WF Quotes of the Week: Hitzlsperger Comes out as Gay, Arbeloa Hits Bale with Car
As the January transfer window heats up, the comings and goings of Europe's top players understandably account for a majority of recent comment, but there's a healthy heap of other matters at hand, too.
This week saw former German international Thomas Hitzlsperger announce that he is homosexual, while the world's most expensive player was reportedly run down by the car of a Real Madrid teammate.
Barcelona midfielder Xavi also comments on the lack of respect he has for an ex-rival manager, and Mario Balotelli proclaims his loyalty to the Milan cause.
All that and more lies ahead in the world football quotes of the week.
Rio Ferdinand on Ronaldo Comeback: "He Was the Most Dialled Number on My Phone"
Since departing the club in 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a return to Manchester United on numerous occasions in recent years, but speculation reached an all-time high last summer.
Of course, the Real Madrid talisman would eventually remain at the Bernabeu, but that didn't stop Red Devils stalwart Rio Ferdinand from attempting to lure his former teammate back.
When asked on whether he had attempted to help Ronaldo on his way back to the Theatre of Dreams, Ferdinand is reported by The Mirror's David Anderson as saying:
What do you think? He was one of the most dialled people on my phone at the time! But I think the opportunity has gone now. If we could have done it, I think it would have been last summer. He’s signed a new deal at Real now.
As footballers you don’t really let on too much to each other. It’s like a chess game. And in those situations you have got your one and two first-choice moves or scenarios that you want to happen. So to let people know is sort of letting the cat out of the bag. You play your cards close to your chest.
But if he was going to leave Real Madrid, I think Manchester United would have been the place he would have come to. That’s my personal view, but no-one will ever know now.
The club could do with their former star, too, considering David Moyes' side are currently struggling to crack the Premier League's top four, while the Portuguese superstar continues to thrive at the head of La Liga's scoring ranks.
Thomas Hitzlsperger on Gay Announcement: "I Have Never Been Ashamed of It"
In what's now the most high-profile case of an ex-Premier League player coming out as homosexual, Thomas Hitzlsperger this week lifted the lid on a secret he's held for quite some time.
The former Aston Villa, Stuttgart and Germany playmaker told the world that he was gay a mere four months after retiring from the sport, and he is quoted by Marcus Christenson of The Guardian as being proud of his orientation:
It's been a long and difficult process [of becoming aware of being gay]. Only in the last few years have I realised that I preferred living together with a man.
In England, Italy and Germany being a homosexual is no big thing, at least not in the dressing room. I was never ashamed of being who I am but it was not always easy to sit on a table with 20 young men and listen to jokes about gays. You let them get on with it as long as the jokes are somewhat funny and not too insulting.
Being gay is topic that is 'ignored' in football and not 'a serious topic in the changing room'. Fighting spirit, passion and winning mentality are intrinsically linked, that doesn't fit the cliché: 'Gays are soft.'
The 31-year-old served as a prominent member of the football fraternity during the early-to-mid 2000s and could open doors for other closeted homosexuals.
Toronto FC Sign Jermain Defoe: "It's a Bloody Big Deal"
Toronto FC were obviously pleased to announce their capture of Jermain Defoe this week, with the Tottenham striker moving to Major League Soccer in March.
As the club's official website states, Defoe will sign a four-year deal with the MLS side and is officially on loan at White Hart Lane until the season starts in America.
In preparation for the transfer, the Canadian outfit went about producing a series of miniature adverts, each termed with the header "It's a Bloody Big Deal."
Toronto's gain may be seen as something of much more impact than Spurs' loss, but the stereotypically English production of the "trailers" seems questionable at best.
Lille President on Salomon Kalou Sale: "For 87 Million, Maybe"
Salomon Kalou's time with Chelsea ended on a bit of a bum note, with the Ivorian eventually moving to Lille as a free transfer in 2012.
However, it seems there are those looking to lure the attacking figure back to the English top flight, with Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham each alleged to be in the market.
According to the Daily Star's Colin Harvey, however, Lille president Michel Seydoux isn't looking to sell. The Ligue 1 figure is reported as saying of his player's potential sale:
Kalou? 87 million maybe.
For 5 or 6 million, it does not matter. There is no question [whether] he leaves. He is part of our plans and I think he wants to stay - a departure at the end of the season is not inevitable.
