Andy Cole tears up in emotional interview as ex-Manchester United striker discusses his health struggles after kidney transplant

24 Aug

Andy Cole has described dealing with his mental and physical health as his ‘toughest battle’ in an eye-opening interview.

The former Manchester United striker suffered kidney failure in 2015 after contracting Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSG) during an ambassadorial visit to Vietnam.

His life was saved by his nephew, who donated his kidney in a seemingly successful transplant in 2017.

A tearful Andy Cole bravely discussed the battle with his health
talkSPORT

But the 47-year-old told talkSPORT he is slowly, but surely, coming to terms with how his life has changed.

“It’s been the toughest battle that I’ve ever endured,” Cole said on Kick Off. “It’s a battle that, for the rest of my life, I know that I’ll have and you try and appreciate it.

“But I think what really touched home for me the other day was when I went up to Newcastle and I went up to the Transplant Games.

“To watch those guys play football, knowing they’ve got the same problem as me and some have had it from very young and some stumbled across the problem like me, it brought tears to my eyes.

“To know that; I am still something, I can still go out there and play a little bit of football. I’m going to struggle and it is tiring when you do things like that.

“But just to be there with them and know we’ve all gone through the same thing and it finally home that I am not the only one with this problem.

“I’m not the only one who struggles with this thought process, worrying about letting people down or tired.

“The craziest thing at the moment is I have to get to 12 o’clock. If I don’t get to 12 o’clock, I feel like I am missing out a day because I am not sure what tomorrow is going to bring.

“The weekend was a phenomenal weekend for me just to realise there are many, many people with this problem, but it’s one big family.”

Cole talked about the way in which his kidney transplant has changed his life
talkSPORT
The 47-year-old is the third-highest goalscorer in Premier League history
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During the trip to Vietnam with United, Cole became exhausted and his body and face began to swell.

Like most men, Cole shrugged off the fatigue as nothing until his condition worsened considerably.

He went and saw a doctor, who discovered his kidney function had reduced to 7% of its usual capacity.

And when asked if he knew just how difficult the rest of his life would be, the England international was brutally honest.

The former England striker still tries to play in legends games for former side Manchester United
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“It has, because I didn’t believe it was going to be this difficult,” Cole added. “My though process is ‘Just do what you did when you were playing football – just work hard.’

“Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way.

“It’s a daily process, it’s not easy. I have good days, I have bad days, but I just try my best to work with it as best I can.”

At his best, Cole was practically unplayable. His partnership with Dwight Yorke helped steer United to their famous Treble in 1999 and his prolificacy in front of goal was the stuff of legend.

He still remains third on the all-time top scorer list in Premier League history, but nothing from his glittering career prepared him for the toughest battle of his life.

Yorke and Cole terrorised defences across the globe in the late 1990’s
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He added: “No, totally different battle because you are constantly fighting yourself mentally and you’re tormenting yourself.

“I wanted so much from myself; I wanted to stay fit, I wanted to do this, to do this. And when your body tells you ‘You can’t do it anymore’, I kept fighting myself.

“And when I finally half-conceded defeat, I realised my body was never ever going to be the same and that’s been very difficult because being a sportsman all your life and being fit and doing what you want to do.

“It’s very, very tough.”

Wilfried Zaha is ‘every bit as good’ as Riyad Mahrez and Arsenal CAN afford to sign him, Simon Jordan tells talkSPORT

23 Jul

talkSPORT’s Simon Jordan insists Arsenal can afford to sign £80million-rated Wilfried Zaha.

Straight-talking Jordan believes the time is right for Crystal Palace to sell their star winger, insisting it will protect the club in the long run.

Jordan believes the time is right for Zaha to leave Palace
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Arsenal are struggling to secure their targets this transfer window due to their failure to qualify for the Champions League, with just a £40m budget reportedly handed to Unai Emery to add to his squad for the forthcoming campaign.

The Gunners have already had a £40m offer turned down for Zaha by the Eagles, who are holding firm on their £80m asking fee for their star player.

And former Crystal Palace owner Jordan believes Arsenal simply aren’t playing by the rules of the current market.

“Arsenal are not playing properly,” he said on Monday evening’s Kick Off on talkSPORT.

“I don’t think they played particularly properly when they bought Ian Wright in 1991, and I don’t think they are playing properly now for different reasons.

“If they can afford to pay £27million for a player and send him back on loan, they can afford to play £60/70million for Wilfried Zaha.”

