Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima (pronounced [xo'nawdʊ lu'iz na'zaɾjʊ dʒi 'limɐ]; born September 18, 1976 in Rio de Janeiro), is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a striker for the Italian Serie A club AC Milan. He has been nicknamed "The Phenomenon" (Portuguese: O Fenômeno, Spanish: El Fenómeno). Pelé named him one of the 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004. In 2007 France Football named him in their best starting 11 of all time.
Ronaldo has enjoyed success at the international level, winning the 1994 and 2002 FIFA World Cups with Brazil. Ronaldo has won three FIFA World Player of the Year awards (1996, 1997, 2002). He and former Real Madrid teammate Zinedine Zidane are the only two men to have won the award three times.
Ronaldo was born in Bento Ribeiro, a poor neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. Like many of his friends, he began to play football in the streets of his neighborhood. Ronaldo's actual date of birth is September 18, however, his father did not register his birth certificate until September 22,so some discrepancy has existed as to his actual birth date. His football abilities were first recognised when he was 14. He was recommended to the Brazil youth team by World Cup winner Jairzinho, who also arranged for his own former club, Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, to sign him when he was old enough for a professional contract.
Ronaldo scored 12 goals in 13 games in the Brazilian National Championship, and in the Minas Gerais State Championship he scored all three goals in Cruzeiro's 3-1 victory against arch-rival Atlético Mineiro. After being scouted by Piet de Visser, he was soon transferred for US$6 million to PSV Eindhoven, where he scored 42 goals in 46 league games and reached a total of 55 goals in 57 official appearances. Later he attracted the attention of FC Barcelona. He played for Barça in the 1996-97 season, scoring 47 in 49 (including appearances in the Copa del Rey and European Cup Winners Cup) on the way to leading the Catalan side to UEFA Cup Winners' Cup triumph (where he capped the season with the winning goal in the cup final itself). Inter Milan swooped to sign him the following year, and Ronaldo duly helped them repeat his former side's cup-winning run, this time in the UEFA Cup. As of 2006, Ronaldo is the last player to score more than 30 goals in 1 season in the Spanish La Liga.
On 21 November 1999, during a Serie A match against Lecce, Ronaldo felt his knee buckle and was forced to limp off the pitch. Medical exams after the match confirmed that the striker had ruptured a tendon in his right knee and would require surgery. During his first comeback on April 12, 2000, he played only seven minutes during the first leg of the Coppa Italia final against Lazio before injuring his knee for a second time.
After two operations and 20 months of rehabilitation, Ronaldo came back for the 2002 World Cup, helping Brazil win their fifth World Cup title. Later in 2002 he won the World Player of the Year award for the third time, and transferred from Inter to Real Madrid for approximately €39 million. Even though he was sidelined through injury until October 2002, fans continued to chant his name in the stands. Ronaldo scored twice in his debut for Real Madrid. That same reception was observed on the night of the final game of the season against Athletic Bilbao, where Ronaldo scored again to seal his first season with 23 league goals and the La Liga Championship title for 2003, which Ronaldo had previously failed to win while with Barcelona.
On 18 January 2007 it was reported that Ronaldo has agreed terms with A.C. Milan for a transfer of about €7.5 million. Ronaldo was forced to pay for the remaining period on his contract which tied him to Real Madrid, only because the latter did not accept to release him, while A.C. Milan were not ready to pay such a sum. On Thursday, 25 January Ronaldo flew from Madrid to Milan to watch A.C. Milan in a cup tie against AS Roma. Statements on the club's website said that Ronaldo was in Milan for a medical, and that a meeting had been arranged for Monday with Real Madrid officials to discuss and finalize his transfer to Milan. On January 26 Ronaldo successfully completed his medical tests at the Milanello training complex under the supervision of club doctors, and the transfer completed on 30 January and got the jersey number 99. He made his debut as a substitute for Milan on 11 February 2007, during the 2-1 victory over Livorno. The next game at Siena on 17 February 2007, Ronaldo scored twice and assisted on a third goal in his first start for Milan as they won an exciting game 4-3. In his first season at Milan, Ronaldo scored 7 goals in 14 appearances. 
After his move to A.C. Milan, Ronaldo joined the list of the few players to have played for both Inter Milan and A.C. Milan in the Milan derby and is the only player to have scored for both sides in the derby game (for Inter in the 98/99 season and for Milan in the 06/07 season). Ronaldo is also one of the few players to have started for Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, which also boasts a heated rivalry. However, Ronaldo has never transferred directly between the teams in the derby. Ronaldo has only played 300-plus minutes for Milan this season and before a Champions League game against Benfica he pulled a calf muscle while warming up. This has put negotiations of signing a new contract under threat as the Milan coaching and general staff are becoming frustrated with his fitness, which his current one run until June 2008. Ronaldo's only goals in the 2007/2008 season, besides his goal against Lecce in pre-season, came in a 5-2 victory against Napoli at the San Siro, where he scored an emotional brace. It was also the first time Milan's much hyped attacking trio of Kaka, Pato and Ronaldo, known as Ka-Pa-Ro played together. Despite his tremendous success over the past decade, Ronaldo never won the UEFA Champions League in his club career. During the 2006-07 season, though Milan won the 2006-07 title, Ronaldo was cup-tied with Madrid and ineligible to take part. The closest that he has even been was in 2003 when he helped Real Madrid to the semi-finals, in which they lost to Juventus F.C..
On February 13, 2008, Ronaldo suffered a severe season-ending knee injury while jumping for a cross in Milan's 1-1 draw with A.S. Livorno Calcio, and was stretchered off and taken to a hospital. Milan confirmed after the match that Ronaldo had ruptured the kneecap ligament in his left knee. It marked the third such occurrence of this injury, which he suffered twice to his right knee in 1998 and 2000. 
Over a month after his season-ending knee injury with AC Milan, the three-time FIFA World Player of the year ruled out the possibility of retirement and told calciomercato.it that he is certain he will play again. 
Ronaldo made his international debut for Brazil in 1994, in a friendly match in Recife against Argentina. He went to the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA as a 17-year-old but did not play. He came to be known then as Ronaldinho, since Ronaldo Rodrigues de Jesus, his older team-mate on the tournament, was too called Ronaldo (and nicknamed Ronaldão to further distinguish them). Another Brazilian player, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, who is widely known as Ronaldinho, would come to be called Ronaldinho Gaúcho when he joined the Brazilian main national team in 1999.
In the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ronaldo played with the name Ronaldinho ("little Ronaldo") on his shirt, since centre back Ronaldo Guiaro, two years his senior, was one of his teammates.
Voted the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1996 and 1997, he scored four goals and made three assists during the 1998 FIFA World Cup. The night before the final, he suffered a convulsive fit. He was initially removed from the starting lineup 72 minutes before the match but he requested to play and was later reinstated by coach Mario Zagallo. Ronaldo did not perform well and he was injured in a collision with French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. Brazil lost the final to hosts France 3-0. Adrian Williams, professor of clinical neurology at Birmingham University, said that Ronaldo should not have played, saying that he would have been feeling the after effects of the seizure and that "there is no way that he would have been able to perform to the best of his ability within 24 hours of his first fit -- if it was his first fit."
Ronaldo won the Golden Shoe as the top scorer in the 2002 FIFA World Cup with eight goals. He scored against every team he came up against except England in the quarter finals and scored two in the final against Germany, helping Brazil win their fifth World Cup title. He also equaled Pelé's Brazilian record of 12 World Cup goals, adding to the four he scored in the 1998 tournament.
On June 2, 2004, Ronaldo scored an unusual hat-trick for Brazil against arch-rivals Argentina in a CONMEBOL qualifier for the 2006 World Cup, scoring all three of Brazil's goals from the penalty spot, winning all the penalties himself.
In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, although Brazil won their first two group games against Croatia and Australia, respectively, Ronaldo was repeatedly jeered for being overweight and slow (Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva questioned the national coach "Ronaldo is fat or isn't he?"). Nonetheless, coach Carlos Alberto Parreira kept him in the starting lineup in face of calls to have Ronaldo replaced. With his two goals against Japan in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he became the 20th player ever to score in three different FIFA World Cups. Ronaldo scored in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups. On June 27, 2006, he broke the all-time World Cup Finals scoring record of 14, held by Gerd Müller after scoring his 15th World Cup goal against Ghana in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Round of 16. He also equaled a much less talked about mark: with his third goal of the 2006 World Cup, Ronaldo became only the second player ever (Jürgen Klinsmann being the other) to score at least three goals in each of three World Cups. However, Brazil was eliminated by France 1-0 in the quarter-finals.
