Paul Pogba copies NBA and NFL with special rings for Antoine Griezmann, N’Golo Kane and France’s other World Cup winners

22 Mar

Paul Pogba has splashed out on specially commissioned diamond-encrusted rings for the entire World Cup winning France team.

France beat Croatia 4-2 in the final last July to win the competition for just the second time in their history.

France’s World Cup winners with their rings
@paulpogba on Instagram

Taking inspiration from the NFL and NBA where winners are awarded with a ring to remember their triumph, Pogba and Antoine Griezmann decided to remember their triumph in similar fashion.

Griezmann had done it after winning the Europa League with Atletico Madrid in 2018, but only made one for himself.

Championship rings such as this one, which was given to the Denver Broncos in 2016 for winning Super Bowl 50, are common in American football and basketball

The World Cup winners were presented with the rings when they met up for international duty this week with France in action against Moldova and Iceland in their Euro 2020 qualifier double header.

“It’s a small gesture after winning a World Cup with great players,” Pogba told a press conference earlier this week.

“I consider them family. It’s a small gift from me. A small gesture like that is nothing because a World Cup is for life. This ring you can lose, but the World Cup you do not lose that.”

Pogba later took to Instagram to show off the rings after they were brought to their Clairefontaine training base from Los Angeles, where they were made by Jason of Beverly Hills.

Each ring also has the player’s name engraved on the side with the words “World Champions” and “Russia 2018”.

Pogba has used time away from Manchester United to describe playing for Real Madrid and manager Zinedine Zidane – a 1998 World Cup winner with France – as a ‘dream’.

The 26-year-old did say he is happy at the Premier League club, though, his comments will cause concern.

REVEALED: How Man United could line-up with new additions, but WITHOUT Paul Pogba

Earlier in the week he talked up Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s influence on the United team and said players want him to stay.

When Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho in December it was in a caretaker’s role, but results have led to speculation he will get the full-time job at the end of the season.

“Of course we want him to stay,” Pogba said. “The results have been great. I have a great relationship with him, he has a great relationship with the players.”

Sam Allardyce EXCLUSIVE: ‘It could have been me’ – Former England boss admits watching the World Cup was tough after being forced to leave role

3 Nov

Sam Allardyce has admitted he found it hard to enjoy England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals in the summer after his acrimonious dismissal from his role as coach in 2016.

The former England manager was speaking to sports broadcaster and psychotherapist Gary Bloom on the latest episode of talkSPORT’s ‘On the Sporting Couch’ – the second series begins on Sunday November 4 at 8pm.

Former England manager Sam Allardyce.

The 64-year-old had to leave the job after just 67 days and one match – a 1-0 win over Slovakia – when the Daily Telegraph published the results of an undercover investigation.

His successor, Gareth Southgate, has been an inspired replacement, leading England to the last four of the World Cup in Russia, while he recently guided the Three Lions to a victory over Spain.

And Allardyce revealed it’s been tough to watch on knowing he could have done something similar.

“It took me a long time to be able to watch England after what had happened with the Telegraph,” he told Gary Bloom on talkSPORT.

“I couldn’t watch the games at the beginning and I didn’t enjoy the World Cup as much as I had done in the past.

“It could have been me.

“That wouldn’t have been my team, I don’t know whether I would have been as brave as Gareth was when he picked that side…

Southgate captured the imagination of a nation in Russia

“But I think they’re on a great road now.

“It could have been me, but it isn’t.

“I’m comfortable in life and I’m comfortable with the position I’m in at the moment.

“Everton dumped me, we finished eighth and you’re still not good enough, so you have to move on.”

On the Sporting Couch starts on Sunday 4th November on talkSPORT with Sam Allardyce, with a podcast of each episode available on Acast.

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny admits he didn’t want France to win World Cup

16 Oct

France defender Laurent Koscielny has admitted part of him wanted his country to lose the World Cup final.

The Arsenal centre-back missed out on Russia 2018 due to an achilles injury and recently revealed the psychological damage caused by Les Bleus’ triumph.

Koscielny gave a revealing interview on French television

“The World Cup will remain a dark spot of my career,” Koscielny said.

“The injury was hard to accept. The result was even harder because they won the World Cup. I have a selfish side. I tell myself that I could have been part of the adventure and won the Cup. And I would have it in a corner of my head for the rest my life. It’s difficult and no one can put themselves in my shoes.

“I was really happy for them, but also disgusted. You cannot feel like a world champion, as the 60 million French could. It’s a strange feeling that during the tournament I wanted them to qualify, but at the same time I wanted them to lose. That was my feeling at the time.”

Koscielny has retired from international duty

The 33-year-old has not changed his mind about international retirement after the World Cup.

As Koscielny confirmed he would not play for France again, he slammed manager Didier Deschamps for a lack of support during his injury hell.

