GO Sport and adidas are offering football fans in the UAE a once in a lifetime chance to meet Liverpool and England hero Steven Gerrard on Sunday, February 19.
The recently-retired stars will visit GO Sport’s Mall of the Emirates store to meet a small group of lucky fans as part of a range of activities with sponsor adidas.
To be in with a chance of winning an exclusive VIP ticket to meet Gerrard, fans must show their skills in the adidas Blue Glass Activation challenge at GO Sport’s Mall of the Emirates store this weekend from 2pm to 10pm on Thursday and Friday (16-17 February).
Participation in the adidas Blue Glass challenge will unlock automatic entry into the draw to win one of 25 VIP tickets to meet Gerrard, one of the world’s true modern-day legends of the beautiful game.
Gerrard, England’s fourth most-capped player of all time and former Liverpool captain, made 710 appearances during his time at Anfield, scoring 186 goals and winning eight major trophies including the UEFA Champions League in 2005. To date, Gerrard remains the only player to have scored in an FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup final.
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney joined fellow Red Devils stars Sergio Romero, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in an innovative new video series, launched by the club’s global partner Swissquote, demonstrating the synergies between FX trading and football.
The ‘Take the Lead’ series showcases the similarities between players and traders in a unique split screen format.
Created from a point of view angle, the video details two visions in 180 degrees from the perspective of a player and a trader, giving viewers a unique 360˚ insight into the mental and physical preparation required away from the football pitch as well as with forex trading.
In the first video, above, you can watch England skipper Rooney limber up and prepare for a match.
In recent weeks, football has lost a number of icons to retirement, including Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Miroslav Klose. One name that may have flown under the radar a little, however, is a Ukrainian football hero, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk.
Once named the best Ukrainian player since independence in 1991 by fans in an internet poll, Tymoshchuk – who scored only four goals for the national team – was picked ahead of renowned AC Milan and Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko.
Tymoshchuk’s qualities were not seen in his opponents’ box, but via ‘dirty work’ in his own half. Despite having played as a defensive midfielder, he was often decisive not only for Ukraine, but also at the club level for Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St.Petersburg and Bayern Munich.
The midfielder was always praised by his coaches; Oleg Blokhin, who led the national team in 2003-2007 and 2011-2012 and made Tymoshchuk his captain, once said that if he had to choose a partner for a spy mission, it would be Tymoshchuk – such was his ability to quietly and successfully go about his job.
When asked about what he viewed as the Ukraine team’s biggest strength, it is no surprise that Tymoshchuk said on international duty last year: “First of all, our team spirit, fighting skills, determination on the field, commitment and character. There is speed and technical skills but our philosophy that we show all our best individual skills by playing as a united team.”
Tymoshchuk embodied the attitude he outlined and in all teams in which he played, he led by example – often with a captain’s armband on his right arm. He has always been a natural leader – first for his school, then for Ukraine Under-21s and aged just 22 at Shakhtar Donetsk.
“The captain must be the kind of player who can improve those playing around him,” Tymoshchuk once explained.
“These days, some consider the role of captain as just a nod to tradition. But remember that Herodotus described a game in ancient Greece where soldiers played to develop their fighting capacities by using the head of the defeated team captain as a ball. It’s a historical fact: extra responsibility for a team’s result lies with the captain.”
Tymoshchuk was turned away as a teenager by Dynamo Kiev due to a perceived lack of physicality, and almost gave up on his dream of being a professional footballer. However, that rejection instead served as extra motivation for the long-haired midfielder.
He quickly broke into Volyn Lutsk’s squad and became one of their key players before, aged 18, he was signed by Shakhtar Donetsk – an ambitious team owned by wealthy Ukrainian Rinat Akhmetov. Only then did Dynamo Kiev realise how big a mistake they had made.
Tymoshchuk went on to become one of the best players in Eastern Europe. In his position, he showed a great ability to read the game and flawless passing ability. He also had no problem keeping the biggest stars at bay with his exceptional defensive skills.
