Retired T&T footballer Dwight Yorke is among the top six best buys ever in the English Premiership League. Yorke, Frenchman Thierry Henry, Mauro Zarate, Wilson Palacios, Zat Knight and Antonio Valencia were the six players who came from relatively unknowns to Premier League stars. Sport.co.uk took a look at the six trailblazing deals which saw the relatively unknown stars become Premier League hits without breaking the bank.
The smiling assassin, or as he is better known, Dwight Yorke, remains the biggest footballing export of T&T to date and will probably remain so for some time. In 1989, Aston Villa were on a tour of the West Indies and played a local team for which Dwight featured. Impressed with what he saw, former Villa manager Graham Taylor offered Yorke a trial and subsequently went on to award him a permanent contract. However, it was not until the 1995-1996 season that Yorke swapped to the famed centre forward position that made him a household name. In a career that spanned over 20 years, Dwight made 232 appearances for Aston Villa, scoring 73 goals, before moving to Manchester United where he scored 47 goals in 95 appearances. Although his post-United performances were not of the same standard, Dwight still remains a household favourite and his partnership with Andy Cole while at United is still considered as one of the best strike partnerships of all time.
When Birmingham signed this little known Argentinean from Qatari side Al-Sadd, few expected him to achieve much. However, after three goals in two weeks, Alex McLeish was touting him as the signing who would prevent their relegation. Unfortunately it did not work out that way, and Birmingham were relegated after finishing second from bottom. Nevertheless, Zarate had made his mark and his performances had grabbed the attention of many of the top teams. In the summer of 2008, after plenty of speculation surrounding his future, Mauro completed a move to Lazio initially on loan. The following year, the move was made permanent and €20 million was paid to Al-Sadd.
Although an established and regular member of the Tottenham starting XI now, two years ago Wilson was still an unknown Honduran footballer, unfamiliar to the Premiership. However, after a recommendation from Arsene Wenger, Steve Bruce offered the 25 year old a trial at Birmingham and subsequently went on to sign him on a six month loan. His skill, pace and strength made him an appealing prospect and saw Bruce liken him to a young Paul Ince. Conversely, when Bruce joined Wigan he made Palacios, a player he had once called one of the top midfielders in the country, one of his earliest signings.
Although not the first name on everyone’s mind, there can be no denying that this was one of the bargains of the century. When Zat was just 18 years of age, he was signed by Fulham during the Al-Fayed- revolution. At the time, Knight was playing for Rushall Olympic FC, a non league side based in Walsall and was on no proper contract. As such, Fulham were under no obligations to pay the club at all but, as a kind gesture, sent the club 30 tracksuits. Strong, tall and dominant in the air, Zat went on to make 150 appearances for Fulham and is currently at Bolton Wanderers.
Fast, deceptive and an incredible finisher, this Frenchman had it all. Although not a total unknown, when Arsène Wenger signed him he was struggling to adapt to Italian football and a looming career as a winger looked like it may condemn him to a life of mediocrity. However, following a £10 million move to the Emirates, he regained his form as a striker and went on to become the clubs all time leading goalscorer with 174 goals in just 254 games. To this day, Henry is still regarded as one of the greatest strikers of all time and, together with Messi and Eto’o, formed the most prolific trio in Spanish league history, scoring 72 goals between them in the 2008-2009 La Liga season.
Although currently a star at Manchester United, when Valencia arrived in the Premier League, he was virtually unknown. Born in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, Valencia’s initial break came when he was spotted by Villarreal whilst playing for El Nacional. However, after struggling in La Liga and failing to capture a first team spot, he was loaned out, and in 2006, he joined Wigan athletic. Current Wigan manager Paul Jewell described him as a player with “skill in abundance, combined with electric pace and a high work-rate”. Antonio continued to build on his incredible start and, in 2009, his potential was spotted and snapped up by Alex Ferguson for an undisclosed fee. Still only 24 years of age, Valencia looks set to have a very prosperous and successful career.
Chelsea can open up a four-point lead over Manchester United in the English Premier League title race by beating today.
United's 0-0 draw at Blackburn on Sunday gave Chelsea more good news after the Blues reached the FA Cup final by beating Aston Villa 3-0 Saturday.
The match against Bolton at Stamford Bridge is one of the five remaining league games for Chelsea, who last won the title in 2006.
"We are playing well, the confidence is high. We have let the lead in the league slip once and we are determined not to let it slip again," Chelsea captain John Terry said. "It is three years since we won the Premier League and we are really determined to get it back to the Bridge. We have seen the team working hard in the last four or five weeks and that is the key.
"The quality has always been there and always will be in the top four or five teams in the Premier League but if we can work hard, win our tackles and do the basics very well then we should be OK."
