Mesut Ozil messages Marcus Rashford over food poverty work amid Arsenal exile

Arsenal outcast Mesut Ozil has expressed his admiration for Marcus Rashford on social media amid the Manchester United star’s campaign to end child food poverty in the UK.

Rashford has been vocal in his attempt to secure free school meals for kids across the country, only to see his proposal voted down by MPs at the House of Commons.

The England international has remained active on Twitter, nevertheless, promoting a number of UK companies that are opening their doors for youngsters as a result of his campaign.

And Ozil has taken to Twitter to congratulate Rashford, branding the work he is doing “incredible”.

The German midfielder posted: “Congratulations on all your amazing work @MarcusRashford!

“What you’re doing is an incredible achievement that is helping so many kids here in the UK. Keep up the great work Clapping hands sign #EndChildFoodPoverty”.

Ozil has been active on social media since he was left out of Arsenal’s Premier League squad earlier this week.

Mikel Arteta could not find room for the 32-year-old in his Gunners squad, meaning he is unlikely to play for the club again before his contract expires next summer.

He can begin negotiating a free move abroad at the turn of the year, yet that could prove difficult as reports suggest there were not many offers on the table for him over the summer.

Ozil is still getting fully behind his team-mates despite his exile, wishing them luck on Twitter ahead of their 2-1 Europa League win away at Rapid Vienna on Thursday.

He then tweeted during the game: “0-0 so far, but c’mon lads let’s try and make sure we take a win back home with us! I’m cheering you on”.

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When asked for his reaction on Ozil’s commentary after the match, Arteta said: “This is great! This is what I want from all the players that aren’t in our squad. I didn’t expect anything different to that, so it’s good to hear.”

Ozil has made 254 appearances over seven years at Arsenal, scoring 44 goals and winning the FA Cup on three occasions.

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‘I’ve forgiven him’: McKinnon lets go of Cam Smith pain

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If anyone has a legitimate reason to cheer what appears to be the end of Cameron Smith’s career, it is Alex McKinnon. But he won’t.

In a true indication of what a good person McKinnon is, he has made peace in his own mind about what happened in the moments after his life was changed forever in a tackle at Melbourne’s AAMI Park in 2014. With McKinnon motionless on the ground in clear distress, Smith argued with the referee. McKinnon suffered fractures to his C4 and C5 vertebrae and is now a quadriplegic.

Moving on: Alex McKinnon and Cam Smith.Credit:NRL Photos, Getty

Smith’s actions were a bad look and a horrendous reading of the situation. They look even worse in hindsight. Smith has never properly explained what happened that night, nor apologised publicly for his reaction. I put it to the Storm at the time and offered Smith a chance to talk. I’m still waiting for his response.

For everything great that Smith has done as a player – and he is the greatest hooker to play the game – to some extent that night taints his career. His actions deeply upset McKinnon’s family and the player himself was fuming. With Smith possibly winding up his unparalleled career in Sunday's grand final against Penrith, McKinnon can now talk with a clear and calm mind.

‘‘I have no emotion when it comes to Cameron Smith these days,’’ McKinnon said this week. ‘‘I have forgiven everything that happened straight after the tackle, his response – I have forgiven him. It’s hard to hold on to hate. It really is. It’s wasted energy. It’s blinding.

‘‘At its worst, it can consume you and I’ll admit it did for a while there. There is no positive to being like that and, for that reason, I have moved past it and I hold no hard feelings at all.

Alex McKinnon on the ground after the tragic tackle in 2014 in Melbourne.Credit:Getty

‘‘The hard thing was for my family, my dad, to let it go. But I told them it didn’t do any of us any good at all to keep the hate. I talked with them about how it does not help anyone. And the family has been able to put it all to one side. My dad can now observe something that Smith has done and not see it in a negative light. Quite the opposite. And that has been some time in the making.

‘‘I work with [Knights coach] Adam O’Brien now and he has nothing but praise for Smith and [Storm coach] Craig Bellamy, and his love for Craig has certainly influenced my approach to the situation.’’

