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Everything you need to know about Malcom

“When Malcom is good, the team are good.” Find out more about Barcelona’s latest signing … 👇👇👇

Everything you need to know about Malcom

New Barcelona signing Malcom is 21 but, as UEFA.com learns, “he’s got an incredible amount of talent”.

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ICC World Cup 2011: Hail Virat Kohli, Future India Captain

India thrashed Bangladesh in the opening game of ICC World Cup 2011, after Shakib Al Hasan offered India a suicidal invitation to bat on the deadest of batting strips at Mirpur.

India piled up 370/4 on the back of Sehwag’s (175) and Kohli’s (100) tons. After the needless run out of Tendulkar who was just beginning to get into his stride, when the score was 69, in the eleventh over, Sehwag was joined by Gambhir, and the pair put on 83 for the second wicket before the left-hander perished, clean bowled by Mahmudulla.

In came Virat Kohli, and his initial slow scoring did not prepare us for what was to come. Sehwag and Kohli remained unseparated till the 48th over, and when Sehwag was out playing on against Shakib, India had reached a more-than-healthy 355/3, with 15 balls remaining in the innings.

Kohli was approaching his hundred and that was a reason for Sehwag’s slowing down his run rate, looking for singles to give his young partner the strike rather than his customary fours and sixes which would have helped him surpass Sachin Tendulkar’s highest ODI mark of 200, quite easily. But Sehwag, who is a team man to the core and does not care too much for records, did not show any apparent regret on getting out. After the match, he revealed that he had not thought about the double century at all.

Yusuf Pathan was promoted up the order and kept the strike rotating as Kohli drew closer to the three-figure mark. As it transpired, the young man reached his destination in the last over of the innings, a thoroughly deserved century by a run-hungry who was not certain of finding a place in the first eleven. Kohli’s knock in the practice game against New Zealand must have changed Dhoni’s mind, as the India skipper had hinted at replacing Raina with Kohli, after the match with the Kiwis.

This was Kohli’s fifth century in 46 ODIs. The 22-year old right-hander stormed into prominence when he led India to the U-19 World Cup title in 2007. The manner of his innings against Bangladesh revealed the maturity of this youngster who has scored 1,772 runs in 46 matches @ 49.22.

Amazingly, Kohli’s second innings average is 59.85, including three tons, two of those coming when the target exceeded 280. His brilliant fielding and ability to fill in as a part-time medium pace bowler make Kohli a great find of recent times.

And his maturity beyond his years, first demonstrated as captain of the U-19 world cup winning team, leads me to predict that here’s a future India captain in the making.

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Soccer Fixture: Chelsea Versus Arsenal

Chelsea and Arsenal met in the First Division of the Football League at Stamford Bridge for the first time on the 9th November, 1907 – 30 years after the stadium had first been opened for use by the London Athletic Club. Chelsea won 2.1 with both goals scored by George Hilsdon. Arsenal’s reply came from Charlie Satterthwaite.

George Hilsdon was the first player to score 100 goals for Chelsea and a weather vane modelled on him can still be seen at Stamford Bridge. Legend has it that Chelsea will suffer ‘great misfortune’ if it is ever removed, as it was during ground works in the late 1970’s when Chelsea were in financial and football decline. Hilsdon was the victim of a gas attack on the Western Front in WWI and never played professional football again, dying in 1941. His grave is unmarked.

This first match was watched by a then record crowd for England’s top division: 65,000. Arsenal were still known as and based at Woolwich Arsenal at the time but they had a huge away following for this match due to it also being the 66th birthday of King Edward VII. The munitions factory – where many of the workers who followed the club were based – was closed for the day, hence they were free to travel to West London.

In fact, Arsenal could have been more local rivals of Chelsea than Tottenham Hotspur. A local businessman – Henry Norris – had a significant role in the development of both clubs. Amassing a fortune from property Norris became a Director and then Chairman of Fulham. Another Edwardian businessman called Henry – Henry Augustus Mears – had acquired Stamford Bridge with a view to it becoming one of the finest venues for association football in the capital if not the whole country. He offered Norris the chance to move Fulham FC to the ground but Norris refused to pay the annual rent of some £1500 and so Mears created his own team – Chelsea FC – in 1905. Had Norris not been so careful with his money, there might not have been a Chelsea football club at all.

