The Great World Cup Germany 2006

The 2006 FIFA World Cup (officially titled 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany, sometimes referred to as the Football World Cup) finals are scheduled to take place in Germany between 9 June and 9 July 2006. Qualification for the tournament is now complete, with all 32 competing teams confirmed. The 2006 finals are the 18th to be contested.

A total of 12 German cities have been selected to host the World Cup final tournament. The stadium capacities shown are all seated capacities. Many of the stadiums have higher capacities for German domestic football matches as some of the seats are replaced with terraces.Starting from Germany 2006, the winner of the past World Cup had to qualify for the Finals. Only the host nation qualifies automatically from 2006 on.

In the qualification process for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the six FIFA confederations were allocated a share of the 32 spots available on the basis of the strength of their teams. The final distribution was as follows:Europe – represented by UEFA : 51 teams competing for 13 places (Germany qualified automatically as host nation for a total of 14 places) ;Africa – 51 teams;South America -10 teams;Asia – 39 teams;North, Central American and Caribbean -34 teams;Oceania – 12 teams.

For the first time ever, the defending champion (Brazil) does not qualify automatically. The hosts (Germany) will retain their automatic spot. In 1934, the defending champions (Uruguay) declined to participate and the hosts (Italy) had to qualify, but in the tournaments between 1938 and 2002 (inclusive), the hosts and the defending champions had automatic berths.

The original distribution of places between the six confederations called for Oceania to be given one full spot in the final 32; however, this idea was seen as giving Australia a virtually certain place in the finals, being by far the strongest footballing nation in their region. This decision was reconsidered in June 2003 and the previous distribution of places between Oceania and South America was restored.

The main surprises in European qualification at World Cup Germany were the absences of 2002 third-place finishers Turkey (eliminated by Switzerland after a momentous playoff), 2004 European Champions Greece (eliminated by the Ukraine), and established sides Denmark (eliminated by the Ukraine as well), Russia (eliminated by Portugal), and Belgium (eliminated by Serbia-Montenegro and Spain). In Africa, 2002 quarter-finalists Senegal (eliminated by Togo) and established sides South Africa, Cameroon, and Nigeria (eliminated, respectively, by Ghana, C?te d’Ivoire, and Angola) unexpectedly missed the trip to the Finals. The other zones saw no major upsets.While representing Oceania, from the beginning of 2006 Australia is part of the Asian Confederation, and will represent Asia in following World Cups.

If teams are even on points at the end of group play, the tied teams will be ranked as follows:greater number of points obtained in matches between the tied teams,goal difference in matches between the tied teams,greater number of goals scored in matches between the tied teams,goal difference in all group matches,greater number of goals scored in all group matches,a play-off on neutral ground, with extra time and penalties if necessary (in qualifying),drawing of lots (at the final event).This is a change from the 2002 FIFA World Cup, where total goal differential was the first tiebreaker.

Thirty-two years after the last football World Cup in Germany, the 2006 FIFA World Cup will again take place in Germany. For the first time after the reunification of both German states, the entire world will look to the New Germany, situated at the heart of Europe.

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Luka Modric – A Croatian Ruling England

The biggest prize in Premier League is of course – winning the Title, but that battle is being fought between the clubs with squillons of riches ( Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea). The next best prize is 4th place which leads to the Champions League. Among the clubs which are competing for such achievement is Tottenham Hotspur and Croatian center midfielder Luka Modric is the driving force behind this team.

The 26-year-old Luka Modric can pass, he can score, he can dribble and fool the opponent with incredible lightness.

Luka Modric was born on 9 September 1985 in the coastal town of Zadar. Growing up in a family of an aircraft technician father and a textile worker mother during the Croatian War of Independence, Luka initially showed his indisputable talent for playing football in hometown club Zadar’s youth team. As a teenager, he caught the attention of most successful Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb, for which he signed in 2002. However, his career began with loan spells at Bosnian club Zrinjski Mostar.

Playing against physically much stronger opponents, 16-year old Luka Modric learned a lot and even managed to earned the honour of Bosnian Player of the Year. Next season he returned to Croatia, again on loan, with Inter Zapresic, helping this club to reach the second place in the league.

