Gary Lineker

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Tom Brady not at the Patriots? It will remind you of these soccer legends

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In light of Tom Brady heading to either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and LA Rams after ending his legendary 20-year with the New England Patriots, which soccer legends have ended their careers at similarly random teams?

This article was inspired by a similar piece NBC Sports’ lead baseball writer over at Hardball Talk, Craig Calcaterra, published on Tuesday and it is certainly fascinating to look back at some of the great players synonymous with one particular teams or nation who finished their days in very different surroundings.

Here’s a look at a few random endings to legendary careers and feel free to send your own in the comments section below.

Ian Wright

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Arsenal legend Ian Wright, who became their all-time leading goalscorer when at the club, moved on to Burnley, Celtic, Nottingham Forest and West Ham in the final years of his career and it just didn’t seem, right (pardon the pun). Wright playing in claret and blue was strange, even though he had played for Crystal Palace before moving to Arsenal, when you think of Wright you think of him scoring at the Clock End at Highbury and wildly celebrating as only he could. You don’t think of him scoring at Turf Moor for Burnley in the third-tier. Ever.

Pep Guardiola 

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Pep Guardiola is a legend as a player and manager at Barcelona (probably more so the latter) as the holding midfielder was a key cog in the Barca team which won their first-ever European Cup in 1992 at Wembley. After 13 years at Barcelona he then played for Brescia (twice) and Roma in Italy before beginning an extremely nomadic final few years. After stops at Al-Ahli in Qatar and finally Dorados Sinola followed a spell at Sampdoria, with Guardiola playing 10 times and scoring one goal for the Mexican club. The reason he played for Dorados and finished his career there was due to being at management school in Axocopan, Atlixco, Puebla. That’s right, a spell living, playing and learning in the city known to be home of the notorious Sinaloa cartel fronted by ‘El Chapo’ helped turn Guardiola into one of the best coaches the game has ever seen.

Gary Lineker

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Photo by Peter Robinson – PA Images via Getty Images

Gary Lineker’s incredible goalscoring career saw him play for many clubs as he started at hometown team Leicester City then move on to Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham before ending his career at Nagoya Grampus Eight of the J-League. Because of course. Third in England’s all-time leading goalscorer list, Lineker spent the last two years of his career in Japan. The man who was the leading goalscorer at the 1986 World Cup has since become a very successful broadcaster with various outlets. Many people forget about him ending his playing days in Japan, though, and when you think of Lineker you think about him scoring goals for England and English clubs.


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One of the greatest midfielders of all-time who made one of the best, if not the best, teams of all-time tick, Xavi Hernandez will always be a Barcelona legend after making 767 appearances for them in all competitions. After a stunning 24-year career at the Nou Camp which saw him come through the academy ranks to captain the side as he won eight league titles, three Spanish cups, four Champions League titles and two Club World Cups (to go alongside his two European Championships and a World Cup for Spain) Xavi left Barca to play for Al Sadd in Qatar. He is now Al Sadd’s manager but his decision to see out his playing days with three years in the Qatari Stars League was seen as extremely bizarre, at the time.

Wayne Rooney

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Wayne Rooney is currently playing for Derby County in England’s second-tier and that isn’t how we expected him to come to the end of his career. Rooney, 34, has been mildly successful in spells back at Everton and then at D.C. United after leaving Man United in the summer of 2017 but playing in the Championship for Derby is a strange ending for the all-time leading goalscorer of both England and Man United. His move to Derby sees him taking on coaching responsibilities with the youth teams too, so there’s a pathway into management, just like Xavi.

Pochettino says VAR call inspired Leicester; Twitter has knives out

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Mauricio Pochettino worked a marvel with the English language in describing how VAR affected the late stages of Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 loss to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Spurs looked to have doubled its home lead with 20 minutes to play when Serge Aurier belted a far post shot past the reach of Kasper Schmeichel, but a lengthy video review showed Heung-Min Son‘s shoulder was maybe possibly offside.

[ RECAP: Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham ]

Clear and obvious? Mehhhhhhh.

Pochettino, oddly enough, chose not to debate the call but instead focused on the momentum he believes it provided to Leicester City en route to Ricardo Pereira‘s near-immediate answer and James Maddison‘s late winner.