Five years later Norris, still Chairman of Fulham became a majority shareholder of Woolwich Arsenal which had gone into voluntary liquidation. Becoming Chairman of that London club too, Norris proposed merging them with Fulham to form a super-club. The move was blocked by the Football League and so Chelsea and Fulham remained local rivals rather than Chelsea and Arsenal.

This match between the two teams in 1907 was the first ever to be played by two London clubs in the First Division and so the first major ‘London derby.’ All subsequent league meetings between the two sides to date have been in the top tier of English football (the old First Division and now the Premier League).

Woolwich Arsenal got their revenge the following season with a 2.1 win on 28th November, 1908 – Chelsea’s goal coming from George Hilsdon again. The Gunners won on Chelsea turf in the season after that as well, before the first draw – 1.1 – in this league fixture on 15th February, 1913. This was the last time the two sides met before Woolwich Arsenal moved to Highbury and changed their name to Arsenal.

Indeed, after that win in their first meeting, Chelsea did not win the fixture again until 13th December, 1919 when they won 3.1 with goals from Robert McNeil, John Cock and Henry Ford in front of a huge post-war crowd of 60,000.

The fixture on 12th October, 1935 was played in front of another enormous crowd: 82,905, which was the second highest recorded attendance for an English league match. It finished in a 1.1 draw. Joseph Bambrick scored for Chelsea and Jack Crayston for Arsenal.

Arsenal’s record league win at Stamford Bridge came in front of 74,667 football fans on 29th November, 1930 – a 5.1 victory, with David Jack scoring a hat-trick as Arsenal moved closer to their first League Championship win and domination of English football in the 1930s. They scored five times again on 24th November, 1934 – in a 5.2 victory this time – with legendary Arsenal centre-forward Ted Drake scoring four of Arsenal’s goals. Drake would go on to manage Chelsea in 1952 and was largely responsible for changing their nickname from The Pensioners to The Blues.

The Gunners also scored five goals in a 5.3 win on 29th October, 2011 with Robin Van Persie scoring a hat-trick for the victors.

Chelsea’s largest win in the fixture came in a 6.0 win in the Premier League on 22nd March, 2014 which was also Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger’s 1000th game in charge. This is the highest number of goals Chelsea have scored against Arsenal in a league fixture at Stamford Bridge and also represented the biggest margin of victory by The Blues. Oscar scored two goals that day alongside one each from Samuel Eto’o, Andre Schurrle, Eden Hazard and Mohamed Salah in front of an attendance of 41,614.

The sides are neck and neck in terms of wins in this fixture. In the years when Chelsea have gone on to win the League Title they have never lost at home to their rivals from North London, drawing the matches in the 1954/55 and 2004/05 seasons and winning each of them in 2005/06, 2009/10 and 2014/15.

For Arsenal, in the 13 seasons where they have finished as League Champions, they have only lost at Chelsea on two occasions (Chelsea were in the Second Division in the 1988/89 season so there was no fixture) – on 29th August, 1970 when Paddy Mulligan and John Hollins scored for Chelsea and Eddie Kelly got one back for Arsenal – and on 2nd February, 1991. Kerry Dixon and Graham Stuart scored for Chelsea that day with Alan Smith replying for Arsenal in front of a crowd of 29,094. This was the only league defeat of the season for George Graham’s Arsenal team and their first in 27 First Division matches, stretching back to a 2.0 loss at Luton Town on 21st April, 1990.

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Where Football Meets Mathematics

Math is all around us – at our works, homes and definitely in the sports and football predictions.

Frequently we find different connections between math and football, which are used by this game’s greatest specialists. Some of them are basics of the football predictions posted on this website.

The true football fans still remember the Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp and his masterpiece goals. Sports commentators describe him as a genius, who mastered the football game to perfection and possessing extremely accurate shot, but what is he saying about himself.

“When I played in Holland I always tried to hit the ball over the goalkeeper. People always questioned me about this. Why would I want to humiliate the goalkeeper or to demonstrate arrogance? But I always explain: When the goalkeeper leaves his post he makes the angle to it less but opens the space above it. What I do isn’t a show, it is mathematics.”

