playing for Leicester Credit: PA “When you’ve had half of your Achilles taken off, re-attached, bone smashed up and then put back on with someone saying you’ve got a good chance of coming back, it’s hard to take. This is closure, really.” Fryatt’s last game was for Forest in March 2015, but it was in November when the striker’s ordeal arguably started. Towards the end of a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he remembers a specific moment, picking up what he calls “a niggle” on his left Achilles. It was an innocuous incident, but ultimately life-changing. “I was jogging into their half for a goal-kick and I was just thinking, 'That feels a little bit uncomfortable',” he says. “I came into training on Monday and I couldn’t run. I thought I’d rest in the week and play on Saturday . “I did that for so long, but it was getting worse, even with the painkillers and resting as much as I could. Matty Fryatt celebrate scoring for Nottingham Forest before injury took its toll Credit: ACTION IMAGES “I was coming back in off the training pitch nearly crying, hobbling around in absolute agony. It was embarrassing. I was near enough in tears trying to run. “In the last game I played I was just like a statue. I was in real pain as well, it was ridiculous.” Fryatt had two operations, one minor and the other major in which they took away the Achilles and then re-attached it. Six-month rehabilitation followed both procedures but he never felt confident that the problem had been diagnosed properly. This unfolding nightmare occurred during a turbulent period in Forest’s history, under the chaotic regime of former owner Fawaz Al Hasawi, and though Fryatt is careful to point out that the club continued to pay his wages, there is clearly frustration over how it was handled. “At Forest it was like I was a car on the driveway, rusting away and they just thought ‘just leave it, we’ll get a new car’. I’d get further down the line and nobody would ask what’s happening with this rusting car. Matty Fryatt has come to terms with the fact his playing career is over Credit: PAUL COOPER “I just got lost and forgotten a bit. It never felt that anyone was asking ‘is he ever going to come back’. Oh, just send him for surgery again. “It was probably the way the club operated at the time. I didn’t even meet one of the managers [Philippe Montanier]. They paid my wages and for most of the operations, so I can’t grumble at that, but nobody was accountable for things.” Another operation followed, but it had taken two years for Fryatt to finally feel any progress after a course of injections. His contract ended at Forest last summer and he trialled with Burton Albion and then his first club, Walsall, where it all began in 2003. “As much as teams were doing their best to support me, I couldn’t get back to the level needed,” he says. A very young Matty Fryatt playing for Walsall - where his career started Credit: ACTION IMAGES Fryatt can understand how Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla must be feeling. Cazorla has not played since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem but, like Fryatt six months ago, is desperate to keep the hope alive. “I don’t know the guy, but he’s been in X amount of operations in an area where there is the least blood-flow, so the healing process is terrible. It’s sounding a similar case. His Achilles is like mine without the skin graft. “I wish him well but what next? Don’t feel great, operation, what next? It’s completely different at Arsenal, but I’m looking at that thinking it’s not good for him because of the area it’s on and going from operation to operation.” Santi Cazorla has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 after multiple operations on a persistent ankle problem Fryatt is now only focusing on the future. He is about to start his ‘A license” coaching badges and appears a natural on the evidence of recent media work. “I’ve been blessed to play something that I love doing, to have a job that was a hobby and fun is everything that you dream about as a kid,” he says. “There are some great memories, such as the Leicester years and getting them promoted. I enjoyed my time at Hull and to get to a Cup final was ridiculous. I’d like to stay involved in it, or give something back. “This is a chance now to move onto the next chapter.”
Arsenal have loaned out three young players, with Chuba Akpom and Jeff Reine-Adelaide heading abroad and Krystian Bielik joining Walsall.
Arsenal loan out Akpom, Bielik and Reine-Adelaide
Arsenal have loaned out three young players, with Chuba Akpom and Jeff Reine-Adelaide heading abroad and Krystian Bielik joining Walsall.
Will Grigg smiles. He knew the question was coming. The Wigan Athletic striker will be back in the spotlight if he helps the League One leaders overcome West Ham United in the FA Cup fourth round at the DW Stadium on Saturday, fresh from beating another Premier League side, Bournemouth. But for a few weeks during the summer of 2016, he was one of the most talked-about names in European football despite not kicking a ball. The song Will Grigg’s On Fire, the brainchild of Wigan fan Sean Kennedy and gleefully adopted by Northern Ireland supporters, became the defining anthem of Euro 2016 and a top 10 hit in the UK iTunes charts. Northern Ireland’s press office quickly found itself inundated with requests from international media desperate to talk to the country’s fourth-choice striker at the tournament. One German television station even offered to fly Grigg first class to Berlin to become part of their punditry team when Northern Ireland were eliminated after a last-16 defeat by Wales. At first, the attention was welcome but, gradually, the novelty began to wear off and, by the end, manager Michael O’Neill’s patience with endless questions about his player’s flammability had worn thin. Looking back now, Grigg – bright and affable - has mixed emotions about it all. Most importantly, the proceeds from the single, sung to the tune of Gala’s 1996 hit Freed from Desire, have raised thousands of pounds for Joseph’s Goal. The charity was set up by the parents of eight-year-old Joseph Kendrick, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH), to raise awareness and funds for research into the condition. Grigg is rightly proud of the cause it continues to serve. But there was also frustration that he had gone into the Euros on the back of the best season of his career, with 28 goals for Wigan, and that those exploits were soon forgotten amid the ensuing circus and his failure to play in the tournament. Grigg is all ears on Northern Ireland duty in 2016 Credit: PA “Yeah, it definitely was a hindrance for the Euros and after that,” he reflected at Wigan’s Euxton training ground on Friday. “Some people enjoyed it and some people saw it as a bit of an annoyance. The main thing I kept saying was the song came about because of my form. That was put on the back burner a bit and all the attention was on the song. “It was great to get my name out there, it was good fun, I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, but at times… “Whether the manager was asked a few too many questions about it – he probably said what he felt about it. I was doing media left, right and centre, which was fine, but I just wanted to get out onto that pitch, which didn’t happen. “That was my most successful year at Wigan on the pitch and to go to the Euros was a massive achievement. It was probably one of the highlights of my career, but also a down-point in my career because the fact I didn’t get on the pitch was devastating, having got 28 goals. If there was ever going to be a time I was going to play, it would have been then. It was really hard to take.” The following season in the Championship with Wigan was tough for different reasons. Although Grigg scored six goals in his first 11 games for Wigan, manager Gary Caldwell was sacked in the October, his replacement Warren Joyce lasted just four months and then the striker suffered a knee injury that ended his campaign prematurely. He is fully fit and firing again now under Paul Cook, though, and West Ham are certain to have their hands full trying to keep Grigg and playmaker Nick Powell quiet. Bournemouth aside, Grigg is no stranger to a cup giant-killing. He was part of the MK Dons side that trounced Manchester United in the League Cup in August 2014, scoring twice in a 4-0 win alongside future Tottenham and England midfielder Dele Alli. Powell was playing for United that day. “I give him a little bit of stick now and again,” Grigg says. “It’s not something he likes to talk about to be honest but it’s good to be on the same side now. Nick creates so many chances for me. The cups have been good for me.” Grigg has 12 goals this season to Powell’s 11 and, if Wigan can claim another upset, it may rekindle hopes of the club emulating their famous Cup triumph at Wembley in 2013. “Having played against a Premier League team already will help us against West Ham,” Grigg said. Born in Solihull, West Midlands, Grigg – who qualified to play for Northern Ireland through his grandfather – attended Birmingham City’s academy before getting released at 16, not long after suffering a broken leg. “There was a spell from 14 to 16 where I just fell out of love with the game,” he said. “I was at Birmingham from seven, so it became repetitive. I think getting released gave me that bit of fire in my belly to prove people wrong.” From non-League Stratford Town, Grigg joined Walsall then Brentford before Wigan paid £1 million for his services in 2015. Still only 26, he is convinced his best years are ahead. “We’ll be back in the Championship next year if we keep playing well and I thought I was more than capable of playing at that level [last time],” he said. “To say I’m just a League One player is definitely not something I agree with.” For now, though, all the focus is on West Ham. Beat them and Grigg knows who he would fancy in the fifth round – Tottenham and a reunion with Alli. “That would be nice – I owe him a few [nut]megs,” Grigg says. For more information about Joseph’s Goal visit http://www.josephsgoal.org/
Will Grigg: 'The song was fine, but I just wanted to get out onto that pitch'
Will Grigg smiles. He knew the question was coming. The Wigan Athletic striker will be back in the spotlight if he helps the League One leaders overcome West Ham United in the FA Cup fourth round at the DW Stadium on Saturday, fresh from beating another Premier League side, Bournemouth. But for a few weeks during the summer of 2016, he was one of the most talked-about names in European football despite not kicking a ball. The song Will Grigg’s On Fire, the brainchild of Wigan fan Sean Kennedy and gleefully adopted by Northern Ireland supporters, became the defining anthem of Euro 2016 and a top 10 hit in the UK iTunes charts. Northern Ireland’s press office quickly found itself inundated with requests from international media desperate to talk to the country’s fourth-choice striker at the tournament. One German television station even offered to fly Grigg first class to Berlin to become part of their punditry team when Northern Ireland were eliminated after a last-16 defeat by Wales. At first, the attention was welcome but, gradually, the novelty began to wear off and, by the end, manager Michael O’Neill’s patience with endless questions about his player’s flammability had worn thin. Looking back now, Grigg – bright and affable - has mixed emotions about it all. Most importantly, the proceeds from the single, sung to the tune of Gala’s 1996 hit Freed from Desire, have raised thousands of pounds for Joseph’s Goal. The charity was set up by the parents of eight-year-old Joseph Kendrick, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH), to raise awareness and funds for research into the condition. Grigg is rightly proud of the cause it continues to serve. But there was also frustration that he had gone into the Euros on the back of the best season of his career, with 28 goals for Wigan, and that those exploits were soon forgotten amid the ensuing circus and his failure to play in the tournament. Grigg is all ears on Northern Ireland duty in 2016 Credit: PA “Yeah, it definitely was a hindrance for the Euros and after that,” he reflected at Wigan’s Euxton training ground on Friday. “Some people enjoyed it and some people saw it as a bit of an annoyance. The main thing I kept saying was the song came about because of my form. That was put on the back burner a bit and all the attention was on the song. “It was great to get my name out there, it was good fun, I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, but at times… “Whether the manager was asked a few too many questions about it – he probably said what he felt about it. I was doing media left, right and centre, which was fine, but I just wanted to get out onto that pitch, which didn’t happen. “That was my most successful year at Wigan on the pitch and to go to the Euros was a massive achievement. It was probably one of the highlights of my career, but also a down-point in my career because the fact I didn’t get on the pitch was devastating, having got 28 goals. If there was ever going to be a time I was going to play, it would have been then. It was really hard to take.” The following season in the Championship with Wigan was tough for different reasons. Although Grigg scored six goals in his first 11 games for Wigan, manager Gary Caldwell was sacked in the October, his replacement Warren Joyce lasted just four months and then the striker suffered a knee injury that ended his campaign prematurely. He is fully fit and firing again now under Paul Cook, though, and West Ham are certain to have their hands full trying to keep Grigg and playmaker Nick Powell quiet. Bournemouth aside, Grigg is no stranger to a cup giant-killing. He was part of the MK Dons side that trounced Manchester United in the League Cup in August 2014, scoring twice in a 4-0 win alongside future Tottenham and England midfielder Dele Alli. Powell was playing for United that day. “I give him a little bit of stick now and again,” Grigg says. “It’s not something he likes to talk about to be honest but it’s good to be on the same side now. Nick creates so many chances for me. The cups have been good for me.” Grigg has 12 goals this season to Powell’s 11 and, if Wigan can claim another upset, it may rekindle hopes of the club emulating their famous Cup triumph at Wembley in 2013. “Having played against a Premier League team already will help us against West Ham,” Grigg said. Born in Solihull, West Midlands, Grigg – who qualified to play for Northern Ireland through his grandfather – attended Birmingham City’s academy before getting released at 16, not long after suffering a broken leg. “There was a spell from 14 to 16 where I just fell out of love with the game,” he said. “I was at Birmingham from seven, so it became repetitive. I think getting released gave me that bit of fire in my belly to prove people wrong.” From non-League Stratford Town, Grigg joined Walsall then Brentford before Wigan paid £1 million for his services in 2015. Still only 26, he is convinced his best years are ahead. “We’ll be back in the Championship next year if we keep playing well and I thought I was more than capable of playing at that level [last time],” he said. “To say I’m just a League One player is definitely not something I agree with.” For now, though, all the focus is on West Ham. Beat them and Grigg knows who he would fancy in the fifth round – Tottenham and a reunion with Alli. “That would be nice – I owe him a few [nut]megs,” Grigg says. For more information about Joseph’s Goal visit http://www.josephsgoal.org/
Will Grigg smiles. He knew the question was coming. The Wigan Athletic striker will be back in the spotlight if he helps the League One leaders overcome West Ham United in the FA Cup fourth round at the DW Stadium on Saturday, fresh from beating another Premier League side, Bournemouth. But for a few weeks during the summer of 2016, he was one of the most talked-about names in European football despite not kicking a ball. The song Will Grigg’s On Fire, the brainchild of Wigan fan Sean Kennedy and gleefully adopted by Northern Ireland supporters, became the defining anthem of Euro 2016 and a top 10 hit in the UK iTunes charts. Northern Ireland’s press office quickly found itself inundated with requests from international media desperate to talk to the country’s fourth-choice striker at the tournament. One German television station even offered to fly Grigg first class to Berlin to become part of their punditry team when Northern Ireland were eliminated after a last-16 defeat by Wales. At first, the attention was welcome but, gradually, the novelty began to wear off and, by the end, manager Michael O’Neill’s patience with endless questions about his player’s flammability had worn thin. Looking back now, Grigg – bright and affable - has mixed emotions about it all. Most importantly, the proceeds from the single, sung to the tune of Gala’s 1996 hit Freed from Desire, have raised thousands of pounds for Joseph’s Goal. The charity was set up by the parents of eight-year-old Joseph Kendrick, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH), to raise awareness and funds for research into the condition. Grigg is rightly proud of the cause it continues to serve. But there was also frustration that he had gone into the Euros on the back of the best season of his career, with 28 goals for Wigan, and that those exploits were soon forgotten amid the ensuing circus and his failure to play in the tournament. Grigg is all ears on Northern Ireland duty in 2016 Credit: PA “Yeah, it definitely was a hindrance for the Euros and after that,” he reflected at Wigan’s Euxton training ground on Friday. “Some people enjoyed it and some people saw it as a bit of an annoyance. The main thing I kept saying was the song came about because of my form. That was put on the back burner a bit and all the attention was on the song. “It was great to get my name out there, it was good fun, I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, but at times… “Whether the manager was asked a few too many questions about it – he probably said what he felt about it. I was doing media left, right and centre, which was fine, but I just wanted to get out onto that pitch, which didn’t happen. “That was my most successful year at Wigan on the pitch and to go to the Euros was a massive achievement. It was probably one of the highlights of my career, but also a down-point in my career because the fact I didn’t get on the pitch was devastating, having got 28 goals. If there was ever going to be a time I was going to play, it would have been then. It was really hard to take.” The following season in the Championship with Wigan was tough for different reasons. Although Grigg scored six goals in his first 11 games for Wigan, manager Gary Caldwell was sacked in the October, his replacement Warren Joyce lasted just four months and then the striker suffered a knee injury that ended his campaign prematurely. He is fully fit and firing again now under Paul Cook, though, and West Ham are certain to have their hands full trying to keep Grigg and playmaker Nick Powell quiet. Bournemouth aside, Grigg is no stranger to a cup giant-killing. He was part of the MK Dons side that trounced Manchester United in the League Cup in August 2014, scoring twice in a 4-0 win alongside future Tottenham and England midfielder Dele Alli. Powell was playing for United that day. “I give him a little bit of stick now and again,” Grigg says. “It’s not something he likes to talk about to be honest but it’s good to be on the same side now. Nick creates so many chances for me. The cups have been good for me.” Grigg has 12 goals this season to Powell’s 11 and, if Wigan can claim another upset, it may rekindle hopes of the club emulating their famous Cup triumph at Wembley in 2013. “Having played against a Premier League team already will help us against West Ham,” Grigg said. Born in Solihull, West Midlands, Grigg – who qualified to play for Northern Ireland through his grandfather – attended Birmingham City’s academy before getting released at 16, not long after suffering a broken leg. “There was a spell from 14 to 16 where I just fell out of love with the game,” he said. “I was at Birmingham from seven, so it became repetitive. I think getting released gave me that bit of fire in my belly to prove people wrong.” From non-League Stratford Town, Grigg joined Walsall then Brentford before Wigan paid £1 million for his services in 2015. Still only 26, he is convinced his best years are ahead. “We’ll be back in the Championship next year if we keep playing well and I thought I was more than capable of playing at that level [last time],” he said. “To say I’m just a League One player is definitely not something I agree with.” For now, though, all the focus is on West Ham. Beat them and Grigg knows who he would fancy in the fifth round – Tottenham and a reunion with Alli. “That would be nice – I owe him a few [nut]megs,” Grigg says. For more information about Joseph’s Goal visit http://www.josephsgoal.org/
Will Grigg: 'The song was fine, but I just wanted to get out onto that pitch'
Will Grigg smiles. He knew the question was coming. The Wigan Athletic striker will be back in the spotlight if he helps the League One leaders overcome West Ham United in the FA Cup fourth round at the DW Stadium on Saturday, fresh from beating another Premier League side, Bournemouth. But for a few weeks during the summer of 2016, he was one of the most talked-about names in European football despite not kicking a ball. The song Will Grigg’s On Fire, the brainchild of Wigan fan Sean Kennedy and gleefully adopted by Northern Ireland supporters, became the defining anthem of Euro 2016 and a top 10 hit in the UK iTunes charts. Northern Ireland’s press office quickly found itself inundated with requests from international media desperate to talk to the country’s fourth-choice striker at the tournament. One German television station even offered to fly Grigg first class to Berlin to become part of their punditry team when Northern Ireland were eliminated after a last-16 defeat by Wales. At first, the attention was welcome but, gradually, the novelty began to wear off and, by the end, manager Michael O’Neill’s patience with endless questions about his player’s flammability had worn thin. Looking back now, Grigg – bright and affable - has mixed emotions about it all. Most importantly, the proceeds from the single, sung to the tune of Gala’s 1996 hit Freed from Desire, have raised thousands of pounds for Joseph’s Goal. The charity was set up by the parents of eight-year-old Joseph Kendrick, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH), to raise awareness and funds for research into the condition. Grigg is rightly proud of the cause it continues to serve. But there was also frustration that he had gone into the Euros on the back of the best season of his career, with 28 goals for Wigan, and that those exploits were soon forgotten amid the ensuing circus and his failure to play in the tournament. Grigg is all ears on Northern Ireland duty in 2016 Credit: PA “Yeah, it definitely was a hindrance for the Euros and after that,” he reflected at Wigan’s Euxton training ground on Friday. “Some people enjoyed it and some people saw it as a bit of an annoyance. The main thing I kept saying was the song came about because of my form. That was put on the back burner a bit and all the attention was on the song. “It was great to get my name out there, it was good fun, I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, but at times… “Whether the manager was asked a few too many questions about it – he probably said what he felt about it. I was doing media left, right and centre, which was fine, but I just wanted to get out onto that pitch, which didn’t happen. “That was my most successful year at Wigan on the pitch and to go to the Euros was a massive achievement. It was probably one of the highlights of my career, but also a down-point in my career because the fact I didn’t get on the pitch was devastating, having got 28 goals. If there was ever going to be a time I was going to play, it would have been then. It was really hard to take.” The following season in the Championship with Wigan was tough for different reasons. Although Grigg scored six goals in his first 11 games for Wigan, manager Gary Caldwell was sacked in the October, his replacement Warren Joyce lasted just four months and then the striker suffered a knee injury that ended his campaign prematurely. He is fully fit and firing again now under Paul Cook, though, and West Ham are certain to have their hands full trying to keep Grigg and playmaker Nick Powell quiet. Bournemouth aside, Grigg is no stranger to a cup giant-killing. He was part of the MK Dons side that trounced Manchester United in the League Cup in August 2014, scoring twice in a 4-0 win alongside future Tottenham and England midfielder Dele Alli. Powell was playing for United that day. “I give him a little bit of stick now and again,” Grigg says. “It’s not something he likes to talk about to be honest but it’s good to be on the same side now. Nick creates so many chances for me. The cups have been good for me.” Grigg has 12 goals this season to Powell’s 11 and, if Wigan can claim another upset, it may rekindle hopes of the club emulating their famous Cup triumph at Wembley in 2013. “Having played against a Premier League team already will help us against West Ham,” Grigg said. Born in Solihull, West Midlands, Grigg – who qualified to play for Northern Ireland through his grandfather – attended Birmingham City’s academy before getting released at 16, not long after suffering a broken leg. “There was a spell from 14 to 16 where I just fell out of love with the game,” he said. “I was at Birmingham from seven, so it became repetitive. I think getting released gave me that bit of fire in my belly to prove people wrong.” From non-League Stratford Town, Grigg joined Walsall then Brentford before Wigan paid £1 million for his services in 2015. Still only 26, he is convinced his best years are ahead. “We’ll be back in the Championship next year if we keep playing well and I thought I was more than capable of playing at that level [last time],” he said. “To say I’m just a League One player is definitely not something I agree with.” For now, though, all the focus is on West Ham. Beat them and Grigg knows who he would fancy in the fifth round – Tottenham and a reunion with Alli. “That would be nice – I owe him a few [nut]megs,” Grigg says. For more information about Joseph’s Goal visit http://www.josephsgoal.org/
