Newcastle re-appoint Kevin Keegan as manager… The 26th African Nations Cup kicks off in Ghana…Fabio Capello starts work as England coach… In the January transfer window, Valencia sign Argentinian midfielder Ever Banega from Boca Juniors, Chelsea sign Nicolas Anelka from Bolton and Argentinian teenager Franco Di Santo from Audax Italiano, Nery Castillo joins Man City from Shakhtar Donetsk, Brazilian teenage defender Breno moves to Bayern Munich, Momo Sissoko joins Juventus from Liverpool, who sign Martin Skrtel from Zenit St Petersburg, and Parma bring back Cristiano Lucarelli to Italy from Shakhtar Donetsk.
Mali’s Freddie Kanoute is a controversial choice as African Player of the Year after Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba refuses to attend the ceremony… Arsenal’s Croatian striker Eduardo is ruled out of Euro 2008 after an horrific ankle fracture… Egypt retain the African Nations Cup beating Cameroon 1-0 in the Final… The English Premier League’s proposal for a ‘Game 39’, to be played abroad, attracts widespread condemnation… The G-14 group of European ‘superclubs’ officially dispands… The Republic of Ireland appoint Giovanni Trapattoni as national coach…Brazilian striker Ronaldo faces a battle to play again professionally after suffering another serious knee injury… Ajax approach Johan Cruyff to becometheir new technical director.
Violence in Italy continues when a Parma fan is killed by Juventus fans at a motorway service station… Iran appoint former player Ali Daei as national coach… Milan and Real Madrid exit Champions League at the first knockout stage, losing to Arsenal and Roma respectively… Johan Cruyff turns down Ajax following the announcement of Holland boss Marco Van Basten as their new head coach… Holger Osieck is sacked by J.League champions Urawa Red Diamonds just two games into the new season… Hugo Sanchez steps down as Mexico coach after the failure to qualify for the Olympics… Jose Antonio Camacho is sacked as coach of Benfica.
Carlos Alberto Parreira quits as coach of 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa for family reasons…Romario announces his retirement at the age of 42… The court case against former executive of the bankrupt marketing company ISL opens in Zug… Chelsea reach their first Champions League Final after beating Liverpool in a tight semi-final… Zenit St Petersburg thrash Bayern in a controversial UEFA Cup semi-final which, it is later alleged by a crusading Spanish judge, the Russian mafia tried to fix… Mexico’s Pachuca beat Deportivo Saprissa of Costa Rica to win the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
There are familiar names at the top of Europe’s leading leagues as Internazionale, Lyon, Real Madrid, PSV and FC Porto retain their titles, while Manchester United and Bayern Munich win in England and Germany respectively. There new winners in Belgium, where Standard Liege win their first league title for more than 20 years… Oliver Kahn plays his last league game for Bayern Munich, while Benfica’s Rui Costa also announces his retirement… Manchester United beat Chelsea in the first all-English Champions League Final in Moscow… Zenit St Petersburg win the UEFA Cup, beating Rangers 2-0 at the City of Manchester stadium… at the FIFA Congress in Sydney, president Sepp Blatter seeks approval for his ‘6+5’ plan for home-grown players… UEFA president Michel Platini speaks out against English clubs in debt.
The month is dominated by Euro 2008…Spain beat Germany in the Final to finally win a major title; Holland, who beat France and Italy in the group stages, play some of the best football, along with Russia, who have a new star in Andrei Arshavin; Italy, missing the injured Fabio Cannavaro, rely too heavily on misfiring striker Luca Toni and go out on penalties to Spain in the quarter-finals, the moment Spain started to believe they could win… Elsewhere in the world, Mexico appoint Sven Goran Eriksson as new coach… LDU Quito of Ecuador win the Libertadores Cup, beating Brazil’s Fluminense on penalties in the Final… River Plate win the Argentinian closing championship.