Smith has also been criticised for not reaching out to McKinnon after the accident.

‘‘I’ve got to accept that there was an attempt soon after it happened and my family wanted to protect me from that,’’ McKinnon said.

I am now looking for players like him. It’s my job to find the next Smith.

The next move came from McKinnon. ‘‘I got his number from Matthew Johns and contacted him,’’ McKinnon said. ‘‘It’s just how it happened. My view of Smith has all changed now in my role as a scout with Newcastle. I see him in a totally different way. I watch what he does on the field, his interaction with players. I watch Smith the player without emotion. And I am now looking for players like him. It’s my job to find the next Smith.’’

So will McKinnon be cheering for the Storm tonight?

‘‘I used to hope they would lose,’’ he admitted. ‘‘In the past, I got something out of that for sure. Now I can just watch. To be honest, I’ll be watching it thinking what will it take for Newcastle to be there one day, and I’ll be upset that we are not there now.

"I don’t have any particular leaning. If it was Souths, I’d want them to win for Wayne [Bennett]. But I no longer want the Storm to lose because they are the Storm.’’

Gus goes extra mile

At one point in his stellar young career, even the keenest Penrith observers feared they had lost one of the club’s best talents, Jarome Luai. And for a while, they did.

‘‘Where’s Broadbridge?’’ asked then Panthers general manager of football Phil Gould as he cast his eye over the team sheet while watching a junior side a couple of years ago. Broadbridge was there, he’d just changed his name to what it is today, Luai.

‘‘We were living at his grandmother’s house and, while we were there, she wanted him to go under his name,’’ Jarome’s dad, Martin Luai, said. ‘‘So he did. He decided to change back a few years ago and I am so proud when I see him out there.’’

The Panthers had another reason to fear they had lost him. Martin did two years in jail for drug trafficking. It was a bad decision made while his family was under huge financial pressure. That was a serious concern for the Panthers for a number of reasons, not least of which Martin faced being deported to New Zealand and the family being torn apart. References from Cameron Ciraldo – who coached Jarome throughout his junior career – and Gould helped Martin remain in Australia.

‘‘Martin Luai has acted illegally, irresponsibly and, dare I say it, stupidly,’’ Gould wrote. ‘‘Acting out of a sense of desperation to provide for his family is no excuse. Jarome is a hard-working dedicated young man … the qualities of Jarome speaks volumes for the loving and disciplined upbringing his parents have provided.

‘‘Your honour, Martin Luai and his family are already paying dearly for his actions. I genuinely fear for the welfare of the children and their futures if Martin is to be deported on top of his current penalty of incarceration.’’

Mum's the word

Nathan Cleary has used grand final week to defend his father, Ivan, and the controversial way he joined the Panthers. He also declared that his mum, Rebecca, is the true hero of the Cleary family.

‘‘Mum is the rock,’’ he said. ‘‘She has helped both of us so much. She is probably the main reason we have been able to turn it around this year. She is the support system. She is always willing to have a chat. I’m so grateful to have her.’’

Roosters close in on Suaalii

We told you last week about Joseph Suaalii dropping the Rabbitohs and following the Roosters on Instagram. It’s hard to ignore because he is getting close to knocking back rugby and signing a deal with the tricolours.

A deal is being prepared and those who know the young man say he has been in discussions with the Bondi club. The Roosters are clearly working on a succession plan for James Tedesco, who is already regarded as the best player in the NRL.

Tedesco is off contract at the end of next year. He will be offered a deal that will extend his stay until at least the end of 2023. Suaalii is on a small deal with Souths next year, but every indication is that he doesn’t want to be there. The attraction of playing under Roosters coach Trent Robinson is significant to a young player.

Dally M muddle

The Dally M farce has led to unfair online attacks on News Corp journalist Phil Rothfield. He has been slammed for a mistake by another journalist, who published an article criticising the award, and for News Corp publishing the winners – including the winner of the Dally M Medal, Jack Wighton – before the ceremony began.

