Maple Leafs’ John Tavares on integrity of Stanley Cup: ‘It will be as deserving as any player or team before’

Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares was in the middle of the league’s return-to-play discussions with the National Hockey League Players’ Association as a member of the Return to Play Committee. On Tuesday, the NHL announced plans for how action could resume.

If the playoffs do happen, Toronto would face the Columbus Blue Jackets in a best-of-five play-in series for a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Leafs captain said keeping the integrity of the Stanley Cup was discussed heavily in a call with reporters Wednesday.

“I think anyone who gets their name on it wants to earn it like the players did before and I think we all feel given the circumstances for it, it’s not going to perfect considering we had to pause the season,” Tavares explained. “We came to the conclusion that this is the best one, whether it’s perfect or not I think can be up for debate but I think we’re going to get to our normal 16-team playoff.

“I think it’s going to be a very worthy and deserving Stanley Cup champion and it will be as deserving as any player or team before.”

Discussions are still ongoing on whether to make the first round of the playoffs a best-of-five or a best-of-seven series, but Tavares’ personal view would be to play all four rounds of the playoffs in a best-of-seven series.

Stanley Cup playoffs 2020: Everything you need to know

On Monday, the NHL announced its plans to enter Phase 2 of its return-to-play protocol which would allow players to train in groups of six or fewer. Because of the extensive layoff, Tavares is wary of the injury risks players face as training ramps up.

“I think the uniqueness of our sport, unlike maybe some of the other sports where running and jumping is really a lot of the major things that you do, a lot of that you can do at home or kind of out in open space and whatnot,” Tavares described. “Obviously for us being on the ice is a big hurdle and as we started discussing with the Return to Play Committee a number of weeks ago, we really wanted to be more on the cautious side than obviously being aggressive.

“It’s obviously something we’ve never really done before but we’re going to try to make the most informed and cautious decision, the best decision that we possibly can to make sure we’re keeping guys healthy and safe. We want the quality of the hockey to be really high and when guys haven’t been on the ice for two and a half months, and then you’re jumping right into a very highly competitive competition, we really want to make sure that everyone’s prepared.”

If the Leafs return to action, general manager Kyle Dubas expects the team to be nearly at full health. Ilya Mikheyev (wrist) and Jake Muzzin (hand) haven’t been fully cleared to return to play, but he expects both to be ready if play resumes. Forward Andreas Johnsson is recovering from knee surgery, which he underwent on Feb. 19. The Leafs put his timetable for recovery at six months so he could see a return to action should Toronto be playing in August.

Tavares said it’ll be a huge boost for the team to be nearly at full strength.

“I think as you get close to the playoffs, traditionally, there’s always nicks and bruises and things guys are dealing with that, not just us but around the league, every team is going to be pretty much at full strength,” Tavares said. “I think we know when we looked at our team on paper heading into training camp this year, we were really excited about not just our back end, but really top to bottom.

“Group has been built, and certainly we’ve had some great surprises. Some guys elevated over the course of this year that only makes our club better so we got tremendous steps that are only going to continue the competition and help our preparation as we hopefully can get back to the competition in a number of weeks.

“That’ll definitely be a really good strength for us to have everyone healthy and ready to go and have that depth.”

If the Stanley Cup is awarded this year, it’ll be a road unlike any team has taken before. Dubas is embracing the chaos of the 24-team playoff and is excited for his team to compete for a championship.

“I think there are going to be a lot of interesting results in the qualifying round, just given the nature of things and the delay between the teams last played and different changes to the roster,” Dubas told reporters. “It is unique. I think we’re certainly going to embrace it as a unique experience but also as a tremendous opportunity for our team and for our group.”

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What channel is NASCAR on today? TV schedule, start time for Wednesday night race at Charlotte

The TV channel for a NASCAR race is elusive enough in a normal season when Fox and FS1 trade broadcasts of Cup Series events through the first half of the schedule. The challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic make the “what channel is today’s NASCAR race on” question even more understandable.

Tonight, for the fourth time in just 11 days, those who seek the TV channel for the NASCAR race will be doing so in order to watch a real, live event rather than a virtual competition. The Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the second of two Cup races at the track in a four-day span after Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, will broadcast live on FS1 with a start time of 8 p.m. ET.

Wednesday’s race at Charlotte is the fourth in NASCAR’s return on an altered, short-term schedule as it attempts to keep a 36-race slate intact for 2020. For now, with remaining doubt about how NASCAR can construct its schedule beyond June given differing restrictions on gatherings of people from state to state, the short-term schedule includes only a handful of tracks.

