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Aston Villa pay emotional tribute to Ugo Ehiogu before derby clash

Sports News 24th April 2017

Aston Villa pay emotional tribute to Ugo Ehiogu before derby clash with Birmingham as former club Rangers remember him at Hampden Park
• The football world has been paying tribute to Ugo Ehiogu following his death
• Ehiogu died on Friday after suffering a heart attack at Spurs’ training centre
• His name has been on the side of Wembley before the FA Cup semi-final
• There have been minute’s silences and applause at games throughout England
• Mauricio Pochettino labelled his death a ‘terrible and tragic moment for us’
• Former club Aston Villa paid an emotional tribute to Ehiogu on Sunday

Tributes have continued to pour in for Ugo Ehiogu, following his tragic death on Friday, with emotional scenes prior to former club Aston Villa’s clash with Birmingham City on Sunday.

The defender, who passed away on Friday morning after suffering a heart attack on Tottenham’s academy pitches the previous day, made his name at Villa Park where he won two League Cups and played in an FA Cup final during more than 300 appearances over nine years at the club.

Flowers, scarves and shirts were left outside the ground in tribute before kick-off of Villa’s clash with Birmingham, while an image of the former defender was held up by the club’s players and placed to the side of one of the goals before the game.

Once the two sides had emerged before kick-off, Ehiogu’s image was put on the big screens inside Villa Park with the words ‘Ugo Ehiogu 1972-2017’, just as it was at Wembley the previous day for Tottenham’s clash with Chelsea.

A minute’s applause was held as both sets of players, including managers Steve Bruce and Harry Redknapp, looked visibly emotional as they honoured the popular former defender.

Another of Ehiogu’s former club’s, Scottish giants Rangers, also remembered the defender before the start of their cup semi-final clash with Celtic, as fans held up a banner reading: ‘RIP Ugo Ehiogu – once a Ranger, always a Ranger’.

A one-year spell in Scotland saw Ehiogu play 12 times for the Ibrox club, with his only goal coming in dramatic circumstances as his stunning volley secured victory at Celtic in March 2011.

Tottenham and Chelsea paid an emotional tribute to Ugo Ehiogu during Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium after the former England defender died of a heart attack this week.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino revealed he was taking training on Friday when he was told Ehiogu, the club’s Under 23 coach, had passed away at the age of 44.

He said after their 4-2 defeat by Chelsea: ‘It was a big shock for all of us, we were on the training ground. It is a big impact because it was a person that was very close to us and in that moment, you realise that we are in real life.

‘We are fighting to play and win games but it is all relative after this type of situation and one more time I want to send my condolences to the family and friends and all the Tottenham family. It is a big loss for us.’

The words ‘Ugo Ehiogu 1972-2017’ were beamed onto the outside of the stadium facing Wembley before the match on Saturday and both sets of players wore black armbands as a mark of respect.

Both sets of supporters burst into spontaneous applause as the players gathered around the centre circle ahead of kick-off, with the Spurs fans also chanting his name in tribute.

The Tottenham end of the stadium also applauded in the 44th minute to reflect the age at which Ehiogu passed away.

Ehiogu collapsed on the club’s academy training pitches on Thursday and received immediate attention from the Spurs medical staff, but after paramedics rushed him to hospital he passed away in the early hours of Friday morning.

Pochettino paid tribute to Ehiogu, claiming his death at the age of 44 is a ‘big loss for us and all of the Tottenham family’.

Ehiogu collapsed on the club’s academy training pitches on Thursday and received immediate attention from the Spurs medical staff, but after paramedics rushed him to hospital he passed away in the early hours of Friday morning.

There was an outpouring of grief as the football world paid tribute to Ehiogu in the hours after news of his death was announced, with those tributes continuing on Saturday as games kicked-off up and down the country.

Many games were preceded by a moment to remember the former defender, with some club’s acting for silence and others honouring him with applause, with black armbands worn by players at all levels of the game.

At Wembley, where Chelsea played Tottenham, the screens outside the national stadium were dedicated to the four-cap England international.

Fans walking down Wembley Way towards the stadium saw the defender’s name written in black on a white background, in tribute to the man who has nurtured a generation of Tottenham’s young players.

