MICHAIL ANTONIO INTERVIEW!
The West Ham superstar chats heading, targets, celebrations, England and loads more!
You’ve played all over the pitch for West Ham! Do you want to nail down a position?
MICHAIL SAYS: “I’m one of those players where as long as I’m playing, I play for the team. If the boss needs me to play somewhere, I’ll do it! But if I was picking the team, I’d be on the wing – I prefer the left.”
You score a lot of goals with your head...
MICHAIL SAYS: “As long as it hits the back of the net, I don’t mind! I’m not far off the Premier League record of nine headed goals in a season, but if I break that record or score more with my feet, I don’t care. Even if it goes in off my back, I’ll take it!”
You’ve had lots of awesome celebrations – what have you got lined up next?
MICHAIL SAYS: “I did the Thriller dance when I scored against Tottenham, but I need some more suggestions! I want someone on Twitter to choose one for me because I’m running out of ideas! But it has to be in the right circumstances – I can’t pull out a new celebration when we’re losing!”
Can you get back into the England squad?
MICHAIL SAYS: “It’s definitely one of the aims I’ve put in place for myself. I’ll just have to keep performing and make sure I can’t be overtaken. Getting called up was overwhelming – I cried when I found out! But it was a great experience to be there with the elite players and I enjoyed every moment.”
What do you think of Gareth Southgate?
MICHAIL SAYS: “He’s a really nice guy. Gareth knows the players, he’s done well so far and he’s just got to keep going. He’s a leader – he takes charge in training and does loads of work with the players!”
Michail was talking to MATCH at the PlayStation Schools’ Cup – the biggest grassroots football tournament in the country! Here’s what he had to say about it...
MICHAIL SAYS: “It’s a really great event – it’s definitely the biggest school competition in the country! I always go back to my school, and I really enjoy this type of thing.”
MICHAIL SAYS: “When I was young, to represent my school was huge – we loved it! Playing footy, going around to other schools... we’d have loved to have had this kind of opportunity.”
MICHAIL SAYS: “The kids here are so lucky – most of them want to grow up and play in the Premier League, so to get the opportunity to meet their idols is amazing! The first pro players I ever met were when I signed for Reading!”
To find out more about the tournament, visit www.playstationschoolscup.com
MATCH spoke to the speedy full-back recently, and he told us all about his Spurs team-mates!
DANNY SAYS: “The best trainer, other than the goalkeepers, is Harry Kane. He gives the same dedication, application and desire every single day without fail. He always does extra training and extra finishing – he deserves everything he gets because of how professional he is.”
DANNY SAYS: “Mousa Dembele – he’s the most difficult to tackle. The Belgian and Dutch players play Futsal growing up, and he’s one of the best at it. He’s made half the Premier League look silly with his skills, and we have to suffer that every day in training! He’s a joy to watch.”
DANNY SAYS: “I’d probably say Dele Alli – he’s always winding people up and recording everyone on his Snapchat. He likes to wind up Eric Dier all the time. Those two tend to go at it quite a lot!”
DANNY SAYS: “I’d say Kyle Walker or Moussa Sissoko. When I started as a player, people used to come in and test how fast you could sprint over 10, 20 and 30 metres. We’ve stopped doing that recently, so it’d be interesting to see who’d win at Spurs!”
DANNY SAYS: “I’d say Dele! Not in terms of common sense, but he’s not very good at knowing old players. I know he’s only young, but if you asked him about a player from ten years ago, you’d have to explain who he played for!”
DANNY SAYS: “Harry Kane – he’s the DJ. He plays a bit of everything – Chris Brown, Craig David, Justin Bieber. I don’t mind his music, it depends on what mood I’m in before a game as to whether I listen to my own music or his. There’s always music on in the changing rooms.”
BEST AT FIFA!
DANNY SAYS: “I think it’s out of Dele or Sissoko – we have FIFA at the training ground so we sometimes play it there. Moussa has a portable PlayStation that he carries around with him and uses when we travel to away games. I used to be really good at it, but now I’m horrific!”
DANNY SAYS: “One’s Danny Welbeck – I first played against him when I was 11 at Leeds and he was at Man. United. Ever since, we’ve got on really well. The other is Fabian Delph – I joined Leeds when I was 11 and he was already there. Straightaway, he looked after me and helped me settle in. We speak every week!”