This advice came from the coach Louis Van Gaal, who teaches strategies for success in the match based on mathematical precision and order.

As his players state about him: Van Gaal isn’t one of those coaches who will repeat to them: “do this, do that”. He will leave the technical part to them, but he is a master of the tactical part and knows what should everyone do in order for the whole system to work properly.

“I hope that I know well the basics of math in football and try to apply them” – Ottmar Hitzfeld as coach of Bayern Munich in 2007.

Ottmar hizfield

Ottmar Hitzfeld graduated as a math teacher and now he is the most successful German football coach at club level. He won twice the FIFA award for best coach in the world and is one of the only three coaches who won the Champions League with two different teams.(Ernst Happel and Jose Mourinho are the other two).

Unlike most Germans, Hitzfeld carried his football career as a player in Switzerland.There he quickly arose as a top striker in the country, helping Basel win the championships in 1972 and 1973. While playing for the Swiss team, Hitzfeld graduated and received his diploma as teacher of mathematics and physical education.

We believe that we have found the next evidence proving that football is mathematics.

Hitzfeld is recognized for his managerial capabilities – the ability to control units in the team to work as one and to develop and apply different tactics. The coach is taught of perfectionism and he sticks to all the details that would lead his team to success. For example, as a coach of the Switzerland national team he led the players to train in specially selected mountain resort where it is estimated that the height above sea level is most favorable to the players to adapt to the specific conditions of South Africa.

Thus, estimating all the factors, Hitzfeld is following his main coaching philosophy – “The next match is the most important match and we must do everything to win.”

Bearing in mind the mathematical education of Hitzfeld, his numerous successes in the football are definitely not accidental, after all this is a game which is often described by specialists as a game of strategies.

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No Premier League Side in the Semi-Final of the Champions League! Is it a Sign of EPL’s Fall?

Firm followers of UEFA competitions and most especially the Champions League, can attest to the reality that there have been EPL sides in the semi-final of the champions league for the previous six seasons i.e. 2003-2009.

In the past six seasons, EPL sides regular in the champions league (Liverpool FC, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC) have all some way featured in the semi-final of the champions league in the past six seasons, which made English and even foreigners marvel at their absence this season, in the semi-final of Europe’s elite club competition.

In 2005, Liverpool (the all red) and Chelsea (the true blues) locked horns in an entertaining semi-final with both sides led by managers who have managed his team for barely two seasons, Liverpool went on to win the encounter, after a closely contested semi-final match. Liverpool eventually emerged triumphant in that year’s Champions league, after defeating Ac-Milan in an epic final which saw one of the greatest comebacks in football history, 3-0 to 3-3 and then victory.

The proceeding year, Arsenal featured in both the Semi-final and final of the Champions league, to mark a turn-around in their footballing history, but were not so lucky to win the trophy after only qualifying for their first final match in the champions league. They battled with Barcelona in that year’s final, i.e. 2006 final, but got beaten by 2 goals to 1, with Jens Lehmann sent off in that match.

In 2007, Liverpool and Chelsea once again were drawn to do battle in the semi-final of the 2006/2007 season. With the first leg drawn to be played at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea had the opportunity of progressing, and they took full advantage of the home factor by defeating Liverpool by a lone goal after a highly contested fixture. At Anfield, Liverpool played with caution while also surging forward in search for the goal that will put them on level terms with Chelsea, luckily for Liverpool the goal came. A low cross from Steven “general” Gerard found an unmarked Daniel Agger, who sliced the ball through the bodies of Chelsea players and bang into the net early in the first half. Liverpool preserved the one goal lead even after 90 minutes until the extra time was over, then it was time for the ultimate decider; penalty kicks, Pepe Reina was the hero of the day as he saved the deciding spot kick to send Liverpool into the final for the second time in three seasons and a replay of 2005 final with AC-Milan, that dispatched Manchester United in the other semi-final clash by 5 goals to 3 on aggregate.

The final was a highly anticipated one, as two of Europe’s power houses in club football go head-to-head to decide the winner of the 2007 Champions League, eventually two Pippo Inzaghi goals, which made him the highest goal scorer in the Champions league, won Ac Milan the trophy for the seventh time in their footballing history.

