The Week in Quotes

“I had to choose Iraq. Soccer was my gift, and I could use it to bring joy to the people there. Our team is nicknamed the Lions of Mesopotamia, and as we stood on that field in Basra, I felt like one for the first time. We ended up winning that game 2–1, but before the final whistle blew, in the 81st minute, I was substituted out to a standing ovation. I still get chills when I think about that moment. It’s one that will stay with me until my dying day. Right then, the Iraqi people gave something almost indescribable back to me. I felt more complete, and more proud, than I ever have in my entire life." Orlando City midfielder Justin Meram writes in The Players’ Tribune about playing for Iraq

“I had just scored three goals, and everyone signed the ball. Everyone put 'You're the best' or 'congratulations'. Rafa Benitez put 'Today, you lost the ball eight times'.” Fernando Torres tells Marca about a memorable moment from his time playing for Rafael Benitez at Liverpool

Barcelona midfielder Paulinho names his top four legends of football

“I’ve always said that Messi is an extraordinary player. He’s out of this world. If he were human, he wouldn’t have had that magical moment in that match (Argentina beat Iran in the group phase with a late Messi goal). I don’t usually like losing, but I didn’t come away from that defeat with a negative feeling. It’s when something magical like that happens that you know that football is alive and kicking, and that’s why it’s one of the best sports in the world to watch. And it’s even more of a special moment when it comes from a player who shouldn’t be allowed to play by FIFA until it’s proven that he’s actually human!” IR Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz speaks with about Lionel Messi - read the full interview here

“Listen, I still have a job to do with Belgium, but it will be a dream for me, Interested? Yes. Who wouldn’t be? But I have respect for the man in charge still.” Arsenal's top goalscorer of all time Thierry Henry speaks on Sky Sports about his interest in one day managing his former club

"I feel a sense of responsibility at this time of transition for our national team. There will be two important friendly matches, I thought about going on holiday with my family, but if the national team needs me, I have to answer that I am ready and I cannot desert. I do this for loyalty and responsibility, without thinking about what my future will be. The players who have experience at the moment could be useful against Argentina and England." Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon talks about his future with the national team in an interview with Italia 1’s ‘Tiki Taka’

“I think the best way he [Guardiola] has ever been described is he is intense and relentless. Whether it’s Wigan, whether it’s Arsenal, it doesn’t really matter in the way we prepare for games. What he gives us is that incredible amount of knowledge he shares, and he is really good at delivering his message as well. We always feel we have an advantage over other teams just because he’s been very precise with the information and what he wants us to do. Working with him is like doing ten years of studying, I compare it with going to university, that’s the level. We never stop learning every single day.” Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany talks about manager Pep Guardiola with talkSPORT

Frederic Kanoute speaks at the FIFA Conference for Equality and Inclusion​ - read a review of the conference here

“The pressure for the national team is actually more (than at Tottenham Hotspur) because they expect more of me. Hopefully, the pressure makes me better, as I am learning so many things. But many players from South Korea need to be better to make the team more successful. I am one of those players.” Tottenham Hotspur winger Son Heungmin speaks with Daily Mail Sport about expectations playing for Korea Republic

“Playing with him was amazing. He was a real character, but what a player. He didn’t really move very much, although he didn’t need to. I think I scored about 19 goals that season and he put pretty much every single one on a plate for me. He didn’t speak much, but you knew he understood far more than he was letting on. You could speak to him one-on-one and he’d answer in perfect English, but as soon as you told him to track back, he would reply: ‘I don’t understand.’ He’d smoke before the game, at half-time in the showers, and after the game as well. Red Marlboros, too. The real heavy stuff.” Peter Crouch on Robert Prosinecki, speaking in an exclusive interview with FourFourTwo

“In England, somewhere. I want to be at a big team, in the big leagues again. I understand that I have to prove myself as a manager. I think I have the potential, I have a lot of knowledge to share, and I think I’m well equipped to translate my thoughts to the players. Time will tell.” Former Sweden forward Henrik Larsson speaks with The Independent about his coaching ambitions, in an exclusive interview

Rochdale midfielder Joe Thompson shares a moment he will never forget, having beaten cancer twice