As for Wednesday night’s race at Charlotte, it was added to the Cup Series schedule as a replacement for the Sonoma race that was previously scheduled for June 14. In part because it takes place on a week night, the race is relatively short (312 miles, 208 laps), especially compared to Sunday’s 600-mile event at the same track.

Below is how to watch Wednesday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte, including the TV channel and live stream options.

What channel is NASCAR on today?

Like the schedule itself, the TV channels for Cup Series races after June are up in the air. The Wednesday night’s race at Charlotte, though, as well as two more Cup Series races currently on the schedule for May June, will broadcast live on FS1.

Wednesday night’s race at Charlotte will be the second Cup event shown on FS1 since NASCAR returned to live racing. Last week’s Wednesday night race at Darlington also was shown on FS1. Sunday’s Cup Series race at Bristol also will broadcast live on FS1 before the series returns to Fox for the June 7 race at Atlanta.

As is the case for all the Cup Series races on Fox and FS1 this season, Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon will call Wednesday night’s race at Charlotte. They will do so remotely from the Fox studio rather than the booth at the track.

What time does the NASCAR race start today?

An 8 p.m. ET start time is as late as it gets for a NASCAR Cup Series race, and it works for this particular event since the race is only 312 miles. FS1’s coverage is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and the green flag is scheduled to wave at 8:25 p.m. ET.

The bad news as it relates to the start time for Wednesday night’s Cup Series race at Charlotte is the weather forecast. More rain is predicted for the Charlotte area Wednesday, so another delay is possible. The Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday had a 68-minute red flag due to a passing rain shower but was able to finish.

The only other night races currently on NASCAR’s modified schedule are the mid-week Martinsville race on Wednesday, June 10 and the Homestead race Sunday, June 14.

NASCAR live stream for Charlotte race

Anybody who has a cable or satellite subscription can stream Wednesday night’s race at Charlotte live via Fox Sports Go. This should be the preferred route for a viewer who has such a subscription but isn’t able to get in front of his or her TV.

For those who don’t have a cable or satellite subscription, there are five OTT TV streaming options that carry FS1 — Sling, Hulu, YouTubeTV, fuboTV and AT&T Now. Of the five, Hulu, YouTubeTV and fuboTV offer free trial options.

Below are links to each.

NASCAR schedule 2020

NASCAR on May 14 released its revised Cup Series schedule for May and June of 2020. It remains committed to running 36 races, four of which were completed before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sports world. According to Fox Sports, NASCAR hopes to keep its 10 playoff races in the fall intact and at their original tracks.

Below is the schedule revision for the Cup Series:

(NASCAR warns that the stage lengths and start times for the races above are tentative and subject to change.)

To start, NASCAR is scheduling races within driving distance of the Charlotte area, where most race teams are headquartered. That eliminates most of the travel-related logistics issues associated with running multiple races in one week, which appears necessary for a full season of racing.

Because those tracks are hosting more races than originally scheduled, NASCAR had to take races away from Chicagoland, Richmond and Sonoma. Via NASCAR, below are the details of those changes:

— “Chicagoland’s NASCAR Cup Series race, originally set for June 21, has been reassigned to Darlington on May 17. The 1.5-mile Illinois track’s Xfinity Series race that was scheduled June 20 will be held May 19 at Darlington. Chicagoland was also set to host the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (June 19) and ARCA Menards Series (June 18); officials indicated that those races will be reassigned at a later date.”

— “Richmond Raceway’s springtime Cup Series event on the initial schedule for April 19 has been moved to Darlington on May 20. A Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race that was to be run April 18 remains postponed, with officials saying details would come later for rescheduling. The .75-mile Virginia track’s Sept. 11-12 race weekend remains on the schedule.”

— “Sonoma Raceway’s Cup Series date for June 14 has been moved to Charlotte on May 27. Officials for the road course said in a release that they had worked with NASCAR to find an alternate date on the schedule, but that a suitable replacement could not be reached, ‘given the ongoing uncertainty around large events in California.'”

Below are the four NASCAR Cup Series races that are currently postponed (and their original dates on the schedule):

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Neutral venues back on the agenda ahead of Project Restart meeting

Neutral venues back on the agenda as Premier League clubs set to discuss using a combination of grounds to allay police concerns at crucial Project Restart meeting on Thursday

  • The Premier League season could be finished using a combination of venues 
  • A proposal to use ‘home/away and/or neutral venues’ is back on the agenda
  • All 20 clubs are to discuss the idea at Thursday’s Project Restart meeting
  • There will also be a vote on proposed financial settlement with the broadcasters 

The Premier League season could be completed using a combination of home grounds and neutral venues in a dramatic new twist to Project Restart. 