“Is it the right time for Palace and Zaha? I think it probably is, in a perverse way.

“Because Palace are now becoming a side that are really built around Zaha and I don’t think for the long-term benefit of Crystal Palace they can afford to rely simply on Zaha.

“You’ve got to get £60million plus for him… you’ve got to! He’s every bit as good as Mahrez.

“They are going to lose a lot by losing Zaha, but I don’t think they are going to keep him so they have to move on.”

David de Gea latest: Simon Jordan slams Manchester United and ‘lazy Ed Woodward’ over new £117m contract

23 Jul

Simon Jordan has blasted Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward for his ‘lazy’ decision to hand David de Gea a new £117million contract.

The straight-talking talkSPORT pundit says the goalkeeper is ‘in decline’ and has slammed the Premier League giants, saying: ‘Where else do you get a reward for going backwards?’

It is understood Spanish goalkeeper De Gea is set to sign a new six-year deal at Old Trafford worth an estimated £375,000-a-week.

David de Gea is set to sign a new long-term contract at Manchester United worth an estimated £117million

The new terms would remove any doubt over the player’s future at United, having been consistently linked with a move away from the club over the last few years.

But his bumper contract also comes after his worst season in a Manchester United shirt.

De Gea has not been the same player ever since last summer’s World Cup, where Spain were dumped out by Russia in the first knock-out stage.

The 28-year-old left the tournament with the worst statistics of any goalkeeper for 52 years – of the seven shots on Spain’s goal, six of them ended up in the net and he failed to stop any of Russia’s penalties as they won their last-16 meeting in a shoot-out.

David de Gea was slammed for his form at the World Cup
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That form continued with his club side as he conceded 54 goals for United net last season – De Gea’s worst ever season of his career.

And former Crystal Palace owner Jordan can’t understand the logic behind why he is now being made one of the highest-paid players in English football.

“This is a lack of football savvy, this is laziness,” he said on Monday evening’s Kick Off on talkSPORT.

“If you look at De Gea’s performances, he’s in decline.

“He made only saved 69 per cent of the shots he faced last season, which puts him in the bottom-half of the Premier League goalkeepers.

“He’s in an average team, sure, but there are averages teams that have goalkeepers who are performing at a better level.

“I think this is Manchester United, this is Ed Woodward saying: ‘I don’t need a goalkeeper problem, i can’t be bothered with that. We’ve got problems with Pogba, problems with Lukaku, I’ve got a manager I think might be fit for purpose but I’m taking a fly on him…’

“I think Woodward is being lazy and would rather say, ‘I’ll do something with other people’s money’.

“I’m not saying De Gea is in full decline, but what I am saying, when you look at the statistics, is where else do you get a reward for going backwards?”

Listen back to a clip of Simon Jordan on Kick Off above

Arsenal EXCLUSIVE: Gunners ‘should do football a favour and take Laurent Koscielny to court’, says Alvin Martin

19 Jul

Arsenal have been urged to ‘do football and the Premier League a favour’ and take legal action against Laurent Koscielny after he asked the Gunners to cancel his contract.

West Ham legend Alvin Martin believes Arsenal should make an example of the Frenchman, who has refused to go on the club’s pre-season tour of the United States.

Koscielny is likely to be stripped of the captaincy after he told club chiefs he wanted to leave and return to his homeland for free this summer, despite having a year remaining on his current deal.

Koscielny has been a faithful servant to Arsenal but has now angered fans by trying to force a move back to France
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The centre-back was reportedly offered a new two-year contract by the Gunners, but for only half of his current £90,000-a-week salary.

He has received a better two-year offer from Ligue 1 side Bordeaux, but that only stands if they can get him on a free transfer, whereas Arsenal want £9million if he leaves this summer.

Latest reports claim Koscielny is seeking legal advice over his situation in north London, but Martin believes Arsenal should be tougher on him and throw the book back at the defender.

“I’m absolutely 100 per cent behind the club,” said the former defender on talkSPORT’s Kick Off.

“Arsenal have made a lot of poor signings but Koscielny has been one of the hits, for me, and he’s still their best centre-half.

“But he can’t just say I want to leave a year early, it’s crazy!

“Somewhere along the line the clubs have to put their foot down.

“I think Arsenal are in a position here where they can do football and the Premier League a favour – take him to court.

“Go legal. It’s a breach of contract. It would send out a signal to everybody who plays the game.

“He’s got no right to do that.

