Steven Gerrard

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Kompany one of Premier League’s greatest leaders

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When you think of a club, usually one player pops into your mind straight away.

Vincent Kompany will be that player for Manchester City.

After his departure following 11 seasons which yielded 12 major trophies, Kompany’s legacy at Man City will be legendary and talk of a statue of him being built outside of the Etihad Stadium is serious and just. He is adored by Man City fans in Manchester and beyond, as he embraced every aspect of Man City and seemed to totally understand what the club means to the fans and the city.

But that appreciation spreads even further.

Kompany’s achievements on and off the pitch at City mean he is one of the all-time great leaders in the Premier League era.

I’m talking Tony Adams, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, John Terry, Alan Shearer and Steven Gerrard. He is right there in the same bracket.

Did he arrive at Man City at the right time? Sure. He was the skipper of the greatest, and most expensive, team ever assembled in English soccer.

But every great team has a great leader, and that is something money can’t buy.

Kompany’s determination and focus to set high standards day in, day out both on the training pitch and around the locker room is clear for all to see. As star names came and went, he was the one constant and he made sure every newbie put the club and fans first.

He arrived just before Sheikh Mansour took over in 2008 and 11 years later he has helped City become a behemoth in world soccer on and off the pitch while always staying humble despite as he delivered some brilliant individual moments along the way.

Kompany is an impressive man off the pitch, one who talks about politics, problems in his homeland of Belgium, and has worked hard to try and help tackle problems with homelessness in Manchester.

While he was at Man City he also completed his Masters Degree in Business Administration, all of that in his spare time while he led City to four PL titles in eight seasons and pushed them on as much as he could.

Injuries threatened to derail his great career over the past couple of campaigns, but the way he bounced back this season to drive City to the title in the final months of the campaign underlined his importance as a truly inspirational leader.

His stunning goal against Leicester City in the penultimate game of the season was pivotal in their title win and Kompany got the perfect send off by leading City to something no other men’s team in English soccer has ever achieved, winning all three domestic trophies available in one season.

The only success which evaded him was in Europe, as City reached the semifinal and quarterfinal stage of the UEFA Champions League but just couldn’t get over the line in that competition.

Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Joe Hart, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho will all have a special place in Man City’s history books, but it is the man who led them who will be lauded most for decades to come.

There’s no doubt aside from his new role as player-manager of his boyhood club Anderlecht, Kompany will go on to achieve great things in the business world and he seems destined to be involved in politics at some point as he will follow in the footsteps of his father who is a mayor of one of the 19 districts of Brussels.

Kompany’s status as one of the greatest leaders in Premier League will always be safe and as the song goes, “here’s to you Vincent Kompany, City loves you more than you will know, ohhhhh!”

You can tweak those lyrics to “City will always love you more than you will know” because he will go down as their greatest-ever captain.

England to play at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium

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The Three Lions are going on the road again. They are heading to the south coast of England.

It was announced on Wednesday that the English national team will play against Kosovo at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium in September, as they continue their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign.

The game will take place on Sept. 10 and will be the first competitive match England have played away from Wembley Stadium since 2006.

In recent years England have enjoyed going on the road to play friendlies, with games played in Leeds, Manchester, Sunderland and Leicester (in the Midlands and North of England) to try and help spread the love for the national team in cities across the country rather than playing every single game at Wembley in London.

Given the fact that Gareth Southgate‘s side reached the 2018 World Cup semifinals and the UEFA Nations League finals this summer, optimism levels for the Three Lions across England is close to an all-time high as their young squad continues to impress.

St Mary’s has only hosted one previous England game, which was back in 2002 as they drew 2-2 with Macedonia with David Beckham and Steven Gerrard scoring for the Three Lions.

This is a big boost for the City of Southampton with the England senior team rolling into town with St Mary’s hosting the U-21 side and the England women’s team in recent years. St Mary’s will also host games for the 2021 women’s UEFA European Championships which is being hosted in England.

Rose slams UEFA, says no interest in coaching in honest racism chat

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In a lengthy interview with Sky Sports, Tottenham and England defender Danny Rose spoke up about the racist abuse he has received in his career and spoke about his future in the game – or lack thereof.

Rose most notably criticized UEFA for its punishment of Montenegro for racist chants directed towards Rose and other players when England visited for a Nations League match in March. UEFA announced Montenegro would play its next home match behind closed doors, to which Rose replied he was “at a loss for words.”

I don’t think it’s a harsh enough punishment,” Rose said. “I’m not surprised. It’s obviously a bit of a shame this is where we’re at now and I just have to get on with it,” the England left-back added. It’s a bit shocking but there’s not much I can do now. I just hope I don’t ever have to play there again and we just have to move on now.”

The ban leaves Montenegro with an empty stadium for a visit from Kosovo for Euro 2020 qualification in early June.

The 28-year-old also said he has “no interest in” earning his coaching badges, calling it a “waste of time” due to the disadvantages black coaches face.