The fallout after Brazil's disappointing performance in the World Cup saw Brazil appoint former captain Dunga as manager. His attempt to end the star culture of the Brazilian national team saw him drop Ronaldo not only from the starting line-up but from the squad altogether. He hasn't been selected since. He is eleven goals away from becoming Brazil's all-time top-scorer.
Ronaldo is currently the fourth highest all-time goalscorer of the Brazil national football team, with 62 goals. He trails third place Zico, 66, second place Romario, 71, and first place Pelé, 77. 
In April 1999, Ronaldo married Milene Domingues. The marriage lasted four years and ended in divorce. The couple had a son, Ronald (born 2000). In 2005, Ronaldo got engaged to Brazilian model and MTV VJ Daniela Cicarelli, who became pregnant but suffered a miscarriage; their relationship lasted 3 months after their engagement. He ended his relationship with Brazilian supermodel Raica Oliveira in December 2006. Writer Andrew Downie asserted a correlation between Ronaldo's personal life and performance on the pitch, noting that his most prolific periods of goalscoring have coincided with the times when he was happily married.
In 2005, Ronaldo became co-owner of A1 Team Brazil, alongside Brazilian motorsports legend Emerson Fittipaldi. The team participates in the A1 Grand Prix series, with Nelson Piquet, Jr., Tony Kanaan and João Paulo Oliveira as drivers for the debut season.
On April 29, 2008, it was alleged that Ronaldo, who had returned to Brazil to continue his injury rehabilitation, had employed the company of three transvestite prostitutes in a Rio de Janeiro motel. Police told a news conference they were also looking into an accusation by the player that one of the three transvestites tried to extort $29,600 in return for not telling the media about the incident.
Ronaldo became a United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador in 2000. "No one should be doomed to a life of poverty, whether by birth or as a consequence of war", Ronaldo said.
Ronaldo has also supported numerous Palestinian children's charities.
Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima (pronounced [xo'nawdʊ lu'iz na'zaɾjʊ dʒi 'limɐ]; born September 18, 1976 in Rio de Janeiro), is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a striker for the Italian Serie A club AC Milan. He has been nicknamed "The Phenomenon" (Portuguese: O Fenômeno, Spanish: El Fenómeno). Pelé named him one of the 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004. In 2007 France Football named him in their best starting 11 of all time.
Cavaliere Ufficiale OMRI (born November 9, 1974 in Conegliano Veneto) is an Italian World Cup-winning footballer. He is the captain of Juventus where he holds several club records and he is a member of the Italian national team.
His footballing ability is highly regarded and he has won critical recognition. Pelé named Del Piero in the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living footballers selected by Pelé as a part of FIFA's centenary celebrations. He was also voted in the list of best European players for the past 50 years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll. In the year 2000 Del Piero was the world's best-paid football player from salary, bonuses and advertising revenue. Currently, Del Piero is still the highest earning Italian Player.
As well as earning respect for his playing, Del Piero has won several accolades for his character. Along with three awards in Italy for gentlemanly conduct he has also won the Golden Foot award, which pertains to personality and playing ability.
Usually, Del Piero plays as a supporting-striker and occasionally between the midfield and the strikers, known in Italy as the "Trequartista" position. Although he is not very tall, Del Piero's playing style is regarded by critics as creative in attacking, assisting many goals as well as scoring himself, as opposed to just "goal poaching." His free-kick and penalty taking is also highly regarded. Del Piero has become famous over the years for scoring from a special " Del Piero Zone", approaching from the left flank and curling a precise lob into the far top corner of the goal.
In terms of goalscoring, Del Piero holds the all-time record at Juventus. On April 6th, 2008, Alessandro Del Piero became the all-time top capped Juventus player, ahead of Juve legend Gaetano Scirea. He is in sixth place in the UEFA Champions League all-time goalscorer records. Within the Italian national team, he is currently joint fourth with Roberto Baggio in the all-time scoring records.
Childhood and early career
Del Piero is the son of Gino, an electrician, and Bruna, a housekeeper. He regularly played football in the backyard with three friends, Nelso, Pierpaolo, and Giovanni-Paolo as a child, all three dreamed of becoming a footballer but only Del Piero would eventually manage to do so. Alessandro's older brother, Stefano, briefly played professional football for Sampdoria before injury struck him. The family lived in a rural home in San Vendemiano, while growing up Del Piero's family didn't have much money for travelling abroad, so he was considering being a lorry driver in order to see the world.
While playing for the local youth team of AC San Vendemiano from the age of 7, Del Piero used to play as a goalkeeper because he could play a lot more football that way. His mother thought it would be better for him if he played as a goalkeeper, since he wouldn't sweat and the possibility of him getting injured was less likely. His brother Stefano told their mother: "Don't you see that Alex is good in the attack?" and Del Piero switched position.
It was while playing with his local side of AC San Vendemiano in 1988 that Del Piero was first spotted by scouts — he left home at the young age of 13 to play in the youth side of Padova Calcio. He got his first chance at professional football in 1991 where he played in the Italian Serie B league four times. The following season he played ten games for Padova and scored his first professional goal.
In 1993, he transferred to Juventus F.C., and has been there ever since. Del Piero made his Serie A debut against Foggia in September 1993, scored his first goal in his next game against Reggiana after appearing as a substitute, and then grabbed a hat-trick against Parma on his first start. Juventus claimed their first Scudetto in eight years in his first season and success continued to follow. With the Turin club, he won the Serie A championship seven times (1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006), the Champions League (1996), and the Intercontinental Cup (1996). His best season was in 1997-98, when he scored 21 goals in Serie A and finished top scorer in the Champions League with 10 goals, which included a peach of a freekick against Monaco in the semi finals.
Del Piero struggled for form at the beginning of the 1998-99 season, whilst doping allegations were aimed at Juventus (they were later found innocent). In October he picked up a serious knee injury in the 2-2 draw with Udinese Calcio. This kept him out of action for the remainder of the season. Juventus struggled without him and limped home to a lowly 6th place in the league.
His nickname is Pinturicchio, in reference to a joke by Gianni Agnelli when he compared the emerging Del Piero to Baggio in a parallel between the student Pinturicchio from Perugia and the teacher Perugino. He's also been nicknamed by the fans "Il Fenomeno Vero" meaning the real "Phenomenon".
A commemorative shirt, celebrating Del Piero's 500th Juventus appearance
A commemorative shirt, celebrating Del Piero's 500th Juventus appearance
One of Del Piero's greatest strengths as a footballer is his versatility, which allows him to play in a variety of attacking positions. While he started his club career playing as a full-fledged striker, he settled into a deeper role as a support-striker. Because of his great technical ability, accurate passing skills and impressive vision, he has also been positioned as a playmaker in the central slot behind the forwards. In any zone surrounding the penalty area, his prowess as a creator of goals came to the fore. Under Marcello Lippi's reign as Juventus coach, Del Piero's creative abilities were on display whatever the coach's formation was. Del Piero showed his class in the lethal "trident-attack" formation along with veterans Gianluca Vialli and Fabrizio Ravanelli. After that, he took a leading role in a creative combination with Zinedine Zidane behind Filippo Inzaghi. As Juve's playing style changed in Lippi's second stint with Juventus starting 2001, Del Piero was still vital as his partnerships with Pavel Nedvěd in midfield and David Trezeguet upfront has contributed enormously to Juve's continued success in Italy and Europe.
Del Piero is currently the all-time top scorer for Juventus, in all competitions he has also made over 500 appearances in official matches for the club. And is still Juventus' main strike force with Trezeguet and newly bought from Udinese in the summer Vincenzo Iaquinta
Despite huge success on the club level, he has been somewhat disappointing playing for Italy, although he is currently the team's fourth all-time leading scorer. His tournament debut was Euro 96, but made his only appearance in the first half of a match against Russia before being substituted at halftime. Del Piero competed with fan favorite Baggio for a spot on the 1998 FIFA World Cup final roster while struggling to recover from injury suffered during the 1998 Champions League final with Juventus. He also missed two chances in Italy's 2-1 loss to France in the Euro 2000 final.
