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Villa send Spain through

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

David Villa's goals has put Spain through to the last 8, joining Brazil, Holland, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, Ghana and Paraguay. Spain will of course play Paraguay in a bid to secure a place in the semi-final.

If I'm honest, there were no good games in the last 16 fixtures. I expected a lot from the Spain v Portugal game, but it wasn't very exciting. Ronaldo and Torres were particularly disappointing, with David Villa showing the latter who the top Spanish striker is, scoring the only goal of the game, his fourth of the competition.

I would expect Spain to beat Paraguay though. Paraguay didn't look like they will pose much of a threat when they played Japan earlier today. In fairness, they did look impressive taking penalties. I wouldn't expect it to go that far though.

Whilst I expect Spain to beat Paraguay, I would also back to Argentina to emerge victorious against Germany. Although Germany looked impressive against England, they lack the experience that will be key at this stage. That would mean Spain would play Argentina in the semi-final, a fixture I would love to watch.


England Crash Out

Sunday, June 27, 2010

After so much expectation, particularly from the British media, England have been knocked out of the World Cup. Germany proved too good on the break and ran out comfortable 4-1 winners in the end. However things may have been very different had Frank Lampard's clear goal been seen by the linesman.

England started poorly and were 2 goals down after half an hour, mainly down to the lack of communication and talent between Terry and Upson. But just 54 seconds after Upson brought it back to 2-1 Lampard volleyed from the edge of the box with the ball hitting the bar and falling at least a foot over the line, a moment that England will be talking/complaining about until World Cup 2014. In fairness, it was a shocking decision and once again puts pressure on Blatter to implement goal-line technology.

England started the second half well with Lampard hitting the bar but two quick breaks in 3 minutes kicked England out of the competition, both moves resulting in Muller smashing pas James.

In the end England were probably lucky to only concede 4 but they will always wonder what might have been had Lampard's goal counted. Being Irish however, I'll be very angry if FIFA decide to introduce technology because of it, as the idea was snubbed after the Thierry Henry incident in November.


Spain get through despite early scare

Friday, June 25, 2010

After a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland, many were questioning Spain's World Cup credentials. However, after victory last week against Honduras and victory tonight against Chile, Spain have done the business and are through to the last 16.

It wasn't a fantastic performance though. They started very poor and I thought Chile were going to score first. However, a crazy piece of goalkeeping from the Chile keeper allowed David Villa to score from very long range into an open net. Iniesta then scored the second for Spain and Chile were reduced to 10 men when Estrada was sent off after tripping Torres.

Spain will now face Portugal in the last 16 in what is a mouth-watering fixture. I think they can win it, provided Alonso stays fit as he is key. I didn't think I'd ever say it but I think they need to leave Torres out of the team. He was poor again tonight and David Villa would be able to do a better job up front.

Having Torres on the bench wouldn't be a bad thing. Even if he is injured he can come on and make the difference. Will they win it? Not judging by tonight's performance, but they definitely have a chance.

City on the verge of major signing

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Manchester City have been given permission to discuss the possible transfer of Valencia winger David Silva. Valencia are strapped for cash and were forced to sell David Villa to Barcelona, and now look set to lose Silva in a bid to secure financial stability.

City are more than likely going to spend the most money if not in the Premier League, in the World this season. They are not afraid to splash the cash and have already declared interest in a number of quality, expensive players.

Silva looks like the first of these which they will have permission to discuss a possible transfer with. Although Silva is a good player, I don't think he is as good as everyone makes him out to be. Then again, I don't watch him play every week.

From what I have seen, he is a good player, who will be a useful signing. To be honest though, I'm looking forward more to the rest of the summer where City are likely to make some outrageous bids for players they don't stand a chance in signing.

Relief for Capello


It has been a terrible World Cup so far for England, but a 1-0 victory, their first victory of the competition, has brought them through to the last sixteen.

As the final whistle went, you could see the delight on the England players faces. Yes, OK, well done you made it to the last sixteen. Fantastic. But wait a minute, you only barely made it to the last sixteen with probably the easiest group in the competition. Even the 1-0 victory today against Slovenia was pretty poor.

