Emotional Beckham: “Now is the time to retire”

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After announcing his retirement this afternoon, the soccer world is reflecting on David Beckham’s decision to stop playing the beautiful game.

So who better to hear from…than the man himself.

In an exclusive interview with British broadcasters, Beckham sat down in his Paris hotel room this afternoon to chat with former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville — who also happens to be one of his closest friends — to discuss his entire career.

First up, why now?

“I think over the years when I’ve seen players retire when you ask them about it, they say ‘you will know when you’re ready.’ And I think I am ready,” Beckham said. “Obviously it is a difficult decisions. Because I still feel that I can play at the top level, and I still have done for the last six months. But I always secretly said to myself that I want to go out at the top. If you had said to me eight months ago that I would be playing in the French League and winning the French League I would have probably said absolutely no chance. But I was given the opportunity to come to PSG. And I just feel now is the time.”

(More: Who had the bigger impact on U.S. soccer, Beckham or Pele?)

Beckham repeatedly said “I think this is the right time,” in the interview with Sky Sports, so Neville pushed him and asked “Do you think or do you know this is the right time to retire?”

“I think. I love the game so much. I just feel that. I don’t know. It is the right time. I believe it is the right time. But I always feel like I can do more, that’s the problem,” Beckham laughed.

Then Beckham revealed the moment when he realized he should retire.

“I think it came when I saw Messi running past me when we played Barcelona! I don’t know. I have been so lucky throughout my career. The fact that I have played for the clubs that I have played for, with the players I have played with, won the trophies that I’ve won. Playing in MLS last year winning the championship their and then coming to PSG and winning the French league here, I think it is a good way to go out.”

(More: Beckham’s Most memorable moments on the world stage)

Of course Beckham has always gone out on top, wherever he has been. He has won trophies in his final games for United, Real Madrid, LA and now PSG. So, yeah, might as well go out on top, Becks.

“It is every athlete’s dream, every footballers dream to go out on the top form or winning a trophy,” Beckham said. “It doesn’t happen that often. I’ve been lucky. It’s written. It’s simple, your leaving as a champion. I think that’s why I am going out at the right time.”

(More: Beckham’s five most memorable moments in U.S. soccer)

Beckham then touched on his legacy, what he wanted to be remembered as and he spoke of his annoyance that sometimes people forgot what he does on the pitch and instead focus on his off-field activities.

“I just want people to see me as a hard-working footballer. As someone that is passionate about the game and someone that every time I’ve stepped on the pitch I’ve given everything I have. That’s how I look back on it and hope people will see me,” Beckham said. “Over the years of my life and my career, people have looked at certain other things that have gone on throughout my career and I think sometimes that has overshadowed what I have done on the pitch or achieved on the pitch. As much as I say that doesn’t hurt me, of course it does. At the end of the day I am a footballer who has achieved almost everything in football, of course it hurts when people, not question you, but think about other things.”

Finally the 38-year-old midfielder, who has become the most recognizable soccer star on the planet during his sparkling career, summed up the end of his playing days with a tear in his eye and a wry smile.

“To come to the end of my career now and look back and say I’ve achieved everything with every club that I’ve played for. Played for my country 100 times, been runner-up twice for world player of the year to two amazing footballers, I am very proud of that.”

PHOTOS: The life and times of Beckham

VIDEO: 10 red cards in abandoned Brazilian game

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This is utterly bonkers.

There are plenty of derbies around the globe which put fans and players on edge, but this was different.

Vitoria and Bahia squared off in the Bahia State derby in Salvador, Brazil and the match was abandoned amid violent scenes on the pitch which saw 10 players sent off.

The first half saw eight yellows dished out, but it all kicked off in the 50th minute after Vinicius scored a penalty kick for Bahia and shall we say danced before appearing to hump mid-air in front of the Vitoria fans. Predictably, that didn’t go down well.

Chaos ensued (see the video clip below) as punches flew in and the referee ended up sending off eight players, which included substitutes nearby, as all hell broke loose behind the Vitoria goal.

After a lengthy break, eventually three Vitoria players were sent off and five from Bahia, but there was to be more drama as two more Vitoria players were sent off in the 79th minute to take their tally of players on the pitch to seven.

That meant the game was abandoned and Bahia will likely be awarded a 3-0 victory.

The next time someone tells you a derby game is particularly “feisty” just show them the video below…


Arsenal sign record-breaking deal with Emirates

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Arsenal have announced a new sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines which will run until 2024 and is said to be worth over $56 million per season.