The following year saw the best from English teams in the Champions League. All four English representatives made it to the quarter final, with three (Liverpool, after ousting Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United) out of the four progressing onto the semi-final, Liverpool were eventually dumped by fellow English team Chelsea. The progression of Chelsea into the final in 2008 was the first time they were playing in the Champions League’s final; they battled with Manchester United for the coveted trophy, matched United strength for strength, skill for skill, technique for technique, but were just unlucky to miss out in the spot kicks, as United went on to win their third and Sir Alex Ferguson’s second UEFA Champions League trophy, which also aided Cristiano Ronaldo in winning the world player of the year award.

The year 2009, saw a different football style displayed by a team. 2009 Champions League was won by Barcelona of Spain, after showing the footballing world how the game should be played; neat defending, accurate passing, and clinical finishing: characterized the play of Barcelona en-route to winning the trophy for the third time in their history, after triumphs in 1992 and 2006.

2010 came with a lot of promise for the English sides, after bright starts from all the sides in their respective groups; Liverpool won its first game against Debrecen at Anfield, by a lone goal scored by Dirk Kuyt, which made him the club’s third highest goal scorer in Europe with 12 goal to his name. Chelsea also won its first game against FC Porto by a lone goal scored Nicolas Anelka, in a dull encounter due to the water soaked pitch.

Manchester United didn’t do badly in its first game; same was the case for Arsenal, all the English representatives representing well to the delight of English stalwarts. Things started becoming shaky as the competition progressed further to its crucial stage. Liverpool were ousted very early in the competition, as they were ousted in the group phase, even before the last group game. The victory of Fiorentina over Olympique Lyonnais in the game before the last, meant Liverpool were forced to the Europa league were they have solace recently, making an impressive run to the semi-final, having not scored lower than three goals on aggregate in the previous rounds, i.e. round of 32, round of 16 and quarter final, which has earned them a clash with Athletico Madrid away in Spain.

Chelsea were next up for elimination, after a partly successful run in the group onto the round of 16. Chelsea had great scares during a few of their group phase games, Athletico Madrid away in Spain was one those, where they had to settle for a 2 all draw after going through Didier Drogba, only to see a Sergio Diego Aguero brace give Athletico the lead, but Drogba proved to be very clinical in finishing when he slotted his second past Athletico’s goal. The most surprising of Chelsea’s group phase result came on the last day of the group. Apoel Nicosia making only its debut in the Champions League held all conquering Chelsea, with a full first team squad, to a 2 all draw at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal had the most impressive group phase performance where they picked up 16 of the 18 available points in a group which consisted of Olympiakos, Standard Liege, and Az Alkmaar, which are low pedigree teams with frequent Champions League due to inability to make it through the preliminary.

Manchester United, I would say, had an indifferent group campaign. Had a great start, but flattered during the crucial mid games, needed the last game to confirm qualification but put threw any doubts into the thrash after a Michael Owen hat-trick cancelled out Edin Dzeko’s opening goal, for VFL Wolfsburg at Old Trafford.

With the progression of three tops teams from England into the round of 16, hopes and expectation were extremely high. The English teams, however, didn’t get the perfect draws, Chelsea were billed to face Inter-Milan, tutored by Jose Mourinho, Manchester United drawn to do battle with 7 times European champions, Ac-Milan, and Arsenal getting a re-match of the 2009 group game against Porto Fc, 2004 winners.

The first legs saw the English teams face real test of strength, skill and technique.

Manchester United were tested for all the mentioned above against Ac-Milan, first in Giuseppe Meazza, San Siro and then in Old Trafford, but then they emerged victorious on both legs, winning 7-2 on aggregate, with Wayne Rooney scoring four of the seven goals, i.e. 2 goals in each leg.

Arsenal had a similar situation, against Fc Porto, the Portuguese representatives giving them a good run for their money, most especially in Portugal, where the first leg was hosted, which Fc Porto won by 2 goals to 1, in a match which Porto’s second goal by Falcao, was a bit controversial, appearing to be an offside goal.

