“I think Pele was better than all of them. For me there’s no comparison. Pele was far more complete. Maradona was spectacular, but he wasn’t on Pele’s level physically, he didn’t score the numbers of goals Pele did. Messi’s spectacular, but he doesn’t head the ball like Pele did, he doesn’t shoot as well with both feet, he doesn’t pull off the moves that Pele did. Cristiano Ronaldo is an exceptional player, but he doesn’t have the ability that Pele had and he doesn’t pull off the incredible passes that Pele did. If you take the qualities of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, put them together, then you’d have a player to compare to Pele! (laughs)
“In my first few years playing against those Spanish teams that passed it around and around, it’d drive me insane. I was charging about on my own, trying to press them, and they’d leave me like piggy in the middle. We were playing a whole different sport in Italy. I hated it. But I see football differently as a coach. I like to keep possession and run few risks.”
“I wasn’t waiting next to the phone, no. I’d spent most of lockdown getting jobs done on the house and this was a big one. Then Middlesbrough came out of the blue. Fk the kitchen. I can build a kitchen at any time. This is about Middlesbrough Football Club."
Kevin Blackwell on getting the call to become Middlesbrough’s assistant manager [The Athletic]
"Your education should obviously be about English, maths and science, but it should also be about what has shaped the world and humanity. LGBTQ history is that, black lives history is that – they're prominent right now but we as people should have had the right to learn about them years ago. My heart hurts for anyone who has to lie. As somebody who did that for a long time, I can't tell you how horrible that is. I don't care how much they earn – there's no amount of money in the world that can make anything feel better when you have to live a lie."
Jess Fishlock [Sky Sports]
“During my time in Scotland I had a brother who was on drugs. Knowing the things I knew about him and having to go out and perform week in, week out was not easy. In the end he took an overdose. You have to talk to somebody and open up in order to be able to be rescued. I went to a professional and talked with her about different things and I felt so much better afterwards.”
Henrik Larsson [The Lockdown Tactics podcast]
"Half of the population of Thimphu went to the game. What happened in the second half was really amazing. Bhutan was winning but the audience felt a bit guilty about it because in their minds, as Buddhists, there should be no winner. A draw would've been the best score for them, so they were cheering for the opponent."
Johan Kramer on ‘The Other Final’, a match between Bhutan and Montserrat he organised on the day of the Korea/Japan 2002 decider [FIFA.com]
"As long as you wear this shirt, less than 100 per cent is not allowed. It's not my phrase. It came from the All Blacks. I was completely impressed by these big fellas and how they spoke. They worked as butchers, builders. These guys, these pretty impressive guys, just spoke about their past, what it meant to them to play for this team.”
“Klopp told me that if I had the same commitment as he has, that I would have been better than what I was. I would have achieved a lot more. Maybe more than what Salah has achieved.”
"This is really selfish, but I was kind of hoping no-one else would score! (laughs) Holland have so many match-winning players. I’m not used to it, so I wanted it to stay 1-0!”
Jackie Groenen [FIFA.com]
“If there's one thing I have learned, it's that there is no minimum time in which you can fall in love. You wear this jersey like a second skin.”
"His courage and level of I’m-going-to-be-who-I-am regardless was so, so high. He’s one of the bravest men you could ever come across."
Amal Fashanu to FIFA.com on her uncle Justin Fashanu coming out as gay in the homophobic world of late-20th-century British football
“I think they drunk a lot of beer the last week, but they were here with no beer in their blood and to win this game.”
Pep Guardiola on Liverpool after their 4-0 loss at Manchester City
"My record is just one of many. For me, the only record that really stands out is that of 'O Rei' Pele with his three World Cups. Words can’t describe what he achieved at such a young age.”
Roger Milla to FIFA.com
"He's made out of granite. He's so strong, he's brilliant in the air, he attacks the back post as well as anybody and he can finish off either foot. He is just a phenomenal player. He is an absolute machine in every single game.”
Jamie Redknapp on Sadio Mane