Brazil’s Thiago Silva back to his best

first_img BATTLE WITH ILLNESS KAZAN, Russia (AP): Four years after Brazil’s humiliation at its home World Cup, Thiago Silva is back to his best in Russia, a country where his then-burgeoning career was almost tragically cut short years ago. The 33-year-old Brazil centre back – who is nicknamed “O Monstro” for his exceptional physical abilities – is probably playing in his final World Cup, and he has been enjoying a perfect tournament so far. While forward Neymar attracted negative comments for his antics on the field, Silva has been irreproachable. The captain arguably has been the best centre back of the tournament, alongside Uruguay captain Diego Godin. Like Uruguay, Brazil have conceded only one goal in Russia so far from a set piece in its opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland. And the Selecao’s rivals have managed only five shots on target in their four matches against the five-time champions. Silva has been playing a key role in helping Brazil achieve those impressive statistics, anchoring the defence with authority and class. During the 2-0 win against Mexico that guaranteed Brazil advanced to the quarterfinals for the seventh consecutive time, Silva was decisive both in the air and on the ground, blocked several shots, and made two clearances. “It’s a huge joy to be doing an excellent cup and to be growing with every game,” Silva said. “I’m happy about my performance and the performance of the team.” Happiness and joy have been hard to come by during some stretches of Silva’s career. The native of Rio de Janeiro went through hard times after Brazil’s 7-1 loss to Germany at the last World Cup. Silva did not play in that game because he was suspended, but he was harshly criticised and branded a crybaby for his emotional outbursts as he was pictured in tears before a penalty shoot-out against Chile in the round of 16. After the tournament, he was stripped of the team’s captaincy by new coach Dunga then left off the regular roster after the 2015 Copa AmÈrica. He returned from exile in September 2016 for World Cup qualifiers after being called up by Dunga’s successor, Tite. Those professional ups and downs are nothing compared to the ordeal Silva went through back in 2005, when he spent about six months in a Moscow hospital after he contracted tuberculosis. Regarded at the time as one of the world’s most promising defenders, Silva had been sent on loan from Porto to Dynamo Moscow alongside several teammates. “It was probably the worst episode of my life,” Silva said. It was during a training camp in Portugal that doctor Yuri Vassilkov, who had travelled along with the team, noticed that Silva had a persistent cough. “He had a temperature and we thought it was a simple cold,” Vassilkov said in an interview with L’Equipe newspaper this week. “I gave him some medication, but he did not improve. I was a bit worried, and I sent him for exams at the British hospital in Lisbon. The diagnosis was terrible: tuberculosis. It was a shock.” Vassilkov believes that the diagnosis was so late that Silva was weeks away from dying. Silva was brought back to Moscow where he was hospitalised in a centre specialising in tuberculosis treatment. At the time, Silva did not speak English or Russian and went through a bout of depression. “The cold, the lack of natural light, the fact that I could not speak to anybody … All this was very difficult to handle,” Silva remembered in an interview with Belgian Sport/Foot magazine. After Russian doctors at one point considered removing part of his lungs, Silva survived and fully recovered. He never played a game for Dynamo, and these painful events are just bad memories now. AGE – 33 HEIGHT – 1.83m APPEARANCES – 75 GOALS – 6 NUMBER – 2last_img read more

