THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS 6TH MAN, Emanuel David “Manu” Ginóbili Maccari, LET’S CELEBRATE A GREAT CAREER

Manu_Ginóbili_(cropped_2)Emanuel David “Manu” Ginóbili Maccari (Spanish pronunciation: [emaˈnwel ʃiˈnoβili], born 28 July 1977) is an Argentine professional basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is also a member of the Argentine men’s national basketball team. He is one of only two players, along with Bill Bradley, to have won at least a EuroLeague title, an NBA championship, and an Olympic gold medal.

Ginóbili comes from a family of professional basketball players. He spent the early part of his basketball career in Argentina and Italy, where he holds dual citizenship, and won several individual and team honors. His stint with Italian side Kinder Bologna was particularly productive; he won two Italian League MVP awards, theEuroLeague Finals MVP and the 2001 EuroLeague championship and Triple Crown. Selected as the 57th overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft, the shooting guard is considered one of the biggest draft steals of all time. Ginóbili joined the Spurs in 2002, and soon became a key player for the team. He has earned four NBA championships and was named an All-Star in 2005 and 2011. In the 2007–08 season, he was named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Ginóbili has also enjoyed success with the Argentina national team. He made his debut in 1998, and helped win the gold medal during the 2004 Olympics Basketball Tournament.

Ginóbili comes from a family of basketball players. His oldest brother, Leandro, retired in 2003 after seven years in the Argentine basketball league, while brother Sebastián has played in both the Argentine local league and in the Spanish 2nd-tier level Liga Española de Baloncesto. Their father Jorge was a coach at a club in Bahía Blanca, Argentina, where Ginóbili learned to play the game. Given the proliferation of basketball clubs in Bahía Blanca and his idolization of Michael Jordan, Ginóbili’s love for basketball grew rapidly.

Ginóbili has dual citizenship with Argentina and Italy, thanks to his Marchesan descent.  As a result of his travels, he can speak Spanish, Italian and English fluently. He used his Italian citizenship, while he played professional basketball in Italy. In his free time, Ginóbili enjoys listening to Latin music, watching movies and travelling. In 2004, he married fellow Argentine Marianela Oroño. On 16 May 2010, his wife gave birth to twin boys, Dante and Nicola. On April 21, 2014, his wife gave birth to their third son, Luca.

spurs-bowling-518x359-474x250Ginóbili made his professional debut in the Argentine basketball league for the Andino Sport Club team of La Rioja from 1995–1996, and was traded to Estudiantes de Bahía Blanca the next year.

The Argentine joined the Spurs for the 2002–03 NBA season, where he played backup for veteran guard Steve Smith. He spent much of the early season injured, and found it hard to adjust to the NBA’s style of play. As his injury improved, so did Ginóbili, winning the Western Conference Rookie of the Month in March, and being named to the All-Rookie Second Team at the end of the season. Still, he only started in five games as the Spurs chalked up a 60–22 regular season win–loss record. The Spurs then entered the playoffs eager to upend the defending champions Los Angeles Lakers, at which point, Ginóbili rose to prominence.

20161212_224713-529x335In contrast to his regular season, Ginóbili became an integral part of Gregg Popovich‘s rotational set up in the playoffs, playing in every game. The Spurs eliminated Phoenix and Los Angeles and in those games his scoring threat took opponents by surprise, giving them one more thing to cope with against the now highly favored Spurs. He helped guide them past the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals and then the New Jersey Nets in the Finals, securing San Antonio’s second championship. After the win, Ginóbili won his first Olimpia de Oro (“Golden Olympia”) as Argentina’s sportsperson of the year, and met Argentine president Néstor Kirchner.  A gym in Bahía Blanca was dedicated in Ginóbili’s honor as well.