Sportsmail has learned that a proposal to use ‘home/away and/or neutral venues’ is on the agenda for the potentially decisive meeting of the 20 clubs this Thursday, when they will also be asked to provide approval in principle for the Premier League’s preferred resumption date, fixture list and plans for allocating league position in the event of curtailment. 

There will also be a formal vote on a proposed financial settlement with the broadcasters.

Neutral venues are back on the Project Restart agenda ahead of Thursday’s crucial meeting 

A combination of home and neutral grounds could be used to allay public order concerns

While a heated discussion over whether to the follow the EFL in using points-per-game to allocate places in preference to a weighted model had been expected to dominate Thursday’s meetings, the unexpected return of the neutral venues debate provides another potential source of disagreement. 

The Premier League’s proposal to play all 92 remaining matches at neutral stadiums came close to killing Project Restart in its infancy last month before Tottenham and Chelsea led a revolt begun by the bottom six clubs to force a re-think, which was accepted by the Government.

Sportsmail has been told that the Premier League are now considering a hybrid model in which a handful of fixtures could be moved to a neutral venue in order to allay any lingering public order and safety concerns. 

Whilst the majority of games would be staged on home grounds as planned certain high-risk matches could be switched to reduce the likelihood of fans congregating, and any potential flare-ups.

Liverpool’s tie with Crystal Palace could be played at a neutral ground should they win the title

Liverpool’s next two fixtures could fall into that category, as they are due to resume with the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park before a home game against Crystal Palace which could see them win the Premier League title. 

But there are also potential issues for other clubs. The Metropolitan Police may not sanction Arsenal’s north London derby at Tottenham or Chelsea’s trip across the capital to West Ham given the historic enmity between those clubs’ fans, while Wolves’ visit to Sheffield United could attract a crowd given its impact on European qualification for next season.

This mixed model would present obvious question marks regarding the integrity of the competition, but could still be accepted as a compromise required to get the season finished. 

Crucially, by maintaining the majority of home matches it would enable clubs to protect their commercial income, whilst alleviating fears of triggering mass gatherings. All the clubs contacted by Sportsmail on Sunday said they would wait to study the Premier League’s proposals in detail before deciding on their position, but did not dismiss it.

In addition to voting on the broadcasting settlement the clubs will also discuss how to sanction any breaches of the Government-approved training protocols, and whether to extend their financial support to the EFL beyond their existing solidarity and parachute payments.

Wolves’ visit to Sheffield United could attract crowd given impact on European qualification 




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Amir Khan shuts door on fighting without fans amid coronavirus crisis

Amir Khan shuts the door on bouts without fans amid coronavirus pandemic: ‘An empty arena is not going to lift me up to fight, I will have to wait until they’re full again’

  • Eddie Hearn exclusively revealed to Sportsmail his plan to bring boxing back
  • But Amir Khan will wait for his next bout, when fans are able to attend the fights
  • Promoter Hearn intends to stage fight nights on four consecutive Saturdays
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Amir Khan has shut the door on fighting without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn exclusively revealed to Sportsmail his plan to bring boxing back to the UK from July last week.

But 33-year-old Khan has not entered the ring since beating Billy Dib in Saudi Arabia last year and will wait until fans are able to attend for his next bout.

Boxer Amir Khan has shut the door on fighting without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic

‘Fighting in empty arenas when it’s just you, your opponent and the referee just won’t have the same feel,’ he told The Mirror.

‘An empty arena is not going to lift me up to fight, I will have to wait until they’re full again.  

‘How are the fighters going to get motivated? I couldn’t do it but maybe other people can.’

Khan has not fought since beating Billy Dib last year and will wait for his next bout

Hearn intends to stage fight nights on four consecutive Saturdays in the 15-acre grounds of his Matchroom headquarters in Brentwood, Essex, as his plan to bring elite boxing back to Britain amid the coronavirus crisis. 

His £1million plan is to open with the all-Brit world title clash between Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas in mid-July, before closing with Dillian Whyte’s WBC interim heavyweight title fight against Alexander Povetkin in the first or second Saturday in August.  

The proposal, which is in its advanced stages, will see four cards of five fights each spread across a 28-day stretch. With a working title of Matchroom Fight Camp, the expenditure and the logistical exercise are significant amid the restrictions caused by Covid-19. 

Thirty-three-year-old Khan is happy to wait to enter the ring when fans are allowed to attend




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LaLiga hope to restart on June 12 after claims it could be pushed back

LaLiga still hoping to re-start season in just THREE WEEKS despite latest report throwing opening Sevilla vs Betis derby in doubt… with Spain’s lifting of lockdown by region threatening to scupper plans

  • There have been suggestions that LaLiga could push back their restart date 
  • Spain’s regionalised relaxation of lockdown is at the heart of the potential delay 
  • But June 12 is still being viewed as a feasible best case scenario by LaLiga 

LaLiga have not given up on starting the season on June 12 despite reports in Spain on Friday morning suggesting they are now resigned to playing the first game back a week later.