Laurent Koscielny’s actions have shocked Arsenal and Alvin Martin has urged Arsenal to throw the book at him
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“What if it were the other way around? If the club said, ‘we don’t want to pay you the last year of your contract’, what do you think the outcome of that would be?

“He would go legal – so why can’t the club do that to the player?

“What have Arsenal got to lose? They’ve got a player who wants to walk out and has put their whole pre-season, and maybe even their season, in jeopardy.

“They may as well keep him, and what that would do then is send a message out to everybody in the Arsenal dressing room and everybody in the Premier League.

“They would be saying: ‘Hold on a minute, you signed a contract and, unless we want to sell you, you will honour that contract and if you don’t you could lose not just a year’s salary, you could lose everything’.

“Honestly, I’m really annoyed.

“When you see they money some of these players are getting, and they’ve got no responsibility to give anything back, not just to their team-mates and the manager, but to the fans.

“Someone has to make a stand now.”

Listen back to Alvin Martin’s Laurent Koscielny verdict from Kick Off IN FULL above

Marko Arnautovic was ‘disrespectful’ towards West Ham Women and disrupted their training sessions, reveals retired Hammer Claire Rafferty

9 Jul

Marko Arnautovic was ‘disrespectful’ towards the West Ham Women’s team and often disrupted their training sessions, Claire Rafferty has told talkSPORT.

The retired two-time Women’s Super League winner says the Austria forward had a ‘clear’ attitude problem and claims West Ham probably let him move to China having grown ‘fed up’ of him.

Arnautovic completed a £23million transfer to Shanghai SIPG on Monday.

Arnautovic’s long-awaited move to China was announced earlier this week

The Hammers ran out of patience with the 30-year-old after he was the subject of fresh bids from the CSL, having been refused a move to China in January.

It is also understood the east Londoners accepted a low offer this time around – compared to the £35m they turned down seven months ago – in order to get the nuisance player out the door.

And former England defender Rafferty, who hung up her boots this summer after representing West Ham, has revealed how Arnautovic often disrupted the Women’s team at the club’s Rush Green training ground.

Speaking on Monday’s Kick Off, Rafferty explained: “I think in the end West Ham got fed up of him – he’s got a bit of an attitude, clearly.

“In and around the training ground he’d always be quite disruptive of our training sessions when he’d walk over.

Arnautovic has left the Hammers for China in disgrace in many fans’ eyes
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“We train in the same place [as the men’s team], but obviously on separate pitches, separated by one of the stadiums.

“On multiple occasions he was just quite disruptive and disrespectful of our training sessions.

“He’d be walking back from finishing his training and would shout over the wall and just be disrespectful.

Rafferty has opened up on Arnautovic’s disruptive behaviour at West Ham
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“Bearing in mind we were doing tactical work, it’s a total disregard for what we’re doing; there’s no way in hell any of us would do that during one of their training sessions.

“I think that’s just him, he’s clearly quite a boisterous character and is quite outspoken.”

Didier Drogba welcomes Frank Lampard back to Chelsea as legend takes over as manager

4 Jul

From one legend to another, Didier Drogba has, on behalf of all Chelsea fans, welcomed Frank Lampard back to the club.

Lampard’s return to Stamford Bridge was confirmed on Thursday morning, with the former midfielder signing a three-year deal to rejoin the club he played for for 13 seasons.

Two members of his Derby coaching staff, Jody Morris and Chris Jones, have followed him to west London, while Eddie Newton is also expected to be part of Chelsea’s backroom staff following a promotion from his loan development role.

And Drogba, who scored 164 goals for the club in two spells, used Instagram to welcome him ‘home’.

“Good luck, proud to see you coming back home @franklampard,” he said, re-posting the official Chelsea announcement.

Lampard was clearly delighted by Drogba’s words and replied with several heart emojis, while Deco and Mario Melchiot both applauded the message.

Drogba once said he ‘would come back and cut the grass’ if Chelsea wanted him to return
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While Morris and Newton will be in the background, goalkeeper Petr Cech has been appointed the club’s technical and performance adviser.

Furthermore, Claude Makelele is expected to return to Stamford Bridge to oversee the club’s loan players, succeeding Newton in the role following the latter’s promotion.

Rafael Benitez is ‘only out for himself’ and would have ‘used’ Newcastle if better job came along, claims Simon Jordan on talkSPORT

2 Jul

Simon Jordan believes Rafael Benitez is ‘centred on himself’ and would have ‘used’ Newcastle United if a better job in the Premier League came along.