Meanwhile, in Dinamo they finally decided to give Modric opportunity he deserved. Over the next three seasons he proved himself as the genuine team’s playmaker. His team won three league titles in a row (2006, 2007 and 2008) and two Croatian Cup wins (2007 and 2008) while Luka himself became Player of the Year 2007. He also earned comparison to legendary Dinamo’s No 10 Robert Prosinecki and Zvonimir Boban.

In March 2006. Luka Modric made his debut for the national team. During the World Cup in Germany the same year, Modric didn’t get much chance to play. However, a few months later Slaven Bilic took a position of a new manager of Croatian national team, which resulted with Luka playing each game from the first minute. Soon after scoring his first international goal, in a friendly match against Italy (0:2), he established his role of irreplaceable central midfielder.

In the EURO 2008 Croatia won matches against Austria, Germany and Poland in the group stage and faced Turkey in quarterfinals. Luka Modric scored a penalty kick against Austria, but unfortunately missed the first penalty in the ensuing penalty shootout against Turkey. However, at the end of the competition, Luka’s overall brilliant playing earned him a place in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.

Just before the EURO 2008 Luka signed his first contract with the Tottenham Hotspur. The initial games in one of the toughest league in the world weren’t easy for a slim and small player (5’8»). Everyone started to doubt his ability to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League.

Luka Modric has seen that before: ‘My whole career, when I was in Croatia, people questioned me, saying I wouldn’t make it, that I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t big and strong. But you have to understand something about Croatian people. After everything that has happened, after the war, we are stronger, tougher’, he stated in his interview to Daily Mail in May 2011.

Negative comments only made him more eager to prove they were wrong. His big chance came after Harry Redknapp was appointed as a new Spurs manager in October 2008. Modric was given advanced attacking role as a central or left-sided midfielder, the role in which he could gain more confidence and give better performances – which he did.

Luka Modric often showed his strength was in his legs, especially in the meaty calves. Unfortunately, on 29 August 2009, during Spurs’ match against Birmingham City, Modric was injured and the following day it was confirmed that he had broken his leg. Recovery dragged a little bit but it went well at the end so four months later, during the London derby against West Ham United, he was able to score with his healed leg.

The 2010-11 season was much luckier for Luka Modric, as he played 32 Premier League games, scored 3 goals and made the highest average number of passes per game for Spurs. At the end of the season, Modders, as Tottenham Hotspur Fans nicknamed him, was voted Player of the Year. Another recognition came when Premier League Footballer of the Year, Scott Parker (then player of West Ham), declared him the toughest opponent he had faced.

Although Luka seemed happy on White Hart Lane, playing with his Croatian teammates Vedran Corluka and Niko Kranjcar, in the summer of 2011 he shocked the world of football saying he would like to get a transfer to Chelsea. Spurs’ town rival made several bids, the last one allegedly worth 50 million euros, but Tottenham president Daniel Levy rejected them all.

Disappointed Modric reminded him of their ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that Spurs would accept offers from a ‘big club’. Luka even went on a strike, refusing to play few matches, but still – Chelsea was out of reach.

After the transfer window was closed, Luka Modric managed to focus on his playing and scored his first goal of the season in a 4-0 home win against Liverpool, one of the biggest rival for the coveted fourth position.

Harry Redknapp once said: ‘I wouldn’t want to sell him for £100 million, not even for a billion’ but there is a concern in the club that Chelsea will return for Modric in January, offering even more incredible sum of money.

No wonder each club wants to sign the contract with Luka. After all, which team wouldn’t want a player who’s always first to show up on training, delivers stunning performances and lives a quiet family life, without scandals?

Luka Modric married his longtime girlfriend Vanja in May 2010 and only a month later they become parents for the first time. ‘I’m not interested in things away from my family and football. Not a day goes by when I don’t speak to my parents and my two sisters back home and I only ever try to do the best I can on the football pitch’, he said to Daily Mail.

Modric came a long way from a small town boy who admired Brazilian Ronaldo (‘the real Ronaldo’ as he noted) and had a gift for playing football to one of the most praised player of Premier League and respectable Premier League club Tottenham Hotspurs. So is that it? Knowing Luka, his determination and defiance, we can only conclude: no, the best things are yet to follow.