Danny Rose was supporting the biggest grassroots football tournament in the country – the PlayStation Schools’ Cup. Since its launch, over 150,000 players have been involved. Visit www.playstationschoolscup.com
MATCH caught up with Middlesbrough defender George Friend recently, and he told us all about the Boro dressing room...
GEORGE SAYS: “Gaston Ramirez is a very skilful player, but I’d have to go for Alvaro Negredo. He’s a big, tall, strong player but he’s got amazing feet. When we do little possession drills in training, he can make a fool out of a lot of people, including me!”
GEORGE SAYS: “Adama Traore, for sure. Even when he’s jogging, he’s still the fastest by miles! Adama’s the fastest player I’ve ever played with or against, and I think the Premier League’s seeing that now. I’d put myself in the top five at the club.”
GEORGE SAYS: “I would say Bernardo Espinosa – he’s from Colombia, but he speaks better English than some of the English lads! He’s very modest, but he has quite cultured conversations. He’s a very intelligent guy.”
DRESSING ROOM DJ!
GEORGE SAYS: “Viktor Fischer and Bernardo Espinosa – they both tend to pick the music. When Viktor signed, he brought in a speaker to the dressing room. They’ll play a bit of dance and house music, but I’m into country music and that never gets played!”
BEST FASHION SENSE!
GEORGE SAYS: “Viktor Fischer’s pretty on top of what he wears, too. He gets a bit of stick, but I think he looks quite smart. He’s got some nice leather jackets and stuff like that. He looks a bit like a pilot sometimes, but I think it works for him!”
WORST FASHION SENSE!
GEORGE SAYS: “Probably Adam Clayton! Only because he can look really smart one day in some nice fitted gear, then he’ll completely let himself down. There’s a lack of consistency! He wears some really ill-fitting tracksuits!”
GEORGE SAYS: “Daniel Ayala works very hard all the time – he’s always in the gym working on his fitness. Whenever he goes out he trains very hard. He’ll work on his heading a lot too, being a defender.”
GEORGE SAYS: “We don’t really have a worst trainer, but Adama Traore cuts it very fine when making it on time. He always seems to get there just on the dot, probably because he’s so fast! He’ll give himself like a minute to get out onto the training pitch once he arrives.”
George Friend was talking to MATCH at the 10th anniversary of the Premier League Kicks social inclusion programme. The Kicks Ambassador presented Middlesbrough FC Foundation participant-turned coach Jack Wilson with a bespoke Kicks Hero comic illustration to celebrate his contribution to the scheme.
10 OF MESSI'S BIGGEST ARGENTINA MOMENTS
MATCH takes a look back at ten of Lionel Messi's top moments for his country!
1. DEBUT DISASTER!
Leo’s first game was against Hungary in 2005, but he only spent two minutes on the pitch before being sent off for lashing out at a defender!
2. GOAL NO.1!
His first goal was v Croatia in 2006, and it was classic Messi! He cut in from the right and curled the ball past the keeper!
3. WORLD CUP WONDERKID!
Messi’s World Cup debut against Serbia & Montenegro in 2006 made him Argentina’s youngest-ever World Cup player!
4. COPA HEARTACHE!
Messi scored twice and won the Young Player Of The Tournament award on his way to the 2007 Copa America Final, but he lost 3-0 to Brazil!
5. GOLD MEDALIST!
Argentina got their revenge against Brazil in the Olympic semis in 2008, as Messi fired his team to the first and only international title of his career!
6. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC!
After new manager Alejandro Sabella was put in charge in 2011, one of the first things he did was make Messi the team’s skipper!
7. WORLD CUP FINAL AGONY!
Leo won the Golden Ball at World Cup 2014, but it was heartbreak again as Argentina were beaten in the final by Germany!
8. COPA NIGHTMARE!
One year after the World Cup defeat, Messi lost another final as Argentina were beaten on pens by Chile at the 2015 Copa America!
9. RECORD BREAKER!
At this summer’s Copa America, Messi overtook Gabriel Batistuta’s record of 54 goals for Argentina with a free-kick against USA!
10. COPA CRISIS!
Once again, he inspired his country to a final, and once again they lost on pens! Leo fired his spot-kick over the bar as Chile won the Copa again! He retired from international football after the match, but changed his mind two months later!