As big an error as it was – and as much embarrassment as it has caused the company and the game – there was no malice or intent as far as this column is aware. But the issue here is what happened on Fox Sports’ NRL 360. Rothfield was on the show on Monday night. He already knew the points tally, knew the winner and knew there was an unfolding drama with the story having been published accidentally. His phone was running hot on air.

When asked about the result, he said he was hoping Nathan Cleary would win. He should not have been asked the question because he already knew the winner and, therefore, could not give a genuine answer.

The only answer Rothfield could have, and perhaps should have, given was a declaration there and then that he knew who had won and had already filed a story on it. The credibility of the show would not have been brought into question.

Equally concerning for a program that trades on its strong opinions and bags plenty of people for their errors, there was no mention of the stuff-up. The hosts of the show had the opportunity to come clean the next night and didn’t.

Sorry state

A group of officials on either side of the NSW-Queensland border are set to hand ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys his first significant defeat of 2020.

V’landys and NRL boss Andrew Abdo have backed and approved Karl Stefanovic’s behind-the-scenes Origin documentary, which was being shot for streaming service Stan. But now the blazer brigade, with support from Maroons coach Wayne Bennett, are set to block the move. V’landys won’t go down without a fight.

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Mike Tyson hated Michael Jackson and held grudge for years after backstage snub

Mike Tyson has revealed his past hatred towards Michael Jackson ahead of his return to the ring.

The 54-year-old former undisputed world heavyweight champion has reminisced on a feud he had with the King of Pop over what he believed to be a backstage snub at a concert in Cleveland.

Tyson, who will take on fellow veteran Roy Jones Jr in an exhibition fight next month, has also revealed how he ended up forgiving Jackson after he was invited to hang out with the late star.

The contrasting characters were two of the most recognisable names on the planet at the time, which led to even more fury from the boxer when he wasn’t immediately recognised.

While on T.I.’s expediTIously podcast, he said: “I met Mike one day, I think he was at a concert in Cleveland, I’m with Don King.

“So me and Don come in, right? And I’m champ and everything, did all this s***, undisputed.

“So Don goes and Don gives Michael Jackson the ‘peace’ sign, like this. And then so Michael gives Don the ‘peace’ sign, and so I give Michael the ‘peace’ sign, and Michael put his hand down.

“In a way, I say, ‘Did he play me? Nah, he didn’t play me, he just didn’t see me. I knew he didn’t play me, cause I’m f***ing champ.”

He then continued: “So we went backstage, right? So I’m backstage, and so there’s his backstage, some of his singers and stuff.

“He’s on stage, it’s over I’m signing autographs and stuff, so Michael comes over and he talks to Don, he doesn’t talk to me. I say ‘Let me just go on and meet Mike’, cause that’s really why I’m here, I want to meet Mike.

“And then I go over to meet Mike, … and he goes like this, ‘Don’t I know you from somewhere? Where I know you from?’

“He broke my ego, he crushed me. I said ‘No, I’m just a fan, pleasure to meet you, sir. He said, ‘OK’, and then he got out and went in the car.”

Before adding of the invitation from Jackson that led to their friendship: “I said ‘OK I’m coming, I’ll be over there’, right?

“So I got on a plane, went over there, hung out, and we just started hanging out together.

“And I said ‘F*** man, he’s a good guy.

“But in my mind, I said ‘Why’d you play me though, Mike, why’d you play me like that? You knew who I was, why’d you play me?’”

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Koeman’s Barcelona told before El Clasico with Real Madrid they can win La Liga

Former Real Madrid midfielder Steve McManaman has claimed Barcelona can still win the La Liga title this season, despite their struggles both on and off the field over the past few years.

Barcelona are in the midst of a rebuild under new boss Ronald Koeman and go into a crunch El Clasico clash with rivals Madrid having lost their last La Liga game 1-0 to Getafe and sitting tenth in the league.