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How to Plan Your Relocation to New York

New York City redefines one’s life and turns it around by 180 degrees. At times it might look like a concrete and steel wilderness, and at times the same city offers your Central Park- which feels like a free-pass one has earned surviving in this tough city. New York can be merciful and tough on you- but I guess one would agree, it changes you as a person for the better. Relocating to NYC can turn out to be one of the best chapters in life. With thousands of communities, ethnicities, races, all genders, faiths and their numerous languages- New York City shelters you like no other city does. One of the biggest financial capitals of the world, it is the most populous city in America. Proud of its status of being a ‘Global Power City’- New York majorly influences global trends pertaining to Fashion, Finance, Art, Literature, Education, Commerce, Technology, Entertainment and much more. New York has one of the largest harbours in the world and it is divided into 5 Boroughs, namely: Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx. We have come up with the perfect relocation guide for you. Let’s take a look: –

Accommodation and Neighbourhoods:-

Though there are numerous upscale and decent neighbourhoods in New York City, there are some localities which are all-encompassing and cater to everything that one would need in terms of ease of access to transport options, quality schools and healthcare centres, utility and departmental stores, general safety of the neighbourhood etc. Some of the best neighbourhoods, which score high on these parameters are Manhattan, Chelsea, Midtown East and Gramercy.

Midtown East is one of the most upscale and chic localities of NYC with iconic city landmarks like Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Broadway. You can find incredible one, two, three bedroom and Studio apartments in Midtown East here.

Manhattan: Known to be one of the economically high-end neighbourhoods of NYC, Manhattan is pure ‘city-living’. Towering skyscrapers, gourmet restaurants, popular attractions like Central Park, New York State Library etc. Accommodation in Manhattan can range from one, two bedrooms to Studio apartments for a single person. Value-for-money, a range of exclusive amenities, minutes away from the tube station- these apartments will be the most practical choice for you in Manhattan.

Chelsea is the neighbourhood to be in if you like a more vibrant, artsy and lively neighbourhood that feels closer to home. From exquisite art galleries to the best of fashion and amazing restaurants- Chelsea has ‘unadulterated life’ to offer to you. Mostly red or brown sandstone or brick buildings amidst new age contemporary architecture- Chelsea has the best Service Apartments that will make you instantly feel at home. With fully-furnished apartments, stocked kitchens, best of furnishings in bedrooms- we strive to make you feel like you never left ‘home’.

Gramercy: This neighbourhood bestows ‘exclusivity’ like none other. From private parks for residents, high-scale living spaces, greenery all around, luxurious apartments- Gramercy will provide you everything you need, so you won’t have to move out of the neighbourhood for literally anything. Luxury apparel outlets, bookstores, libraries, good schools- Gramercy defines good living standards. Check out amazing serviced apartments in Gramercy that shall grant you with worry-free living with prompt maintenance, state-of-the-art amenities, modern furnishings and unparalleled ease of access to Public transport.

Education:-

In terms of Education, New York City has some of the best elementary and high schools and also institutes for advanced learning. The New York Education system is actually the largest in the whole of America with more than 1600 elementary and high schools. It also has several specialised high schools for gifted students. The city also has 120 Institutes for Higher Education and some of the most renowned institutions which receive the highest number of students from across the world are Columbia University, Barnard College, New York University and The Juilliard School.

Healthcare:-

In terms of Public Health Care, New York City has the largest municipal Healthcare system in the world. It includes 11 Acute or Intensive care hospitals, 5 Nursing homes,6 major Diagnostic and Treatment centres, and more 70 community-based health care centres for the working class and the economically unprivileged sections of the society. The most reputed hospital under this municipality is Bellevue Hospital where one can go for specialised and general diagnosis and subsequent treatment and emergencies as well.

Transport:-

New York also has one of the best and extensive Transport systems in the world with multiple modes of Public Transport. Some of the major modes of Public Transport are: New York City Subway- which is the world’s largest rapid transit system, City Buses which is the largest in North America, Staten Island Ferry which also boasts of being the busiest ferry system in the world, and the Yellow Taxicabs in which more than 12000 cars are functioning in the city.

