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2 hours ago, killer1257 said:

I did not watch the match becausd 5th app did not show it sadly.

But still amazing result for our boys

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City have a very good group of U18s this year. It's no disgrace to suffer a narrow defeat to them.

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Marcus Rashford has raised more than £ 20m for poor children to receive free meals in the Summer holidays. Superb. He knew what it was like growing up with nothing. Now I'm Chelsea through and th

Woulda been Rays 64th Bday today. Such a shame

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The Telegraph

 

Matt Law's Chelsea briefing

 
Matt Law
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Chelsea manager and his players dig deep for charity

By Matt Law,
Football News Correspondent

Frank Lampard and some of his players have been putting their hands in their pockets over the past week to support causes close to their hearts.

Lampard and Mason Mount have shown their appreciation for the part Derby County played in their development by pledging support for a bust to be made of Derby legend Reg Harrison.

And Chelsea right-back Reece James is trying to help some of the London families hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic by attempting to raise £100,000 for The Felix Project.

James kicked off his fundraising effort by making a £10,000 personal donation to the project, which collects surplus food in London and delivers it, free of charge, direct to local charities and schools serving people in need.

James has not only made a financial contribution, but has also shared pictures of himself helping with collections and deliveries of food with the promise that every £10 donated will provide 61 meals. By that reckoning, James himself has donated enough money to provide a staggering 61,000 meals, with his overall goal of £100,000 totalling 610,000 meals.

Since setting up his fundraising site and making his personal donation last Thursday, James had, at the time of writing, already raised over £14,000.

On social media, the England international said: “All the stuff on the news about kids going hungry is breaking my heart. I’ve set up this page to help raise money for @felixprojectuk so they can get more food to hungry children & people who are struggling.”

This week, Lampard donated £2,000 to the project set up by the Rams Heritage Trust, who are trying to raise £8,000 for a permanent remembrance in honour of Harrison, who played for Derby County between 1944 and 1955, and was last year awarded the freedom of the city.

Lampard met Harrison — who died in September aged 97 — in February last year, when Harrison, the last surviving member of Derby’s 1946 FA Cup winning team, was presented with the freedom of the city.

Derby fans have praised the contribution of Lampard, who managed Derby for one season, taking the club to the play-off final where they lost to Aston Villa, before he returned to Chelsea.

The Rams Heritage Trust posted a picture on Twitter of Lampard alongside Harrison with the message: “Wow - humbled by the support we've received for our #RememberingReg campaign from Frank Lampard."

"Frank met Reg when he received the Freedom of the City of Derby and obviously had a tremendous effect on him. Once a Ram…”

Midfielder Mount, who spent a year on loan at Derby under Lampard, has also supported the cause by donating £250.

The Rams Heritage Trust tweeted a message that read: “What a fantastic gesture from @masonmount_10 to contribute to our fund for Reg Harrison, a class act from a class player, remembering the importance of grass-roots football where everybody’s dream starts, not many make it but Mason certainly has ! Thank you Mason, once a Ram…”

At the time of writing, the campaign, with the help of Lampard and Mount, was well on the way to achieving its goal, having raised almost £5,000. The bust, which will be sculpted by Andy Edwards, will be displayed beside the entrance to Field Lane Football Club, one of the clubs founded by Harrison in 1982 and close to his family home in Alvaston.

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1 minute ago, Tomo said:

Bring it on, this is exactly why we've assembled such a big squad! 

But on a general level, it's a joke, especially this season. Some teams get 1 day of rest, some get 2 and suddenly we have Newcastle and Fulham getting 3 full days...like WTF!? 

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On 26/11/2020 at 5:11 PM, Jason said:

But on a general level, it's a joke, especially this season. Some teams get 1 day of rest, some get 2 and suddenly we have Newcastle and Fulham getting 3 full days...like WTF!? 

 

12 hours ago, Laylabelle said:

It should be fair for everyone. 48 hour gap is crazy. There's no need!

