Kolo Touré

Kolo Habib Touré (born 19 March 1981) is an Ivorian footballer who plays for Liverpool and the Ivory Coast national team as a central defender. He previously played for Manchester City and Arsenal, where he was a member of the famous ‘invincibles’ side of the 2003–04 season. He is the elder brother of Manchester City’s Yaya Touré and Al-Nasr Benghazi‘s Ibrahim Touré.

Arsenal

Born in Bouake, Touré joined Premier League team Arsenal in February 2002 from ASEC Mimosas for a fee of £150,000 after a short trial. His status as a full international meant Touré was able to secure a British work permit. Touré did not make his debut for the first team until the next season, against Liverpool in the FA Community Shield in August 2002.[3] Initially regarded as a utility player, he started his Arsenal career as a defensive midfielder as well as in right back. He scored his first Arsenal goal at Stamford Bridge in a 1–1 draw against Chelsea.[4] Arsenal failed to retain the Premiership crown that season, but Touré made a big step in his career nonetheless, winning the FA Cup as an unused substitute in the final.
 
At the start of the 2003–04 season, Wenger began using Touré as a central defender alongside Sol Campbell. He formed a terrific partnership with Campbell and had a great season during which Arsenal were undefeated in the league, claiming the title. He, having previously been a striker or attacking midfielder, made a reputation for himself as being an attacking defender, although he only scored one goal and had one assist. Touré was in and out of the Arsenal team during the 2004–05 season, battling for a first team place with the likes of Philippe Senderos and Pascal Cygan to play alongside Sol Campbell in defence. Touré ended the season with a FA Cup winners medal playing 50 times for Arsenal that season and scoring one goal. His only goal of the 2004–05 season came in the 90th minute of Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League last 16 round tie against Bayern Munich of Germany. Arsenal lost the game 3–1.
 
Touré quickly established himself as one of the best centre backs in the Premier League.[citation needed] He established himself as a permanent fixture in the Arsenal starting XI and as a fan favourite. In the 2005–06 season, he established a formidable defensive partnership with Senderos. Both centre backs had immaculate form towards the end of the season, helping the Arsenal team reach the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final after keeping 10 consecutive clean sheets (a European competition record).
Touré scored his second European goal on 19 April 2006, the winner in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Villarreal CF. It was the final European goal scored at Highbury and the goal that effectively decided the tie (Arsenal won 1–0 on aggregate), to send Arsenal through to their first ever Champions League Final in Paris, France. Touré was handed the number 5 shirt for the 2006–07 season, which had been vacant since the departure of Martin Keown. In August 2006, Touré signed a new four-year deal with Arsenal worth around £70,000 a week.[citation needed]
 
Touré was the junior vice-captain in the 2006–07 season after former vice-captain Gilberto Silva and former captain Thierry Henry. He captained Arsenal for the first time on 9 January 2007 during a 6–3 victory over Liverpool in the League Cup. He also led the Gunners out for the final of this competition, having also captained them in the semi-final first leg against Tottenham Hotspur. He became the longest-serving member of the current Arsenal squad following the departures of Jérémie Aliadière, Thierry Henry and Fredrik Ljungberg during the summer transfer window in 2007. He also captained Arsenal in a string of games early in the 2007–08 season after captain William Gallas was injured in the game against Blackburn Rovers.
 
He scored a free kick in a match against Bolton Wanderers, where his shot was low and went under two Bolton players and beat Jussi Jääskeläinen. However, during the Africa Cup of Nations, he suffered an injury and looked a bit out of place when he returned and then injured himself again in the Champions League against A.C. Milan when he blocked Alexandre Pato‘s shot with his leg and was carried off the pitch after treatment. Touré returned to the starting lineup against Middlesbrough on 15 March and scored the equalising goal for Arsenal in the final 10 minutes. On 13 April 2009, Touré demanded a move away from Arsenal after a reputed bust-up with defensive partner Gallas. He reportedly handed in a transfer request which was later turned down by Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood.[5] However, Touré temporarily reversed his decision and committed to the Gunners at least until the summer.[6]
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Samir Nasri

Samir Nasri (born 26 June 1987) is a French international footballer who plays for English club Manchester City in the Premier League and the France national team. He primarily plays as an attacking midfielder and a winger, although he has also been deployed in central midfield. Nasri is known for his technical ability, creativity, pace, and ability to read the game.[3][4] Of Algerian heritage, he is described as a player whose “vision and imagination make him an unpredictable opponent”.[5] His playing style, ability, and cultural background have drawn comparisons to French legend Zinedine Zidane.[6][7]
Nasri began his football career playing for local youth clubs in his hometown of Marseille. At the age of nine, he joined professional club Olympique de Marseille and spent the next seven years developing in the club’s youth academy at La Commanderie, the club’s training center. In the 2004–05 season, Nasri made his professional debut in September 2004 at the age of 17 against Sochaux. In the following season, he became a regular starter in the team and also participated in European competition for the first time after playing in the 2005–06 edition of the UEFA Cup. In the 2006–07 campaign, Nasri won the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Young Player of the Year award and was also named to the Team of the Year. He finished his career with Marseille amassing over 160 appearances. He played in the teams that reached back-to-back Coupe de France finals in 2006 and 2007.
 