There are new club coaches at some of Europe’s biggest clubs: Luiz Felipe Scolari takes over at Chelsea, Jurgen Klinsmann at Bayern Munich, Josep Guardiola at Barcelona, Jose Mourinho at Internazionale, Marco Van Basten at Ajax… Sepp Blatter provokes a major row when he compares Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract situation at Manchester United to “modern slavery”… After Euro 2008, there’s a major changing of the guard: Karel Bruckner leaves Czech Republic to take charge of Austria; Luis Aragones leaves Spain to coach Fenerbahce and is replaced by Vicente Del Bosque; Bert Van Marwijk replaces Van Basten at Holland; Marcello Lippi is back as Italy coach after the resignation of Roberto Donadoni; Ottmar Hitzfeld takes over as Switzerland coach; Carlos Queiroz is the new boss of Portugal…But Raymond Domenech stays on as France coach, despite strong opposition from the media and French public; also carrying on are Croatia’s Slaven Bilic, Russia’s Guus Hiddink and Germany’s Joachim Low.
In the build-up to the football tournament at the Beijing Olympics, there is a major row over player availability, but clubs eventually back down; Argentina, inspired by Lionel Messi, win the gold medal, having beaten favourites Brazil, and there are also strong performances by Nigeria and Belgium… Ruud Gullit leaves LA Galaxy… In the summer transfer market, Ronaldinho leaves Barcelona for Milan, Real Madrid sign Rafael Van der Vaart, Euro 2008 stars Luka Modric and Roman Pavlyuchenko join Spurs… Manchester City are bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group, potentially making them the world’s richest club… The arrival of Robinho at City from Real Madrid strengthens the influence of Brazilian players in the Premier League.
Kevin Keegan quits Newcastle after a breakdown in relations with owner Mike Ashley… Brazilian coach Zico joins compatriot Rivaldo at ambitious Uzbekistan club Bunyodkor… Romanian champions CFR Cluj and Anorthosis Famagusta are the surprise qualifiers for the Champions League group stages… UEFA Congress approves a plan for the expansion of the European Championships to 24 teams, as well as the rebranding of the UEFA Cup as the Europa League.
In the World Cup qualifiers, Brazil and Argentina struggle, while South Africa and Senegal miss out on the final stage of the African qualifiers… Diego Maradona is appointed Argentina coach following the resignation of Alfio Basile… Poland’s hosting of Euro 2012 is called into question after the Polish FA is threatened with international suspension by FIFA, who are angry at Polish government interference in the FA.
Japan’s Gamba Osaka win the Asian Champions League for the first time, beating Adelaide United of Australia in convincing style… Egypt’s Al Ahly win the African Champions League for the third time in four years.
Cristiano Ronaldo is hailed as the world’s best player… Manchester United are the overwhelming favourites to win the Club World Cup in Japan… Surprise teams lead the way in a number of European leagues, including Hoffenheim in Germany and Leixoes in Portugal… David Beckham and Landon Donovan are scheduled to move to European clubs for loan spells during the MLS close season… French government ministers, with the encouragement of Michel Platini, try to persuade their European counterparts to accept tougher policing of club finances.
Anton ‘Toni’ Allemann, former Swiss international, 72
Fons Bastijns, former Club Brugge player, 61
Gordon Bradley, former US coach, 74
Valentin Bubukin, USSR European champion in 1960, 75
Tommy Burns, former Celtic manager, 52
Charlie Dempsey, former Oceania president, 87
Derek Dooley, Sheffield-born player and manager, 78
Regis Genaux, former Belgian international, 35,
Louis Hon, former France international and coach, 83
Rudolf Illovszky, former Hungarian national coach, 86
Geza Kalocsay, former Hungarian/Czech international/coach, 95
Heinrich ‘Heinz’ Kwiatkowski, German 1954 World Cup winner, 84
Jacob ‘Bobo’ Lekgetho, South African international, 34
Pedro Pompilio, Boca Juniors president, 55
Abram Raselemane, South African international, 30
Emmanuel ‘Manno’ Sanon, leading member of Haiti’s 1974 World Cup squad, 56
Luis SantibANez, former Chile national coach, 72
Franco Sensi, Roma president, 82
Jimmy Sirrel, English manager, 86
Mathieu Sprengers, Dutch FA president/UEFA executive member, 69
FranCois Sterchele, Belgian striker, 26
Derek Tapscott, former Welsh international, 75
Guy Tchingoma, Gabon international, 22
Johnny Thio, former Belgian international and coach, 73
Constant Vanden Stock, former Anderlecht owner, 93
Giovanni Viola, former Italy goalkeeper, 82
Victor Wegria, former Belgian international, 71