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Mario Gotze’s Golazo Deserves the FIFA Puskas Award

Football often provides us with exciting, astonishing goals. With six months until the end of the year, I think it is safe to say that the most valuable goal of 2014 is the one that gave Germany the 2014 World Cup title in Brazil. Mario Gotze, the hero in the final match in Brazil, came in as a substitute and with just minutes on the field, Mario Gotze scored the goal of his life.

The final game of the World Cup 2014 between Germans and Argentineans was a close game with very few goal opportunities. Germany was the favorite, but Argentina had the best soccer player in the planet in their squad. Nevertheless, Lionel Messi’s magic never appeared and it looked like the winner of the 2014 World Cup was going to be decided in the penalty kick shootout, but then in the 112 minute of the match, already in the second half of overtime, the magic finally happened, not from Messi, but from the 22 year old German player Mario Gotze, who received a cross from Andre Schurrle, finding Gotze, who controlled the ball with his chest, and with his left foot finished the volley to score a golazo that broke the hearts of millions in Argentina.

Mario Gotze’s golazo should be nominated to the FIFA Puskas Award.

More than 170 goals were scored through the 2014 World Cup, some of them great goals too, like James Rodriguez’ exquisite definition for Colombia in the match vs Uruguay. And how about Gervinho’s golazo a la Messi to give Ivory Coast the victory in the match vs Colombia.

Mario Gotze goal was not only valuable but also had an astonishing definition, and it should be considered for the FIFA Puskas Award. The beautiful goal meets the criteria «Aesthetically significant, or «most beautiful goal of the year» and it was scored in the most important soccer competition, The World Cup, with millions and millions watching. WOW!

The tournaments at club level are starting around the world, and I’m sure we will see many beautiful goals, perhaps more spectacular than Gotze’s goal. Maybe in the 14-15 UEFA Champions League we’ll get to watch a brilliant definition, or in the derby Barcelona vs Madrid, but in my opinion Mario Gotze’s golazo is pure gold and it will be in the memory of many for years. In Germany, the young Mario Götze will be remembered as a hero for years and years to come.

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"Hands-Up-To-The-Sky" – Ricardo Kaka Biography

Kaka Biography – Introduction

I’m writing this Kaka biography a few weeks after the 2006/2007 Champions League final, a final ending with a happy result, 2-1 for the Brazilian’s team, AC Milan against England’s Liverpool.

I must say, as impressive as Filippo Inzaghi (who scored both AC Milan’s goals) was, my eyes were focused on the Brazilian Kaka throughout the entire match. His passes, his dribblings, his speed and his vision on the pitch were honey to my eyes.

I decided to write this Kaka biography not because the Brazilian needs it, but because I want you to find out who the real Ricardo Kaka is, how he rose up the ladders of his career before being a super star and what exactly does that «hands-up-to-the-sky» kaka celebration mean.

Kaka Biography – Early Career

After spending his early days at different youth clubs around his home town of Brasilia and Sao Paulo, Kaka was eventually offered a professional contract at a very tender age: seventeen.

Since Kaka played great soccer for Sao Paulo’s youth teams, the reserve team and the Brazilian U-17 national squad, he immediately attracted the eyes of several European clubs, the one coming forward first being Turkish side Gaziantepspor.

Sao Paulo agreed to sell Kaka, for a sum of $1.5m, a sum that, if you think of the player’s market value now, would seem like peanuts. Still, the sum was quite big for the Turkish side, especially for a 17-year old footballer, Kaka’s young age giving them no guarantees that he will turn out to play great soccer regularly on professional level.

Kaka Biography – Swimming Pool Incident Sao Paulo FC

In his first season as a professional player for Sao Paulo, Kaka didn’t play for the Brazilian team, but he used this time to accommodate himself with his new colleagues and the hardships of professional soccer in Brazil.

He was probably going to get his debut that season still, but an unfortunate swimming pool incident almost ended his career as a footballer, Kaka fracturing his spine in September 2000. Not only did he risk his future, but this fracture almost cost him his life and he was in real danger of being paralyzed for the rest of his life.