He returned to the international scene in the 2002 FIFA World Cup on the back of an impressive season in Serie A, in which he led Juventus to the Scudetto. Del Piero scored the decisive goal against Hungary, which sealed the Azzurri's qualification for the finals. He instantly scored against Mexico after coming on as a substitute to send Italy through to the second round, where they were eliminated. After Euro 2004, Marcello Lippi was replaced by Fabio Capello as Juventus coach. Capello was not convinced of Del Piero's abilities and frequently benched him in favor of new signing Zlatan Ibrahimović, but Del Piero still managed to score 14 goals as Juventus won their 28th league title.
Del Piero began the 2006 World Cup on the bench, appearing in two out of three group stage matches, and made his first start of the competition in a 1-0 round-of-16 win over Australia on June 26. On July 4, Del Piero entered as a substitute near the end of regulation and scored Italy's second goal in a 2-0 semifinal win over host Germany. The final whistle blew 8 seconds after he scored. In the final against France, which ended 1-1 after extra time, Del Piero scored a penalty in the shootout as Italy won the tournament for the fourth time. He admitted afterwards that winning the World Cup was his childhood dream.
As of 2006, Del Piero has captained Italy five times (including the world cup in 2006) . He also regularly wore the number 10, but later gave it to Francesco Totti and switched to the number 7, as it was the first number he wore at the start of his career. Even though the number 10 was vacated after Totti retired from the national team in July 2007, Del Piero denied any interest in taking back the number, saying he was satisfied with the number 7. 
2006-07 season and onwards
Experts agree that Del Piero was back to his best in the 2005-06 season having scored 20 goals in all competitions. His most memorable goal this season was the free kick which won the match against bitter rivals Internazionale. However, his role at Juventus changed in the following season, as coach Fabio Capello preferred to use him as a substitute for an "immediate impact", as Capello put it. In 2006 Del Piero equalled José Altafini's Serie A record of 6 goals as a substitute after scoring in the final minute of Juventus's final game of the 2005-06 season. Del Piero himself is ambivalent about his ability to get goals off the bench, stating that "I want people to know me for more than being able to come off the bench to change a game", and in late March of 2006 revealed his openness to finishing his career with a club outside of Italy if it would guarantee him a place as a starting forward.
On January 10, 2006 Del Piero became the all time leading goalscorer for Juventus when he scored three times in a Coppa Italia match against Fiorentina and took his total goals for the club to 185. The previous record holder was Giampiero Boniperti, who scored 182 goals for the club. Del Piero scored the last goal for Juventus in their latest Scudetto for the 05/06 Season.
Due to the Calciopoli scandal, Juventus were demoted to Serie B and their last two Scudetti were revoked. Del Piero announced that he will stay to captain the team in Serie B. He underlined that players should stick with the team, explaining that “The Agnelli family deserve this, as do the fans and the new directors".
Del Piero's first appearance after the World Cup's triumph was in the Coppa Italia match against Cesena on August 23, 2006. Since Juventus will be playing in Serie B for the 2006-07 season, the Coppa Italia campaign became increasingly important for the club in order to achieve a Uefa Cup spot. Having being in vacation beforehand, Del Piero started from the bench. Juventus and Cesena were locked on 1-1 when Del Piero entered in the 74th minute and after 9 seconds scored the winning goal for Juventus.
Del Piero then came in as a substitute at the 61st minute for Juve's next Coppa Italia match on August 27 vs. S.S.C. Napoli. Again Juventus was behind but Del Piero scored twice to give Juve the lead. In the end the match went into penalties, Del Piero scored a decisive one, but Napoli eventually won 5-4 in the shoot-out.
This followed his signing of a new contract with Juventus after months of fractious negotiations with the club. This turnaround in fortunes for Del Piero was quite staggering, as only two weeks earlier, he was dropped by Claudio Ranieri for the Serie A match with ACF Fiorentina, and was then axed from Roberto Donadoni’s Italy squad for the games with Georgia and South Africa. However Alessandro has since turned his fortunes around and won a starting spot in the Juventus squad again. He scored two goals away at Lazio and was named to two consecutive Serie A teams of the week.
Del Piero is married to Sonia Amoruso, the two have been together since 1999 and married in 2005. The couple announced in July 2007 that they are expecting their first baby. On October 22, 2007, Amoruso gave birth to baby boy Tobias Del Piero at 0:20 at Sant'Anna hospital in Turin.
Del Piero has used his fame and money to promote and support cancer research; in recognition of this he has received from the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro a prize of "Believe in Research" during November 2006.
When the Olympic Flame for the 2006 Winter Olympics passed through Turin, Del Piero was a torchbearer. He has an interest in sports outside of football and in turn has gained fans outside of just football, sport icons such as NBA star Steve Nash and cycling legend Eddy Merckx have stated that they are fans of Del Piero.
As well as an interest in other sports, Del Piero also has a keen interest in music. He has even recorded some albums of his own. Del Piero is an Oasis fan and is a friend of Noel Gallagher and appeared in the video for the groups single Lord Don't Slow Me Down; Del Piero claimed Gallagher was Italy's lucky mascot in their 2006 World Cup success and invited him to the final and the team hotel after victory. Along with Marco Materazzi, Del Piero appeared on stage at a Rolling Stones show in Milan shortly after Italy's World Cup win.
Paolo Maldini (born 26 June 1968 in Milan) is an Italian footballer who plays for Serie A club A.C. Milan. The son of Cesare Maldini, he has spent his entire career with Milan, and is the most-selected player in both the history of the club and Serie A. He was named among Pelé's top 125 living footballers in 2004. On 16 December 2007, after winning the FIFA Club World Cup over Boca Juniors, he announced that he will retire at the end of the season, but later stated that he may reconsider his retirement.
Maldini predominantly plays as a centre back although he sometimes plays at left back. He is widely considered one of the all time greats.
Maldini made his league debut on 20 January 1985, at the age of sixteen, against Udinese Calcio as a halftime substitution for the injured Sergio Battistini. It would be his only league appearance of the campaign, but he was in the starting eleven the following season.
The 1987–88 Scudetto marked Maldini's first major trophy, and the first of seven league titles, with the club. He was also part of AC Milan's undefeated "Dream Team" from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.
In addition to winning his third Champions League and reaching the 1994 FIFA World Cup final, Maldini became the first defender ever to win World Soccer magazine's annual World Player of the Year Award. During his acceptance speech, Maldini called his milestone "a particular matter of pride because defenders generally receive so much less attention from fans and the media than goalscorers. We are more in the engine room rather than taking the glory." He then singled out Milan captain Franco Baresi as a player who "really [deserved] to receive the sort of award I have received."
Maldini played his 600th Serie A match on 13 May 2007, in a 1–1 draw at Calcio Catania. On 25 September 2005, Maldini broke Dino Zoff's Serie A appearance record after playing his 571st league match against Treviso F.B.C.; seven days earlier, he had played his 800th game in all competitions for Milan. On February 16, 2008, Maldini reached 1,000 senior games with AC Milan and Italy when he entered as a substitute against Parma.
Maldini has participated in eight UEFA Champions League finals during the course of his career, which is more than any other active player, and close to the record held by Francisco Gento. He has lifted the trophy five times, the latest coming in Milan's 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the 2007 CL final on 23 May 2007, in Athens. In an interview with ESPN that aired prior to the broadcast of the 2007 final, he labeled the 2005 final, which Milan lost on penalties to Liverpool in extra time after blowing a 3–0 lead, the worst moment of his career, even though he had scored the fastest-ever goal in a European Clubs' Cup final just 51 seconds into the match, in the process also becoming the oldest player ever to score in a final. Though Maldini had stated his desire to end his career by winning his sixth European championship, it was not to be. His European career concluded in 2008 when Milan were defeated by Arsenal FC in the UEFA Champions League 2007-08 knockout stage.
In November 2005, he announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2006-07 season, but relented and decided to stay on for one more year. Milan plan to retire his number 3 shirt, but it will be bequeathed to one of his sons if he makes the club's senior side. His eldest son, Christian, is 12 years old and is currently playing for the Milan youth squad.
In 2007, Maldini announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2007–08 season, saying that he will do so with 'no regrets'. However, following Milan's elimination from the Champions League by Arsenal F.C. in March, Maldini stated that he will delay his retirement for at least a further year.
most capped player with 126 appearances, and all seven of his career international goals were scored in home matches. He spent over half of his 16 years as an international as team captain, and is also one of three current Milan players who have earned the most caps for their national teams, along with Cafu and Dario Šimić.
However, he never won a major title with the Azzurri. After Italy finished third as the host nation in the 1990 World Cup, Maldini played in his first and only World Cup final in 1994, which Italy lost to Brazil on penalties. Maldini also played a part in the less successful 1998 and 2002 World Cup campaigns, being eliminated in the quarterfinals and last 16, respectively.