They did win their Champions League clash with Ferencvaros convincingly, beating the Hungarian outfit 5-1, and will be buoyed by the fact that Madrid have not fared much better.

Zinedine Zidane's side lost their last league game to recently promoted Cadiz and were then beaten 3-2 by a weakened Shakhtar Donetsk in Europe.

Ahead of the Clasico, LaLiga ambassador Steve McManaman, speaking at an event for LiveScore, gave his backing to Koeman.

McManaman said: "Now the season has started and FC Barcelona has had decent results so far, I think they’ll be fine. When you look at the team and it has Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati, they’re good enough to challenge for the league.

"Lionel Messi has to stay fit because he drives them forward and scores the goals, but I think as a team they’ll want to prove that they’re not as bad as the 8-2 defeat against FC Bayern Munich. I think they'll really knuckle down and do well this year."

  • Why Man Utd will be watching Real Madrid's next two games closely as Zidane faces sack

However, McManaman did back his former side to get the win over Barcelona, adding: "I normally choose the victors by whoever is playing at home because it’s such an intense atmosphere in ElClásico.

"I don't know whether you ever been to an ElClásico, but at a lot of Spanish games the away fans are normally stuck as high as they possibly can at the top of the stadium, meaning you can only hear the home fans.

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"If the game is at Madrid, I normally choose Real Madrid of course but if it’s at FC Barcelona I’d go for FC Barcelona.

"The way that both teams are playing at the minute I think Real Madrid is the better team and they look stronger defensively, so I would choose Real Madrid."

LaLiga ambassador Steve McManaman was speaking ahead of ElClásico for LiveScore, Official Global Scoring Partner of LaLiga Santander. LiveScore’s iOS and Android app is available to download now:

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Richmond shows classy sportsmanship after Gary Ablett’s heartbreak

Gary Ablett didn’t end his career the way he hoped but he bowed out a class act.

The Geelong legend — who some believe is the greatest footy player we’ve ever seen — was robbed of his fairytale finish when Richmond beat the Cats 12. 9 (81) to 7.8 (50) in Saturday night’s Grand Final.

Ablett was hugged by his Geelong colleagues as he broke down in tears after his final AFL game.

Even though the retiring star’s heart was breaking, he showed plenty of sportsmanship to put his disappointment aside and go up to Tigers captain Trent Cotchin just before a post-match TV interview and congratulate him on leading Richmond to a third flag in four years.

👏👏👏 Brave effort from Gary Ablett Jr, one of the all-time greats. #AFLGF

Gary Ablett emotional after the game. 🙏

In his post-match speech, Geelong captain Joel Selwood thanked the “little bald bloke” for his contribution to the game, telling Ablett everyone loved him.

Channel 7 commentator Bruce McAvaney spoke of the “touching scenes” as the 36-year-old was consoled by wife Jordan and son Levi, before both teams gave him a guard of honour to a standing ovation from the crowd.

The Tigers were awesome, showing terrific sportsmanship in delaying their own lap of honour to pay their respects.

Sports broadcaster Shane McInnes tweeted: “Great act of sportsmanship by @Richmond_FC. Have every right to celebrate the flag, yet paused to acknowledge one of the greats of the game in Gary Ablett.”

Channel 7 reporter Nick McCallum wrote: “Showing true class by honouring true class. Wonderful gesture by @Richmond_FC to delay lap of honour to line up to farewell Geelong’s ‘Little Master’ Gary Ablett. A wonderful sign of respect which will last in the memory forever.”

Farewell to a legend.Source:News Corp Australia

It was a rough night for Ablett from the very beginning, rushed off the Gabba in absolute agony after injuring his shoulder early in the first quarter.

Less than three minutes after the first bounce, Ablett was spotted holding his arm in considerable pain, before he was rushed off the field by a medic.

Replays showed the 36-year-old had landed awkwardly on his left arm after attempting a handball.