Ginóbili played with the junior Argentine national team at the 1997 FIBA Under-21 World Championship, where his team finished in 4th place. Ginóbili is a member of the senior Argentine national basketball team, and made his senior debut during the 1998 FIBA World Championship in Athens. He also played at the 2002 FIBA World Championship, where he won a silver medal. His best accomplishment as a member of the national team came at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics when Argentina became the first team other than Team USA to win the gold medal in 16 years. The highlight of the tournament was his game-winning buzzer beater with 0.7 seconds remaining, on the opening day of the Olympics, in a game versus Serbia and Montenegro. Ginóbili led the team in both scoring (19.3 points per game) and assists (3.3 assists per game).

manu-ginobili-bus-665x359-474x250He played with Argentina at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, where his team finished in 4th place. Ginóbili was the flag bearer for Argentina at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics, which was held in Beijing, China. At the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics basketball tournament, Ginóbili’s Argentina defeated Lithuania to win the bronze medal game, although the shooting guard did not play in that match, after sustaining an injury in the tournament’s semifinals. In April 2010, Ginóbili announced that he would not participate in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, due to family reasons. He did however compete for the team at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, where Argentina narrowly missed out on winning the bronze medal, in the bronze medal game versus Russia. He also played at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, where Argentina finished in 8th place.

Ginóbili is a 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m), 205 lb (93 kg) left-handed shooting guard who has been deployed either as a sixth man or starter for the Spurs. He has established himself as a reliable and versatile back court presence, and was a relatively late bloomer, entering the NBA at age 25 in a period when entering the NBA as a teenager was very common.

Apart from his up-tempo and aggressive style of play, Ginóbili is known for his clutch play. This is documented by his numerous European league MVP awards, and his performances in San Antonio’s championship-winning campaigns. Ginóbili’s modus operandi however, causes concerns for some of his opponents. His go-to move is either a 3-pointer or a fierce attack to the basket, while he often lowers his head when driving to the basket to collapse defenses and create shots or passes to his teammates. Although Ginobili was not the originator or the first to bring the move to the NBA, he is credited for popularizing the Euro step in the league.

Tyson-8-529x423Ginobili is credited with being a team player, over his personal performance, such as his accepting the Spurs’ coaches decision of playing off the bench rather than being a starter. He is also known for his tough to defend passes such as the no-look pass and the pick-and-roll.

He is also willing to draw charges on defense. In 2007, he was even listed by ESPN writer Thomas Neumann at No. 6 on the list of greatest floppers in NBA history. Five years later, Ian Thomsen, a Sports Illustrated columnist, grouped Ginóbili with fellow European league players Anderson Varejão and Vlade Divac as the players who “made [flopping] famous”, by exaggerating contact on the court in a manner analogous to diving in soccer games.

He has a willingness to do what it takes to win, and to do it at the highest possible level of intensity, every single minute he steps on the court.

Having traversed the major basketball continents in his basketball career, Ginóbili is one of the few players who has enjoyed success under both the physical, one-on-one play of the NBA and the more technical, jump-shooting rule set of FIBA. He is one of only two players in basketball history, along with Bill Bradley, to win the EuroLeague, an Olympic gold medal, and an NBA Championship ring. He is also the first non-U.S. player to win both the NBA championship ring and the Olympic gold medal, and the second Latin American to be selected to play in an NBA All-Star game (after Panama‘s Rolando Blackman).

In 2007, ESPN sportswriter John Hollinger ranked Ginóbili as the sixth best international player then-active in the NBA, describing the 57th draft pick as “one of the great draft heists of all time”, and attributed the trend of NBA teams drafting developing European players to the success of the Argentine. The following year, Ginóbili was named by ESPN as one of the best EuroLeague players to have graced the NBA.

 

 

 

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Ronaldinho To Root For Russia After Being Warmly Received

2885558_full-lnd (1)On 20 and 21 May, the FIFA Confederations Cup Park opened  in Saint Petersburg, the main host city of the upcoming Tournament of Champions where the Opening Match and Final are to be staged later this summer. Governor of Saint Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko and legendary Brazilian forward Ronaldinho, who won both the FIFA World Cup™ and the FIFA Confederations Cup in his career, opened the park on Konyushennaya Square.

Following the opening ceremony, Ronaldinho was whisked off to another important destination, the FIFA Venue Ticketing Centre, where ticket sales are in full flow ahead of the tournament and where fans can pick up tickets bought online at FIFA.com/tickets.

“I really liked the ticketing centre, it was very well organised,” said Ronaldinho. “Anyone who hasn’t yet bought tickets to the Confederations Cup has a great chance to do that here.”

