Life after football: the strangest careers turns ⚽️

🎥 Many footballers go into the media or management side of the game once retired, but there are some who choose different career paths…🎤🏎

First-half goals put Seagulls in charge – Crawley Town 0-3 Brighton

Reds lost 3-0 to Championship side Brighton in Wednesday night’s friendly in front of a 2,200 crowd at the Stadium.

First-half goals from Dale Stephens, Tomer Hemed and Beram Kayal put the Seagulls in control.

Crawley did a lot better in the second half and missed the chance to get a goal back when Simon Walton’s penalty was saved by David Stockdale.

Most of the positives from Reds’ performance will have been taken from the second half display, in which the home defence remained solid and the forwards combined well after a disappointing first period.

The travelling fans were in full voice before kick off, with 933 Seagulls making the short trip up the M23. Their side started the game as they would have liked, releasing Kazenga Lua Lua and Solly March down the wings to attack Reds’ makeshift full-backs Lewis Young and Conor Henderson at every opportunity.

However, it was the home side had the first opportunity of the game. Luke Rooney’s clearance, following a few minutes of Brighton pressure, found Shamir Fenelon through on goal just inside the Crawley half, but the ex-Brighton forward couldn’t find a finishing touch as his effort rolled wide.

There were shouts for a Reds penalty on 13 minutes when Bruno Salter appeared to control Jimmy Smith’s cross with his arm but the referee waved play on.

Down at the other end the away team broke the deadlock on 16 minutes. Dale Stephens’ acrobatic right-footed volley from a right-sided cross left Callum Preston motionless as it flew into his left-hand corner.

Stephens should have doubled Brighton’s advantage shortly after his opener. Another great Albion move down the right found Salter, whose controlled pass took him into Reds area where he found the ex-Charlton midfielder, but his effort flew high into the KR-L stand.

The visitors did punish Mark Yates’ team minutes later. Lua Lua’s low driven free kick was parried by Preston straight into the Path of Tomer Hemed, who poked home from close range making it 2-0 midway through the first half.

It was 3-0 on 27 minutes. A long clearance from Lewis Young found the lively Lua Lua, who drove down the right past Luke Rooney and cut the ball back to Beram Kayal. The Israeli international coolly side-footed the ball past Preston.

Chris Houghton would have been pleased with his side’s first half attacking display. The wide men, including substitute Inigo Calderon, were linking up with the strikers and making runs to create pockets of space behind the home defence.

If Crawley were going to create any chances on goal, Rooney looked the most likely to provide them in a red shirt. The playmaker was picking up loose balls and driving forward from deep in his own half, but often lacked attacking options in front of him.

It was nearly four as the halftime whistle blew when Hemed’s long-range effort was tipped over by Preston, making his third impressive save in as many minutes.

Reds had a chance to pull one back moments into the second half. Simon Walton picked out a perfectly weighted through ball to an on running Jimmy Smith, who went down under keeper David Stockdale’s challenge. The Crawley skipper took the resulting spot kick, but was denied by the keeper’s strong hand as he saved down to his left.

Even after the penalty miss Yates’ men refused to be deflated and instead played their most promising football of the match in the final third.

There was the first feel of local derby tension on 60 minutes with Walton and Inigo Calderon clashing on the halfway line, but the referee stepped in cooled the situation without issuing any cards.

Yates made his first changes with 25 minutes left, bringing on last year’s top goal scorer Izale McLeod, Bobson Bawling, Sonny Bradley and trialists Lee Barnard and Issac Nehemie among a raft of changes.

McLeod was nearly off the mark within seconds of being introduced. The forward picked up the ball on the right side of the opposition half and cut inside, unleashing a 30-yarder that went centimetres over the Brighton goal.

Reds: Preston (GK), Walton, McNerney, Edwards, Smith, Rooney, Henderson, Young, Fenelon, Ashton, Harrold.

Subs: Bradley (Henderson 66), McLeod (Harrold 66), Aaron Lennox (GK, Preston 80), Bawling (Young 66), Isaac

Champions League 2017 final in Cardiff could give English teams a platform for success

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The final of the biggest club competition in world football is expected to come back to Britain for the third time in six years, however, not to the capital.

Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium is the current favourite to host the 2017 final with UEFA likely to announce their decision in Prague on the 29th June.

If the decision were to go in the way of the Welsh national venue, it would give English clubs another stab at winning the competition on home soil and to catch up with Spanish and German clubs in European competition.

This would be hugely beneficial to the Premier League after a transitional period where England’s dominant club, Manchester United, failed to make the Champions League for the first time since 1995/96. In the 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons no English team progressed beyond the last 16; a dismal portrayal of English football in comparison to the 1999-2011 era, where at least two Premier League teams reached the quarter finals in 10 out of the 12 seasons.

The last Champions League outing at Wembley in 2013 was solely represented by Germany, as Bayern Munich triumphed over Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund. Two years earlier, Man United made their way to the capital to face Barcelona, but were outclassed by Pep Guardiola’s unstoppable Barcelona.