McAvaney said: “This is not good for Ablett. He is leaving the ground immediately. You could see him lift his elbow off the ground immediately. This is not a great sight.”

Miraculously, the Little Master returned to the field, fighting through the pain in a desperate attempt to lead the Cats to a premiership.

He suffered another heavy knock in the third quarter and was visibly distressed but again, he ignored his ailment to push on.

Unfortunately, he was kept quiet by a slick Richmond outfit that added another chapter to its incredible dynasty.

READ: Dusty image speaks louder than words

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Gary Ablett comes off with an elbow injury.Source:News Corp Australia

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Liverpool’s stance on signing Virgil van Dijk cover as Jurgen Klopp makes final decision

Liverpool have reportedly made no emergency plans to bring in another central defender off the back of Virgil van Dijk’s injury. The Holland international ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in a horror tackle from Jordan Pickford last week in the Merseyside derby.

Van Dijk is set to undergo surgery soon and it’s expected that he will be unlikely to return in time to play any action this season.

That leaves just Joel Matip and Joe Gomez as the only two recognised senior centre-backs at Liverpool.

Fabinho though has proven he is more than capable dropping back to play in defence.

Still, Gomez and Matip have never started a Premier League game together as Liverpool’s two centre-backs.

JUST IN: Liverpool team news: Predicted line-up vs Sheffield United

Both defenders have had their own injury struggles over the years, particularly Matip who has only completed a full Premier League match on eight occasions since the start of last season.

Dejan Lovren may not have been a fans favourite at Anfield, but he still played a big role in Liverpool’s title-winning campaign last year.

Liverpool opted to spend money elsewhere as opposed to bringing in a direct replacement for Lovren.

But despite Van Dijk’s injury setback, Liverpool have seemingly not changed their stance.


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According to The Athletic, Liverpool aren’t ready to push the panic button just yet to sign a centre-back in the January transfer window.

The club are hopeful that Klopp can bring one of the many talented young centre-backs through to provide the cover needed.

Both Rhys Williams and Billy Koumetio have received high praise from Klopp in recent weeks, with the former being handed his Champions League debut this week.

And club captain Jordan Henderson is also confident Liverpool have the players to step in when needed.

“Any team on the planet would miss Virgil, that’s just common sense,” he told Liverpool’s official website.

“But in the spirit of not making an issue bigger than it needs to be, we can’t do anything about that for a while. What we can do is focus on being better ourselves.

“I look at the players we have who can play that position and I wouldn’t swap them for anyone else.

“Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Fabinho are international-quality players who have produced for us as a team time and time again.

“Nat Phillips is nearly back to full fitness and has the making to be a very good centre-half. Rhys Williams has impressed me so much with his attitude and his mentality.

“Billy Koumetio and Sepp van den Berg likewise. All learning in the best environment there is.

“Are any of them Virgil van Dijk? No… but they don’t need to be. They just need to be themselves and give everything they have for this club, be it in training or when called upon in games. And the rest of us have to be there to help.

“Virgil will back with us in no time at all, I’m sure. Because he is such an extraordinary professional I know he will come back not just as good but better. He’s the sort of character who will use the time out to learn and develop. But while we wait for him we don’t stop.”

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Barcelona vs Real Madrid live stream: How to watch LaLiga fixture online and on TV today

One of the biggest fixtures in world football takes place on Saturday as Barcelona host Real Madrid in LaLiga.

El Clasico is always a much-anticipated event, but this year there’s as much intrigue from the two sides’ form and recent matches as there is over the size of the clubs.

Barca have won two of their four matches the league this season and lost last weekend to Getafe – though they won in midweek in the Champions League.

Real Madrid have won three from five in LaLiga, but have suffered surprise back-to-back defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk over the past week.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the match.

What time is the game?

The match kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, 24 October at Camp Nou.

Where can I watch it?

The game will be shown live on LaLiga TV. It can also be streamed via the Premier Sports Player website or app.

What is the team news

Barcelona are without first-choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, while Samuel Umtiti is missing from the defensive ranks – though wouldn’t have played anyway.