And the former Crystal Palace owner claims the Spaniard has ‘only moved to China for the money’.

Simon Jordan has some strong views about Rafael Benitez following his move to the Far East

Magpies fans were left heartbroken – and fuming with owner Mike Ashley – last week when it was confirmed beloved manager Benitez would leave the club after three seasons in charge.

He officially departed St James’ Park on Sunday and wasted little time in moving on to a new role, signing a £12m-a-year deal with Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang.

Benitez insists he has not gone to China for a pay-day – despite being paid more than double his Newcastle salary by the CSL side – and says he has found an ‘incredible project’ in the Far East.

But Jordan says that’s nonsense and, speaking on Monday’s Kick Off, he was keen to ‘call Benitez out for what he really is’.

The former Crystal Palace owner said: “I’m not saying I wasn’t impressed by Rafa Benitez, I think he’s done a decent job.

“But I want to call him out for what he is, rather that what people’s illusion of him is…

“I think he’s an ambitious football manager, who is centred on one thing – himself.

Rafael Benitez will get £12m-a-year as manager of Chinese club Dalian Yifang
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“I’m of the mentality that Benitez would have used Newcastle for a stepping stone if a better opportunity in the Premier league came around. He would have gone and not looked back.

“The only reason he’s gone to China is for the money.

“Football may be all about that, and I might be slightly idealistic in my aspiration for it not to be.

“But with Benitez, he’s taken a swipe at Mike Ashley on the way out and I suspect the reason why he’s gone is he cant get exactly what he wants, when he wants it.

“Well, I’ve got a news flash for football managers and football people – in the real world, where most of us have to exist, we can’t get exactly what we want, when we want!”

‘If Arsenal can’t afford Wilfried Zaha, they can get lost’ – Simon Jordan says £40m bid for Crystal Palace forward is ‘a liberty’

2 Jul

Simon Jordan has told Arsenal to pay up or shut up after they tabled a £40million bid for Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha.

The former Eagles owner has slammed the north London club for their conduct as they chase the 26-year-old’s signature, branding their cut-price offer ‘a liberty’.

Simon Jordan is not impressed with Arsenal
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The Gunners made the bid on Monday, and it is claimed Palace immediately laughed it off as they believe the winger – who was on the scoresheet for Ivory Coast on Monday night – is worth more than double that fee.

Boyhood Arsenal fan Zaha is said to be keen to trade Sehurst Park for the Emirates Stadium this summer, but Unai Emery only has a transfer budget of around £40m this summer.

And, if they simply cannot afford to sign the Ivorian this summer, Jordan has told the Gunners where to go.

“This is a liberty,” said the talkSPORT pundit on Monday night’s Kick Off.

“As much as a £40m transfer becomes a liberty, this is a liberty.

“You’ve got Arsenal trading on a currency of trying to create division between the player and the football club.

“If you want to buy a player like Wilfried Zaha… if Mahrez can go to Manchester City for £60m, then Zaha can go for £60m to £80m to Arsenal.

“If they can’t afford him, they can’t afford him.”

Palace sold another of their best players, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, to Manchester United for £50million last week.

According to another talkSPORT pundit, Dean Saunders, Zaha is worth DOUBLE that fee as he is ‘probably the best player outside the Premier League’s top six’.

Zaha has been outstanding for Palace over the past few seasons
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Speaking on Tuesday’s Sports Breakfast, the former Wales striker said: “How can they throw in a £40m bid when Aaron Wan-Bissaka has just gone to Manchester United for £50m as a right-back?

“Outside the top six, Zaha is probably the best player in the Premier League.

“He’s got to be valued at miles more than that as a winger/striker/number ten, wherever he wants to play.

“He goes past people for fun and he’s played great over the last couple of years. He’s got to be worth £100m.”

Anthony Joshua: Carl Froch says AJ looks ‘fragile’ when hit on the chin when discussing Andy Ruiz Jr rematch

4 Jun

Carl Froch has never been short of an opinion and the legendary super middleweight chatted to talkSPORT about his thoughts on Anthony Joshua’s shocking loss to Andy Ruiz Jr.

Joshua lost his IBO, IBF, WBO and WBA (super) heavyweight titles to Ruiz Jr who became the first-ever Mexican-American heavyweight champion in history in the process.