For the fans who decided to get their coveted tickets on Saturday afternoon, turning up to find a world-famous football star waiting for them was a staggering surprise. Kirill, for example, was there to print off his ticket for the Opening Match and bumped into his favourite footballer, someone he could never have dreamed of meeting.

“Ronaldinho is my hero from childhood!” said Kirill in amazement. “To me, he’s a footballing god. He had more talent than any other modern footballer. Can you imagine what it means for me to shake his hand and get his autograph? I have also already bought my ticket to the Confederations Cup Final. I’m very pleased and advise everyone to do the same!”

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Kosovo Fans Never Thought They Would See This

Beautiful things and priceless memories can come from paths you may not have initially chosen to follow. Kosovo’s Atdhe Nuhiu has found that out first-hand.

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Having moved to Austria aged six months, with his family fleeing the conflict in their homeland, the towering forward grew up among the central European mountains, before rising to become part of his adopted nation’s youth system. No surprise that he wanted to wear that shirt as a full international, but that dream never materialised.

The likes of David Alaba and Marko Arnautovic were his team-mates in the U-21s but, having been on the fringes of the first team, it became clear the chance was not going to come. “One door closes, another opens,” he told FIFA.com. Kosovo came calling and “I didn’t need to think twice.”

That gateway has led him to make history in land of his family, with Nuhiu heading Kosovo’s first ever competitive goal on home soil – a cathartic moment of elation for the Shkoder crowd, despite the 2-1 defeat to Iceland in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifier. “It was very nice for them and the goal made my family particularly happy,” he said of his debut strike, “especially my father as he’s a very patriotic guy [laughs].”

While the result was not what was hoped, the simple fact of seeing Kosovo compete on the world stage is still a reality that is awe-inspiring for their fans. “They cheered the goal in a way they are not used to, because this kind of [sporting] happiness is new to them,” Nuhiu explained. “Taking part in football, the Olympics, is a big thing and it’s more than pride.

“They suffered so much through the war and never believed they’d ever see Kosovo compete against somebody else. When people see the national team on TV they cry tears of happiness because they didn’t think they’d see that happening in this generation.”

Once this honeymoon period has dissipated, Nuhiu is confident the country of almost two million people can flourish, simply by looking at the Kosovan talent already dappled around world football. “There is the national team of Albania – half of whom are from Kosovo, plus [there are many] of the Switzerland team who could play for Kosovo too,” the Sheffield Wednesday striker said.

“We have players taking part in three national teams. [This shows the] the talent of players they have there. If you think about it, it’s a big thing! I think the future is there!”

Iceland prove dreams can come true
One such star is Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri. Nuhiu went to great lengths to show his support and understanding for Shaqiri representing the Alpine nation. The Stoke City player grew up there and, ultimately, the timelines between his rise and Kosovo’s emergence on the international stage don’t match up.

It is a scenario Nuhiu understands pointedly, as it reflects his own upbringing in Austria and desires to represent them, but the Switzerland midfielder’s visible pride in Kosovo resonates strongly with those back in the Balkan state. “You cannot blame him for playing for Switzerland, not at all,” Nuhiu states emphatically. “Everybody respects that as it’s the country he grew up in.

“When he won the Champions League [with Bayern Munich in 2013] his Switzerland flag was there alongside the Kosovan and Albanian flags. These kind of things show how together and how much it means for him to be part of Kosovo. A person who hasn’t lived there or isn’t from there can’t put themselves in this kind of situation.”

So, while he hopes the raw talent is in the pipeline, right now he sees the Russia 2018 qualifying campaign as one of growth and foundation-building. “Don’t forget that [Iceland was] the fifth game since Kosovo was accepted by FIFA and UEFA,” Nuhiu said. “We have to keep following this path together.”

With Turkey up next, previous opponents Iceland – following their run to the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-finals – stand as a model for them to follow in Nuhiu’s eyes, with regular points and potential qualification standing as goals for the future. “Why can’t we do it? They’re not a bigger country than us, population-wise, so they should be our example. But nothing goes from zero to 100 quickly.”

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Lions Roar In Abidjan

2883948_full-lndThe FIFA World Cup™ is the biggest show on earth; the holy grail for players from every corner of the globe. Before the international elite can convene at football’s top table, however, titanic battles are fought by some of the game’s top nations merely for the right to be there.

