Don’t be a stranger

John Terry has admitted that he and other Chelsea team-mates regularly keep in contact with former boss Jose Mourinho.

Amid speculation that Mourinho is set to return to the London club, Terry has now revealed he and Frank Lampard are among those who still speak with the Real Madrid coach, often exchanging messages of good luck prior to their respective matches.

“Mourinho has a great relationship with our fans because we won the Premier League and several other titles with him,” Terry told Marca. “Real Madrid must be respected, as he is under contract. The fans have clearly shown that he is the man they want after everything he won. He’s still ‘The Special One’.

“We send each other text messages and often wish each other good luck. He’s interested in our results and everything that happens at the club.  He’s not only in contact with me but also with [Frank] Lampard and other players.

“He’s been winning titles at Real for three years and he has the chance to win the Copa del Rey this season.”

Well, not quite. He’s won one title in three years and conspicuously failed to win the Champions League, the one trophy craved by the club’s hierarchy and fanbase.

“All I can say is that he’s a top manager who I really enjoyed working under…We worked hard and we could also talk to him about personal problems. He was a friend. We were all sad when he left,” concluded Terry.

Moody Mou

If, as seems increasingly likely, this turns out to be the final month of Mourinho’s eventful Madrid career, then he certainly seems determined to leave with a bang.

Not content with alienating the Spanish press and dividing the fanbase, Mourinho is now slowly working his way round the dressing room in what appears to be a calculated bid to sever all ties ahead of what we assume will be an imminent and messy departure.

Pepe is the latest player in the firing line. His crime? Empathising with the plight of Iker Casillas who has effectively been placed on gardening leave this season.

The centre back suggested his coach should show Casillas more respect after Madrid’s 4-3 win over Valladolid at the weekend, but Mourinho has replied claiming that Pepe is simply trying to deflect attention from his own struggle to secure first-team football.

“Pepe’s comments? It is very easy to analyze what he says. Pepe has a problem and his name is Raphael Varane,” he said.

“A 31-year-old has lost his place to a 19-year-old. It’s the law of life. But who had the courage to field Varane? I did.”

Warming to his task, Mourinho then went on to explain his decision to drop Casillas in favor of Diego Lopez, stressing that it has nothing to do with any personal animosity between the pair.

“Let’s see if you understand it once and for all, I am a football coach,” Mourinho told reporters.

“They hired me to be a football coach and a football coach has certain responsibilities, one of which is to pick the team.

“I don’t do it by flipping a coin. I do it after discussion and lengthy analysis of my decisions.

“I like Diego Lopez more than Iker Casillas as a goalkeeper. This is not a personal decision, there is nothing bad between Iker and me.

“I like shot-stoppers who play well with their feet and who come off their line to collect crosses. Iker makes great saves between the posts, but I prefer a different type of goalkeeper.”

There has been speculation that the Portuguese’s behaviour is motivated by a desire to provoke the club into sacking him, thus ensuring he received a full pay-off of his contract which is due to expire in 2016. Mourinho, though, was having none of it.

“So that there is absolutely no doubt, I want to say that I will earn a salary until the final day I work for Real Madrid,” he said. “I don’t want a single euro more.”

Paris match

Leonardo risks a lengthy ban and Paris Saint-Germain face a potential point deduction after their sporting director appeared to barge into referee Alexandre Castro after Sunday’s draw with Valenciennes.

The French Football League’s (LFP) Disciplinary Commission will review television footage of the incident in which Leonardo, unhappy with Thiago Silva’s first-half red card in the 1-1 draw, appears to barge into Castro as the referee made his way to his dressing-room at the Parc des Princes.

Inevitably, considering the potential severity of the alleged push, Leonardo has denied he deliberately shoved the referee.

“It’s the delegate in front of me, with a black ear-piece, who blocked my path. It’s him who pushed me into the referee,” Leonardo told L’Equipe. “Look at the pictures: I don’t touch the referee with my shoulder but with my back. Because I was the one pushed. It is me who was assaulted. The referee doesn’t have the face of someone who’s been attacked. That’s because there was no violence on my part.”

The footage (see below) tells different story, as does Marc-Gerard Biolchini, the principal match delegate who pushed the PSG sporting director away from Castro.

“I didn’t barge into or touch Leonardo at any time. The pictures are clear enough. The commission will study them and we’ll explain what happened,” Biolchini told Le Parisien. “In 20 years, I’ve never known such an act of violence. Already at half-time, Leonardo came to speak to the referee. I stopped him going into the dressing-room, because he was really annoyed. It’s regrettable that it’s all ended like this.”

The normally urbane Brazilian does have form when it comes to this kind of behaviour. Tab Ramos, who spent weeks in hospital recovering from a Leonardo elbow was once on the receiving end of Lenoardo’s stray elbow.