Miraculously, Kaka made a full recovery and came back to training after his full strength came back to him. From that day forward, Kaka found faith in God and some of his profits as a professional footballer always go to the Church, as a small gesture of thanking God for saving his life and his career. The famous Kaka celebration, after he scores a goal, is related to that incident, as each time, he thanks God for allowing him to play soccer and be there on the pitch.

Kaka Biography – Attracting the European Giants

After fully recovering from his horrible fracture, Kaka was finally given a chance to play for Sao Paulo, in January 2001 and he didn’t disappoint, scoring no less than 12 goals in 27 appearances that season. This guaranteed him a solid first team place for the 2001-2002 season, in which he scored another 10 goals in 22 matches and whenever a young Brazilian soccer player performs that well, he’s bound to get a few calls from some major European clubs.

One of these clubs would be AC Milan, one of Italy’s most important teams and Kaka signed without blinking, eager to start a European career.

You probably know the story from here. Kaka is currently in his fourth season with Milan, whom he won the Serie A championship with once, the Italian Super Cup once, and the UEFA Champions League a few weeks ago (he also played another Champions League final in the 2004-2005 season, but lost it to Liverpool in what is considered one of the most beautiful finals of the tournament). He became an indispensable player for AC Milan but also for Brazil.

As a Brazil soccer player, Kaka scored 31 goals in 52 matches so far and gave out numerous perfect assists in his role as an attacking midfielder. Having the young midfielder in the squad, Brazil football became even more technical and quick (if that was even possible) and they’re considered amongst the main favorites for the following international tournaments.

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Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane, the monk-like fantasista – heir to Platini's throne as France's greatest ever player, is also widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Maybe slightly overrated in some quarters when labelled with the 'Greatest Ever' tag, his achievements and trophy haul are certainly second to very few. For a time he was also the most expensive player in the world, costing Real Madrid a huge £ 46m. During his playing days Zidane became one of world football's true superstars, and much loved players – his global fan base was (and still is) exceptional. From Europe, to North Africa (the origin of his roots) and the Middle East, to Japan – Zidane, was the man.

Zidane was born to Algerian immigrants who firstly moved to Paris, but eventually settled in La Castellane – a suburb with a huge North African community in France's southern town of Marseille. It was here that Yazid Zidane was born in 1972. Yazid, his birth name, is what he was known by to his friends and family. The young Yazid looked to replicate his idol; Olympic Marseille's very own fantasista, Uruguayan Enzo Franchescoli, by teaching himself tricks and repetitively juggling a football until he was better than most of the boys in the area. In a neighborhood high in crime rate Zidane had to become tough, though this was mostly focused through Judo – something else he showed an early talent for. But it was football that won the youngsters heart. After school he would gather with the other boys from his tower block, in 'Place Tartane' – an 80 x 12 yard clearing in the middle of the housing complex, which served as a makeshift football pitch. By 13 years old his talent was such that he was spotted by a scout for Cannes who proclaimed: 'I've found a boy who has hands where his feet should be'. After initial scepticism he was allowed to join the club's 'center de formation', leaving home and his family in the process to lodge with a club director's family.

By 16 years old he was making his league debut versus Nantes. Then, playing the same opponents two years on, he scored his first senior league goal in a 2-1 win. Remembering the promise he made the young Zidane upon scoring his debut goal, the president rewarded him with a brand new Renault Clio. Unfortunately for the 20 year old Zizou, the Va Va Voom factor wore off pretty quick as Cannes were relegated the very next season. His skills didn't go unnoticed however and with an offer coming in from Bordeaux, Zidane moved South for approximately £ 300k, where he would be reunited with his junior international team mate and close friend Christophe Dugarry. They formed part of an exciting new team that made waves in Europe as well as at home, winning the Intertoto Cup in 1995 and finishing runners-up in the UEFA Cup. It was during this period he also made his national team debut in 1994, coming off the bench whilst France were 2-0 down against the Czech Republic, and scoring twice. The press went wild – the new Platini had arrived. People outside of France were now beginning to take notice of Zidane's attributes. The then Premiership Champions Blackburn Rovers coach Ray Harford expressed an interest in the midfielder, only for Blackburn's owner Jack Walker to refuse, famously stating: 'Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?'

