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Dec 30, 2009

Quotes of the decade

The last decade saw the final years of Brian Clough and George Best, the emergence of Jose Mourinho and the return of Diego Maradona. That quartet, along with the likes of Jens Lehmann, Sepp Blatter and, of course, Roy Keane, ensured the noughties enjoyed an array of memorable quotes throughout the years. Here is a selection of some of the most memorable, most shocking and most amusing. LATE GREATS "When I go, God's going to have to give up his favourite chair" - March 2000 - Brian Clough prepares for the afterlife four years before his death at the age of 69. "I was in for ten hours and had 40 pints, beating my previous record by 20 minutes" - July 2002 - George Best jokes about his blood transfusion following a liver transplant, three and a half years before his death from the side effects of his alcohol abuse at the age of 59.

"If you're a painter, you don't get rich until you're dead. The same happens with managers. You're never appreciated until you're gone, and then people say: 'Oh, he was OK'. Just like Picasso" - December 2002 - Sir Bobby Robson awaits posthumous acclaim six and a half years before losing his battle with cancer at the age of 76. MODESTY BLAISE "We have top players and, sorry if I'm arrogant, we have a top manager. I'm not a defender of old or new football managers. I believe in good ones and bad ones, those that achieve success and those that don't. Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one" - June 2004 - Jose Mourinho makes an instant impact in his first press conference after being unveiled as Chelsea manager. "When I heard Jonathan repeat the figure of £55,000, I said: 'He is taking the p***, Jonathan!' I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn't believe what I'd heard" - September 2006 - Ashley Cole reveals his indignation at Arsenal's new contract offer before deciding to move on to Chelsea. "I am the first, second and third best player in the world" - November 2008 - Cristiano Ronaldo believes his FIFA World Player of the Year award was fully justified. MIND GAMES "Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home" - May 2002 - Arsene Wenger reacts to Sir Alex Ferguson's comments that Manchester United were the "better team" despite Arsenal winning the double. "My greatest challenge is not what's happening at the moment. My greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f****** perch. And you can print that" - September 2002 - Sir Alex Ferguson makes clear his feeling towards United's rivals. "I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea" - October 2005 - Jose Mourinho provokes Arsene Wenger. "I want to talk about facts. I want to be clear: I do not want to play mind games too early, although they seem to want to start. But I have seen some facts" - January 2009 - Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez launches a long attack on Sir Alex Ferguson in which he stresses the importance of his facts. DIVERSITY "That gentleman will never set foot in Perugia again. He was a phenomenon only when he played against Italy. I am a nationalist and I regard such behaviour not only as an affront to Italian pride but also an offence to a country which two years ago opened its doors to him. I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian soccer" - June 2002 - Perugia chairman Luciano Gaucci announces his decision to sack South Korea striker Ahn Jung-Hwan after he helped dump Italy out of the World Cup. "Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts" - January 2004 - FIFA president Sepp Blatter adopts a non-PC approach to boosting the popularity of women's football. "Tell that negro de mierda that you are much better than him. Don't hold back, tell him. Tell him from me. You have to believe in yourself. You're better than that negro de mierda" - October 2004 - Spain boss Luis Aragones is caught on camera racially abusing Thierry Henry as he attempts to motivate his Arsenal team-mate, Jose Antonio Reyes. "What in heaven's name was f****** Ranieri thinking in bringing Veron on? And I'm sorry, but I f****** think that f****** Desailly is a cheating f***. That was wrong. He's f****** been gone for two and a half years! And instead of playing like an old man and saying, 'All right, I'll f****** stay where I can't get exploited' ... I've always thought that he has no awareness of danger. He is what is known in some schools as a f****** lazy, thick n*****. That is a f****** disgusting performance. Full marks to them, though. They were f****** different class" - April 2004 - Ron Atkinson brings an abrupt end to his career as a pundit after his racist attack on Marcel Desailly was accidentally broadcast during the coverage of Chelsea's Champions League exit to Monaco. "I am a fascist, not a racist" - December 2005 - Lazio striker Paolo Di Canio defends himself after he repeatedly makes straight-arm salutes to the club's right-wing fans. "This is Championship football - this is not park football - so what are women doing here? It is tokenism, for the politically-correct idiots. She should not be here. I know that sounds sexist but I am sexist, so I am not going to be anything other than that" - November 2006 - Luton boss Mike Newell is less than impressed by the presence of female official Amy Rayner during his side's defeat to QPR. "A true Milanista and a real man would not have behaved like this. At my home, I'm in charge and decide what happens. Instead, when Shevchenko's wife shouts, he runs under the bed like a lap-dog. His wife ordered him to London with their children, where the fog will do their lungs the world of good" - December 2006 - Milan owner and current Italy president Silvio Berlusconi hits out at Andriy Shevchenko for his decision to leave the Serie A giants for Chelsea. "I don't think there are any gay players, or at least in 40 years of my career I have never met any. Considering the way football players are, it really would be a complicated condition to deal with in the locker room" - January 2009 - Italy boss Marcello Lippi believes homosexual footballers would be best off keeping it quiet. "What do you want me to say? He debuted with a lad" - March 2009 - Diego Maradona reacts to Pele's suggestion that he is a "bad role model" by making claims about the Brazil legend's sexual history. CASE FOR THE DEFENCE "The words he said concerned my mother and sister. I heard them once, then twice, and the third time I couldn't control myself. I am a man and some words are harder to hear than actions. I would have rather been knocked down than hear that" - July 2006 - France legend Zinedine Zidane explains his attack on Italy defender Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup final. "I don't have either the strength or the willingness to answer any question. I miss my soul - it has been killed. From Monday, I will have resigned. From this day, the world of football is no longer my world. Now I'll think about defending myself from the malice spoken about me" - May 2006 - Juventus sporting director Luciano Moggi announces his resignation following the Serie A Calciopoli scandal. "I have black, gypsy and Japanese friends, including one whose job is to determine the sex of poultry" - June 2006 - Spain boss Luis Aragones attempts to clear himself of the racism tag two years after his comments on Thierry Henry. "I am not the referee" - November 2009 - Thierry Henry defends his handball after he helped France to beat the Republic of Ireland during extra-time in their World Cup qualification play-off in Paris. THE DIPLOMATS "We call them 'busy c***s' for their endless grumbling about everything in general and nothing in particular. They never stop" - August 2001 - Manchester United defender Jaap Stam secures a move to Lazio as his comment on the Neville brothers in his autobiography reportedly infuriates Sir Alex Ferguson. "I think Pele knows nothing about soccer. He's done nothing as a coach and his analysis turns out to be always wrong. If you plan on winning a title, you do the opposite to what Pele says" - July 2002 - Luiz Felipe Scolari responds to the Brazil legend's critique having led the country to glory at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. "We will not miss Makelele. His technique is average, he lacks the speed and skill to take the ball past opponents, and 90% of his distribution either goes backwards or sideways. He wasn't a header of the ball and he rarely passed the ball more than three metres. Younger players will arrive who will cause Makelele to be forgotten" - September 2003 - Real Madrid president Florentino Perez dismisses the talents of defensive midfielder Claude Makelele after his move to Chelsea, only to see the club's fortunes plummet without the man Zinedine Zidane called the "entire engine" of the team. "Football is made up of subjective feeling, of suggestion - and, in that, Anfield is unbeatable. Put a s*** hanging from a stick in the middle of this passionate, crazy stadium and there are people who will tell you it's a work of art. It's not: it's a s*** hanging from a stick" - May 2007 - Jorge Valdano, Real Madrid legend and now director general of the club, reacts to Liverpool's Champions League semi-final match against Chelsea. "It's a f****** disgrace" - May 2009 - Didier Drogba unleashes an angry verbal attack on camera at Stamford Bridge after a series of refereeing decisions go against Chelsea during their Champions League semi-final exit against Barcelona. "If someone's paying you more than anybody in the league, more than double anybody in the league, the least we expect is that you show up to every game, whether you're suspended or not. Show up and train hard. Show up and play hard. Maybe he's not a leader, maybe he's not a captain. Fair enough. But at a minimum you should bust your ass every day. That hasn't happened" - July 2009 - LA Galaxy striker Landon Donovan on team-mate David Beckham's lack of effort. TOUGH AT THE TOP