Prior to kick-off, both sides took part in a minute’s applause as fans of Tottenham and Chelsea joined together with chants of ‘Ugo, Ugo, Ugo’ while an image of the former player was seen on both big screens.

The Tottenham players and manager Pochettino looked visibly emotional as tributes were paid to their former youth coach.

Elsewhere, a picture of Ehiogu was on the screens inside the London Stadium ahead of West Ham’s clash with Everton.

There was a poignant moment at Bournemouth, where a minute’s applause was held before the game, when Benik Afobe scored his side’s second goal of the afternoon against Middlesbrough.

The striker removed his black armband, kissed it, and held it to the sky in memory of Ehiogu.

Former Villa defender Ehiogu was honoured by his old club on Friday, with a tribute posted on the electronic screens outside Villa Park.

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N’Golo Kante crowned PFA Player of the Year 2017

Sports News 24th April 2017

N’Golo Kante crowned PFA Player of the Year 2017 after Chelsea midfielder enjoys another stunning season
• N’Golo Kante secured the most amount of votes from his fellow professionals
• Kante saw off competition from Eden Hazard and Harry Kane among others
• He is set to become the first player to win successive Premier League titles with two different clubs
• Dele Alli won the Young Player of the Year award for second consecutive year
• Beckham received PFA Merit award for achievements with England and United

N’Golo Kante has been voted the Professional Footballers’ Association player of the year.

The tireless midfielder, 26, has been central to Chelsea’s surge to the Premier League summit. The Frenchman, bought from Leicester for £32million in July, is on course to win back-to-back titles.

He secured the most votes from his peers, seeing off competition from team-mate Eden Hazard plus Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United, Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal.

Kante was presented with the award at the Grosvenor Hotel in London on Sunday evening.

He said: ‘To be chosen by the players to be player of the year means a lot to me.

‘It means the world to be chosen and it’s been two beautiful seasons, one with Leicester, and we are in good form with Chelsea. To be player of the year, it’s a great honour.’

On his move from Leicester to Stamford Bridge, Kante continued: ‘It’s a different type of playing, but with the manager, with the players, everything is easy, because we work a lot to be good in the games. It’s working very well.’

Asked about the influence of boss Antonio Conte, the former Boulogne and Caen player said: ‘He knows what he wants from the players.

‘He wants to win, and we work very, very, very hard in training for him. He put a winning mentality into the squad, and everyone wants to give their best for the team, and to make Chelsea win titles.’

The Blues are four points clear at the top of the Premier League and Paris-born Kante added: ‘We have to fight for six more games.

‘We’re going to fight like a final for every game, and hopefully we can win the league at the end of the season.’

Chelsea will also face Arsenal in the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 27 and, on talk of a double, he said: ‘We’re going to fight for both competitions.

‘The cup is just one game, and the league six games, and we’re going to give our best to win these two competitions.’

Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli won the Young Player prize for the second successive season, Manchester City’s Lucy Bronze won the Women’s Player of the Year award for the second time having also won it in 2014, and Birmingham’s Jess Carter topped the voting in the Women’s Young Player category.

Former England captain David Beckham received the PFA’s Merit award for his contribution to the game.

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Jurgen Klopp demands Liverpool to compete in ‘serious football’ in bid to seal Champions League place

Sports News 24th April 2017

Jurgen Klopp demands Liverpool to compete in ‘serious football’ in bid for seal Champions League place

• Liverpool suffered surprise slip-up in 2-1 defeat by Crystal Palace on Sunday
• Reds defeat opens door for Manchester United and Arsenal to move into top four
• Jurgen Klopp optimistic his side can bounce back in final four games
• Liverpool boss hints Adam Lallana could return for May Day clast at Watford

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he is vastly experienced at bouncing back from adversity but it remains to be seen whether his players can do the same.

A 2-1 defeat at home by Crystal Palace has dealt a significant blow to their Champions League qualification hopes as it opened the door for both Manchester United and Arsenal, with matches in hand, to catch them in the Premier League.

Suddenly the Merseyside club are taking a keener interest in this week’s two derby matches – in Manchester on Thursday and north London on Sunday.