Cadena Cope tweeted that the Spanish League had ruled out a June 12 start but Sportsmail understands that date is still being viewed as a feasible best scenario.

The 20 top-flight clubs were hoping to advance to full squad training next week but are now expected to have to continue small-group training before progressing the next phase.

There have been suggestions that the LaLiga restart could be pushed back by a week

But there is still hope that they can begin the season again on June 12, as currently planned

That could delay the plan to stage the Seville derby between Sevilla and Betis on Friday, June 12 with players and coaches preferring more time to prepare the resumption of the season.

Spain’s regionalised relaxation of lockdown is at the heart of the potential delay. It could mean that ‘phase three’, which would allow games to be played without problems, would not have been reached in some areas of the country. 

If certain regions are still in phase two the restart date would have to be put back unless the government decides to make exceptions for football.

They have already done this once. Last week neither Madrid nor Barcelona were out of lockdown phase zero but the six La Liga clubs in the two regions were given special dispensation to train in reduced groups of 10 players.

Regional lockdown variations mean teams have had to get dispensation to train in groups

LaLiga are keen not to be seen to jump ahead of official advice and president Javier Tebas said on Friday: ‘Clubs, directors, players and referees are all keen to start the season again but the competition will only start when the health authorities consider it to be possible. Coordination with CSD (Spanish Sports Council) and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) will be key.’

There are hopes that with football generating an estimated 1.37 per cent of the country’s GDP and being responsible for over 18,000 jobs there will be some flexibility.

LaLiga is especially keen to get football back on by June 12 because it marks 90 days since the State of Alarm was declared in Spain.

Diario AS reported this week that financial penalties written in to television contracts will come into effect if football stays off television screens in Spain beyond the 90-day date.

Javier Tebas insisted that the league would not jump ahead of official government advice




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Jesse Lingard opens up on his 'lows' at Manchester United

‘I just think of all the lows that I’ve had’: Jesse Lingard admits criticism from fans has spurred him on as he looks to emulate the trophy-winning Manchester United heroes he grew up watching

  • Jesse Lingard has spoken of the ‘lows’ he has endured at Manchester United 
  • Lingard has often been left out of the side and has struggled for consistency 
  • He says he still relishes playing for United and is eager to win trophies regularly 

Jesse Lingard has opened up on his struggles at Manchester United and stressed the importance of remaining positive in difficult moments.

Lingard has received a considerable amount of criticism for some of his performances, while he has failed to score or provide an assist in 20 Premier League appearances this season.   

The 27-year-old has found himself left out of the starting lineup on many occasions this season but stressed that he still relishes playing for such a high-profile club. 

Jesse Lingard spoke of his ‘lows’ at Manchester United but says it’s important to stay positive

Lingard told the club’s official website: ‘The main thing is to concentrate on the game, to get the win. That’s the most important thing. I just think of all the lows that I’ve had, I’m here now, coming onto the pitch and doing what I love doing best.

‘I love playing football and I’m at Man United, so you try and be positive in that aspect and your family are there watching. You’ve just got to go out there and enjoy it, take the positives.’

Lingard has enjoyed some positive moments at United, which included scoring the winner against Crystal Palace in the 2016 FA Cup final, while he has also won the Europa League and the League Cup.

In addition, he scored for England against Panama at the 2018 World Cup but he has since fallen out of favour under Gareth Southgate. 

Lingard stressed that United are eager to return to the days when winning trophies was a regular occurrence for the club.

The 27-year-old has endured frustration this season but is eager to turn his situation around

He said: ‘I think when I was coming through, the history of the club stuck out a lot to me.

‘The amount of trophies that had been won over the years was so inspiring. As a young lad coming through at that time, you can see the success, you know it’s there and you can’t wait to work hard to get into their shoes and be winning trophies as well.

‘We go through different stages of life where things change, managers come in and life transitions but as a club we have that backing behind us. We do have that never-say-die attitude. We have that hunger to win.’

There have been suggestions that Lingard could leave United, but he appears determined to turn his situation at the club around. 

Lingard’s current contract at United has a year to run although the club do have the option of a 12-month extension thereafter.  




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Nemanja Matic reveals all on life behind the scenes at Man United

From players hiding after losing under Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s improvement as Manchester United boss and Bruno Fernandes’ stunning impact… Nemanja Matic reveals all on life behind the scenes at Old Trafford

  • Nemanja Matic refers to former boss Jose Mourinho as ‘an amazing coach’
  • Matic won the Premier League with Mourinho and joined United to play for him
  • The Serbian, 31, says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has improved and will win trophies

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has revealed that players would hide from Jose Mourinho at their Carrington training ground if they had lost a game.