A team meeting after Chelsea's draw at Blackburn last month helped the Blues turn things around when United seemed to be on target for a fourth straight league title.
"A few weeks ago it didn't look as though we were in the running for anything really," Terry said. "We had the discussion between the management and players and everyone spoke honestly. It was a chance for everyone to get things off their chest."
Arsenal still a threat
But Arsenal remain a threat, sitting only three points behind Chelsea in third place going into tomorrow's north London derby against Tottenham.
While Arsenal will be without several key players, including Cesc Fabregas and Andrei Arshavin, Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar joined his team's injury list in Sunday's FA Cup semifinal loss to Portsmouth. Midfielder Wilson Palacios will also be missing for Spurs after picking up his 10th booking of the season at Wembley Stadium.
"We've got to try and get a fit team out for Wednesday," Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said. "I couldn't have asked for a better game. If I could choose a game it would be Arsenal at home.
"This wasn't ideal preparation, that's for sure, but the players will have a rest now and we'll get ready to go again."
Also tomorrow, Wigan will be looking to beat relegated Portsmouth to move seven points clear of the drop zone, while Aston Villa can move ahead of Liverpool and into sixth place by beating Everton.
Victory over another top club has Lionel Messi believing Barcelona are unbeatable in their current form.
Barcelona's 2-0 victory over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium last Saturday gave the defending champions control of the Spanish league race and prompted the Argentina international to say Barcelona are making "history".
"Once again the team showed today we are superior to anybody else when we want to be," said Messi, who scored his 40th goal. "You always have to prove it on the field and today we did that."
Although the Catalans' lead is only three points with seven games to play, Barcelona hold the head-to-head edge should the teams finish on equal points.
Barcelona also dealt Madrid a psychological blow by recording back-to-back wins at the Bernabeu for the first time in the club's 111-year history while scoring a record fourth straight win over their closest rival.
"We can keep making history," Messi said. "It was a very important triumph, but we have to continue on. I don't mean to say that with only words we win. You have to try to win every game and that's what we try to do, always."
The Spanish press seemed to agree with Messi, the World Player of the Year, on Sunday with El Periodico newspaper calling the European champions "unstoppable".
La Vanguardia took a poke at Barcelona's Spanish capital rival with 'What a pleasure it is to play with you, Madrid'.
El Pais was more to the point: "Barca's football is not open to discussion."
Barcelona opted for a tactical game until Messi's 33rd-minute opening goal when they went on take control as they seem to with every game against their toughest opponents.
Barcelona have beaten the best clubs from England, Italy, Argentina and Germany since coach Pep Guardiola took over before the start of the last season.
Guardiola, who is the first coach to lead a team to six major trophies in a campaign, says there aren't any secrets to his side's success.
"A lot of work, a lot of hours and they're all good players," Guardiola said. "When they don't run, I get on them and since they don't like that, they run more."
While the European champions set their sights on beating Inter Milan in the Champions League semi-finals so they can play in the final at the Bernabeu, high-spending Madrid seem to be heading for a second straight season without a trophy.
Ronaldo, who has 25 goals overall while Messi leads the league with 27, said there's still hope for the Spanish capital's team.
"It's not a disaster to lose against Barca. I don't think they were so much more superior than us," the Portugal forward said. "We're professionals and you cannot give up. We can win the league."
Kingston, Jamaica - March 17, 2010 - The soca frenzy at Bacchanal Jamaica’s Mas Camp continues this Friday under the theme Diamonds of Kilimanjaro.
Patrons can expect a live performance from Shal Marshal, with musical styling by DJ Kurt Riley and Omar C from Sparkles Productions.
Shal's songs include the duet with Destra Garcia, Love Somebody, Gal Farm with Kerwin Dubois, Bum Bum Ville, and the smash hit for 2010 carnival, Police, a song he did with writer and friend Trishard Barrington aka Screws.
Shal is considered to be one of the most experienced DJ's in the business; on-air at WEFM in Trinidad for the last 7 years; originally as part of the Jugglers Sound System, and now hosting his own show Monday to Friday.
DJing was not enough for the ambitious young man, and soon he lent his voice to some hot tracks which were released for carnival and made their way into the clubs. Shal is also sought after to do radio ads, host functions and MC events.
Fans were able to put a face to the voice on his Carnival Season show The Net, which developed into his own weekly programme Friday Night Live on Synergy TV.
Regular admission for the event is $600 and the 24k VIP area where patrons get a birds eye view of the performance is $1200.
Soca fans are being urged to get their tickets early, as Bacchanal Fridays tickets have been known to go fast.
Revelers are also encouraged to get their costumes at the Mas Camp for the slated April 11, road march, as many are already sold out.
For further updates please visit the Bacchanal Jamaica website at www.bacchanaljamaica.com for the most up-to-date carnival info.