Another one bites the dust?

Football’s year of the long knives continues with the suspension of executive committee member Chuck Blazer of the United States from all football-related activities for 90 days after he was accused of embezzling at least $21 million.

Blazer had previously said he’d be giving up his seat on FIFA’s board when his term expires this month. He was accused of fraud by a report released in April by CONCACAF.

Blazer is a former secretary general of CONCACAF and was accused of embezzling at least $21 million by compensating himself with the CONCACAF funds without authorization. Blazer also allegedly bought some apartments with the organisation’s money.

He resigned as CONCACAF’s secretary general in December 2011

FIFA said in a statement Monday that its ethics committee decided to provisionally ban Blazer ”based on the fact that various breaches of the FIFA Code of Ethics appear to have been committed by” the American.

Blazer has not commented on the ethics allegations.

Ironically, it was Blazer who was the whistle-blower in a bribery scandal involving his former boss at CONCACAF, Jack Warner. In June 2011, Warner resigned as the body’s president after Blazer accused him and then-Asian confederation head Mohamed bin Hammam of attempting to bribe Caribbean delegates $40,000 each to vote for bin Hammam in the FIFA presidential election.

His suspension brings to ten, the number of FIFA personalities disgraced to a greater or lesser degree over the past three years since the infamous 2018/2022 World Cup vote. You can read more about the other members who have fallen from grace by clicking here.

Goal of the day

Wonderful cross with the outside of the boot and Real Sociedad’s Carlos Vela connects with a full length diving header.

Quote of the day

“As long as he scores more goals than the shirts he takes off then that is OK… But taking your shirt off is not acceptable and he will notice that it isn’t acceptable on his handsome payslip at the end of the month.” 

Milan CEO Adriano Galliani confirms that Mario Balotelli will pay for removing his shirt after scoring a late winner winner in this weekend’s 1-0 victory over Torino.

On the mend

The goalkeeper who was knocked unconscious when he careered into a goalpost during a Belgian league game is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Lokeren goalkeeper Barry Boubacar Copa returned home on Tuesday after spending two days in a hospital to see if there was any damage to his neck and skull following the incident on Sunday.

Copa, the Ivory Coast’s national team goalkeeper, was diving to reach a shot in a playoff game against FC Brugge when he crashed into the post and was briefly knocked out.

Lokeren spokesman Romain Van Schoor said Tuesday the club ”does not expect him to play in any of the remaining games of the playoffs,” which end on May 19.

Pirates get away

Orlando Pirates midfielder Lehlohonolo Masalesa said that he and his team-mates feared for their lives after their African Champions League match in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Pirates lost 1-0 to TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi, but advanced to the group stages of the competition with a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Masalesa described his experience in Lumbumbashi as “hell” after an erratic performance by the referee, who presented captain Lucky Lekgwathi with a red card.

“Throughout the match, we only got one shot at goal. No fouls were given to us inside Mazembe’s half. We got no corner kicks whatsoever – nothing went our way – it was just crazy – it was not a good game,” Masalesa told the club’s website.

“Look, we chose to rather forget about all the negative things and take that experience in Congo and move on. We were scared for our lives after the match. The fans of Mazembe started burning cars outside the stadium – we could not understand that.

“It is never easy in Africa – we will soldier on from now – I think the team is better prepared to face whatever may come. We did well for the country and I am happy about that.”

Members only

German football is on the up at the moment and no club epitomises that seemingly inexorable rise more than Borussia Dortmund, who will contest this season’s Champions League final at Wembley.

Somewhat remarkably, the Bundesliga outfit have received over 500,000 applications for the all-Germany clash with Bayern Munich.

But, having received an allocation of just 24,000 tickets per team, Dortmund will only be able to satisfy about 5 per cent of the demand.

“We’ve followed how much sympathy people have towards us with great excitement,” marketing director Carsten Cramer told the club’s official website.

“More than 500,000 applications are a clear sign of Echte Liebe (true love, the club’s motto) which Borussia Dortmund fans feel towards the club and our authentic and successful team.”

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke also expressed regret over the situation, adding: “We’re sorry that we’re not nearly able to fulfil the wishes.

“Ten years ago, every club member would have had a chance to secure a ticket.”

Finally…

Moving tributes were paid to AIK goalkeeper, Ivan Turina, who died last week of a suspected heart attack.

On Monday night AIK played their first match since his death against IFK Gothenburg, and the club honoured Turina’s life.

Before the match a huge banner of Croat was erected behind the goal, and on 27 minutes proceedings came to a halt while supporters carried out a minute’s applause in memory of Turina.

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