In June 2008, Nasri joined Premier League club Arsenal agreeing to a four-year contract. He reached prominence with the team in his third season winning the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Fans’ Player of the Month award on three occasions and being named to the association’s Team of the Year. In December 2010, he was named the French Player of the Year for his performances during the calendar year.[8] In August 2011, after three seasons with Arsenal, Nasri joined Manchester City on a four-year contract. In his first season with the club, he won his first major honour as a player as the club won the 2011–12 edition of the Premier League. Nasri is a former French youth international and has represented his nation at every level for which he was eligible. Prior to playing for the senior team, he played on the under-17 team that won the 2004 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship. Nasri made his senior international debut in March 2007 in a friendly match against Austria. Two months later, he scored his first senior international goal in a 1–0 UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying win over Georgia. Nasri has represented France at two major international tournaments: UEFA Euro 2008 and UEFA Euro 2012.

Personal life

Nasri was born in Septèmes-les-Vallons, a northern suburb of the Marseille, to French nationals of Algerian descent.[9][10] His mother, Ouassila Ben Saïd, and father, Abdelhafid Nasri, were both born in France; his father being born and raised in Marseille, while his mother being from nearby Salon-de-Provence.[10][11] Nasri’s grandparents emigrated to France from Algeria.[12] His mother is a housewife and his father previously worked as a bus driver before becoming his son’s personal manager. At the start of his football career, Nasri initially played under his mother’s surname, Ben Saïd, before switching to Nasri, his father’s surname, following his selection to the France under-16 team.[13] He is the eldest of four children and is a non-practising Muslim.[14] Nasri has a younger sister named Sonia and twin brothers named Walid and Malik.[10] All four were raised in La Gavotte Peyret. After joining Arsenal in England, Nasri settled in Hampstead, a district of North London.[15]

Club career

Early career

While growing up in La Gavotte Peyret, Nasri grew an attraction to the sport of football at a young age.[7] He regularly played the sport on the streets where he learned many of his skills. Upon noticing his prodigious talent, his parents signed him up to play with the local club in his hometown. Nasri spent one year playing with the club in La Gavotte Peyret before moving to Pennes Mirabeau in nearby Mirabeau at the age of seven. While playing with Pennes, Nasri was discovered by Marseille scout Freddy Assolen who had been informed of the player’s talent through local word of mouth.[10][16] After noticing Nasri’s skill in person, Assolen recruited the player to travel with a group of other young players to Italy to participate in a youth tournament where they would play against the youth academies of Milan and Juventus. Nasri impressed at the tournament and Assolen was jokingly told by a Milan scout that “he (Nasri) stays here, you leave him”.[10] After returning to France, Marseille officials organized a meeting with the player’s father and the group agreed to allow Nasri insertion into the club’s academy at the age of nine.

Marseille

 
Upon entering the Marseille youth academy, Nasri quickly impressed. Upon moving to Bastide, where the club’s youth players reside, his style of play began to take shape. In 2007, Nasri admitted that the move to Bastide really helped his game stating, “That’s where I really started to progress. Training was different and the facilities are beautiful, all of which helps you work well.”[16] As a result of his quick progression, Nasri was an integral part of every youth team he was a part of winning several trophies, such as the Championnat de Provence, Coupe de Provence, and the Ligue de la Méditerranée. After spending most of the 2003–04 season playing with the club’s under-18 team, for the latter part of the season, the now 16-year old Nasri was promoted to the club’s reserve team in the Championnat de France amateur, the fourth division of French football. He appeared primarily as a substitute in a few matches during the campaign as the reserve team failed to rebound from its bad start to the season, which resulted in a 16th place finish and relegation to the Championnat de France amateur 2.[17]

Debut season

Ahead of the 2004–05 season, several clubs were reported to be interested in signing Nasri, most notably English clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Newcastle.[18] In an effort to decrease the speculation, Nasri was offered a three-year professional contract by Marseille officials led by president Pape Diouf and manager José Anigo. On 13 August 2004, Nasri agreed to the contract. Marseille officials had been eager to sign Nasri to a contract in an attempt to not undergo a situation similar to the departure of Mathieu Flamini, in which the player departed the club without Marseille receiving any compensation.[19] As a result of his professsional contract, Nasri was promoted to the senior team by Anigo and assigned the number 22 shirt. He began the season playing on the club’s reserve team and appeared in four matches before earning a call up to the senior team in September 2004.[20] Nasri made his professional debut on 12 September in a 2–0 league defeat to Sochaux appearing as a substitute for Bruno Cheyrou.[21] On 17 October, he made his first professional start playing the entire match in a 1–1 draw with Saint-Étienne.[22] Nasri featured heavily within the team under Anigo and later Philippe Troussier. In the team’s first match following the winter break, he scored his first professional goal in a 2–1 away victory over Lille.[23] Nasri finished his rookie campaign with 25 total appearances, one goal, and two assists.
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Hatem Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa  (born 7 March 1987) is a French international footballer who plays for English club Newcastle United in the Premier League.[2] He plays as a winger and an attacking midfielder. Ben Arfa has been described as “one of the best-rated talents in France”, but has been criticised by the media and players alike for lacking discipline.[3][4][5][6]Ben Arfa started his career throughout various clubs in the Île-de-France region, having trained at AC Boulogne-Billancourt and Versailles. In 1999, he was selected to attend the Clairefontaine academy.
 