Maldini was also a finalist in Italy's Euro 2000 squad that lost to France in the final. He had previously taken part in Euro 1988 and Euro 1996, while Italy failed to qualify for Euro 1992.
He announced his international retirement after Italy's exit from the 2002 World Cup. He later rejected Giovanni Trapattoni's request to return for Euro 2004 and subsequently rejected a similar request from Marcello Lippi for the successful 2006 World Cup campaign.
from : wikipedia.org
Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (born April 22, 1982 in Brasília, Brazil), simply known as Kaká, is a Brazilian footballer who plays as a midfielder for Brazil and the Serie A club A.C. Milan. He is one of the budding young stars in world football.
Kaká's younger brother Rodrigo Izecson Dos Santos Leite, known as Digão, followed in his brother's footsteps and is currently on loan with Serie B team Rimini, after having spent some time in the AC Milan youth squad.
The nickname Kaká, from his native Portuguese, is pronounced as it is spelt. The accent would signify that the stress is on the second syllable. In Italian, the language of his current team, the phonetic equivalent is written as Kakà, which is used for Italian television graphics. However, the player's shirt name is spelt KAKA' (with an apostrophe, rather than an accented 'A') for both Brazil and Milan. An internet discussion forum explains the nickname as a commonly used shortened form of "Ricardo" in Portuguese. Kaká is supposed to have got his nickname because his little brother Rodrigo could not pronounce the word "Ricardo" when they were young. Rodrigo called his older brother "Caca\ Kaká suffered an accident when he made a faulty jump off a diving-board, resulting in a vertebra fracture. This could have meant the end of his football career, but he believes that Jesus allowed him to recover and become the successful footballer he is now. When AC Milan won the Serie A title in 2004, Ricky, as he is called by his team-mates, sported a shirt with an "I Belong to Jesus" slogan. He also points his fingers to the sky as a sign of thanks every time he scores, for apparently the same reason.
Kaká married Caroline Celico on 23 December 2005 at the evangelical Reborn in Christ Church in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in a wedding attended by fellow players from his national team, as well as other well known international players. Guests included Ronaldo, Adriano, Cafu, Dida, Julio Baptista and Brazilian national coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. Caroline and Kaká first met in 2002, and started dating soon after. The relationship survived Kaká's move from Sao Paulo to Italy in 2003, while Caroline was still at school. It is likely that Caroline will stay in Brazil in the short-run, but the couple plan to live together in Italy very soon.
Michael Ballack (born September 26, 1976 in Görlitz, Saxony) is a German football player. A midfielder, he is the current captain of the German national team, and plays club football for Chelsea F.C. in the English Premier League, captaining them on some occasions. He is known for his strength and precision passing, with a powerful shot.
Ballack first gained attention at Bayer Leverkusen where he operated as the central midfielder, taking on both defensive and attacking responsibilities. Later in his career, at FC Bayern Munich, under the guidance of Ottmar Hitzfeld and Felix Magath, Ballack played in a deeper role, where he went forward less often and instead concentrated on protecting the back four and distributing the ball. However, he remained a box-to-box midfielder for the German national team. Ballack is one of the most versatile soccer players in the world: he can easily play defensively as well as offensively.
He is capable with both his left and right foot, as well as in the air. These attributes earned him the German player of the year award on three occasions (2002, 2003, 2005). He is one of Germany's leading sports icons of recent times. Pelé named Ballack among the world's greatest 125 living footballers in FIFA's 2004 FIFA 100
Then, in 2004, the national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann elected Ballack as captain. Following Germany's third place finish in the World Cup in summer 2006, the new Germany head coach Joachim Löw chose to keep Ballack as his national team captain. Ballack has worn the number 13 shirt for every club that he has played for, as well as the German national team.
Ballack and his life partner Simone Lambe have three children: Louis (born August 16, 2001), Emilio (September 19, 2002), and Jordi (born March 17, 2005).
His parents sent him to train with the side when he was seven years old. He later moved on to FC Karl-Marx-Stadt (renamed Chemnitzer FC in 1990). His father had played second-division football himself in Germany. Unusual for his early age was Ballack's ability to use both feet with equal authority.
In 1995, Ballack earned his first professional contract, thanks to his impressive performances in the role of central midfielder. He was dubbed the "Little Kaiser", in reference to Franz Beckenbauer, who was nicknamed "The Kaiser". His professional debut came on 4 August 1995, on the first day of the new Second Bundesliga season. Chemnitz lost the game 2–1, against VfB Leipzig.
At the end of the season, during which Ballack made fifteen appearances, Chemnitz were relegated to the multi-tiered, regional third division. For Ballack himself, however, that season held one great success: on 26 March 1996, he made his debut for Germany's Under-21 side.
The following season, Ballack became a regular first-team player and almost helped Chemnitz to bounce straight back. He did not miss a game and scored ten goals for the "Sky Blues". It was not enough for Chemnitz to go up, but Ballack managed to win his own, personal promotion: in the summer of 1997, decorated German coach Otto Rehhagel of just-promoted 1. FC Kaiserslautern, signed Ballack at their return to top flight football.
It was during the seventh game of the 1997–98 season, away to Karlsruher SC, that Rehhagel decided to throw young Ballack into the Bundesliga for the first time, if only for the final five minutes of the encounter. On 28 March 1998, Ballack found himself in the starting line-up for the first time – the opponents were Bayer Leverkusen, and the manager charged him with the crucial task of marking playmaker Emerson, his future team-mate, out of the game.
Ballack made sixteen appearances for his new team during the season and thus played a part in Kaiserslautern's success – the club became the first-ever newly promoted team to lift the league title. In the following season, Ballack became both a regular (he made 30 appearances, scoring four goals) and one of the side's leading players. Kaiserslautern reached the quarter finals of the Champions League, but were knocked out by Bayern Munich.
On 1 July 1999, some two months after his first full international, Ballack moved to Bayer Leverkusen at the age of 22, for a transfer fee of 8 m Deutsche Mark (€4.8 m).
It was at Bayer Leverkusen that Ballack made his big breakthrough. Coaches Christoph Daum and Klaus Toppmöller granted him the whole of the pitch as his sovereign territory. With Bayer, Ballack was the man who pulled the strings in the centre of the pitch, making late runs into the opponents' penalty box, and also the reliable finisher upfront. Over his three seasons at the BayArena, he scored 27 goals in the league, and a further nine goals in Europe.
Ballack and Leverkusen teammates Bernd Schneider, Carsten Ramelow, and Oliver Neuville were even beaten finalists with Germany in the 2002 World Cup, although Ballack was suspended for the Final itself. Ballack finished with 17 league goals, and his remarkable season led to him being voted into the uefa.com users' Team of 2002 as well being named Germany's Footballer of the Year.
Ballack playing for Bayern Munich
Ballack playing for Bayern Munich
In spite of Spanish giants Real Madrid's interest, Ballack decided to sign with Bayern Munich in a €12.9 m deal in 2002 after his fantastic performance in the World Cup almost single handedly guiding Germany to the final. Bayern won the Bundesliga in his first season with 75 points, they also won the German Cup. In his second season however, Bayern were unlucky as they lost their Bundesliga crown to Werder Bremen along with the cup.
In his third season with the Bavarian giants, Ballack enjoyed success in the 2004/05 season as Bayern Munich completed another double. New coach Felix Magath stated he was the only automatic starter in their midfield. In four seasons at Bayern, Ballack won three Bundesliga and German Cup doubles and scored 47 goals in 135 matches. Between 1998 and 2005, Ballack notched up 61 goals in his domestic league.
However, Ballack's critics noted his frequent choking in important UEFA Champions League matches, as well as continually looking for a big international move. This resulted in open public criticism from club general manager Uli Hoeness, communications director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and club president Franz Beckenbauer (all former Bayern players). Beckenbauer later went as far as to accuse Ballack of "saving his strength" for prospective employers after Ballack turned in an average performance in the 2006 DFB-Pokal final against Eintracht Frankfurt.
During his few final games for Bayern, supporters at the stadium jeered at Ballack, angering him because he felt that he honoured his contract and conducted himself professionally on and off the pitch as a Bayern player. Shortly after his transfer to Chelsea, Ballack proclaimed sarcastically that the acrimony surrounding his departure made him glad as it proved how important he had been to Bayern. Ballack also rubbished accusations that money was his primary motivation in moving to Chelsea, stating that he earned well at Bayern. Ballack stated that he joined Chelsea to fulfill his dream of playing abroad. He also stated that Chelsea's fellow Premiership club Manchester United had made an approach, but he decided that Chelsea were a more attractive team to join. It could be said that United were in more need of such a player after the departure of Roy Keane, but the appeal of living in London probably made the decision for Ballack.