BELGIUM Fifa ranking 5 World Cup record 1930: Group stage 1934: 1st round 1938: 1st round 1950: Withdrew 1954: Group stage 1958: DNQ 1962: DNQ 1966: DNQ 1970: Group stage 1974: DNQ 1978: DNQ 1982: Second group stage 1986: Semi-final 1990: Second round 1994: Second round 1998: Group stage 2002: Second round 2006: DNQ 2010: DNQ 2014: Quarter-final Head-to-head v England Played 21 Won 1 Drawn 5 Lost 15 How they qualified Spectacularly. Belgium were the first European side to qualify for the World Cup, eventually finishing nine points clear of second-placed Greece. They scored 43 goals in qualifying, the joint-highest tally along with Germany, and only conceded six. A highlight of their recent friendlies was Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku becoming the country’s all-time record goalscorer at the age of just 24. He has 31 goals in 65 appearances for his country. The man England must stop Where to start? Eden Hazard and Lukaku are two of the Premier League’s finest attacking players, while Dries Mertens has been in electric form for high-flying Napoli. The key man, though, is Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, who has been the standout player in English football this season. Kevin De Bruyne (right) and Marouane Fellaini Credit: AFP You might recognise... There will be no shortage of familiar faces considering the spine of this Belgium team play their club football in the Premier League. Chelsea’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is the first choice between the sticks, while it will be impossible to miss Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini. Who's the manager? Roberto Martinez. The former Swansea, Wigan and Everton manager took over in August last year. He replaced Marc Wilmots, who left the job two weeks after Belgium had been stunned by Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. One of his assistants is former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. What's their style? Despite all the attacking players at their disposal, the Belgian style of play has been a source of contention. De Bruyne, in particular, was very unhappy with the side’s tactics last month. “As long as we don’t have a good tactical system, we will have difficulties,” he said. “It’s a pity that we have not yet found a solution.” World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know Historic high point Belgium reached the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup, where they were undone by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina. Maradona scored both goals in Argentina’s 2-0 victory. Historic low point Belgium failed to qualify for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals. They also did not make it past the group stages of Euro 2000, when they co-hosted the tournament. If they were a Premier League they would be... Tottenham Hotspur. Exciting, talented and fun to watch, but there is a noticeable lack of trophies in the cabinet. TUNISIA Fifa ranking27 World Cup record 1930: Part of France 1934: Part of France 1938: Part of France 1950: Part of France 1954: Part of France 1958: Did not enter 1962: DNQ 1966: Withdrew 1970: DNQ 1974: DNQ 1978: Group stage 1982: DNQ 1986: DNQ 1990: DNQ 1994: DNQ 1998: Group stage 2002: Group stage 2006: Group stage 2010: DNQ 2014: DNQ Head-to-head v England Played 2 Won 0 Drawn 1 Lost 1 How they qualified Tunisia topped African Group A by winning four and drawing two of their six games. Qualification was eventually secured thanks to a 0-0 draw at home to Libya. It has not all been plain sailing, though. Former manager Henry Kasperczak was sacked in April this year after Tunisia were knocked out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-0 to Burkina Faso. The man England must stop Forward Youssef Msakni, who plays his club football in Qatar, is the primary attacking threat. The 27 year-old scored a crucial hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Guinea in October. England will also need to keep an eye on midfielder Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, who scored one and created two in that victory. Youssef Msakni (right) in action for Tunisia Credit: AP You might recognise... Few Sunderland fans will have fond memories of attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri, who is currently on loan at Ligue 1 side Rennes. Khazri scored just one goal in 21 Premier League appearances as Sunderland were relegated last season. He has five goals in nine games for Rennes so far this time around, though. Who's the manager? Nabil Maaloul was appointed manager in April this year. It is his second time in charge of the national side, although his first stint, in 2013, ended after just seven months. He made 74 appearances for Tunisia as a player, and has also served as manager of Kuwait. What's their style? Msakni and Khazri are primarily responsible for Tunisia’s attacking threat. Maaloul largely used a typical 4-2-3-1 formation in qualification but is willing to line his team up more conservatively if required and would be expected to do so against England. Tunisia conceded just four goals in six qualifying games, scoring 11. World Cup 2018 stadiums Historic high point Tunisia became the first African team to win a match at the World Cup finals when their very own golden generation defeated Mexico 3-1 at the Rosario stadium in Argentina. Historic low point After becoming World Cup regulars with three consecutive finals appearances, the failure to reach South Africa in 2010 was disappointment. In 2010, they finished bottom of their Africa Cup of Nations group. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Newcastle United. The glory years have long since passed, but there was a revival of sorts in the late 90s and early 00s. On the up once more. PANAMA Fifa ranking 56 World Cup record Have never previously qualified Head-to-head v England Have never played each other How they qualified In dramatic and controversial circumstances. Panama leap-frogged the USA in their qualifying group with a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in October. Their opening goal, scored by Gabriel Torres, was awarded despite the ball not appearing to cross the line, and then Roman Torres scored a remarkable 87th-minute winner that ensured qualification. The country’s president promptly declared the next day to be a national holiday. The man England must stop Gabriel Gomez is an experienced operator in midfield with more than 130 international appearances to his name. Like many of his team-mates, he is well into his 30s. Another one to watch is forward Blas Perez, who has scored 43 international goals in 113 appearances. Panama midfielder Gabriel Gomez Credit: ICON SPORTSWIRE You might recognise... Frankly, it’s highly unlikely that you will recognise anyone, although the man who has had the most air-time on these shores is captain Roman Torres. It was his late goal that earned qualification, while his distinguished dreadlocks mark him out from the crowd. MLS fans may have seen him playing for Seattle Sounders. Who's the manager? Hernan Dario Gomez, from Colombia, took the reigns in 2014. Nicknamed ‘El Bolillo’ or ‘the Truncheon’, he has twice managed the Colombia national team in the past and has also been in charge of Ecuador. He resigned from the Colombia job in 2011 after striking a woman in a bar. What's their style? Panama are an ageing team who rely on organisation and defensive solidity. They will look to catch teams on the break but, first of all, will try to avoid any humiliating scorelines. England can expect to have plenty of the ball but will need to find a way of cracking the defence. Ticket prices for 2018 World Cup in Russia Historic high point Qualification for Russia is the high point, but they did finish as runners-up in the 2005 and 2013 editions of the Gold Cup. Historic low point Panama were minutes away from securing a play-off place in qualification for the 2014 World Cup, but conceded two goals in stoppage time to lose 3-2 to the USA. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Panama have no Premier League equivalent. They are more like an international version of Walsall.
England's World Cup 2018 Group G opponents guide: How they qualified, style of play and most dangerous players
BELGIUM Fifa ranking 5 World Cup record 1930: Group stage 1934: 1st round 1938: 1st round 1950: Withdrew 1954: Group stage 1958: DNQ 1962: DNQ 1966: DNQ 1970: Group stage 1974: DNQ 1978: DNQ 1982: Second group stage 1986: Semi-final 1990: Second round 1994: Second round 1998: Group stage 2002: Second round 2006: DNQ 2010: DNQ 2014: Quarter-final Head-to-head v England Played 21 Won 1 Drawn 5 Lost 15 How they qualified Spectacularly. Belgium were the first European side to qualify for the World Cup, eventually finishing nine points clear of second-placed Greece. They scored 43 goals in qualifying, the joint-highest tally along with Germany, and only conceded six. A highlight of their recent friendlies was Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku becoming the country’s all-time record goalscorer at the age of just 24. He has 31 goals in 65 appearances for his country. The man England must stop Where to start? Eden Hazard and Lukaku are two of the Premier League’s finest attacking players, while Dries Mertens has been in electric form for high-flying Napoli. The key man, though, is Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, who has been the standout player in English football this season. Kevin De Bruyne (right) and Marouane Fellaini Credit: AFP You might recognise... There will be no shortage of familiar faces considering the spine of this Belgium team play their club football in the Premier League. Chelsea’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is the first choice between the sticks, while it will be impossible to miss Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini. Who's the manager? Roberto Martinez. The former Swansea, Wigan and Everton manager took over in August last year. He replaced Marc Wilmots, who left the job two weeks after Belgium had been stunned by Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. One of his assistants is former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. What's their style? Despite all the attacking players at their disposal, the Belgian style of play has been a source of contention. De Bruyne, in particular, was very unhappy with the side’s tactics last month. “As long as we don’t have a good tactical system, we will have difficulties,” he said. “It’s a pity that we have not yet found a solution.” World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know Historic high point Belgium reached the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup, where they were undone by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina. Maradona scored both goals in Argentina’s 2-0 victory. Historic low point Belgium failed to qualify for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals. They also did not make it past the group stages of Euro 2000, when they co-hosted the tournament. If they were a Premier League they would be... Tottenham Hotspur. Exciting, talented and fun to watch, but there is a noticeable lack of trophies in the cabinet. TUNISIA Fifa ranking27 World Cup record 1930: Part of France 1934: Part of France 1938: Part of France 1950: Part of France 1954: Part of France 1958: Did not enter 1962: DNQ 1966: Withdrew 1970: DNQ 1974: DNQ 1978: Group stage 1982: DNQ 1986: DNQ 1990: DNQ 1994: DNQ 1998: Group stage 2002: Group stage 2006: Group stage 2010: DNQ 2014: DNQ Head-to-head v England Played 2 Won 0 Drawn 1 Lost 1 How they qualified Tunisia topped African Group A by winning four and drawing two of their six games. Qualification was eventually secured thanks to a 0-0 draw at home to Libya. It has not all been plain sailing, though. Former manager Henry Kasperczak was sacked in April this year after Tunisia were knocked out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-0 to Burkina Faso. The man England must stop Forward Youssef Msakni, who plays his club football in Qatar, is the primary attacking threat. The 27 year-old scored a crucial hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Guinea in October. England will also need to keep an eye on midfielder Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, who scored one and created two in that victory. Youssef Msakni (right) in action for Tunisia Credit: AP You might recognise... Few Sunderland fans will have fond memories of attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri, who is currently on loan at Ligue 1 side Rennes. Khazri scored just one goal in 21 Premier League appearances as Sunderland were relegated last season. He has five goals in nine games for Rennes so far this time around, though. Who's the manager? Nabil Maaloul was appointed manager in April this year. It is his second time in charge of the national side, although his first stint, in 2013, ended after just seven months. He made 74 appearances for Tunisia as a player, and has also served as manager of Kuwait. What's their style? Msakni and Khazri are primarily responsible for Tunisia’s attacking threat. Maaloul largely used a typical 4-2-3-1 formation in qualification but is willing to line his team up more conservatively if required and would be expected to do so against England. Tunisia conceded just four goals in six qualifying games, scoring 11. World Cup 2018 stadiums Historic high point Tunisia became the first African team to win a match at the World Cup finals when their very own golden generation defeated Mexico 3-1 at the Rosario stadium in Argentina. Historic low point After becoming World Cup regulars with three consecutive finals appearances, the failure to reach South Africa in 2010 was disappointment. In 2010, they finished bottom of their Africa Cup of Nations group. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Newcastle United. The glory years have long since passed, but there was a revival of sorts in the late 90s and early 00s. On the up once more. PANAMA Fifa ranking 56 World Cup record Have never previously qualified Head-to-head v England Have never played each other How they qualified In dramatic and controversial circumstances. Panama leap-frogged the USA in their qualifying group with a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in October. Their opening goal, scored by Gabriel Torres, was awarded despite the ball not appearing to cross the line, and then Roman Torres scored a remarkable 87th-minute winner that ensured qualification. The country’s president promptly declared the next day to be a national holiday. The man England must stop Gabriel Gomez is an experienced operator in midfield with more than 130 international appearances to his name. Like many of his team-mates, he is well into his 30s. Another one to watch is forward Blas Perez, who has scored 43 international goals in 113 appearances. Panama midfielder Gabriel Gomez Credit: ICON SPORTSWIRE You might recognise... Frankly, it’s highly unlikely that you will recognise anyone, although the man who has had the most air-time on these shores is captain Roman Torres. It was his late goal that earned qualification, while his distinguished dreadlocks mark him out from the crowd. MLS fans may have seen him playing for Seattle Sounders. Who's the manager? Hernan Dario Gomez, from Colombia, took the reigns in 2014. Nicknamed ‘El Bolillo’ or ‘the Truncheon’, he has twice managed the Colombia national team in the past and has also been in charge of Ecuador. He resigned from the Colombia job in 2011 after striking a woman in a bar. What's their style? Panama are an ageing team who rely on organisation and defensive solidity. They will look to catch teams on the break but, first of all, will try to avoid any humiliating scorelines. England can expect to have plenty of the ball but will need to find a way of cracking the defence. Ticket prices for 2018 World Cup in Russia Historic high point Qualification for Russia is the high point, but they did finish as runners-up in the 2005 and 2013 editions of the Gold Cup. Historic low point Panama were minutes away from securing a play-off place in qualification for the 2014 World Cup, but conceded two goals in stoppage time to lose 3-2 to the USA. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Panama have no Premier League equivalent. They are more like an international version of Walsall.
BELGIUM Fifa ranking 5 World Cup record 1930: Group stage 1934: 1st round 1938: 1st round 1950: Withdrew 1954: Group stage 1958: DNQ 1962: DNQ 1966: DNQ 1970: Group stage 1974: DNQ 1978: DNQ 1982: Second group stage 1986: Semi-final 1990: Second round 1994: Second round 1998: Group stage 2002: Second round 2006: DNQ 2010: DNQ 2014: Quarter-final Head-to-head v England Played 21 Won 1 Drawn 5 Lost 15 How they qualified Spectacularly. Belgium were the first European side to qualify for the World Cup, eventually finishing nine points clear of second-placed Greece. They scored 43 goals in qualifying, the joint-highest tally along with Germany, and only conceded six. A highlight of their recent friendlies was Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku becoming the country’s all-time record goalscorer at the age of just 24. He has 31 goals in 65 appearances for his country. The man England must stop Where to start? Eden Hazard and Lukaku are two of the Premier League’s finest attacking players, while Dries Mertens has been in electric form for high-flying Napoli. The key man, though, is Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, who has been the standout player in English football this season. Kevin De Bruyne (right) and Marouane Fellaini Credit: AFP You might recognise... There will be no shortage of familiar faces considering the spine of this Belgium team play their club football in the Premier League. Chelsea’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is the first choice between the sticks, while it will be impossible to miss Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini. Who's the manager? Roberto Martinez. The former Swansea, Wigan and Everton manager took over in August last year. He replaced Marc Wilmots, who left the job two weeks after Belgium had been stunned by Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. One of his assistants is former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. What's their style? Despite all the attacking players at their disposal, the Belgian style of play has been a source of contention. De Bruyne, in particular, was very unhappy with the side’s tactics last month. “As long as we don’t have a good tactical system, we will have difficulties,” he said. “It’s a pity that we have not yet found a solution.” World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know Historic high point Belgium reached the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup, where they were undone by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina. Maradona scored both goals in Argentina’s 2-0 victory. Historic low point Belgium failed to qualify for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals. They also did not make it past the group stages of Euro 2000, when they co-hosted the tournament. If they were a Premier League they would be... Tottenham Hotspur. Exciting, talented and fun to watch, but there is a noticeable lack of trophies in the cabinet. TUNISIA Fifa ranking27 World Cup record 1930: Part of France 1934: Part of France 1938: Part of France 1950: Part of France 1954: Part of France 1958: Did not enter 1962: DNQ 1966: Withdrew 1970: DNQ 1974: DNQ 1978: Group stage 1982: DNQ 1986: DNQ 1990: DNQ 1994: DNQ 1998: Group stage 2002: Group stage 2006: Group stage 2010: DNQ 2014: DNQ Head-to-head v England Played 2 Won 0 Drawn 1 Lost 1 How they qualified Tunisia topped African Group A by winning four and drawing two of their six games. Qualification was eventually secured thanks to a 0-0 draw at home to Libya. It has not all been plain sailing, though. Former manager Henry Kasperczak was sacked in April this year after Tunisia were knocked out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-0 to Burkina Faso. The man England must stop Forward Youssef Msakni, who plays his club football in Qatar, is the primary attacking threat. The 27 year-old scored a crucial hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Guinea in October. England will also need to keep an eye on midfielder Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, who scored one and created two in that victory. Youssef Msakni (right) in action for Tunisia Credit: AP You might recognise... Few Sunderland fans will have fond memories of attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri, who is currently on loan at Ligue 1 side Rennes. Khazri scored just one goal in 21 Premier League appearances as Sunderland were relegated last season. He has five goals in nine games for Rennes so far this time around, though. Who's the manager? Nabil Maaloul was appointed manager in April this year. It is his second time in charge of the national side, although his first stint, in 2013, ended after just seven months. He made 74 appearances for Tunisia as a player, and has also served as manager of Kuwait. What's their style? Msakni and Khazri are primarily responsible for Tunisia’s attacking threat. Maaloul largely used a typical 4-2-3-1 formation in qualification but is willing to line his team up more conservatively if required and would be expected to do so against England. Tunisia conceded just four goals in six qualifying games, scoring 11. World Cup 2018 stadiums Historic high point Tunisia became the first African team to win a match at the World Cup finals when their very own golden generation defeated Mexico 3-1 at the Rosario stadium in Argentina. Historic low point After becoming World Cup regulars with three consecutive finals appearances, the failure to reach South Africa in 2010 was disappointment. In 2010, they finished bottom of their Africa Cup of Nations group. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Newcastle United. The glory years have long since passed, but there was a revival of sorts in the late 90s and early 00s. On the up once more. PANAMA Fifa ranking 56 World Cup record Have never previously qualified Head-to-head v England Have never played each other How they qualified In dramatic and controversial circumstances. Panama leap-frogged the USA in their qualifying group with a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in October. Their opening goal, scored by Gabriel Torres, was awarded despite the ball not appearing to cross the line, and then Roman Torres scored a remarkable 87th-minute winner that ensured qualification. The country’s president promptly declared the next day to be a national holiday. The man England must stop Gabriel Gomez is an experienced operator in midfield with more than 130 international appearances to his name. Like many of his team-mates, he is well into his 30s. Another one to watch is forward Blas Perez, who has scored 43 international goals in 113 appearances. Panama midfielder Gabriel Gomez Credit: ICON SPORTSWIRE You might recognise... Frankly, it’s highly unlikely that you will recognise anyone, although the man who has had the most air-time on these shores is captain Roman Torres. It was his late goal that earned qualification, while his distinguished dreadlocks mark him out from the crowd. MLS fans may have seen him playing for Seattle Sounders. Who's the manager? Hernan Dario Gomez, from Colombia, took the reigns in 2014. Nicknamed ‘El Bolillo’ or ‘the Truncheon’, he has twice managed the Colombia national team in the past and has also been in charge of Ecuador. He resigned from the Colombia job in 2011 after striking a woman in a bar. What's their style? Panama are an ageing team who rely on organisation and defensive solidity. They will look to catch teams on the break but, first of all, will try to avoid any humiliating scorelines. England can expect to have plenty of the ball but will need to find a way of cracking the defence. Ticket prices for 2018 World Cup in Russia Historic high point Qualification for Russia is the high point, but they did finish as runners-up in the 2005 and 2013 editions of the Gold Cup. Historic low point Panama were minutes away from securing a play-off place in qualification for the 2014 World Cup, but conceded two goals in stoppage time to lose 3-2 to the USA. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Panama have no Premier League equivalent. They are more like an international version of Walsall.