Ben Arfa spent three years at the academy and, upon leaving, signed with Lyon, where he won four Ligue 1 titles. In his early career at Lyon, he played as a centre forward, but moved into a winger role during the 2007–08 season. In the summer of 2008, Ben Arfa signed with rivals Marseille for €11 million through a move which required the intervention of the Ligue de Football Professionnel. With Marseille, he won the 2009–10 league title, his fifth overall, as well as the Coupe de la Ligue in 2010. After two years at Marseille, Ben Arfa joined English club Newcastle United on loan for the 2010–11 season; the deal was made permanent later in the season. Ben Arfa is a former French youth international having played at all levels. At under-17 level, he was a part of the team that won the 2004 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship. Ben Arfa was called up to the senior team for the first time in October 2007 for a UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying match against the Faroe Islands.

Early career

Hatem was born into a family with a history of elite footballers, being the son of former Tunisian international footballer Kamel Ben Arfa. Hatem began his career at ASV Châtenay-Malabry.[7] After two years at the club, he moved a few miles north to Montrouge CF 92. In 1998, Ben Arfa joined sporting club AC Boulogne-Billancourt. The following year, he was selected to attend the Clairefontaine academy. While at Clairefontaine, he was a part of A la Clairefontaine, a documentary series which chronicled the lives of some of France’s top young footballers during their time at the academy.[8][9] During the series, an episode showed Ben Arfa getting into an argument with Abou Diaby.[10] While training at Clairefontaine during the weekdays, he played for FC Versailles on the weekends.[7]

Lyon

At 15 and already labeled a prodigy, Ben Arfa joined Lyon, a club which had just won its first ever Ligue 1 championship. In August 2004, after spending two years in the youth divisions of the Lyon academy, he signed his first professional contract agreeing to a three-year deal, despite late interest from English club Chelsea and Dutch outfit Ajax.[11] He was, along with fellow youth player Karim Benzema, promoted to the senior squad and assigned the number 34 shirt. Ben Arfa made his professional debut on the opening match day of the 2004–05 season against Nice coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute. Lyon won the match 1–0 following a goal from Giovane Elber, a few minutes after Ben Arfa came on.[12] After making a few substitute appearances, he made his first start on 11 September 2004 in a 2–1 victory over Rennes playing 56 minutes.[13]
 
Ben Arfa scored his first professional goal two months later on 10 November in a Coupe de la Ligue match against Lille, converting from the penalty spot in extra time to give Lyon a 2–1 lead, though Lille scored two late goals, beating Lyon 3–2.[14] He made his UEFA Champions League debut in a group stage match against Manchester United coming on as a substitute for Sidney Govou.[15]The following season, Ben Arfa switched to the first team number 18 shirt, but his substitute-to-start ratio was still high as seven of his 12 appearances were as a substitute. He made his first Champions League start in a 2–1 victory over Norwegian club Rosenborg, providing the assist on the game-winning goal scored by the Brazilian Fred in the last minutes of the match.[16] Ben Arfa scored his first league goal during the 2006–07 season against Sedan just before half-time. The goal proved to be the winner as Lyon won the match 1–0.[17]
 
After wingers Florent Malouda and Sylvain Wiltord left the club, incoming manager Alain Perrin preferred the more modern 4–3–3 formation and opted to move Ben Arfa to the left-wing role for the 2007–08 season.[18] Ben Arfa quickly adapted to the position and scored his first goal in a 5–1 demolition of Metz on 15 September, though his performance was overshadowed by a Karim Benzema hat trick.[19] Arguably his best performances in a Lyon shirt came in a period of 12 days, during which he played a league match on 28 October against Paris Saint-Germain and a Champions League game against German club VfB Stuttgart on 7 November. He scored two goals in each match with both results being in favor of Lyon.[20][21] Following the season, he was named the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Young Player of the Year.[22]Despite rumors of a rift between himself and Benzema, Ben Arfa signed a contract extension with Lyon in March 2008 until 2010.[23][24] However, his career at Lyon reached an impasse after he got into a training session scuffle with veteran Sébastien Squillaci.[25]
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Yaya Touré

Gnégnéri Yaya Touré (born 13 May 1983),[3] commonly known as Yaya Touré, is an Ivorian footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Manchester City and the Ivory Coast national team. Touré is renowned for combining great vision, passing ability, and physical power with technique. A versatile player, he aspired to be a striker during his youth[4] and has played centre back, including for FC Barcelona in the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final.[5] He frequently plays as a box-to-box midfielder for club and country and often switches from defensive and offensive positions throughout matches. Touré began his playing career at Ivorian club ASEC Mimosas, where he made his debut aged 18. He was voted African Footballer of the Year for 2011 and 2012.[6]

 
His performances attracted attention from Europe, playing for clubs in minor European leagues. Touré played for Beveren in Belgium, Metalurh Donetsk in Ukraine, Olympiacos in Greece, and AS Monaco in France. In 2007, Touré moved to Barcelona, playing over 100 matches for the club and was part of the historic 2009 Barcelona team which won six trophies in one calendar year. Yaya Touré then moved to Premier League club Manchester City in 2010, where he has since scored a number of key goals for the Citizens – most notably the only goals in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final and Final. Touré has a distinguished international career with 74 caps for Ivory Coast, representing the team in their first appearance in a FIFA World Cup, in the 2006 competition and in 2010. He is the younger brother of his Ivory Coast and former Manchester City teammate Kolo Touré 