Maybe overall they've balanced it out for each team in that period give or take a day? Cba to check the actual stats but i've noticed when we have the midweek game vs Wolves on a Tuesday our weekend game vs WHU is the following Monday, almost giving us a week off when some teams will be doing Wednesday-Saturday!

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26 minutes ago, Jason said:

 

Agree!! Why would anyone want to buy a 75 quid ticket when could get a 40 quid one. Its mad what they've decided. Hopefully they'll back down! Not fair to have half paying a hell of a lot more! There's  2 stands being used..West and Shed Lower. Hardly any difference between the stands really. Dont put money first

And especially with Tier 3 rumours floating..maybe get the fans in while you can!

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39 minutes ago, Tomo said:

Maybe overall they've balanced it out for each team in that period give or take a day? Cba to check the actual stats but i've noticed when we have the midweek game vs Wolves on a Tuesday our weekend game vs WHU is the following Monday, almost giving us a week off when some teams will be doing Wednesday-Saturday!

The point is the recovery period from one game to the next. It's all good for a player to have 5 days to recover/rest/prepare for a game but once they exert themselves for a game, they need sufficient time to recover for the next game. I know this Boxing Day schedule has been a long time thing but games are increasingly becoming more intense and physical and making players play 2 games in 3 days is just pure daft, especially in a season like this and when muscle injuries are going through the roof. No team should be made to play twice in 3 days. Playing 2 games in 4 days with at least 2 days to recover/rest/prepare in between should be the bare minimum. 

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Course people will pay but shouldn't be the most expensive going. If other clubs can charge less why are we being the most expensive especially when times are hard and all. The Shed Lower is 40 quid..West 75..its wrong.

Its the fans who lose out.

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THE CHELSEA ADVENT CALENDAR

Dreaming of a Blue Christmas? We’re opening our doors and giving fans from around the world the chance to win 24 incredible prizes over 24 days from 1 to 24 December in our Chelsea Advent Calendar.  Don’t miss out, see what’s behind the door today…

https://www.chelseafc.com/en/landing-pages/competitions/advent-calendar

Introducing the Chelsea Advent Calendar! | Official Site | Chelsea Football  Club

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The world’s richest footballer

https://theathletic.com/2225190/2020/12/02/the-worlds-richest-footballer/

Faiq Bolkiah: 'The world's richest footballer' – The Athletic

“I asked him why he wants to be a footballer when his family are already so rich. He said, ‘All my brothers sit at home doing nothing. I want to actually do something. I don’t want to be like them’.”

Leicester City academy winger Kian Williams was speaking to a team-mate who has been described as the world’s richest footballer.

This is the story of how the Sultan of Brunei’s nephew, one of many heirs to a £200 billion fortune, quietly spent 10 years at some of the Premier League’s best clubs, playing in the same youth team as Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham at Chelsea and meeting the Queen during his time at Leicester City.

We spoke to those who have watched, coached, trained or played alongside true footballing royalty.


Faiq Bolkiah was born in Los Angeles in May 1998 but educated in England along with his cousin Ukasyah, the son of former NBA pro Dennis Wallace, at Thorngrove Prep School in Highclere, just outside Newbury. It was while immersed in English football culture that Faiq developed a love of the game.

The quiet and largely private upbringing in rural Berkshire was in stark contrast to the childhood he would have had in Brunei where his father Prince Jefri’s lavish lifestyle, including spending $17 million to hire Michael Jackson to play a concert for his 50th birthday, led to him being dubbed by Vanity Fair a Playboy Prince.

But Faiq, who has 17 siblings, has had no interest in being a playboy — just a boy who plays, although admittedly not many footballers are able to practise their skills on a pet tiger cub.

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“I grew up in England and the main sport is football, so I have been playing football since a very young age,” he said in a rare interview for Progresif Radio in 2018. “I was always a sporty boy and kept playing football. All I have known has been football.”