As the Russia 2018 qualifying campaign rumbles on, FIFA.com is looking back at the individual brilliance and never-to-be forgotten upsets that have defined preliminary campaigns of the past.

Few qualifiers down the years have been more dramatic than the classic encounter that Abidjan hosted in September 2005, when Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions spoiled the party Côte d’Ivoire had organised to celebrate a first-ever appearance at the FIFA World Cup finals.

The Summary
4 September 2005, Stade Houphouet-Boigny, Abidjan

Côte d’Ivoire 2-3 Cameroon
Scorers: Côte d’Ivoire (Drogba 38, 47); Cameroon (Webo 30, 44, 87)
Côte d’Ivoire: Gnanhouan, Boka, K Toure, Zokora, Zoro (Meite 57), Domoraud, Guel (Fae 46), B Kalou, Tiene (Demel 85), Drogba, Dindane.

Cameroon: Hamidou, Song, Kalla, Wome (Atouba 77), Fotso Njitap, Saidou, Makoun (Meyong Ze 81), Olembe (Djemba Djemba 70), Webo, Douala, Eto’o.

The Stakes
When the draw for the African preliminaries for the 2006 World Cup were first conducted in Zurich, it was expected that Group 3 would produce an absorbing tussle for top spot between Cameroon and Egypt. There were sympathetic words, meanwhile, for an up-and-coming Ivorian side, who for all their potential were not considered to have a realistic chance of challenging these continental giants, having failed to even qualify for the 2004 CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia.

Yet it did not take long for the pecking order to be turned on its head. Such had been the Ivorians’ impact on the group, in fact, that by the time they played host to second-placed Cameroon in their penultimate qualifier, Les Elephants knew that a win would take them to Germany 2006 with a game to spare. Desperate Cameroon, meanwhile, knew that anything other than a victory would effectively end their hopes of a fifth successive appearance at the FIFA World Cup finals.

The Story
It was an afternoon of nervous expectation, the tension given an added edge by the stifling humidity and raggedy look of the Stade Houphouet-Boigny. The stadium was packed to the rafters and then some, with spectators spilling over into the stairwells, aisles and every other vantage point they could find.

The Ivorian fans beat their drums hypnotically, but there was also an air of anxiety. WithLes Elephants’ first-choice goalkeeper Jean Jacques Tizie injured, Gerard Gnanhouan was a controversial replacement and the selection of captain Tchiressoa Guel – without a club at the time – also raised more than a few eyebrows. On the half-hour mark, the worst fears of these fans were realised when the normally reliable Kolo Toure committed a defensive clanger, leaving Achille Webo to break the deadlock with a deft lob.

Drogba, who had passed up the first real chance in the sixth minute, did not take long to bring the hosts back level, set up by the wing play of Aruna Dindane in the 38th minute. However, on the stroke of half-time, the home fans were silenced once again as Eto’o, Salomon Olembe and Jean Makoun combined to set up a headed goal for Webo.

Again, the Ivorians came storming back and, predictably, Drogba led the charge, magically curling home a long-range free kick to set the crowd off into refrains of their national anthem. It seemed that the Lions’ chance might have gone, and when Guy Demel was brought on to shore up the home defence for the final five minutes, it was clear that coach Henri Michel had decided to settle for a draw and look to the Ivorians’ final match in Sudan to make sure of qualification.

Few would have envisaged the dramatic conclusion provided when Tunisia referee Mourad Daami awarded Cameroon a free-kick three minutes from the end. Geremi Fotso Njitap stepped up to blast in one of his trademark shots and when the ball rebounded against the crossbar, Webo headed home to complete his hat-trick in the melee that followed. Cameroon had stolen a dramatic winner at the death.

The Star
Pierre Achille Webo Kouamo, to give him his full name, was the latest in a long-standing list of strike partners for Eto’o. While injuries and inconsistent form blighted the later years of his international career, that afternoon in Abidjan remains a career highlight and has given him almost mythical status in his homeland.

They Said
“A fantastic game. You have no idea what the three points meant to us. We were quietly confident before the match ands we knew we had top be determined if we were to continue to have the dream of going to the World Cup.

