Fifty of the most notable football quotes from the year 2008 – also see last year’s quotes.
1. “My reputation will always precede me until the day I die. For some people that probably can’t come quickly enough.”
Joey Barton of Newcastle United. “Tell the truth, and shame the devil,” Mr. Barton.
2. “He not only let the coach down but also his teammates. I can’t imagine he’ll ever play again for Germany. He would have to go down on his knees to Jogi Löw.”
Franz Beckenbauer, German legend, commenting about Kevin Kuranyi. He took a rather long half-time break and disappeared from the stadium in Dortmund during a World Cup Qualification match with Russia.
3. “I was having a discussion with Maradona in my office but it was very difficult. There was a constant stream of our biggest players wanting to meet him.”
Rafael Benitez, manager of Liverpool Football Club. He didn’t say what happened to his smallest players.
4. “I feel like Superman. I could fly home.”
David Bentley of Tottenham Hotspur. First class, charter, economy, or air freight?
5. “It is never too late.”
FIFA President Sepp Blatter in the understatement of the year about finally presenting Italy and its captain, Fabio Cannavaro, with the World Cup trophy. But he didn’t take Paul Breitner with him.
6. “I don’t like Fabio Cannavaro. He adds nothing to the play, doesn’t get involved and makes too many mistakes.”
Paul Breitner, a former star at Real Madrid and the German National Team. He was talking about one of Fabio’s better performances for Los Merengues.
7. “You score three goals at home, you win the game. If you score three goals anywhere, you win the game.”
Aidy Boothroyd, former manager of Watford. The number “4” apparently does not exist in Mr. Boothroyd’s vocabulary. Or 5, 6, 7…
8. “I was full of it, I wanted to cuddle everyone I could see!”
Jimmy Bullard of Fulham FC gave the referee a warm embrace after scoring the winning goal against Aston Villa. Just think what he did for his best friends?
9. “He’d score 99 times out of 100 and unfortunately this was the one occasion that he didn’t score.”
George Burley, manager of Scotland, speaking about Chris Iwelumo. Translation: “Chris, that could be your first and last cap for Scotland.”
10. “Cassano has exceptional quality, but I wouldn’t have wanted him in the World Cup squad in Germany — that’s all I’m going to say.”
Mauro Camoranesi of Juventus. That is like one red card calling another red.
Fabio Cannavaro of Real Madrid invokes the character of Dirty Harry. “Hand me the bloody trophy, Sepp, like you should have done in Berlin. Or make my day. Question is, are you feeling lucky?”
12. “I will learn English in one month.”
Fabio Capello, manager of England, during his presentation news conference. What were the first words and phrases that Mr. Capello learned and shared with the press in January?
“Call me Boss.”
“Don’t drop the ball, Jammo.”
“First Italian to score at Wembley.”
“I am a ball breaker.”
“It’s cold in England.”
“Stuart will sit on the bench with me.”
13. “Football saved me from being a criminal. I have never worked a day in my life, because I don’t know how to do anything.”
14. “Let’s say between 600 and 700 women, about twenty who were entertainers… Often I played great games after having had sex.”
Antonio Cassano of Sampdoria. I disagree with Antonio. He does know how to do two things in life. Fortunately for him, both pay extremely well.
15. “Fabio Capello is just like Alf Ramsey. He knows exactly what he wants. He knows how to win. He has a plan and a system. Like Alf, he is the boss. He sees the long-term picture like Alf. From the very first time I met him, Alf made sure that I – and the other players – knew who was boss. Capello is like that.”
Sir Bobby Charlton. Now you know why they call Don Fabio, “The Boss.”
16. “I have been altruistic for seven months, trying to hide the sadness of being in a situation I was not accustomed to. It is not easy to always wear a mask. I have to confess I am not happy, there is no point hiding it.”
Hernan Crespo of Internazionale. He also wore an altruistic mask and was not happy at River Plate, Parma, Lazio, Chelsea, AC Milan, Chelsea again, and now at Internazionale. Actually, his dog wasn’t even happy in England.
17. “They fabricated everything, including my interview. Martin Taylor never came to the hospital and, above all, he never apologized to me.”
Eduardo da Silva of Arsenal. As Ronaldo of Brazil would say, “There is the true truth and the truth.”
18. “In the world today, it is the smell of blood that interests you. Thankfully the guillotine doesn’t exist any more because there are some among you who would have the malicious pleasure of sending me for the chop.”
Raymond Domenech, manager of France. He gives new meaning to the term “injury time.”
