International football

World Cup

RIP Trifon Ivanov – Hairiest Member Of Bulgaria’s 94 World Cup Squad Dies Of Heart Attack, Aged 50

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Sad, sad news is reaching Pies this morning that Trifon Ivanov a man we simply presumed was immortal has passed away after suffering a heart attack at the age of 50.

As well as winning championships galore with CSKA Sofia, Ivanov was a member of the great Bulgarian 1994 World Cup squad, instantly recognisable by his wild mane of unkempt hair.

On This Day In 1920: England’s One And Only World Cup-Winning Manager Is Born

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On this very day in 1920, Alfred Earnest Ramsey was born in Dagenham, then a rural village 10 miles east of Central London.

Ramsey later reminisced that he "lived for the open air from the moment I could toddle", and so it's perhaps fitting that it was out in the open air that he not only made his name and living, but also left a peerless and indelible impression on the English sporting landscape.

Stoke ‘Keeper Jack Butland Donates £5,000 To GB Women’s Deaf Team To Help Them Realise World Cup Dream

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Not content with being halfway throughthe season of his career, Jack Butland has gone and proved that he's a top banana off the pitch too.

The Stoke goalkeeper has donated £5,000 of his own cash to the Great Britain women's deaf football team in order to help them fund their trip to the Deaf World Cup in Italy.

FIFA Set To Discuss Expanding The World Cup To 40 Teams

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As was threatened by FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino a month or so ago, it would appear that the World Cupis set to be expanded from 32 teams to 40 from the 2026 tournament onwards.

This comes following discussions among the FIFA executive committee (ExCo), who seem hell bent on making football'smost exclusive tournament less.

Rare First Edition Panini 1970 World Cup Sticker Album Sells For Record €2,400 At Auction

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Last night saw a rare Panini World Cup sticker album flogged at auction for seriousspondoolicks.

According to online auction site Catawiki, who were responsible for overseeing the sale, the first edition album eventually went for a hefty€2,400(approx£1,700), which is believed to be a world record amount for a football sticker album.

Argentina’s World Cup Qualifier Against Brazil Postponed As Things Get Torrentially Damp In Buenos Aires (Photos)

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Last night's2018 World Cup qualifier between Argentina in Brazil had to be called off less than an hour before kick-off after Buenos Aires was engulfed in a torrential rainstorm and it's not hard to see why looking at the photos.

The pitch became increasingly waterlogged as the flood water rose to shin height outside El Monumental stadium, leaving thousands of fans stuck in traffic and/or unable to reach the turnstiles.

Videos

On This Day In 1998: Michael Owen Of England Joins Ranks Of Youngest International Debutants (Video)

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It's Wembley, it's the 11th February 1998, England are playing Chile in a friendly and, look, there's spotty little Michael Owen making history.

At 18 years and 59 days old, the nippy Liverpool striker became the youngest player to represent England in the 20th century.

He didn't score that night (Chile won 2-0 with Marcelo Salas scoring twice, starting with a belter of an opening goal) but Owen did go on to bag 40 goals in 89 international appearances for the Three Lions.

On This Day In 1982: Seven Goalscorers And Nine Goals Set An International Record As England Batter Luxembourg (Video)

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When England played Luxembourg at Wembley in the third game of their Euro1984 qualifying campaign the horribly mismatched rampage that ensued sent international scoringrecords a-tumbling.

The hosts ran out 9-0 winners on the night, but the goal-scoring avalanchewas to begin with Luxembourg's Marcel Bossi opening the scoring – the defender ricochetingthe ball in his own net in the 18th minute.

Republic Of Ireland Players Enjoy Good Old Fashioned Sing-Song In Dublin Pub After Making It To Euro 2016 (Video)

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Shortly after securing themselves a spot at Euro 2016, a few of the Republic of Ireland lads Robbie Keane, Shane Long, Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan to be specific ventured on down to the Auld Dubliner pub for a few celebratory ales.

As is usually the case in Irish pubs, the well-greased quartet also treated the regularsto a good old fashioned sing-song.

On This Day In 2009: Thierry Henry Single-Handedly Destroys Republic Of Ireland’s World Cup Dreams

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On this very day in 2009, Thierry Henry became public enemy No.1 in theRepublic of Ireland after acontroversial incident that marred the closing stages of the second leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off against France in Paris.

Deep into extra-time, with the tie all-square, Henry flapped an errant hand at the ball not once but twice before squaring it forWilliam Gallas to nod homeand send the Republic crashing out of the reckoning.