Cameroon’s goal hero Achille Webo

What happened next…
Amazingly, having seemingly done the hard work, Cameron threw away the chance they had engineered to claim a place at Germany 2006. A win in their final qualifier at home to Egypt would have been enough to see them through to a fifth successive final, and they seemed well on the way when Rudolph Douala settled their nerves with an early. However, panic set in when Mohamed Shawky was allowed to grab an equaliser 11 minutes from the end, silencing the party that had been going on in the stands.

Cameroon desperately pushed forward in search of a winner and were handed a lifeline when they were awarded a stoppage-time penalty. It proved to be the last kick of the game but Pierre Wome’s fateful strike hit the upright and bounced away to safety. The Ivorians had beaten Sudan just moments earlier and were waiting in the centre circle at Omdurman to hear the result from Yaounde, bursting into a frenzy of celebrations when the news came through. 

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Lewis Hamilton Puts In The Hard Yards To Keep Sebastian Vettel At Bay, Lewis Hamilton’s Barcelona Win Was An ‘Epic Race!!!!

hero1Lewis Hamilton used his last vestiges of energy when he leapt out of his Mercedes and into the arms of his euphoric mechanics. It was the 55th victory of a magnificent career, but few have required a physical effort as Herculean as this. The Circuit de Catalunya is notoriously demanding of drivers’ bodies, with its abrasive surface and high-speed corners, and Hamilton looked a husk in the wake of 66 laps of compelling duelling with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

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On the scales, he saw that he had lost 1.8 kilograms in weight. Hamilton had decided against carrying drinks in his car, to save on overall load, and even the jeroboam of champagne that he sprayed all over the podium here could barely have replaced the amount of fluid lost. But when he allows himself a look at the championship standings, with his deficit to Vettel cut to five points at the top, he can reflect that it was worth every drop.

In a race of see-sawing fortunes as the two outstanding drivers of their generation skirmished, Hamilton prevailed thanks both to his cussedness and the tactical astuteness of Mercedes’ engineers. He had lost the advantage of pole position by the first corner as Vettel dived down the inside, but an ingenious rethink by the Silver Arrows allowed him to attack his rival in the final stages on faster soft tyres. The plan worked to perfection as he swept past the German on lap 44 with a beautifully timed overtake, laying the platform for one of his finest and most richly -satisfying wins.

Hamilton lives for battles of this intensity. Having tired of the quarrelsome relationship with Nico Rosberg, his former team-mate, he relishes a straight, honest head-to-head with an opponent he likes and admires. “To stay on Seb was a killer,” he said. “He was so fast up ahead, it was such a push to keep up. It is the rawest fight I can remember having for some time, which I loved. This is how the sport needs to be every single race – it is what got me into racing from the beginning. To be able to have this battle with a four-time champion is awesome.”

Barely the width of a sheet of sugar paper can separate Hamilton and Vettel on this evidence. It is testament to their pre-eminence – and to the skill of their teams in the technological arms race – that even though both cars arrived in Barcelona with upgrades galore, they have never been closer on the track. A mere 51 hundredths of a second apart in qualifying, they jousted with the same ferocity throughout the grand prix, raising the prospect of a tussle that could extend unabated until the season’s climax in Abu Dhabi.

is (2)Where he developed a dynamic with Rosberg that was at best testy, at worst downright hostile, Hamilton describes the challenge of outsmarting Vettel as a “privilege”. Given that Vettel holds four world titles to his three, it is not as if he can claim superiority, but the warmth between them away from the asphalt appears genuine.

“Lewis won fair and square,” Vettel acknowledged. “I can’t take anything away from him.

The soundtrack of this Spanish Grand Prix was dominated by Hamilton’s huffing and puffing over the intercom. Vettel’s pass off the start line had forced the Briton into maximum attack mode throughout, and at several points he had to ask Pete Bonnington, his race engineer, to stop bothering him.

“Keep pushing, Lewis,” Bonnington urged, patiently but redundantly. Hamilton, flustered and out of breath, was pushing as hard as he was capable.

The level of threat from Ferrari has brought out another dimension in Mercedes, who are compelled to be tougher, cleverer and more adaptable than at any stage of their three-year supremacy in the sport. While there was dismay at Valtteri Bottas retiring with an engine failure, the combination of factors that propelled Hamilton to glory, from cute strategy calls to lightning-quick pit stops, showed that they would not be relinquishing their crown easily.