Bolkiah began playing for Woolton Hill Argyle in the village where they lived before the cousins moved to AFC Newbury, aged 10, after Wallace got in touch with their under-11s manager Paul Morgan. Wallace wanted them to develop at a higher level of football to help attract professional clubs and Morgan says what stood out was how talented the two were.

It wasn’t until they filled in their registration forms that there was any hint of their royal links or wealth.

“On his registration form, their home was listed in Wotton Hill on a site of a former hotel (Hollington House),” Morgan tells The Athletic. “They had bought that and converted it into a house. That much was quite obvious. There was no secret of the fact they were related to the Brunei Royal Family.

“They were always smartly turned out. There was no doubt that they weren’t buying their football kit from a charity shop! They were exceptionally well turned out, very polite and even more dedicated. They weren’t arrogant at all. You couldn’t have come across a more normal kid. He wasn’t affected by his privileged background at all.

“Dennis drove them to training in a black van. It was a very smart van, to be fair. At the end of matches, Dennis would open the van and there was always a lot of food in there for Faiq to share with his team-mates.

“They took their education and sport very seriously. I think it was the way they were brought up; they were just focused on achieving what they wanted to.”

Faiq, a striker, and Ukasyah, a midfielder, were both invited for trials with Southampton after impressing when Newbury played a top side from the city. Morgan says the watching scouts were impressed by Bolkiah’s unselfishness.

“Although he was a very quick and skilful player, he wasn’t ever selfish,” he says. “That’s what scouts look for. They want players who can dominate a game but also bring others into the game. If he went one-v-one with a goalkeeper he would score more often than not. Equally, he would get to the line and cut it back to a team-mate. He was a good, all-round team player.

“We’ve all seen players in the past who play for their own glory. Faiq wasn’t like that. There was no arrogance or selfishness about him at all.”

The boys spent four years within the Southampton academy between 2009-13 but after a brief trial at Reading they were picked up by Arsenal, where they played alongside Chris Willock, now at Queens Park Rangers, Joe Willock and Charlie Gilmour, now Norwich City, in an Arsenal side that competed at the 2013 Lion City Cup in Singapore.

None of their new team-mates had a clue that they were playing with royalty until they witnessed the reaction in Singapore. While he remained largely anonymous in England, Faiq’s fame was obvious in south-east Asia.

“Faiq was a lovely boy, humble and down to earth, and very funny too,” his Arsenal team-mate Rugare Musendo tells The Athletic.

“He was a decent footballer — a very fast right winger. He was the quickest in the team, and tricky. His playing style was a bit like Theo Walcott’s. He wasn’t a starter; there were a lot of talented players in his age group, like Chris Willock, Kaylen Hinds and even Ainsley Maitland-Niles back in his younger days. All of those guys were better than him technically, but he had loads of ability.

“The crazy thing is we didn’t know he was a prince or anything at all. He was a very humble lad. Both him and his other brother, Cash (Ukasyah, who was often mistaken for Bolkiah’s brother), who was there at the same time. We were only aware of his wealth because we went to a tournament in Singapore.”

“I only really knew about his background, or who he was related to, because of the amount of attention he got in Singapore,” says Stefan Broccoli, who also played in the tournament which saw Bolkiah score the first goal in a 2-1 win over the Singapore under-16 side. “But he was very humble. Except for one or two designer items he owned, I could not tell he was rich.”

It was a similar story when he moved onto Chelsea a year later after a brief spell at Reading, this time alone as Ukasyah switched to Birmingham City and eventually Nuneaton Town. Again Bolkiah’s lineage was not advertised and his arrival was low key.

“You would never ever have thought he was something like the 12th in line to the throne,” former Chelsea team-mate Ruben Sammut says. “You would not have thought of him as royalty.

“We used to play against him. I think he was at Reading. We didn’t realise who he was and nobody at Chelsea initially knew what his background was. He was a humble guy, trying every day like every academy player. We used to joke he didn’t need to play football but he wanted to play because he loved football.