Zizou was a relative late bloomer on the world stage. He was already aged 24 when gaining his first major move – Juventus paying a modest £ 3.2m in 1996 to take him from the Bordeaux side that had starred (particularly against AC Milan) in the previous seasons UEFA Cup. Juve had chosen to snap him up before the summer's Euro'96 competition in case of any value increase. But after his poor, lackluster performances during the tournament, they probably saw their new commodity depreciate in value – leading Juventus president Gianni Agnelli to cuttingly remark: 'is the real Zidane the one I've heard so much about, or the one I' ve been watching? ' To be fair to Zidane, he had just completed a mammoth 65-match season. Then on the eve of the Euros, he suffered a car crash. His arrival in Turin signalled more 'new Platini' comparisons. But after a difficult period of adjustment to the new league, murmurs of disappointment could be heard throughout the Juve faithful, leading Zidane to announce: 'I'm Zinedine Zidane and it's important that the fans understand that I can never be Platini, on or off the pitch. ' He was right. Zidane was a totally different character to the former Juventus number 10, and what's more that shirt at Juve now belonged to Del Piero. Zidane's squad number at La Vecchia Signora was 21 – an alien number to a fantasista, however after the frosty start in Turin his performances started to resemble a true fantasista. With winning goals against championship rivals Inter, and by helping Juve secure their second Intercontinental Cup in November versus River Plate, Zidane silenced his doubters. The win was made even sweeter for Zidane as he faced his teenage idol, Enzo Francescoli. The Uruguayan fantasista was ending his career back at the club where he had shot to fame. For Zidane, life couldn't get any better.

Only it could.

That trophy was the first major of his senior career and sparked a remarkable winning period which would see him collect nearly every major trophy the sport had to offer during an incredible career. His stay at the Turin giants saw him win the Scudetto twice, a UEFA Supercup and another Intertoto Cup. During the same period with France he collected the 1998 World Cup and then followed it up with the European Championship in 2000. The only major trophy which evaded him was the Champions League. He had finished runner-up twice with Juve and now it seemed like his Holy Grail. It was probably a major factor in his decision to leave Juventus in the summer of 2001, when Real Madrid came calling and splashed out a whopping £ 47m for his services. The Real president Florentino Perez was embarking on his first galactico project, signing the best players in the world. And at this time, nobody was better than Zidane, having also picked up the greatest accolades any individual player could win – the Ballon d'Or in 1998, and World Player of the Year in that same year, whilst also collecting it in 2000. In 1996 when he arrived at Juventus he may have been labeled as an inferior model to the great Platini, but in 2001 he was leaving having certainly surpassed him.

In Spain, Zidane won the watching Bernabeau faithful over instantly. They adored his velvet touch and instant control. His mastery over the ball reminded their older followers of their glorious players from the past – not least their greatest ever player, Alfredo Di Stefano, who's number 5 shirt Zidane now wore (the number 10 shirt was taken by Real's first galactico, Luis Figo) . The similarity would be greatly enhanced by the end of that season, when Zidane inspired Madrid to reach the European Cup final in Glasgow – scene of their infamous 7-3 victory in 1960 versus Eintracht Frankfurt from Germany. During that match the great Di Stefano was at the peak of his powers, scoring a hat-trick. Real's modern day number 5 couldn't quite emulate three goals, but scored what is considered the greatest goal in European Cup final history – a tremendous volley with his left foot (his wrong foot) from the edge of the penalty box, to lead Real to a 2-1 win over Bayer Laverkusen … from Germany. He had completed his Holy Grail.

Zidane won further trophy's whilst in Spain, adding a La Liga championship, a UEFA Supercup and another Intercontinental Cup to his now bursting trophy cabinet. He also claimed a third World Player of the Year award in 2003, making him the joint highest ever recipient (alongside Ronaldo).