Mourinho signed the Serbian during his second spell in charge of Chelsea and also during his time as United manager. 

Despite their growing relationship and mutual respect, Matic has outlined the environment at training in which players could expect if they had lost under Mourinho.

Jose Mourinho signed Nemanja Matic when in charge at both Chelsea and Manchester United

 He featured in every game before resting for the last two during Mourinho’s United campaign 

‘It depends. If you win, he’s the best guy ever,’ Matic said via an Instagram Q&A session with Football Beyond Borders. ‘But if you lose, you’re hiding from him at the training ground. But he’s an amazing coach.’

United purchased Matic for £40million in the summer of 2017 after being recruited by his former Chelsea boss Mourinho. 

Under Mourinho, Matic was an ever-present figure in the Premier League during his first season with the Red Devils. 

So it was always going to have some effect on him when Mourinho was sacked towards the end of 2018.

Initially, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s arrival saw Matic sitting on the bench more often than not 

Recently Matic has turned around his fortunes as a Manchester United player with his fine form

JOSE MOURINHO’S TROPHIES

Porto

  • Primeira Liga X2
  • Taca de Portugal
  • UEFA Champions League
  • UEFA Cup

Chelsea

  • Premier League X3
  • FA Cup
  • League Cup X3

Inter Milan

  • Serie A X2
  • Coppa Italia
  • UEFA Champions League

Real Madrid

  • La Liga
  • Copa de Rey
  • Manchester United
  • League Cup
  • UEFA Europa League

Initially, a change in manager didn’t do Matic any harm. He featured in each of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first nine league matches – of which they won eight – before an injury ruled him out.

It was on his return that problems arose. After two matches back he was dropped to the bench, before being left out of the squad entirely.

However, due to the midfield crisis at United – with Scott McTominay joining Paul Pogba on the sidelines – Matic was handed a lifeline.

The 31-year-old has since played an integral role in United’s resurgence which had seen them close the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea before the Premier League hiatus due to the coronavirus crisis.

Since December United have kept eight clean sheets in the 14 matches, the Serbian has played. He’s started eight of the last nine, missing the other through suspension.

Despite a difficult start to his time under Solskjaer, Matic has nothing but good things to stay about his boss.

‘Ole is a great manager. I think he has improved a lot since he came to United, and he is different now,’ Matic said.

‘I’m sure he has a great future here, and he will win us trophies.’

Since being reintroduced to the first XI in December, United have triggered a clause in Matic’s contract to extend his current deal by a year.

The midfielder had just over two months left on his contract, but United have opted to extend his stay until at least 2021.

Matic, 31, says that he spends a lot of time talking to players his own age, like Paul Pogba

Matic also says that he has a close relationship with Juan Mata who is a year old at 32-years-old

Despite being one of the older members of the squad, Matic insists he gets on well with everyone in the team.

‘There is not one guy who is not a good person in our changing room,’ he said.

‘I’m 31 now, and some of the players are ten years younger than me. I speak more to players my own age, like Paul [Pogba], David [de Gea] and Juan [Mata], but I set next to Mason Greenwood in the dressing room, so we’ve got to know each other too.’

MAN UNITED 19/20 SIGNINGS 

Aaron Wan-Bissaka £50m

Daniel James £15m

Bruno Fernandes £68m

Odion Ighalo £3m loan

Matic even shared his opinion Portuguese midfielder, Bruno Fernandes, admitting he was surprised at how he has slotted into United’s midfield so effortlessly after making the £68m transfer from Sporting to Old Trafford earlier this year.   

‘Because I follow the Portuguese league, I knew he was good – even though he played for Sporting! But I’m very surprised he adapted so quickly to the Premier League,’ Matic said.

‘He brings us a lot of qualities, like the confidence he has on the pitch, he always knows what he wants to do with the ball.’

The arrival of Bruno Fernandes has prompted some of the best performances from the Serb 




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Holyfield hints at comeback on Twitter as Tyson steps up training

Evander Holyfield hints at boxing comeback with cryptic tweet after Mike Tyson steps up return to ring with fearsome training video sparking rumours pair could be set for trilogy 24 years after infamous ‘Bite Fight’

  • Evander Holyfield posted a picture with the word ‘comeback’ covering his face
  • Holyfield’s Twitter caption read: ‘a setback only paves the way for a comeback’ 
  • The 57-year-old made the post shortly after news of Mike Tyson’s own comeback
  • Tyson is preparing to fight in four-round charity bout to raise money for causes

Evander Holyfield has hinted he could be set for a shock return to the boxing ring after making a cryptic post on Twitter. 