“Deschamps called me once [since the World Cup], during my birthday in September,” Koscielny said. “A lot of people disappointed me, and there are lots of other coaches. It feels like a slap on the face.

“I think I gave what I could give to the French team. The national team has a very good generation with great players.

“My injury has not changed my decision: for Les Bleus it’s over for me. But I remain a supporter of the French team.”

Koscielny, who appeared overcome with emotion during the interview, detailed his difficult personal road back from the injury suffered against Atletico Madrid in May’s Europa League clash.

“It’s my first big injury, mentally you’re getting very strong, you’re learning a lot about football and life, I’ve worked every day at St-Raphael, and put my family aside,” he said.

“These are things in life, and you have to face all of that, during my rehabilitation, I was selfish, I only thought of myself, and I did not pay attention to my family.”

England ace Dele Alli reveals a bracelet he received from a Russian taxi driver at the World Cup has joined his huge list of rituals and lucky charms

6 Sep

England star Dele Alli says he was given a “lucky charm” bracelet by a taxi driver in Russia – before discovering the injury he sustained at the beginning of the World Cup was not as bad as first feared.

Alli, 22, had a tense 45-minute journey from England’s base camp in Repino to a St Petersburg hospital the day after hurting his thigh during England’s 2-1 victory over Tunisia.

Alli picked up a worrying injury during England’s World Cup opener

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Alli said: “As I got out, the taxi driver gave me a bracelet and said it was good luck.”

And the bracelet seemed to have the desired effect with scans showing Alli had just a thigh strain.

He missed England’s remaining group games against Panama and Belgium, however, the Spurs player playedin England’s knockout games against Colombia, Sweden and Croatia.

Alli added: “So I’ve kept it. I don’t wear it but I keep it in my washbag.”

Alli made four appearances at the World Cup, scoring one goal

The bracelet is one of a number of rituals and lucky charms Alli likes to have in place in preparation for matches.

These include an eight-minute ice bath on the eve of a game and taping his left knee regardless of injury. He has also worn the same shinpads he has owned since he was 11-years-old.

Alli said in July: “Yeah I have a lot of superstitions. There are so many.

“I do all my right leg first, then all my left leg.

“I have an eight-minute ice-bath the night before. I don’t know why, it’s just a superstition.

“Then I always say a prayer, the same prayer, before.”

Speaking in July, he said: “Now you might’ve noticed there’s tape on my knee.

“That’s a superstition as well. I don’t like taking it off.

“I took it off for the first game (against Tunisia) – this is a bit of a silly superstition – but that was the first game in ages I haven’t had it on, and I got injured, so I’m going to be keeping it on again.

“Yeah it is getting out of control. It’s a bit crazy.”

Whether it was down to Alli’s superstitions or not, there is a new found confidence in the national team as England reached their first World Cup semi-final since 1990.

Alli and co. face Spain on Saturday evening

Gareth Southgate’s side will play for the first time since the tournament when they kick-off their UEFA Nations League campaign against Spain on Saturday night at Wembley – a game you can listen to live on talkSPORT from 19:45.

Video of every England goal at the 2018 World Cup, including Harry Kane’s hat-trick, Jesse Lingard’s screamer and Kieran Trippier’s free-kick

30 Aug

It seems like a lifetime ago when people were throwing expensively priced beer in plastic cups at each other every time England scored at the World Cup.

And that happened a lot.

So, with Gareth Southgate naming his squad for the games against Spain and Switzerland, let’s watch all those goals – minus the booze – again, eh?

It started with a bang against Tunisia, then Harry Kane and co. put six past Panama en route to the knockout stage, while fans serenaded the manager with his own song.

Southgate led England to the country’s first World Cup semi-final in 28 years

Olivier Giroud confirms N’Golo Kante was too shy to ask to hold the World Cup trophy after France beat Croatia

21 Aug

N’Golo Kante was too shy to ask to touch the World Cup when his jubilant France team-mates were celebrating with football’s famous trophy.

That’s according to Olivier Giroud, who revealed someone had to physically hand it to his Chelsea team-mate.

Chelsea team-mates Kante and Giroud won the World Cup with France

“Obviously we knew that Hugo [Lloris, the captain] would be the first one to touch it,” he said in a joint interview with Kante on the Chelsea Facebook page.

“I have to say I have been clever because I took the good position to touch it.”

France’s players celebrate their World Cup win with Giroud taking up his position next to captain Lloris

Asked what what it felt like to get his hands on it, Kante said: “I was waiting my turn,” before he was interrupted by his team-mate.

“He is so shy so he didn’t want to say ‘give it to me’, so he had to wait,” Giroud interrupted.

“Sometimes people came in front of him. At the end of the day someone took it and gave it to him,” he added, appearing to confirm the story that Steven N’Zonzi had to ask players to let the hard working midfielder hold it during the on-pitch celebrations.