A team of England quality should have beaten Slovenia 3 or 4 nil. Each one of the England players is a recognised players of high quality, whilst for Slovenia Robert Koren was the most recognised, and he plays for newly promoted to the Premier League, West Brom.

I suppose, at least they won. They did what they had to do. It does however remain to be seen can they win if they play against a half decent team.

Keep up to date with the World Cup at Man Month

How will Kim Jong-il cover this one up

Monday, June 21, 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-O-s1WhYOWs

If you watch that video, you will see how a news broadcast in North Korea showed them beating Brazil 1-0 with ease. The video just shows Brazil missing several chances, and then shows the North Korea.

However, I'm not sure how their leader Kim Jong-il is going to manipulate the highlights of the North Korea v Portugal game to make it look they won, with the final score 7-0 in favour of Portugal.

A great performance from the Portuguese to be fair, they deserved their win for the second half performance alone. North Korea had played well in the first half, but even then they went in 1-0 down at half time, a scoreline which unfortunately cannot be portrayed into a win by the North Korean news.

An impressive performance by Portugal, but I still feel they won't be challenging for the World Cup trophy this year. The likes of Argentina and Brazil are simply better. Portugal are relying to much on Ronaldo, who will not perform if things aren't going his way.


Havoc in French Camp

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Just when you thought things couldn't get worse for France, they did. France went into the World Cup being labelled 'cheats' and many felt they didn't deserve to be there. And after two disappointing results in their opening two games, they seem definite to be going home early.

One player who has already gone home early however is Nicolas Anelka. Anelka was taken off at half-time in their 2-0 defeat to Mexico and after the game, reports were out suggesting a major row between him and France coach Raymond Domenech.

These reports were later proven true when Anelka was sent home by the FFF for failing to apologise for his verbal attack on Domenech. However, less than 24 hours after Anelka was sent home, the French squad boycotted training in support of the Chelsea striker. Just a few minutes into training, captain Patrice Evra and fitness coach Robert Duverne had another argument. As Domenech stepped in, all the players boarded the team bus to make a stand.

A statement from the squad read, 'All players without exception want to declare their opposition to FFF's decision to exclude Nicolas Anelka.'

This whole fracas leads me to think how it would have been for Ireland had they qualified instead of France. Surely Trappatoni would have done a better job. It looks like it's over for France though, as I can see this being the end of Domenech's managerial career and the end of the international careers of Henry, Gallas and Anelka.

Even if England do qualify, they won't win the World Cup

Friday, June 18, 2010



England 0-0 Algeria. They couldn't beat USA, they couldn't beat Algeria, will they be able to beat Slovenia. Based on tonight's performance, I doubt it.

England have very disappointing so far is this years World Cup. The first four minutes against USA were pretty good, but after that they looked lazy and just about deserved a draw. Tonight was no better. Algeria actually impressed me, which says a lot about the England performance.

Too many of their star players just aren't performing. Frank Lampard was terrible tonight, as was Gerrard, Lennon, Johnson and most surprisingly, Rooney. So much was expecting from Rooney at this competition, but to say he hasn't been at his best is an understatement. The choice not to bring the likes of Walcott and Bent, players who can come on and make a difference, is looking to be a crucial mistake.

I still think England will qualify. They should beat Slovenia. In saying that, they should have beaten USA and Algeria.

Mexico 2-0 France


If you cheat, you deserve to lose. This is exactly what happened to France last night and to be honest I could not be more happy.

We all know how France made it to the World Cup, they cheated. Simple as. Its not only because I'm Irish that this annoys me so much, its the fact that France did it and are now performing worse than Ireland would have.

I don't even know why. France have a very good team. They should be on top of their group, not relying on other teams results to get through. I like most of the French players, they play good football and should be an exciting team.

It seems as though the way they made it to the World Cup has affected them. There was a lot of controversy surrounded the face they cheated and it is clearly still on the back of their minds. I think the choice to bring Henry to South Africa was a bad one. If anyone deserves to be watching the World Cup at home, its him.