Anthony Joshua was stopped in the seventh round
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Froch, a unified champion himself before retiring in 2015 after defeating George Groves for a second time, explained his concern about a possible rematch, suggesting AJ’s chin might betray him.

“I don’t want to say he quit [against Ruiz Jr], because he didn’t quit but he didn’t really make an effort to carry on after being sent back to his corner and getting spoken to by the referee,” said the man with one of the most durable chins in boxing history.

“He kind of gave no sign that he wanted to continue. So, he had the fight beaten out of him. That was a crushing defeat. Devastating for him and his career. Maybe it’s one he can rectify with an immediate rematch if he can get the job done, but let me tell you something: Ruiz can fight a little bit. He can move well, good balance, he’s got fast counter-punches and Joshua looks fragile when he gets hit on the chin.”

Joshua, as champion at the time, had a rematch clause inserted into the contract in the event of a loss and promoter Eddie Hearn believes one will take place in the UK in October or November later this year.

Of course, Al Haymon represents both Ruiz Jr and WBC champion Deontay Wilder and could be tempted to break that contract and make his own unification fight.

Joshua was knocked down four times before the referee finally called it a day for him and Froch believes the manner of the defeat was far more shocking than that of Lennox Lewis’ shock loss to Hasim Rahman back in 2001.

Carl Froch was a unified super-middleweight champion and retired in 2015″It was a big defeat,” he continued. “It was shocking and it was probably one of the biggest upsets in world boxing in recent times. I mean, you have to go as far back as Lennox Lewis and Hasim Rahman. The manner in which Rahman did Lewis, it was a one-punch knockout. The way Anthony Joshua got outboxed and counter-punched, he took a sustained beating for three rounds before he got finished.”

Andy Ruiz Jr knocked out Anthony Joshua in seven rounds
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Froch also had question marks about his ability to recover during fights, comparing him to Frank Bruno.

“You can compare with him because his legs stiffened up like Frank Bruno’s used to when he got caught. He was walking around the ring like Frankenstein, didn’t know where he was, and couldn’t recover. And that’s the problem I’ve got with him now moving forward; I’m questioning that lack of ability to recover,” he explained.

New Tottenham stadium: When Diego Maradona played at White Hart Lane against Inter

30 Mar

In case you weren’t aware, Tottenham’s redeveloped White Hart Lane stadium is almost open for business.

The final test event before the first Premier League match – against Crystal Palace on 3 April – sees Spurs legends play a team full of Inter legends.

This is appropriate considering some of football’s greatest players have graced the previous incarnation of the Lane, including Diego Maradona.

Maradona put on a Spurs shirt to play with Tottenham legend and compatriot Ossie Ardiles at the old White Hart Lane in 1986

Here, talkSPORT.com looks at when one of the greatest players ever donned a Spurs shirt to walk out at the famous stadium in front of 30,000 people.

Why? The Argentina international was appearing in international team-mate Ossie Ardiles’ testimonial, against Inter in May 1986, meaning for one night Tottenham’s midfield consisted of Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle, Ardiles and Maradona, who turned up without boots and had to borrow Clive Allen’s!

“Ossie says: ‘Who takes [size] six and a half?'” Allen recalled to Kick Off on talkSPORT.

“I tell him I do and that I had two pairs of boots; one old pair I’d worn all season and a new pair I was breaking in, so I said: ‘Diego, be my guest and take whatever pair you want!'”

Acting as translator, Ardiles explained Maradona wanted the old ones, but after about five minutes of pleading from Allen, he was convinced to use the newer pair and even signed them for him after the game.

Son of Tottenham double winner Les, Clive Allen scored 49 goals for Spurs during the 1986/87 season

And Allen also scored the winner in a 2-1 win, with Mark Falco scoring the other.

“I’ve never played in a game where I felt like a spectator because, on the night, Diego and Glenn were just on another planet,” he added.

“They were telepathic, and you just wanted them to have the ball. Some of the flicks and skills were incredible.”

Waddle was equally impressed by his presence. “We were saying to Ossie afterwards, ‘What did he think?’” he told tottenhamhotspur.com.

“When we were saying that, Maradona came up to me in the dressing room and shook my hand. And through Ossie’s translation, he said, ‘very good player, he should play in Italy’.

“I thought, ‘Wow, Maradona just said I’m a good player’.”

In the video above, Martin Tyler asked the player whether he could envisage any problems if England and Argentina met in the upcoming 1986 World Cup, considering the thunderous reception he received from fans inside the stadium.

Maradona said he couldn’t…