Early career

Touré joined ASEC Mimosas youth academy in 1996 on the recommendation of his long-time mentor Patrick van Reijendam. He then moved to Europe where he played for Belgian side Beveren for two-and-a-half years. In 2003, he had a trial with Arsenal.[7] He started in a match against Barnet, playing as a second striker. Manager Arsène Wenger recognised his talent but could not decide on his best position and described his performance against Barnet as “completely average.” Wenger was still keen to sign the then-20-year old but Touré had difficulties in getting a work permit.[8] Ultimately, Touré grew impatient and opted to sign for Ukrainian side Metalurh Donetsk instead, where he spent one-and-a-half years.[9] Touré moved to Olympiacos in 2005. He was nicknamed “the new Patrick Vieira” by his older brother. His performances were impressive and attracted interest from many clubs.

Club career

Monaco

After representing Ivory Coast in the 2006 World Cup, Yaya Touré was signed by French Ligue 1 side AS Monaco in August 2006.[10] Yaya had a difficult relationship with the incumbent manager, László Bölöni, with Yaya claiming Bölöni refused to play him in his preferred midfield position.[11] Bölöni was soon sacked with Monaco languishing second from bottom in the league.[12] Laurent Banide replaced him and Yaya became an influential player in the second half of the season, scoring five times to help haul the club out of relegation difficulties.[13] Yaya had established himself as a key midfielder, and with interest from around Europe he decided to join FC Barcelona in the summer of 2007.[14]

Barcelona

Touré joined Spanish side Barcelona for €10 million (£6.7 million)[15] and made his official debut for the club on 26 August 2007 during the league opener against Racing de Santander.[16]In the 2007 Joan Gamper Trophy match against Inter Milan of Italy, Touré scored his first goal for Barcelona in a 5–0 victory.[17] He scored his first official goal with Barcelona in a La Liga match against Athletic Bilbao on 2 September 2007, a 3–1 triumph for the Catalans.[18] His first goal in the Champions League for Barça was against Schalke 04 in the 2007–08 quarter-finals, securing a 2–0 aggregate victory and a berth in the semi-finals.[19]During the early stages of the 2008–09 season, newly appointed manager Pep Guardiola favoured Sergio Busquets in the defensive role of Barcelona’s midfield trio. In the 2009 Champions League Final, he played centre back due to injuries and suspensions of first-choice defenders, despite having only played there twice before for Barcelona.[20] In late June 2010, Barcelona confirmed that Touré would be allowed to leave the club in the summer.

Manchester City

On 2 July 2010, Touré signed a five-year deal with Premier League club Manchester City for a fee of around £24 million and was allocated squad number 42,[21] which is the reverse of the number 24 jersey he sported at Barcelona, since Patrick Vieira had already been allocated that number. The move teamed Touré up with his elder brother Kolo, who signed for City in July 2009 from Arsenal. On 28 July, Touré made his debut for City in a pre-season friendly against Club América, which City won 4–1 on penalties after a 1–1 draw with the Mexican side.[22] In his home debut on 7 August, in another friendly match against Valencia CF, he was named man of the match.[23]

2010–11 season

On 14 August 2010, Touré made his Premier League debut in a 0–0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.[24] A week later, Touré impressed in the 3–0 defeat of Liverpool at Eastlands, forming a part of a three man midfield with Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong.[25] On 19 September, Touré scored his first goal against Wigan Athletic.[26] The goal was scored in the 70th minute and Touré was assisted by Carlos Tévez, who also scored in that match.[27] Touré had been seen to take up a more attacking position under Roberto Mancini and revelled in the position. He scored a brilliant left-footed drive against West Ham United and soon scored a second, which was later credited as an own goal because the ball rebounded off the post onto Robert Green‘s back and bounced in.[28] He scored his third goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers in a delightful counter-attack move, with Touré making up 90 yards to latch onto the ball and fire if past the goalkeeper, with Manchester City eventually winning 4–3.[29] Touré’s fifth goal for City came on 25 February in a Europa League game against Aris. The goal was a deflected strike to make the score 3–0 to man city. On 16 April 2011, Touré scored the only goal of the game in a Man of the Match performance against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final.[30] Touré continued his Wembley success by scoring the only goal in his side’s 1–0 win over Stoke City in the 2011 FA Cup Final,[31] ending Manchester City’s 35-year wait for a major trophy,[32] and writing himself into Manchester City folklore in the process.[33]