Ballack agreed to join Chelsea on a Bosman transfer on May 15, 2006. During his last season as a Bayern player there were rumours of interest from Manchester United, Real Madrid and A.C. Milan, but Ballack instead chose to go to Stamford Bridge. Shortly after arriving at Chelsea, Ballack stated that he hoped to end his career at Stamford Bridge.
Ballack's Chelsea debut came on Monday July 31, 2006, during a practice match at UCLA's intramural football pitch. Chelsea presented him to the media the following day where the club also gave him his favoured number 13 shirt, worn throughout his career. On August 27, 2006, Ballack earned his Premiership debut for Chelsea against Blackburn Rovers, and his UEFA Champions League debut for Chelsea against Werder Bremen.
Ballack with Chelsea
Ballack with Chelsea
Ballack scored his first goal for Chelsea on September 21, 2006 in the Champions League group stage match against SV Werder Bremen. He received his first straight red card of his career in Chelsea's 1-0 win over Liverpool on September 17, 2006, after being judged to have stamped on Mohamed Sissoko's leg. Ballack scored his first Premiership goal on October 21, 2006 against Portsmouth in a home game at Stamford Bridge with a header. His first FA Cup goal came in the 109th minute in a match against Blackburn Rovers on April 15, 2007. This goal resulted in Chelsea progressing into the FA Cup final. He scored eight goals in all competitions for the club in the 2006–07 season, including a fantastic free-kick against Everton at Goodison Park, as well as a superb half-volley against FC Porto which sent Chelsea through to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.
On April 28, 2007, Chelsea released a statement on their official website, informing fans that Ballack had undergone ankle surgery in Munich. As a result of the surgery, Ballack did not play in the FA Cup Final against Manchester United, which Chelsea won 1–0 through Didier Drogba's extra time goal. This was Ballack's second trophy this season, his first being the Carling Cup.
On August 4, Spanish media reported that Real Madrid was close to signing Ballack and/or his Chelsea teammate Arjen Robben. Madrid coach Bernd Schuster told Spanish radio, "Hopefully, we'll be able to announce the signing of one or two big players soon." Schuster is said to have demanded Ballack, while Madrid's president Ramon Calderon, is known to favor Robben.
On August 7, Ballack released a statement on Chelsea FC's official website, saying:
“ I am totally committed to Chelsea. I came here to win trophies and be successful in English football, I want to assure the Chelsea fans of that. I am very happy in London professionally and for my family. The speculation about me leaving is not true. I have no interest in leaving Chelsea and I have had no contact with Real Madrid whatsoever. I am frustrated by my injury at the moment but I am working hard to be fit and hope to be back very soon to join my team-mates. ”
Chelsea left Michael Ballack out of their Champions League squad for the 2007/08 Group Stage as they realised that his injury would prevent him from playing any useful part and preferred to select the fully-fit Steve Sidwell. The German international had an ankle operation in the summer and Chelsea could not take the risk of him not regaining full fitness before the end of the Group Stage. Thus, Ballack could not play in the Champions League before the knockout stages began in February. The club was only able to select 23 out of a possible 25 players for their Champions League squad due to the new UEFA regulations on 'association-trained players' and 'club-trained players'. Due to this regulation Chelsea were also unable to select young player Scott Sinclair and could only pick 23 players as their only 'club-trained player' was John Terry. For this reason it was deemed unwise to gamble on Ballack being fit at some point.
He was absent for eight months with an ankle injury, during which he feared that his football career may be in danger of ending as he was getting older. He made his return to the side in Chelsea's 2–0 Carling Cup win over Liverpool on December 19. Ballack tallied an assist late in the game to striker Andriy Shevchenko. On December 26, Ballack made his league return in a thrilling game against Aston Villa which ended 4–4. He came on for Frank Lampard in the 26th minute after the latter had picked up a thigh injury. In first-half stoppage time, he won a penalty after being brought down in the box by Zat Knight which Andriy Shevchenko converted. In the 88th minute, with the scores tied at 3–3, Ballack stepped up to take a free-kick which he buried into the bottom left corner of the goal, capping off an excellent league return, but the match ended in a 4–4 draw.
Ballack captained the Chelsea team in the absence of captain John Terry, vice captain Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba in a 2–1 win over Newcastle on December 29, 2007. Ballack then played his 50th game in a Chelsea shirt in a 2–1 win against Fulham in which he scored the winning goal for Chelsea. He also scored the only goal that won the match for Chelsea against Reading to extend the blues' winning streak to a record of 9. Ballack has since become an influential player at Stamford Bridge and is credited with the new dawn of Avram Grant. Ballack is the only person in the team with the physique from the midfield and is credited for an outstanding attack. Despite initial doubts over the partnership with Frank Lampard in midfield, the pair seemed to have shrugged off the initial problems and they are working well together. Michael Ballack, is now part of the new look Chelsea. On March 1 Ballack scored against West Ham in Chelsea's 4–0 win. And, on March 5, he scored again, this time against Olympiacos CFP in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 in a 3-0 win.
With Chelsea's progress to the 2007–2008 Champions League Quarter-Finals, Michael Ballack is the only player to have reached the Champions League Quarter-Finals with four different clubs. He scored the winning goal in the 2-0 win in the 2nd leg of the Quarter-Finals against Fenerbahçe S.K., a victory that secured Chelsea a place in the Semi-Finals.
Ballack continued to score vital goals and on April 26, 2008, he scored a header and a penalty to give Chelsea a 2-1 win over Manchester United. He was named Man of The Match in another outstanding performance. It brought the two teams level in the race for the Premier League title only two matchdays before the end of the season.
Ballack taking on a penalty kick for Germany in 2005
Ballack taking on a penalty kick for Germany in 2005
On March 26, 1996, Ballack debuted for the national U21 team's encounter with Denmark, shortly after signing for Chemnitz. In all, he played 19 matches for this side, scoring four goals. Then, following his move to Kaiserslautern, national coach Berti Vogts called him up to the senior team.
Ballack's first appearance, however, did not come until April 28, 1999, by which time the man in charge was Erich Ribbeck. Germany was playing Scotland on that day, and Ballack came on after sixty minutes to replace Dietmar Hamann.
Ballack only played 63 minutes at Euro 2000. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup he scored in matches against USA and South Korea during the knock-out rounds as Germany reached the final, from which he was suspended.
Following Euro 2004, Jürgen Klinsmann replaced Rudi Völler at the helm of the national team and made Ballack the side's captain. Ballack is one of four national team captains in the current Chelsea team, along with Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast captain), Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine captain), and Claudio Pizarro (Peru captain). In the 2006 FIFA World Cup he was unable to start in Germany's first game against Costa Rica due to a calf strain, but appeared in the following five matches. Germany were eliminated in the semi-finals, but they managed to clinch 3rd place. He was named Man of the Match in the games against Ecuador and Argentina, and was included in FIFA's World Cup All Star Team.
In 2007, he scored many important goals for the national team, proving his worth and leadership qualities as Germany cruised through the Euro 2008 qualifying stages and were the first team to qualify for the tournament.
On 6 February 2008 Ballack played his first match for the national team after he suffered a serious injury, Germany won against Austria in a friendly match 3–0 and Ballack assisted Klose to score Germany's second goal.
John George Terry (born December 7, 1980 in Barking, London) is an English professional footballer. Terry plays as a centre back and is the captain of Chelsea in the English Premier League and officially for the England national football team. He has an older brother, Paul, who is also a professional footballer with fellow London club Leyton Orient.
Terry was voted best defender in the 2005 UEFA Champions League, PFA Players' Player of the Year in 2005, and was included in the FIFPro World XI for 2005, 2006 and 2007. He was also named in the all-star squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the only English player to make the team. He wears the number 26 shirt for Chelsea and the number 6 shirt for England.
In 2007, he became the first captain to lift the FA Cup at the new Wembley Stadium in Chelsea's 1–0 win over Manchester United, and also the first player to score a full international goal there, scoring a header in England's 1–1 draw with Brazil.