SPENCERFC CHATS HASHTAG UNITED!
The YouTube legend spoke to MATCH all about how his team are going to take over the footy world!
HOW LONG HAVE HASHTAG UNITED BEEN GOING?
SPENCER SAYS: “Hashtag United started last February as an idea me and my brother Seb had. We already had a five-a-side team with our mates called Hashtag United which was just for fun, and we signed up a few extra friends to get a full eleven-a-side team together.”
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?
SPENCER SAYS: “I’ve been making football videos for a long time, and I always wanted to do real life matches. That’s why we did the Wembley Cup – a big, one-off game with loads of YouTubers! They’re really cool but we can only do it once a year, so I thought it would be great to play regularly with my friends!”
HOW DID IT GET STARTED?
SPENCER SAYS: “I filmed a game with my mates that got loads of interest, and then we got challenged to a match by a YouTube channel. We played them twice and beat them, so we created the team and started playing more games!”
YOU'VE HAD SOME WICKED MOMENTS WITH HASHTAG!
SPENCER SAYS: “Yeah – our third game was at Wembley! It was special because it was with friends that I’ve known since I was five years old. We played one of the final games at Upton Park as well. As a West Ham fan, that was great!”
HOW GOOD ARE THE TEAM?
SPENCER SAYS: “I think we’ve got the best strike force outside the National League! We’ve got four or five guys in the team that could play semi-pro, but others are more suited to Sunday League sides! So it’s a real mixture, and I’m slap bang in the middle.”
WHY DO YOU THINK IT'S BEEN SO POPULAR?
SPENCER SAYS: “It’s the stories alongside it. We never boast about our football skills, but we make it entertaining. No other Sunday league team plays at Wembley, against ex-pros, or travels abroad. We’ve lucked our way to this situation, and we’re saying, ‘come along on the ride!’”
WHAT FOOTY ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG FAN?
SPENCER SAYS: “When I started playing at 13, I only played because I was the one kid that could head the ball! I didn’t start getting into the team on merit until I was 16! But if you love something like I love football, even if you’re not the best player, you can make a career out of it!”
PHILIPPE COUTINHO INTERVIEW!
The Liverpool superstar chats injuries, targets, Anfield, Klopp and loads more!
How frustrating was it to be out for so long?
COUTINHO SAYS: “It was a bad time and I was worried. I really hope it’s the last injury of this campaign because all I want to do is play football. My target now is to get in perfect condition and return to my best as quickly as possible. I’m getting more confident all the time and I just need minutes on the pitch to do it.”
THE INJURY LOOKED REALLY BAD...
COUTINHO SAYS: “It was. The blow to my ankle was very hard and very painful. First of all, I thought I was going to miss the whole season, but the medical tests were more positive and the physios have worked very well with me. I have to thank them for that.”
WHAT HAVE YOU MADE OF LIVERPOOL'S SEASON?
COUTINHO SAYS: “I think we’re playing well in the Premier League and we’re still in the title race. At the moment Chelsea are the leaders but we have a chance to fight for the title, that’s for sure. It’s a big, big motivation for us!”
YOUR GAFFER JURGEN KLOPP LOOKS FUN TO WORK WITH!
COUTINHO SAYS: “He’s a very good manager. He’s actually very serious with the players and very concentrated on the system we play. He’s one of the most professional coaches I’ve worked with.”
WHAT TRAINING DO YOU DO?
COUTINHO SAYS: “We work hard on our passing game, because our manager likes this playing style. There’s no secret – you just have to practise a lot, then you start to make the right decisions. Confidence comes with repeating actions lots of times in training.”
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL DRILLS?
COUTINHO SAYS: “Something we do a lot is playing three short passes then switching the play with a long ball. This helps the forwards escape their markers and open up spaces on the pitch quickly.”
CAN YOU WIN THE TITLE?
COUTINHO SAYS: “My dream is to win the title this season, but we know it won’t be easy. We’re a team every club wants to beat, and every match feels like a final. That’s the life at a super-club like Liverpool. That’s why I wanted to come here in the first place.”
IS THERE EXTRA PRESSURE AT ANFIELD BECAUSE OF THAT?