19. “It’s all about hunger and commitment. I always say that the one player who I admire is Raúl. He typifies what I am talking about — that desire, season after season, to keep scoring goals, to never, ever let up, even when people are ignoring him or questioning him. I keep scoring because I keep wanting to score. I am never satisfied. I always fight.”
Samuel Eto’o of FC Barcelona. From someone usually known for controversial remarks, a great tribute to an icon of Spanish football.
20. “He speaks better Italian than me and I was born here.”
Gennaro “Rino” Gattuso of AC Milan discussing José Mourinho’s first news conference in Milan. Mister Mourinho studied Italian intensively for five months prior to his appointment as Inter boss. He also studied Esperanto, Serbian, Sign Language, Spanish, Swedish, along with all of the official languages of the U.N. to communicate with his starting XI at Internazionale.
21. “What made it really obscene was that Madrid, as General Franco’s club, had a history of being able to get whoever and whatever they wanted, before democracy came to Spain.”
Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United. After democracy came to Spain, Real Madrid still usually gets whomever and whatever they want. Except Cristiano Ronaldo.
22. “They go to the beach in their flip-flops, it’s all very relaxed and nobody has the slightest idea about who I am. People are not staring at me all the time, I’m staring at other people and some of them are getting to know me because of who I am and not what I am, which is a nice feeling, believe me.”
Ruud Gullit, former manager of the LA Galaxy. He was talking about life in Los Angeles. Some of the people who didn’t know who or what he was were his own players. “Ruud, a Dutch friend of Beckham from England? Oh, you mean the one who used to play for Man U?”
23. “I was confident and I put my foot out and it hit the heel. I’m gutted. But I’m a big character and I’ll take that one on the chin and move on.”
Chris Iwelumo of Wolverhampton Wanderers. Perhaps if he used his chin, he would have scored the sitter against Norway.
24. “Blatter will never retire. He will stay until the mortician arrives with the black bag to take his body out.”
25. “It does make the Mafia look quite amateur.”
Andrew Jennings of Transparencyinsport.org. Mr. Jennings is the only journalist in the world barred from FIFA press conferences. He can’t get even come within 500 meters of their headquarters without Interpol, MI6, or The Godfather being called.
26. “I wouldn’t trust some of these people to walk my dog.”
Roy Keane, manager of Sunderland. He wouldn’t trust them to buy prawn sandwiches at Old Trafford, either.
27. “If I believed everything I read in the papers in the last week, I would have brought in 365 new players from 14 different continents.”
Kevin Keegan, former Newcastle United manager, reminds us of the need for adult continuing education courses in geography and maths.
28. “I am not the kind of guy who does the kind of thing that I did. Nobody expected this from me, not even myself.”
Kevin Kuranyi of Schalke 04 apologizing for his disappearing act during half-time of a World Cup Qualification match against Russia in Dortmund. Well, it was the first and last time that Kevin did that kind of thing.
Juergen Klinsmann, manager of Bayern Munich. According to the Bayern Munich web site, Zé Roberto weighs 72 kilograms or about 158 pounds. With a spot price of gold at $740 per ounce, Zé Roberto is worth US $1,875,456. What if the transfer market were pegged to gold?
30. “When Peter Crouch came on (first leg of the UCL round of 16 at Anfield) I said to Douglas Maicon: ‘Look how tall this guy is!’ Maicon said he couldn’t jump that high, but I asked him to at least try!”
Julio Cesar of Internazionale. Perhaps he needs David “Superman” Bentley for situations such as that?
Mike Lee, Director of West Ham United. A love of football runs in the Obama family. A team in Kogelo, Kenya, Obama F.C., was renamed in his father’s honor, and the future President played as a child in Jakarta, Indonesia. His oldest daughter, Malia, plays youth soccer in Chicago.
32. “We train all week with a ball that is about twice the size.”
Nicola Legrottaglie of Juventus tells us the secret training technique of Juve. But we always knew they had the biggest balls in world football.
33. “David Beckham has been a class act with us from Day 1, and I’ve got no regrets of any kind on that commitment that we’ve made. But do I understand that that commitment is not going to work and will not be deemed a success if at the end of the day we have another year like the last two? I get it. And so does David.”
Tim Leiweke, CEO of AEG (LA Galaxy management and investment group). Apparently, Adriano Galliani of AC Milan also gets it.
34. “Giuseppe Rossi is a born footballer.”
