Three good questions for Clint Dempsey – Part II: London calling

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Clint Dempsey will never be one of these American soccer exports who spirits off to England and lets a little too much “England” creep into the voice and the lexicon.

The Tottenham Hotspur and U.S. international does acknowledge that his personal arsenal of, uh, “big boy soccer words” may have expanded due to hanging out with so many passers and trappers from England and other lands. Their “words of emphasis,” we’ll call them, are a little different than ours, you know.

Otherwise, Dempsey may live in London and play his gritty brand of soccer at White Hart Lane in the northern reaches of that wonderfully storied megacity, but never look for him to relinquish hold on his roots.

In time arranged by Spurs and the United States national team, I talked to Dempsey on Saturday. (This is the second of three parts of the interview.)

Q: You signed with Fulham early in 2007, so at this point you’ve spent the bulk of your adult life living in England. At this point, do you relate to things more like a Texan who takes long visits to England, or more like an Englishman who likes to visit Texas and the States?

Oh, no. The only thing that is difficult when I get back home is getting adjusting to that heat and humidity in Texas. When I get back home, around my family, and my fishing, I’m always a Texan. I’ve got a “Texas” tatted on my elbow. I feel like I’ll be a Texan until I die. Definitely, and American too. I’m not switching up at all.  I’m not going to have my accent change. And I’m definitely looking forward to going back to the States one day.

“Every now and then, there might be a word here or there, like some British cuss words that I may have picked up in the locker rooms. But for most part, I feel like I haven’t changed. I stay who I am.”

Q: It must be nice when some of your family gets over to England to see you play around White Hart Lane. How often does that happen?

They get to come up there a pretty good number of times. My mom and dad will come up two or three times a year, for about two weeks at a time. My brother and sisters, they’ll probably get to come up for a week every year. When I’m in North Carolina, they will come up for a week there. And when I’m in Texas, I get to see them four or five days, but it’s difficult with work and stuff like that. But we do our best to make sure we all see each other as much as possible.”

Q: You said earlier the schedule has you re-joining Spurs for that trip into Hong Kong around July 18 or so. You got into the team so late last summer, the thought of getting an entire preseason with manager André Villas-Boas and all your Tottenham teammates must sound quite nice?

Oh, yeah. It’s always important to get a full preseason with the team and to get on the same page with each other. You want to start the season on a good note, try to get those wins, get yours stats up, because you want to start the season good individually and collectively … I’m looking forward to that, getting into a team already kind of settled and not playing catch-up like last year, getting that full preseason under my belt and hitting the ground running right from the start of the season.”

(MORE: Part I looks at Dempsey’s summers away and his ‘chill’ time)

(MORE: Part III looks at Dempsey’s upcoming season with Spurs)

UEFA Champions League semifinal predictions

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With the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League to kick off over the next few days, let’s take a look at both games and predict which teams will make it to the final in Kiev on May 26.

[ MORE: Champions League scores

Liverpool or Roma? Real Madrid or Bayern Munich?

Here’s the lowdown as two eagerly anticipated games take center stage across Europe.


Liverpool vs. AS Roma
First leg: Apr. 24, 2:45 p.m. ET at Anfield
Second leg: May 2, 2:45 p.m. ET at Stadio Olimpico

This should be one heck of a tie with defending optional for both teams but both have very different ways of playing. Jurgen Klopp will unleash the fluid trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on an often brittle Roma defense but the Italian giants have a giant in their own up top in the shape of Edin Dzeko. How Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool’s defense deal with the threat of Dzeko will likely decide the outcome of this game. Liverpool will look to feed off the famous Anfield atmosphere to wrack up a big first leg lead before they head to Roma for Leg 2, and I fancy Salah to blow his old team away in the first leg. Liverpool to advance 4-2 on aggregate.

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid
First leg: Apr. 25, 2:45 p.m. ET at Allianz Arena
Second leg: May 1, 2:45 p.m. ET at Santiago Bernabeu

A proper heavyweight clash as Bayern and Real do battle knowing that whoever wins will be the favorites in the final. Cristiano Ronaldo is in the form of his life (again) after a slow start to this season and Zinedine Zidane’s side made hard work of it against Juventus in the last round but are on course for a third-straight UCL trophy. As for Bayern, they have been in imperious form and you feel like Robert Lewandowski can get the better of Real’s center backs. Expect this to be a tight game with extremely high quality from both teams. Real being at home in the second leg is a big advantage. Real Madrid to advance 3-2 on aggregate. 

Cologne’s Hector extends contract despite likely relegation

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COLOGNE, Germany (AP) Germany defender Jonas Hector has shunned reported interest from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund by extending his contract with Cologne – despite the club’s almost certain relegation from the Bundesliga.

Cologne, eight points from safety with three games remaining, says its 27-year-old captain has signed a two-year extension to 2023 instead of using a release clause in his contract.

Hector, who has been at the club since 2010, says, “It wouldn’t have been a problem to switch to another club after this season but it didn’t feel right for me. I belong to Cologne and want to tackle the new season with the team and the fans behind us.”

Cologne sporting director Armin Veh says Hector’s decision is, “a great signal for the team, the club and our fans.”

Klopp talks politics: “Brexit makes no sense”

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Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of Brexit and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Liverpool’s German manager has spoken in the past about his disdain towards the vote by British citizens to leave the European Union, with Brexit officially planned for March 2019.

Klopp sat down with the Guardian to chat about a whole host of topics but it was his political views which will get the headlines ahead of Liverpool’s huge UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday.

The man who has Liverpool on the cusp of reaching a major European final and comfortably in the top four of the Premier League also admitted that he has a “helping syndrome” and wants to help out everyone and he cares about them greatly.

It is worth letting the words speak for themselves when it comes to Klopp’s comments on Brexit as it is clearly something else he cares a lot about.

Take it away, Jurgen…

“When Mr [David] Cameron had the idea [of a referendum] you thought: ‘This is not something people should decide in a moment.’ We are all influenced by the way only some of the argument is given, and once the decision is taken nobody gives you a real opportunity to change it again. The choice was either you stay in Europe, which is not perfect, or you go out into something nobody has any idea how it will work.

“So you give people the chance to make this big decision. And then it’s a 51-49 [51.9%-48.1%] vote and you’re thinking: ‘Wow, 49% are not happy with the decision that’s going to change the country.’ For the 51%, I’m sure they realized pretty early after the vote: ‘What have we done?’ The two leaders of the leave campaign then stepped aside. It was a pure sign they were surprised themselves by the vote. OK, that can happen. But then, come on, let’s sit together again. Let’s think about it again and let’s vote again with the right information – not with the information you’ve got around the Brexit campaign. They were obviously not right, not all of them. It makes no sense at all.”

“The EU is not perfect but it was the best idea we had. History has always shown that when we stay together we can sort out problems. When we split then we start fighting. There was not one time in history where division creates success. So, for me, Brexit still makes no sense.”

VIDEO: Napoli fans celebrate Juventus win

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It is safe to say Napoli’s fans were pretty happy with the 1-0 win their team secured at Juventus on Sunday.

Kalidou Koulibaly powered home a header in stoppage as Napoli moved just one point behind Juventus, who sit top of the Serie A table, with four games to go. The title race is well and truly on in Italy.

The scenes across Naples after the game were incredible and when the players arrived back at the airport at around 3 a.m. local time they were greeted by thousands of adoring fans.

Take a look at the video below. Wow.