Rose said in early April that he “can’t wait to see the back of” the sport when he retires, and while at the time those comments were taken to mean he was excited to leave his playing days behind, he expanded upon those to say he has no desire to coach as well.

“When I said I wanted to walk away from football, people think I was just talking about the two or three incidents that have happened on the pitch,” Rose said to Sky Sports. “When I said that, I was talking about the lack of black managers in football now, or working upstairs in football clubs. People ask me if I want to do my coaching badges. Why? You are not given a chance, so no, I wouldn’t be looking forward to doing my badges – it is a waste of time. That is what I meant by I am looking forward to calling it day when the time is right.”

Rose pointed at former Tottenham and Arsenal defender Sol Campbell, currently in his first managerial job as boss of League Two side Macclesfield Town, compared to other former players. “No disrespect to League Two, others are at the top end of the Championship, top end of the Premier League for their first jobs, even national teams,” Rose said. “If somebody like Sol Campbell, with his resume, who he has played for, what he has won – possibly at the time there may have been an argument that he was England’s best centre-half – if he has had to go to the bottom of League Two, which I wouldn’t mind doing, and others get to be here, why would I want to do that?”

Steven Gerrard is the most high-profile recent case of a white former player earning a top-level job in his first go, currently in charge of Scottish side Rangers.

Marseille president proposes video-game like rule changes

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If he’s serious, Marseille’s club president could be proposing a rule change that would drastically alter the way soccer is played.

Speaking at a summit in France for start-up companies, Jacques-Henri Eyraud stated his support for allowing goals scored from shots fired outside of the box to count for two goals, instead of one. It would be similar to how in basketball, a ball shot from outside the arc is worth three points instead of two. Of course, when that rule came into existence in the NBA in the late 1970s, it completely revolutionized the game.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Eyraud compared the rule change to the ultra-popular FIFA video game, saying if it could happen in the video game, why not in real life (note: it’s unclear whether this is actually possible in FIFA, but Eyraud could have been speaking in hypotheticals).

“FIFA (the video game) is one of my competitors,” Eyraud said. “Fortnite is one of my competitors in the digital world. Football is extraordinarily conservative, it has to evolve. “Why does (the video game) now propose that a goal put outside of the box, is worth two points? Why could not that be the case in real life?”

While soccer is still the world’s most popular game, it’s true that video games in general – and the rising cost of tickets in certain countries – are having an impact on getting fans into the stadium. With the ease and joy of playing soccer in a video game, some people could be convinced to stay inside on their couch and enjoy the game from home instead of going out to the stadium.

It may just be a crazy idea or a marketing ploy, but it’s fun to think about how that rule change could revolutionize soccer. It would certainly have made players such as David Beckham and Steven Gerrard, as well as free kick experts like Beckham, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo all the more valuable. Plus, one free kick late in the match, with a team trailing 1-0, could lead to a dramatic 2-1 victory with one kick.

It probably won’t happen – though it would be cool to toggle that on in the FIFA video game – but it’s a fun idea to think about.

Gerrard’s Rangers thumped by Liverpool U-23’s in first half “embarrassment”

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Steven Gerrard was left red-faced after a squad of first-team fringe players fell behind 4-0 in the first half of a closed-door friendly against the Liverpool U-23 side.

While Rangers came back in the second half to secure a 4-4 draw, Gerrard will use the opening 45 minutes to weed out some players who are struggling. “First half was an embarrassment and the second half was fantastic,” Gerrard said of the match. “It was a very useful exercise for different reasons but in terms of us as staff, we learnt so much about the players individually.”

The former Liverpool star said that he was frustrated by the players he felt needed game time, but praised four young teenagers who came on for the second half and turned the game around. While officially the players were unnamed, reports on social media say Dapo Mebude, Kai Kennedy, Josh McPake, and Glenn Middleton – all 17 or 18 years old – came on for the second half and made an impact, with Mebude scoring a brace plus goals from McPake and Middleton to lead the comeback.

When asked about the purpose for holding the match, Gerrard explained that fitness was a key component, but admitted that some first-team players were participants in the first-half drubbing. “Well I think it’s a few different reasons really,” Gerrard said to the club’s official video channel. “The first was to give people game-time who haven’t played as much. We want to try and keep them as sharp and as fit as possible for the run-in. And the other reason was to have a look at some young talent that had been doing really well in the Reserves or the 18s and give them an opportunity to be around the first-team lads and see how they can cope playing against good players at Ibrox.”

Gerrard said that he learned a lot from the match, which could be ominous for the players who were on the field in the first 45 minutes. “It was a very useful game. I probably learned more in that 90 minutes about the players than I have done all season because it was a game of two halves.”

Rangers sit second in the Scottish Premiership table, nine points behind rivals Celtic with four matches to go. Liverpool’s U-23 side has the chance to finish as high as second in the Premier League 2 table with one match remaining, behind Everton who was already confirmed as champions.