Considering the French giants picked the forward up for nothing, it seems an awfully steep estimation for a player whose last season at Stamford Bridge was a fairly lacklustre one.
Nevertheless, Seydoux has put his terms out there for all to see. Now, it's just a case of watching the offers roll in.
Mario Balotelli: "I Am Staying at Milan"
Following a raft of winter rumours alleging that the former Inter bad boy would be leaving the San Siro for a second time, Mario Balotelli has moved to dissuade any notion of a Milan exit this month.
In no uncertain terms, the Italian striker was reported by Chi (h/t Goal.com) as saying: "I am staying at Milan. I have to get ready for the World Cup and stay calm."
The controversial forward reaffirms fears that cloud the judgement of many a player in a World Cup year, in that first-team football can often reign paramount to other priorities.
The speculation falls on the back of the Rossoneri's abysmal start to the 2013-14 season, which currently sees them sitting 11th in Serie A, just eight points away from the relegation zone.
However, Balotelli would appear to have his eye fixed firmly on the matter at hand, which is ensuring Massimiliano Allegri's side finish the campaign in a different fashion to which they started it.
Michael Chopra's Expletive-Laden Tweet at Blackpool Training
Michael Chopra was slapped with a hefty £10,000 fine this week following his inappropriate reaction to what he thought was a botched training session at Blackpool.
As reported by the Daily Star, the former Newcastle United striker turned up to practice one morning, only to send out the following tweet in response:
"F***ing joke this. Come in training only six f***ing players here then find out the fitness coach taken the football session."
It later turned out that Chopra had only been asked to come in due to the fact that Paul Ince's regulars had been given the day off.
A Blackpool spokesman said the following in a statement after the 30-year-old's tweet had been deleted:
The player will receive a maximum fine and has been warned about his future conduct. The club can confirm that Chopra was one of number of players asked to report to training as normal for extra work with the fitness coach.
Both the manager and the chairman are aware and disappointed with the contents of his tweet, prompting this course of action. The player, who has the right to appeal, has since apologised for the tweet and removed the contents from his account.
The manager has requested that the fine levied against Chopra, which equates to more than £10,000, be donated to the club’s Community Trust, to assist in their work as part of Altogether Now - A Legacy for Blackpool.
In yet another case of social media helping to land a player in an unnecessary amount of hot water, twitchy trigger fingers jumping the gun strike once again.
Alvaro Arbeloa: "I Ran over Gareth Bale in My Car"
In response to claims that he had injured the Welshman in training, Alvaro Arbeloa gave another, rather more obscure reason as to why Gareth Bale had picked up a knock this week.
Per The Mirror's Ed Malyon, Arbeloa gave a different account of "the truth," although it's by no means a much less incriminating act on the Spaniard's behalf: "The truth is I ran him over in my car. But he’s a strong bloke and he’s still alive!"
This came after a Spanish radio station had already told of how Arbeloa left his Real Madrid teammate with a "blackened" leg following a robust challenge in practice.
It wasn't so long ago that Arbeloa found himself on the wrong end of similar criticisms for injuring Iker Casillas' hand in training, as Malyon touches upon.
Xavi on Mourinho: "His Teams Do Not Leave a Legacy"
Though the Portuguese boss may have left La Liga last summer, Jose Mourinho is still drawing the ire of some Spanish rivals, with Barcelona's Xavi the latest to comment on "The Special One" and his management style.
Panenka magazine (h/t Goal.com's Chris Myson) quotes the Camp Nou veteran after giving some disparaging remarks about Chelsea's manager, which will undoubtedly have gone down as slightly bitter at Stamford Bridge:
Pep Guardiola is an important person for me - Jose Mourinho is a coach who focuses only on results.
He says he is ‘The Special One’ because he won this and that in so many countries but I do not like the way his teams play. Who remembers the Inter side who were champions of Europe? For me, he has not left a legacy, unlike Cruyff has in the Netherlands.
Di Matteo was the same [as Mourinho]. He won the Champions League, but from my point of view that team didn’t play at all. I am happy playing for Barca because of our philosophy.
It's the kind of praise that every manager of course wants to hear from one of their own players, but not a jibe that one would expect from the stars of another team.
In any case, both Mourinho and his players, past and present, are bound to feel satisfied with the trophies that have come under his tutelage of recent years.