2011–12 season

The 2011–12 season began strongly as Manchester City lead the table for the majority of the season, with Touré playing a vital part in midfield. His efforts were rewarded as he was crowned African Footballer of the Year for 2011, an impressive achievement for a midfielder, since the previous 12 awards have gone to African forwards.[6]
On 3 January 2012, in a match against Liverpool, Touré scored City’s second goal of the game, a 33rd minute header from a David Silva corner. He was later fouled for the penalty that made the score 3–0 to City.[34] On 5 January, it was announced that Touré would be leaving to join the Ivorian national team for the Africa Cup of Nations and would miss City’s FA Cup third round clash with fierce rivals Manchester United.[35]
Commenting to Sky Sports News after being targeted by racist mobs throughout a UEFA Europa League tie at FC Porto in February 2012 (his first game back with City after the African Nations Cup), Touré spoke of his love for playing football in England: “That’s why we like the Premier League, it never happens there.”[36]
As the 2011–12 came to close, Manchester City lost ground to Manchester United in the Premier League title race. After a defeat by Arsenal on 8 April 2012,[37] an eight-point deficit had been established between City and leaders United, with most writing off City’s chances of winning the league with six matches remaining.
City, however, beat West Bromwich Albion 4–0, Norwich City 6–1, and Wolvehampton Wanderers 2–0 with United slipping up, meaning the deficit at the top was now only three points with only three matches to play. A victory against Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium would move City to top on goal difference. The match was keenly anticipated as one of the most important matches the Premier League’s 20-year history.[38][39] Manchester City won the match, thanks to Vincent Kompany headed goal just before half-time. Touré’s performance throughout the match garnered many plaudits in the media, describing his performance as “dominant” and “magnificent.”[40]Touré netted a brace on 6 May in City’s 2–0 win over Newcastle United, moving three points above Manchester United with one game left to play in the Premier League season.[41] Touré played the full first half before coming off due to injury as City defeated Queens Park Rangers 3–2 on the final day of the season, assisting Pablo Zabaleta‘s opening goal in the 39th minute, to secure the first league championship for the Sky Blues in 44 years.[42]

2012–13 season

Touré started the 2012–13 season with a goal in the FA Community Shield in the 3–2 win over Chelsea in Aston Villa‘s stadium Villa Park. This goal was followed up by scoring first for City in two games, against Liverpool at Anfield and against Queens Park Rangers at home. In City’s opening Champions League game of the season, away to Real Madrid, Touré produced a stellar individual performance, assisting an Edin Džeko goal and continually worrying the hosts. Despite his best efforts, however, City lost 3–2 to a late Cristiano Ronaldo goal. He also scored in the Manchester derby, making it 2–1 to Manchester United, but City eventually lost 3–2. On 20 December 2012, Touré was crowned the 2012 African Player of the Year award at a ceremony in Accra, Ghana. It is the second time he has won the award. Touré was said to be crying as he accepted the award.[43][44] On 24 February 2013, after returning from the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, Touré scored the opening goal as City beat Chelsea 2–0 in the Premier League.[45]On 4 April 2013, Touré signed a new contract with City, keeping him at the club until 2017.[46][47] On 14 April, he was named man of the match as City again beat Chelsea, this time in the semi-final of the FA Cup.[48]

2013–14 season

Touré scored his first goal of the 2013–14 season with a free kick as City beat Newcastle United 4–0 in their opening Premier League game. In City’s second home match of the season he scored in a similar fashion from a free kick against Hull City. His form continued with a goal from distance in the UEFA Champions League group match against Viktoria Plzeň on 17 September 2013.[49] On 22 September, he scored the second goal in a 4–1 derby win over Manchester United[50] and was named man of the match.[51] His scoring streak continued when he scored direct from a free kick against Wigan Athletic in the third round of the Football League Cup. On 2 November, he scored again direct from a free kick, this time in a 7-0 victory against Norwich City. [52] The goal was his fifth in the league and seventh overall. [53] His current manager Manuel Pellegrini has noted that Touré regularly stays behind after training to improve his free kick technique.[54]On 23 October 2013, Touré was the subject of racist abuse from CSKA Moscow supporters at the Arena Khimki in the group stage of the Champions League.[55][56][57][58]
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Edin Džeko

Edin Džeko  born 17 March 1986) is a Bosnian footballer who plays as a striker for Premier League club Manchester City and the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team. He was named Bosnian Footballer of the Year for three years in a row.[3] In Bosnia and Herzegovina, he is known as Bosanski dijamant (The Bosnian Diamond).[4][5] Prior to joining Man City, he made a name for himself while playing for German club Wolfsburg, with whom he won the Bundesliga in the 2008–09 season. He was second highest goal scorer with 26 goals. In the 2009–10 season, Džeko was the top scorer with 22 goals. He also registered ten assists in both seasons. He has also played for Željezničar, FK Teplice and FK Ústí nad Labem.
 
Džeko has played 58 times for his country and scored 33 goals since 2007, becoming highest Bosnian goalscorer of all time on 7 September 2012 in a game against Liechtenstein where he scored a hat-trick, surpassing Zvjezdan Misimović and Elvir Bolić for the honors. Džeko scored nine goals during the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, finishing as top scorer of Group 5, as well as, scoring ten goals during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers also finishing as top scorer of Group G and helping his national team qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup for the first time. In his EPL club career he scored an important equalizer for Manchester City in the 80th minute of the match during the fourth round match of the 2010–11 FA Cup against Notts County which ended in a 1–1 draw.[6] His goal forced a replay match which Manchester City won and ultimately an FA Cup itself. Džeko scored the only goal of the game in a 1–0 win against Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League on 25 April 2011 to ensure the club would directly qualify for their first ever Champions League tournament. As result of that win, Manchester City finished the season in third place, three points ahead of Arsenal.
 