The ‘Real Deal’ hasn’t fought since hanging up his gloves after beating the little known Danish fighter Brian Nelsen by technical knockout back in 2011.

At his peak, Holyfield was the undisputed heavyweight champion after moving up from cruiserweight, where he had also reigned supreme. 

Evander Holyfield has hinted he could be set for a shock return to boxing at the age of 57

Holyfield, 57, posted a cryptic pic on Twitter hinting he could be ready to lace them up again

Fans have speculated he could face former foe Mike Tyson in a trilogy fight for charity

Now 57, Holyfield’s best days are surely behind him but his Twitter post has sparked rumours he could be about to lace up the gloves again. 

He posted a picture on Monday which showed an image of him snarling, along with the word ‘comeback’ in capital letters over the top of it. 

He also wrote a teasing caption, which read: ‘A setback only paves the way for a comeback.’ 

The timing of Holyfield’s post is even more tantalising, just days after former foe Mike Tyson announced he will return for a four-round charity bout.

Holyfield’s post comes just days after Tyson revealed he’s in training ahead of a comeback

Tyson has revealed plans to compete in exhibition bouts to help raise money for charity 

Holyfield and Tyson fought twice in the 1990s, with the ‘Real Deal’ coming out on top

Tyson has posted a series of training videos displaying his fearsome power, and revealed he wants to fight again to raise money for special causes. 

While ‘Iron Mike’ hasn’t yet mentioned any potential opponents, fans are now wondering if Holyfield could be tempted to fight Tyson for a third time. 

The pair met twice in two famous encounters in the 1990s, which saw Holyfield knock out his rival in their first bout before their infamous second fight. 

Dubbed the ‘Bite Fight’, the brawl is best remembered for Tyson biting a chunk out of Holyfield’s ear during the contest.

Tyson was eventually disqualified after biting Holyfield on two separate occasions, to effectively end his career as an elite level heavyweight.




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World Rugby: Decision on next boss imminent as vote closes

The next boss of World Rugby could be announced as early as Saturday, rather than on the original date of 12 May.

The vote closed on Thursday with current chairman Sir Bill Beaumont and vice-chairman Agustin Pichot vying for the top job in the sport.

While the process is confidential, it is understood one of the candidates has won a majority.

So Beaumont and Pichot have agreed to bring the announcement forward after one of the closest races in history.

Once the decision is cleared by the World Rugby council, the governing body will announce who will lead the game for the next four years.

While Beaumont, 68, is the narrow favourite to be re-elected, former Argentina skipper Pichot has run a dynamic campaign as he vows to shake up the establishment.

The former England captain has the backing of the Six Nations unions and Rugby Europe – a total of 20 of the 26 votes needed – but Pichot, 45, has the support of the southern hemisphere Sanzaar unions, as well as the regions of South America and Asia.

With the north American votes thought to be split, the likes of Japan and Rugby Africa could hold sway, with a source close to Pichot telling the BBC the race is “very tight”.

Following the closing of the vote, Beaumont thanked his supporters and acknowledged “the positive and passionate debate” Pichot brought to the campaign.

“It’s ignited constructive discussion about priorities that will strengthen the global game,” Beaumont added.

World Rugby originally planned to announce the result after a Council meeting on 12 May, a full two weeks after the electronic vote opened. This was in case a second round of voting was needed in the event of a tie.

Each member of World Rugby’s 51-person Council gets a vote, excluding the chairman, with 26 needed for a majority.

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15 years on from Messi's first Barca goal, where are his team-mates?

Ronaldinho under house arrest in Paraguay, a midfielder sacked by Genoa after 10 games and a striker helping to fight coronavirus… 15 years on from Lionel Messi’s first senior goal for Barcelona, where are all of his team-mates from that famous day?

  • Lionel Messi scored his first senior goal for Barcelona on May 1, 2005
  • The Argentine announced himself to the Nou Camp with a goal against Albacete
  • He played alongside the likes of Ronaldinho, Deco and Carles Puyol on that day
  • But where are the other members of that team and what are they doing now? 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

It is 15 years to the day that arguably football’s greatest-ever player scored his first senior goal for Barcelona.

Lionel Messi announced himself at the Nou Camp with a beautiful chipped finish against Albacete on May 1, 2005 and has gone on to have a stunning career for the Spanish giants.

On that day he shared the pitch with Ronaldinho, Carles Puyol and Samuel Eto’o among others, but Sportsmail has found where the rest of his team-mates from that momentous occasion are now.

Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his first senior Barcelona goal on this day in 2005

Barcelona: Valdes, Belletti, Oleguer, Puyol, Van Bronckhorst, Marquez (Motta 62), Iniesta, Deco, Giuly, Ronaldinho, Eto’o (Messi 88).

Subs not used: Jorquera, Navarro, Sylvinho, Albertini, Lopez.

Goals: Eto’o 66, Messi 90+1

Booked: Puyol, Eto’o, Deco, Motta

Victor Valdes – Goalkeeper

After winning six LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues, Valdes called time on his Barcelona career in the summer of 2014. When a bad knee injury led to a move to Monaco collapsing, he eventually signed with Manchester United. 

After playing back up to David De Gea for the rest of that season, Valdes left the club after a bitter fall out. He signed on loan for Standard Liege and was then let go for nothing and picked up by Middlesbrough on a free.

He failed to replicate the form he had showed at the Nou Camp and was let go in July 2017. Valdes officially retired from football in January 2018. He decided to take up coaching and took the reigns of Barcelona’s under-19 side but he was sacked just months later.

After a stunning career, Victor Valdes ended up at Middlesbrough before eventually retiring

Juliano Belletti – Right Back

The Brazilian played for Barcelona for three years before leaving the club in 2007 ahead of Dani Alves’ arrival as the club’s new first-choice right back 12 months later.

He scored the winner in the 2006 Champions League final against Arsenal and won two league titles before going on to enjoy further success at Chelsea. Belletti is now a club ambassador.

Belletti once recalled how Messi left him red faced during one training session as a youngster. 

‘When Messi came out of the B team, Frank Rijkaard put him in with us in an 11 against 11 on a small pitch,’ he explained. 

Juliano Belletti is a club ambassador and has told a story of how Messi once embarrassed him

‘He was on the substitute team and I was with the starters. Iniesta caught my attention and asked me if I knew him (Messi). I said no and he warned me: “Be careful, eh”.

‘When he first got on the ball, I thought: “Damn! This kid is cheeky!”

‘Then, when I was preparing to approach him and take the ball off him, he’d already gone past me and scored a goal. He ran right through me.’

Oleguer – Centre Back

The defender left the Nou Camp in 2008 and moved to Ajax. He spent three years in Amsterdam, winning the Eredivisie once before calling time on his playing career in 2011.

Now Oleguer is a political activist and campaigns for Catalonia’s independence. He also has a degree in economics and is also a published author.

Oleguer, pictured in 2013, is a political activist and campaigns for Catalonia’s independence

Carles Puyol – Centre Back

The curly-haired defender was the embodiment of Barcelona for so many years, winning titles over a 15-year period that made him one of the most successful players to ever play the game.

He stayed at the Nou Camp his whole career, winning six LaLiga titles and the Champions League on three occasions. He also won the World Cup with Spain in 2010 and Euro 2008.

Puyol left the club at the end of the 2013-14 season and is now enjoying his retirement. He has been linked with a sensational return to Barcelona as sporting director in recent months.

Carles Puyol has been heavily linked with a return to Barcelona in the role of sporting director

Giovanni van Bronckhorst – Left Back

The Dutchman left Barcelona in 2007 and had another three years as a player with Feyernoord before retiring after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

He wanted to cut his teeth in management and became assistant manager at the Rotterdam club in 2011. Van Bronckhorst then got the manager’s job in 2015 and led Feyernoord to the league title in 2016-17 before leaving the club in the summer of 2019.

The 45-year-old returned to management earlier this year when he was appointed by Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F in January.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst returned to management earlier this year with Guangzhou R&F

Rafael Marquez – Defensive midfield

The Mexican was a centre back by trade but could effortlessly slot into the base of the midfield trio to shield the defence and start attacks.

After seven years at the Nou Camp, Marquez left for the MLS and the lights of New York City, signing for the New York Red Bulls in 2010. He spent two years there before playing in his native Mexico for Leon and returning to Europe for a stint with Hellas Verona. 

In December 2015 Marquez returned to Atlas, the club he started his career with, and eventually called time on his playing career in 2018. He took over as sporting director for a year and is now said to be looking for a similar job in Europe. 

Andres Iniesta – Centre Midfield

A stalwart of the Barcelona midfield for 16 years, Iniesta only left the Nou Camp in 2018 after winning multiple titles with the Catalan giants.

He was also a key part of the Spanish team that won three international tournaments in 2008, 2010 and 2012. 

Now 35, Iniesta is still running games from midfield but now plays in the Japanese J1 League with Vissel Kobe. 

Andres Iniesta only recently left Barcelona and now plays in the J1 League with Vissel Kobe

Deco – Centre Midfield

Deco was an outrageously talented midfielder but like, Ronaldinho, seemed to like to party a little too much.

