The Week in Quotes
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“Benzema’s underpants are so glamourous – they certainly grab your attention! They have so many colours and don’t go unnoticed. Karim is a brave guy to wear them!”
Iker Casillas

“Who shot Leonardo Bonucci?”
Nicklas Bendtner pokes fun at Juventus team-mate Leonardo Bonucci for trying to win a penalty against Palermo

"My record stood for 40 years – 85 goals in 60 games – and now the best player in the world has broken it. I'm delighted for him. He is an incredible player, gigantic. He's such a nice and modest professional, and I hope he gets one or two more goals in 2012 and that he can then hold on to the record for the next 40 years. He's fantastic. He only has one defect and that is that he doesn't play for Bayern Munich!"
Gerd Muller on Lionel Messi after the little Argentinian broke his world scoring record in a calendar year

“I had to make a decision between football and tennis. Tennis won. I think I made the right decision. [Now] it's hard to play other sports because of the risk of injury, but we [tennis stars] play football when we can. We agree not to tackle hard, but then forget!”
Andy Murray responding to a question on FIFA.com’s Twitter account, @FIFAcom

“Definitely Andres Iniesta. He’s my number one. It’s not that difficult to play well and win titles in a team like Barcelona, but it’s in the national side where you see a player’s true class. That was the case with figures like Pele, Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane. With Spain, Iniesta has shown that he is among the best players of all time and that’s why I rate him higher than Messi or Ronaldo. Even though the latter two have incredible scoring records for their clubs, they still haven’t won anything with Argentina or Portugal respectively.”
Boris Becker to FIFA.com on who should win the FIFA Ballon d’Or for 2012

“The mistake is expecting the generation after you to be the same as yours. I did not like Stephan El Shaarawy’s haircut, nor his eyebrows. Maybe now they miss my slaps, but, I repeat, I was wrong. He is indeed proving to be a phenomenon.”
Gennaro Gattuso

England are a nation of warriors. If I go to Liverpool and someone puts the ball into the area, and Carragher hammers it out of play, then the fans applaud. In Camp Nou you would never be applauded for that. It’s a different culture that values different things. Here, if they see you are afraid when you are in possession, then you get whistled. It’s the world in reverse.”
Xavi

"I remember when I was a kid, we couldn't find the signal really well on TV, but everyone in school was talking about this cartoon about football, from Japan. It was a series called Oliver y Benji in Spain, and in Japan it was Captain Tsubasa, and these two young players started as youth team players, got into the national team, won the World Cup, and moved to Barcelona and Bayern Munich, so it was like a dream. I started playing football because of this, and because my brother forced me, and I loved the cartoon."
Fernando Torres, who is in Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup

"Messi is unique, he’s the best player in the history of the sport. The numbers say so – we’re talking about 88 goals as if it were normal. What he’s done is incredible. Messi has been touched by a magic wand."
Javier Mascherano

“I think he goes missing in big games for City – and he’s the only one – and that’s Samir Nasri. The football match has been won by what Samir Nasri did in that wall. It really has cost his team. He doesn’t put a shift in. I played against Nasri three or four years ago at the Emirates Stadium, and he pulled my pants down for 60 minutes and I got subbed because he absolutely battered me. This is a player you’ll see when the ‘oles’ are coming out, but when the going gets tough I’m not sure he fancies it that much.”
Gary Neville after the Frenchman’s duck allowed Robin van Persie to score a last-gasp match-winner for Manchester United at Manchester City

"Messi is a God – as a person and even more so as a player. I hope that he wins the World Cup with Argentina. To the Gods of the world, all I ask is that you give him that chance.”
Samuel Eto'o

“The team reacted in an extraordinary manner [during my absence] and I thank the players, because they really are special. So is the club and maybe so am I.”
Antonio Conte

"I’ve tried to talk to the civil guard to get Messi arrested,"
Carlos Gonzalez, the Cordoba president, ahead of his side’s Copa del Rey tie against Barcelona