COUTINHO SAYS: “There’s always more pressure to win at a club as big as Liverpool. We’re used to that. We know we have to fight to win trophies and we have to play at our best and with the right intensity every match. There is honestly no such thing as an easy game in the Premier League. It’s what I love about football in England!”
WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL GOALS FOR THIS YEAR?
COUTINHO SAYS: “I want to win titles with Liverpool of course, but I also want to keep getting better as a player and to do even more for this team.”
Legendary striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic chats about trophies, Jose Mourinho, Wayne Rooney, United’s fans & loads more!
ZLATAN ON... WINNING THE PREM!
ZLAT SAYS: “It’d be fantastic. We have been a bit unlucky in certain games, but we believe. I will win it – I have this vision! But we need to work hard and do everything to win.”
ZLATAN ON... UNITED!
ZLAT SAYS: “It’s perhaps the biggest club I’ve played for! The only one I can compare it to is Milan. It’s a massive club with great fans, and I want to be as successful as possible!”
ZLATAN ON... STAYING MOTIVATED!
ZLAT SAYS: “Trophies is what it’s all about! For me, the more trophies we can collect the nicer it is – and then after your career you can look back and see how much you won. It’s important!”
ZLATAN ON... WINNING TROPHIES!
ZLAT SAYS: “Every trophy is important, that’s what you are playing for. You try to win every tournament you are in. So if we win things it’d be fantastic, no matter what the competition is!”
ZLATAN ON... THE EUROPA LEAGUE!
ZLAT SAYS: “It’s a big trophy, it doesn’t matter what people say. The manager wants to win it – you can see he is putting out strong teams – and I think the players want to win it too!”
ZLATAN ON... ROONEY!
ZLAT SAYS: “I’ve been lucky enough to get to know him, and as a player there are no bad words to say – he’s the perfect player! I said many years ago, the perfect partner for a striker is Wayne Rooney!”
ZLATAN ON... JOSE!
ZLAT SAYS: “He knows everything about the game – he’s a mastermind! When the chance came for him to be my coach again at United, it was an easy decision. Who wouldn’t want to be coached by him?”
ZLATAN ON... THE FANS!
ZLAT SAYS: “The United fans are amazing – I have this feeling in every game that they are the 12th man on the field. I’ve played in many countries and for many big teams, but the supporters here are something else!”
PART ONE – THE START OF THE JOURNEY
Tammy Abraham is a real-life Alex Hunter! Like the star of FIFA 17’s The Journey, Tammy started his career at a Premier League club before being loaned out to the Championship. He tells MATCH all about his journey...
STARTING MY CAREER
TAMMY SAYS: “I started out aged seven in a team with my friends. We played in tournaments and just kept winning – we had a really good side! We got scouted by clubs like Arsenal, West Ham and Chelsea. Ovie Ejaria was in the team and he’s just played for Liverpool!”
TAMMY SAYS: “I’ve got a younger brother who plays, too – he’s 15 and at Charlton. We’re really competitive and we’re both strikers, so we love scoring goals! He’ll come home and say, ‘I scored two, how many did you score?’”
TAMMY SAYS: “I was seven when I joined Chelsea. I got scouted and went for trials at the training ground in Battersea, then progressed to the Academy at Cobham. My first few games I went to watch were them, so it’s always been Chelsea!”
MY FOOTBALL HERO
TAMMY SAYS: “My idols growing up were all-round strikers, like Didier Drogba. Seeing him off the pitch really inspired me, too. When I was about eight, he picked me up from the front of the training ground and dropped me off at the academy! I was so excited!”
TAMMY SAYS: “When I was around ten I was a defender because I was always the biggest! But I just kept running forward to try to score goals, so eventually I got moved forward. That’s when I found out that I liked scoring goals, so I settled on being a striker!”
MY MAIN STRENGTHS
TAMMY SAYS: “I’m a hard worker, skilful and I like to score goals! I’ve got good speed and I like to use my strength. I try to find a weakness in my opponent and use my strengths to capitalise on them!”
MY FOOTBALL MATES
TAMMY SAYS: “Me and Fikayo Tomori started together aged seven and made our way up to the 21s, and he made his debut with me against Leicester! We came through with Dominic Solanke and Kasey Palmer, who I played against before Christmas – that was weird!”
