Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Name at birth: Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima
A brilliant and fluid forward, Ronaldo became one of international soccer's great stars of the 1990s and Brazil's biggest soccer hero since Pele. At age 17 he was a member of Brazil's 1994 World Cup-winning squad, though he did not play. The same year he joined the Dutch professional team PSV Eindhoven. His professional contract was purchased by Barcelona in 1996; the next year he moved again to Italy's F.C. Internazionale Milano, remaining until 2002 when he transferred to Real Madrid. He was named FIFA's World Footballer of the Year in 1996 and 1997, becoming both the youngest player to win the award and the only player to win the award in consecutive years. He also starred in the 1998 World Cup, scoring four goals in leading Brazil to the Cup finals, but he was criticized for their 3-0 loss to France in the championship game. Slowed by injuries in the 21st century, Ronaldo nonetheless made a triumphant return by leading Brazil to the World Cup championship in 2002. He won the Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer (with eight goals) and scored both goals in Brazil's 2-0 final game win over Germany. Despite accusations that he had become overweight and less than energetic, Ronaldo scored three goals in the 2006 World Cup, giving him a total of 15 in World Cup play -- a new record. He transferred from Barcelona to A.C. Milan in January of 2007, signing an 18-month contract.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Ryan Joseph Giggs OBE (born Ryan Joseph Wilson on 29 November 1973 in Cardiff) is a Welsh footballer, currently playing for Manchester United in the English Premiership, and formerly for the Welsh national team prior to his retirement from international football on June 2, 2007. Giggs received an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, alongside his former team mate Teddy Sheringham, who received an MBE.
Giggs' father was Danny Wilson, a noted Rugby League player, and his mother was Lynne Giggs. Although born in Cardiff, he was raised in Pendlebury, England and speaks with a Mancunian accent. His father was of mixed race (of Sierra Leonean ancestry) and Giggs has always expressed pride at his mixed heritage.
Giggs is Manchester United's longest-serving current player, having made his first appearance for the club during the 1990-91 season and been a regular player since the 1991-92 season. He has played the second highest number of competitive games for the club (second only to Bobby Charlton), and holds the club record of team trophies won by a player (23). Since 1992, he has collected nine Premier League winners' medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, two League Cup winner's medals and one Champions League winner's medal. He also has runners-up medals from two FA Cup finals and two League Cup finals, as well as being part of four United teams who have finished second in the league.
Giggs captained England Schoolboys (which all schoolboys in England are eligible to play for, regardless of nationality), but played for the Welsh national team as an adult. At the time of his début in 1991, Giggs (still only 17 at the time) was the youngest player to represent his country at the highest level. He was appointed captain of Wales in 2004.
He also won the PFA Young Player of the Year award twice (1992 and 1993), making him the first player to win the award in consecutive years - a feat matched only by Robbie Fowler and current team-mate Wayne Rooney. Giggs holds many other records, including that of the top all-time scorer in the FA Premier League not to play regularly in the position of striker, and holds the record for scoring Manchester United's fastest goal (15 seconds), set in November 1995 against Southampton, and is one of only two players to have scored in every Premiership campaign (Gary Speed being the other). Also, having scored his first European goal of the season in United’s 3-1 victory over Benfica, Giggs became the first player in Champions League history to score in 12 successive seasons.
Fans have also voted that Giggs scored Manchester United's greatest goal, in the semi-final of the 1999 FA Cup against Arsenal where he beat four defenders (Lee Dixon twice) to score. Giggs' squad number for Manchester United is 11.
Giggs is currently vice-captain to Gary Neville at Manchester United.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Steven George Gerrard MBE (IPA: ['stiːvn 'dʒɛɹɑːd]) (born 30 May 1980, Whiston, Merseyside) is an English football player. He is the captain of Liverpool, where he wears the number 8 shirt. He is the England vice captain, for which he usually wears the number 4. An inspirational and versatile midfielder known for his long-range shots and trademark defence-splitting passes, he is usually employed in the commanding "box-to-box" midfield role, although he has often been deployed as a right-sided midfielder, and occasionally as a second striker. Throughout his career he has won the PFA Young Player of the Year, PFA Player of the Year, European Midfielder of the year, Premier League Most Valuable Player (twice), and UEFA Most Valuable Player. He has also been awarded the MBE for his outstanding contributions in both the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final and the 2006 FA Cup Final in which he greatly inspired his team's comeback. He has been nominated for the FIFA Player of the Year twice, once in 2005 and another in 2006.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Thierry Daniel Henry, born 17 August 1977 in Paris, France, is a French football player. Renowned for his pace, he plays as a striker for the France national team and FC Barcelona.
Henry was born and brought up in the tough neighbourhood of Les Ulis, Essonne, where as a youngster he played for an array of local sides and showed great promise as a goalscorer. AS Monaco spotted him in 1990 and signed him up instantly. Handed his professional club debut in 1994, he stayed at Monaco until 1998, where good form earned him an international call-up. Henry then moved to Italian giants Juventus, but after a disappointing season playing on the wing, he joined Arsenal for a fee of £10.5 million in 1999.
It was at Arsenal that Henry made his name as a top footballer. Initially, he struggled in the Premiership, but he soon emerged as Arsenal's top goalscorer in almost his every season there. Long-time mentor and coach Arsene Wenger's conversion of Henry into a prolific striker made him Arsenal's all-time leading scorer with over 200 goals. With the Gunners, Henry won two league titles and three FA Cups. He was also twice nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year and twice received the Barclays Premiership player of the season award. Henry spent his final two seasons with Arsenal as club captain, leading them to the UEFA Champions League final in 2006. In June 2007, after eight years in an Arsenal shirt, the French striker transferred to FC Barcelona for a fee of £16.1 million.
With the French national squad, Henry has also enjoyed success, having won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Given his accomplishments, he is today regarded by many as one of the best footballers in the world. Off the pitch, as a result of his own experience, Henry is an active spokesperson against football racism.