England's World Cup 2018 Group G opponents guide: How they qualified, style of play and most dangerous players
BELGIUM Fifa ranking 5 World Cup record 1930: Group stage 1934: 1st round 1938: 1st round 1950: Withdrew 1954: Group stage 1958: DNQ 1962: DNQ 1966: DNQ 1970: Group stage 1974: DNQ 1978: DNQ 1982: Second group stage 1986: Semi-final 1990: Second round 1994: Second round 1998: Group stage 2002: Second round 2006: DNQ 2010: DNQ 2014: Quarter-final Head-to-head v England Played 21 Won 1 Drawn 5 Lost 15 How they qualified Spectacularly. Belgium were the first European side to qualify for the World Cup, eventually finishing nine points clear of second-placed Greece. They scored 43 goals in qualifying, the joint-highest tally along with Germany, and only conceded six. A highlight of their recent friendlies was Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku becoming the country’s all-time record goalscorer at the age of just 24. He has 31 goals in 65 appearances for his country. The man England must stop Where to start? Eden Hazard and Lukaku are two of the Premier League’s finest attacking players, while Dries Mertens has been in electric form for high-flying Napoli. The key man, though, is Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, who has been the standout player in English football this season. Kevin De Bruyne (right) and Marouane Fellaini Credit: AFP You might recognise... There will be no shortage of familiar faces considering the spine of this Belgium team play their club football in the Premier League. Chelsea’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is the first choice between the sticks, while it will be impossible to miss Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini. Who's the manager? Roberto Martinez. The former Swansea, Wigan and Everton manager took over in August last year. He replaced Marc Wilmots, who left the job two weeks after Belgium had been stunned by Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. One of his assistants is former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. What's their style? Despite all the attacking players at their disposal, the Belgian style of play has been a source of contention. De Bruyne, in particular, was very unhappy with the side’s tactics last month. “As long as we don’t have a good tactical system, we will have difficulties,” he said. “It’s a pity that we have not yet found a solution.” World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know Historic high point Belgium reached the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup, where they were undone by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina. Maradona scored both goals in Argentina’s 2-0 victory. Historic low point Belgium failed to qualify for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals. They also did not make it past the group stages of Euro 2000, when they co-hosted the tournament. If they were a Premier League they would be... Tottenham Hotspur. Exciting, talented and fun to watch, but there is a noticeable lack of trophies in the cabinet. TUNISIA Fifa ranking27 World Cup record 1930: Part of France 1934: Part of France 1938: Part of France 1950: Part of France 1954: Part of France 1958: Did not enter 1962: DNQ 1966: Withdrew 1970: DNQ 1974: DNQ 1978: Group stage 1982: DNQ 1986: DNQ 1990: DNQ 1994: DNQ 1998: Group stage 2002: Group stage 2006: Group stage 2010: DNQ 2014: DNQ Head-to-head v England Played 2 Won 0 Drawn 1 Lost 1 How they qualified Tunisia topped African Group A by winning four and drawing two of their six games. Qualification was eventually secured thanks to a 0-0 draw at home to Libya. It has not all been plain sailing, though. Former manager Henry Kasperczak was sacked in April this year after Tunisia were knocked out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-0 to Burkina Faso. The man England must stop Forward Youssef Msakni, who plays his club football in Qatar, is the primary attacking threat. The 27 year-old scored a crucial hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Guinea in October. England will also need to keep an eye on midfielder Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, who scored one and created two in that victory. Youssef Msakni (right) in action for Tunisia Credit: AP You might recognise... Few Sunderland fans will have fond memories of attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri, who is currently on loan at Ligue 1 side Rennes. Khazri scored just one goal in 21 Premier League appearances as Sunderland were relegated last season. He has five goals in nine games for Rennes so far this time around, though. Who's the manager? Nabil Maaloul was appointed manager in April this year. It is his second time in charge of the national side, although his first stint, in 2013, ended after just seven months. He made 74 appearances for Tunisia as a player, and has also served as manager of Kuwait. What's their style? Msakni and Khazri are primarily responsible for Tunisia’s attacking threat. Maaloul largely used a typical 4-2-3-1 formation in qualification but is willing to line his team up more conservatively if required and would be expected to do so against England. Tunisia conceded just four goals in six qualifying games, scoring 11. World Cup 2018 stadiums Historic high point Tunisia became the first African team to win a match at the World Cup finals when their very own golden generation defeated Mexico 3-1 at the Rosario stadium in Argentina. Historic low point After becoming World Cup regulars with three consecutive finals appearances, the failure to reach South Africa in 2010 was disappointment. In 2010, they finished bottom of their Africa Cup of Nations group. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Newcastle United. The glory years have long since passed, but there was a revival of sorts in the late 90s and early 00s. On the up once more. PANAMA Fifa ranking 56 World Cup record Have never previously qualified Head-to-head v England Have never played each other How they qualified In dramatic and controversial circumstances. Panama leap-frogged the USA in their qualifying group with a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in October. Their opening goal, scored by Gabriel Torres, was awarded despite the ball not appearing to cross the line, and then Roman Torres scored a remarkable 87th-minute winner that ensured qualification. The country’s president promptly declared the next day to be a national holiday. The man England must stop Gabriel Gomez is an experienced operator in midfield with more than 130 international appearances to his name. Like many of his team-mates, he is well into his 30s. Another one to watch is forward Blas Perez, who has scored 43 international goals in 113 appearances. Panama midfielder Gabriel Gomez Credit: ICON SPORTSWIRE You might recognise... Frankly, it’s highly unlikely that you will recognise anyone, although the man who has had the most air-time on these shores is captain Roman Torres. It was his late goal that earned qualification, while his distinguished dreadlocks mark him out from the crowd. MLS fans may have seen him playing for Seattle Sounders. Who's the manager? Hernan Dario Gomez, from Colombia, took the reigns in 2014. Nicknamed ‘El Bolillo’ or ‘the Truncheon’, he has twice managed the Colombia national team in the past and has also been in charge of Ecuador. He resigned from the Colombia job in 2011 after striking a woman in a bar. What's their style? Panama are an ageing team who rely on organisation and defensive solidity. They will look to catch teams on the break but, first of all, will try to avoid any humiliating scorelines. England can expect to have plenty of the ball but will need to find a way of cracking the defence. Ticket prices for 2018 World Cup in Russia Historic high point Qualification for Russia is the high point, but they did finish as runners-up in the 2005 and 2013 editions of the Gold Cup. Historic low point Panama were minutes away from securing a play-off place in qualification for the 2014 World Cup, but conceded two goals in stoppage time to lose 3-2 to the USA. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Panama have no Premier League equivalent. They are more like an international version of Walsall.
BELGIUM Fifa ranking 5 World Cup record 1930: Group stage 1934: 1st round 1938: 1st round 1950: Withdrew 1954: Group stage 1958: DNQ 1962: DNQ 1966: DNQ 1970: Group stage 1974: DNQ 1978: DNQ 1982: Second group stage 1986: Semi-final 1990: Second round 1994: Second round 1998: Group stage 2002: Second round 2006: DNQ 2010: DNQ 2014: Quarter-final Head-to-head v England Played 21 Won 1 Drawn 5 Lost 15 How they qualified Spectacularly. Belgium were the first European side to qualify for the World Cup, eventually finishing nine points clear of second-placed Greece. They scored 43 goals in qualifying, the joint-highest tally along with Germany, and only conceded six. A highlight of their recent friendlies was Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku becoming the country’s all-time record goalscorer at the age of just 24. He has 31 goals in 65 appearances for his country. The man England must stop Where to start? Eden Hazard and Lukaku are two of the Premier League’s finest attacking players, while Dries Mertens has been in electric form for high-flying Napoli. The key man, though, is Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, who has been the standout player in English football this season. Kevin De Bruyne (right) and Marouane Fellaini Credit: AFP You might recognise... There will be no shortage of familiar faces considering the spine of this Belgium team play their club football in the Premier League. Chelsea’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is the first choice between the sticks, while it will be impossible to miss Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini. Who's the manager? Roberto Martinez. The former Swansea, Wigan and Everton manager took over in August last year. He replaced Marc Wilmots, who left the job two weeks after Belgium had been stunned by Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. One of his assistants is former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. What's their style? Despite all the attacking players at their disposal, the Belgian style of play has been a source of contention. De Bruyne, in particular, was very unhappy with the side’s tactics last month. “As long as we don’t have a good tactical system, we will have difficulties,” he said. “It’s a pity that we have not yet found a solution.” World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know Historic high point Belgium reached the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup, where they were undone by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina. Maradona scored both goals in Argentina’s 2-0 victory. Historic low point Belgium failed to qualify for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals. They also did not make it past the group stages of Euro 2000, when they co-hosted the tournament. If they were a Premier League they would be... Tottenham Hotspur. Exciting, talented and fun to watch, but there is a noticeable lack of trophies in the cabinet. TUNISIA Fifa ranking27 World Cup record 1930: Part of France 1934: Part of France 1938: Part of France 1950: Part of France 1954: Part of France 1958: Did not enter 1962: DNQ 1966: Withdrew 1970: DNQ 1974: DNQ 1978: Group stage 1982: DNQ 1986: DNQ 1990: DNQ 1994: DNQ 1998: Group stage 2002: Group stage 2006: Group stage 2010: DNQ 2014: DNQ Head-to-head v England Played 2 Won 0 Drawn 1 Lost 1 How they qualified Tunisia topped African Group A by winning four and drawing two of their six games. Qualification was eventually secured thanks to a 0-0 draw at home to Libya. It has not all been plain sailing, though. Former manager Henry Kasperczak was sacked in April this year after Tunisia were knocked out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-0 to Burkina Faso. The man England must stop Forward Youssef Msakni, who plays his club football in Qatar, is the primary attacking threat. The 27 year-old scored a crucial hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Guinea in October. England will also need to keep an eye on midfielder Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, who scored one and created two in that victory. Youssef Msakni (right) in action for Tunisia Credit: AP You might recognise... Few Sunderland fans will have fond memories of attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri, who is currently on loan at Ligue 1 side Rennes. Khazri scored just one goal in 21 Premier League appearances as Sunderland were relegated last season. He has five goals in nine games for Rennes so far this time around, though. Who's the manager? Nabil Maaloul was appointed manager in April this year. It is his second time in charge of the national side, although his first stint, in 2013, ended after just seven months. He made 74 appearances for Tunisia as a player, and has also served as manager of Kuwait. What's their style? Msakni and Khazri are primarily responsible for Tunisia’s attacking threat. Maaloul largely used a typical 4-2-3-1 formation in qualification but is willing to line his team up more conservatively if required and would be expected to do so against England. Tunisia conceded just four goals in six qualifying games, scoring 11. World Cup 2018 stadiums Historic high point Tunisia became the first African team to win a match at the World Cup finals when their very own golden generation defeated Mexico 3-1 at the Rosario stadium in Argentina. Historic low point After becoming World Cup regulars with three consecutive finals appearances, the failure to reach South Africa in 2010 was disappointment. In 2010, they finished bottom of their Africa Cup of Nations group. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Newcastle United. The glory years have long since passed, but there was a revival of sorts in the late 90s and early 00s. On the up once more. PANAMA Fifa ranking 56 World Cup record Have never previously qualified Head-to-head v England Have never played each other How they qualified In dramatic and controversial circumstances. Panama leap-frogged the USA in their qualifying group with a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in October. Their opening goal, scored by Gabriel Torres, was awarded despite the ball not appearing to cross the line, and then Roman Torres scored a remarkable 87th-minute winner that ensured qualification. The country’s president promptly declared the next day to be a national holiday. The man England must stop Gabriel Gomez is an experienced operator in midfield with more than 130 international appearances to his name. Like many of his team-mates, he is well into his 30s. Another one to watch is forward Blas Perez, who has scored 43 international goals in 113 appearances. Panama midfielder Gabriel Gomez Credit: ICON SPORTSWIRE You might recognise... Frankly, it’s highly unlikely that you will recognise anyone, although the man who has had the most air-time on these shores is captain Roman Torres. It was his late goal that earned qualification, while his distinguished dreadlocks mark him out from the crowd. MLS fans may have seen him playing for Seattle Sounders. Who's the manager? Hernan Dario Gomez, from Colombia, took the reigns in 2014. Nicknamed ‘El Bolillo’ or ‘the Truncheon’, he has twice managed the Colombia national team in the past and has also been in charge of Ecuador. He resigned from the Colombia job in 2011 after striking a woman in a bar. What's their style? Panama are an ageing team who rely on organisation and defensive solidity. They will look to catch teams on the break but, first of all, will try to avoid any humiliating scorelines. England can expect to have plenty of the ball but will need to find a way of cracking the defence. Ticket prices for 2018 World Cup in Russia Historic high point Qualification for Russia is the high point, but they did finish as runners-up in the 2005 and 2013 editions of the Gold Cup. Historic low point Panama were minutes away from securing a play-off place in qualification for the 2014 World Cup, but conceded two goals in stoppage time to lose 3-2 to the USA. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Panama have no Premier League equivalent. They are more like an international version of Walsall.
England's World Cup 2018 Group G opponents guide: How they qualified, style of play and most dangerous players
BELGIUM Fifa ranking 5 World Cup record 1930: Group stage 1934: 1st round 1938: 1st round 1950: Withdrew 1954: Group stage 1958: DNQ 1962: DNQ 1966: DNQ 1970: Group stage 1974: DNQ 1978: DNQ 1982: Second group stage 1986: Semi-final 1990: Second round 1994: Second round 1998: Group stage 2002: Second round 2006: DNQ 2010: DNQ 2014: Quarter-final Head-to-head v England Played 21 Won 1 Drawn 5 Lost 15 How they qualified Spectacularly. Belgium were the first European side to qualify for the World Cup, eventually finishing nine points clear of second-placed Greece. They scored 43 goals in qualifying, the joint-highest tally along with Germany, and only conceded six. A highlight of their recent friendlies was Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku becoming the country’s all-time record goalscorer at the age of just 24. He has 31 goals in 65 appearances for his country. The man England must stop Where to start? Eden Hazard and Lukaku are two of the Premier League’s finest attacking players, while Dries Mertens has been in electric form for high-flying Napoli. The key man, though, is Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, who has been the standout player in English football this season. Kevin De Bruyne (right) and Marouane Fellaini Credit: AFP You might recognise... There will be no shortage of familiar faces considering the spine of this Belgium team play their club football in the Premier League. Chelsea’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is the first choice between the sticks, while it will be impossible to miss Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini. Who's the manager? Roberto Martinez. The former Swansea, Wigan and Everton manager took over in August last year. He replaced Marc Wilmots, who left the job two weeks after Belgium had been stunned by Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. One of his assistants is former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. What's their style? Despite all the attacking players at their disposal, the Belgian style of play has been a source of contention. De Bruyne, in particular, was very unhappy with the side’s tactics last month. “As long as we don’t have a good tactical system, we will have difficulties,” he said. “It’s a pity that we have not yet found a solution.” World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know Historic high point Belgium reached the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup, where they were undone by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina. Maradona scored both goals in Argentina’s 2-0 victory. Historic low point Belgium failed to qualify for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals. They also did not make it past the group stages of Euro 2000, when they co-hosted the tournament. If they were a Premier League they would be... Tottenham Hotspur. Exciting, talented and fun to watch, but there is a noticeable lack of trophies in the cabinet. TUNISIA Fifa ranking27 World Cup record 1930: Part of France 1934: Part of France 1938: Part of France 1950: Part of France 1954: Part of France 1958: Did not enter 1962: DNQ 1966: Withdrew 1970: DNQ 1974: DNQ 1978: Group stage 1982: DNQ 1986: DNQ 1990: DNQ 1994: DNQ 1998: Group stage 2002: Group stage 2006: Group stage 2010: DNQ 2014: DNQ Head-to-head v England Played 2 Won 0 Drawn 1 Lost 1 How they qualified Tunisia topped African Group A by winning four and drawing two of their six games. Qualification was eventually secured thanks to a 0-0 draw at home to Libya. It has not all been plain sailing, though. Former manager Henry Kasperczak was sacked in April this year after Tunisia were knocked out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-0 to Burkina Faso. The man England must stop Forward Youssef Msakni, who plays his club football in Qatar, is the primary attacking threat. The 27 year-old scored a crucial hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Guinea in October. England will also need to keep an eye on midfielder Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, who scored one and created two in that victory. Youssef Msakni (right) in action for Tunisia Credit: AP You might recognise... Few Sunderland fans will have fond memories of attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri, who is currently on loan at Ligue 1 side Rennes. Khazri scored just one goal in 21 Premier League appearances as Sunderland were relegated last season. He has five goals in nine games for Rennes so far this time around, though. Who's the manager? Nabil Maaloul was appointed manager in April this year. It is his second time in charge of the national side, although his first stint, in 2013, ended after just seven months. He made 74 appearances for Tunisia as a player, and has also served as manager of Kuwait. What's their style? Msakni and Khazri are primarily responsible for Tunisia’s attacking threat. Maaloul largely used a typical 4-2-3-1 formation in qualification but is willing to line his team up more conservatively if required and would be expected to do so against England. Tunisia conceded just four goals in six qualifying games, scoring 11. World Cup 2018 stadiums Historic high point Tunisia became the first African team to win a match at the World Cup finals when their very own golden generation defeated Mexico 3-1 at the Rosario stadium in Argentina. Historic low point After becoming World Cup regulars with three consecutive finals appearances, the failure to reach South Africa in 2010 was disappointment. In 2010, they finished bottom of their Africa Cup of Nations group. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Newcastle United. The glory years have long since passed, but there was a revival of sorts in the late 90s and early 00s. On the up once more. PANAMA Fifa ranking 56 World Cup record Have never previously qualified Head-to-head v England Have never played each other How they qualified In dramatic and controversial circumstances. Panama leap-frogged the USA in their qualifying group with a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in October. Their opening goal, scored by Gabriel Torres, was awarded despite the ball not appearing to cross the line, and then Roman Torres scored a remarkable 87th-minute winner that ensured qualification. The country’s president promptly declared the next day to be a national holiday. The man England must stop Gabriel Gomez is an experienced operator in midfield with more than 130 international appearances to his name. Like many of his team-mates, he is well into his 30s. Another one to watch is forward Blas Perez, who has scored 43 international goals in 113 appearances. Panama midfielder Gabriel Gomez Credit: ICON SPORTSWIRE You might recognise... Frankly, it’s highly unlikely that you will recognise anyone, although the man who has had the most air-time on these shores is captain Roman Torres. It was his late goal that earned qualification, while his distinguished dreadlocks mark him out from the crowd. MLS fans may have seen him playing for Seattle Sounders. Who's the manager? Hernan Dario Gomez, from Colombia, took the reigns in 2014. Nicknamed ‘El Bolillo’ or ‘the Truncheon’, he has twice managed the Colombia national team in the past and has also been in charge of Ecuador. He resigned from the Colombia job in 2011 after striking a woman in a bar. What's their style? Panama are an ageing team who rely on organisation and defensive solidity. They will look to catch teams on the break but, first of all, will try to avoid any humiliating scorelines. England can expect to have plenty of the ball but will need to find a way of cracking the defence. Ticket prices for 2018 World Cup in Russia Historic high point Qualification for Russia is the high point, but they did finish as runners-up in the 2005 and 2013 editions of the Gold Cup. Historic low point Panama were minutes away from securing a play-off place in qualification for the 2014 World Cup, but conceded two goals in stoppage time to lose 3-2 to the USA. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Panama have no Premier League equivalent. They are more like an international version of Walsall.