At Emirates stadium, Arsenal showed no mercy, firing 2 goals past Helton in goal for Porto in quick succession, and at half time, it was Arsenal 2 Porto 1. Porto started brightly in the second half of the game, attacking Arsenal from all angles of the pitch. As the game grew, Arsenal became for more confident, and began playing like the Arsenal we are use to watching in league games. Samri Nasri threw the Emirates into ecstasy, when he dribbled past three Porto defenders and slotted past helpless Helton, who tried to rush out to prevent the goal, but all to no avail. Super sub, Emmanuel Eboue, came on minutes later and sealed the victory, with a clean finish, after he outran the Porto defenders and was set up by Andre Arshavin, with only the keeper to beat, he rounded him neatly before netting Arsenal’s four to cap a fine performance from truly smoking gunners. Nicklas Bendtner, who had earlier netted 2 superb strikes, added a third to mark his first hat trick in his Arsenal career.

It wasn’t a bed of roses for Chelsea neither, as they had to suffer defeats in the hands of Inter-Milan on both legs, which put paid to their Champions League campaign. At the magnificent Giuseppe Meazza, Inter tested Chelsea for wits, work rate and technique, as both teams played out their lives to progress in the competition. Chelsea partly outplayed, but all the “ball possession” could not fetch them the win which they set out to achieve. The ball possession favoured Chelsea in the first leg match, but these were not translated into goals neither were they translated in the goal attempt, shot-on-goal, and so on. Of all the teams which started European campaign in September, Liverpool can be deduced to be the most disappointing of all, due to the fact that it was knocked out in the group phase.

Presently, there are only two English teams in European competition, Liverpool FC and Fulham FC and they both have interesting fixtures in the semi-final, having to face Athletico Madrid and Hamburg, respectively.

There is the possibility of an all English Europa league final, a feat which has not been achieved for over 6 seasons.

The absence of premier league teams In the semi-final of the champions league, in my own estimation, does not connote the fall of the premier league, rather the sole reason is the reality that we have come to face, which is the fact that teams form other countries have sat down and reviewed the methods of English teams, which they have applied, and it has worked magically and very effectively too.

English teams were neither totally outclassed, outpowered nor outplayed, but rather the element of luck was against them, and also the English teams have had a good run in the past, so let other teams enjoy same, so people won’t say the Champions league is an English competition. The English teams will rise up to take what’s rightfully theirs, which is the prestige it has earned over the years, a prestige which in my estimation, is in jeopardy considering the inability of making it to the semi-final of Europe’s elite club competition.

Upon this I settle, the absence of English teams in the semi-final of the champions league is by no means equal to the fall of the premier league, and besides which other league is so unpredictable as the premier league? A league where any team can beat any team, home or away; name the league.

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On Being a Fan – Why I Love West Bromwich Albion

I don’t really remember when I first became aware of football as a kid. It was just always there. Every scrap of wasteland was a pitch, every battered can a ball. WBA, Wolves and Villa graffiti was daubed on every pub car park wall and slashed into most of the red leather bus seats of the Midland Red fleet. In the Black Country, the heavily industrialised core of the West Midlands, football is totally tribal.

West Bromwich Albion were formed in 1880, one of the founder clubs of the first ever Football League, starting as the West Bromwich Strollers in 1878 formed by a dedicated group of manufacturing workers at the Salter Spring Works in West Bromwich. The club roots are therefore firmly knotted into the industrial heritage of the area and in its early years, workers from nearby heavy industry would flood through the turnstiles of the Hawthorns, their heavy industrial protective clothing giving rise to “the Baggies” tag which has been long used to refer to the club as well as the fans.

For me, football dominated childhood Saturdays during the season and talk was always of Albion. Legendary names like Jeff Astle and Ronnie Allen were as familiar as any other in the streets where I grew up. Our road was an ‘Albion road’ and all the scarves were navy and white. On home game Saturdays, garage doors would rise in unison and Ford Cortinas and Escorts would be reversed in formation before the mass driving over to West Bromwich to the ground we Albion fans now call “The Shrine.” Even to this day, 30 odd years later, the sight of those Hawthorns’ floodlights still send a shiver down my spine, sending me hurtling back to the days when the team ran out to the old reggae tune ‘The Liquidator’ by the Harry J Allstars and Bryan Robson wore the Captain’s no 7 shirt.

