Who should be England’s new captain? Here’s the top five contenders…

3 Comments

After Steven Gerrard announced his international retirement on Monday, the English national team are now looking for a new captain.

Gerrard, 34, has skippered the side since 2012 when Roy Hodgson took charge of the Three Lions but after 114 appearances for England he is finally calling it quits.

[RELATED: Gerrard retires from England duty]

Growing up, every Englishman dreams of captaining their national team but only a handful get to make that dream a reality.

Who will follow in Gerrard’s footsteps? Here are five fellows that I believe could be worthy of the sacred armband.

Wayne Rooney

Despite his spotty form for club and country of late, 28-year-old Rooney is the prime candidate to replace Gerrard as skipper. Sure, he’s had some tantrums and got silly red cards which have let down the national team in the past, but in recent years he has matured and is on course to become not only England’s leading appearance holder (currently has 95 caps) but also the leading goalscorer in the nations’ history. Roy Hodgson believes Rooney is a key cog in England’s machine and it is highly likely the Manchester United forward will wear the armband for the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and beyond.

Joe Hart

Hart is 27 and already has 43 England caps to his name. If England are looking for continuity from their leader then the Man City ‘keeper is the way to go. With no real pressure being put on him as England’s number one, Hart could easily break the all-time caps record and play for the Three Lions for another decade. At least. He is a leader, has plenty of big game experience and with the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Hugo Lloris and Iker Casillas handed the captaincy for other national teams, don’t rule this out.

source: Getty Images
Will Hart, left, take over the captain’s armband from Gerrard?

Gary Cahill

One of the few players to come out of England’s World Cup campaign with his head held high, Cahill is a ‘proper’ English center half. Throwing his body on the line time and time again to block shots, make tackles and get attacks going, the Chelsea man inspires others with his actions. At the age of 28 he is just coming into his prime and would be a great captain of the national team. If he can get a decent partner in central defense for England, Cahill will lead England’s resurgence from the back.

Jack Wilshere

Bit of a controversial choice here, but Wilshere has all the tools to be a future England captain. Just 22, this is a bit of wildcard selection but I love the way Wilshere puts his heart and soul into every game. As we’ve seen in recent months he still needs to clean up his act off the field… but the Arsenal youngster is so good on the ball in midfield and has the ability to both pass and tackle his way out of trouble. He could be seen as the perfect character to get England to roll their sleeves up and turn the nations fortunes around. Controversial but worth a punt.

Theo Walcott

Yeah, throwing this one out there as Walcott will be one of the most experienced players left on the squad (how crazy is that!?) when the September qualifiers arrive. Theo has now missed out on the 2010 and 2014 World Cups through injury but when he is fit you’d expect him to be an integral part of England’s squad. Just 25, think how many more caps the Arsenal winger would have had he stayed injury free. Walcott has scored only five times in 36 games but on his day he’s a match-winner. Plus, he’s yet to reach his prime. Level-headed off the field and a perfect rode model, could the likes of Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling and John Stones flourish from the example he sets?

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

Photo by Visual China/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

Photo by Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy/Qatar 2022 via Getty Images
Leave a comment

An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

Photo credit: Liverpool FC / Twiter: @LFC
Leave a comment

It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million — a new Liverpool club record — and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.