During the 2011–12 Premier League season, Džeko scored four goals in one game for Manchester City, completing a “perfect hat-trick” against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.[7] On the final day of the 2011–12 season, Džeko scored an equaliser against Queens Park Rangers in the 92nd minute, before Sergio Agüero won it for City with seconds to go, ensuring the team won a Premier League title for the first time in 44 years.[8][9] He later stated that the goal was one of the most important goals of his career.[10] Edin Džeko finished the 2011–12 season as the second highest Manchester City goal scorer behind Agüero with 19 goals scored in all English football competitions of which 14 goals scored in Barclays Premier League.

History 

The club was formed in 1886,[3] when a team known as St Jude’s (formed in 1884) merged with Christchurch Rangers (formed in 1882). The resulting team was called Queens Park Rangers, because most of the players came from the Queen’s Park area of North-West London. QPR became a professional team in 1889 and played their home games in nearly 20 different stadia (a league record), before permanently settling at Loftus Road in 1917 (although the team would briefly attempt to attract larger crowds by playing at the White City Stadium for two short spells: 1931 to 1933 and the 1962–63 season).[4] QPR were promoted as champions of Division 3 South in the 1947–48 season. Dave Mangnall was the manager as Rangers enjoyed four seasons in the Second Division, being relegated in 1951–52. Tony Ingham was signed from Leeds United and went on to make most ever league appearances for QPR (519). Prior to the start of the 1959–60 season saw the arrival of arguably the club’s greatest ever manager,[5] Alec Stock. The 1960–61 season saw QPR achieve their biggest win to date: 9–2 vs Tranmere Rovers in a Division 3 match. In time, Stock, with the advent as Chairman in the mid-60s of Jim Gregory helped to achieve a total transformation of the club and its surroundings.
 
In 1966–67, QPR won the Division Three championship and became the first Third Division club to win the League Cup on Saturday, 4 March 1967, beating West Bromwich Albion 3–2, (coming back from a two goal deficit). 42 years on, it is still the only major trophy that QPR have won. The final was also the first League Cup Final to be held at Wembley Stadium. After winning promotion in 1968 to the top flight for the first time in their history, Rangers were relegated after just one season and spent the next four years in Division 2. Terry Venables joined from Spurs at the beginning of the 1969–70 season and Rodney Marsh was sold to Manchester City. During this time, new QPR heroes emerged including Phil Parkes, Don Givens, Dave Thomas and Stan Bowles. These new signings were in addition to home-grown talent such as Dave Clement, Ian Gillard, Mick Leach and Gerry Francis.
 
In 1974 Dave Sexton joined as manager and, in 1975–76 led QPR to the runners-up spot in the First Division, missing out on the Championship by a single point with a squad containing seven England internationals and internationals from the home nations. After completing their 42-game season, QPR sat at the top of the league, one point ahead of Liverpool who went on to defeat Wolverhampton Wanderers to clinch the title. Wolves were relegated to the Second Division that same season. The late 1970s also saw some cup success with Rangers reaching the semi-finals of the League Cup and in their first entry into European football reached the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup losing to AEK Athens on penalties. Following Sexton’s departure in 1977 the club eventually slipped into the Second Division in 1979.
 
In 1980 Terry Venables took over as manager and the club installed a ‘plastic pitch’. In 1982 QPR, still playing in the Second Division, reached the FA Cup Final for the only time in the club’s history, facing holders Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham won 1–0 in a replay. The following season 1982–83 QPR went on to win the Second Division championship and returned to English football’s top division. After a respectable fifth place finish, and UEFA Cup qualification, the following year, Venables departed to become manager of Barcelona. Over the next seven years, various managers came and went from Loftus Road and the club spent many seasons finishing mid table but avoided relegation. The most successful season during this period was the 1987–88 season in which QPR finished fifth, missing out on a UEFA Cup campaign due to the ban on English clubs in European competition as a result of the Heysel Stadium disaster. They were also runners up in the 1986 League Cup, losing to Oxford United.
 
Gerry Francis, a key player in the 1970s QPR side who had proved himself as a successful manager with Bristol Rovers, was appointed manager in the summer of 1991. In the 1991–92 First Division campaign they finished mid-table in the league and were founder members of the new Premier League, finishing 5th, as top London club, in the 1992–93 inaugural season. Francis oversaw one of QPR’s most famous victories, the 4–1 win at Old Trafford in front of live TV on New Years Day 1992. Midway through the 1994–95 season Francis resigned and very quickly became manager of Tottenham Hotspur and Ray Wilkins was installed as player-manager. Wilkins led QPR to an eighth place finish in the Premiership. In July 1995 the club’s top goalscorer, Les Ferdinand, was sold for a club record fee of £6 million to Newcastle United.
 
QPR’s struggled in the following season and were relegated at the end of the 1995–96 season. QPR then competed in Division 1 until 2001 under a succession of managers. Gerry Francis returned in 1998, however the 2000–2001 season proved to be a disaster, and Francis resigned in early 2001. Charismatic former player Ian Holloway became manager but was unable to stop Rangers from being relegated to England’s third tier for the first time for more than thirty years. Following the 2003–2004 season QPR returned to Division 1 and struggled for consistent form over the next two campaigns before Holloway was suspended amidst rumours of his departure for Leicester City. A poor series of results and lack of progress at the club saw Holloway’s successors Gary Waddock and later John Gregory (both former players) fail to hold on to the manager’s job.
 