Jordi Alba is the only other notable potential absentee after missing recent games.

For Real Madrid, Eden Hazard is out until the international break and right-backs Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola are also injured. Martin Odegaard and Mariano are doubts, but Sergio Ramos is fit and available after missing midweek.

Predicted line-ups

FCB: Neto; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Dest; De Jong, Busquets; Griezmann, Coutinho, Fati; Messi.

RMA: Courtois; Nacho, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.


Barcelona – 15/14

Draw – 11/4

Real Madrid – 45/17

This weekend get a £10 free bet with Betfair, when you bet £10 on a Same Game Multi on the Premier League. Terms: Min £10 Same Game Multi bet on any EPL match this Fri – Sun. Free bet valid for 72 hours, awarded at bet settlement. Excludes cashed out bets. T&Cs apply.

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Jordan Henderson reveals Virgil van Dijk has 'radiated positivity'

Jordan Henderson reveals Virgil van Dijk has ‘radiated positivity’ since suffering season-ending ACL injury and sent ‘upbeat and inspirational’ message to Liverpool team-mates

  • Jordan Henderson has revealed that Virgil van Dijk has ‘radiated positivity’ 
  • Van Dijk remains upbeat despite suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury 
  • Henderson revealed that van Dijk sent an ‘inspirational’ message to the squad 

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has revealed that Virgil van Dijk has ‘radiated positivity’ since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Van Dijk is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines and could miss the rest of the season after suffering the injury following a challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford last weekend. 

The absence of the centre-back for an extended period is certainly a huge blow for Liverpool, but Henderson disclosed that van Dijk sent an ‘upbeat and inspirational’ message to the squad. 

Jordan Henderson has revealed that Virgil van Dijk has remained upbeat despite his injury

Van Dijk is set for a lengthy spell out after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury

Henderson told Liverpool’s matchday programme: ‘It’s his presence and personality that will leave a hole on matchdays and in the training sessions. As important as the fans think he is, to us as team-mates it’s even more so.

‘It was typical of Virgil that after digesting the news, one of the first messages he sent to us – all of us – was upbeat and inspirational. The exact content will of course remain private, but there wasn’t one word in there feeling sorry for himself. It was all about looking ahead and making sure he comes back better and stronger.’

Henderson added that van Dijk ‘radiated positivity’ when he returned to the club’s Melwood training ground. 

Henderson disclosed that van Dijk sent a positive message to the squad following his injury

He said: ‘Likewise, when he came to Melwood on Tuesday he just radiated positivity. That’s the big man. And it’s on us to take his lead and only think about the positive impact we can all have from this moment on.’

Henderson has full faith that Liverpool’s remaining centre-back options, including Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Fabinho, will be able to impress while van Dijk is out. 

He said: ‘I look at the players we have who can play that position and I wouldn’t swap them for anyone else. Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Fabinho are international-quality players who have produced for us as a team time and time again.

Liverpool won 1-0 away to Ajax in their first assignment since van Dijk’s injury.

On Saturday they are back in Premier League action with a home game against Sheffield United. 

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Which players make Chelsea's greatest ever overseas XI?

Didier Drogba’s cup final heroics and Claude Makelele’s all-action midfield presence… here’s Chelsea’s greatest ever overseas XI from the west London club’s history of foreign talent

  • Chelsea have brought in some top-quality overseas players in the last 20 years 
  • The Blues have won every trophy there is to win and their foreigners have helped
  • Sportsmail goes through the best XI of Chelsea’s overseas talent in their history

As one of Europe’s biggest spenders in the transfer windows, Chelsea have had some fantastic foreign players in their ranks over the past 20 years. 

The Blues have exercised their wealth under owner Roman Abramovich to bring in some of the best players in the planet to Stamford Bridge, which has guided them to win every trophy possible in recent years. 