“It was an epic grand prix,” team principal Toto Wolff reflected. “Racing simply doesn’t go more wheel-to-wheel.”

Perhaps so, but there must be concern at the size of the gap that Mercedes and Ferrari have opened up on their pursuers. Vettel crossed the line 76 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in third as the Australian spent his Sunday on a solitary cruise through the Catalonian countryside. Force India merited an honourable mention as Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon took fourth and fifth, but they are miles behind the top two.

The disparities are becoming similarly stark within the teams. Bottas is a big talent, but he was comfortably out-performed by Hamilton all weekend, while Vettel’s brilliance – he has finished no worse than second in 2017 – leaves Kimi Raikkonen in the shade at Ferrari.

Raikkonen came to grief on the first lap after a tangle with Max Verstappen, but won the PR stakes by stopping for pictures with a young boy distraught at his idol’s early demise.

Bottas contributed to Hamilton’s victory by holding up Vettel for over two seconds, but the quadruple champion gained his revenge with a move for the ages. Dicing from one side of the track to the other, he befuddled Bottas with a manoeuvre that brought Ferrari staff to their feet in the team garage.

Gone are the days when Vettel’s driving genius was doubted. At 29, he is at the height of his powers for this slug-fest with Hamilton, three years his senior. We might only be a quarter of the way through this campaign, but the central prize-fight between two of F1’s most complex and obdurate characters feels like the only show in town.

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Michael Jordan Says Congratulations To Derek Jeter

avatar10Derek,

A legacy is built by more than what is seen. It is not given, it is earned.

Beyond your 20 years in the majors and an endless list of accolades, it was your love and respect for the game that set you apart.

Your pursuit of greatness on and off the field has set the standard for others to follow.

Much RE2PECT on cementing your legacy and having your No. 2 jersey retired.

Congratulations.

Your friend,

Michael

20140907_DEREK_JETER_DAY_AGH_1782-1-340x192

 Derek Sanderson Jeter is an American former professional baseball shortstop who played 20 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees. A five-time World Series champion, Jeter is regarded as a central figure of the Yankees’ success of the late 1990s and early 2000s for his hitting, base running, fielding, and leadership. He is the Yankees’ all-time career leader in hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602) and at bats (11,195). His accolades include 14 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. Jeter became the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits and finished his career sixth all-time in career hits and the all-time MLB leader in hits by a shortstop.

The Yankees drafted Jeter out of high school in 1992, and he debuted in the major leagues at age 21 in 1995. The following year, he became the Yankees’ starting shortstop, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and helped the team win the 1996 World Series. Jeter continued to contribute during the team’s championship seasons of 1998–2000; he finished third in voting for the American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1998, recorded multiple career-high numbers in 1999, and won both the All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP Awards in 2000. He consistently placed among the AL leaders in hits and runs scored for most of his career, and served as the Yankees’team captain from 2003 until his retirement in 2014. Throughout his career, Jeter contributed reliably to the Yankees’ franchise successes. He holds many postseason records, and has a .321 batting average in the World Series. Jeter has earned the nicknames of “Captain Clutch” and “Mr. November” due to his outstanding play in the postseason.

Jeter is one of the most heavily marketed athletes of his generation and is involved in several product endorsements. His personal life and relationships with celebrities have drawn the attention of the media throughout his career. Teammates and opponents alike regard Jeter as a consummate professional and one of the best players of his generation.

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Qatar Airways Announced As Official Partner And Official Airline Of FIFA Until 2022

2882922_full-lndQatar Airways was announced today as an Official Partner and the Official Airline of FIFA as part of a sponsorship package lasting until 2022. Upcoming events sponsored by Qatar Airways will include the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017, the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, the FIFA Club World Cup, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019™ and the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™.

As an Official Partner of FIFA, Qatar Airways will have extensive marketing and branding rights at the next two FIFA World Cups, with an expected audience reach of more than two billion people per tournament. It will also have visibility at competitions such as the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the FIFA Futsal World Cup and the FIFA Interactive World Cup, the world’s largest online gaming tournament.