BELGIUM Fifa ranking 5 World Cup record 1930: Group stage 1934: 1st round 1938: 1st round 1950: Withdrew 1954: Group stage 1958: DNQ 1962: DNQ 1966: DNQ 1970: Group stage 1974: DNQ 1978: DNQ 1982: Second group stage 1986: Semi-final 1990: Second round 1994: Second round 1998: Group stage 2002: Second round 2006: DNQ 2010: DNQ 2014: Quarter-final Head-to-head v England Played 21 Won 1 Drawn 5 Lost 15 How they qualified Spectacularly. Belgium were the first European side to qualify for the World Cup, eventually finishing nine points clear of second-placed Greece. They scored 43 goals in qualifying, the joint-highest tally along with Germany, and only conceded six. A highlight of their recent friendlies was Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku becoming the country’s all-time record goalscorer at the age of just 24. He has 31 goals in 65 appearances for his country. The man England must stop Where to start? Eden Hazard and Lukaku are two of the Premier League’s finest attacking players, while Dries Mertens has been in electric form for high-flying Napoli. The key man, though, is Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, who has been the standout player in English football this season. Kevin De Bruyne (right) and Marouane Fellaini Credit: AFP You might recognise... There will be no shortage of familiar faces considering the spine of this Belgium team play their club football in the Premier League. Chelsea’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is the first choice between the sticks, while it will be impossible to miss Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini. Who's the manager? Roberto Martinez. The former Swansea, Wigan and Everton manager took over in August last year. He replaced Marc Wilmots, who left the job two weeks after Belgium had been stunned by Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. One of his assistants is former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. What's their style? Despite all the attacking players at their disposal, the Belgian style of play has been a source of contention. De Bruyne, in particular, was very unhappy with the side’s tactics last month. “As long as we don’t have a good tactical system, we will have difficulties,” he said. “It’s a pity that we have not yet found a solution.” World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know Historic high point Belgium reached the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup, where they were undone by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina. Maradona scored both goals in Argentina’s 2-0 victory. Historic low point Belgium failed to qualify for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals. They also did not make it past the group stages of Euro 2000, when they co-hosted the tournament. If they were a Premier League they would be... Tottenham Hotspur. Exciting, talented and fun to watch, but there is a noticeable lack of trophies in the cabinet. TUNISIA Fifa ranking27 World Cup record 1930: Part of France 1934: Part of France 1938: Part of France 1950: Part of France 1954: Part of France 1958: Did not enter 1962: DNQ 1966: Withdrew 1970: DNQ 1974: DNQ 1978: Group stage 1982: DNQ 1986: DNQ 1990: DNQ 1994: DNQ 1998: Group stage 2002: Group stage 2006: Group stage 2010: DNQ 2014: DNQ Head-to-head v England Played 2 Won 0 Drawn 1 Lost 1 How they qualified Tunisia topped African Group A by winning four and drawing two of their six games. Qualification was eventually secured thanks to a 0-0 draw at home to Libya. It has not all been plain sailing, though. Former manager Henry Kasperczak was sacked in April this year after Tunisia were knocked out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-0 to Burkina Faso. The man England must stop Forward Youssef Msakni, who plays his club football in Qatar, is the primary attacking threat. The 27 year-old scored a crucial hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Guinea in October. England will also need to keep an eye on midfielder Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, who scored one and created two in that victory. Youssef Msakni (right) in action for Tunisia Credit: AP You might recognise... Few Sunderland fans will have fond memories of attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri, who is currently on loan at Ligue 1 side Rennes. Khazri scored just one goal in 21 Premier League appearances as Sunderland were relegated last season. He has five goals in nine games for Rennes so far this time around, though. Who's the manager? Nabil Maaloul was appointed manager in April this year. It is his second time in charge of the national side, although his first stint, in 2013, ended after just seven months. He made 74 appearances for Tunisia as a player, and has also served as manager of Kuwait. What's their style? Msakni and Khazri are primarily responsible for Tunisia’s attacking threat. Maaloul largely used a typical 4-2-3-1 formation in qualification but is willing to line his team up more conservatively if required and would be expected to do so against England. Tunisia conceded just four goals in six qualifying games, scoring 11. World Cup 2018 stadiums Historic high point Tunisia became the first African team to win a match at the World Cup finals when their very own golden generation defeated Mexico 3-1 at the Rosario stadium in Argentina. Historic low point After becoming World Cup regulars with three consecutive finals appearances, the failure to reach South Africa in 2010 was disappointment. In 2010, they finished bottom of their Africa Cup of Nations group. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Newcastle United. The glory years have long since passed, but there was a revival of sorts in the late 90s and early 00s. On the up once more. PANAMA Fifa ranking 56 World Cup record Have never previously qualified Head-to-head v England Have never played each other How they qualified In dramatic and controversial circumstances. Panama leap-frogged the USA in their qualifying group with a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in October. Their opening goal, scored by Gabriel Torres, was awarded despite the ball not appearing to cross the line, and then Roman Torres scored a remarkable 87th-minute winner that ensured qualification. The country’s president promptly declared the next day to be a national holiday. The man England must stop Gabriel Gomez is an experienced operator in midfield with more than 130 international appearances to his name. Like many of his team-mates, he is well into his 30s. Another one to watch is forward Blas Perez, who has scored 43 international goals in 113 appearances. Panama midfielder Gabriel Gomez Credit: ICON SPORTSWIRE You might recognise... Frankly, it’s highly unlikely that you will recognise anyone, although the man who has had the most air-time on these shores is captain Roman Torres. It was his late goal that earned qualification, while his distinguished dreadlocks mark him out from the crowd. MLS fans may have seen him playing for Seattle Sounders. Who's the manager? Hernan Dario Gomez, from Colombia, took the reigns in 2014. Nicknamed ‘El Bolillo’ or ‘the Truncheon’, he has twice managed the Colombia national team in the past and has also been in charge of Ecuador. He resigned from the Colombia job in 2011 after striking a woman in a bar. What's their style? Panama are an ageing team who rely on organisation and defensive solidity. They will look to catch teams on the break but, first of all, will try to avoid any humiliating scorelines. England can expect to have plenty of the ball but will need to find a way of cracking the defence. Ticket prices for 2018 World Cup in Russia Historic high point Qualification for Russia is the high point, but they did finish as runners-up in the 2005 and 2013 editions of the Gold Cup. Historic low point Panama were minutes away from securing a play-off place in qualification for the 2014 World Cup, but conceded two goals in stoppage time to lose 3-2 to the USA. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Panama have no Premier League equivalent. They are more like an international version of Walsall.
England's World Cup 2018 Group G opponents guide: How they qualified, style of play and most dangerous players
BELGIUM Fifa ranking 5 World Cup record 1930: Group stage 1934: 1st round 1938: 1st round 1950: Withdrew 1954: Group stage 1958: DNQ 1962: DNQ 1966: DNQ 1970: Group stage 1974: DNQ 1978: DNQ 1982: Second group stage 1986: Semi-final 1990: Second round 1994: Second round 1998: Group stage 2002: Second round 2006: DNQ 2010: DNQ 2014: Quarter-final Head-to-head v England Played 21 Won 1 Drawn 5 Lost 15 How they qualified Spectacularly. Belgium were the first European side to qualify for the World Cup, eventually finishing nine points clear of second-placed Greece. They scored 43 goals in qualifying, the joint-highest tally along with Germany, and only conceded six. A highlight of their recent friendlies was Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku becoming the country’s all-time record goalscorer at the age of just 24. He has 31 goals in 65 appearances for his country. The man England must stop Where to start? Eden Hazard and Lukaku are two of the Premier League’s finest attacking players, while Dries Mertens has been in electric form for high-flying Napoli. The key man, though, is Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, who has been the standout player in English football this season. Kevin De Bruyne (right) and Marouane Fellaini Credit: AFP You might recognise... There will be no shortage of familiar faces considering the spine of this Belgium team play their club football in the Premier League. Chelsea’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is the first choice between the sticks, while it will be impossible to miss Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini. Who's the manager? Roberto Martinez. The former Swansea, Wigan and Everton manager took over in August last year. He replaced Marc Wilmots, who left the job two weeks after Belgium had been stunned by Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. One of his assistants is former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. What's their style? Despite all the attacking players at their disposal, the Belgian style of play has been a source of contention. De Bruyne, in particular, was very unhappy with the side’s tactics last month. “As long as we don’t have a good tactical system, we will have difficulties,” he said. “It’s a pity that we have not yet found a solution.” World Cup 2018 draw | All you need to know Historic high point Belgium reached the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup, where they were undone by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina. Maradona scored both goals in Argentina’s 2-0 victory. Historic low point Belgium failed to qualify for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals. They also did not make it past the group stages of Euro 2000, when they co-hosted the tournament. If they were a Premier League they would be... Tottenham Hotspur. Exciting, talented and fun to watch, but there is a noticeable lack of trophies in the cabinet. TUNISIA Fifa ranking27 World Cup record 1930: Part of France 1934: Part of France 1938: Part of France 1950: Part of France 1954: Part of France 1958: Did not enter 1962: DNQ 1966: Withdrew 1970: DNQ 1974: DNQ 1978: Group stage 1982: DNQ 1986: DNQ 1990: DNQ 1994: DNQ 1998: Group stage 2002: Group stage 2006: Group stage 2010: DNQ 2014: DNQ Head-to-head v England Played 2 Won 0 Drawn 1 Lost 1 How they qualified Tunisia topped African Group A by winning four and drawing two of their six games. Qualification was eventually secured thanks to a 0-0 draw at home to Libya. It has not all been plain sailing, though. Former manager Henry Kasperczak was sacked in April this year after Tunisia were knocked out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-0 to Burkina Faso. The man England must stop Forward Youssef Msakni, who plays his club football in Qatar, is the primary attacking threat. The 27 year-old scored a crucial hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Guinea in October. England will also need to keep an eye on midfielder Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, who scored one and created two in that victory. Youssef Msakni (right) in action for Tunisia Credit: AP You might recognise... Few Sunderland fans will have fond memories of attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri, who is currently on loan at Ligue 1 side Rennes. Khazri scored just one goal in 21 Premier League appearances as Sunderland were relegated last season. He has five goals in nine games for Rennes so far this time around, though. Who's the manager? Nabil Maaloul was appointed manager in April this year. It is his second time in charge of the national side, although his first stint, in 2013, ended after just seven months. He made 74 appearances for Tunisia as a player, and has also served as manager of Kuwait. What's their style? Msakni and Khazri are primarily responsible for Tunisia’s attacking threat. Maaloul largely used a typical 4-2-3-1 formation in qualification but is willing to line his team up more conservatively if required and would be expected to do so against England. Tunisia conceded just four goals in six qualifying games, scoring 11. World Cup 2018 stadiums Historic high point Tunisia became the first African team to win a match at the World Cup finals when their very own golden generation defeated Mexico 3-1 at the Rosario stadium in Argentina. Historic low point After becoming World Cup regulars with three consecutive finals appearances, the failure to reach South Africa in 2010 was disappointment. In 2010, they finished bottom of their Africa Cup of Nations group. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Newcastle United. The glory years have long since passed, but there was a revival of sorts in the late 90s and early 00s. On the up once more. PANAMA Fifa ranking 56 World Cup record Have never previously qualified Head-to-head v England Have never played each other How they qualified In dramatic and controversial circumstances. Panama leap-frogged the USA in their qualifying group with a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in October. Their opening goal, scored by Gabriel Torres, was awarded despite the ball not appearing to cross the line, and then Roman Torres scored a remarkable 87th-minute winner that ensured qualification. The country’s president promptly declared the next day to be a national holiday. The man England must stop Gabriel Gomez is an experienced operator in midfield with more than 130 international appearances to his name. Like many of his team-mates, he is well into his 30s. Another one to watch is forward Blas Perez, who has scored 43 international goals in 113 appearances. Panama midfielder Gabriel Gomez Credit: ICON SPORTSWIRE You might recognise... Frankly, it’s highly unlikely that you will recognise anyone, although the man who has had the most air-time on these shores is captain Roman Torres. It was his late goal that earned qualification, while his distinguished dreadlocks mark him out from the crowd. MLS fans may have seen him playing for Seattle Sounders. Who's the manager? Hernan Dario Gomez, from Colombia, took the reigns in 2014. Nicknamed ‘El Bolillo’ or ‘the Truncheon’, he has twice managed the Colombia national team in the past and has also been in charge of Ecuador. He resigned from the Colombia job in 2011 after striking a woman in a bar. What's their style? Panama are an ageing team who rely on organisation and defensive solidity. They will look to catch teams on the break but, first of all, will try to avoid any humiliating scorelines. England can expect to have plenty of the ball but will need to find a way of cracking the defence. Ticket prices for 2018 World Cup in Russia Historic high point Qualification for Russia is the high point, but they did finish as runners-up in the 2005 and 2013 editions of the Gold Cup. Historic low point Panama were minutes away from securing a play-off place in qualification for the 2014 World Cup, but conceded two goals in stoppage time to lose 3-2 to the USA. If they were a Premier League club they would be... Panama have no Premier League equivalent. They are more like an international version of Walsall.
Steph Houghton, centre, celebrates scoring England’s first goal against Bosnia in the World Cup qualifier at Walsall.
Steph Houghton double sinks Bosnia as England win World Cup qualifier
Steph Houghton, centre, celebrates scoring England’s first goal against Bosnia in the World Cup qualifier at Walsall.
