“[Didier Deschamp’s] been fortunate enough and talented enough to win it as a player and a coach, which is a historic achievement. It was fantastic for me to have him as a role model. I love working with people whose names have gone down in history.”
Kylian Mbappe discusses his delight at having a French legend as national team coach.
“When I was young I was part of the Sheva generation. He was one of my idols, one of my favourite players. When I came to Chelsea, met him and saw what a good person he is, I was obsessed with him. Because of the language, he was next to me all the time. I learned everything from him, every training session and even off the pitch. He couldn’t play on that level in England and when I arrived he was already near the end of his career. I was so happy to have an opportunity in life to be his friend.”
Zenit St Petersburg defender Branislav Ivanovic reflects on getting to befriend one of his idols in Andriy Shevchenko while at Chelsea with The Athletic.
“This is the highest level in the world, and our football has an exceptional opportunity to have a club represent New Caledonia at a World Cup. The World Cup is the dream of any footballer so it especially motivates everyone in New Caledonian football to see that we can reach the peak.”
Hienghene Sport coach Felix Tagawa looks ahead to his side’s FIFA Club World Cup adventure.
Following the dismissal of Arsenal coach Unai Emery, former star and interim boss Freddie Ljungberg speaks to fans ahead of taking the reins for the first time.
“Twenty years in a club? I don’t think it’s possible. Modern life, new technologies, social media – I think everything has an influence, even people’s mentality, faster relations, getting tired easily, so many things that are changing. Not [just] football but [these things] are changing the world and the perception of things that I think [Arsene] Wenger was the last ‘man/one’.”
Tottenham Hotspur coach Jose Mourinho discusses how the lifespan of coaches has changed over recent years.
“I was walking to the car, but then I turned back and said, ‘I’m gonna have one last jump.’ There’s a pier. There’s probably 20 kids at a time jumping off. I’d done that same pier easily a dozen times before. I hadn’t realised, but this time it was lower than low-tide,” he said. “I thought I’d crashed into cement.”
Newcastle Jets fan Ashley Treseder recalls the moment he suffered a life-changing injury, which has seen the Australian football community come to his aid.
“At first you don’t know how it’s going to be. But then I got caught up in the match. It’s like an itch and then you say: ‘I like this!’ You see that day after day, with the repletion, the explanation, the corrections, everything you tell them, they begin to understand little by little. That’s it, being a coach.”
Xabi Alonso tells L’Equipe about how he is enjoying his new life on the sidelines with Real Sociedad B.
Words deserted Flamengo as they saw their side snatch victory from the jaws of defeat during the Copa Libertadores final.
“I am Portuguese so of course I support Ronaldo more. Cristiano took a risk by leaving the best team in the world, with more titles in the world. That kind of risk should be appreciated. Playing in Italy and scoring goals is difficult. Messi is still in his club, Barcelona, which is a big club. He is able to make the difference. But I am more for Cristiano because I’m Portuguese. Both of them are exceptional, it’s difficult to choose. Having these two players in the same generation and watching them is absolutely incredible. They are extraterrestrials.”
Marseille boss Andre Villas-Boas adds his take to the eternal debate.
“We made changes and the system is a little different. It’s not uncommon to have some highs and lows. The team is younger than before, with less experience, but we played important games against the Netherlands, which helped us develop. However, there’s still room for progression ahead of EURO 2020.”
FC Barcelona goalkeeper Mar-Andre Ter Stegen explains how Germany have some distance to go before they reach their full potential.
After scoring a quadruple in the UEFA Champions League at record-breaking speed, Robert Lewandowski admits he has a problem.
“Seven years ago I had a dream. My dream became a goal, which I followed step by step. I realised I had to quit my job to achieve the dream. I knew I had to practise beach soccer every day and to give all my energy to it. I’m aware of the fact that this is the chance that’s given to a person once in a million times, so I’m happy to be getting this opportunity. I can assure you I was working every free hour I had just to achieve this goal.”
When Russia lifted their first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2011, Boris Nikonorov was working in a factory in his home town. Here he reflects on how he made it to Paraguay 2019.
“I sent him a message to tell him how much I appreciate everything he has done for me,” he says. “I couldn’t not text him. I’m not that type of person. He gave me the opportunity to play at the highest level. I’ve come on a long journey in my career and he was a big, big part of that, so I thanked him for everything he has done for me.”
Following the departure of Mauricio Pochettino from Tottenham Hotspur, Atletico Madrid defender Kieran Trippier reveals to The Athletic that he was quick to get in contact with his former boss.
“We were on the boat for the day, relaxing in Dubai. It was so hot. He was so red, like a tomato. He had to go inside so I thought I would chill for a bit. He’s snoring away, so I went over, obviously this quite scared him, and as soon as it happened I realised this video was the best video I’m ever going to have.”
Mason Mount chats with The Guardian about scaring childhood friend Declan Rice while on holiday in a joint interview.