Could this have been Nani's chance to show the World how good he is?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

his World Cup could really have been Manchester United winger Nani's big chance to show the World that he can be the best. The Portuguese winger had been living in Crisitano Ronaldo's shadow until he moved to Real Madrid where Nani started to show his true potential. Unfortunately, Nani's hopes of not only showcasing his talent but the chance of winning footballs most prestigious award has been dashed due to injury which will force him to miss the World Cup finals. For his sake, I hope he had single trip travel insurance.




It wasn't really until last season when Alex Ferguson showed he has faith in the young winger. Before then, Nani had been used as an impact sub. However, the departure of Ronaldo and Teves gave Nani a chance to stake a claim in the Manchester United starting eleven. It's fair to say he did a good job. Although he suffered from injury's during the season, he looked very impressive. Nani injured his shoulder in training last week, an injury thought not to be very serious at first but after further analysis the full extent of the injury was shown.




Now, Nani is only 23, so there is at least two more World Cups left in his career, so really its not the end of the world. You do have to feel for him though, it was the best he had been playing since his arrival to the Premier League and now he has to wait until next season before he can rekindle the form he showed last season. I was really looking forward to seeing Nani play. To be honest, I hadn't been his biggest fan up until last season. I thought he was too selfish and didn't contribute much to the team. I didn't think he was good enough to fill in Ronaldo's boots and even though he hasn't quite reached that standard yet, he has shown he has the ability to maybe do so in the future.




This will certainly be a devastating blow to Nani, but Steven Gerrard missed the 2002 World Cup with injury and look at him now, captain of his club, country (by default) and one of the best players in the World. The real question that has to be asked is what if Nani was just a one season wonder? It's a real shame that this years World Cup could have answered this question, but now we will have to wait until next season to find out.

World Cup 2010 Round-Up


What an awful start to the World Cup! With 11 games played, we've only seen 18 goals, and the football has been largely disappointing too.

On Friday the South Africa-Mexico game was lively and a decent start to the World Cup but France and Uruguay set the tone for the competition with a bore nil all draw.

Saturday didn't produce any real entertainment for us either. South Korea brushed Greece aside in a 2-0 win but Argentina only beat Nigeria by a single goal when they should have won by 5 or 6. Their football was impressive however, Messi imparticular was popping up everywhere but Enyeama produced an amazing performance to keep him at bay. England's 1-1 draw with USA started ferociously and looked set to be a good game but instead both teams went on to play a defensive, cagey game.

On Sunday the Germans looked impressive in a 4-0 hammering of Australia, Tim Cahill recieved an extremely harsh red card which shows that referees seem to be clamping down on dangerous tackles. There were also two boring games- Ghana beating Serbia and Slovenia beating Algeria, both 1-0.

Things didn't get better today either. Holland, who I had tipped to do well, were poor in a nervy 2-0 win, Japan beat Cameroon 1-0 in a slow, unskilled game, and Italy's 1-1 draw with Paraguay hardly set the world alight either.

All in all, it's been a very disappointing start for me and I can only hope the football picks up. There's too many teams going into games with a defensive attitude, looking for a break when the chance comes. Those horns are driving me mad too!

City keen on Vidic

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Manchester City are apparently ready to launch a bid for Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic. The offer is thought to be in the region of £20 million, although it hasn't been formally made yet.

And Manchester City are also prepared to offer Vidic £115,000 a week to secure his services. Vidic has been unsettled at United in recent times, but has said that he won't say anything about his future until Serbia are knocked out of the World Cup.

An associate of his agent, Paolo Fabbri, said it was possible Vidic could leave Old Trafford.

"We are waiting for Nemanja to tell us what we he wants to do. Any eventual transfer will take place only after the World Cup."

If City were to sign Vidic it would prove a massive blow for Alex Ferguson, who would surely have to get a replacement. It would also be a fantastic signing for City. Vidic is a great defender, the type who would definitely sure up the City defence.

Who will be in the England starting 11?

England team, with Heskey showing what he does best.

Much has been said of England winning the World Cup this year, and their first game today against the USA gives them a chance to show other teams what they are capable of. The question is, who will play? Capello says he knows the starting 11, but nobody else does.