Terry was born in Barking, East London and attended Eastbury Comprehensive School. Terry played initially for Senrab F.C.. The side then featured many future stars of the English game, including current Premiership players Bobby Zamora, Ledley King and Jlloyd Samuel. Terry joined Chelsea's youth system at 14, playing for the club's youth and reserve teams as a midfield stalwart. It was due to a shortage of central defenders that he was moved to centre-half, the position he plays today.
Terry made his Chelsea debut on 28 October 1998 as a late substitute in a League Cup tie with Aston Villa; his first start came later that season in an FA Cup third round match, a 2–0 win over Oldham Athletic. He spent a brief period on loan with Nottingham Forest in 2000 to build up his first team experience.
Early in his career, Terry was involved in an incident at a West London nightclub with Chelsea team mate Jody Morris and Wimbledon's Des Byrne. He was charged with assault and affray, but later cleared. During the affair, he was given a temporary ban from the England national side by the FA. Previously, along with Chelsea team-mates Frank Lampard, Jody Morris, Eidur Gudjohnsen and former team-mate Frank Sinclair, in September 2001 Terry was fined two weeks wages by Chelsea after drunkenly harassing grieving American tourists in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
Terry began to establish himself in the Chelsea first team from the 2000-01 season, making 23 starts, and was voted the club's player of the year. He continued his progress during 2001-02, becoming a regular in the defence alongside club captain and French international Marcel Desailly. That season saw Chelsea reach the FA Cup final, though a virus denied Terry a place in the starting line-up, although he did come on as a second-half substitute. Chelsea lost the game 2–0.
Terry Playing for Chelsea in 2006.
Terry Playing for Chelsea in 2006.
In season 2001/02, Terry was handed the captaincy for the first time, in a League match against Charlton Athletic on 5 December 2001.
In season 2003-04, his performances led to him being handed the captain's armband by manager Claudio Ranieri who later joined Valencia,when Desailly was out of the side. He played well in the absence of the French international, establishing himself as a genuine contender for a first team slot and forming a strong defensive partnership with William Gallas.
Following Desailly's retirement, new Chelsea manager José Mourinho chose Terry as his club captain, a choice which was positive throughout the 2004-05 season as Chelsea won the FA Premier League title in record-breaking fashion with the best defensive record in Football League history, the most clean sheets and the most points accrued.
Terry was voted Player of the Year by his fellow professionals in England and scored eight goals, including a late winner against FC Barcelona, in the UEFA Champions League. He was voted the best defender in the latter tournament.
Along with Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Claude Makélélé and Petr Čech, Terry is regarded as a part of the "spine" of the Chelsea team. Being an English player who came through the club's youth system, he is especially popular with Chelsea fans. In September 2005 he was selected as a member of the World XI at the FIFPro awards. The team was chosen by a vote of professional footballers based in 40 countries.
In a match on 14 October 2006 against Reading F.C., Terry had to take over in goal for Chelsea after both of Chelsea's usual keepers, Petr Čech and Carlo Cudicini were injured in the game. He wore the number 40 shirt belonging to third-choice goalkeeper Henrique Hilario. However, as the game continued for only a little over a minute, Terry did not have a single save to make — in fact, his goalkeeping experience was limited to taking a free-kick from inside the penalty area. Chelsea managed to hang on to a one goal lead and win the game.
In a match on 5 November 2006 against Tottenham Hotspur, Terry was sent off for the first time in his Chelsea career. He received two yellow cards as Chelsea lost at White Hart Lane for the first time since 1987. Later, Terry was charged with misconduct by the F.A. for questioning the integrity of match referee Graham Poll, who allegedly gave Terry different reasons for why he was given his second yellow during and after the game. Poll was also acquitted of saying inappropriate things to Chelsea players. On 10 January 2007, John Terry was ordered to pay £10,000 for the inappropriate conduct after he changed his mind and pleaded "guilty" to the FA. He has been asked to apologise publicly to Poll.
Terry celebrating with Chelsea and England team-mate Frank Lampard.
Terry celebrating with Chelsea and England team-mate Frank Lampard.
Recently[when?] Terry has missed four premiership matches for Chelsea due to a recurring back problem. After the tie to Reading F.C. on 26 December 2006, José Mourinho stated that his captain may require surgery to fix the problem. In the games that he has missed, Chelsea have conceded six goals, in all this season they have conceded 15 goals (the equivalent to the goals they conceded in the 2004/05 season). On 28 December Chelsea released a press statement saying Terry had had back surgery: "The operation to remove a sequestrated lumbar intervertebral disc was successful.".
Although he was expected to return at the game against Wigan Athletic, Terry was missing once again, due to the recurring back problem. He made his return against Charlton Athletic on February 3, 2007. He played his first 90 minutes of football for nearly three months against Middlesborough and received much applause from the Chelsea faithful. Playing in the UEFA Champions league last sixteen away against FC Porto, he suffered another injury, this time to his ankle, and was set to miss the upcoming Carling Cup Final (2007) against Arsenal, but managed to recover from the injury within days.
Terry made the starting line-up for Chelsea in the Carling Cup final. Going forward for a corner in the second half, he threw himself at the ball with a diving header; Arsenal's Abou Diaby, in an attempt to clear the ball, kicked Terry in the face. Terry was unconscious for several minutes at which point he nearly swallowed his tongue. He was carried off the field on a stretcher and immediately transferred to the University Hospital of Wales, where he was successfully treated. Terry discharged himself the same day and returned to the Millennium Stadium to celebrate his team's 2–1 win. The only recollection Terry has of the second half is walking out onto the pitch and does not remember the 10 minutes he played prior to his injury.
After spending two weeks on the sidelines, Terry made his return to the side against Blackburn in March. He has since captained Chelsea to the semi-finals of the 2006-2007 UEFA Champions League, the third time in four years that Chelsea have made it to the final four of the competition.
In May 2007, Terry captained Chelsea to the FA Cup, in the first final at the new Wembley Stadium.
Despite failing to agree terms to a new contract immediately following the 2006-2007 season, Terry stated on several occasions that he had no intention of leaving Chelsea. In late July he signed a new five-year contract with a base salary of between £131,000 and £135,000 per week, making him the highest-paid player in Premier League history.
On 16 December 2007 whilst playing against Arsenal, while going to clear a ball Terry's foot was stepped on by Emannuel Eboue and Terry had suffered 3 broken bones in his foot. He was expected to be out for at least three months but made a speedy recovery and therefore managed to captain Chelsea to the finals of the Carling Cup on 24 February 2008 against Tottenham, but Chelsea lost 2-1.
He scored the winner in Chelsea's 1-0 win over Sunderland A.F.C. at the Stadium of Light on March 16th 2008. His first goal for the club since the opening day of the 2006-07 Premier league season. Terry is on course to be the first ever Chelsea captain in a UEFA Champions League Final, after he led the Blues to a 4-3 aggregate victory over Liverpool F.C.
Terry was the captain of the England national team under Steve McClaren and he made his debut in June 2003 against Serbia and Montenegro. His main defensive partner is Rio Ferdinand. He played for his country at Euro 2004, and England Manager Sven-Göran Eriksson stated that Terry was the first-choice centre back, ahead of Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell.
In a FIFA World Cup Qualifying match against Poland, Terry had the honour of wearing England's captain armband, replacing Michael Owen as captain after the latter was subbed.
He has cemented his place in the England squad by being selected for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. In a warm-up match for that tournament against Hungary on May 30, 2006, Terry scored his first goal for England, the team's second in a 3–1 victory. Despite an injury scare in a friendly against Jamaica, he recovered to play in England's opening fixture against Paraguay, a 1–0 victory.
In the next match against Trinidad and Tobago, Carlos Edwards beat England's Paul Robinson to a cross and as Stern John bundled a header towards the goal, Terry cleared the ball off the line with an overhead kick. In the quarter-finals match against Portugal, Terry played the entire match, but England lost on penalties and he was left in tears with his fellow players. Six days later, he was the only English player to be named in the tournament's all-star squad.
On 10 August 2006, Steve McClaren named John Terry as the England captain, succeeding David Beckham. McClaren said "Choosing a captain is one of the most important decisions a coach has to make. I’m certain I’ve got the right man in John Terry. I’m convinced he will prove to be one of the best captains England has ever had." Terry scored a goal on his debut as the England captain, in a friendly international against Greece. This was the first goal of the match and, as such, the first goal during McClaren's reign as manager. When celebrating he kissed his new captain's armband. However, with Terry as captain, England did not qualify for Euro 2008 - their first absence from a tournament finals since the 1994 World Cup. Midway through the qualification campaign, Terry had accepted that he would bear "full responsibility" should England fail to qualify.