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Fran Kirby scores their fourth goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Fran Kirby scores their fourth goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring their fourth goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring their fourth goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring their fourth goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring their fourth goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring their fourth goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring their fourth goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Steph Houghton celebrates scoring their third with team mates Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Steph Houghton celebrates scoring their third with team mates Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Nikita Parris celebrates after scoring their second goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Nikita Parris celebrates after scoring their second goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Danielle Carter in action with Alisa Spahic and Amira Spahic Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Danielle Carter in action with Alisa Spahic and Amira Spahic Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Nikita Parris scores their second goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Nikita Parris scores their second goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England interim manager Mo Marley Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England interim manager Mo Marley Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England interim manager Mo Marley Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England interim manager Mo Marley Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Millie Bright in action with Bosnia's Milena Nikolic Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Millie Bright in action with Bosnia's Milena Nikolic Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Steph Houghton celebrates with team mates after scoring their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Steph Houghton celebrates with team mates after scoring their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Lucy Bronze in action with Bosnia's Marija Aleksic Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina
Soccer Football - Women's World Cup Qualifier - England vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - November 24, 2017 England's Lucy Bronze in action with Bosnia's Marija Aleksic Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Members of the England women’s team have met with the Professional Footballers' Association to discuss the sacking of their former manager, Mark Sampson, and the controversy surrounding allegations made by their team-mate Eni Aluko, who was again passed over for selection for the national side. It is understood the players are considering releasing a joint statement in order to address several concerns they have as a group. The meeting was held in Manchester and was attended by players based in the north of England, with those in the south passing on observations. A source close to the talks has confirmed to Telegraph Sport that the meeting took place on Monday and that it was to discuss the Aluko affair. The Chelsea striker was left out of the England squad by interim manager Mo Marley on Tuesday ahead of their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Kazakhstan, despite scoring five goals in seven appearances for her club side. Sampson was sacked by the Football Association in September in the wake of allegations of bullying, harassment and racism made by Aluko. He was dismissed because of allegations of improper relations with his players when he was a coach at Bristol Academy, before he became England manager. Mark Sampson was sacked Credit: GETTY IMAGES A third investigation into Aluko’s allegations, sparked when new evidence was presented to independent barrister Katherine Newton, subsequently decided that he had used racist language towards both her and team-mate Drew Spence. The PFA acted on behalf of Aluko, vehemently criticising the way the FA handled the investigation into her allegations against Sampson. Aluko alleged in an interview with the BBC last week that she has not had any support from her former team-mates and has had no contact with any of them, other than those who also play for her club Chelsea. She also claimed their response would have been different if she had been a victim of homophobic abuse and suggested they need to be re-educated when it comes to racism and the impact it has on victims. However, the 30 year-old, who has admitted she does not feel as though an England recall is on the cards given the current situation, has apologised for publicly criticising her former teammates for celebrating their first goal against Russia in a World Cup qualifier with Sampson on the touchline, the day before he was sacked by the FA. Eni Aluko in action for Chelsea Credit: PA Meanwhile, Marley has given first senior calls ups to Manchester City’s Keira Walsh and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, who played for her in the Under-19 team. Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley returns from injury but Reading midfielder Jade Moore misses out following ankle surgery. “These matches are hugely important to the World Cup qualifying campaign and we will be looking to get two good results, and finish 2017 in strong fashion. “I know Keira and Leah well from the WU19 set up and they are both talented young players with lots of potential and playing well for their clubs, and I am pleased to welcome them into the senior squad. “We are looking forward to ending the year with two home games. We are expecting good crowds at both matches and will be going out to put on two excellent performMeanwoleances for our supporters." The Lionesses will face Bosnia at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Friday, November 24 before travelling to Colchester where they will play Kazakhstan Tuesday, November 28. Here it is! The #Lionesses squad for the #FIFAWWC qualifying double-header against Bosnia and Kazakhstanpic.twitter.com/9moyaTneYk— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 14, 2017
Exclusive: England Women meet with PFA to discuss sacking of Mark Sampson and Eni Aluko fall-out
Members of the England women’s team have met with the Professional Footballers' Association to discuss the sacking of their former manager, Mark Sampson, and the controversy surrounding allegations made by their team-mate Eni Aluko, who was again passed over for selection for the national side. It is understood the players are considering releasing a joint statement in order to address several concerns they have as a group. The meeting was held in Manchester and was attended by players based in the north of England, with those in the south passing on observations. A source close to the talks has confirmed to Telegraph Sport that the meeting took place on Monday and that it was to discuss the Aluko affair. The Chelsea striker was left out of the England squad by interim manager Mo Marley on Tuesday ahead of their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Kazakhstan, despite scoring five goals in seven appearances for her club side. Sampson was sacked by the Football Association in September in the wake of allegations of bullying, harassment and racism made by Aluko. He was dismissed because of allegations of improper relations with his players when he was a coach at Bristol Academy, before he became England manager. Mark Sampson was sacked Credit: GETTY IMAGES A third investigation into Aluko’s allegations, sparked when new evidence was presented to independent barrister Katherine Newton, subsequently decided that he had used racist language towards both her and team-mate Drew Spence. The PFA acted on behalf of Aluko, vehemently criticising the way the FA handled the investigation into her allegations against Sampson. Aluko alleged in an interview with the BBC last week that she has not had any support from her former team-mates and has had no contact with any of them, other than those who also play for her club Chelsea. She also claimed their response would have been different if she had been a victim of homophobic abuse and suggested they need to be re-educated when it comes to racism and the impact it has on victims. However, the 30 year-old, who has admitted she does not feel as though an England recall is on the cards given the current situation, has apologised for publicly criticising her former teammates for celebrating their first goal against Russia in a World Cup qualifier with Sampson on the touchline, the day before he was sacked by the FA. Eni Aluko in action for Chelsea Credit: PA Meanwhile, Marley has given first senior calls ups to Manchester City’s Keira Walsh and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, who played for her in the Under-19 team. Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley returns from injury but Reading midfielder Jade Moore misses out following ankle surgery. “These matches are hugely important to the World Cup qualifying campaign and we will be looking to get two good results, and finish 2017 in strong fashion. “I know Keira and Leah well from the WU19 set up and they are both talented young players with lots of potential and playing well for their clubs, and I am pleased to welcome them into the senior squad. “We are looking forward to ending the year with two home games. We are expecting good crowds at both matches and will be going out to put on two excellent performMeanwoleances for our supporters." The Lionesses will face Bosnia at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Friday, November 24 before travelling to Colchester where they will play Kazakhstan Tuesday, November 28. Here it is! The #Lionesses squad for the #FIFAWWC qualifying double-header against Bosnia and Kazakhstanpic.twitter.com/9moyaTneYk— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 14, 2017
Members of the England women’s team have met with the Professional Footballers' Association to discuss the sacking of their former manager, Mark Sampson, and the controversy surrounding allegations made by their team-mate Eni Aluko, who was again passed over for selection for the national side. It is understood the players are considering releasing a joint statement in order to address several concerns they have as a group. The meeting was held in Manchester and was attended by players based in the north of England, with those in the south passing on observations. A source close to the talks has confirmed to Telegraph Sport that the meeting took place on Monday and that it was to discuss the Aluko affair. The Chelsea striker was left out of the England squad by interim manager Mo Marley on Tuesday ahead of their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Kazakhstan, despite scoring five goals in seven appearances for her club side. Sampson was sacked by the Football Association in September in the wake of allegations of bullying, harassment and racism made by Aluko. He was dismissed because of allegations of improper relations with his players when he was a coach at Bristol Academy, before he became England manager. Mark Sampson was sacked Credit: GETTY IMAGES A third investigation into Aluko’s allegations, sparked when new evidence was presented to independent barrister Katherine Newton, subsequently decided that he had used racist language towards both her and team-mate Drew Spence. The PFA acted on behalf of Aluko, vehemently criticising the way the FA handled the investigation into her allegations against Sampson. Aluko alleged in an interview with the BBC last week that she has not had any support from her former team-mates and has had no contact with any of them, other than those who also play for her club Chelsea. She also claimed their response would have been different if she had been a victim of homophobic abuse and suggested they need to be re-educated when it comes to racism and the impact it has on victims. However, the 30 year-old, who has admitted she does not feel as though an England recall is on the cards given the current situation, has apologised for publicly criticising her former teammates for celebrating their first goal against Russia in a World Cup qualifier with Sampson on the touchline, the day before he was sacked by the FA. Eni Aluko in action for Chelsea Credit: PA Meanwhile, Marley has given first senior calls ups to Manchester City’s Keira Walsh and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, who played for her in the Under-19 team. Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley returns from injury but Reading midfielder Jade Moore misses out following ankle surgery. “These matches are hugely important to the World Cup qualifying campaign and we will be looking to get two good results, and finish 2017 in strong fashion. “I know Keira and Leah well from the WU19 set up and they are both talented young players with lots of potential and playing well for their clubs, and I am pleased to welcome them into the senior squad. “We are looking forward to ending the year with two home games. We are expecting good crowds at both matches and will be going out to put on two excellent performMeanwoleances for our supporters." The Lionesses will face Bosnia at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Friday, November 24 before travelling to Colchester where they will play Kazakhstan Tuesday, November 28. Here it is! The #Lionesses squad for the #FIFAWWC qualifying double-header against Bosnia and Kazakhstanpic.twitter.com/9moyaTneYk— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 14, 2017
Exclusive: England Women meet with PFA to discuss sacking of Mark Sampson and Eni Aluko fall-out
Members of the England women’s team have met with the Professional Footballers' Association to discuss the sacking of their former manager, Mark Sampson, and the controversy surrounding allegations made by their team-mate Eni Aluko, who was again passed over for selection for the national side. It is understood the players are considering releasing a joint statement in order to address several concerns they have as a group. The meeting was held in Manchester and was attended by players based in the north of England, with those in the south passing on observations. A source close to the talks has confirmed to Telegraph Sport that the meeting took place on Monday and that it was to discuss the Aluko affair. The Chelsea striker was left out of the England squad by interim manager Mo Marley on Tuesday ahead of their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Kazakhstan, despite scoring five goals in seven appearances for her club side. Sampson was sacked by the Football Association in September in the wake of allegations of bullying, harassment and racism made by Aluko. He was dismissed because of allegations of improper relations with his players when he was a coach at Bristol Academy, before he became England manager. Mark Sampson was sacked Credit: GETTY IMAGES A third investigation into Aluko’s allegations, sparked when new evidence was presented to independent barrister Katherine Newton, subsequently decided that he had used racist language towards both her and team-mate Drew Spence. The PFA acted on behalf of Aluko, vehemently criticising the way the FA handled the investigation into her allegations against Sampson. Aluko alleged in an interview with the BBC last week that she has not had any support from her former team-mates and has had no contact with any of them, other than those who also play for her club Chelsea. She also claimed their response would have been different if she had been a victim of homophobic abuse and suggested they need to be re-educated when it comes to racism and the impact it has on victims. However, the 30 year-old, who has admitted she does not feel as though an England recall is on the cards given the current situation, has apologised for publicly criticising her former teammates for celebrating their first goal against Russia in a World Cup qualifier with Sampson on the touchline, the day before he was sacked by the FA. Eni Aluko in action for Chelsea Credit: PA Meanwhile, Marley has given first senior calls ups to Manchester City’s Keira Walsh and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, who played for her in the Under-19 team. Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley returns from injury but Reading midfielder Jade Moore misses out following ankle surgery. “These matches are hugely important to the World Cup qualifying campaign and we will be looking to get two good results, and finish 2017 in strong fashion. “I know Keira and Leah well from the WU19 set up and they are both talented young players with lots of potential and playing well for their clubs, and I am pleased to welcome them into the senior squad. “We are looking forward to ending the year with two home games. We are expecting good crowds at both matches and will be going out to put on two excellent performMeanwoleances for our supporters." The Lionesses will face Bosnia at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Friday, November 24 before travelling to Colchester where they will play Kazakhstan Tuesday, November 28. Here it is! The #Lionesses squad for the #FIFAWWC qualifying double-header against Bosnia and Kazakhstanpic.twitter.com/9moyaTneYk— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 14, 2017
Members of the England women’s team have met with the Professional Footballers' Association to discuss the sacking of their former manager, Mark Sampson, and the controversy surrounding allegations made by their team-mate Eni Aluko, who was again passed over for selection for the national side. It is understood the players are considering releasing a joint statement in order to address several concerns they have as a group. The meeting was held in Manchester and was attended by players based in the north of England, with those in the south passing on observations. A source close to the talks has confirmed to Telegraph Sport that the meeting took place on Monday and that it was to discuss the Aluko affair. The Chelsea striker was left out of the England squad by interim manager Mo Marley on Tuesday ahead of their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Kazakhstan, despite scoring five goals in seven appearances for her club side. Sampson was sacked by the Football Association in September in the wake of allegations of bullying, harassment and racism made by Aluko. He was dismissed because of allegations of improper relations with his players when he was a coach at Bristol Academy, before he became England manager. Mark Sampson was sacked Credit: GETTY IMAGES A third investigation into Aluko’s allegations, sparked when new evidence was presented to independent barrister Katherine Newton, subsequently decided that he had used racist language towards both her and team-mate Drew Spence. The PFA acted on behalf of Aluko, vehemently criticising the way the FA handled the investigation into her allegations against Sampson. Aluko alleged in an interview with the BBC last week that she has not had any support from her former team-mates and has had no contact with any of them, other than those who also play for her club Chelsea. She also claimed their response would have been different if she had been a victim of homophobic abuse and suggested they need to be re-educated when it comes to racism and the impact it has on victims. However, the 30 year-old, who has admitted she does not feel as though an England recall is on the cards given the current situation, has apologised for publicly criticising her former teammates for celebrating their first goal against Russia in a World Cup qualifier with Sampson on the touchline, the day before he was sacked by the FA. Eni Aluko in action for Chelsea Credit: PA Meanwhile, Marley has given first senior calls ups to Manchester City’s Keira Walsh and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, who played for her in the Under-19 team. Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley returns from injury but Reading midfielder Jade Moore misses out following ankle surgery. “These matches are hugely important to the World Cup qualifying campaign and we will be looking to get two good results, and finish 2017 in strong fashion. “I know Keira and Leah well from the WU19 set up and they are both talented young players with lots of potential and playing well for their clubs, and I am pleased to welcome them into the senior squad. “We are looking forward to ending the year with two home games. We are expecting good crowds at both matches and will be going out to put on two excellent performMeanwoleances for our supporters." The Lionesses will face Bosnia at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Friday, November 24 before travelling to Colchester where they will play Kazakhstan Tuesday, November 28. Here it is! The #Lionesses squad for the #FIFAWWC qualifying double-header against Bosnia and Kazakhstanpic.twitter.com/9moyaTneYk— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 14, 2017
Exclusive: England Women meet with PFA to discuss sacking of Mark Sampson and Eni Aluko fall-out
Members of the England women’s team have met with the Professional Footballers' Association to discuss the sacking of their former manager, Mark Sampson, and the controversy surrounding allegations made by their team-mate Eni Aluko, who was again passed over for selection for the national side. It is understood the players are considering releasing a joint statement in order to address several concerns they have as a group. The meeting was held in Manchester and was attended by players based in the north of England, with those in the south passing on observations. A source close to the talks has confirmed to Telegraph Sport that the meeting took place on Monday and that it was to discuss the Aluko affair. The Chelsea striker was left out of the England squad by interim manager Mo Marley on Tuesday ahead of their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Kazakhstan, despite scoring five goals in seven appearances for her club side. Sampson was sacked by the Football Association in September in the wake of allegations of bullying, harassment and racism made by Aluko. He was dismissed because of allegations of improper relations with his players when he was a coach at Bristol Academy, before he became England manager. Mark Sampson was sacked Credit: GETTY IMAGES A third investigation into Aluko’s allegations, sparked when new evidence was presented to independent barrister Katherine Newton, subsequently decided that he had used racist language towards both her and team-mate Drew Spence. The PFA acted on behalf of Aluko, vehemently criticising the way the FA handled the investigation into her allegations against Sampson. Aluko alleged in an interview with the BBC last week that she has not had any support from her former team-mates and has had no contact with any of them, other than those who also play for her club Chelsea. She also claimed their response would have been different if she had been a victim of homophobic abuse and suggested they need to be re-educated when it comes to racism and the impact it has on victims. However, the 30 year-old, who has admitted she does not feel as though an England recall is on the cards given the current situation, has apologised for publicly criticising her former teammates for celebrating their first goal against Russia in a World Cup qualifier with Sampson on the touchline, the day before he was sacked by the FA. Eni Aluko in action for Chelsea Credit: PA Meanwhile, Marley has given first senior calls ups to Manchester City’s Keira Walsh and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, who played for her in the Under-19 team. Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley returns from injury but Reading midfielder Jade Moore misses out following ankle surgery. “These matches are hugely important to the World Cup qualifying campaign and we will be looking to get two good results, and finish 2017 in strong fashion. “I know Keira and Leah well from the WU19 set up and they are both talented young players with lots of potential and playing well for their clubs, and I am pleased to welcome them into the senior squad. “We are looking forward to ending the year with two home games. We are expecting good crowds at both matches and will be going out to put on two excellent performMeanwoleances for our supporters." The Lionesses will face Bosnia at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Friday, November 24 before travelling to Colchester where they will play Kazakhstan Tuesday, November 28. Here it is! The #Lionesses squad for the #FIFAWWC qualifying double-header against Bosnia and Kazakhstanpic.twitter.com/9moyaTneYk— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 14, 2017