There are a few certainties of who will play. Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and John Terry for example are all nearly guaranteed to play. Meanwhile at left back Ashley Cole should be chosen, the same applies for Glen Johnson at right back. Who will get the nod in goals is interesting. Personally I think it will be Rob Green, but is could easily be David James or Joe Heart. At centre back John Terry is a certainty, but who will partner him? Injury ravaged Ledley King, emergency replacement Michael Dawson, Jamie Carragher or Matthew Upson. My vote is Ledley King, even with his injury problems a quality centre back.

The midfield should be interesting. Whilst Gerrard and Lampard are nearly 100% going to play, there are many players fighting for a spot. Aaron Lennon gets my vote on the right. I still think Walcott would have been the best candidate, and Lennon is a similar type of player. Quick, direct and has plenty of skill. If Capello decides to play five men in midfield then I expect Milner to get the nod ahead of an over-rated Carrick, with Joe Cole on the left. If he plays 4-4-2, then I would think he would leave Milner out, considering he missed training during the week.

Up front we all know Rooney is going to play, its who will partner him that we all want to know. Crouch, Heskey and Defoe are all fighting for a starting spot. My vote is for Crouch. He has proven he can play at an international level ( 21 goals in 38 appearances), and his height and ability to hold up the ball and bring other players into play would prove very handy.

I'm looking forward to England match against USA tonight. It will be interesting to see if England live up to the hype. USA aren't a bad team. Some decent players, Donovan and Dempsey, could cause England some problems. My prediction, England 2-1 USA.

Why the World Cup Won't be One to Remember!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Although the opening game between South Africa and Mexico was an entertaining game, the opening day of the 2010 World Cup hardly set the world alight. A bore 0-0 draw between France and Uruguay emphasises this and in my opinion, this World Cup will continue in this manner. There are two main reasons for this:

1. No Ireland- After being robbed and cheated out of a World Cup place by France in October, us Irish can only sit here and watch the World Cup as neutrals. It takes a lot of the excitement out of it, and many of us are only watching the World Cup in hope that France will fail. Would you believe that Henry even had the cheek to appeal for a handball today?

2. Many big-name players won't be there- The list is endless of the amount of players that have unluckily been ruled out of the World Cup through injury. Beckham, Ferdinand, Ballack and Essien are all out while Robben, Iniesta, Torres and Fabregas are all rushing back from injury and may not be as sharp as they can be. Then there's players like Walcott, Cambiasso, Zanetti and Rossi who have all been left out. The lack of these important players make the World Cup dull. Instead of getting to see Walcott run at defenders with his pace, we get to watch Lucas run around like a headless chicken.

This is just my opinion and I don't want to seem like a buzzkill because my country won't be there. By all means, I do hope that the World Cup is a great one. I'm just pointing out my worries.

Rafa Off To Inter

Thursday, June 10, 2010
Inter Milan have today confirmed that Rafa Benitez has taken over from José Mourinho as their manager. It was obvious that after Benitez left Liverpool by mutual consent last week, that he was Inter's number one target as Mourinho's successor. And it hasn't taken long for them to act.

A club statement read, "This morning, with both parties in agreement, a two-year deal until June 30, 2012 has been agreed between the Spanish manager and the club."

Benitez has a lot to live up to after Mourinho's amazing final season, in which he won the treble. I think, however that it's the end of an era for Inter Milan. With an ageing squad and an idiot of a manager coming in, I can't see them doing as well as they have been in recent years.

Chelsea Let Trio Go

Chelsea have announced that they will not be renewing the contracts of Joe Cole, Michael Ballack and Juliano Belletti. Instead, they will all become free agents after the 30th of June.

Ballack, who joined Chelsea in 2006, never reached the form he showed in Germany and was a major let down. With him out of the World Cup through injury, he may even consider retiring at 33.

Belletti was never expected to be offered a contract extension. He was always a bit-part player for Chelsea, although his versatility often came in handy when injuries mounted up. At the age of almost 34 he may also decide to hang up his boots too.