"I have not been quite good enough. I feel I have given it my best shot. Absolutely no one is to blame but myself. I did it to the best of my ability" - October 2000 - Kevin Keegan announces his resignation from the England national team after the World Cup qualifying defeat to Germany in the final game at the old Wembley Stadium. "Football managers are like a parachutist. At times it doesn't open. Here, it is an umbrella. You understand? Mary Poppins?" - December 2000 - Claudio Ranieri gives the English press an early insight into his eccentric ways a few months after arriving at Chelsea. "People like Mourinho are the enemy of football" - March 2005 - UEFA referees' committee chairman Volker Roth reacts to referee Anders Frisk's decision to leave the game after Jose Mourinho stirred up a storm following Chelsea's Champions League clash with Barcelona. "It's impossible to win at (Barcelona's) stadium. They are devastating. I think it is their year. We will try to put on a good show. We won't be able to do more than that" - December 2008 - Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster digs his own grave ahead of El Clasico, stepping down just one day after the comments. LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS "A virgin" - October 2007 - Peter Crouch responds to a question about what he would have been if he had not become a footballer. "I have only one project: to marry Estelle, which is what I'm asking her today. I know it's difficult, but it's at moments like this that you need everyone and I need her" - June 2008 - Raymond Domenech fails to address the real issues after France's Euro 2008 exit at the group stage. "In Madrid, it was easy because I lived in a hotel. The bell boy's job was to bring me three pastries after sex. He would hand me the pastries, I would hand him the girl, and he'd return her into the night. Sex plus pastries - could it be any better?" - January 2009 - Antonio Cassano gives an insight into his days at Real Madrid. "If you're an athlete, you don't go drinking at night and you don't visit prostitutes" - June 2009 - Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis questions Ezequiel Lavezzi's claims he deserves a pay rise. KEANE CORNER

"Away from home, our fans are fantastic, I'd call them the hardcore fans. But at home they have a few drinks and probably the prawn sandwiches, and they don't realise what's going on out on the pitch. I don't think some of the people who come to Old Trafford can spell 'football', never mind understand it" - November 2000 - Roy Keane hits out at Manchester United supporters after a 1-0 Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev. "Who the f*** do you think you are, having meetings about me? Mick, you're a liar ... you're a f****** w*****. I didn't rate you as a player, I don't rate you as a manager, and I don't rate you as a person. You're a f***** w***** and you can stick your World Cup up your a***. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your b*******" - May 2002 - Roy Keane's alleged rant at Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy as he confirmed his departure from the 2002 World Cup. "It seems to be in this club that you have to play badly to be rewarded. Maybe that is what I should do when I come back. Play badly" - November 2005 - Roy Keane's reported comments during his infamous stint on 'Play the Pundit' on MUTV.

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