Raikkonen edges Hamilton after Vettel hits wall in Singapore

first_img0Shares0000Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen on the Marina Bay street circuit © AFP / Roslan RAHMANSINGAPORE, Singapore, Sep 14 – Kimi Raikkonen edged out Lewis Hamilton to the fastest lap in Friday’s second practice for the Singapore Grand Prix, but the Finn’s Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel had his session cut short after he smacked a wall.Raikkonen, who will leave Ferrari for Sauber at the end of the season, sped round in 1 minute 38.699 seconds, almost a second quicker than last year’s pole position time, and then warned he could go even faster. “For sure in the second session I could have driven a bit better,” the 38-year-old former world champion told reporters.“I went on the kerbs on the fastest lap so we lost quite a bit of time, but overall it was pretty easy going.”Championship leader Hamilton was just 0.011 seconds adrift of Raikkonen after bolting on the fastest hypersoft tyres for the night session on the spectacular Marina Bay street circuit.Mercedes, who usually struggle for pace in Singapore, had elected not to use the quickest compound in the first session, in which Hamilton finished sixth.“We were close to the Ferraris, but we will only find out tomorrow how quick they really are,” said four-time world champion Hamilton, who finished more than half a second ahead of the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.Vettel limped back to the pits only ninth fastest with fluid pouring from a hydraulic pipe after he bounced off the wall and damaged his right rear and front wheels with 40 minutes of the session remaining.It meant the German, who is 30 points behind Hamilton in the standings with seven races to go, was only able to complete 11 laps under lights in race-simulation conditions.– ‘Crazy hot’ –But Vettel denied the setback would hamper him in Sunday’s race.“No not at all,” he told reporters. “By now I think you have quite good experience reading into the others, what they did and reading into their runs with tyres which will obviously be key for Sunday, but we can recover most of it tomorrow.”Valtteri Bottas was fifth in the second Mercedes, less than a tenth of a second behind Ricciardo, with the Renault of Carlos Sainz sixth.Earlier Singapore specialist Ricciardo, who has finished second for the past three years in a row, had led a Red Bull one-two in first practice.But Verstappen said he did not think the Red Bulls had a quick enough package to challenge Ferrari and Mercedes for pole position in Saturday’s qualifying.“I think we can still improve with the car,” Verstappen said. “I don’t think we have the pace to fight for pole, but we’ll try to optimise the car a bit more.”Charles Leclerc marked his first session since being announced as Sebastian Vettel’s new teammate for 2019 with a blunder near the end of the session © AFP / Roslan RAHMANFerrari’s new signing Charles Leclerc had a moment to forget when he crashed his Sauber near the end of the first session.The 20-year-old from Monaco, who will replace Raikkonen at the Marinello team for 2019, misjudged his exit and clipped the wall hard at turn 13, destroyed his right front wheel and suspension.The Marina Bay track has 23 corners — more than any other on the current Formula One calendar — and is a severe test for both drivers and cars, with temperatures regularly topping 30 Celsius during the night race.“The track is incredible,” said Hamilton. “We’re a lot quicker than we were last year, but that also makes the lap so much harder with G forces and it is crazy hot. In the second session, I think I lost almost two kilos.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

Sam Allardyce confirmed as Everton manager on contract until 2019

first_img1 Sam Allardyce (left) in the stands with Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri Sam Allardyce has been confirmed as Everton’s new manager after signing an 18-month deal at Goodison Park.Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri told talkSPORT’s Jim White on Wednesday that the 63-year-old had agreed a contract to take over. The former England, Newcastle and Sunderland boss will take charge of the Toffees for the first time time in Saturday’s Premier League clash at home to Huddersfield.Allardyce said: “I’ve always thought Everton was a great club. It is a great club. Obviously, the club has gone through a difficult spell and hopefully I can put that behind us as quickly as possible and start looking upwards again.”Allardyce had ruled himself out of the running for the Everton job only two weeks ago, telling talkSPORT he did not feel wanted enough by the club after holding initial talks.But further discussions with Moshiri tempted him to return to management at Goodison – seven months after he quit Crystal Palace and declared he had ‘no ambitions’ to take another job.Everton announced on Wednesday afternoon that they were finalising a deal to secure the services of Allardyce more than a month after sacking Ronald Koeman.The 63-year-old had a watching brief as the Toffees put on their best display of the season to beat West Ham 4-0 at Goodison Park on Wednesday.That was the final game of an eight-match spell in caretaker charge for under-23s boss David Unsworth and an uplifting way to finish what had been a difficult run.Defeat against the Hammers would have seen Everton drop into the relegation zone but instead Allardyce takes over with the side having climbed to 13th, five points clear of the bottom three.“The attraction of the club itself, the people I’ve known at the club – Peter Reid is one of my best mates, so are Andy Gray and Paul Bracewell, whom I worked with at Sunderland – these people have always made me aware of just how special and unique a club Everton is and I feel really enthused and energised to come in as manager,” said Allardyce.“Ultimately, it’s the ambition of the club, the ambition of the owner and the board, allied to the fact that it’s Everton and all the fantastic history, which have proved to be key for me.“Ambition is important for any manager or coach, owner or director. It’s what you need to have and hopefully we can deliver to the fans to get this club high up the league. That’s what we’re aiming for.“Let’s try to get a healthy spirit around the club. That’s difficult when you’re losing but the win last night over West Ham and the magnificent atmosphere around Goodison, which was just brilliant, well that’s lifted everybody around the club.“Last season showed what the club is trying to build and we need to demonstrate that level of ambition and assuredness again. We can. It’s a question now of putting in the work to do that and I’m really enthused by the prospect.”last_img read more