Zizou was more than a collection of awards though. To watch him play during his peak was like watching the top ballet star perform, albeit in football boots, such was his elegance and technique when controlling and gliding with the ball. His signature move, the roulette, looked like a graceful pirouette performed in the middle of a clumsy mob, leaving his midfield markers dumfounded and kicking fresh air. His attributes led Michel Platini to observe: 'Technically, I think he is the king of what's fundamental in the game – control and passing. I don't think anyone can match him when it comes to controlling or receiving the ball. ' Brazilian coaching legend Carlos Alberto Parreira put it rather more bluntly, though non-the less complimentary, simply labeling him: 'a monster!'

Unlike many of the other legendary fantasisti, Zidane wasn't a great goalscorer, never reaching double figures in Italy or Spain. However, he was most definitely a scorer of great goals. More importantly he was a scorer of decisive goals in big games, especially on the international stage. He scored twice (two identical headers) in the 1998 World Cup final, when France beat Brazil 3-1 to win their first ever (and only) World Cup. During Euro 2000 he scored a sublime free-kick in the quarter-finals versus Spain, then, followed it up scoring a Golden Goal in the semi-final win versus Portugal. Euro 2004 saw a poor French performance but Zidane provided one of the highlights of the competition when scoring twice (a free-kick and a penalty) in injury time, turning a 1-0 defeat into a 2-1 victory versus England during the opening group game. Cementing his place as a legendary World Cup performer in 2006 Zidane scored the winner, another penalty versus Portugal in the semi-final. He then scored (another penalty) again in another World Cup final, giving France an early lead against Italy in what was his final match as a professional footballer (he had announced his retirement from the game before the tournament). Sadly for him, France lost that game. Even sadder was the fact that Zidane wasn't able to stay on the pitch until the final whistle – having received a red card. Unfortunately for Zizou, red cards also form part of his legend.

As a playmaker Zidane's expression was all in his creative flair and artistry. However, during his career he was no stranger to some unsavory incidents on the football pitch. Zidane was sent-off a massive 12 times during his career (including five times at Juventus and twice whilst at Real Madrid) – mostly for retaliation. These violent flashpoints were in direct contrast to his perceived cool persona as he glided around the field, though his brooding, often moody stare also served as a warning; he was a player who would not be bullied. His response to provocation was first noted during his younger days at Cannes. Whilst he never started any trouble, he knew how to take care of himself. As Richard Williams deftly puts it in his excellent book 'The Perfect 10', he would respond: 'in a way that might be expected from a boy formed in a tough quarter of a hard-nosed city, where an injury might be repaid with a headbutt '. Fast forward 18 years and Marco Materazzi was living testament that age had not mellowed Zidane's own sense of personal justice – a flying headbutt to the Italian's chest in response to alleged provocation during the 2006 World Cup final. His last act as a professional footballer.

Many forget however, that this was not Zizou's first red card during a World Cup tournament. Indeed during France's triumphant World Cup victory in 1998 it is very easy to forget, in all the hysteria of his two headed goals in the final, that he was briefly a French villain. During the second group game versus Saudi Arabia, the balding fantasista inexplicably lost his cool and stamped on the back of the Saudi captain whilst he was lay on the ground after a challenge. It left the watching world mystified, as this time Zidane's brand of personal justice seemed to come without any direct provocation. The French poster-boy was given a two match suspension, putting 'Les Bleus' campaign in jeopardy – the then captain Didier Deschamps summing up the nervous feeling of the nation: 'I know he's impulsive, but he's put us all at risk'. Indeed without Zidane, the French struggled (eventually winning) in their last-16 tie versus Paraguay – which is testament to the effect Zizou had on the national team. This would become a worrying noticeable feature of all the French teams for the next decade; such was Zidane's stature and ability. With him, they were world beaters, without him they looked also rans. During qualification for the 2006 finals, the French (without Zidane who had announced his international retirement in 2004) almost failed to qualify. Zidane (along with Thuram and Makelele) answered the call to help out his country and was immediately reinstated as captain. In doing so he instantly rejuvenated the French who went on to reach the (ill-fated) final of the tournament – along the way knocking out previous and future champions Brazil and Spain, with Zidane in imperious form and winning the competition's Most Valuable Player award .

