"Messi’s a fantastic player. It’s a joy to watch him on the pitch. Is he the greatest? I don’t know, just like I don’t know whether it’s possible to compare him to Cristiano Ronaldo, who has a different style. I have a lot of respect for Messi, just like I had for Cruyff, Beckenbauer, Platini. But ultimately there will never be another Pele. I was born for football like Beethoven was for music and Michelangelo was for painting.”

“I was married for all of 24 hours when I got the phone call. The manager asked if I’d be willing to cancel the honeymoon to Tahiti and honeymoon in Bolton. It took a lot of discussion with the missus. I can’t repeat what she said!”
Tim Ream on a call from Owen Coyle asking him to join Bolton Wanderers

“I did wait until the nuptials were concluded! And look at the weather here – why would you want to go to Tahiti?”
Owen Coyle

“Ronaldinho had opponents who magnified his peak even more – he was up against Zidane, Figo. He also earned me many titles. Messi has much more help at Barcelona. If I had to chose between Ronaldinho at that time or Messi now, I’d chose Gaúcho.”

“Francesco is a great player, a great champion, but there are no flag-bearers in modern football. A flag-bearer plays for his team for free. I’d also love to be a flag-bearer who was on €10m a season!”
Alessandro Diamanti on whether Francesco Totti is a flag bearer for Roma

“It was very hard to leave Leeds. But I really love fishing, so having the Norfolk Broads so close will be very nice. I love coarse and carp fishing, and if I get a spare few days I’ll do an overnighter as well.
Jonny Howson on why he swapped Championship football with Leeds United for Norwich City and the Premier League

"I feel better than Mourinho – the Gods are with the poor! Sometimes that’s life, that the poor are happier than the rich."
Carlos Pouso after a night on which he guided third-flight Mirandes past Espanyol and into the Copa del Rey semi-finals and Real Madrid were eliminated

“Will Brazil win the World Cup? I’m optimistic, but I’m also realistic. Right now Brazil doesn’t have a team. Let’s not forget that in the last two World Cups we had much better squads than we’ve got now, but even then we didn’t win it. Not many people speak about Germany, but for me they will be the big favourites.”
Carlos Alberto Torres

“A lot of goalkeepers, if they concede a penalty, in my opinion they don’t look like they do everything to stop it. If a spot-kick is taken and scored, they think, ‘Ok, it was a penalty, there was nothing I could do about it’. I put more pressure on myself to really stop it.”
Michel Vorm to FIFA.com on his penalty-saving success

“I ask the fans for a show of faith. Even jeers and insults are part of their love for La Viola. At the moment we are in the phase of a love that feels betrayed.”
Delio Rossi

“He sees football in ways nobody else does, and then he explains it better than anyone. Lots of coaches just tell you to move right or move left, but he gives you the reasons why, which means you clearly understand why you’re doing something.”
Gerard Pique to FIFA.com on Pep Guardiola

“For me, it’s a great honour to be able to play alongside Vagner Love. He’s my friend, brother, godfather and godson. I regard him as one of the best forwards in the world.”

“If Villarreal need me, I will jump on a place and go tomorrow. I would ask Boca for permission and then go. Villarreal are part of my life. I have always loved them. They treated me wonderfully and if they need me, I will be there.”
Juan Roman Riquelme

“He is among the five best players in the world.”
Bastian Schweinsteiger on Franck Ribery

“It’s a massive part of my life, in 1988 when we beat Liverpool. It's something you never forget, something nobody forgets – we’re quite a few years on now and it seems like yesterday. I played in the third round at Wealdstone as a non-league player, and it was massive for us then. And a couple of years later, there I was beating the mighty Liverpool.”
Vinnie Jones, the Hollywood actor, on helping Wimbledon create a gargantuan upset by beating Liverpool in the FA Cup final

"There are no favourites in football... except Barcelona!"
Zico to FIFA.com

“Have we agreed a deal for Amelia? Absolutely not, we’re not in negotiations. And if I’m honest, I don’t even know who he is.”
Valeri Karpin on whether he was bringing Marco Amelia, AC Milan’s FIFA World Cup-winning goalkeeper, to Spartak Moscow

"He has a great deal of quality and exceptional pace. He always works hard in training and is a humble lad. I remember during Copa America training, he'd often be up against Dani Alves and it was always a fiery battle. I think Lucas is better suited to Italian and European football than Neymar."
Lucio on the Sao Paulo starlet

“It is a basic part of the manager’s job, but when you have to leave players out for the sake of the team, it is tough. Nothing you can say to them can convince them they haven’t done something wrong. This selection process, being ruthless, takes the human element out of you.”
Andre Villas-Boas

“They said things that weren't true, that I didn't care as much about wearing the [Argentina] shirt. It hurt, it bothered me. I think what people need to understand is that this is a team game and that I try to play the same [for Argentina] as I do for Barcelona. I've never stopped being Argentinian and I've never wanted to. I feel very proud of being Argentinian, even though I left there. Every country I go to, people have always received me very well, and in my own country that wasn't happening. It’s not like that any more.”
Lionel Messi