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Bolkiah in action for Chelsea where he played with Sammut, Abraham and Loftus-Cheek (Photo: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

“It wasn’t a regular thing we mentioned. It was that typical banter, saying he is royalty, saying, ‘What’s he doing playing with us?’ But we all knew deep down how much he wanted to play, so it was more good-willed passing comments.

“We don’t know the ins and outs of the wealth of his family but he took football seriously, so full credit to him.

“He lived in digs like everyone else. I can’t remember who with. He just came in with the boy he was in digs with. This would have been age around 16-18, youth team group. We lived in digs, walking distance to the training ground. He didn’t do the schooling. It was youth team full-time training and stayed with a host family. He was just humble; he never wore flash clothes or came in flash gear, he just wore a tracksuit, just a down to earth guy.

“I think he did it so he didn’t draw attention to himself. He knew if he was splashing the cash, it would create a bad image for himself.”

However, Sammut did get a rare glimpse of life inside Hollington House during a close season visit.

“Me and one of my team-mates went to his house during one off-season,” he adds. “It is a place in Newbury, state of the art, gym, all that kind of stuff.”

It was his unflashy nature that allowed Bolkiah to integrate into changing rooms filled with working-class lads who were striving not only to fulfil their football dreams but to obtain financial security for themselves and their families.

“We had a great relationship,” says former Chelsea team-mate Charlie Wakefield. “Everyone knew his wealth and his family, but you wouldn’t have known it from him.

“He was very respectful and humble, and that’s why everyone got on so well with him. When any player joins you hear things about them, and it wasn’t long before we heard about his background. People can get the wrong kind of idea of who he is.

“We just found out and that was it. We didn’t really ask him questions about it because it wasn’t our business. No one brought it up and credit to him, because he was a great guy and a good footballer as well.”

Journalist Gary Koh has been one of the few journalists Faiq has spoken to. Koh experienced for himself what Faiq’s royal status meant when the prince captained the Brunei under-23 team at the tender age of 17 in 2015 at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.

Koh says there was heavy police security at a modest training facility and Bolkiah had his own personal bodyguards.

“While other Bruneian players were taking off their foot tapings on their own after training, a member of the backroom staff cut Faiq’s with a pair of scissors,” he told The Athletic. “The security and the personal aide, that was when I realised that I was interviewing not just any ordinary footballer, but someone whose uncle is the present long-serving monarch of Brunei.”

Despite his obvious status, Bolkiah insisted on staying with the rest of the squad at the team hotel and Koh says it was obvious that the teenager was head and shoulders above his team-mates, both in size and talent.

“He stood out for his sheer physique which made him a commanding presence, heads and shoulders above his team-mates,” he says. “Another notable attribute of his was his football technique.

“I watched him for all but one of Brunei’s five group matches during the Games. His best games came against Malaysia and Timor Leste, where in front of his watching proud father Prince Jefri Bolkiah at Bishan Stadium, he scored a penalty.

“He did not have it easy during the Singapore SEA Games campaign, as he was often the target of defenders. At times his technical abilities were exposed by tougher defences, but to stand out and play alongside common people on the pitch is a unique achievement for him.”

Bolkiah had become the first member of the Brunei royal family to feature in the SEA Games since the Brunei Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, who competed in pool, being a cue sport enthusiast.

That started a new trend where royal family members would subsequently feature in the 2017 and 2019 Games, including Faiq’s father Jefri who won gold in polo in 2019 while his cousin Prince Mateen collected two successive bronze medals in the same sport in both competitions. Bolkiah himself would compete in the 2019 games, although he was rushed to hospital at one stage after an allergic reaction to some peanuts in a curry.

However, back in England, his anonymity continued and there was hardly a ripple of recognition when he signed his first professional contract with Leicester City, a three-year deal in 2016 when the club had just been crowned Premier League kings.

The club’s owners, the Srivaddhanaprabha family, led by Khun Vichai, were close friends of the Bolkiahs having played polo together for many years on the same circuit that includes the British royal family, and Faiq joined members of his own family in a visit to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2017.