Chelsea striker Eni Aluko has once again been left out of the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Kazakhstan. Aluko admitted in an interview last week that she did not think a recall was likely in the aftermath of her dispute with the Football Association over allegations of bullying and harassment, even though interim manager Mo Marley said she would be considered for selection if she was in form. She has scored five goals in seven appearances for Chelsea so far this season, but has only started two games. In the interview with the BBC, Aluko accused her former England teammates of not showing her enough support after a third FA investigation found former manager Mark Sampson, who dropped her from the squad more than a year ago, had used racist language towards her and her Chelsea teammate Drew Spence. Her omission comes after her teammate Lucy Bronze told Telegraph Sport that she would only be welcomed back into the squad if she was willing to commit to a team environment, although the Lyon player added that she did not see any reason why she would not be considered for selection. Marley has given first senior calls ups to Manchester City’s Keira Walsh and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, who played for her in the Under-19 team. Mark Sampson dropped Eni Aluko from the England squad more than a year ago Credit: GETTY IMAGES Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley returns from injury but Reading midfielder Jade Moore misses out following ankle surgery. “These matches are hugely important to the World Cup qualifying campaign and we will be looking to get two good results, and finish 2017 in strong fashion. “I know Keira and Leah well from the WU19 set up and they are both talented young players with lots of potential and playing well for their clubs, and I am pleased to welcome them into the senior squad. “We are looking forward to ending the year with two home games. We are expecting good crowds at both matches and will be going out to put on two excellent performances for our supporters." The Lionesses will face Bosnia at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Friday, November 24 before travelling to Colchester where they will play Kazakhstan Tuesday, November 28. Here it is! The #Lionesses squad for the #FIFAWWC qualifying double-header against Bosnia and Kazakhstanpic.twitter.com/9moyaTneYk— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 14, 2017
Eni Aluko left out of England squad again
Chelsea striker Eni Aluko has once again been left out of the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Kazakhstan. Aluko admitted in an interview last week that she did not think a recall was likely in the aftermath of her dispute with the Football Association over allegations of bullying and harassment, even though interim manager Mo Marley said she would be considered for selection if she was in form. She has scored five goals in seven appearances for Chelsea so far this season, but has only started two games. In the interview with the BBC, Aluko accused her former England teammates of not showing her enough support after a third FA investigation found former manager Mark Sampson, who dropped her from the squad more than a year ago, had used racist language towards her and her Chelsea teammate Drew Spence. Her omission comes after her teammate Lucy Bronze told Telegraph Sport that she would only be welcomed back into the squad if she was willing to commit to a team environment, although the Lyon player added that she did not see any reason why she would not be considered for selection. Marley has given first senior calls ups to Manchester City’s Keira Walsh and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, who played for her in the Under-19 team. Mark Sampson dropped Eni Aluko from the England squad more than a year ago Credit: GETTY IMAGES Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley returns from injury but Reading midfielder Jade Moore misses out following ankle surgery. “These matches are hugely important to the World Cup qualifying campaign and we will be looking to get two good results, and finish 2017 in strong fashion. “I know Keira and Leah well from the WU19 set up and they are both talented young players with lots of potential and playing well for their clubs, and I am pleased to welcome them into the senior squad. “We are looking forward to ending the year with two home games. We are expecting good crowds at both matches and will be going out to put on two excellent performances for our supporters." The Lionesses will face Bosnia at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Friday, November 24 before travelling to Colchester where they will play Kazakhstan Tuesday, November 28. Here it is! The #Lionesses squad for the #FIFAWWC qualifying double-header against Bosnia and Kazakhstanpic.twitter.com/9moyaTneYk— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 14, 2017
Chelsea striker Eni Aluko has once again been left out of the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Kazakhstan. Aluko admitted in an interview last week that she did not think a recall was likely in the aftermath of her dispute with the Football Association over allegations of bullying and harassment, even though interim manager Mo Marley said she would be considered for selection if she was in form. She has scored five goals in seven appearances for Chelsea so far this season, but has only started two games. In the interview with the BBC, Aluko accused her former England teammates of not showing her enough support after a third FA investigation found former manager Mark Sampson, who dropped her from the squad more than a year ago, had used racist language towards her and her Chelsea teammate Drew Spence. Her omission comes after her teammate Lucy Bronze told Telegraph Sport that she would only be welcomed back into the squad if she was willing to commit to a team environment, although the Lyon player added that she did not see any reason why she would not be considered for selection. Marley has given first senior calls ups to Manchester City’s Keira Walsh and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, who played for her in the Under-19 team. Mark Sampson dropped Eni Aluko from the England squad more than a year ago Credit: GETTY IMAGES Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley returns from injury but Reading midfielder Jade Moore misses out following ankle surgery. “These matches are hugely important to the World Cup qualifying campaign and we will be looking to get two good results, and finish 2017 in strong fashion. “I know Keira and Leah well from the WU19 set up and they are both talented young players with lots of potential and playing well for their clubs, and I am pleased to welcome them into the senior squad. “We are looking forward to ending the year with two home games. We are expecting good crowds at both matches and will be going out to put on two excellent performances for our supporters." The Lionesses will face Bosnia at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Friday, November 24 before travelling to Colchester where they will play Kazakhstan Tuesday, November 28. Here it is! The #Lionesses squad for the #FIFAWWC qualifying double-header against Bosnia and Kazakhstanpic.twitter.com/9moyaTneYk— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 14, 2017
Eni Aluko left out of England squad again
Chelsea striker Eni Aluko has once again been left out of the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Kazakhstan. Aluko admitted in an interview last week that she did not think a recall was likely in the aftermath of her dispute with the Football Association over allegations of bullying and harassment, even though interim manager Mo Marley said she would be considered for selection if she was in form. She has scored five goals in seven appearances for Chelsea so far this season, but has only started two games. In the interview with the BBC, Aluko accused her former England teammates of not showing her enough support after a third FA investigation found former manager Mark Sampson, who dropped her from the squad more than a year ago, had used racist language towards her and her Chelsea teammate Drew Spence. Her omission comes after her teammate Lucy Bronze told Telegraph Sport that she would only be welcomed back into the squad if she was willing to commit to a team environment, although the Lyon player added that she did not see any reason why she would not be considered for selection. Marley has given first senior calls ups to Manchester City’s Keira Walsh and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, who played for her in the Under-19 team. Mark Sampson dropped Eni Aluko from the England squad more than a year ago Credit: GETTY IMAGES Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley returns from injury but Reading midfielder Jade Moore misses out following ankle surgery. “These matches are hugely important to the World Cup qualifying campaign and we will be looking to get two good results, and finish 2017 in strong fashion. “I know Keira and Leah well from the WU19 set up and they are both talented young players with lots of potential and playing well for their clubs, and I am pleased to welcome them into the senior squad. “We are looking forward to ending the year with two home games. We are expecting good crowds at both matches and will be going out to put on two excellent performances for our supporters." The Lionesses will face Bosnia at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Friday, November 24 before travelling to Colchester where they will play Kazakhstan Tuesday, November 28. Here it is! The #Lionesses squad for the #FIFAWWC qualifying double-header against Bosnia and Kazakhstanpic.twitter.com/9moyaTneYk— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 14, 2017
The former Scunthorpe, Walsall, Luton and Cambridge manager has resigned after less than a month in charge
Solihull Moors manager Richard Money quits after 26 days in charge
The former Scunthorpe, Walsall, Luton and Cambridge manager has resigned after less than a month in charge
Golden Goals: Simon Cox for Swindon v Fenerbahce and Walsall (2008-09)
Golden Goals: Simon Cox for Swindon v Fenerbahce and Walsall (2008-09)
Golden Goals: Simon Cox for Swindon v Fenerbahce and Walsall (2008-09)
 7:28PM And that's the draw The excitement is over! No more balls will be drawn! Morecambe vs Hartlepool is pretty good, Doncaster will visit either East Thurrock or Ebsfleet. Hyde vs MK Dons is a brilliant tie for the minnows. I was really hoping for a Slough vs Swindon draw, purely for Office quotes. 7:25PM Eighth tier Hyde will play MK Dons! The crowd goes wild in the BBC studio as the draw is announced. That's the big club the players wanted. 7:24PM Lads, can we please have some music Or something. This draw is not one of the most exciting things I've ever seen on television. That Liverpool vs Man Utd game on Saturday was more entertaining. 7:21PM AFC Wimbledon vs Lincoln City AFC Wimbledon are one of the clubs to have benefited immensely from TV money brought by the FA Cup and they are drawn against Lincoln City. 7:19PM Some more fixtures for you Peterborough Utd v Tranmere Cambridge Utd v Sutton Utd Forest Green Rovers v Macclesfield Town AFC Fylde v Kidderminster Harriers Luton v Portsmouth Shrewsbury v Aldershot Hereford v AFC Telford Utd Guiseley v Accrington Stanley Blackburn Rovers v Barnet 7:16PM No huge match ups so far Bradford City v Chesterfield Port Vale v Oxford Utd Newport County v Walsall Morecambe v Hartlepool Utd 7:14PM And it's set of balls number eight And Lancelot is the FA Cup draw machine for tonight. What a hilarious National Lottery joke. And the first fixture is Stevenage vs Nantwich or Kettering. IT'S ALL KICKING OFF NOW, CLIVE. 7:12PM Your Davids, your Goliaths Hyde, Heybridge Swifts and Ossett Town are the lowest ranked teams in the competition, with all three occupying the eighth tier of English football. 7:10PM David Sharpe The Wigan chairman, grandson of Dave Whelan, fancies Wigan's chances this season. And now it's time for the draw! 7:05PM Who do the small teams want to get in the draw? According to a couple of Hyde football staff (manager and player), the management want to play against a team they can probably beat whereas the players want to draw Blackburn or Charlton - one of the 'big' clubs. Hyde actually own the record for biggest defeat in the FA Cup. A 26-0 hiding (see what I did) by Preston North End. 7:00PM The live coverage begins! Here we go. The draw is being held at Hyde United's ground. Look how cool their sun was earlier: Red sun today. FA Cup draw at Hyde United. Is that an omen. #EmiratesFACuppic.twitter.com/LoZ27mZjKW— Hyde United FC (@hydeunited) October 16, 2017 6:47PM The difference the FA Cup actually makes I wrote this in January about just how much an FA Cup run is worth to a small club. It turns out the answer is everything. The FA awards a prize of £1.8million to the winners of the competition, the kind of short-change a Champions League club might use as a sweetener for a promising youth prospect’s signing-on fee. For non-league side Curzon Ashton just qualifying for the second round of the competition will, and has, had an enormous impact. Image Landscape Portrait Square Original/Custom Edit Selected Crop... Caption: Description: curzon ashton Agency: GETTY IMAGES Artist: Edit... Delete “It means so much to us a club,” says their CEO Natalie Atkinson. “The FA Cup is enabling us, through prize money, funds gained and TV money to work with the FA and football foundations to replace our 3G pitch next to the stadium.” Curzon Ashton, currently 15th in the National League North, lost 4-3 to AFC Wimbledon in December, conceding four goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. The prize for qualifying for the second round was £27,000, in addition to £18,000 earned from the first round. Those sucker-punch goals prevented a windfall of £67,500 for making it to third round. However, thanks to the wonder of television money, the club received more for their defeat to Wimbledon than they would have if they’d won a non-televised second round match. There's more on the article, if you fancy clicking on it. 6:30PM The magic of the cup This most holy of trophies always produces magical moments and even if a guilty few/most don't pay attention to the competition until their team is involved, those matches between minnows of the lower leagues and giants of... in this case, League One, are always thoroughly enjoyable. Sutton are looking to make a lot more money from another (pie free) run at the cup this year, Accrington Stanley's involvement will be upping the YouTube view count on this milk advert, and today is the first time I have ever heard of Gainsborough Trinity. Perhaps they will become my new favourite non-league - maybe they'll be yours! It all depends who has to play who - and which of those games the people in charge at BBC decide to broadcast... 6:15PM Good evening! Hello there sports fans. Welcome to our live coverage of what is sure to be a riveting FA Cup first round draw. The action will kick-off at 7:10pm and we'll keep you up to date with the draw as it happens. For right now, that wait should give you time to look at all the nice photographs of that weird looking sun from earlier today. It was like being in Blade Runner. 6:09PM Preview What is it? It's the draw for the first round proper of the FA Cup: the oldest competition in world football. The first round sees the 48 teams from League One and League Two joined by 32 non-league sides. When is it? Monday October 16. What time is it? The draw itself will begin at 7:10pm on Monday evening. The first round of the FA Cup will take place on Saturday November 4 Credit: AP What TV channel is it on? The draw will be broadcast live on both BBC Two and BT Sport. Mark Chapman will present the BBC's coverage of the draw in half-hour long episode from 7pm, while BT Sport 3's show will also begin at 7pm. When will the matches take place? The first round will take place over the weekend of Friday November 3 to Monday 6 November 2017 Who's in the hat? Sutton United made it to the fifth round of the FA Cup last season Credit: Getty Images Three teams from the eighth tier of English football are among the non-league teams in the hat for the first round. Hyde United, who play in the Northern Premier League, beat Scarborough Athletic on Sunday afternoon to book their place in the competition. Hampton and Richmond, who are coached by Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, failed in their bid to reach the FA Cup proper after losing to National League South rivals Truro City. Truro's 2-0 victory over their league rivals means they become the first Cornwal team to reach the FA Cup first round since 1969. Billericay Town, whose current players include Jamie O'Hara, Paul Konchesky and Jermaine Pennant, will also take their place in the draw. FA Cup first round numbers 1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY 2 AFC WIMBLEDON 3 BARNET 4 BLACKBURN ROVERS 5 BLACKPOOL 6 BRADFORD CITY 7 BRISTOL ROVERS 8 BURY 9 CAMBRIDGE UNITED 10 CARLISLE UNITED 11 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 12 CHELTENHAM TOWN 13 CHESTERFIELD 14 COLCHESTER UNITED 15 COVENTRY CITY 16 CRAWLEY TOWN 17 CREWE ALEXANDRA 18 DONCASTER ROVERS 19 EXETER CITY 20 FLEETWOOD TOWN 21 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 22 GILLINGHAM 23 GRIMSBY TOWN 24 LINCOLN CITY 25 LUTON TOWN 26 MANSFIELD TOWN 27 MILTON KEYNES DONS 28 MORECAMBE 29 NEWPORT COUNTY 30 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 31 NOTTS COUNTY 32 OLDHAM ATHLETIC 33 OXFORD UNITED 34 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 35 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 36 PORT VALE 37 PORTSMOUTH 38 ROCHDALE 39 ROTHERHAM UNITED 40 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 41 SHREWSBURY TOWN 42 SOUTHEND UNITED 43 STEVENAGE 44 SWINDON TOWN 45 WALSALL 46 WIGAN ATHLETIC 47 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 48 YEOVIL TOWN 49 TRANMERE ROVERS 50 SOLIHULL MOORS OR OSSETT TOWN 51 HARTLEPOOL UNITED 52 SHAW LANE ASSOCIATION 53 CHORLEY OR BOSTON UNITED 54 AFC TELFORD UNITED 55 GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 56 NANTWICH TOWN OR KETTERING TOWN 57 GATESHEAD 58 GUISELEY 59 AFC FYLDE 60 KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 61 HYDE UNITED 62 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 63 BRACKLEY TOWN OR BILLERICAY TOWN 64 DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE OR LEYTON ORIENT 65 HEREFORD 66 ALDERSHOT TOWN 67 BATH CITY OR CHELMSFORD CITY 68 OXFORD CITY 69 MAIDENHEAD UNITED 70 HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 71 WOKING OR CONCORD RANGERS 72 TRURO CITY 73 DOVER ATHLETIC OR BROMLEY 74 SLOUGH TOWN 75 DARTFORD 76 BOREHAM WOOD 77 MAIDSTONE UNITED OR ENFIELD TOWN 78 LEATHERHEAD 79 SUTTON UNITED 80 EAST THURROCK UNITED OR EBBSFLEET UNITED
FA Cup first round draw: Hyde United (eighth tier) host MK Dons
7:28PM And that's the draw The excitement is over! No more balls will be drawn! Morecambe vs Hartlepool is pretty good, Doncaster will visit either East Thurrock or Ebsfleet. Hyde vs MK Dons is a brilliant tie for the minnows. I was really hoping for a Slough vs Swindon draw, purely for Office quotes. 7:25PM Eighth tier Hyde will play MK Dons! The crowd goes wild in the BBC studio as the draw is announced. That's the big club the players wanted. 7:24PM Lads, can we please have some music Or something. This draw is not one of the most exciting things I've ever seen on television. That Liverpool vs Man Utd game on Saturday was more entertaining. 7:21PM AFC Wimbledon vs Lincoln City AFC Wimbledon are one of the clubs to have benefited immensely from TV money brought by the FA Cup and they are drawn against Lincoln City. 7:19PM Some more fixtures for you Peterborough Utd v Tranmere Cambridge Utd v Sutton Utd Forest Green Rovers v Macclesfield Town AFC Fylde v Kidderminster Harriers Luton v Portsmouth Shrewsbury v Aldershot Hereford v AFC Telford Utd Guiseley v Accrington Stanley Blackburn Rovers v Barnet 7:16PM No huge match ups so far Bradford City v Chesterfield Port Vale v Oxford Utd Newport County v Walsall Morecambe v Hartlepool Utd 7:14PM And it's set of balls number eight And Lancelot is the FA Cup draw machine for tonight. What a hilarious National Lottery joke. And the first fixture is Stevenage vs Nantwich or Kettering. IT'S ALL KICKING OFF NOW, CLIVE. 7:12PM Your Davids, your Goliaths Hyde, Heybridge Swifts and Ossett Town are the lowest ranked teams in the competition, with all three occupying the eighth tier of English football. 7:10PM David Sharpe The Wigan chairman, grandson of Dave Whelan, fancies Wigan's chances this season. And now it's time for the draw! 7:05PM Who do the small teams want to get in the draw? According to a couple of Hyde football staff (manager and player), the management want to play against a team they can probably beat whereas the players want to draw Blackburn or Charlton - one of the 'big' clubs. Hyde actually own the record for biggest defeat in the FA Cup. A 26-0 hiding (see what I did) by Preston North End. 7:00PM The live coverage begins! Here we go. The draw is being held at Hyde United's ground. Look how cool their sun was earlier: Red sun today. FA Cup draw at Hyde United. Is that an omen. #EmiratesFACuppic.twitter.com/LoZ27mZjKW— Hyde United FC (@hydeunited) October 16, 2017 6:47PM The difference the FA Cup actually makes I wrote this in January about just how much an FA Cup run is worth to a small club. It turns out the answer is everything. The FA awards a prize of £1.8million to the winners of the competition, the kind of short-change a Champions League club might use as a sweetener for a promising youth prospect’s signing-on fee. For non-league side Curzon Ashton just qualifying for the second round of the competition will, and has, had an enormous impact. Image Landscape Portrait Square Original/Custom Edit Selected Crop... Caption: Description: curzon ashton Agency: GETTY IMAGES Artist: Edit... Delete “It means so much to us a club,” says their CEO Natalie Atkinson. “The FA Cup is enabling us, through prize money, funds gained and TV money to work with the FA and football foundations to replace our 3G pitch next to the stadium.” Curzon Ashton, currently 15th in the National League North, lost 4-3 to AFC Wimbledon in December, conceding four goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. The prize for qualifying for the second round was £27,000, in addition to £18,000 earned from the first round. Those sucker-punch goals prevented a windfall of £67,500 for making it to third round. However, thanks to the wonder of television money, the club received more for their defeat to Wimbledon than they would have if they’d won a non-televised second round match. There's more on the article, if you fancy clicking on it. 6:30PM The magic of the cup This most holy of trophies always produces magical moments and even if a guilty few/most don't pay attention to the competition until their team is involved, those matches between minnows of the lower leagues and giants of... in this case, League One, are always thoroughly enjoyable. Sutton are looking to make a lot more money from another (pie free) run at the cup this year, Accrington Stanley's involvement will be upping the YouTube view count on this milk advert, and today is the first time I have ever heard of Gainsborough Trinity. Perhaps they will become my new favourite non-league - maybe they'll be yours! It all depends who has to play who - and which of those games the people in charge at BBC decide to broadcast... 