On 1 June 2007, Terry became the first player in the senior England team to score an international goal at the new Wembley Stadium when he scored England's goal in a 1–1 draw with Brazil. He scored from a header in the box after a free kick cross by David Beckham.
It isn't known if Terry will remain England captain. Fabio Capello has stated that he will not make a decision about the permanent captain until England begin to play competitive matches.
John Terry is the main face alongside Michael Owen for the Umbro sportswear brand often introducing new brand lines and products as well as new England kits. He has also appeared in adverts for Samsung, Nationwide and Swedish betting company Svenska Spel, as well as being in a sponsorship deal with football gaming series Pro Evolution Soccer. On the UK version of Pro Evolution Soccer 6, he appears on the front cover with Brazil international Adriano.
Terry currently lives in Oxshott, Surrey. He and his wife Toni Poole Terry are the parents of twins, a boy (Georgie John) and a girl (Summer Rose) born on 18 May 2006. Terry celebrated their birth when scoring for England against Hungary, when he performed a "baby-rocking" celebration.
The couple married at Blenheim Palace on 15 June 2007 in a magazine coverage deal, and requested Harrods gift vouchers as wedding presents. After the wedding, the couple enjoyed a two week honeymoon on Roman Abramovich's super yacht Pelorus in the Mediterranean. His hobbies include golf, swimming, football and squash .
* FA Premier League (2004-05, 2005-06)
* FA Cup (2000, 2007)
* League Cup (2005, 2007)
* FA Community Shield (2005)
* PFA Player of the Year (2004-05)
* 2005 UEFA Champions League Best Defender
* FIFA World Cup squad of the tournament (2006)
* FIFPro World XI Team (2005, 2006, 2007)
* Captain of England national football team (2006-present)
Ryan Joseph Giggs OBE (born Ryan Joseph Wilson on 29 November 1973 in Ely, Cardiff) is a Welsh footballer who has played for Manchester United in the English Premiership for the entirety of his club career to-date.
Giggs played for the Welsh national team prior to his retirement from international football on 2 June 2007.
As well as the many honours Giggs has received within football, he was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours List.
Alessandro Del Piero has said of Giggs: "This is embarrassing to say but I have cried twice in my life watching a football player; the first one was Roberto (Baggio) and the second was Ryan Giggs"
Giggs is the son of Danny Wilson, a noted Rugby League player, and his mother is Lynne Giggs. Although born in Cardiff, he was raised in Pendlebury, England and speaks with a Mancunian accent. His father is of mixed race (of Sierra Leonean and Dutch ancestry) and Giggs has always expressed pride at his mixed heritage. However, in an infamous interview with the Daily Telegraph, Giggs described his father as a "real rogue". After his parents separated during the 1980s, he dropped the surname Wilson and began to use his mother's family name, Giggs.
Giggs began his football career as a junior member of Deans Sports F.C. in Swinton and was spotted as a 14-year-old by Manchester City. His dribbling skills were compared to legendary players such as George Best, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruyff. His talent became widely recognised, and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson went to his house personally to urge him to sign for Manchester United instead of Manchester City, and he joined them on 29 November 1987 - his 14th birthday. He persuaded Giggs by waiving YTS forms with the opportunity to turn professional in three years. Giggs ended up signing with Manchester United.
Similarly, England Under-21 coach Lawrie McMenemy checked to see whether he was eligible to play for the nation.
Manchester United first team
Giggs is Manchester United's longest-serving current player. He made his first appearance for the club during the 1990-91 season and has been a regular player since the 1991-92 season. He has played the highest number of competitive games for the club , and holds the club record of team trophies won by a player (23). Since 1992, he has collected nine Premier League winners' medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, two League Cup winner's medals and one Champions League winner's medal. He also has runners-up medals from two FA Cup finals and two League Cup finals, as well as being part of four United teams who have finished second in the league. He has worn the squad number 11 since squad numbering came into effect in 1993. He is currently vice-captain to Gary Neville.
Giggs turned professional on 29 November 1990 (his 17th birthday) and made his League debut against Everton F.C. at Old Trafford on 2 March 1991, as a substitute for Denis Irwin. In his first full start, Giggs was credited with his first ever goal in a 1-0 win in the Manchester derby, though it appeared to be a Colin Hendry own goal.
He became a first-team regular early in the 1991-92 season, and collected his first piece of silverware on 12 April 1992 as United defeated Nottingham Forest in the League Cup Final, after Giggs had set up Brian McClair to score the only goal of the game. He was voted PFA Young Player of the Year, and United finished second in the league.
By the start of the 1992-93 season - the first season of the newly-formed FA Premier League, Giggs was firmly established as United's first choice left winger, and became known as one of British football's most prodigious young players. His emergence and the arrival of Eric Cantona heralded the dominance of United in the new Premier League. His manager was very protective of him, refusing to allow Giggs to be interviewed until he turned 20, eventually granting the first interview to the BBC's Desmond Lynam for Match of the Day.
His ability to consistently dribble past opposing players by using his own exceptional balance, pace, and skill became the most noticeable aspect of his game. He was also renowned for pre-meditating celebrations with team-mates, such as Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis. He was afforded many opportunities which were not normally offered to footballers at his young age, such as hosting his own television show, Ryan Giggs' Soccer Skills, which was a hit with ITV and Granada in 1994. A book based on the series was also released. During the same year, the BBC described Giggs as "one of the most photographed persons" in Great Britain. Giggs, or "Giggsy", as he is known, was also hailed as one of the FA Premier League's biggest stars and could often be found as the picture-book merchandising icon of the league's early years. He (along with Jamie Redknapp and Lee Sharpe) was part of the league's attempt to market itself globally, re-forging its image after the hooliganism-affected years of the 1980s.
Ryan Giggs chants often heard from the fans during the Manchester United games include:
"Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, Running down the wing, Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, Running down the wing, Feared by the Blues, Loved by the Reds, Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs"
"Giggs, Giggs will tear you apart, again"
the former adapted from the Robin Hood theme; the latter from the Mancunian band Joy Division's song, 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'.
His goals were regularly shortlisted for various Goal of the Season awards, and tended to be memorable, particularly the ones against QPR in 1993, Tottenham in 1994, Everton in 1995, Coventry in 1996, and the most remarkable of all, his amazing solo-goal against Arsenal in the replay of the 1999 FA Cup semi-final. During extra time, Giggs picked up possession just after Patrick Vieira had given the ball away, then ran away from the half-way line, dribbling past the whole Arsenal back line, including Tony Adams and Martin Keown before launching his left-footed strike just under David Seaman's bar and beyond him. It has been hailed as the best FA Cup goal of all time by some sections of the media and football fans. It does have the distinction of being the last ever goal scored in an FA Cup Semi-Final Replay as, from the following season, the FA Cup Semi-Finals have been decided in a single game, with extra time and a Penalty Shoot Out if required.
By the late 1990s, with the retirement of Cantona and the emergence of more younger players like David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Philip Neville and Nicky Butt, his popularity and fame gradually evened out and attention was paid to some of the younger stars, with Beckham receiving particularly high levels of media attention on and off the field. However, his football skill was still marked genius, and he developed into a more mature senior player by the time United won their record breaking and unprecedented "Treble" in 1999. Giggs missed several games due to injury, but his form was consistently excellent and he played in both cup finals that the club reached that season. Memorable moments were his extra-time goal in the FA Cup semi-final against arch-rivals Arsenal (see above) to give United a 2-1 win, and his 90th minute equalizer in the home leg of the Champions League semi-final against Juventus.
Giggs set up the equalising goal scored by Teddy Sheringham in the UEFA Champions League final that set United on their way to the treble. Giggs was also the man of the match as United beat Palmeiras to claim the Intercontinental Cup that year. In November 2003, Giggs was mentioned in an episode of The Simpsons, entitled "The Regina Monologues", which takes place in England. In response to Marge complaining that Homer punched out three people on the street, Homer replies, "That was over soccer results. Can you believe they gave Giggs a yellow card in the box?!". Giggs therefore has the distinction of being the only Premiership footballer to be mentioned in the show.
The later years
Giggs was one of United's most experienced and senior players at United when Denis Irwin left in May 2002, and he became a pivotal part of the club, despite still being only 28 years old. According to a BBC Sport article in 2003, "the trajectory of Giggs' United career follows that of the club almost exactly", underlining his importance to United.