West Brom in the veins. That’s how it always been. The emotional attachment you feel to your local football club especially when its been handed down the family line is hard to explain to non-fans, but you can never walk away and my God at times you want to run. Supporting “The Baggies” is not for the lily-livered. You have to be stoical, very stoical.

Albion are as big a part of my family as any of us. Dad and Grandad were big Albion fans and this was passed to me and my brother like the family name via striped DNA. At games today, I often think about Dad, back in the 50s, sat on the railway sleepers that were wedged into the bank that is now the Birmingham “Brummie” Road End watching his beloved Throstles after leaving his bike down “someone’s entry” close to the ground. And then there’s my much beloved Grandad, Daniel Nock, long gone, who stood opposite where I sit now, in flat cap and rainmac, cigar in hand at the Hawthorns of the 60s when Albion flew high, winning the League Cup in ’66 and the FA Cup in ’68. The ground gives me the strangest feeling of being ‘at home’ it sounds corny but its true. For me, there is something very special about that place and I know that essential feeling won’t fade.

When I was growing up, football was everything and everywhere. Saturday afternoons were spent at my Nan and Grandad’s in Blackheath. Nan and I would listen to the match on the radio, waiting for Dad, Grandad, my brother and champion onion growing twin neighbours Ernie and Ivan, to return from the match. If we won, and in the late 70s this was more often than not, Grandad would come charging through the back door armed with chips and tales of my childhood hero Cyrille Regis and total Albion legend Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown. These were the days when I was told I was too young to go and Dad forbid it absolutely. I therefore had to rely on my brother’s tales of his experiences of the Smethwick End stand. Stories which I held in awe, tales of the crush of the terraces and the sporadic violence that by then was rising in the English game, of bricks and coins being thrown across thinly segregated fans.

In the late 1970s, West Brom were quite the golden team and this was a great time to be a fan, a welcome distraction for many from the pains of a severe economic depression that was hitting the Black Country hard, with the old steel and manufacturing industries that had propped up our communities for a century or more, beginning to falter and break down. Football took on an even stronger role for local people needing a focus and an escape.

In 1979, WBA finished third in the Old Division 1 and qualified for European football. This was the flair team still feted by fans today and only in the last two seasons have we seen (with some joy) an Albion side rise to anywhere near their level. Albion then fielded three black players in the same team, something that was then totally unknown in English football – Cyrille Regis, Brendon Batson and the wonderfully gifted, sadly late, Laurie Cunningham. These incredibly talented footballers became known to fans as ‘The Three Degrees’ and acted as pioneers of black players in football, inspiring a generation.

Cyrille was and still is a tower of a man and is still hugely loved and admired by Albion fans. A superbly strong, powerful player, he was to become for many the true benchmark of everything a centre forward should be. Brave, big, fast and the scorer of some absolute thumping belters from distance and beyond. He didn’t get knocked down very often. In late 2011, I was lucky enough to meet Cyrille while he was collecting for charity outside the Hawthorns before a home game. It was wonderful to tell him he was my Albion hero and I nervously but proudly showed him the back of my shirt as proof, emblazoned as it was with ‘Regis 9″. He seemed very surprised to see a fan with his name emblazoned on a recent home shirt and was as gracious as I’d always imagined him to be. It was a great moment for that WBA loving kid that’s still very much me.

Players like Regis, Batson and Cunningham had to face down hideous racism just to do what they did best, week in, week out. There is a much viewed video of West Brom’s famous 1978, 5-3 victory over Man Utd at Old Trafford on You Tube. In the footage, you can clearly hear Laurie Cunningham in particular, being booed repeatedly by the Man Utd fans. It is undoubtedly due to the colour of his skin and unusually for the times is even mentioned by commentator Gerald Sinstadt who makes reference to the “repeated booing of the black players’. The skill shown by Cunningham as he cuts through the United’s midfield is breathtaking. He simply carries on regardless and is described by Sinstadt as “booed but unperturbed”, showing what a truly skilful and wonderful football player he was. All three of these players responded to racism in this way and let their football make their response to the ignorance and the mindless chants. To me and hordes of other fans, ‘the Three Degrees’ made our club that bit more special and we took them to our hearts.