“After 80 minutes, the game was going to be over. You gave massive belief to the team that was already dead. After we conceded the goal 1-1, we had some chances to score the second goal, but that’s what makes the Premier League the most beautiful league. You can never stop.”

He was optimistic on the overall performance following a disheartening 2-2 draw with Olympiacos at midweek, as Spurs threw away a 2-0 first half lead over the Greek hosts.

“Very disappointed because we lost the three points but in thinking the big picture I am very optimistic because the team showed great reaction after Olympiacos.”

Meanwhile, much of the rest of Twitter’s soccer world was a bit less forgiving of VAR. Even Leicester City legend Gary Lineker sent venom to the Video Assistant Referee.

Newport County celebrates memorable upset of Leicester

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Newport County is buzzing after the League Two side took down Premier League mainstays Leicester City 2-1 in FA Cup action on Sunday at Rodney Parade.

[ MORE: FA Cup recaps ]

Manager Michael Flynn — no, not the disgraced former U.S. national security advisor — has been with the club for five separate stints, four as a player and one as a manager, and that will make this victory all the sweeter.

The 38-year-old shared that there could be no post-match champagne showers, and no one can blame the Exiles for not having the bubbly prepared for an upset of the former Premier League champions.

“We didn’t have any beers or champagne in there so we had to make do with water. And my assistant Wayne Hatswell said that Gary Lineker owes him a pint because he keeps going on about the own goal he scored.”

Hatswell scored one of the most viewed own goals in FA Cup history, and TV presenter Lineker has talked it up plenty in addition to being a Leicester legend and supporter.

Here’s the goal.

Jamaica-born Jamille Matt scored the first goal of the match.

The 29-year-old has never played above the League One level, and has both specific and broad hopes for the next round. From the BBC:

“I’m an Arsenal fan so look no further than that. I’d love to play them at the Emirates or here would be brilliant as well. But any Premier League club would be great to be honest.”

Matt and his teammates will be celebrating this one for a long while, and the parties in Newport County should be next level.

As for Flynn, he won’t be partying wildly into the night, at least not publicly.

“I’ll have a few drinks with the wife tonight. It’s about being with the people who support you and are with you when times are bad as well, and my wife does that for me.”

VIDEO: Mourinho on which Man Utd players he “would’ve never sold”

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he took over a “sad” club this summer, and part of that is done to the quality of players sold by previous bosses.

Speaking to Gary Lineker, Mourinho says he would have “never” sold at least three players unloaded by United.

[ MORE: Klopp on facing Man City ]

Angel Di Maria, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, and Danny Welbeck would all remain Red Devils if Mourinho was in charge.

Mourinho also talks about Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 10-minute interview, posted above.

Gary Lineker: I “needed a shower” after lobbying FIFA delegates for World Cup votes


Just how grimy and unsavory is the world of FIFA? Given the recent goings-on regarding world football’s governing body, many of us may think we know, but according to England national team Gary Lineker, we have no idea.

[ FOLLOW: All of the latest #FIFAarrests news ]

England’s leading all-time international goalscorer shed a few rays of light this week on the not-so-pretty underbelly of FIFA, what he calls the “murky world” of football politics.

Lineker, a regular contributor to NBC Sports’ coverage of the Premier League, was speaking at the launch of BT Sport’s (UK) European football coverage, and had the following to say on his involvement in England’s lobbying efforts to host the 2018 World Cup, which was ultimately awarded to Russia:

“I couldn’t bear it. I wasn’t really involved in the bid but at the last minute they asked me to come over – I think because they heard I played golf with [UEFA president] Michel Platini. We were in the lobby the night before the vote and we were asked to be really nice and creepy to all these people. It wasn’t me. I don’t like pretending to crawl up people’s backsides. And we were the only ones doing it.

“I remember I was sat with David Beckham and turned to him at one point and said, ‘Have you noticed we’re the only nation that’s doing this? Do you get the feeling that it might already be done?’ So I had that sense at the end of it all of needing a shower.”

In short, England sent Gary Lineker and David Beckham — the United States (2022 World Cup bidders) sent Bill Clinton and Morgan Freeman, to be fair — while Russia and Qatar (2022 hosting rights winners) sent relative nobodies upon the successful completion of multi-million dollar wire transfers to FIFA delegates (allegedly).

As more and more details continue to trickle out, it becomes less and less a shock to anyone anywhere that Russia and Qatar will host the next two tournaments.