The release of Joe Cole however was very surprising to me. Although it had been speculated that he wasn't staying, I'm still astonished that a player of his quality was allowed to leave, as at 28 he still has 3 or 4 more good years in him. With many Premier League clubs interested in him, I think he'll still be a huge star next season, whoever he ends up with.

Heskey puts blame on himself for Ferdinand injury


England striker Emile Heskey has revealed that he couldn't feel any worse knowing that Rio Ferdinand will miss the World Cup because of him. Ferdinand is set to miss the competition after an injury in training involving Heskey.

The England captain was injured when tackling Heskey, when Heskey fell on his left leg, damaging his knee ligaments. Although Ferdinand has assured everyone it was an accident, Heskey is still finding the fact he may have cost England the World Cup difficult to deal with.

"I spoke to Rio afterwards and he told me there was nothing I could do but it was still difficult for me.''

And so he should be. Even bringing Heskey to South Africa was a mistake, now look at what he has done. I mean come on Fabio, what does Heskey offer. He's hardly a prolific goalscorer, he doesn't have the ability to beat a defender 1 on 1. All he does is hold the ball up, which is exactly what Crouch does, except Crouch is good at it and can do more. Why not bring a decent player?

I feel sorry for Ferdinand. To be injured for the World Cup is bad enough but to be injured by Heskey just rubs salt in his wounds. Heskey 1-0 England





Could this have been Nani's chance to show the World how good he is?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010



This World Cup could really have been Manchester United winger Nani's big chance to show the World that he can be the best. The Portuguese winger had been living in Crisitano Ronaldo's shadow until he moved to Real Madrid where Nani started to show his true potential. Unfortunately, Nani's hopes of not only showcasing his talent but the chance of winning footballs most prestigious award has been dashed due to injury which will force him to miss the World Cup finals. For his sake, I hope he had travel insurance.


It wasn't really until last season when Alex Ferguson showed he has faith in the young winger. Before then, Nani had been used as an impact sub. However, the departure of Ronaldo and Teves gave Nani a chance to stake a claim in the Manchester United starting eleven. It's fair to say he did a good job. Although he suffered from injury's during the season, he looked very impressive. Nani injured his shoulder in training last week, an injury thought not to be very serious at first but after further analysis the full extent of the injury was shown.


Now, Nani is only 23, so there is at least two more World Cups left in his career, so really its not the end of the world. You do have to feel for him though, it was the best he had been playing since his arrival to the Premier League and now he has to wait until next season before he can rekindle the form he showed last season. I was really looking forward to seeing Nani play. To be honest, I hadn't been his biggest fan up until last season. I thought he was too selfish and didn't contribute much to the team. I didn't think he was good enough to fill in Ronaldo's boots and even though he hasn't quite reached that standard yet, he has shown he has the ability to maybe do so in the future.


This will certainly be a devastating blow to Nani, but Steven Gerrard missed the 2002 World Cup with injury and look at him now, captain of his club, country (by default) and one of the best players in the World. The real question that has to be asked is what if Nani was just a one season wonder? It's a real shame that this years World Cup could have answered this question, but now we will have to wait until next season to find out.

Why Holland Will Win The World Cup

Monday, June 7, 2010

Although they may not be outright contenders, I reckon Holland are a great bet for this year's World Cup. At 11/1 at Betfair, a tenner bet is a good call. Here is why I think they can go all the way:

Arjen Robben- The tricky winger has been in amazing form all season, scoring 16 goals in just 24 league games from the wing. He also scored 4 very important Champions League goals in their run to the final. Although he's an injury worry, I still expect a big world cup from him.

Wesley Sneijder- What a season the small playmaker has had. Sneijder tore Chelsea apart at Stamford Bridge with his inch-perfect passing. After a treble-winning season, he's in the form of his life and I'm expecting him to be a big star.

Robin Van Persie- After a lengthy lay-off this season, RVP looked back to his best against Tottenham. He started the season in ferocious form and looked very sharp at the end too.

If this Dutch trio remain fit and in form, then I expect Holland to go very far in the competition. Who knows? They might just go all the way!