Marcello Lippi, manager of Italy. “America” and “Joe Red” was born in the USA. Unfortunately for Mr. Bob Bradley and US Soccer, “Beppe” was born in the wrong country.
35. “If players don’t want to get kicked, they should become accountants.”
Roberto Mancini, former manager of Internazionale, as he was counting his money from Inter Milan. Except accountants for AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch, Mister Mancini.
36. “Absolute loyalty. Those that are made of steel. Those who work and accept orders from the head man which is me.”
Diego Armando Maradona, manager of Argentina. And he was only talking about security guards at the Argentine training ground!
President Evo Morales of Bolivia in response to the initial FIFA altitude ban. The President gives new meaning to the mile high club in the Bolivian Andes. Or in much lower places. Ask Antonio Cassano.
38. “When I arrived in London, all I said was that I am a normal manager in charge of a special group. All of a sudden I became ‘The Special One,’ but I never defined myself as that. I do not think I am the best Coach in the world, but I also don’t believe there is anyone in the world who is better than me.”
José Mourinho, manager of Internazionale. When he looks in his mirror every morning, he has to convince his image of the same thing. “I am Special. You are not better than I. No you aren’t. I am better.”
39. “Arsenal seems like a French team. The manager is French, we’ve got African players who speak French so obviously there’s a lot of French speaking everywhere. In France, we consider Arsenal like the 21st team of our league.”
Samir Nasri of Arsenal. Samir needs to ask Ian Rush about his famous foray into language and culture. “Going to Italy was like going to a foreign country.”
40. “An idiot doesn’t become Einstein overnight.”
Claudio Ranieri, manager of Juventus. The Tinkerman coins one for the ages, but usually, it takes an Einstein to figure out what he says. In English, Italian, or Spanish.
41. “I know the odd indulgence doesn’t hurt players from time to time. Besides, what can you do? Can you follow a player home to check if his missus is giving him steak and kidney pie instead of pasta?”
Harry Redknapp, manager of Tottenham Hotspur. But according to Wayne Rooney, you can end up on the floor with your head in a strange position.
42. “My wife Coleen’s brother and his girlfriend stayed with us, so when we went to bed I had to stay on the floor. It was a bit weird – we’d just won the Champions League and I was going to sleep on the floor! But I don’t think I’d have minded where I got my head down that night.”
Wayne Rooney of Manchester United. What would Harry say about that?
43. “I am the first, second and third best player in the world.”
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United. Especially when two mirrors are in the room.
44. “Didier went on the pitch to play football. He didn’t go out there with coins in his pockets.”
Felipe Scolari, manager of Chelsea. No, but Drogba’s reaction during the League Cup match with Burnley wasn’t exactly “Three Coins in the Fountain” material.
45. “Alexandre Pato does resemble me because he likes to play from deep. He is similar to me in the way he plays, as he reads the play and attacks the spaces. I was exactly like him in that I was dangerous, but I missed lots of chances.”
Andriy Shevchenko of AC Milan. Pato starts ahead of him in Milan so he doesn’t miss as many chances because as of this writing, he has only played 173 minutes in the Serie A this season.
46. “Some people like to see a bit of emotion in their footballers – it never hurt Gazza [Paul Gascoigne] did it? It was the biggest moment of John’s career and he knew it – if you can’t cry in that situation, when can you?”
Peter Shilton, the legendary English keeper, on John Terry. For some reason, even though the game involved two English sides in Moscow, I am reminded of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”
47. “We sort of strolled in, thinking we were better than them, when clearly we’re not.”
John Terry of Chelsea after being fed to the Roman lions in the UCL.
48. “If they show a game with gridiron stripes on the field, I won’t watch it.”
Taylor Twellman of the New England Revolution commented how the American pitches in 2008 looked eerily similar to those years before he was even born.
49. “I was in the car with my dad and brother. A kid was walking down the road with a ‘Walcott 32’ shirt on. I put the window down and said ‘I’ve got a shirt like that too’!”
Theo Walcott of Arsenal. If Theo ever becomes as popular in shirt sales as David Beckham, traffic will be halted all over London.
50. “There has to be that little switch in the head which comes on and tells you ‘that’s enough’. It is down to respecting each other. But it is not just respect when things are going well, there has to be respect when mistakes are made as well. Any mistake made by a referee is not intentional.”
Howard Webb, FA, FIFA, and UEFA Referee. Mr. Webb reminds us of American actor, Rodney Dangerfield’s, signature line: “I don’t get no respect.”
Please tell us some of your favorite football quotes from the past year.
Did you have a favorite from this list?