The Best Bits: England 2-0 France (Photos & Highlights)

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On an emotional night at Wembley, a youthful England side produced a fine performance in an entertaining clash with France, with the hosts running out 2-0 winners.

England started brightly, with Dele Alli catching the eye in midfield and Wayne Rooney impressing on the right of a front three.

Euro 2016: Zlatan Ibrahmovic Fires Sweden To Finals With Outstanding Free-Kick vs Denmark (Video)

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At 34 years of age, Zlatan Ibrahimovic may not getting many more chances (if any) of appearing in a major finals. But courtesy of Sweden's 4-3 aggregate win against neighbours Denmark in the play-offs, Euro 2016 will be graced by the great man's presence. In the second-leg of the play-offs on Tuesday night in Copehagen, the PSG superstar once again produced the goods, conjuring up an outstanding long-range free-kick which gaveKasper Schmeichel no chance in the Danish goal.

Retro Football: San Marino Take Just 8.3 Seconds To Score Fastest Ever World Cup Qualification Goal Against England, 1993 (Video)

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While we're not presentingthis as an official On This Day... post, Pies would like to thank Emil Navarro for giving us a nudge via email that it was on this very day in 1993 that England suffered the humiliation of conceding against part-time perma-minnows San Marino after just 8.3 seconds.

After muddling through a fairly dire campaign, England went into their final 1994 World Cup qualifier in Bologna needing to beat San Marino by at least seven clear goals to move above the Netherlands on goal difference.

Euro 2016: James McClean Politely Shifts Out Of The Way So Ireland Fan Can See Jon Walter’s Penalty (Video)

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Here's a lovely little moment captured from the terraces during the first half of the Republic of Ireland's play-off win over Bosnia & Herzegovina last night, which begins just as Jonathan Walters was preparing to dispatch his 24th-minute penalty.

With the Ireland subs temporarily stopping their warm-up to watch the spot-kick from the corner of the pitch, it just so happened that James McClean was blocking a supporter's view of the Bosnian goal.

Euro 2016 – The Best Bits: Rep of Ireland 2-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina (agg: 3-1) (Photos & Highlights)

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At an electric Aviva Stadium on Monday night, the Republic of Ireland produced an outstanding display to beat Bosnia & Herzegovina 2-0 on the night and register a 3-1 aggregate scoreline, a result which sees the Boys in Green take their place in next summer's Euro 2016 finals in France.

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England U19 Scamps Tammy Abraham And Patrick Roberts Play ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ Over Penalty Duties (Video)

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England's U19 string cruised to a comprehensive 5-1 win over their Japanese counterparts atthe Man City academy on Sunday evening, with City young'n Patrick Roberts among the goals on his home patch.

Having already gone1-0 up during the early knockings, England had the chance to double the lead from the spot with just 20 minutes on the clock.

Euro 2016: Former Watford And Ipswich Striker Tamas Priskin Bags Cracker For Hungary vs Norway (Video)

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Between 2003 and 2012, striker Tamas Priskin plied his trade (with varying degrees of success) with a whole host of Championshipsides, including Watford, Preston, Ipswich, QPR, Swansea and Derby. However, on Sunday night, the Czech-born forward netted arguably the most important goal of his career for Hungary, in their Euro 2016 play-off 2nd leg against Norway.

Epic Star Wars Theme Played Ahead Of Poland vs Iceland Friendly in Warsaw (Video)

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I'm not sure if there is a more epic way to start a game of football than by playing the Star Wars theme. That's exactly what happened on Friday night when Poland hosted Iceland in a friendly game at the Warsaw National Stadium.

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Wedon't know exactlywhy the famous John Williams-penned music was chosen by the Polish powers-that-be.

The Best Bits: Wales 2-3 Netherlands (Photos & Highlights)

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An Arjen Robben brace gave Dutch fans something to cheer about again, against a Welsh side without star men Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey.

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Wwelsh boss Chris Coleman handed Leicester attackerTom Lawrence his first start while Dutch boss Danny Blind left out Robin van Persie as he looks to rebuild after a disastrous Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

Euro 2016 – The Best Bits: Bosnia & Herzegovina 1-1 Rep Of Ireland (Photos & Highlights)

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The Republic of Ireland's hopes of making it to France 2016 remain in a healthy state after a hard-fought draw in a very foggyBilino Polje Stadium on Friday night.

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Ireland boss Martin O'Neill had to do without a whole host of first-choice players, including the injured Shane Long and suspended captain John O'Shea.