Chelsea eager to hold on to Cole

Sunday, June 6, 2010
With 5 Premier League clubs interested in his services, Chelsea are yet to give up on Joe Cole. The tricky winger whose contract runs out at Chelsea on July 1st is a major Summer transfer discussion.

All of Man Utd, Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City and West Ham have been rumoured to be interested and Chelsea have delayed the extension of his contract. However Chelsea assistant coach Ray Wilkins insists that he and Ancelotti will do everything they can to keep him at Stamford Bridge.

"We've obviously been in dialogue with Joe for months now and it's pretty evident that Carlo and myself would love Joe to stay but it's down now to the club to see what we can do.

"We sincerely hope Joe stays with us - he's a smashing guy and he's a wonderful footballer so we'll keep our fingers crossed."


Althouh he may have lost some pace from his persistant injuries over the years, I still think Chelsea should do everything they can to keep him. He's Chelsea's only real flair player and his trickery can turn any defender inside out.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ly1nUJgBffs

Rio out, Drobga doubt

Friday, June 4, 2010

Its bound to be an interesting World Cup, and the headline news has began before the competition has even started. England captain Rio Ferdinand has today been ruled out of the World Cup, whilst Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba is a major doubt.

Ferdinand, currently of Manchester United, picked up a knock in training and was immediately rushed to hospital for scans. It has now been confirmed that Rio will take no part in this World Cup, a devastating blow for him, the England squad and the England staff. Ferdinand was meant to be captain at this years World Cup, so the job of captain will now be handed to Steven Gerrard.

Meanwhile, Chelsea and Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba is a major doubt to take any part in the competition. Drogba fractured his right elbow in a 2-0 win over Japan and is set to miss out on the chance to play in footballs most prestigious competition.

''For him, he said, the World Cup in finished.'' - Kolo Toure

Barcelona make Cesc bid

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We all knew it was coming. Barcelona have never hidden the face they want bring Cesc Fabregas back to Spain, and today they officially made an offer for the Arsenal skipper.

Arsenal signed Fabregas back in 2003 from Barcelona, when Cesc was only 16 years old. Since then, he has become Arsenal play-maker and captain, and has developed into one of the finest players in the world.

He has however never denied he would love to play for Barcelona some day, and it seems that day is fast approaching. Fabregas spoke to Arsenal chief Arsene Wenger and stated his desire to join the Spanish champions. With Barca making an official bid today, it looks like his wish could come true.

''So yesterday afternoon, we submitted a written bid to Arsenal.''

Personally I don't want Fabregas to leave Arsenal and join for several reasons. Number one being that without him, Arsenal will no longer be a force to be reckoned with, unless of course they use the money to buy several top class players, which they won't. Number two is that Fabregas is a fantastic player to watch and I'd hate to see the Premier League lose one of its most gifted players. Number three is that there is a strong chance Fabregas could be warming the bench at Camp Nou. Drop Xavi, Iniesta, Villa or Messi? I don't think so.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fabio Capello has named his 23 man squad for the World Cup and there are a lot of surprises to be seen. There are also four decisions that I completely disagree with.

  1. The exclusion of Theo Walcott.
  2. The inclusion of Emile Heskey.
  3. The inclusion of Stephen Warnock ahead of Leighton Baines.
  4. The exclusion of Darren Bent.
How Fabio Capello can leave Walcott out is a joke. There are few players with the pace, skill, trickery and finishing of Walcott. This was evident in the hat-trick he scored against Croatia and although he has been struggling with injuries the past few years, surely he should be getting in ahead of Wright-Phillips.

Also, after Baines starting in the games against Egypt and Japan, surely he would have been chosen ahead of Warnock. If Ashley Cole was to get injured, I would much prefer to have Baines as cover.

Finaly, how a donkey like Emile Heskey can be chosen before Darren Bent is a joke! Bent scored 24 league goals this season against Heskey's 3. I know people say he's great to play alongside, but that's why Crouch is there.

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), David James (Portsmouth), Rob Green (West Ham);

Defenders: Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Ledley King (Spurs), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa);

Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Spurs), James Milner (Aston Villa), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City);

Forwards: Peter Crouch (Spurs), Jermain Defoe (Spurs), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).