In terms of the Albion story, the years that followed on from the success of the late 1970s were mixed and difficult for Baggies fans. My first ever league game was West Brom v Liverpool in February 1981. We won that game 2-0 against the then league champions with a Bryan Robson miraculous back heeled goal. I guess as a kid, I thought this was always how it was going to be. It didn’t work out quite like that. I had to wait thirty more years to sit and watch my club do something truly special, when I was lucky enough to watch Albion beat Arsenal at the Emirates in a Premier League game in September 2010. But it was worth the wait. It was a joy to hear Albion fans on the phone to their loved ones after the game shouting “I feel like we’ve won the Cup!”… other young fans in their 20s proudly proclaimed on Facebook “This is the best day of my life!” It seems ridiculous but I know what they mean. That day in 1981 in the old Rainbow Stand with my Dad with his packet soup packed tartan flask and mini pork pies was one of mine and I’ll never forget it.

In 1992, I persuaded my Dad to come with me to go and see the Albion together for the first time in years. By then they we were languishing in what was the old Division 3. The Hawthorns was tatty and attendance was poor. We were playing Leyton Orient and the performance was lack lustre to say the least. I remember feeling gutted to see the club on its knees after what we had been and I know it was even harder on my Dad who’d see the joyous days of Jeff Astle. But, I was still heartened by the singing of the Brummie Rd and Smethwick End stands and the fact that the hardcore of supporters had stuck with the club. At half time, I went and touched the grass of the Hawthorns pitch, no one seemed to care that I jumped the barrier. It wasn’t the wonderful flair football I’d watched Albion play as a kid but at least we’d scraped a draw. There were many ups and downs to follow – too many to catalogue here – as Albion were to be crowned the classic ‘yo yo’ club – with successive promotions and relegations stressing the hell out of Albion fans for season upon season.

I met one of Albion’s promotion winning bosses, Roberto di Matteo, at Wembley in August 2010. Albion had seen promotion back to the Premier League under Di Matteo during the 2009-2010 Championship season. My friend approached Di Matteo and brought him over to have a photograph with me ‘for my Dad’ as she told him. I remember greeting him mumbling something about being a West Brom fan, probably with the kind of face a Chilean miner might look at his rescuer. God knows what he thought but he obliged with good humoured grace, guess I was remembering that cold, dark day in November 1992 and being ever so grateful for what he and others like Ardilles and Megson and Roy Hodgson after him had brought back to our club.

In 2010, my annual WBA membership renewal came through with a promo leaflet from the club emblazoned with a picture of the Hawthorns and Jeff Astle and had the words, “You were born a Baggie and you’ve been part of the team ever since” written across it. At first I thought it was a bit cheesy then I was surprised that it brought half a tear to the eye, because it’s true enough. It is about belonging and this is what the local football clubs we love do for us.

The club I was ‘born’ into has sometimes been the bain of my life but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Blue and white striped veins, or “Albion ‘til I die”, that’s just the way it is.

I hope to God the days of 1992 are banished for ever, but if they came back I know I’ll still love the club and always will. But I’d moan and we do like a good moan when we get going. That’s why we’ll keep singing Psalm 23 whatever the score – you never know when you are going to need some help to get to those green pastures and quiet waters. To this day, I’ll never tire of hearing thousands sing ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’ in Black Country accents. It can be no coincidence that this is Albion’s football ‘hymn’ and you’ll hear it sung by fans at every match. If ever there was a hymn for the need for faith when you are facing the dark nights of the soul then this is it and my God there’s been a lot of those for us Albion fans. 3-0 up at half time, think you’re safe? Think again. Its what we call “typical bloody Albion” but try and make us stay away – we can’t. We are Albion.