As Gary Neville named his best Manchester United overseas XI this week, Sportsmail has decided to go through the rest of the big Premier League sides to see who their best team of foreign imports have been in their history…

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech

Petr Cech (above) is one of Chelsea and the Premier League’s greatest ever shot stoppers

The Czech Republic goalkeeper was not just Chelsea’s number one goalkeeper for 11 years, but was also one of the best Premier League shot stoppers during that time. 

In his Stamford Bridge career, Cech won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and the 2013 Europa League trophy. Most importantly of all, he put in a man-of-the-match display in the Champions League final as the Blues won the competition for the first time in their history in 2012. 

Cech saved a penalty from Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben in extra-time before leading them to a memorable shootout win in the German city, which confirmed his status as perennial Chelsea legend.  

Right-back: Branislav Ivanovic

Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic could score goals as well as stop them going past him

The Serbian right-back was not just a reliable option at the back, but was a threat in the opposition penalty area and chipped in with many important goals in his Chelsea tenure. 

At Chelsea, Ivanovic scored the winning goals in the 2013 Europa League final, the League Cup semi-final in 2015 and against Napoli in the Champions League last-16 on the way to winning the competition with the Blues in 2012.

The veteran defender sits 15th on the all-time goalscorers for defenders in England’s top-flight, but also picked up three league titles, three FA Cups and lifted both of the major European club trophies. 

Centre-back: Marcel Desailly 

Ex-Chelsea captain Marcel Desailly played some of the best football of his career in London

The French defender may not have won as many trophies as the other players on this list but was certainly just as good the rest in a Chelsea shirt. 

Desailly formed a superb partnership with Frank Leboeuf as the Blues won the UEFA Super Cup in 1998 and the 2000 FA Cup with the French duo in their side. 

The centre-half also won the World Cup and the European Championships with France while he was a Chelsea player, installing him as one of the greatest defenders of the modern era.  

Centre-back: Ricardo Carvalho

Ricardo Carvalho was one of Jose Mourinho’s first buys in a successful era for the Blues

Jose Mourinho made a statement by forking out £20million for Ricardo Carvalho in his first transfer window in west London and it could be argued that the Portuguese international paid that fee off after one season. 

Carvalho was a different type of defender to Blues captain John Terry but the pair worked together well during their six-year partnership at Stamford Bridge.

The Portuguese defender had everything you wanted in a centre-back – quick, good in the air and possessing the ability to carry the ball out of defence. He wrote himself into Chelsea folklore by scoring one of the goals in the 3-0 win over Manchester United in 2006 that secured back-to-back titles for Mourinho’s men.  

Left-back: Cesar Azpilicueta

Current club captain Cesar Azpilicueta has been an ever-present in defence since in 2012

Since arriving at Chelsea in 2012, Cesar Azpilicueta has been an ever-present figure in the Blues backline – whether it be at full-back or centre-half. 

The Spaniard is closing in on 400 appearances in all competitions for the Blues and has been the perfect new leader to succeed the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard who departed a few years into Azpilicueta’s time in west London.  

The defender has won two Premier League titles, plus a FA Cup and League Cup trophy each and there could even be more to come. 

Defensive midfielder: Claude Makelele

Claude Makelele made the defensive midfield position his own (literally!) while at Chelsea

The French midfielder perfected the defensive midfield role so well that the position was named after him. 

Makelele was a rock in the heart of the pitch for Chelsea and his defensive astuteness allowed the likes of Lampard, Michael Ballack and Michael Essien to go and affect matters at the top end of the pitch. 

He may not have had the elite technical quality of other Premier League midfielders, but the Frenchman was an expert at chasing opponents down and winning the ball cleanly, as well as finding more talented team-mates. 

Central midfielder: Ruud Gullit 

Ruud Gullit joined Stamford Bridge in 1995 before becoming player-manager a year later

The Dutch midfielder may go down as one of the best free transfers in Premier League history but Gullit was one of the first players of the ‘Overseas Revolution’ at Chelsea that we are accustomed to today. 