6:15PM Good evening! Hello there sports fans. Welcome to our live coverage of what is sure to be a riveting FA Cup first round draw. The action will kick-off at 7:10pm and we'll keep you up to date with the draw as it happens. For right now, that wait should give you time to look at all the nice photographs of that weird looking sun from earlier today. It was like being in Blade Runner. 6:09PM Preview What is it? It's the draw for the first round proper of the FA Cup: the oldest competition in world football. The first round sees the 48 teams from League One and League Two joined by 32 non-league sides. When is it? Monday October 16. What time is it? The draw itself will begin at 7:10pm on Monday evening. The first round of the FA Cup will take place on Saturday November 4 Credit: AP What TV channel is it on? The draw will be broadcast live on both BBC Two and BT Sport. Mark Chapman will present the BBC's coverage of the draw in half-hour long episode from 7pm, while BT Sport 3's show will also begin at 7pm. When will the matches take place? The first round will take place over the weekend of Friday November 3 to Monday 6 November 2017 Who's in the hat? Sutton United made it to the fifth round of the FA Cup last season Credit: Getty Images Three teams from the eighth tier of English football are among the non-league teams in the hat for the first round. Hyde United, who play in the Northern Premier League, beat Scarborough Athletic on Sunday afternoon to book their place in the competition. Hampton and Richmond, who are coached by Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, failed in their bid to reach the FA Cup proper after losing to National League South rivals Truro City. Truro's 2-0 victory over their league rivals means they become the first Cornwal team to reach the FA Cup first round since 1969. Billericay Town, whose current players include Jamie O'Hara, Paul Konchesky and Jermaine Pennant, will also take their place in the draw. FA Cup first round numbers 1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY 2 AFC WIMBLEDON 3 BARNET 4 BLACKBURN ROVERS 5 BLACKPOOL 6 BRADFORD CITY 7 BRISTOL ROVERS 8 BURY 9 CAMBRIDGE UNITED 10 CARLISLE UNITED 11 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 12 CHELTENHAM TOWN 13 CHESTERFIELD 14 COLCHESTER UNITED 15 COVENTRY CITY 16 CRAWLEY TOWN 17 CREWE ALEXANDRA 18 DONCASTER ROVERS 19 EXETER CITY 20 FLEETWOOD TOWN 21 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 22 GILLINGHAM 23 GRIMSBY TOWN 24 LINCOLN CITY 25 LUTON TOWN 26 MANSFIELD TOWN 27 MILTON KEYNES DONS 28 MORECAMBE 29 NEWPORT COUNTY 30 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 31 NOTTS COUNTY 32 OLDHAM ATHLETIC 33 OXFORD UNITED 34 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 35 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 36 PORT VALE 37 PORTSMOUTH 38 ROCHDALE 39 ROTHERHAM UNITED 40 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 41 SHREWSBURY TOWN 42 SOUTHEND UNITED 43 STEVENAGE 44 SWINDON TOWN 45 WALSALL 46 WIGAN ATHLETIC 47 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 48 YEOVIL TOWN 49 TRANMERE ROVERS 50 SOLIHULL MOORS OR OSSETT TOWN 51 HARTLEPOOL UNITED 52 SHAW LANE ASSOCIATION 53 CHORLEY OR BOSTON UNITED 54 AFC TELFORD UNITED 55 GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 56 NANTWICH TOWN OR KETTERING TOWN 57 GATESHEAD 58 GUISELEY 59 AFC FYLDE 60 KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 61 HYDE UNITED 62 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 63 BRACKLEY TOWN OR BILLERICAY TOWN 64 DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE OR LEYTON ORIENT 65 HEREFORD 66 ALDERSHOT TOWN 67 BATH CITY OR CHELMSFORD CITY 68 OXFORD CITY 69 MAIDENHEAD UNITED 70 HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 71 WOKING OR CONCORD RANGERS 72 TRURO CITY 73 DOVER ATHLETIC OR BROMLEY 74 SLOUGH TOWN 75 DARTFORD 76 BOREHAM WOOD 77 MAIDSTONE UNITED OR ENFIELD TOWN 78 LEATHERHEAD 79 SUTTON UNITED 80 EAST THURROCK UNITED OR EBBSFLEET UNITED
 7:28PM And that's the draw The excitement is over! No more balls will be drawn! Morecambe vs Hartlepool is pretty good, Doncaster will visit either East Thurrock or Ebsfleet. Hyde vs MK Dons is a brilliant tie for the minnows. I was really hoping for a Slough vs Swindon draw, purely for Office quotes. 7:25PM Eighth tier Hyde will play MK Dons! The crowd goes wild in the BBC studio as the draw is announced. That's the big club the players wanted. 7:24PM Lads, can we please have some music Or something. This draw is not one of the most exciting things I've ever seen on television. That Liverpool vs Man Utd game on Saturday was more entertaining. 7:21PM AFC Wimbledon vs Lincoln City AFC Wimbledon are one of the clubs to have benefited immensely from TV money brought by the FA Cup and they are drawn against Lincoln City. 7:19PM Some more fixtures for you Peterborough Utd v Tranmere Cambridge Utd v Sutton Utd Forest Green Rovers v Macclesfield Town AFC Fylde v Kidderminster Harriers Luton v Portsmouth Shrewsbury v Aldershot Hereford v AFC Telford Utd Guiseley v Accrington Stanley Blackburn Rovers v Barnet 7:16PM No huge match ups so far Bradford City v Chesterfield Port Vale v Oxford Utd Newport County v Walsall Morecambe v Hartlepool Utd 7:14PM And it's set of balls number eight And Lancelot is the FA Cup draw machine for tonight. What a hilarious National Lottery joke. And the first fixture is Stevenage vs Nantwich or Kettering. IT'S ALL KICKING OFF NOW, CLIVE. 7:12PM Your Davids, your Goliaths Hyde, Heybridge Swifts and Ossett Town are the lowest ranked teams in the competition, with all three occupying the eighth tier of English football. 7:10PM David Sharpe The Wigan chairman, grandson of Dave Whelan, fancies Wigan's chances this season. And now it's time for the draw! 7:05PM Who do the small teams want to get in the draw? According to a couple of Hyde football staff (manager and player), the management want to play against a team they can probably beat whereas the players want to draw Blackburn or Charlton - one of the 'big' clubs. Hyde actually own the record for biggest defeat in the FA Cup. A 26-0 hiding (see what I did) by Preston North End. 7:00PM The live coverage begins! Here we go. The draw is being held at Hyde United's ground. Look how cool their sun was earlier: Red sun today. FA Cup draw at Hyde United. Is that an omen. #EmiratesFACuppic.twitter.com/LoZ27mZjKW— Hyde United FC (@hydeunited) October 16, 2017 6:47PM The difference the FA Cup actually makes I wrote this in January about just how much an FA Cup run is worth to a small club. It turns out the answer is everything. The FA awards a prize of £1.8million to the winners of the competition, the kind of short-change a Champions League club might use as a sweetener for a promising youth prospect’s signing-on fee. For non-league side Curzon Ashton just qualifying for the second round of the competition will, and has, had an enormous impact. Image Landscape Portrait Square Original/Custom Edit Selected Crop... Caption: Description: curzon ashton Agency: GETTY IMAGES Artist: Edit... Delete “It means so much to us a club,” says their CEO Natalie Atkinson. “The FA Cup is enabling us, through prize money, funds gained and TV money to work with the FA and football foundations to replace our 3G pitch next to the stadium.” Curzon Ashton, currently 15th in the National League North, lost 4-3 to AFC Wimbledon in December, conceding four goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. The prize for qualifying for the second round was £27,000, in addition to £18,000 earned from the first round. Those sucker-punch goals prevented a windfall of £67,500 for making it to third round. However, thanks to the wonder of television money, the club received more for their defeat to Wimbledon than they would have if they’d won a non-televised second round match. There's more on the article, if you fancy clicking on it. 6:30PM The magic of the cup This most holy of trophies always produces magical moments and even if a guilty few/most don't pay attention to the competition until their team is involved, those matches between minnows of the lower leagues and giants of... in this case, League One, are always thoroughly enjoyable. Sutton are looking to make a lot more money from another (pie free) run at the cup this year, Accrington Stanley's involvement will be upping the YouTube view count on this milk advert, and today is the first time I have ever heard of Gainsborough Trinity. Perhaps they will become my new favourite non-league - maybe they'll be yours! It all depends who has to play who - and which of those games the people in charge at BBC decide to broadcast... 6:15PM Good evening! Hello there sports fans. Welcome to our live coverage of what is sure to be a riveting FA Cup first round draw. The action will kick-off at 7:10pm and we'll keep you up to date with the draw as it happens. For right now, that wait should give you time to look at all the nice photographs of that weird looking sun from earlier today. It was like being in Blade Runner. 6:09PM Preview What is it? It's the draw for the first round proper of the FA Cup: the oldest competition in world football. The first round sees the 48 teams from League One and League Two joined by 32 non-league sides. When is it? Monday October 16. What time is it? The draw itself will begin at 7:10pm on Monday evening. The first round of the FA Cup will take place on Saturday November 4 Credit: AP What TV channel is it on? The draw will be broadcast live on both BBC Two and BT Sport. Mark Chapman will present the BBC's coverage of the draw in half-hour long episode from 7pm, while BT Sport 3's show will also begin at 7pm. When will the matches take place? The first round will take place over the weekend of Friday November 3 to Monday 6 November 2017 Who's in the hat? Sutton United made it to the fifth round of the FA Cup last season Credit: Getty Images Three teams from the eighth tier of English football are among the non-league teams in the hat for the first round. Hyde United, who play in the Northern Premier League, beat Scarborough Athletic on Sunday afternoon to book their place in the competition. Hampton and Richmond, who are coached by Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, failed in their bid to reach the FA Cup proper after losing to National League South rivals Truro City. Truro's 2-0 victory over their league rivals means they become the first Cornwal team to reach the FA Cup first round since 1969. Billericay Town, whose current players include Jamie O'Hara, Paul Konchesky and Jermaine Pennant, will also take their place in the draw. FA Cup first round numbers 1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY 2 AFC WIMBLEDON 3 BARNET 4 BLACKBURN ROVERS 5 BLACKPOOL 6 BRADFORD CITY 7 BRISTOL ROVERS 8 BURY 9 CAMBRIDGE UNITED 10 CARLISLE UNITED 11 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 12 CHELTENHAM TOWN 13 CHESTERFIELD 14 COLCHESTER UNITED 15 COVENTRY CITY 16 CRAWLEY TOWN 17 CREWE ALEXANDRA 18 DONCASTER ROVERS 19 EXETER CITY 20 FLEETWOOD TOWN 21 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 22 GILLINGHAM 23 GRIMSBY TOWN 24 LINCOLN CITY 25 LUTON TOWN 26 MANSFIELD TOWN 27 MILTON KEYNES DONS 28 MORECAMBE 29 NEWPORT COUNTY 30 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 31 NOTTS COUNTY 32 OLDHAM ATHLETIC 33 OXFORD UNITED 34 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 35 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 36 PORT VALE 37 PORTSMOUTH 38 ROCHDALE 39 ROTHERHAM UNITED 40 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 41 SHREWSBURY TOWN 42 SOUTHEND UNITED 43 STEVENAGE 44 SWINDON TOWN 45 WALSALL 46 WIGAN ATHLETIC 47 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 48 YEOVIL TOWN 49 TRANMERE ROVERS 50 SOLIHULL MOORS OR OSSETT TOWN 51 HARTLEPOOL UNITED 52 SHAW LANE ASSOCIATION 53 CHORLEY OR BOSTON UNITED 54 AFC TELFORD UNITED 55 GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 56 NANTWICH TOWN OR KETTERING TOWN 57 GATESHEAD 58 GUISELEY 59 AFC FYLDE 60 KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 61 HYDE UNITED 62 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 63 BRACKLEY TOWN OR BILLERICAY TOWN 64 DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE OR LEYTON ORIENT 65 HEREFORD 66 ALDERSHOT TOWN 67 BATH CITY OR CHELMSFORD CITY 68 OXFORD CITY 69 MAIDENHEAD UNITED 70 HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 71 WOKING OR CONCORD RANGERS 72 TRURO CITY 73 DOVER ATHLETIC OR BROMLEY 74 SLOUGH TOWN 75 DARTFORD 76 BOREHAM WOOD 77 MAIDSTONE UNITED OR ENFIELD TOWN 78 LEATHERHEAD 79 SUTTON UNITED 80 EAST THURROCK UNITED OR EBBSFLEET UNITED
FA Cup first round draw: Hyde United (eighth tier) host MK Dons
7:28PM And that's the draw The excitement is over! No more balls will be drawn! Morecambe vs Hartlepool is pretty good, Doncaster will visit either East Thurrock or Ebsfleet. Hyde vs MK Dons is a brilliant tie for the minnows. I was really hoping for a Slough vs Swindon draw, purely for Office quotes. 7:25PM Eighth tier Hyde will play MK Dons! The crowd goes wild in the BBC studio as the draw is announced. That's the big club the players wanted. 7:24PM Lads, can we please have some music Or something. This draw is not one of the most exciting things I've ever seen on television. That Liverpool vs Man Utd game on Saturday was more entertaining. 7:21PM AFC Wimbledon vs Lincoln City AFC Wimbledon are one of the clubs to have benefited immensely from TV money brought by the FA Cup and they are drawn against Lincoln City. 7:19PM Some more fixtures for you Peterborough Utd v Tranmere Cambridge Utd v Sutton Utd Forest Green Rovers v Macclesfield Town AFC Fylde v Kidderminster Harriers Luton v Portsmouth Shrewsbury v Aldershot Hereford v AFC Telford Utd Guiseley v Accrington Stanley Blackburn Rovers v Barnet 7:16PM No huge match ups so far Bradford City v Chesterfield Port Vale v Oxford Utd Newport County v Walsall Morecambe v Hartlepool Utd 7:14PM And it's set of balls number eight And Lancelot is the FA Cup draw machine for tonight. What a hilarious National Lottery joke. And the first fixture is Stevenage vs Nantwich or Kettering. IT'S ALL KICKING OFF NOW, CLIVE. 7:12PM Your Davids, your Goliaths Hyde, Heybridge Swifts and Ossett Town are the lowest ranked teams in the competition, with all three occupying the eighth tier of English football. 7:10PM David Sharpe The Wigan chairman, grandson of Dave Whelan, fancies Wigan's chances this season. And now it's time for the draw! 7:05PM Who do the small teams want to get in the draw? According to a couple of Hyde football staff (manager and player), the management want to play against a team they can probably beat whereas the players want to draw Blackburn or Charlton - one of the 'big' clubs. Hyde actually own the record for biggest defeat in the FA Cup. A 26-0 hiding (see what I did) by Preston North End. 7:00PM The live coverage begins! Here we go. The draw is being held at Hyde United's ground. Look how cool their sun was earlier: Red sun today. FA Cup draw at Hyde United. Is that an omen. #EmiratesFACuppic.twitter.com/LoZ27mZjKW— Hyde United FC (@hydeunited) October 16, 2017 6:47PM The difference the FA Cup actually makes I wrote this in January about just how much an FA Cup run is worth to a small club. It turns out the answer is everything. The FA awards a prize of £1.8million to the winners of the competition, the kind of short-change a Champions League club might use as a sweetener for a promising youth prospect’s signing-on fee. For non-league side Curzon Ashton just qualifying for the second round of the competition will, and has, had an enormous impact. Image Landscape Portrait Square Original/Custom Edit Selected Crop... Caption: Description: curzon ashton Agency: GETTY IMAGES Artist: Edit... Delete “It means so much to us a club,” says their CEO Natalie Atkinson. “The FA Cup is enabling us, through prize money, funds gained and TV money to work with the FA and football foundations to replace our 3G pitch next to the stadium.” Curzon Ashton, currently 15th in the National League North, lost 4-3 to AFC Wimbledon in December, conceding four goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. The prize for qualifying for the second round was £27,000, in addition to £18,000 earned from the first round. Those sucker-punch goals prevented a windfall of £67,500 for making it to third round. However, thanks to the wonder of television money, the club received more for their defeat to Wimbledon than they would have if they’d won a non-televised second round match. There's more on the article, if you fancy clicking on it. 6:30PM The magic of the cup This most holy of trophies always produces magical moments and even if a guilty few/most don't pay attention to the competition until their team is involved, those matches between minnows of the lower leagues and giants of... in this case, League One, are always thoroughly enjoyable. Sutton are looking to make a lot more money from another (pie free) run at the cup this year, Accrington Stanley's involvement will be upping the YouTube view count on this milk advert, and today is the first time I have ever heard of Gainsborough Trinity. Perhaps they will become my new favourite non-league - maybe they'll be yours! It all depends who has to play who - and which of those games the people in charge at BBC decide to broadcast... 6:15PM Good evening! Hello there sports fans. Welcome to our live coverage of what is sure to be a riveting FA Cup first round draw. The action will kick-off at 7:10pm and we'll keep you up to date with the draw as it happens. For right now, that wait should give you time to look at all the nice photographs of that weird looking sun from earlier today. It was like being in Blade Runner. 6:09PM Preview What is it? It's the draw for the first round proper of the FA Cup: the oldest competition in world football. The first round sees the 48 teams from League One and League Two joined by 32 non-league sides. When is it? Monday October 16. What time is it? The draw itself will begin at 7:10pm on Monday evening. The first round of the FA Cup will take place on Saturday November 4 Credit: AP What TV channel is it on? The draw will be broadcast live on both BBC Two and BT Sport. Mark Chapman will present the BBC's coverage of the draw in half-hour long episode from 7pm, while BT Sport 3's show will also begin at 7pm. When will the matches take place? The first round will take place over the weekend of Friday November 3 to Monday 6 November 2017 Who's in the hat? Sutton United made it to the fifth round of the FA Cup last season Credit: Getty Images Three teams from the eighth tier of English football are among the non-league teams in the hat for the first round. Hyde United, who play in the Northern Premier League, beat Scarborough Athletic on Sunday afternoon to book their place in the competition. Hampton and Richmond, who are coached by Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, failed in their bid to reach the FA Cup proper after losing to National League South rivals Truro City. Truro's 2-0 victory over their league rivals means they become the first Cornwal team to reach the FA Cup first round since 1969. Billericay Town, whose current players include Jamie O'Hara, Paul Konchesky and Jermaine Pennant, will also take their place in the draw. FA Cup first round numbers 1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY 2 AFC WIMBLEDON 3 BARNET 4 BLACKBURN ROVERS 5 BLACKPOOL 6 BRADFORD CITY 7 BRISTOL ROVERS 8 BURY 9 CAMBRIDGE UNITED 10 CARLISLE UNITED 11 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 12 CHELTENHAM TOWN 13 CHESTERFIELD 14 COLCHESTER UNITED 15 COVENTRY CITY 16 CRAWLEY TOWN 17 CREWE ALEXANDRA 18 DONCASTER ROVERS 19 EXETER CITY 20 FLEETWOOD TOWN 21 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 22 GILLINGHAM 23 GRIMSBY TOWN 24 LINCOLN CITY 25 LUTON TOWN 26 MANSFIELD TOWN 27 MILTON KEYNES DONS 28 MORECAMBE 29 NEWPORT COUNTY 30 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 31 NOTTS COUNTY 32 OLDHAM ATHLETIC 33 OXFORD UNITED 34 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 35 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 36 PORT VALE 37 PORTSMOUTH 38 ROCHDALE 39 ROTHERHAM UNITED 40 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 41 SHREWSBURY TOWN 42 SOUTHEND UNITED 43 STEVENAGE 44 SWINDON TOWN 45 WALSALL 46 WIGAN ATHLETIC 47 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 48 YEOVIL TOWN 49 TRANMERE ROVERS 50 SOLIHULL MOORS OR OSSETT TOWN 51 HARTLEPOOL UNITED 52 SHAW LANE ASSOCIATION 53 CHORLEY OR BOSTON UNITED 54 AFC TELFORD UNITED 55 GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 56 NANTWICH TOWN OR KETTERING TOWN 57 GATESHEAD 58 GUISELEY 59 AFC FYLDE 60 KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 61 HYDE UNITED 62 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 63 BRACKLEY TOWN OR BILLERICAY TOWN 64 DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE OR LEYTON ORIENT 65 HEREFORD 66 ALDERSHOT TOWN 67 BATH CITY OR CHELMSFORD CITY 68 OXFORD CITY 69 MAIDENHEAD UNITED 70 HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 71 WOKING OR CONCORD RANGERS 72 TRURO CITY 73 DOVER ATHLETIC OR BROMLEY 74 SLOUGH TOWN 75 DARTFORD 76 BOREHAM WOOD 77 MAIDSTONE UNITED OR ENFIELD TOWN 78 LEATHERHEAD 79 SUTTON UNITED 80 EAST THURROCK UNITED OR EBBSFLEET UNITED