Former Barcelona team-mate Alexander Hleb claimed that Ronaldinho was eventually sold by Barcelona because he and Deco used to come to training drunk. 

‘They were afraid he would bring down Lionel Messi,’ Hleb claimed. 

Things got worse for the former Chelsea star in 2013 when he tested positive for a banned substance in Brazil. The football authorities and Deco came to a settlement and he was found not guilty of doping. 

After retiring, Deco chose to remain in Brazil and has reportedly forged a new career for himself as a player agent. 

After retiring, Deco chose to remain in Brazil and has forged a new career as a player agent

Ludovic Giuly – Right Midfield

The Frenchman was only at Barcelona for three years but still won two league titles and the Champions League.

Giuly was probably the player impacted most by Messi’s arrival onto the scene as the Argentine would go on to take his position on the right of attack for years to come.

After leaving Barcelona, Giuly played for Roma, PSG, Monaco before retiring in 2016 after a spell at boyhood club Monts d’Or Azergues Foot. He is now an assistant coach for Monaco’s B team.

After leaving Barcelona and retiring in 2016, Giuly is an assistant coach for Monaco’s B team

Ronaldinho – Left Midfield

One of the most creative and talented players of his generation, Ronaldinho had spells at AC Milan and at clubs in his native Brazil before hanging up his boots in January 2018. 

But his life has taken a bizarre twist in recent weeks with the Brazilian placed under house arrest after being picked up alongside his brother by Paraguayan authorities for using a fake passport.

Still under investigation, he is under house arrest at the Palmaroga hotel in the capital of Asuncion, having originally spent 32 days in prison.  

Ronaldinho has been placed under house arrest in Paraguay after using a fake passport

Samuel Eto’o – Striker

The Cameroonian left Barcelona in 2009 and went on to have further success at Inter Milan before bouncing around clubs in England, Turkey, Italy and Russia.

Now retired, Eto’o is doing his bit to tackle the coronavirus, promising supplies to 100,000 people in his home country.

The 39-year-old donated face masks, hand sanitisers, soaps and food through his Samuel Eto’o foundation. The vital supplies will be sent to 50,000 households across four cities in the African nation. 

Samuel Eto’o is helping tackle coronavirus in his country by donating supplies to 100k people 

SUBS

Thiago Motta (replaced Marquez)

After six years with Barcelona, Motta stayed in Spain and enjoyed a brief spell at Atletico Madrid. He then had spells at Genoa and Inter Milan before moving to PSG for the final few years of his career.

Now making his way into management, Motta was sacked by Genoa after just 10 matches earlier in the season. 

Former midfielder Thiago Motta was sacked by Genoa after 10 matches earlier in the season

Albert Jorquera

A goalkeeper, Jorquera played for Barcelona for 15 years but made just a handful of first-team appearances. After leaving in 2009 he signed for Girona and played there for three years before retiring. 

After quitting football, Jorquera studied for a gemology degree at the University of Barcelona and went into the family’s jewellery business. 

Fernando Navarro

Navarro’s career really took off when he moved away from Barcelona. After a stint at Mallorca, he signed for Sevilla in 2008 and made over 200 appearances in an seven-year spell.

He retired in 2018 at Deportivo La Coruna and in May 2019 joined Sevilla’s sporting management team under the supervision of Monchi. 

Fernando Navarro retired in 2018 and works in Sevilla’s sporting management with Monchi (L)

Sylvinho

The former Arsenal and Brazil full back left Barcelona in 2009 and went on to play a handful of times for Manchester City in England before retiring.

In 2011 he was appointed assistant manager of Cruzeiro and also worked as a No 2 at Inter Milan and for the Brazil national team.

In May 2019 he was given his first management job at Lyon, replacing the outgoing Bruno Genesio but did not last long and was sacked in October 2019. 

In May 2019, Sylvinho was given his first management job at Lyon but did not last long

Demetrio Albertini 

The AC Milan legend was a January transfer in the 2004-05 season and managed to win LaLiga in his brief time at the club before retiring that summer.

He has since held various administrative roles within football at the Italian governing body and has worked closely with Serie A side Parma.

It is also believed that he is a researcher for hit video game Football Manager.

Gerard Lopez

A composed midfielder, Lopez enjoyed spells at both Barcelona and Valencia during his playing career and decided to retire in 2011 after a spell at Girona.

In October 2013, he had the tough job of replacing Johan Cruyff as the manager of the Catalonia team. He stayed there for three years before Lopez returned to Barcelona to coach their B team. Again, he stayed for three years before being relieved of his duties.





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