"He's not only a great coach, he's also a great person. You can also talk to him about private matters. We have achieved historic things with Hansi Flick. That was by far my best time at Bayern, he always gave us a clear plan of what to expect."
Robert Lewandowski (Bild)
"Even now, I struggle to think of myself as having been ‘an Olympian’ because, to me, the athletes I have in mind are just in a different stratosphere. The build-up to it, knowing we were the first GB women’s team to compete, was so cool. Then you play the first game at the Millennium Stadium in front of 30,000 people, and win. It was just a blur. Real euphoria. Even though I picked up such a bad injury during the tournament, I’d do it all again."
Ifeoma Dike (FIFA.com)
"Pep makes mistakes, too, but he is a genius. And it's human nature that people want to see how a genius fails. It was the same with musicians like Mozart. People were happy to criticise him when he made a mistake because he seldom made any of them. It's similar to Pep."
Domenec Torrent (Spox)
"Some coaches seek to reduce the complexity of football. Guardiola, though, wants to master it. One can compare his task with a chess grandmaster or with an orchestra director who gets the best out of each instrument. The only thing is that a football ensemble does not play according to given musical notes, and the paths of a footballer are more variable than those followed by the rook and the knight. It isn’t all that easy to recognise what someone is doing and can do on the pitch. It’s also hard to describe. Under Guardiola, everyone has to contribute in the interests of the whole. He even invents a position for absolutely exceptional players. So he let Lionel Messi, who grew into a kind of wonder of the world under him, reinterpret the centre-forward position. He just knows that big matches are decided by big players. Creativity is more important than a scheme. His football is a celebration of individuality. Guardiola pays tribute to his players and elevates neither himself nor some system like 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 above his players. He is a friend to them; he is their servant."
Philipp Lahm (The Guardian)
"Pep and I have been working together for five years now, and we have a very good understanding. Even when I ruptured my cruciate ligament in December 2016 and was out for eight months, he had no doubt that I would recover my best form. I remember one time, I was hanging out with a friend of mine when we remembered that it was Pep’s birthday. So my friend suggested that we give him a present. Pep is actually my neighbour here in Manchester, so we bought a bottle of champagne, my friend wrote him a card in Spanish, and then he went to knock on his door. When he came back, he said that Pep had been very happy about it. Anyway, I went back to the cinema room and kind of forgot about it. About half an hour later, there was a knock on the door. I was like, “Who the f--- is this?” I thought my friend had ordered pizza or something. My friend opened the door, and it was Pep! He said, 'Where’s Gundo?' (He calls me Gundo.) We were both really surprised, because Pep is such a private guy. We had seen him around in the elevator and stuff, but he had never been in my apartment. He had brought the champagne bottle and three glasses. He ended up staying for an hour or so, just to chill. It reminded me that, even though we play football, this profession is also about humans, you know? And I think that, when I end my career, what I will remember the most are the people I shared it with. I guess you could say the same thing about life."
Ilkay Gundogan (The Players' Tribune)
"My father knew, I have always felt that Maradona is almost my friend. He's an icon, the greatest I don't know but he's more than a footballer. He's football's Mohammed Ali. He will be remembered with football fans but also others, he transcends and the impact he has had in life is more special."
Xabi Alonso on Diego Maradona (The Greatest Game with Jamie Carragher)
"Brazilian players are always different. They have something special inside. They are very open, happy people, always smiling. They love to play football because it's like a dance and they play like they are dancing. They don't feel the stress. They play with freedom. It is a characteristic of the country and the culture. They need to feel good and to feel happy to perform in the best way. Ronaldinho was a really nice guy and Neymar, from the day we arrived, he was open to work. Very humble, he listens and accepts the instructions in a very good way. Like Mbappe, they both love to work and they love football."
Mauricio Pochettino (Daily Mail)
"I started playing when I was four. I always played on the streets and I always dreamed of playing for Flamengo and for Real Madrid. My father was a bit mad because I was always on the streets, I even forgot to go back home to eat. I think that’s because I loved football so much and I wanted to spend the whole day playing. When I was six, I started playing futsal for Canto do Rio until I was ten. That helped a lot with my [football] education, my quick-thinking, my dribbling, and everything I do today on a much bigger pitch. Everybody says that the Brazilian players are high-quality players, and I think that’s because we play in small spaces, we start playing on the streets when we are young and always with older people, so that helps us."
Vinicius Jr. (UEFA.com)
"For me he is at the level of Haaland, Lewandowski and Benzema. If Belgium win anything, they owe it to him. His strength is always knowing how to react to difficult moments, always looking for the next goal. Now he is in top form."
Enzo Scifo on Romelu Lukaku (La Gazzetta dello Sport)
“I think I want to be a coach. Honestly, I would like to be a coach. I don’t know which team I would like to manage. Of course, the biggest team if I can manage Manchester United, I will be happy. I can leave now just some words so if people see this, if I’m a manager in the future, the fans can make some pressure to bring me as a coach! But I think I would like to be a coach in the future. I’m not sure but for what I feel for football, for the feeling I have, I think I have to continue to be inside of football because my whole life is about this. So I think, in the future, it needs to be with football too."
Bruno Fernandes (ManUtd.com)
"If Messi were playing for Uruguay in that 2010 World Cup, we would have won it."
Diego Lugano (Tea y Deportea)
"I'm in love with this city. The first day I came here before I signed the contract, they made me this pasta and because of the pasta I fell in love."
Henrikh Mkhitaryan on life at Roma (The Athletic)
"Individual awards are great, they are fantastic achievements. Probably when I look back at the end of my career I will go over and take in a little bit more. The goal right now as a player is to win team trophies. As much as this is great, I want to be winning the biggest prizes that there is to offer as a team, and we are not quite doing that. It is one of them, it is bittersweet. I would rather be winning team trophies and this one. It is what it is. I am proud to win it. It means it has been a good season on the pitch, so I have just got to try and continue what I am doing."
Harry Kane after winning Premier League Player of the Year at the London Football Awards
“There was one time this season where we were doing a crossing drill. He always positions himself in an awkward place. The ball has come in and I’ve connected with it so sweetly on my left foot. It’s near the top corner and he’s stood right inside the goal. I’ve not seen him so I’ve just hit the ball and it has come flush right off the bridge of his nose. All I saw were his glasses fly about 10 metres! He’s walked off holding his nose and I’m saying ‘Sorry, sorry’, obviously s------g myself. He’s gone a little bit angrily, ‘De nada, de nada, it’s nothing’. He’s walked past us five minutes later to go and see the physio and he has a big cut across his nose. He’s using the same glasses now and they’re not straight, they’re wonky. I feel bad – I should really get him a new pair but I’m scared to bring it up again!"
Patrick Bamford on accidentally hitting Marcelo Bielsa in a Leeds training session (That Peter Crouch Podcast)