A home win for Manchester City in midweek would take them above Liverpool into third but also deal a blow to United’s chances of overtaking Klopp’s side, while a Tottenham victory would make it more difficult for Arsenal to do the same.

Klopp remains optimistic but it is his players’ creaking confidence which will be tested, especially as they have to watch all the action unfold before playing at Watford on Monday.

‘I’m pretty much used to nothing more in my life than to get up after a knock. Nothing has happened more often to me than this, so that’s no problem,’ said the Reds boss.

‘I spoke to the boys after the game and told them that yes, it feels frustrating, it’s disappointing, we made these mistakes but that defeats always make sense.

‘You don’t like it but there’s a reason for them – not only what you did in the game, but also how you react after the game.

‘There is one month to go; one wonderful football month with four games, so we will not give up, 100 per cent not.

‘The boys have delivered a lot of this excitement, but now it’s really about serious football. Do what you have to do, and we will do.

‘Maybe Adam Lallana (out injured since the end of March) is coming back for the next game, which of course would help us in different situations and that’s good.

‘We have now five or six days to train until Watford, so we will use it and then go to Watford. It will not be easy (to win) but possible and that’s enough.’

Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum insists the spirit within the dressing room is still enough to secure a top-four spot.

‘(As long as) There’s a chance to qualify for the Champions League, we have to believe in it,’ he told liverpoolfc.com.

‘If you don’t believe you can reach it, it’s already done. We must have the confidence and stick together, helping each other out in moments like this.

‘We will fight for the Champions League spot. That’s the only thing we can do now. We can’t change this game any more, so we have to look forward.’

Palace boss Sam Allardyce celebrated his first league win at Anfield but will not be toasting guiding the club to Premier League survival until he is absolutely sure.

Historically their tally of 38 points, seven clear of the bottom three, is usually enough to secure top-flight status but he is taking nothing for granted yet.

‘Thirty-eight has been safe for a long time but we’re not mathematically safe yet,’ he said.

‘Five games to go, pick as many points up as we can and then – when we are mathematically safe – we will have a little celebration.’

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Neymar joins Messi and Suarez to recreate Barca star’s shirt celebration

Sports News 24th April 2017

Now you’re really rubbing it in! Neymar joins Messi and Suarez to recreate Barca star’s shirt celebration that taunted Real fans

Luis Suarez hails Barcelona star Lionel Messi as best ever.

Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi rubbed salt in the wounds of rivals Real Madrid by recreating the Argentine’s celebration the morning after Barcelona’s victory. Messi popped up with a dramatic last-gasp winner at the Bernabeu on Sunday night to seal a thrilling 3-2 La Liga victory. In the aftermath of that sensational goal in Madrid, Messi ripped off his shirt and showed it to the home fans as the jubilant Barca supporters celebrated.

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Vintage Messi snatches Clasico glory at the death

Sports News 24th April 2017

After surviving two-footed tackles and elbows, bloodied Barcelona star’s last-gasp strike wins thriller:
Vintage Messi snatches Clasico glory at the death: After surviving two-footed tackles and elbows, bloodied Barcelona star’s last-gasp strike wins thriller (and he taunts Real Madrid fans with shirt).

Bruised, bloodied but not beaten Lionel Messi won the Clasico for Barcelona with the last kick of an extraordinary five-goal thriller. He ripped his shirt off and held it up to the North Goal of the Santiago Bernabeu on the final whistle that came seconds after his shot hit the back of Keylor Navas’ net. Even by his standards this had been a remarkable performance. Still sporting a black eye from the Champions League exit against Juventus last week and cut early-on by a flailing Marcelo elbow he had a bloodied towel in his hand when he scored Barcelona’s first goal to cancel out Casemiro’s opener.

Neymar WAS at the Bernabeu… because Lionel Messi called Barcelona team-mate on FaceTime so he could join celebrations after Clasico victory

He may have been banned for Barcelona’s win over Real Madrid on Sunday, but Neymar still made it to the Bernabeu. The Brazil star was suspended for the dramatic Clasico victory, and forced to watch the game from his home in Catalonia. But as Barca celebrated in the away dressing room in Madrid, the forward made a surprise visit – via FaceTime.

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