20
Aug

Man gets Man U tattoo because his name is already “Mr. Manchester United”

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Quite possibly the nuttiest football fan in the world, “Mr. Manchester United” — yes, that is his actual, legal name — now has United’s club badge tattooed on his forehead.

Our sources say that Mr. Manchester United got the tattoo out of fear nobody knew exactly just how big his love for Manchester United really was….

In all seriousness, the fan did offer an explanation for this to The Sun, and it is hilarious:

'The tattoo's my ID card,' he said. 'People don't look at me in a funny way, they look in admiration.' 'Now, whenever someone asks my name, I point to my forehead and smile. It makes me stand out and proves my loyalty to United,' he added.

Earlier this year, Zdravkov Levidzhov won a 15-year legal battle to change his name to Mr. Manchester United.

Mr. United drew inspiration for his name - and life - change after watching the Red Devils’ victory over Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final… on TV. (He wasn’t even there? Some fan!)

Oh, and his cat’s name is “David Beckham.” Of course it is.

(H/T and Image: The Sun)

14
Aug

Bundesliga lowers drawbridge to castle before German Super Cup showpiece

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DORTMUND, Germany —

A few weeks ago, the Bundesliga invited FOX Sports to a two-night stay in the heart of Germany ahead of the German Super Cup. Having already booked my vacation in Germany for August just days earlier, I “sacrificed” myself for the good of the team. “Fine, boss, I’ll extend my stay in the country of my birth for two extra weeks. You totally owe me.”

After a brisk 14-hour journey from Los Angeles to Dusseldorf, I was greeted by our soon-to-be partners from the Bundesliga at the Hyatt Regency, a fancy hotel right on the Rhine. A couple hours later, we crossed a bridge over the Rhine for a nice dinner with former Germany internationals Jens Lehmann and Christoph Metzelder. Both played for Borussia Dortmund for several years and won a championship together in 2002, and here they were chatting with us for several hours over life lessons, cuisine and football.

Naturally, Lehmann commanded most of the table’s attention. He discussed at length the performance of goalkeepers at the World Cup and what made Manuel Neuer “the only truly world-class goalie today.” “The very best keepers,” he said, “they act, instead of react.” Anyone who saw Neuer play in Brazil this summer will know what Lehmann meant by this.

When I asked him to rate Tim Howard’s performance, Lehmann lauded the United States No. 1 for his record night against Belgium, but also said he was poor against Germany, blaming him for the lone goal of the match. Howard parried the shot straight to Thomas Muller — who buried the rebound — than out and to the side, he remembered. Tough critic, that man. Unsurprisingly, he’s an analyst right now for German television

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Lehmann also gladly recounted tales of his days with Arsenal’s “The Invincibles.” He did not, mind you, care to discuss the night he received a straight red card against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Final in 2006 with me, his perfect record in penalty shootouts, or Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to drop Oliver Kahn in favor of him just weeks before the 2006 World Cup. “[Kahn] did not talk to me for four or five days after that,” Lehmann admitted with a sheepish smile.

And the fun didn’t stop there.

On Wednesday, I had an opportunity to meet, Christian Seifert, the longtime CEO of the Bundesliga, for a thorough presentation on what has made the German game so successful since the new millennium.

Seifert, as you would expect of a man in his position, was a remarkable speaker, with his heavy, amusing German accent shining through at times. Next to him on either side were the Bundesliga trophy — the “ugly salad bowl — and the FIFA World Cup. The real deals, in all their glory.

There were three main components to Seifert’s presentation; the Bundesliga’s ascendancy on the pitch, the economic stability of its clubs, and the extraordinary fan support and passion. They all combine to make the league as strong as it is today, he said.

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Several statistics jumped out at that may surprise some folks who don’t follow the league too much. For one, the Bundesliga’s recorded profit of €264 million in the 2012-13 season almost tripled that of the Premier League, which spends more than twice as much money on player salaries. A reason for this is German clubs rely much more on younger and cheaper homegrown talent — all part of the common strategy the clubs share with the German national team.

With an average attendance of over 43,500 fans per match, the Bundesliga is also the second-most attended sports league in the world, only behind the National Football League. And with 3.16 goals per game, it’s tops among the big five soccer leagues in Europe. These last two figures, specifically, explain why Seifert is so optimistic over the continued growth of his brand.  With FOX Sports securing its rights starting next season, there’s mutual excitement and an eagerness to work together to bring the Bundesliga to the mainstream American media.

After Seifert (and the trophies) posed for pictures, we were on to our next appointment. There was no time to waste as we had only several hours before the Wednesday’s German Super Cup final.

First, we stopped off at the BVB “Fan Welt,” a new, giant fan shop outside the stadium that we were told is “like the Amazon.com for Borussia Dormtund fans.” You could literally get everything there in black and yellow, including your own, personal BVB lawnmower. Yep.

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We then stopped by the BVB youth academy a couple of miles away, where club legend Lars Ricken greeted us. Ricken, who famously scored in Dortmund’s 1997 Champions League victory over Juventus on his very first touch of the bench, gave us a tour of the facilities, which included the revolutionary “Footbonaut,” a robot used to test player’s reaction time and pass accuracy.