European football has been dominated by the Spaniards in recent times and they have proved a giant obstacle for English clubs. Despite winning two of the last four Premier League titles, big spenders Manchester City have consistently struggled in Europe and became the seventh English club to be knocked out by Real Madrid or Barcelona in the last six years.

Although winning two Champions Leagues and appearing in finals, Premier League teams seem to come unstuck against the Goliath figures of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid. When you look at the domestic leagues however, the Premier League has higher calibre of competition, fiercer rivalries and a greater portfolio of players compared to others in Europe; so why do they struggle when reaching the knockout stages after the turn of the year?

A difference between the leagues is the winter break applied by other countries. When the February knockout stage comes around, other European big guns come fresh from a two week break. English teams have come straight out the back of a gruelling Christmas fixture list, playing two games over three days in some cases.

Cardiff’s 74,500-seater stadium missed out on its bid to host Euro 2020 matches, however has proven it can host these momentous occasions as it did whilst hosting the Football League play-offs and FA Cup finals between 2001 and 2006.

This year’s final was held in Berlin’s Olympiastadion, while next year’s final will be held at the San Siro in Milan. English teams must show a substancial improvement in next year’s competition in order to start dominating the continent as they did in the 2000’s, and withstand any chance of glory in Cardiff by the time 2017 comes around.

Club heroes who have gone on to break their fans hearts…

With all the focus on Stevie G’s announcement earlier this week, we take a look at other players idolised by their fans who have crushed that almost perfect relationship with the club…

2015 Gerrard Announces the end of his Liverpool Love Affair (for now anyway)-

Just into the New Year and the Ex- England skipper announces that we will no longer be playing for his hometown club after the end of the season. As the news broke, you could here a Scouse whine across the country. Many pundits and Ex- Pro’s of the footballing world describe Gerrard as a true Liverpool and England great, one who is very rare in this day and age with all the money and fame. Gerrard may well be the last of his kind- Someone who has stayed with his hometown club since being a schoolboy, rejecting offers from the world’s biggest club’s to try and conquer success with the Red’s. No matter what anyone says, Stevie G has been an asset to English football for club and country; the question is, what’s next in store?

2009 Shearer managing Newcastle to relegation-

Well, it wasn’t all his fault but with Hull travelling to Old Trafford the Geordies would have ben safe with a point- Something which a side battling to avoid relegation should expect away at Villa Park. A lacklustre display summed up by a definitive own goal by Damien Duff capped off a season in which four managers tried and failed to revive the North East giants. On a day when all three of the North East clubs could’ve gone down, Sunderland were the ones having the last laugh. Their fans were seen in complete jubilation as the scores came in and Middlesbrough and Newcastle were in the English second tier for the first time since 1998 and 1993 respectively.

In Shearer’s playing career for Newcastle he was unstoppable, netting 148 times in 303 games for the Magpies and becoming the Premier League’s all time top scorer with 260 goals. Although Shearer was only Manager for four games, Newcastle were without a win and scored just one goal.

2014 Lampard coming off the bench to score vs his beloved Chelsea-

Upon Lampard’s arrival for the game against his previous employer, Chelsea fans were cheering and singing his name and when he made his appearance off the bench there was a huge applause from the away end. Chelsea were 1-0 up after a goal from Schurrle and Zabaleta had just been sent off so it was turning out quite an away day for the fans. However, in the 85th minute Lamps scored with a typical good finish from a James milner pass, although he refused to celebrate after. This marked the revival for City, who were 5 points behind at the time.

Lamps is Chelsea’s all time top scorer and the 4th highest scorer in Premier League history (level with Thierry Henry); Some feat considering all his goals came from midfield. With Yaya Toure off to the African Cup of Nation’s, Lampard could be key in City’s pursuing of the title and could be the man to inflict more misery on his old club as City are now on level points with the early-season front runners. The two giants clash at Stamford Bridge on the 31st January in a game that could shape the rest of the season.

2006 Ronaldo Winks to the Portugal Bench as Rooney’s Sent to the Changing Room-

This was heartache for football fans all over the country. England’s promising starlet was dismissed for a kick out at Chelsea Centre back Ricardo Carvalho right in front of the referee. As soon as the incident occurred Ronaldo and co surroundeed the Argentinian referee, urging him to take action – Rooney was sent off and with him, any hope England had in progressing to the Semi’s.

When the pair turned up back in Manchester there was rumours Ronaldo had to leave the club and that there was a feud between both players, however Rooney was quick to dismiss these and admitted that he would have done the same if it was the other way round.

In recent years both players have become legends at Old Trafford, with Ronaldo in unstoppable form from 2007-2009 before jetting off to Spain to win Spanish titles, Ballon D’ors and pretty much everything else. Rooney has since beedn handed both the United and England captaincy and is on his way to becoming the top scorer for his country on top of overtaking Ryan Giggs as the Red Devil’s all time Premier League top scorer.