 7:28PM And that's the draw The excitement is over! No more balls will be drawn! Morecambe vs Hartlepool is pretty good, Doncaster will visit either East Thurrock or Ebsfleet. Hyde vs MK Dons is a brilliant tie for the minnows. I was really hoping for a Slough vs Swindon draw, purely for Office quotes. 7:25PM Eighth tier Hyde will play MK Dons! The crowd goes wild in the BBC studio as the draw is announced. That's the big club the players wanted. 7:24PM Lads, can we please have some music Or something. This draw is not one of the most exciting things I've ever seen on television. That Liverpool vs Man Utd game on Saturday was more entertaining. 7:21PM AFC Wimbledon vs Lincoln City AFC Wimbledon are one of the clubs to have benefited immensely from TV money brought by the FA Cup and they are drawn against Lincoln City. 7:19PM Some more fixtures for you Peterborough Utd v Tranmere Cambridge Utd v Sutton Utd Forest Green Rovers v Macclesfield Town AFC Fylde v Kidderminster Harriers Luton v Portsmouth Shrewsbury v Aldershot Hereford v AFC Telford Utd Guiseley v Accrington Stanley Blackburn Rovers v Barnet 7:16PM No huge match ups so far Bradford City v Chesterfield Port Vale v Oxford Utd Newport County v Walsall Morecambe v Hartlepool Utd 7:14PM And it's set of balls number eight And Lancelot is the FA Cup draw machine for tonight. What a hilarious National Lottery joke. And the first fixture is Stevenage vs Nantwich or Kettering. IT'S ALL KICKING OFF NOW, CLIVE. 7:12PM Your Davids, your Goliaths Hyde, Heybridge Swifts and Ossett Town are the lowest ranked teams in the competition, with all three occupying the eighth tier of English football. 7:10PM David Sharpe The Wigan chairman, grandson of Dave Whelan, fancies Wigan's chances this season. And now it's time for the draw! 7:05PM Who do the small teams want to get in the draw? According to a couple of Hyde football staff (manager and player), the management want to play against a team they can probably beat whereas the players want to draw Blackburn or Charlton - one of the 'big' clubs. Hyde actually own the record for biggest defeat in the FA Cup. A 26-0 hiding (see what I did) by Preston North End. 7:00PM The live coverage begins! Here we go. The draw is being held at Hyde United's ground. Look how cool their sun was earlier: Red sun today. FA Cup draw at Hyde United. Is that an omen. #EmiratesFACuppic.twitter.com/LoZ27mZjKW— Hyde United FC (@hydeunited) October 16, 2017 6:47PM The difference the FA Cup actually makes I wrote this in January about just how much an FA Cup run is worth to a small club. It turns out the answer is everything. The FA awards a prize of £1.8million to the winners of the competition, the kind of short-change a Champions League club might use as a sweetener for a promising youth prospect’s signing-on fee. For non-league side Curzon Ashton just qualifying for the second round of the competition will, and has, had an enormous impact. Image Landscape Portrait Square Original/Custom Edit Selected Crop... Caption: Description: curzon ashton Agency: GETTY IMAGES Artist: Edit... Delete “It means so much to us a club,” says their CEO Natalie Atkinson. “The FA Cup is enabling us, through prize money, funds gained and TV money to work with the FA and football foundations to replace our 3G pitch next to the stadium.” Curzon Ashton, currently 15th in the National League North, lost 4-3 to AFC Wimbledon in December, conceding four goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. The prize for qualifying for the second round was £27,000, in addition to £18,000 earned from the first round. Those sucker-punch goals prevented a windfall of £67,500 for making it to third round. However, thanks to the wonder of television money, the club received more for their defeat to Wimbledon than they would have if they’d won a non-televised second round match. There's more on the article, if you fancy clicking on it. 6:30PM The magic of the cup This most holy of trophies always produces magical moments and even if a guilty few/most don't pay attention to the competition until their team is involved, those matches between minnows of the lower leagues and giants of... in this case, League One, are always thoroughly enjoyable. Sutton are looking to make a lot more money from another (pie free) run at the cup this year, Accrington Stanley's involvement will be upping the YouTube view count on this milk advert, and today is the first time I have ever heard of Gainsborough Trinity. Perhaps they will become my new favourite non-league - maybe they'll be yours! It all depends who has to play who - and which of those games the people in charge at BBC decide to broadcast... 6:15PM Good evening! Hello there sports fans. Welcome to our live coverage of what is sure to be a riveting FA Cup first round draw. The action will kick-off at 7:10pm and we'll keep you up to date with the draw as it happens. For right now, that wait should give you time to look at all the nice photographs of that weird looking sun from earlier today. It was like being in Blade Runner. 6:09PM Preview What is it? It's the draw for the first round proper of the FA Cup: the oldest competition in world football. The first round sees the 48 teams from League One and League Two joined by 32 non-league sides. When is it? Monday October 16. What time is it? The draw itself will begin at 7:10pm on Monday evening. The first round of the FA Cup will take place on Saturday November 4 Credit: AP What TV channel is it on? The draw will be broadcast live on both BBC Two and BT Sport. Mark Chapman will present the BBC's coverage of the draw in half-hour long episode from 7pm, while BT Sport 3's show will also begin at 7pm. When will the matches take place? The first round will take place over the weekend of Friday November 3 to Monday 6 November 2017 Who's in the hat? Sutton United made it to the fifth round of the FA Cup last season Credit: Getty Images Three teams from the eighth tier of English football are among the non-league teams in the hat for the first round. Hyde United, who play in the Northern Premier League, beat Scarborough Athletic on Sunday afternoon to book their place in the competition. Hampton and Richmond, who are coached by Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, failed in their bid to reach the FA Cup proper after losing to National League South rivals Truro City. Truro's 2-0 victory over their league rivals means they become the first Cornwal team to reach the FA Cup first round since 1969. Billericay Town, whose current players include Jamie O'Hara, Paul Konchesky and Jermaine Pennant, will also take their place in the draw. FA Cup first round numbers 1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY 2 AFC WIMBLEDON 3 BARNET 4 BLACKBURN ROVERS 5 BLACKPOOL 6 BRADFORD CITY 7 BRISTOL ROVERS 8 BURY 9 CAMBRIDGE UNITED 10 CARLISLE UNITED 11 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 12 CHELTENHAM TOWN 13 CHESTERFIELD 14 COLCHESTER UNITED 15 COVENTRY CITY 16 CRAWLEY TOWN 17 CREWE ALEXANDRA 18 DONCASTER ROVERS 19 EXETER CITY 20 FLEETWOOD TOWN 21 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 22 GILLINGHAM 23 GRIMSBY TOWN 24 LINCOLN CITY 25 LUTON TOWN 26 MANSFIELD TOWN 27 MILTON KEYNES DONS 28 MORECAMBE 29 NEWPORT COUNTY 30 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 31 NOTTS COUNTY 32 OLDHAM ATHLETIC 33 OXFORD UNITED 34 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 35 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 36 PORT VALE 37 PORTSMOUTH 38 ROCHDALE 39 ROTHERHAM UNITED 40 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 41 SHREWSBURY TOWN 42 SOUTHEND UNITED 43 STEVENAGE 44 SWINDON TOWN 45 WALSALL 46 WIGAN ATHLETIC 47 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 48 YEOVIL TOWN 49 TRANMERE ROVERS 50 SOLIHULL MOORS OR OSSETT TOWN 51 HARTLEPOOL UNITED 52 SHAW LANE ASSOCIATION 53 CHORLEY OR BOSTON UNITED 54 AFC TELFORD UNITED 55 GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 56 NANTWICH TOWN OR KETTERING TOWN 57 GATESHEAD 58 GUISELEY 59 AFC FYLDE 60 KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 61 HYDE UNITED 62 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 63 BRACKLEY TOWN OR BILLERICAY TOWN 64 DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE OR LEYTON ORIENT 65 HEREFORD 66 ALDERSHOT TOWN 67 BATH CITY OR CHELMSFORD CITY 68 OXFORD CITY 69 MAIDENHEAD UNITED 70 HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 71 WOKING OR CONCORD RANGERS 72 TRURO CITY 73 DOVER ATHLETIC OR BROMLEY 74 SLOUGH TOWN 75 DARTFORD 76 BOREHAM WOOD 77 MAIDSTONE UNITED OR ENFIELD TOWN 78 LEATHERHEAD 79 SUTTON UNITED 80 EAST THURROCK UNITED OR EBBSFLEET UNITED
FA Cup first round draw: Hyde United (eighth tier) host MK Dons
7:28PM And that's the draw The excitement is over! No more balls will be drawn! Morecambe vs Hartlepool is pretty good, Doncaster will visit either East Thurrock or Ebsfleet. Hyde vs MK Dons is a brilliant tie for the minnows. I was really hoping for a Slough vs Swindon draw, purely for Office quotes. 7:25PM Eighth tier Hyde will play MK Dons! The crowd goes wild in the BBC studio as the draw is announced. That's the big club the players wanted. 7:24PM Lads, can we please have some music Or something. This draw is not one of the most exciting things I've ever seen on television. That Liverpool vs Man Utd game on Saturday was more entertaining. 7:21PM AFC Wimbledon vs Lincoln City AFC Wimbledon are one of the clubs to have benefited immensely from TV money brought by the FA Cup and they are drawn against Lincoln City. 7:19PM Some more fixtures for you Peterborough Utd v Tranmere Cambridge Utd v Sutton Utd Forest Green Rovers v Macclesfield Town AFC Fylde v Kidderminster Harriers Luton v Portsmouth Shrewsbury v Aldershot Hereford v AFC Telford Utd Guiseley v Accrington Stanley Blackburn Rovers v Barnet 7:16PM No huge match ups so far Bradford City v Chesterfield Port Vale v Oxford Utd Newport County v Walsall Morecambe v Hartlepool Utd 7:14PM And it's set of balls number eight And Lancelot is the FA Cup draw machine for tonight. What a hilarious National Lottery joke. And the first fixture is Stevenage vs Nantwich or Kettering. IT'S ALL KICKING OFF NOW, CLIVE. 7:12PM Your Davids, your Goliaths Hyde, Heybridge Swifts and Ossett Town are the lowest ranked teams in the competition, with all three occupying the eighth tier of English football. 7:10PM David Sharpe The Wigan chairman, grandson of Dave Whelan, fancies Wigan's chances this season. And now it's time for the draw! 7:05PM Who do the small teams want to get in the draw? According to a couple of Hyde football staff (manager and player), the management want to play against a team they can probably beat whereas the players want to draw Blackburn or Charlton - one of the 'big' clubs. Hyde actually own the record for biggest defeat in the FA Cup. A 26-0 hiding (see what I did) by Preston North End. 7:00PM The live coverage begins! Here we go. The draw is being held at Hyde United's ground. Look how cool their sun was earlier: Red sun today. FA Cup draw at Hyde United. Is that an omen. #EmiratesFACuppic.twitter.com/LoZ27mZjKW— Hyde United FC (@hydeunited) October 16, 2017 6:47PM The difference the FA Cup actually makes I wrote this in January about just how much an FA Cup run is worth to a small club. It turns out the answer is everything. The FA awards a prize of £1.8million to the winners of the competition, the kind of short-change a Champions League club might use as a sweetener for a promising youth prospect’s signing-on fee. For non-league side Curzon Ashton just qualifying for the second round of the competition will, and has, had an enormous impact. Image Landscape Portrait Square Original/Custom Edit Selected Crop... Caption: Description: curzon ashton Agency: GETTY IMAGES Artist: Edit... Delete “It means so much to us a club,” says their CEO Natalie Atkinson. “The FA Cup is enabling us, through prize money, funds gained and TV money to work with the FA and football foundations to replace our 3G pitch next to the stadium.” Curzon Ashton, currently 15th in the National League North, lost 4-3 to AFC Wimbledon in December, conceding four goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. The prize for qualifying for the second round was £27,000, in addition to £18,000 earned from the first round. Those sucker-punch goals prevented a windfall of £67,500 for making it to third round. However, thanks to the wonder of television money, the club received more for their defeat to Wimbledon than they would have if they’d won a non-televised second round match. There's more on the article, if you fancy clicking on it. 6:30PM The magic of the cup This most holy of trophies always produces magical moments and even if a guilty few/most don't pay attention to the competition until their team is involved, those matches between minnows of the lower leagues and giants of... in this case, League One, are always thoroughly enjoyable. Sutton are looking to make a lot more money from another (pie free) run at the cup this year, Accrington Stanley's involvement will be upping the YouTube view count on this milk advert, and today is the first time I have ever heard of Gainsborough Trinity. Perhaps they will become my new favourite non-league - maybe they'll be yours! It all depends who has to play who - and which of those games the people in charge at BBC decide to broadcast... 6:15PM Good evening! Hello there sports fans. Welcome to our live coverage of what is sure to be a riveting FA Cup first round draw. The action will kick-off at 7:10pm and we'll keep you up to date with the draw as it happens. For right now, that wait should give you time to look at all the nice photographs of that weird looking sun from earlier today. It was like being in Blade Runner. 6:09PM Preview What is it? It's the draw for the first round proper of the FA Cup: the oldest competition in world football. The first round sees the 48 teams from League One and League Two joined by 32 non-league sides. When is it? Monday October 16. What time is it? The draw itself will begin at 7:10pm on Monday evening. The first round of the FA Cup will take place on Saturday November 4 Credit: AP What TV channel is it on? The draw will be broadcast live on both BBC Two and BT Sport. Mark Chapman will present the BBC's coverage of the draw in half-hour long episode from 7pm, while BT Sport 3's show will also begin at 7pm. When will the matches take place? The first round will take place over the weekend of Friday November 3 to Monday 6 November 2017 Who's in the hat? Sutton United made it to the fifth round of the FA Cup last season Credit: Getty Images Three teams from the eighth tier of English football are among the non-league teams in the hat for the first round. Hyde United, who play in the Northern Premier League, beat Scarborough Athletic on Sunday afternoon to book their place in the competition. Hampton and Richmond, who are coached by Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, failed in their bid to reach the FA Cup proper after losing to National League South rivals Truro City. Truro's 2-0 victory over their league rivals means they become the first Cornwal team to reach the FA Cup first round since 1969. Billericay Town, whose current players include Jamie O'Hara, Paul Konchesky and Jermaine Pennant, will also take their place in the draw. FA Cup first round numbers 1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY 2 AFC WIMBLEDON 3 BARNET 4 BLACKBURN ROVERS 5 BLACKPOOL 6 BRADFORD CITY 7 BRISTOL ROVERS 8 BURY 9 CAMBRIDGE UNITED 10 CARLISLE UNITED 11 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 12 CHELTENHAM TOWN 13 CHESTERFIELD 14 COLCHESTER UNITED 15 COVENTRY CITY 16 CRAWLEY TOWN 17 CREWE ALEXANDRA 18 DONCASTER ROVERS 19 EXETER CITY 20 FLEETWOOD TOWN 21 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 22 GILLINGHAM 23 GRIMSBY TOWN 24 LINCOLN CITY 25 LUTON TOWN 26 MANSFIELD TOWN 27 MILTON KEYNES DONS 28 MORECAMBE 29 NEWPORT COUNTY 30 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 31 NOTTS COUNTY 32 OLDHAM ATHLETIC 33 OXFORD UNITED 34 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 35 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 36 PORT VALE 37 PORTSMOUTH 38 ROCHDALE 39 ROTHERHAM UNITED 40 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 41 SHREWSBURY TOWN 42 SOUTHEND UNITED 43 STEVENAGE 44 SWINDON TOWN 45 WALSALL 46 WIGAN ATHLETIC 47 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 48 YEOVIL TOWN 49 TRANMERE ROVERS 50 SOLIHULL MOORS OR OSSETT TOWN 51 HARTLEPOOL UNITED 52 SHAW LANE ASSOCIATION 53 CHORLEY OR BOSTON UNITED 54 AFC TELFORD UNITED 55 GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 56 NANTWICH TOWN OR KETTERING TOWN 57 GATESHEAD 58 GUISELEY 59 AFC FYLDE 60 KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 61 HYDE UNITED 62 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 63 BRACKLEY TOWN OR BILLERICAY TOWN 64 DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE OR LEYTON ORIENT 65 HEREFORD 66 ALDERSHOT TOWN 67 BATH CITY OR CHELMSFORD CITY 68 OXFORD CITY 69 MAIDENHEAD UNITED 70 HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 71 WOKING OR CONCORD RANGERS 72 TRURO CITY 73 DOVER ATHLETIC OR BROMLEY 74 SLOUGH TOWN 75 DARTFORD 76 BOREHAM WOOD 77 MAIDSTONE UNITED OR ENFIELD TOWN 78 LEATHERHEAD 79 SUTTON UNITED 80 EAST THURROCK UNITED OR EBBSFLEET UNITED
Paul Merson has invited ridicule once again for his latest comments. The Sky Sports pundit and former Arsenal midfielder believes Arsene Wenger could land the Premier League title again at Arsenal - if he had Harry Redknapp's tactical nous. Merson played under both Wenger and Redknapp during his career at Arsenal and Portsmouth, but believes the Englishman deserves more credit for his managerial abilities. "People say he's a wheeler-dealer and it's so disrespectful," Merson says in an episode of Sky One's panel show A League Of Their Own. "Tactically, he's one of the best I've worked with. If Arsene Wenger had Harry Redknapp's tactical nous, Arsenal would win the league." Merson played under Redknapp at Portsmouth While Wenger has recently celebrated his 21st anniversary at the north London club, Redknapp is out of work again having been sacked by Championship side Birmingham last month. Redknapp resided over six straight defeats in all competitions and lasted less than five months in charge at St Andrew's. Merson, however, remembers fondly one match where Redknapp's influence changed the course of one particular match. It was at Crystal Palace back in 2002/03, a season that Portsmouth went on to win the Championship as 33/1 outsiders that stays with Merson. "We won our first game at home and I thought we'd be alright and then went to Crystal Palace. We were 2-0 down at half-time and it could've been 10-0. I thought 'what have I done coming here - this is going to be embarrassing.' "Harry came in at half-time and took three men off, put three at the back, five in midfield with three rolling attackers and we won 3-2. "That's when I knew he was a great manager." Merson, meanwhile, is set for a return to football on the pitch with Welsh fourth-tier side Caerau. The club are awaiting international clearance for the 49-year-old to appear against Pontyclun next Wednesday, October 18. Caerau secretary Dai Hooper got to know Merson at a function several years ago and texted the former Walsall manager to enquire about his services. When asked in an interview on BBC about Merson's match fitness, Hooper replied: "He's looking okay on the box (television)."
Paul Merson claims Arsenal would win league title with Harry Redknapp's 'tactical nous'
Paul Merson has invited ridicule once again for his latest comments. The Sky Sports pundit and former Arsenal midfielder believes Arsene Wenger could land the Premier League title again at Arsenal - if he had Harry Redknapp's tactical nous. Merson played under both Wenger and Redknapp during his career at Arsenal and Portsmouth, but believes the Englishman deserves more credit for his managerial abilities. "People say he's a wheeler-dealer and it's so disrespectful," Merson says in an episode of Sky One's panel show A League Of Their Own. "Tactically, he's one of the best I've worked with. If Arsene Wenger had Harry Redknapp's tactical nous, Arsenal would win the league." Merson played under Redknapp at Portsmouth While Wenger has recently celebrated his 21st anniversary at the north London club, Redknapp is out of work again having been sacked by Championship side Birmingham last month. Redknapp resided over six straight defeats in all competitions and lasted less than five months in charge at St Andrew's. Merson, however, remembers fondly one match where Redknapp's influence changed the course of one particular match. It was at Crystal Palace back in 2002/03, a season that Portsmouth went on to win the Championship as 33/1 outsiders that stays with Merson. "We won our first game at home and I thought we'd be alright and then went to Crystal Palace. We were 2-0 down at half-time and it could've been 10-0. I thought 'what have I done coming here - this is going to be embarrassing.' "Harry came in at half-time and took three men off, put three at the back, five in midfield with three rolling attackers and we won 3-2. "That's when I knew he was a great manager." Merson, meanwhile, is set for a return to football on the pitch with Welsh fourth-tier side Caerau. The club are awaiting international clearance for the 49-year-old to appear against Pontyclun next Wednesday, October 18. Caerau secretary Dai Hooper got to know Merson at a function several years ago and texted the former Walsall manager to enquire about his services. When asked in an interview on BBC about Merson's match fitness, Hooper replied: "He's looking okay on the box (television)."
Paul Merson has invited ridicule once again for his latest comments. The Sky Sports pundit and former Arsenal midfielder believes Arsene Wenger could land the Premier League title again at Arsenal - if he had Harry Redknapp's tactical nous. Merson played under both Wenger and Redknapp during his career at Arsenal and Portsmouth, but believes the Englishman deserves more credit for his managerial abilities. "People say he's a wheeler-dealer and it's so disrespectful," Merson says in an episode of Sky One's panel show A League Of Their Own. "Tactically, he's one of the best I've worked with. If Arsene Wenger had Harry Redknapp's tactical nous, Arsenal would win the league." Merson played under Redknapp at Portsmouth While Wenger has recently celebrated his 21st anniversary at the north London club, Redknapp is out of work again having been sacked by Championship side Birmingham last month. Redknapp resided over six straight defeats in all competitions and lasted less than five months in charge at St Andrew's. Merson, however, remembers fondly one match where Redknapp's influence changed the course of one particular match. It was at Crystal Palace back in 2002/03, a season that Portsmouth went on to win the Championship as 33/1 outsiders that stays with Merson. "We won our first game at home and I thought we'd be alright and then went to Crystal Palace. We were 2-0 down at half-time and it could've been 10-0. I thought 'what have I done coming here - this is going to be embarrassing.' "Harry came in at half-time and took three men off, put three at the back, five in midfield with three rolling attackers and we won 3-2. "That's when I knew he was a great manager." Merson, meanwhile, is set for a return to football on the pitch with Welsh fourth-tier side Caerau. The club are awaiting international clearance for the 49-year-old to appear against Pontyclun next Wednesday, October 18. Caerau secretary Dai Hooper got to know Merson at a function several years ago and texted the former Walsall manager to enquire about his services. When asked in an interview on BBC about Merson's match fitness, Hooper replied: "He's looking okay on the box (television)."
Paul Merson claims Arsenal would win league title with Harry Redknapp's 'tactical nous'
Paul Merson has invited ridicule once again for his latest comments. The Sky Sports pundit and former Arsenal midfielder believes Arsene Wenger could land the Premier League title again at Arsenal - if he had Harry Redknapp's tactical nous. Merson played under both Wenger and Redknapp during his career at Arsenal and Portsmouth, but believes the Englishman deserves more credit for his managerial abilities. "People say he's a wheeler-dealer and it's so disrespectful," Merson says in an episode of Sky One's panel show A League Of Their Own. "Tactically, he's one of the best I've worked with. If Arsene Wenger had Harry Redknapp's tactical nous, Arsenal would win the league." Merson played under Redknapp at Portsmouth While Wenger has recently celebrated his 21st anniversary at the north London club, Redknapp is out of work again having been sacked by Championship side Birmingham last month. Redknapp resided over six straight defeats in all competitions and lasted less than five months in charge at St Andrew's. Merson, however, remembers fondly one match where Redknapp's influence changed the course of one particular match. It was at Crystal Palace back in 2002/03, a season that Portsmouth went on to win the Championship as 33/1 outsiders that stays with Merson. "We won our first game at home and I thought we'd be alright and then went to Crystal Palace. We were 2-0 down at half-time and it could've been 10-0. I thought 'what have I done coming here - this is going to be embarrassing.' "Harry came in at half-time and took three men off, put three at the back, five in midfield with three rolling attackers and we won 3-2. "That's when I knew he was a great manager." Merson, meanwhile, is set for a return to football on the pitch with Welsh fourth-tier side Caerau. The club are awaiting international clearance for the 49-year-old to appear against Pontyclun next Wednesday, October 18. Caerau secretary Dai Hooper got to know Merson at a function several years ago and texted the former Walsall manager to enquire about his services. When asked in an interview on BBC about Merson's match fitness, Hooper replied: "He's looking okay on the box (television)."
Soccer Football - League One - Walsall vs Shrewsbury Town - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - October 7, 2017 Walsall fan gestures Action Images/Jason Cairnduff EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
League One - Walsall vs Shrewsbury Town
Soccer Football - League One - Walsall vs Shrewsbury Town - The Banks's Stadium, Walsall, Britain - October 7, 2017 Walsall fan gestures Action Images/Jason Cairnduff EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

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