For more about EA SPORTS FIFA 17 The Journey and to live your Alex Hunter story, head to https://www.easports.com/uk/fifa/the-journey
MATCH caught up with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill recently, and he told us all about The Blues’ dressing room...
GAZ SAYS: “This might sound boring, but our DJ is the kit man! If you want a song on, you go and request it. Our playlist is the most random thing ever because you have Brazilian songs, Spanish songs, then English ones. But normally it comes from Willian, Oscar or Diego with Brazilian music.”
GAZ SAYS: “Willian is the one that always seems to make a lot of effort, but he carries it off well too. He wears all sorts – generally it’s smart – he just looks well dressed. Some lads just wear tracksuits and hoodies, but he never does.”
GAZ SAYS: “Probably Ivanovic, who just isn’t bothered at all! I can see why – he probably just wants to get his tracksuit on, come to work and go home, and he’ll tell you he’s got no one to impress in our changing room!”
GAZ SAYS: “Probably the skipper John Terry. There are so many languages at our club, so naturally in certain environments people speak in their own languages. When Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard moved on, it just ended up with me and John Terry speaking English to each other!”
GAZ SAYS: “Diego Costa, and it’s crazy because he hardly speaks any English! You see him on the pitch as being aggressive, but off the pitch he acts like a ten-year-old kid. He might not even be doing something that funny, but he’s always looking to do something crazy!”
GAZ SAYS: “Nobody’s too vain in our club, which is a good thing I suppose. Maybe someone like Thibaut – he spends a lot of time in the mirror doing his hair. Most of the time I come in and my hair is just a mess, but he would definitely make sure his looked alright!”
GAZ SAYS: “I’d say Begovic. He stands out because we were doing a quiz not long ago and he seemed to know the answer to loads of questions – things you wouldn’t expect. So, I’d probably say him.”
GAZ SAYS: “Everyone just acts like kids! One of the things that’s been going on recently is when you come down from the canteen, people jump out at you. You’d be holding your dinner, and there was food going everywhere for about two weeks! You’d have to check the reflection in the window to make sure no-one was there!”
Gary was supporting the biggest grassroots football tournament in the country – the PlayStation Schools’ Cup. Since its launch, over 150,000 players have been involved. Visit www.playstationschoolscup.com
ALEX IWOBI INTERVIEW!
The Arsenal and Nigeria wonderkid chats targets, his style of play and loads more!
ALEX SAYS: “Confidence is something I’ve had to pick up over the years, because when I was younger I wasn’t the most confident player. But I’ve always been told to be confident, believe in your ability and express yourself all the time. So I guess when I’m on the pitch, I’m just a different person.”
ALEX SAYS: “I’m not quite an established Arsenal player yet, and I’ve still got a long way to go. There are a lot of players in this side competing with me. I just hope I can maintain my spot in the first team.”
ALEX SAYS: “I didn’t expect to score two goals last season, so I’m just hoping to play more this season and get more goals and assists. I don’t really set myself personal targets – I take everything game by game.”
ALEX SAYS: “My biggest strengths are that I’m a creative player, I like to keep the ball moving and just play it as I see it. The manager lets me do what I want to do and gives me freedom to roam around.”
HIS BEST POSITION...
ALEX SAYS: “When I was younger I played right-back and in central midfield, but eventually I settled as an attacker. My best position is behind the striker in the No.10 role – that’s where I feel most comfortable on the pitch. I’ve played out wide, but I still drift inside – it’s just natural for me to come inside.”
ALEX SAYS: “I want to help the team win the title this season. We definitely need to win something – we all play in competitions to win, so to win a trophy will be one of our goals!”
MY INITIATION SONG...
ALEX SAYS: “I was so bad I had to do it twice! It was so embarrassing! The first song was Drake, ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’, but those are the only words I know, so I was just repeating it over and over. It was shocking! After that I had to sing Happy Birthday to Arsenal, not even to anyone else, just to Arsenal. Wojciech Szczesny didn’t let it go!
“So then I had to do it again when we went to Galatasaray away – I sang Mario, ‘Just A Friend’. I hated it. Lukas Podolski was there, and he knew about my terrible performance the first time, so he made sure I did it again standing on a chair! The gaffer was there this time, and I could just feel his eyes on me. It was horrible!”
Alex Iwobi was supporting the biggest grassroots football tournament in this country – the PlayStation Schools’ Cup Festival. Check out www.playstationschoolscup.com for more details.