Giggs continued to excel in the four years that followed the treble triumph of 1999. United were Premier League champions in three of the four seasons following the treble, as well as reaching the Champions League quarter-finals three times and the semi-finals once. He celebrated his 10-year anniversary at Old Trafford with a testimonial match against Celtic at the start of the 2001-02 campaign. A year later, he bagged his 100th career goal in a draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
He played in his fourth FA Cup triumph on 22 May 2004, making him one of only two players (the other being Roy Keane) to have won the trophy four times, while playing for Manchester United. He has also finished with a runners-up medal three times (1995, 2005 and 2007).
His participation in the victory over Liverpool in September 2004 made him the third player to play 600 games for United, alongside Sir Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of his contribution to the English game. During the first half of the 2004-05 season, Giggs was linked in a transfer speculation with Newcastle United, a club his best friend at United, Nicky Butt, had left for. However, no move was made before the transfer window closed on 31 January 2005.
After that season, Giggs signed a two-year contract extension with Manchester United when chairman David Gill relented on his normal policy of not signing players over 30 to contracts longer than one year. This will keep him at Old Trafford until at least June 2008.
Giggs has reinvented himself and continues to contribute positively to the Manchester United cause even after team-mates like David Beckham and Roy Keane had left. Giggs has also benefited from being largely injury-free aside from a series of hamstring problems which, according to his autobiography, prevents him from running at full throttle to this day.
Ryan Giggs made his 700th appearance for Manchester United on 3 March 2007 in a Premier League match against Liverpool, which Manchester United won 1-0.
On 6 May 2007, with Chelsea only able to manage a 1-1 with London rivals Arsenal, Manchester United became the champions of England. In doing so Ryan Giggs set a record of nine league titles thus beating the previous record of eight he shared with Alan Hansen and Phil Neal (who won all of their titles with Liverpool).
Giggs played a starring role in Manchester United's 2007 Charity Shield victory after netting in the first half to bring the game to a 1-1 draw, which led to penalty triumph for the Red Devils after keeper Van Der Sar saved all of Chelsea's first 3 penalties.
In the 2007-08 season, Alex Ferguson adopted a rotation system between Giggs and newcomers Nani and Anderson; however he was the favoured choice for the anticipated clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford and put in a glorious cross with the outside of his boot for Carlos Tevez to score his first Manchester United goal.
The following week Giggs signed a contract extension that will keep him at Old Trafford until the end of the 2008-09 season, when he will be in his 36th year.
Sir Alex Ferguson has stated he believes Giggs can carry on playing for United beyond this date. In his subsequent match, after the international break, Giggs dribbled past two defenders and netted a deflected shot (his first league goal of the season) in the second half of a 4-1 Manchester United romp away to Aston Villa. The goal means that along with Gary Speed (currently at Sheffield United), Giggs has scored in every single Premiership season since its inception in 1992. Giggs scored his 100th league goal for Manchester United against Derby County on 8 December 2007, which Manchester United won 4-1.
On February 20, 2008 he made his 100th appearance in the UEFA Champions League against Lyon in the first leg of the first knock out round.
Giggs captained England Schoolboys (which all schoolboys in England are eligible to play for, regardless of nationality), but played for the Welsh national team as an adult. At the time of his début in 1991, Giggs (still only 17 at the time) was the youngest player to represent Wales at the highest level.
Giggs won 64 caps and scored 12 goals for the Welsh national team between 1991 and 2007. However his international career was frustrating as, like Alfredo Di Stéfano and George Best, he did not play in either a European Championship or a World Cup finals, because Wales failed to qualify. He was appointed captain of Wales in 2004.
Giggs received criticism for his reluctance to participate in friendly international matches. Since his début in 1991 against West Germany, Giggs failed to attend a friendly international until some nine years later, missing a massive 18 consecutive friendly games. The official reason given for such absences was that Giggs was injured on each occasion, however Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson in fact had a policy of refusing to release the player for friendly games
In September 2006, Giggs put in a dazzling performance in a friendly against Brazil at White Hart Lane. Such was his display that, following the 2-0 win for Brazil, Brazil coach Dunga paid Giggs the ultimate compliment by stating he would not look out of place playing for the five-time world champions alongside stars such as Kaká and Ronaldinho.
Giggs announced his retirement from international football on Wednesday 30 May 2007 at a press conference held at The Vale of Glamorgan Hotel, drawing the curtain on a 16-year international career. His final game for Wales, and as captain, was the Euro 2008 Qualifier against the Czech Republic on 2 June at Cardiff. He earned his 64th cap in this game and won the Man of the Match award as Wales drew 0-0.
Giggs had a very good disciplinary record during his early career receiving relatively few bookings. His only red card came in 2001 in an international match against Norway which Wales lost. In November 2003 he was found guilty of improper conduct by the FA due to his behaviour following a game against Arsenal, his punishment was a £7,500 fine and a warning about his future behaviour. In the same week Giggs received a two match suspension from international football for deliberately elbowing Russian player Vadim Evseev in the face, the offence was missed by the referee but he was later charged using video evidence
Other than his notorious spate of womanising as alleged in tabloids such as the Daily Mirror over the years, Giggs has otherwise managed to avoid the limelight of celebrity trappings that tagged his earlier years. In his autobiography, Giggs: The Autobiography, he revealed possible reasons for his aversion to attention, and accounted for his quiet and bashful demeanour. The biography told of the racial taunts that Giggs endured as a child because he was the product of a mixed marriage. Although he admired his Rugby league-playing father's sporting gifts (Giggs attributes his speed and balance to his father's genes), he hated the impact his "bullying aggressive nature" had on his family.
Giggs was involved in controversy when his then-girlfriend Davinia Taylor alleged he assaulted her in a nightclub, claiming he punched her in the stomach and face.
Giggs is considered by many as a player who, unlike Lee Sharpe and George Best, achieved considerable fame despite a relatively low profile overall as a celebrity. He has hosted adverts for Reebok, Sovil Titus, Citizen Watches, Givenchy, Fuji, Patek Phillipe, Quorn Burgers and Celcom, and has been used for video-mapping in computer game simulations like EA Sports' FIFA 2003, for which he also did a commercial.
According to an article by BBC Sport: "In the early 1990s, Giggs was David Beckham before Beckham was even holding down a place in the United first team. If you put his face on the cover of a football magazine, it guaranteed you the biggest sales of the year. Why? Men would buy it to read about 'the new Best' and girls bought it because they wanted his face all over their bedroom walls. Giggs had the million-pound boot deal (Reebok), the lucrative sponsorship deals in the Far East (Fuji) and the celebrity girlfriends (Dani Behr, Davinia Taylor) at a time when Beckham was being sent on loan to Preston North End."
Giggs married his long-term partner Stacey Cooke in a private ceremony on 7 September 2007. They have two children; a daughter Liberty, who was born in 10 April 2003, and a son Zach who was born in October 2006.
Giggs has a younger brother, Rhodri, also a winger, who currently plays for Curzon Ashton in the Northern Premier League Division One North. He was released by F.C. United of Manchester, the non-league club set up by disaffected Manchester United fans after Malcolm Glazer's takeover of United, in August 2007.
Giggs also has a younger half-sister, Bethany, who was born in 1991 to his mother and her second husband.
He was a pupil at Moorside High School in Swinton from 1985 until 1990.
In recent years, Giggs has also become a UNICEF representative, launching a campaign to prevent landmines from killing children in 2002.
Giggs, who had visited UNICEF projects in Thailand, told the BBC: "As a footballer I can't imagine life without the use of one of my legs...Sadly this is exactly what happens to thousands of children every year when they accidentally step on a landmine." Giggs is also an active campaigner in the fight against racism in football, alongside fellow mixed-raced players like Rio Ferdinand and Thierry Henry.
He told the Football Anti-Racism site 'Stop the BNP' the following in 2004: "A lot of people don't know that my father is black. He was a professional rugby player in the area that I played as a youngster. So a lot of people who I went to school with knew who he was and knew that he was black. So I would get racist taunts in school."
He also added in the French sports newspaper, L'Equipe, "Looking at me from the outside, it is not very obvious, I know but half my family is black and I feel close to their culture and their colour. I am proud of my black roots and of the black blood that runs in my veins. I do not wish to hide my origins, nor do I seek to make it a subject of conversation. I am what I am."
Giggs is also a patron of the Manchester-based 'five Star Scanner Appeal', a charity that aims to raise £1m to fund a new scanner at a new Manchester Children's Hospital due to be built ready for 2009.