During this same period, QPR became embroiled in financial and boardroom controversy. Although the club had floated on the Alternative Investment Market in 1991, in 2001 it entered administration (receivership). A period of financial hardship followed and the club left administration after receiving a £10m high-interest emergency loan which continued to burden the club.[6] Scandals involving the directors, shareholders and others emerged in 2005–06 season and included allegations of blackmail and threats of violence against the club’s chairman Gianni Paladini.[7] In an unrelated incident QPR were further rocked by the murder of Youth Team footballer Kiyan Prince on 18 May 2006[8] and, in August 2007, the death of promising teenager and first-team player Ray Jones in a car crash.[9] Following this low point in the club’s history as Rangers also faced mounting financial pressure, in the same month it was announced that the club had been bought by wealthy Formula One businessmen Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone (see Ownership and finances below). During the 2007–08 season, Rangers competed in the Football League Championship (see also: Queens Park Rangers F.C. season 2007-08). John Gregory’s reign as manager came to an end in October 2007 after a string of poor results left QPR at the bottom of the Championship and he was replaced by Luigi De Canio until the end of the 2007–08 season. Further investment followed in early 2008 as the club looked to push for promotion to the Premier League within four years, on the back of greater financial stability.[10] On 14 May 2008 Iain Dowie was announced as the manager to begin the campaign to return Rangers to the top flight.[11][12] However, on 24 October 2008 Iain Dowie was sacked after just fifteen games in charge of the club.[13]
 
On Wednesday, 19 November 2008, QPR named former Portugal midfielder Paulo Sousa as their new first team coach.[14] However, on 9 April 2009, His contract was terminated after he allegedly divulged confidential information without authority.[15] On the same day as Sousa’s sacking as QPR Manager, Player/Coach Gareth Ainsworth was appointed as Player/Caretaker Manager of QPR for a second time. In June 2009 Jim Magilton was named as new manager of QPR. Despite leading QPR to a good start to the 2009/2010 season, a loss of form combined with an alleged head-butting incident[citation needed] with Hungarian midfielder Ákos Buzsáky saw the club further embroiled in controversy. Jim Magilton left the club by mutual consent on 16 December 2009, along with his assistant John Gorman. They were replaced by Paul Hart and Mick Harford on the next day. Less than a month and only 5 games after becoming manager at QPR, Paul Hart parted with the club on 14 January 2010. The reasons for his leaving the club were unstated.
 
On 30 April 2011, QPR secured promotion to the Premier League with a 2–0 win over Watford FC.[16] A subsequent FA investigation involving QPR’s acquisition of Alejandro Faurlín threatened to deduct points from the side and put their promotion into jeopardy. The investigation concluded on 7 May 2011, with QPR found to be at fault in two of the seven charges, and received a £875,000 fine. However, there were no points deducted by the FA, and QPR’s promotion to the Premier League was secured.[17]In January 2012, club chairman Tony Fernandes appointed Mark Hughes as team manager 36 hours after the previous incumbent Neil Warnock was sacked. Following a tough start to his Loftus Road career and after a run of 5 straight home wins, Hughes and QPR escaped relegation despite a dramatic 3–2 defeat at Manchester City on the last day of the season.[18]
 
On 23 November 2012, Mark Hughes was sacked on the back of a poor start to the 2012–13 season,[19] having amassed only 4 points in 12 games and with the club languishing at the bottom of the Premier League despite significant financial investment in new players in the 11 months of Hughes’ tenure. A day later, Harry Redknapp was confirmed as the new manager.[20] On Sunday 28 April 2013, in a 0–0 draw against fellow relegation rivals Reading F.C. and with 3 games of the season to play, QPR were relegated from the Barclays Premier League down to the Championship after two seasons in the top flight.
 
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Marouane Chamakh

Marouane Chamakh   born 10 January 1984) is a footballer who plays for English club Crystal Palace in the Premier League and the Moroccan national team as a striker. He is described as a prototypical target man and is noted for his “tall stature” and “excellent heading ability”.[3][4]Chamakh started his career training throughout various clubs in the Aquitaine region. In 2000, he signed with Bordeaux. Chamakh made his professional debut for the club in the 2002–03 season. He spent nine years at the club and helped Bordeaux win the Coupe de la Ligue in 2007.
 
In the 2008–09 season, Chamakh won his first league title as Bordeaux were crowned champions for the first time since the 1998–99 season. The club also won the Coupe de la Ligue completing the league and league cup double. In May 2010, Chamakh joined Arsenal of the Premier League on a free transfer after agreeing to a four-year contract with the club. In October 2010, Chamakh became the first player in UEFA Champions League history to score in six consecutive matches.[5]Although born and raised in France, Chamakh chose to play international football for Morocco, because he had Moroccan parents.[6] He made his national team debut in July 2003 and has played at three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, including the 2004 tournament in which Morocco finished runner-up. In August 2010, he captained the national team for the first time

Personal life

Chamakh was born in Tonneins, a small town near the Garonne River, to Moroccan parents, and was raised in the nearby commune of Aiguillon. His father, El Mostafa Chamakh, was a former footballer in Morocco and played for Difaâ Aïn Sbaâ in Casablanca.[8] In 1979, he left Morocco to locate more favorable living conditions and to find a better job.[9] After settling in France and finding work as a stonemason, the elder Chamakh brought his family over soon after.[10] Chamakh’s younger brother Yassin owns a café. Chamakh has stated that when he goes back home, he often waits tables to help out his brother.[10]While pursuing his career as a professional footballer, Chamakh was equally adept off the field earning good grades in school.
 