MATCHDAY WITH HARRY KANE!
The ace Tottenham and England striker talks through his routine ahead of big matches!
HAVE AN EARLY NIGHT
HARRY SAYS: “The night before a game is all about getting an early night. I usually get a good night’s sleep. I’ve never really had a problem with that. I fall asleep quite easily, even ahead of big games!”
HARRY SAYS: “I think a lot about the game, so I constantly picture different scenarios I may find myself in in front of goal. Of course, most of the time it doesn’t happen, but it’s something I’ve always done to make sure I’m prepared.”
HARRY SAYS: “After a good rest, I’ll wake up and think through some more scenarios while listening to a bit of music. To be honest, I get excited about games as opposed to being nervous. I just want to get out there!”
ARRIVING AT THE GROUND
HARRY SAYS: “If I have headphones on when you see me getting off the team bus, I’ll probably be listening to R&B – anything from the Usher kind of era. I’m not in charge of the dressing room music, though!”
HARRY SAYS: “During the warm-up we do finishing drills, and I’ll know whether I’m on my game or not from that. Just from the contact I’m making on the ball and the movement I’m making – if I feel bang on, I just want the game to start!”
HARRY SAYS: “Once it comes to walking down the tunnel and starting the game, everything becomes natural. You go into a zone where you start making movements and runs and you don’t have much time to think about it. Then in a split-second, a ball falls to you and you don’t have time to think!”
DURING THE GAME
HARRY SAYS: “I know when I’m on my game that I’ll be ready to take the first chance that falls to me! Every game goes pretty quickly, too – apart from the ones where you score in the first minute and have to hold on!”
GO FOR THE WIN
HARRY SAYS: “I’m a winner – if it’s a race in the playground or if I’m playing tennis with my brother, I always want to win. That mode always sets in, no matter what I’m doing. I try to be the best I can be and never let anybody down.”
Harry Kane wears the Nike Dark Lightning Pack Hypervenom. For more on Nike’s collection, check out nike.com
THE F2 INTERVIEW!
MATCH spoke to the sickest skillers on the planet recently about all things F2!
How did you guys meet?
BILLY SAYS: “When we were early teens, we were both at a football event in Redbridge. I was there as a freestyler, and Jez was there too freestyling for another company. I looked at him performing and thought, ‘Wow, this kid’s amazing.’ We just got talking straight away, we clicked, and stayed in touch from there.”
How difficult was it to focus on freestyle over football?
BILLY SAYS: “It was the biggest decision of my life to date. To give up football at 19 years old, when I was playing top level semi-pro, one or two leagues away from being a pro. I saw an opportunity with the tricks, I was much closer to being the best at freestyling in the world than I was playing. Why not try being the best in the world at something?”
Do you ever get jealous when watching games?
JEZ SAYS: “Every single day it happens. Any football match I go to or I watch on the TV, it’s just a tease. You wanna be out there! When we film with the pros, technically there’s no real difference between us. What they do on the pitch might be different, we might not be able to do that, but if it’s control, pinging the ball, shooting, touch… we match the best in the world.”
Messi or Ronaldo?
JEZ SAYS: “Messi.”
BILLY SAYS: “I’m gonna bring it down to stats, and no-one’s got better stats than Messi. So, I’m picking Leo too.”
What’s it like to work with Neymar on a vid?
BILLY SAYS: “We get to shoots four hours early to make sure everything’s ready. There was a ball just sitting there waiting as Neymar walked onto the pitch for a PES shoot. He did what Neymar does, and pinged the ball into the top bins, first try. He just loves the ball, he loves the game.”
How proud are you that players respect you?
BILLY SAYS: “It’s unbelievable… Neymar took a picture with us and put it on his Instagram account saying, ‘The phenomenons of freestyle’. That’s just incredible! Pele put on one of our videos, ‘This can’t be possible what they’re doing with a football’. It’s unbelievable!”
What current football heroes inspire you?
BILLY SAYS: “Neymar is the most exciting for me – he’s got the full package. When he loses the ball, you can see his work rate and enthusiasm to get the ball back is incredible. He works and fights for the team.”
JEZ SAYS: “I still get inspired by Messi and Ronaldo. I don’t know if we’ll ever see another Messi or Ronaldo. I know everyone gives them praise now, but when they do retire it’s gonna hit everyone hard!”