Ricken demonstrated the amazing training tool for us. The robot itself is a cage consisting of several dozen squares and ball machines on all sides. Much like a pitching machine, balls are spit out at random and the player has only a split second to gather the ball and hit it at the square that lights up, also completely at random.

Finally, we made our way back to Signal Iduna Park to watch the German Super Cup between Dortmund and Bayern. We know how the match went by now — the hosts won the preseason fixture for a second year running by completely overpowering a Bayern Munich side that was still noticeably lacking in conditioning and pretty much every other department on the day. The Yellow Wall did it’s job, too. Chants of “Zieht den Bayern die Lederhosen aus!” (translation: Strip Bayern of their lederhosen) rang through the night, as well as the orchestra of whistles that serenaded Mario Goetze when he was substituted on in the second half.

After the match, our whole group returned back to the bus, exhausted but mostly thankful for such an incredible experience and two days of fun-filled events in the hotbed of German soccer.

Images provided by Thomas Hautmann / FOXSports.com

29
Jun

World Cup Day 17: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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What’s worse? The fact we won’t be seeing Mexico coach Miguel Herrera in action anymore, or the brutal way his side crashed out of the World Cup? Probably the former. 

The controversial call leading to El Tri’s elimination dominated the news cycle on Sunday, and for good reason. What else caught your eye on the second day of knockout round play? Check it out:

THE GOOD

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Costa Rica’s amazing Cinderella story continued with a penalty shootout victory against Greece, handing them their first-ever place in the World Cup quarterfinals. Los Ticos also became the first CONCACAF side to reach this stage since the United States in 2002. Not too shabby for a tiny country that Mike Tirico mistook for an island on ESPN’s live broadcast.

Not impressed? What if we put it this way:

Read More

9
Jun

Neymar makes young pitch invader’s day at Brazil training

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This lucky kid got to dribble next to Neymar. (Image: @fcb_OneTouch)

There may not be a more likable soccer star right now than Neymar Jr.

Brazil’s World Cup poster child saved a young pitch-invading fan from being taken away by security at the Selecao’s training session on Monday, and instead brought 8-year-old Bernardo Nunes over to meet his idols and snap some pictures.

Neymar has a history of doing this, too. In a March friendly against South Africa, the Barcelona forward came to the rescue of another young pitch invader, even getting his teammates to hoist the boy up in the air for a night he’ll never forget.

With acts of kindness like these, it’ll be hard for anyone to root against Neymar during this World Cup, especially with it being held in his home country.

18
Apr

Wolves win over Rotherham nearly abandoned because of pitch invasions

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Perhaps Wolverhampton fans should take lessons from Brentford fans on how to properly invade the pitch, because on Friday they almost cost their club the match for spending too much time on the field.

The Wolves defeated Rotherham in a wild 6-4 victory, but it wasn’t without frequent interruption.

The invasions started small…

…but slowly got more and more out of hand, and eventually resulted in two huge invasions in the final minutes of the match:

Luckily for the club and that obnoxious group of fans, the referee was incredibly patient, because the madness could have cost them the match.

Wolves have said they expect a fine, and condemned the fans, but let’s be honest: they’re just as excited as everyone who ran onto the pitch on Friday. After all, they’re going back to the Championship!

(H/T SB Nation)

10
Apr

Crawley Town defender in hot water after slapping fan

The Number 1 rule professional athletes must follow is about as simple as it gets, yet we see it broken way too many times:

Don’t. Hit. The fans.

Alas, the latest incident of an athlete getting into it with a fan comes courtesy of Crawley Town defender Paul Connolly. During a League One (Third Division) match at Brentford, the visitors looked to quickly re-start play with a throw-in when a home supporter chucked the ball rather forcefully at Connolly. The defender immediately lost his cool, visibly reaching into the stands to give him a slap in the face.

Though the referee took no action against Connolly at the time, we would be surprised if he doesn’t get a call from the Football Association. For his part, the culprit took to Twitter afterwards and tried to brush the whole thing off as much ado about nothing:

Yeah, not so sure the FA will look at it that way.

14
Dec

Fenerbahce plays match in front of women and children only

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Have you ever wondered what a football match looks like with no men in the stands? Well, Fenerbahce found out, and apparently it’s not a big deal. At all.

The Süper Lig leaders banned all male adults for one match after drawing all kinds of negative attention for their expletive-laced chants, but the absence of testosterone clearly didn’t affect the outcome. In fact, the fairer sex may even have helped Fenerbahce’s cause, as the home side ran out easy 4-0 winners against Akhisar Belediye on Friday.

Take a look at the incredible scenes below (image courtesy of 101GG):

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Still a larger crowd than half of the teams in Serie A can lay claim to.

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And to think, this wasn’t the first time that Fener hosted a match filled with just women and children. Back in 2011, Fener distributed free tickets before a friendly after the Turkish FA banned adult males in result of fan violence during a preseason match against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Respect!