During his early years at Bordeaux, he began attending high school. He hoped to earn a Baccalauréat in accounting, which he later accomplished.[9] In addition to having a Baccalauréat, Chamakh is also very interested in politics and, in February 2010, voiced his support for the Democratic Movement (MoDem) political party ahead of the upcoming regional elections. In the 2010 regional elections, Chamakh was, surprisingly, listed as a candidate by the MoDem for the Gironde department in the Aquitaine region.[11] The lead deputy of the party, Jean Lassalle, stated on the decision to name Chamakh to the ballot: “I want to gather all the forces of Aquitaine to sustain our region, and Marouane is one of those forces who Aquitaine needs.”[12] Chamakh was listed as a non-eligible candidate on the ballot and Lasalle was accused of using Chamakh in order to garner votes from football supporters in the region.[13][14]Chamakh is a practising Muslim and has stated that “I have no problem fasting during Ramadan, it becomes normal. The day before a game and on match days I do not fast, but I’ll make up the lost days later.”[15]

Club career

Early career

Chamakh began his football career at the age of four playing for local club Nérac FC in the nearby commune of Nérac. While at Nérac, youth coaches at the club nicknamed him “Mr. George” after the former FIFA World Player of the Year George Weah because Chamakh “used to score four or five goals in every tolka rovers game”.[10] After six years at Nérac, Chamakh joined FC Marmandais. While in Marmande, he developed his physical skills and traits, growing as tall as 6 ft (1.83 m) and also earning his first regional selection to play for the Aquitaine regional team in the Coupe Nationale.[9][16]

Bordeaux

 
In 2000, Chamakh was pursued by several professional clubs that wanted to obtain his services. He drew interest from Lens, Toulouse, Lorient, and Bordeaux. Chamakh eventually decided to sign with Bordeaux due to the club’s infrastructure and training facilities and also because of the close proximity to his family.[9] Upon his arrival, Chamakh was placed into the club’s youth academy. For the 2001–02 season, he was promoted to the club’s Championnat de France amateur 2 team in the fifth division. Chamakh was involved heavily in the campaign of the team, coached by Jean-Louis Garcia. He appeared in 17 matches and scored six goals as the team finished first in their group, thus earning promotion to the Championnat de France amateur.[17]
 
Following the season, Chamakh turned professional and signed a three-year contract with Bordeaux. He spent the first half of the 2002–03 campaign playing in the fourth division, but following the winter break, was called up to the senior team by manager Elie Baup. Chamakh made his professional debut on 19 January 2003 in the team’s Coupe de la Ligue match against Metz. He appeared as a substitute and played 15 minutes in a 1–0 defeat.[18] Chamakh made his league debut three weeks later in a 2–0 home defeat to Bastia again appearing as a substitute.[19] On 20 May, he scored his first professional goal against Nice, netting the equalizing goal just a minute before injury time in a 1–1 draw.[20] Chamakh appeared in 14 games, always as a substitute, during the campaign. In the 2003–04 season, he was promoted to the senior team permanently by new manager Michel Pavon and made his first professional league start on 1 November 2003 in a 1–0 win over Marseille.[21] In the team’s following match, Chamakh scored the opening goal in a 1–1 draw with Strasbourg just before halftime. However, mid-way through the second half, he received his first career red card after incurring a second yellow.[22] Upon returning from his one-game suspension, Chamakh developed into a regular starter for the club, scoring goals in consecutive matches against Metz and Montpellier.[23][24] He finished the league campaign with six goals in 25 matches. In the club’s UEFA Cup campaign, Chamakh netted four times in eight appearances.
 
In the 2004–05 season, Pavon decided to move Chamakh into the lead striker position and install Argentine playmaker Juan Pablo Francia as a support striker. The move was a success with Chamakh scoring ten league goals. He opened the campaign by scoring his first professional hat trick in a 5–1 victory over Nice.[25] In September 2004, Chamakh scored goals in back-to-back matches against Bastia and Derby de la Garonne rivals Toulouse.[26][27] He finished the campaign by scoring the opening goal in a 1–1 draw with Monaco.[28]
 
Despite the positive individual season from Chamakh, Bordeaux finished the campaign in 15th place; its worst finish since ending the league campaign in 16th over a decade before. Pavon, due to heart problems, stepped down from his position and was replaced by Ricardo Gomes. Under Gomes, Chamakh struggled to meet the success of his previous season scoring only 12 league goals in 58 matches over the course of two seasons. Two of his notable performances during Gomes’ reign included scoring a double in league matches against Metz and Nancy.[29] In the match against the former club, Chamakh scored both of his goals within a minute of each other. He was later ejected from the match after committing a red card offense.[30] Chamakh ended the 2006–07 Ligue 1 campaign by hoisting the Coupe de la Ligue trophy after featuring in the team’s 1–0 victory over Lyon in the final match.[31] It was Chamakh’s first major club honour..[7]
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