Have you ever argued over Arsenal and Spurs?
JEZ SAYS: “We just have a bit of playful banter.”
BILLY SAYS: “It ain’t playful banter! It gets in my way, because they always come out on top. If Spurs win he’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah I’m glad you won, you never win’, and end it there.”
JEZ SAYS: “I’ll put it like this, if you’ve got two boxers and every round one boxer’s winning, it’s a no-contest. It’s not as fun.”
BILLY SAYS: “Sometimes we get into debates, but it never gets properly heated. We do have banter between text messages, but we don’t let people know!”
Do you ever get nervous around players?
JEZ SAYS: “We don’t really. Technically we are on the level of the pros, and we’re confident in every situation in front of anyone. We get respect off the players, which is really good. We treat them as normal human beings, and have banter with them and crack jokes. They appreciate how relaxed we are.”
SERGIO AGUERO – STRIKER CHAT!
The Man. City legend talks about great goals, strike partners, toughest opponents and more!
What’s the best goal you’ve ever scored?
SERGIO SAYS: “I haven’t scored it yet! If you told me I could score in the final of the Champions League to win the trophy, I would sign up for that straight away. That’s what I’m waiting for!”
What about against QPR to win the Prem?
SERGIO SAYS: “Of course, that was my most important goal and an incredible feeling. When you score a goal like that, you live it like crazy! In the final minute of the final game, to win the league title? Unbelievable. That’s what memories are made of. The way all your emotions come together in a moment like that, it’s hard to explain.”
Who’s the best striker you’ve played with?
SERGIO SAYS: “They are all different. Diego Forlan was an absolute warrior on the field, Torres had incredible charisma at Atletico in the changing room. And Messi? Well, he’s unique. The best player in the world. I don’t want to choose one, but for now I have to say Leo – not just for his goals, but for everything he does on the field.”
Which Prem team do you enjoy playing most?
SERGIO SAYS: “You look forward to all the games against Man. United, because they’re our big rivals and every year they’re the team we want to beat. The fans live this game in a special way.”
Who’s the best defender and goalkeeper you’ve played against?
SERGIO SAYS: “I would say Arsenal’s Petr Cech is a great goalkeeper. As for defenders, I think the ones at Chelsea – they’re always tough to beat.”
If you could give one piece of advice to a young striker, what would it be?
SERGIO SAYS: “I think children have to know that being a footballer is not easy and not everyone can become a professional. They need to enjoy the game and work hard. And for scoring goals, I would say the best thing is to imagine in your head that the goal is very large. That’s what I do!”
What are your main aims for this season?
SERGIO SAYS: “The same as always – to play as many matches as possible, to score goals, to help the team win titles and to stay injury-free.”
What’s your ultimate dream for City?
SERGIO SAYS: “There are two things – one is to win the Champions League and the other is to win the treble in England. Both are big challenges, but it’s what I dream of doing.”
What’s life like under Pep Guardiola?
SERGIO SAYS: “It’s very good. Guardiola is a great coach and the fact he speaks Spanish means I can understand him better, and he can give me good advice on how to improve.”
Can you get even better?
SERGIO SAYS: “I think so, yes. I’m a lot more experienced now than before, but I still think I can improve. I am always ambitious and always want more. I hope I can become an even better player!”
TAMMY ABRAHAM INTERVIEW
In-form Bristol City and England U21 young gun Tammy Abraham chats to MATCH about his loan spell at Ashton Gate and his exciting Chelsea future!
Has your red-hot form this season surprised you?
TAMMY SAYS: “I haven’t been too surprised, as I know my ability and I’m confident in what I can do. Every time I go on to the pitch, my aim is to score and do my best for the team. Luckily for me, I’ve been in the right positions and I’ve taken my chances when they’ve come!”
What’s it like playing regular first-team footy?
TAMMY SAYS: “It has been a great experience. I knew what I was going out on loan for and I had to get into the right mentality. I’m playing men’s football now and I’ve just had to adapt to the situation. Luckily, I’ve been doing that. I’ve been performing on the pitch and giving my all!”
What would you say is your top strength?