The partnership represents one of the biggest sporting sponsorships in the world and the largest in the history of Qatar Airways. Today’s announcement builds on Qatar Airways’ sponsorship strategy with major sporting clubs and events around the globe, which includes partnerships with FC Barcelona and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli FC, as well as with Formula E races in Paris and New York, and the UCI Road World Championships, most recently held in Doha, Qatar.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways understands the power of sport in bringing people together in the spirit of friendly competition. FIFA, as the governing body of the world’s most popular sporting tournament, the FIFA World Cup, embodies the power of football’s popularity, and as such is a natural partner for Qatar Airways. We look forward to celebrating wins with the fans, being inspired by the artistry of the players, and to the excitement of each match over the next two FIFA competition cycles, until the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will be proudly held in our home country, the State of Qatar.”

C_OXhoeXsAAhm_wSpeaking about the new partnership FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said: “FIFA is delighted to partner with the world’s fastest-growing airline, Qatar Airways. Known for introducing industry firsts, Qatar Airways is an ideal partner for FIFA as we prepare for the first ever World Cup in the Gulf region, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. We look forward to working hand in hand with Qatar Airways to promote FIFA competitions and football around the world.”

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is an association governed by Swiss law founded in 1904 and based inZurich. It has 211 member associations and its goal, enshrined in its Statutes, is the constant improvement of football.

Qatar Airways is one of the fastest-growing airlines operating one of the youngest fleets in the world, with 199 aircraft flying to more than 150 key business and leisure destinations across six continents. Exciting new destinations being launched in 2017 include Nice, France; Dublin, Republic of Ireland; Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina; and Skopje, the Republic of Macedonia.

Upcoming events sponsored by Qatar Airways include 2018 FIFA World Cup 2018™ in Russia, FIFA Confederations Cup and 2022 FIFA World Cup™ in Qatar.

About Qatar Airways:

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Qatar Airways, based in Doha’s award-winning Hamad International Airport, is celebrating 20 years of Going Places Together with travelers across its more than 150 business and leisure destinations plus 10 years of flying to the United States. The world’s fast growing airline will add a number of exciting new destinations to its growing network in 2017; including, Auckland which began in February,Chiang Mai, Dublin, Nice, Skopje and many more, flying passengers on board its modern fleet of 199 aircraft.

A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was awarded World’s Best Business Class; Best Business Class Airline Lounge and Best Airline Staff Service in the Middle East at the prestigious 2016 World Airline Awards managed by international air transport rating organization Skytrax.

Qatar Airways is a member of the oneworld global alliance. The award-winning alliance was named the World’s Best Airline Alliance 2015 by Skytrax for the third year running. Qatar Airways was the first Gulf carrier to join global airline alliance, oneworld, enabling its passengers to benefit from more than 1,000 airports in more than 150 countries, with 14,250 daily departures.

Oryx One, Qatar Airways’ in-flight entertainment system offers passengers up to 3,000 entertainment options from the latest blockbuster movies, TV box sets, music, games and much more. Passengers flying on Qatar Airways flights served by its B787, A350, A380, A319 and select A320 and A330 aircraft can also stay in touch with their friends and family around the world by using the award-winning airline’s on-board Wi-Fi and GSM service.

Qatar Airways proudly supports a range of exciting international and local initiatives dedicated to enriching the global community that it serves. Qatar Airways sponsors world-leading sports teams including FC Barcelona and Al-Ahli Saudi Arabia FC reflecting the values of sports as a means of bringing people together, something at the core of the airline’s own brand message – Going Places Together.

Qatar Airways Cargo, the world’s third largest cargo carrier, serves more than 50 exclusive freighter destinations worldwide via its Dohahub and also delivers freight to more than 150 key business and leisure destinations globally on 199 aircraft. The Qatar Airways Cargo fleet now includes eight Airbus 330Fs, 11 Boeing 777 freighters and one Boeing 747 freighter.

 

 

 

 

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Ayovi Dreaming Of Korea Republic Glory

2883232_full-lndEcuador are currently finalising their preparations in Quito ahead of travelling to Korea Republic to participate at their third FIFA U-20 World Cup – and first in six years. They have a squad of players dreaming of glory, and none more so than Wilter Ayovi, who will be tasked with striking fear into opposition defences.

“We’re convinced we’re going to be world champions,” he told FIFA.com at his team’s base. “That’s why we’re all here and why we look out for each other. It won’t be easy, but that’s the reason we’re going there – not to just try to get past the first round.” 

