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Messi: I deserve chance to say goodbye to Barça

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Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi feels he deserves a chance to say a proper goodbye to his former club Barcelona and would relish a farewell game at the Camp Nou.

Since leaving for Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent in August 2021 because of the financial crisis at Barça, there has been talk of a tribute match to honour the Argentina captain.

Owing to Covid restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Messi’s last game for Barcelona came in a 2-1 loss to Celta Vigo at an empty Camp Nou in May 2021.

“I would love to be able to say goodbye to people in another way,” Messi, 36, told a news conference in Paris after winning the Ballon d’Or on Monday

“I think there was a strange feeling when I left. It’s not good with everything we shared and lived together. I deserve to be able to say goodbye to people. Barcelona is my home, I love the club and the people. If it [tribute game] happens, I would be happy to be there…”

Messi won the Ballon D’Or for a record eighth time at a ceremony in Paris on Monday. Getty
Messi, Barça’s all-time top scorer, spent 20 years with the Spanish outfit and won 35 trophies during his time there.

Barça sporting director Deco recently said that Messi will “definitely play” a farewell game at Barcelona while club president Joan Laporta has previously mentioned that it would be fitting for that to coincide with the official opening of the revamped Spotify Camp Nou stadium, planned for the 2025-26 campaign.

The managing owner of Inter Miami, Jorge Mas, believes it’s important for Messi to say goodbye to Barça fans.

“I gave [Messi] my commitment that I will do everything possible in the coming years so that he has the opportunity to say goodbye to his fans in Barcelona,” Mas said.

Messi had considered a return to Barça before joining Inter Miami after his contract with PSG expired in June.

While he expects to live in Barcelona again one day, playing for Barça is not something he is thinking about.

“I follow Barcelona as I always did,” Messi said. “Football takes many turns and anything can happen, but it’s not something that catches my attention today.

“I could come back. I’m going to live in Barcelona, it’s the club that saw me grow, that gave me everything, that I gave everything to, which I love. I can collaborate from somewhere and give the best for the club. But it is not something I think about today. I don’t know if what I have left is a lot or a little, but I want to enjoy it. I will be close and I will always go to be linked to that club.”

The 2022 World Cup winner is contracted to Inter Miami until December 2025.

“I don’t know if I have a lot or a little left, but after the career I’ve had, the only thing I have left is to continue enjoying it,” he said.

“As long as I am physically well, I will continue competing, hopefully it will be a long time.”

On Monday, Messi won the Ballon D’Or for a record eight time at a ceremony in Paris after leading Argentina to the World Cup last year.

“I’m grateful for the career I’ve had, the moments I’ve experienced, and obviously in the last few years having won the Copa America and above all the World Cup because it finished off a lot of things,” Messi said in an interview to ESPN after the ceremony.

“First the dream of any player of being a world champion, then having fought for so long and having missed out, that it finally came and in that way… And above all because it’s what I was missing. I had it all and I was missing the most important thing, with what it means for a player to be a world champion, for us in Argentina after such a long time.

“It’s all very special.”

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Men charged with murder of Kaizer Chiefs’ Luke Fleurs remanded

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Men charged with murder of Kaizer Chiefs’ Luke Fleurs remanded

Six suspects arrested over the murder of Kaizer Chiefs player Luke Fleurs have been remanded by the Roodepoort magistrate’s court on Friday.

Ndumiso Moswane, 26; Fernando Siva, 25; Nhlakanipho Dlamini, 21; Franky Xaba, 25; Maredi Mphahlele, 36; and Thembinkosi Hlomikhawu, 31, have been charged with murder, possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating the ends of justice.

The suspects are expected to apply for bail during their court appearance next Friday.

All six suspects have opted to apply for the services of Legal Aid lawyers.

State prosecutor Arnold Limekhaya said the state intends to oppose the bail applications.

“We will oppose bail,” he told the court, indicating the state was yet to get the profiles of the men and their bail statements.

The 24-year-old Kaizer Chiefs defender and South Africa under-23 international was hijacked and fatally shot in the chest at a petrol station in Honeydew last Wednesday.

It is understood that the assailants drove off in Fleurs’ vehicle.

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Lagos FA to debut Nigerian Ex-International cup

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Lagos FA To Debut Nigerian Ex-International Cup

The Lagos State Football Association (LSFA) has concluded arrangements to organize a tournament involving Nigerian ex-internationals and their clubs’ teammates back in the day.
The Lagos State Football Association Chairman, Hajj Gafar Olawale Liameed, disclosed that the ex-internationals coming together to play football will inspire lots of youths.

“We believe in our ex-players. LSFA is determined to carry along ex-internationals and drive the game forward at every level,” Hajj Gafar stated.

“The tournament will see former Nigeria internationals based in Lagos adopt teams. For instance, if an ex-international is based in the area of Dino SC he can adopt them.

“The competition tagged ‘The Nigerian Ex Internationals Cup’ would see teams play on a home and away basis in the first phase before we proceed to the knockout stage.

“We want to have a clear identity and organize lots of programs. This is one of our innovations and we hope to take blessings from the Lagos State Government and Nigeria Football Federation,” the football technocrat enthused.

Hajj Gafar also reiterated LSFA’s commitments to the proper development of football in the centre of excellence.

“We’re determined to lead that development at every level and have created a robust plan for doing so using all our resources and knowledge.”

Meanwhile, former Nigeria internationals like Joseph Yobo, Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Wasiu Ipaye have already thrown their weight behind the innovation by the LSFA.

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NFF appoints Manu Garba as Golden Eaglets’ Head Coach

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The Board of Nigeria Football Federation has appointed former U17 World Cup winner Manu Garba as Head Coach of the Nigeria U17 boys, Golden Eaglets.

The Board of Nigeria Football Federation has appointed former U17 World Cup winner Manu Garba as Head Coach of the Nigeria U17 boys, Golden Eaglets.

 

Garba had, in the same role, led the Golden Eaglets to win the FIFA U17 World Cup for Nigeria in the United Arab Emirates in 2013 – Nigeria’s fourth triumph at that stage.

 

Garba’s world-conquering squad in 2013 included Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, Isaac Success, Musa Mohammed, Chidiebere Nwakali and goalkeeper Dele Alampasu.

 

The squad, which finished as runners-up at the African U17 Championship in Morocco after a penalty shootout defeat by Cote d’Ivoire, defeated Mexico 6-1 in their opening game, drew 3-3 with Sweden and hammered Iraq 5-0. In the Round of 16, they ran Iran ragged 4-1, dispatched Uruguay 2-0 in the quarter-finals and trounced Sweden 3-0 in the semi-finals, before they dislodged Mexico by the same margin in the final to lift the trophy.

 

The former Nigeria international will now immediately resume the role and take charge of the team’s preparations for next month’s WAFU B U17 Championship, taking place in Ghana.

 

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