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Wish a happy birthday to deadly Dutch duo Ruud van Nistelrooy & Patrick Kluivert…

Wish a happy birthday to deadly Dutch duo Ruud van Nistelrooy & Patrick Kluivert, born on the same day 42 years ago! 🎉🎂

If you had to pick one for your team, who would it be? 🤔








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Short Biography of Famous Soccer Player – Lothar Matthaus

His full name is Lothar Herbert Matthaus. He was born in Erlangen, West Germany on 21 March 1961. He is a German ex- soccer player and at this time manager, last managing Israeli club Maccabi Netanya. His playing position in the field is as an Attacking Midfielder or Defensive Midfielder.

Lothar Matthaus is one of the most successful players ever in world football. He began his career in a local club called FC Herzogenaurach. Matthaus made his World Cup first appearance in the 1982 tournament. He played the role as a midfield support player, appearing in a few games.

Lothar Matthaus was labeled European Footballer of the Year and World Soccer Player of the Year In 1990, after captaining West Germany to triumph in the 1990 World Cup. One year later, he was also entitled the first ever FIFA World Player of the Year.

He has played in five World Cups (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, and 1998) and holds the record for the most World Cup matches played (25 games). He won Euro 1980, and played in Euro 1984, Euro 1988, and Euro 2000. In 1999, he was again chosen German Footballer of the Year.

Matthaus is a member of the FIFA 100 – a list of 125 of the greatest living soccer players selected by Pelé.

In December 2002 Matthaus was signed by Partizan Belgrade. Matthaus attained the essential success and his bright moments came in August 2003 when Partizan beat Newcastle United in the 3rd qualifying round to get to the 2003/04 Champions League. Matthaus left his post at Partizan in December 2003 and signed becoming a coach for Hungarianry national team. Afterward, on 11 January 2006 Matthaus signed a one-year agreement to be a coach of Atletico Paranaense of Brazil. Matthaus was signed as coach of Red Bull Salzburg on May 19, 2006 in common with Trapatonni for the 2006/2007 season.

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A Short Biography of Famous Soccer Player – Carlos Tevez

Tévez is an Argentine professional soccer player who currently plays for English club Manchester City. His complete name is Carlos Alberto Tévez. He was born in Ciudadela, Buenos Aires, Argentina on 5 February 1984. He was raised in the neighbourhood of Ejército de Los Andes, better recognized as “Fuerte Apache”. So that, he gained the nickname is “El Apache”. In the field, he always plays as a Forward. Teves has made more than 50 caps for his national team of Argentina, making 11 goals.

Teves is presently considered as one of the most talented prospects to emerge from Argentina. Carlos Tevez is a skilled Argentina soccer player who has wonderful soccer abilities. He is a very spirited player. Bravery and Strength are the trademarks of his style. Akin to his colleague Lionel Messi, he has been named as the “new Diego Maradona”. Maradona him self described him as the “Argentine prophet for the 21st century”.

In club level, Teves has experienced playing for Boca Juniors (2001-2004), Corinthians (2004-2006), West Ham United (2006-2007), Manchester United (2007-2009), and Manchester City (2009 -). In 2008, after assisting the club of Manchester United won the UEFA Champions League, Teves made a controversial pronouncement to leave to Manchester City.

Carlos Teves has collected many honors and awards for his career as a professional soccer player. In club level, with Boca Juniors he won Primera División (2003 Apertura), Copa Libertadores (2003), Copa Sudamericana (2004), and Intercontinental Cup (2003). With Corinthians he won Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (2005). And with Manchester United he won Premier League (2007-08, 2008-2009), FA Community Shield (2008), UEFA Champions League (2007-2008), FIFA Club World Cup (2008), and Football League Cup (2008-2009).

In international level, he got Summer Olympics in 2004 and South American U-20 Championship in 2003. As individual player, some of his honors are Copa Libertadores (Most Valuable Player: 2003), Silver Olimpia (Argentine Footballer of the Year: 2003, 2004), Golden Olimpia (Argentine Sportsperson of the Year: 2004), Olympic Golden Boot (2004), CBF Campeonato Brasileiro (Best Player: 2005), Placar Bola de Ouro (2005), South American Footballer of the Year (2003, 2004, 2005), Hammer of the Year (2007), FA Premier League Player of the Month (2009), PFA Player of the Month (March 2010), Manchester City Official Supporter’s Player of the Year (2009-2010), and Manchester City Player’s Player of the Year (2009-2010).

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