So with this fantasista, we had the beauty and the beast. The grace and the violence. Taking the rough with the smooth, he was one hell of a player – maybe Parreira had described him best after all … he was a monster!

Bio

Born: 23rd June 1972 in Marseille (France)

Height: 1.85m / 6ft 1 ''

Career

1988-1992: Cannes – 61 apps / 6 goals

1992-1996: Bordeaux – 139 apps / 28 goals

1996-2001: Juventus – 151 apps / 24 goals

2001-2006: Real Madrid – 155 apps / 37 goals

Totals: 506 app / 95 goals

1994-2006: France – 108 caps / 31 goals

Honors

World Player of the Year: 1998, 2000, 2003

Ballon D'Or: 1998

FIFA World Cup: 1998

UEFA European Championship: 2000

UEFA Champions League: 2002

UEFA Supercup: 1996, 2002

Intercontinental Cup: 1996, 2002

Serie A Champions: 1997, 1998

La Liga Champions: 2003

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Soccer Betting – The "Asian Handicap"

A draw, or tied score, is a frequent outcome in soccer. In the 2008-2009 season, almost a quarter of all Premier League matches resulted in a draw. Because such an outcome is so common, traditional betting usually involves betting within the context of three different outcomes: a win for one team, a draw, or a win for the other team. The «Asian handicap» is a means of changing this by «handicapping» the underdog by a certain percentage, meaning that a draw becomes impossible.

Most handicaps are made at intervals of one half or one quarter, meaning that there has to be a winner since it is impossible to score a half or quarter goal. The purpose is to make the odds as close to 50-50 as possible and eliminating the draw as a possible outcome. Because the odds are almost half when a handicap is applied, the payout is usually even money, or very close to it.

The primary benefit is encouraging punters to bet on matches where there is a clear favorite. For example, if Manchester United (winner of the Premier League in the 2008-2009 season) were to play West Bromwich (the bottom team of the Premier League during the same season), few punters would be interested in betting. This is because Manchester United is a much better team and the odds are strongly in their favor.

However, if West Bromwich was given a handicap of +2.5, it would mean that they would be effectively starting with a lead of 2.5 goals. This means Manchester United would have to score three goals more than West Bromwich to be the winner as far as the bet is concerned. If West Bromwich scored one goal, then Manchester would have to score four to win. Handicapping obviously changes the odds significantly.

An interesting aspect of handicapping is the push. If an even number is used for the handicap, and the actual score plus the handicap equals a draw, then this is a push. For example, if in the example given above West Bromwich was given a handicap of 2 and failed to score any goals, and Manchester United only scored two goals, this would be a push. The result of a push is that all the punters receive their original wagers returned as there was no winner.

The «Asian Handicap» adds an additional element to soccer betting that can be both fun and profitable. This form of betting can be helpful for those punters that have a personal favorite that they intend to bet on, but are not confident that their favorite will win a particular match.

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Michael McIntyre Facts

Fun facts about Michael McIntyre the comedian

Currently the number one stand up comedian in the UK, Michael McIntyre is now enjoying fame and fortune with a sell out UK tour and bestselling DVD.

But actually he was not an overnight success and for many years played small gigs before his big break when he secured a live spot at the royal variety performance. He now regularly appears on hit TV shows such as the Jonathan Ross show and Mock the week but only a few years ago he was still performing at the Edinburgh festival.

Here are some facts for all you comedy fans…

Michael was born in Merton on 15th February 1976

He comes from a show business family as his father helped write the popular bbc comedy The Kenny Everret Show

He attended Edinburgh University for one year before dropping out.

Michael McIntyres debut comedy DVD «Live and Laughing» was the fastest selling debut DVD of all time.

His big break came on the royal variety performance in 2006 when his performance received rave reviews

Before making the big time he played many small clubs including an attic at the Edinburgh festival.

Michael McIntyre’s wife, Kitty is a qualified aromatherapist.

He supports the football team Tottenham Hotspur ( Spurs )

His latest DVD «Hello Wembley» is another success story as it instantly became a number one bestseller at Amazon

His live comedy shows are sold out throughout the country and he plays to arenas as big as the O2 arena in London.

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