TAMMY SAYS: “Scoring goals, of course! I would say that my height does give me a little bit of an advantage, although I’m better with my feet than my aerial ability. I’ve got pretty good feet actually, and that’s definitely something I like to use against defenders!”
How would you describe your playing style?
TAMMY SAYS: “I’m more of an in-the-box striker – any chances that come in the area, I like to get involved! I don’t shy away from chances, and I try to be in the right position at the right time. Luckily, I’ve been getting my finishes in, and you can’t ask much more from a striker!”
What is your plan to make it at Chelsea?
TAMMY SAYS: “I just love scoring goals, so if scoring goals and trying hard is the way that I break through there, then I will keep doing that! I want to play at the top level at whichever team I’m at, and to be one of the best goalscorers in the Premier League!”
DUNCAN WATMORE – PREM WONDERKID
MATCH chats to Sunderland’s awesome England U21 forward!
WATMORE SAYS: “I was scouted by Sunderland when I was at Altrincham in the Conference North. I was playing well, scoring a few goals and a couple of the coaches from Sunderland came down to watch me, aged 18.”
HIS BEST GOAL...
WATMORE SAYS: “The one I scored for Altrincham which won the Goal Of The Season award. I got the ball before the halfway line, about 70 yards out from goal, played a one-two before beating about three or four players and putting it in the corner!”
HIS TOP SKILLS...
WATMORE SAYS: “I reckon it’s probably my pace and directness. I like to be really direct with the ball and make things happen. I try to create problems for defenders with the pace and energy I like to bring to the game.”
WATMORE SAYS: “I made a few appearances last season and I want to build on that and start more games. If I’m starting or I’m coming on, I know I’m playing well because the manager is using me.”
WATMORE SAYS: “It’s great playing for the U21s. We’ve got a great squad – a great group of guys – and all the staff are fantastic. It’s always a really good week when we’re away!”
HIS ONE TO WATCH...
WATMORE SAYS: “I know it’s a bit obvious as everyone knows about him already, but Marcus Rashford’s great. He scored a hat-trick on his U21s debut, so I have to pick him. He’s very impressive, a major talent.”
MESUT OZIL INTERVIEW
The Arsenal and Germany ace chats superstitions, assists, cars and more!
OZIL ON... THE PREMIER LEAGUE
MESUT SAYS: “The Premier League is a lot faster and a lot more physical than the Bundesliga. You don’t have as much time on the ball, so you need to make early decisions. It’s one of the best leagues in the world, and to boss the game on a stage like this you need to be on top form every week!”
OZIL ON... SUPERSTITIONS
MESUT SAYS: “I always have the same ritual before every game. I only make knots with the laces, instead of tying them in the normal way, and then tuck them in. If you tie your laces in the traditional way, it can be harder to control the ball because the surface isn’t flat!”
OZIL ON... ASSISTS
MESUT SAYS: “It’s a really great feeling knowing I’m contributing to the team. It’s easy to boss the game when you’re playing with so many top-class players, and my target now is to break the record for the most assists in a Premier League season!”
OZIL ON... MOTORS
MESUT SAYS: “I’m a big lover of cars, and it’s one of the few things I enjoy spending my money on. Right now you’ll find me behind the wheel of a Mercedes G-Class. It’s a really awesome car!”
OZIL ON... OFF THE PITCH
MESUT SAYS: “Football is my main focus, which is a lot of fun and I love to be on the pitch. But I have other interests, like fashion, trainers and being with my family. I take pride in my appearance, too. Footballers like to take care of themselves and pay attention to what clothes they wear!”
OZIL ON... MUSIC
MESUT SAYS: “I listen to music before every match to get myself psyched up, and right now I’m really into hip-hop – it’s a genre full of incredible performers. If I could choose my ideal gig, it would be kicked off by Kanye West – who’s my favourite artist – followed by Wiz Khalifa and finished by Drake!”
OZIL ON... HIS CAREER HIGHLIGHT
MESUT SAYS: “That’s difficult! Winning two FA Cups with Arsenal has been fantastic, but the biggest highlight of all has to be lifting the World Cup with Germany. There was real expectation around us but we delivered, including a huge performance against Brazil. It was incredible to walk off the pitch knowing the world would be talking about that game for a long time!”
Mesut Ozil wears Adidas ACE 16+ Purecontrol boots! Go to adidas.co.uk for more details.