Ayovi is one of the latest in a series of talented players with the same surname to emerge in Ecuadorian football. “I’m always asked if I’m related to them, but I’m not,” he said. “However, it does motivate me to try to get to that level.

“His roots in the game set him apart from his namesakes: he is part of the youth system at Independiente del Valle, the club contributing most players to Ecuador’s trip to Korea Republic. Six of the 21 players in the squad ply their trade there, while two more – Bryan Cabezas and Joao Rojas – came through the ranks at the club before being transferred.

His roots in the game set him apart from his namesakes: he is part of the youth system at Independiente del Valle, the club contributing most players to Ecuador’s trip to Korea Republic. Six of the 21 players in the squad ply their trade there, while two more – Bryan Cabezas and Joao Rojas – came through the ranks at the club before being transferred.

Independiente del Valle are currently second in the Ecuadorian league and can count 14 of the 28 members of the first team squad as graduates from their own youth academy. Ayovi, who made his debut at the end of 2015 at the age of 18, is one of them. He did not feature regularly until this year, however, after having developed his ability as an “inside-out winger on the left or as a playmaker”.

“My mentality when I’m on the ball has improved a lot,” he continued. “I used to be a little bit scared and be worried about bigger players hitting me. I learned that if I didn’t get hit I wouldn’t be a footballer at all. There’s always going to be contact in football.”

Ayovi has also added more variety to his play and now describes himself as “a skilful dribbler with a good shot from distance”. Ecuador U-20 coach Javier Rodriguez fields him in right midfield, although Ayovi himself prefers to play more centrally “because that way the ball always goes through me, which is what I like”.

At the South American U-20 Championship, where Ecuador finished runners-up to Uruguay, Ayovi learned that international football is very different to the domestic game: “You have to run a lot and you have to be in great shape physically in order to last the 90 minutes. It’s more tiring because you’re playing for your country and you have to give everything Ecuador expects of us.

“Indeed, he does not believe the fact that several players in Ecuador’s U-20 World Cup squad have experience in the domestic top flight back home will be particularly advantageous: “It’s not the same. Here, the players don’t press as much, as they do at international level. At the World Cup, there’ll be more pressure, it’ll go back and forth and it’ll be pretty physical.

“At Korea Republic 2017, they will face USA, Senegal and Saudi Arabia in Group F, but prior to the team’s departure on Sunday 14 May, the youngsters are keeping themselves entertained by playing as Neymar and Lionel Messi on FIFA 17. “I always play with Barcelona,” Ayovi said. “Neymar’s my favourite because he’s got so much skill, but I also like Messi because he dribbles as if the ball was stuck to his foot with glue.

 

 

 

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Icons Of Women’s Football History Set To Grace Edinburgh Festival

2883703_full-lndOver 130 years of women’s football is set to unfold on stage during the prestigious Edinburgh Festival this August, it has been announced, in the shape of theatre production ‘Offside’.

The three-woman show has been tackling the challenges women have faced in football, using figures from history and modern-day fictitious characters. Since taking their opening bow they have not only engaged and enlightened, but also helped rewrite history regarding Britain’s first black female player.

Using interviews with players and staff up and down Manchester City and Millwall’s ladies’ teams, director Caroline Bryant formed the ground work for the play, eventually written by Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish. “One of the first players I interviewed at Manchester City was a goalkeeper for a number of years and right at the end of her career,” Bryant explained.

“I asked her how it felt to see these younger players being paid, whereas she had done the same without financial recompense alongside a full-time job. She said: ‘That’s fine, I’m a pioneer.’ That word pioneer really pulled me in.”

Early 20th century icon Lily Parr features, as well as Emma Clarke – a black Liverpudlian playing in Scotland in the 1880s. The latter has in fact transformed since the play’s inception, having inspired research into her history – having been confused her with team-mate Carrie Boustead.

“[Playing her] has been very moving,” said Tanya-Loretta Dee. “A black footballer at that time, who was a woman – it’s nuts that that she was allowed to play in the first place. All the discovery that has come about over the last few months has been awesome.

“It’s been great to see the reactions from women’s players who have really connected with the play. We’ve cried, we’ve laughed, we’ve learned and it’s making a difference in a positive way.”

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