In a statement released on the club website, they call the five-year extension to the current deal “largest sponsorship deal ever signed by the club” as Emirates will continue to appear on the shirts and training gear of all of the teams.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis revealed the reason behind extending the relationship with Emirates.

“Our shirt partnership is the longest running in the Premier League and one of the longest relationships in world sport. This mutual commitment is testimony to the strength and depth of our unique relationship. Emirates are again demonstrating their great belief in our approach and ambition and their significantly increased investment will help us continue to compete for trophies and bring more success to the club and our fans around the world.”

The Gunners also confirmed that their home stadium will be known as the Emirates Stadium until at least 2028, as per the agreement reached in 2012.

Where do Arsenal rank in terms of shirt sponsorship deals?

Manchester United lead the way with their deal with Chevrolet said to be worth over $74.2 million per year, while Chelsea sit in second with a $56 million per year partnership with Yokohama but the Gunners are now alongside their London rivals.

Manchester City and Tottenham are just behind them when it comes to sponsorship deals, while Liverpool’s relationship with Standard Chartered runs until the end of next season.

Money from Wembley replay will ‘support Rochdale for two or three years’

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Worst-case scenario for Tottenham Hotspur: drawing League One side Rochdale in Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round clash; best-case scenario for the Dale: drawing the Premier League giants and forcing a replay at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

For a club the size of Rochdale — 10,200-seat stadium, and never been above the third tier of English soccer — the financial impact of raking in half of the game’s gate receipts “will support the club for the next two or three years,” according to manager Keith Hill — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t know how much it is worth but a lot of money has gone into the new pitch. That was a heavy investment for us. Hopefully the money we make will support the club for the next two or three years. We will cut our cloth accordingly and we won’t be in debt.”

As for Steve Davies’ 93rd-minute equalizer, Hill was adamant that it was nothing short of what they “deserved”:

“It was a feeling of reward, not relief, because the performance deserved at least the opportunity for us to go to Wembley for a replay. I’ve always wanted to do that against a Premier League team and manager. Why not take them on and try to win? It could have been football suicide but I thought we gained their respect and to score the goal we did was tremendous. The players were magnificent.”

Tottenham Hotspur, soccer philanthropists.

Try, try again: Messi seeks 1st goal vs. Chelsea in 9th attempt

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LONDON (AP) As unlikely as it sounds, Lionel Messi is still waiting to score his first goal against Chelsea after drawing a blank in eight previous Champions League matches.

The five-time World Player of the Year is likely to get another chance to break his duck this week and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the past will count for little when Barcelona visits Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

“I hope we maintain this tradition but we are speaking about a fantastic player,” Conte said ahead of the last-16, first-leg Champions League game. “The most important thing is the present.

“We must have great respect but at the same time we must be excited to play this type of game and take on this type of challenge. It won’t be easy because we know very well this player, we are talking about one of the best in the world.”

The teams have produced some epic games in the past although they have not met in the Champions League since Chelsea pulled off a remarkable backs-to-the-wall semifinal victory over Barcelona on the way to winning the trophy in 2012.

Messi missed a penalty in the second leg at the Nou Camp as the London club overcame the first-half dismissal of captain John Terry, and a 2-0 deficit, to draw the game 2-2 and secure an unforgettable 3-2 aggregate win.

Bayern Munich hosts Besiktas in Tuesday’s other game while the following day sees Manchester United traveling to Sevilla, and Shakhtar Donetsk playing host to Roma.

Two weeks ago, the prospect of a Chelsea win over Barca would have been unthinkable after Conte’s men had slumped to successive defeats by two of the Premier League’s lesser lights.

The London club was still smarting from a 3-0 home loss against Bournemouth when it traveled to Watford and succumbed to an embarrassing 4-1 reverse.

Chelsea has got back on track since then, though, easing past West Bromwich Albion 3-0 in the league last Monday before swatting aside second-tier Hull 4-0 in the FA Cup four days later.

Conte has several selection dilemmas. He must choose between captain Gary Cahill and Antonio Rudiger for a place at the back, and between Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud up front.

Cesc Fabregas will also be desperate to play against his former team but may have to settle for a spot on the bench.

Barca has lost only once in 38 matches this season since falling in the Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid in August. It has a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga and has reached the final of the Copa del Rey.

Messi is having another stellar campaign, scoring 27 times in all competitions, and he helped set up two goals in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Eibar.

Philippe Coutinho is ineligible for Barca following his move from Liverpool.