The Best Bits: Spain 2-0 England (Photos & Highlights)

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Spain gave Roy Hodgson's England side a bit of a lesson in Alicante on Friday night, with the classy hosts' possession football ultimately earning them a deserved 2-0 win.

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The Three Lions started with Michael Carrick back in midfield alongside Fabian Delph, with Phil Jones partnering Chris Smalling in the centre of defence.

Spain’s Mario Gaspar Tucks Away Audacious Volley To Open Scoring Against England (Video)

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Rock the Gaspar!

Despite some admirable huff and puff from England in the face of an acute class deficit, Spain cantered to a 2-0 friendly victory over Roy Hodgson's mob in Alicante on Friday night.

The opening goal took 72 minutes to arrive but bloody hell firewas it worth the wait Villarreal right-back Mario Gaspar scoring his second international goal on his second internationalappearance with an absolutely inspired volley on the turn.

Goalscoring Goalie: Netherlands U20 ‘Keeper Indy Groothuizen Heads Home 90th-Minute Equaliser Against Czech Republic (Video)

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'Twas a proud moment for Mr and Mrs Groothuizen last night as they watched their 19-year-oldson join the Ancient Masonic Order of the Goalscoring Goalkeepers© with a 90th minute equaliser in an U20 international friendly.

Trailing 2-1 against the Czech Republic and with the clock ticking over into stoppage time, Ajax youth team stopper Indy Groothuizen came lolloping up for a corner and promptly stuck a header past his opposite number to equalise at the death.

EURO 2016

Reports: Gary Cahill At ‘Career Crossroads’, Mulling Chelsea Exit In Bid To Secure Euro 2016 Place

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The tittle-tattle emanating fromChelsea this afternoon is that Gary Cahill is seriously considering leaving the club in a bid to rescue his flagging chances of going to Euro 2016 with England.

Having made just 12 league appearances so far this season, the 30-year-old centre-back has found himself bumped down behind John Terry and Kurt Zouma in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge and is reportedly mulling overthe possibility of moving on.

Euro 2016 Draw: England Face Wales, Northern Ireland Paired With Germany And Poland, Republic Of Ireland Grouped With Belgium And Italy

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Wales boss Chris Coleman had spoken of his hopes of dodging England in the EURO 2016 draw, but in Paris on Saturday evening, the Dragons were paired with Roy Hodgson's men in Group B.Russia and Slovenia join England and Wales in what's hardly the toughest of groups for the Three Lions.

The Republic of Ireland find themselves in Group E, along with Belgium,Italy andSweden, which hands Martin O'Neill's men a nightmare challenge.

Karim Benzema Sees Euro 2016 Thrown Into Doubt After Being Suspended By French FA Over Sex Tape Blackmail Investigation

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Karim Benzema's participation at Euro 2016 has been plunged into considerable doubt this afternoon with the announcementthat he has been suspended by the French Football Federation until the ongoing investigation into a blackmail case involvingteammate Mathieu Valbuena reaches a conclusion.

The Real Madrid striker is tangled up in the case, having been charged and placed under formal investigation after admitting to police he had an involvement in the case which centres around an alleged sex tape.

‘I Sent Their Whole Nation Into Retirement’ – Zlatan Ibrahimovic Typically Humble After Sweden Knock Denmark Out Of Euro 2016 Contention

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With typical unassuming humility, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has honked that he single-handedly sent Denmark "into retirement" after scoring two goals in Sweden's Euro 2016 play-off second leg in Copenhagen last night.

The quip comes after the Danes had their pre-match merriment with the rumours that Ibrahimovic was to quit international football should Sweden fail to qualify for next summer's tournament.

‘I Put France On The Map’ – Super Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic Stays Humble Ahead Of Euro Play-Offs

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Forget Jules Rimet, Michel Platini, Euro 1984, Zinedine Zidane and the 1998 World Cup, it is the one and only Zlatan Ibrahimovic himself who has put France on the footballing map. Well, that'saccording to the modest man himself.

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Ahead of Sweden's European Championship play-off against Denmark at the weekend, the PSG striker spoke of his desire to take part in next year's finals in France, saying;

I would love to play at the European Championship in France.

Managers

‘Basically, No Mourinho’ – Kazakhstan Football Federation Ask Fans To Vote Online For New National Team Coach

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Kazakhstan's long wait to qualify for their firstmajor international tournament is going to go onfor a least another year after they managed to win just one of their ten Euro 2016qualifiers by signing off their campaign with a 1-0 dead rubber win over Latvia.