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The connection between Leicester’s owners and the Bolkiahs is so strong that Prince Abdul Mateen Bolkiah paid a personal tribute to Khun Vichai on behalf of the polo community at a memorial service following the Leicester chairman’s death. Prince Abdul was also joined by Prince Jefri, Prince Bahar and Princess Azemah Ni’matul Bolkiah to play with Khun Vichai’s son and successor as Leicester chairman, Khun Aiyawatt, at the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Trophy Final last year.

Still, his time at Leicester was kept low key. Some former players and coaches The Athletic approached either said they had never heard of Faiq or refused to comment, protective of his desire to pursue his career below the radar, and it was a similar story elsewhere. One former Arsenal academy coach replied: “Is this a wind-up?” Others at Southampton, Leicester and Stoke City, where he had a brief trial, didn’t recognise the name, with one asking: “Isn’t that Freddie Mercury’s real name? I don’t remember him at all!”

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Faiq did foster close relationships with several of the Leicester academy players over his four years with the club, even treating his closest friends to a holiday in Paris and on a yacht, but there was no other over the top displays of wealth. Rumours of a gold Rolls Royce ferrying him to training at the humble backdrop of Belvoir Drive and helicopters landing to ferry him away afterwards were not true.

“He is a really, really humble guy to be honest,” says Williams, who now plays in Iceland for Keflavik. “He hated to speak about his wealth. He would come in a Mercedes-Benz, just like the other under-23s, and his was probably a bit nicer, to be fair, but nothing showy. I never saw him in a gold Rolls-Royce though.

“He was liked by everyone at the club and joined in with the banter. All in all, he really is a good guy. I liked him a lot along with the other lads, and I was shocked he wasn’t more showy about his money.”

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Faiq played in the under-18s and made five appearances for the under-19s in the UEFA Youth League in 2016-17, but he never made an official appearance in the development squad. Surprisingly, when his contract expired in 2019 he was given a one-year extension, but was released last summer and has since joined Maritimo.

It took a while for the Portuguese side to include him in their squad list, but he has already started to make an impact on his team-mates.

“He came to Portugal in search of opportunities and I really think he’s a good player,” says defender Claudio Winck. “He’s a guy who really put the effort in when we train, and clearly has a desire to improve.

“He’s still young and I believe he has a bright future ahead of him. As a person, he’s really humble and a hard worker. We’re quite close and spend a lot of time together, not least because I speak a bit of English and his Portuguese isn’t great yet. He’s a great guy, a kind spirit. He has everything it takes to build a beautiful career.”

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That seems to be the driving force for Faiq, to answer Williams’ question. He may not get to emulate his hero Brazilian Ronaldo, footage of whom he watches on his phone before every game for inspiration, but just forging some kind of professional career would be an achievement.

“I know I am the first Brunei to be playing at a high level,” he said in the 2018 Progresif interview. “I have worked hard for that from a young age. It doesn’t just come. It takes hours and hours of training to get that technical level.

“First of all what motivates me is I want to make my family proud. They are always behind me, always pushing me to do better. Every time I have good news I am running back to them. Also, I want to do well for Brunei, and put Brunei on the map.”

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The Telegraph

Wednesday December 9 2020

Matt Law's Chelsea briefing

 
Matt Law
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Last season's youth drive was no exception — Lampard is continuing the good work

By Matt Law,
Football News Correspondent

When Chelsea take the field against Everton at the weekend, it will be the 80th successive competitive game in which an academy graduate has started.

And, barring an incredible downturn in fortunes for Chelsea’s youngsters, the club’s academy stars will hit the 100 mark this season sometime around April depending on progress in the Champions League and the FA Cup.

The milestone, highlighted by the excellent @chelseayouth Twitter account, signifies a remarkable turnaround from the season in which Maurizio Sarri became the first Chelsea manager of the Roman Abramovich era not to give one of the club’s academy graduates a debut in a full campaign.

Frank Lampard used a total of 10 academy graduates in the Premier League during his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge and gave them more top-flight minutes (8,784) than any other club — including Manchester United.