“I would be happy to fight Mike Tyson if I was allowed to tackle him,” he once famously said.
Volodymyr Zverov, a leading Ukrainian sports TV presenter, is among those to recognise Tymoshchuk’s great contributions to the game.
“During his whole career, he was one of the symbolical local players, well-known as a hard-working guy,” Zverov tells Sport360.
“He had no big talent or special technical skills, but he achieved everything through fanatical working ability and being super-professional.”
At Shakhtar, Tymoshchuk won the league and Ukrainian Cup three times and, in 2007, he was sold to Russia’s top side Zenit St. Petersburg.
Immediately, Dutch coach Dick Advocaat made him a captain, telling Sports.ru: “I can say only good things about him, not only as a player but as a person. Tymoshchuk is a professional from head to toe. I never had complaints about his discipline. While Tymoshchuk and I are at the club, he will be the captain of Zenit.”
In his first season, Tymoshchuk led the team to victory in the UEFA Cup. In the semi-final against Bayern Munich, he had to wear bigger boots due to a foot injury, but was still the best player on the pitch.
He managed to win the UEFA Super Cup, too, after a 2-1 victory against Manchester United, and caught the attention of Western European clubs. Bayern Munich were still so astonished by him that they didn’t hesitate to pay around Dh55 million (€14m) for his services.
As a Ukrainian player abroad, Tymoshchuk was the exception not the norm. And the midfielder is disappointed that 10 years on from his move to Bayern, more Ukrainians haven’t stepped away from Eastern Europe.
“I think that everything depends on the level of the club and the level of the league,” Tymoshchuk tells Sport360.
“If the player wants more challenges in his life and new purposes in his career, this is a chance for him to progress, responding to these new challenges. I think that it is also better for national team if the players play in good leagues abroad.
“It is not the easiest way, but mostly it depends on the players. They have many opportunities to play in the strong European leagues; they play in good teams with the possibility to win many trophies. Of course, they have to undergo many difficulties and hardships – for example, adaptation to different country, different culture, language and mentality. Frankly speaking it is not easy to be foreigner in a European league.
“Everything depends on the players, what their aims are and whether they are ready to show their skills and qualities or not. If they get an offer, it means that the club estimates them on high level and they have to prove this high level every time.”
🇺🇦 He made a national-record 144 appearances for Ukraine...— UEFA EURO (@UEFAEURO) February 11, 2017
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk has announced his retirement from football. 👍 pic.twitter.com/ONhO7D7M1A
At international level, Tymoshchuk played a key role in Ukraine’s golden era, which saw the team reach the World Cup quarter-finals in 2006, and participate at the European Championship in 2012 (as hosts) and 2016.
He is the most capped player in the country’s history with 144 matches under his belt, but his international career ended in disappointment after a group stage exit at Euro 2016 following losses to Germany, Northern Ireland and Poland.
The public heavily criticised the team’s performances and particularly the decisions of stubborn head coach Mykhaylo Fomenko, who insisted on Tymoshchuk’s involvement in the final squad even though he was playing in Kazakh league for FC Kairat and was not in good form.
“There have been doubts about his playing level for some time,” Ukrainian journalist Zverov explains.
“Before Shevchenko took over as coach, Tymoshchuk usually got call-ups, but his performances were not sufficient. He should not have been in the national team, but he often started the games on the bench, and went on in the 88th or 89th minute, in order to break national caps record. He did, but also received lots of criticism. After Euro 2016, he left the team and nobody talked with him about that.”
Still, Tymoshchuk remains an idol for many. He is well-known for references to Shakespeare or Churchill in his media appearances, and he has an extensive personal collection of wines, T-shirts and religious icons. Since 2000, he has been organising a youth football tournament in Ukrainian city Lutsk, trying to inspire a new generation of players.
“Once you have cleared the bar you have to set it at a higher level,” Tymoshchuk once said; the Ukrainian icon truly, belongs to the few who have never looked back.