Prior to saidLatvia victory, The Hawks had won just two of their previous 20 games both being friendlies against fellow central Asian footballing super powersTajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Desperate Times: Cameroon Football Federation Take To Twitter To Advertise For New Head Coach

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Having decided to part company with Volker Finke a fortnight before their World Cup qualifying campaign began against Niger in mid-November, the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) are still in the process of hiring themselves a new head coach.

Obviously a bit short on applicants in the intervening weeks, Fecafoot have taken the unorthodox/slightly desperate step of advertising for a new coach both on their official website and through social media.

Andre Ayew

Yaya Toure Thinks His 2015 African Player Of The Year Snub ‘Brings Shame’ To An Entire Continent

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As you may have heard, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has today been named African Footballer of the Year, thus bringing to an end Yaya Toure's run of four successive awards.

Unsurprisingly given his long history of blubbering petulant tantrums, Toure took Aubameyang's victory with all the grace and dignity of a gigantic spoiled man-toddler.

€60m Arsenal Target Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Bags African Player Of The Year Gong

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Following an incredible goal-filled start to the 2015/16 Bundesliga campaign, Borussia Dortmund'sPierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been namedConfederation of African Football's player of the year.

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Voted for by African national team managers, the Gabonese hitman racked up 143 points, seven more than runner-up Yaya Touré.

England

Wayne Rooney Named England Player Of The Year For The Fourth Time

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Wayne Rooney has been named as the England Player of the Year for the second successive year after coming out on top in the annualsupporters' poll once again.

The Manchester United forwardnabbed 37% of the vote conducted by members of the England Supporters Club after trundling his way to overtaking Sir Bobby Charlton as the country's record international goalscorer in 2015.

On This Day In 1872: Scotland Play England In The First Ever International Football Match

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Football's international tradition began in front of 4,000 spectators at the West Of Scotland Cricket Ground in Hamilton Crescent, Partick on 30th November 1872.

Those 4,000 spectators paid a shilling each and, after a 20-minute delay caused by heavy fog, were treated toa spirited contest that ended in a 0-0 draw.

The Rest

Man City Youngster Bersant Celina, 19, Told To Lump It After ‘Demanding Place In Starting XI’ For Norway

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Manchester City's teenage winger Bersant Celina has committed his international future to Kosovo despite having represented Norway at at Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-21 level.

The youngster, who made hisPremier League debut against Leicester City last weekend,was born in Kosovo but moved to Norway with his family at the age of two, where he proceeded to make it through the national youth ranks.

Arsenal’s Mister Assister Mesut Özil Named Germany’s 2015 Player Of The Year

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Currently wowing the Premier League (and silencing the critics) with his silky skills, Arsenal playmaker Mesut Özil has been rewarded for his national team performances by picking up Germany's Player of the Year award for 2015.

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The award is voted for by fans of the national team, with Özil picking up 51,000 votes (45.

Northern Ireland Fan Fined £750 And Given Stadium Ban For Performing ‘The Birdie Song’ During Match

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Whatever you do lads, don't flap your arms like a chicken

One Northern Ireland fan has felt the full force of justice after being fined and banned for the heinous crime of performing The Birdie Song during a friendly win over Latvia back in November.

Appearing atBelfast Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, fanJames Burnsadmitted unlawfully going on to an area where football spectators are not allowed.

Christmas Football Gift Guide: Emile Heskey & Wayne Bridge Airfix Model Set (Photos)

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We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you're still searching for gift ideas with just four days left then you might have left it a little too late.

Still, Pies feel it's our civic duty to assist you in any way we can at this frantic time of year.

While trawling through Craigslist (don't ask), we stumbled across this fantastic 'England Stars' Airfix model kit that is up for grabs in Vancouver, Canada.

Former Rangers Midfielder Arnold Peralta Shot Dead While On Holiday In Honduras

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Terrible news is reaching us this morning that Honduran international Arnold Peralta has been shot dead in his hometown. He was just 26 years old.

According to BBC Latin America & Caribbean, the midfielder was on holiday in La Ceiba where he was gunned down in the car park of a shopping centre.

L’Equipe See Fit To Include Alan Hutton In Their ‘Great Britain XI’ Dream Team

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"I know Raheem, it makes no sense to me either"

Ahead ofthe friendly against England on Tuesday evening, French magazine L'Equipe whetted their whistle by concocting a "dream" Great Britain XI a composite team made up of their pick of the home nations' (excluding both Irish sides for reasons unbeknownst) finest talent.