United last December marked the 400th game in which at least one youth graduate had been part of the team or matchday squad and it is not unfeasible to predict that Chelsea could one day match that achievement.

Critics insisted that Lampard and Chelsea had only used their youngsters out of necessity last season because of the transfer ban, but that theory was way off the mark.

Tammy Abraham was preferred to Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi for the first half of the campaign, while Mason Mount was in ahead of the likes of Ross Barkley and, at times, Mateo Kovacic. Later in the season, Jorginho watched Billy Gilmour from the substitutes’ bench.

And any doubt over Lampard’s motives have been blown out of the water this campaign, as not even the £220million summer transfer spend has hampered the progress of the majority of Chelsea’s academy graduates.

Reece James has this season taken over from captain Cesar Azpilicueta as Chelsea’s first-choice right-back, while Mount has again defied the social media trolls to underline his value to Lampard’s team and make himself a vital player, despite the arrival of £62-million signing Kai Havertz.

Last season’s top scorer Abraham was dropped to the bench at the start of the season, following the signing of Timo Werner, but the German has since moved out to the flanks to accommodate both the England international and Giroud through the middle.

Chelsea turned down a loan offer for Callum Hudson-Odoi during the last transfer window and the winger has already made 12 appearances this season, while Gilmour returned from injury to star against Krasnodar in the Champions League this week, along with 19-year-old Tino Anjorin.

Midfielder Anjorin, who made two appearances for Chelsea last season, joined at Under-7 level and has played for England Under-17s, U18s and U19s. The Krasnodar game was his first appearance in the Champions League.

Fikayo Tomori is perhaps the academy graduate to have been affected most by Chelsea’s summer business, as the arrival of Thiago Silva on a free transfer has contributed to him only starting twice in the EFL Cup, while Andreas Christensen has slipped down the pecking order despite still making his sixth appearance in midweek.

Lampard is yet to hand an academy graduate their first-team debut this season, with opportunities more difficult to come by due to the size of his squad and elimination from the EFL Cup.

The FA Cup third-round tie against Morcambe at Stamford Bridge in January looks the best chance for Lampard to blood yet another youngster, with midfielder Lewis Bate, who was on the substitutes’ bench at Sheffield United last season, thought to be among those next in line.

But whether or not Bate or another academy graduate is handed their debut this season, the message out of Stamford Bridge with Lampard in charge is loud and clear - the homegrown youngsters are here to stay.

Get in touch at @Matt_Law_DT or via [email protected]uk.

 

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The week at Chelsea

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Champions League: Billy Gilmour and Tino Anjori give Chelsea glimpse of bright future in quiet draw with Krasnodar

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Manager's view: Frank Lampard says Kai Havertz will be one of the best players in world football

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Branislav Ivanovic interview: Swapping title battles for survival scraps - and why Frank Lampard can manage England

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Analysis: Anatomy of Olivier Giroud's perfect hat-trick – and how it tells the story of his career

 

 

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Mike Emenalo:

 

As a Nigeria international capped 14 times by his country, Michael Emenalo faced Diego Maradona when their countries met at the 1994 World Cup, but it was an encounter after the game that sticks in his mind. 

Emenalo was selected with Maradona to undergo the mandatory doping test following the 2-1 win for Argentina in Foxborough, Massachusetts. It was the test that would discover the banned stimulant ephedrine in Maradona’s system, ending his World Cup and his 17-year international career. 

“I was sat in the corridor with him and he [Maradona] was making jokes about it,” Emenalo says. “He had his shirt in his hand and he was looking at me. This was Maradona! I was just thinking about how I had a poor game. I was thinking I wasn’t going to play the next game against Greece. All the time he was looking at me. It wasn’t until I went home I thought, ‘He wanted to swap shirts’. Later when I got married I told my wife and she laughed. Can you imagine that last Argentina shirt? With Maradona’s sweat on it? I could have had that shirt in my hand!”

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