Kante was vital to France’s success at the 2018 World Cup

It has been a remarkable three years for the 27-year-old, who joined Leicester from Caen in 2015 for a reported £5.6m then won the Premier League in his first season, which earned him a £30m transfer to Chelsea where he won the competition again in 2017 before winning football’s ultimate prize this year.

Giroud, 31, also explained how he had been waiting a long time to get his hands on the trophy.

“A childhood dream” is how he described winning the competition. “I was 11 years old when France first won it for the country [in 1998] and I was so excited, I said to my friends: ‘one day I will win it.'”

France first won the World Cup in 1998

England manager Gareth Southgate replies to six-year-old fan who wrote him a letter after World Cup semi-final loss

20 Aug

England’s march to the World Cup semi-final brought a summer of fun to these shores and also left plenty of people soaked in beer.

Even those who wouldn’t normally choose to watch the beautiful game were swept up in the excitement.

The team’s adventure in Russia eventually came to an end when Croatia triumphed and when it was confirmed Gareth Southgate‘s team would be heading home early, six-year-old England fan Monty wrote to the national manager to thank him, as his proud dad revealed.

Not only that, but Southgate made the young fan’s day when he took the time to reply.

“As soon as @England were knocked out of the World Cup my 6year old Monty wrote to Gareth Southgate thanking him and to say well done! Today Monty got a reply from the man himself! Made his summer #class #itscominghome,” Michael Gudgeon wrote on Twitter.

England up to SIXTH in FIFA world rankings after run to World Cup semi-finals

16 Aug

England have moved up six places to sixth in the latest FIFA world rankings.

The Three Lions’ brilliant run to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia has seen the nation rise to their highest position since March 2013 – when they were fourth.

Gareth Southgate’s England are ranked as the sixth best team in the world

Gareth Southgate’s side finished the World Cup in fourth place, following their defeat to Belgium in the Bronze medal match.

England beat Colombia and Sweden in the knockout stages in Russia, before losing to Croatia in the last-four.

World Cup winners France are now the number one team in the world, rising six places, ahead of Belgium in second, Brazil in third, finalists Croatia in fourth and Uruguay in fifth.

Meanwhile, Germany have fallen 14 places – from first to 15th – after the defending champions failed to make it out of the group stages in Russia.

Germany were woeful in Russia

With the Home Nations sides, Wales have dropped once place to 19th, while Northern Ireland and Scotland have both risen by two to 27th and 40th respectively.

The Republic of Ireland also go up two positions to 29th.

Russia were the best movers after their home World Cup, with the surprise quarter-finalists rising 21 places to 49th.

Mohamed Salah’s Egypt were the worst movers, falling 20 places to 65th.

Former West Ham United defender Lionel Scaloni named interim Argentina manager

3 Aug

Former West Ham defender Lionel Scaloni has been named Argentina’s interim head coach after Jorge Sampaoli was sacked in the wake of their disastrous World Cup campaign.

Scaloni, a former international right-back who won seven caps, was Sampaoli’s assistant as their team were eliminated by France at the last-16 stage in Russia.

Lionel Scaloni during his spell with West Ham United.

Sampaoli left his post last month amid rumours of a dressing-room coup in which it was claimed that senior players Javier Mascherano and Lionel Messi had effectively taken up the reins.

Scaloni will be in charge of Argentina for next month’s friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia.

He will be assisted by Pablo Aimar and goalkeeping coach Martin Tocalli.

The Argentinian Football Association’s statement read: “The AFA informs that, after the meeting of the executive committee, Lionel Scaloni will direct the next friendlies of the Argentine national team, along with his assistants Pablo Aimar and Martin Tocalli.”

FA wants Gareth Southgate to be England manager after 2020

1 Aug

The Football Association has revealed it would like England manager Gareth Southgate to remain in the job until after 2020.

Southgate led the Three Lions to their best World Cup finish for 28 years as his young squad finished fourth in Russia.

Southgate has become a hugely popular figure

The 47-year-old captured the hearts of the nation in the process, with Atomic Kitten chants sung and waistcoats worn in his honour.

Now, FA chief executive Martin Glenn believes Southgate is the man to take England to Euro 2020 and beyond, comparing his impact to Joachim Low in Germany.

“Part of England’s problems in the past is that we keep looking for the Messiah, when actually, what you want is continuity,” he said.

“Low has been successful [for Germany] because even though he wasn’t seen to be a star coach in Germany, he knew how to work the system.

“I think Southgate is going to be a very successful England manager.

“He’s been excellent. He really understands the set-up, he understands the talent coming through and we’d like him to stay until after 2020.

“I think we’d both like that but if we talked about it at any length it would then be a contract conversation and he’s on holiday now, so we’ll talk when he comes back.”