Gullit’s flexibliity was seen in his sweeper role at Chelsea, as well as taking the league by storm as a midfielder.

Gullit’s style of ‘sexy football’ soon became famous after he was appointed player-manager at the Blues just a year later, and they won the FA Cup in his first full season in charge.

Central midfielder: Michael Essien

Ghana midfielder Michael Essien was the all-action midfielder that brought Chelsea success

Box-to-box midfielder Essien was the all-action midfielder that made Chelsea so hard to break down in the early to mid-2000s. 

The Ghanaian was tough in the tackle, but also had an attacking edge to his game. His ability to score from long-range was a useful weapon for the Blues, just ask Arsenal and Barcelona. 

Essien won two league titles at Stamford Bridge and four FA Cups, while he also had a bit-part role in the Blues’ Champions League-winning season.  

Right forward: Gianfranco Zola

Gianfranco Zola dazzled defences and wowed supporters of the Premier League at Chelsea

Italian forward Zola brought a style of football very few people had seen in English football before. 

The 5ft 6in forward was responsible for some brilliant attacking movements and some sensational goals during his seven years in west London for the Blues.

That cheeky flick from a corner against Norwich remains one of the all-time great Premier League goals, but was only a glimpise into what the little Italian was like. Overall, Zola lifted six trophies at Chelsea, including two FA Cups honours. 

Centre-forward: Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba was Chelsea’ big game player and came to the club’s aid at times of great need

The Ivorian may not have had the greatest goalscoring record for a first-choice Premier League striker, but Drogba also came to Chelsea’s aid when they needed him.

His 2012 display against Bayern Munich is one of the great individual performances in a Champions League final, as he headed in a late equaliser before netting the winning spot kick in the shootout in a moment that will stay with most Chelsea fans for the rest of their lives. 

Drogba was also known for scoring at Wembley and scored in four separate FA Cup finals for Chelsea. 

Big. Game. Player. 

Left-forward: Eden Hazard 

Belgian Eden Hazard was Chelsea’s main man in attack for several years at Stamford Bridge

The Belgian winger his double digital goal tallies in six out of his seven campaigns at Chelsea and was the Blues’ main man in attack for the entirety of his stay at Stamford Bridge. 

Hazard could take on several defenders at once – and beat them all – and got every single Chelsea fan off their seat at least once during his Blues career.

His most high-profile moments at Chelsea include scoring the goal to win the west Londoners the league title in 2015, a man-of-the-match display in the 2019 Europa League final and winning the league for Leicester City with a stunning goal against Tottenham in 2016. 

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Ablett, Vlastuin hurt in dramatic opening to AFL grand final

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The historic AFL grand final under lights at the Gabba began in dramatic fashion with Geelong and Richmond players felled and intruders on the ground.

There were initial fears Gary Ablett's farewell game could have been over in the opening minutes after he landed awkwardly on his left shoulder.

This came as play was halted for seven-and-a-half minutes after Tigers defender Nick Vlastuin was flattened by Patrick Dangerfield and taken from the field on a stretcher.

Ablett, in his 357th and final match before retiring, was injured after he was tackled by Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin. He was in immediate pain and left the field, sending shockwaves around the ground. But the player they call the 'Little Master' returned to the field before the end of the quarter with the shoulder heavily strapped to huge applause from Cats fans.

Vlastuin was elbowed in the head by Dangerfield after the Cat had punched a loose ball clear. He lay motionless but showed signs of a recovery when he left the field by taking the tape off his wrist. He was later seen walking around in the dressingroom but his night was over.

Dangerfield wasn't reported but the incident will be scrutinised by the match review officer.

The Tigers had more worries when Nathan Broad was helped from the field after a heavy clash in a marking contest but was given the all clear to resume.

If that wasn't enough, play was halted momentarily late in the term after two intruders jumped the fence and had to be wrestled to the ground by security guards.

The Tigers booted the opening two goals but the Cats clawed their way back to hold a one-point lead at the first change.

More to come.

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