Alun Wyn Jones will go down in rugby union history as an all-time great of the game.

The 37-year-old Ospreys lock has announced his retirement from international rugby after a career that reaped a world record 170 Test match appearances – 158 for Wales and 12 for the British and Irish Lions.

His Wales odyssey spanned 17 years, while he captained his country and the Lions.

And he will rightly be lauded in the same revered company as Welsh rugby legends such as Sir Gareth Edwards, Barry John and JPR Williams.

Jones’ international career began 7,500 miles from home at the sporting outpost of Estadio Raul Conti in Puerto Madryn, Patagonia.

Selected by new Wales coach Gareth Jenkins alongside James Hook, Richard Hibbard and Ian Evans among four debutants in the match-day 23 against first Test opponents Argentina that June afternoon, a 20-year-old Jones started as blindside flanker.

Little could anyone have known that it would launch approaching two decades in a Wales shirt.

He set a new national cap record when he overtook former prop Gethin Jenkins during the 2019 World Cup.

And then he moved past New Zealand World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw’s mark of 148 caps, maintaining incredible consistency of performance in one of the sport’s toughest playing positions.

He helped Wales win five Six Nations titles, including three Grand Slams, played in four World Cups and helped Wales reach two World Cup semi-finals.

In the early stages of Jones’ Test career, though, Wales were inconsistent performers.

No greater an illustration of this came at the 2007 World Cup, where a dramatic pool stage defeat against Fiji in Nantes meant an early exit and coach Jenkins losing his job.

Warren Gatland’s appointment as Jenkins’ successor in early 2008 kick-started a spectacular change of fortunes, with players like Jones, Sam Warburton, Mike Phillips and Taulupe Faletau to the fore.

Wales reached the 2011 World Cup semi-finals before having Warburton sent off and losing by a point to France, were quarter-finalists four years later and then semi-finalists again in Japan in 2019. Jones made more World Cup appearances than any other Welshman, proving a driving force on the global stage.

And his Lions chapter was equally as impressive, with only two players – Willie John McBride and Dickie Jeeps – playing in more Tests than Jones did.

He was an ever-present in four Lions Test series, with captaincy on the 2021 tour to South Africa fittingly rewarding his status in the game. He also led the Lions to a Test series-clinching victory over Australia eight years earlier when Warburton was injured.

Given Jones’ fitness levels, it would have been no surprise to have see him being selected for a fifth and final World Cup campaign in France later this year.

But he has decided to call it a day on rugby union’s biggest stage, and Wales – maybe even the world game – are unlikely to see his like again.

Club professional Michael Block remarkably found himself high on the leaderboard as Oak Hill continued to provide a stiff test in the 105th US PGA Championship.

Block, who is one of 20 PGA professionals in the field in Rochester and the head pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in California, carded a second consecutive 70 for a halfway total of level par.

And that was just one behind early clubhouse leader and playing partner Taylor Pendrith, the Canadian added a second round of 69 to his opening 70 to finish one under.

“I am having a great time,” Block, 46, said after a round containing four birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey on the fifth, which was the result of a dreaded shank off the tee.

“I have no pressure, I have a job and a pay cheque waiting for me at my club. I don’t have to make putts to pay for my mortgage.

“This is a beautiful thing I have here. I’m a very lucky guy and I’m looking forward to playing on Saturday and Sunday.”

First-round leader Bryson DeChambeau, who carded an opening four-under-par 66, was in the penultimate group on Friday and not scheduled to begin round two until 1431 local time.

DeChambeau had company at the top of the leaderboard when fellow former US Open champion Justin Rose covered his first seven holes in three under par, despite not hitting a single fairway in regulation.

Rose, who had completed an opening 69 by chipping in for birdie on the 18th when play resumed at 7am on Friday morning, dropped a shot on the same hole in round two to drop back to three under.

World number one Jon Rahm was among the players who faced an uphill battle to make the halfway cut.

Seeking back-to-back major titles following his Masters triumph at Augusta National last month, Rahm birdied his opening hole in the first round before slumping to a six-over-par 76.

US Open champion and playing partner Matt Fitzpatrick failed to make a single birdie as he recorded the same score, but Rory McIlroy had fought back from three over par after nine holes to post a 71 despite struggling with an unspecified illness.

Einer Rubio won stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia as Geraint Thomas retained the Maglia Rosa on a rain-interrupted day which saw the race shortened.

Movistar rider Rubio won the 74.6-kilometre stage in two hours 16 minutes and 21 seconds.

Thibaut Pinot and Jefferson Alexander Cepeda finished second and third respectively.

Rubio said: “A big day that I was looking for by working very hard. It’s been difficult with the bad weather. But I had to keep going.

“I knew that Pinot was very strong. I had to finish with him and play it well tactically. It will take time for me to realise that I won a stage of the Giro d’Italia. I didn’t believe I’d do it.”

The stage started under heavy rain at Borgofranco d’Ivrea but organisers were forced to re-route some of it, with riders retreating to their team buses due to the conditions.

Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) retains the overall lead ahead of Primoz Roglic and Joao Almeida.

Thomas said: “We stayed calm when a small group went in the first climb. We stayed in control with Ben Swift and Pavel Sivakov setting the pace. Great ride by them. The way it went at the end made it quite hard to attack.

“But Primoz is probably happy to leave me in the Maglia Rosa for a few more days. I expect something more from him next week.”

Liam Scales insists Aberdeen are intent on putting Hearts’ hopes of finishing third in the cinch Premiership “to bed” on Saturday – just four months after the Dons suffered a 5-0 defeat at Tynecastle.

The Pittodrie side have enjoyed a remarkable turnaround since that debacle under previous boss Jim Goodwin in January and they currently hold a five-point advantage over the Jambos and a six-point lead over Hibernian with three games to play.

A win in Edinburgh this weekend will ensure Hearts cannot catch the Dons and will all but guarantee Barry Robson’s resurgent side will be playing European group-stage football next term, as long as Hibs do not win their last three games and Championship side Inverness do not beat Celtic in the Scottish Cup final.

“We’re a different team now,” said Dons defender Scales. “A lot’s changed since the last time we went to Tynecastle. But we have to respect that they’re a top side, especially at Tynecastle.

“We know exactly what the challenge will be and we’re going to go there and try and win the game and finish third. To have any chance of finishing third, they have to beat us so there is pressure on them. It’s a massive game and I hope it’s going to be a really good game.

“We’re not going there to try and nick a draw, we want to go there and put it to bed. There’s pressure on both teams. With us being ahead, they need to bridge the gap by winning but we’re also focused on winning.”

The Tynecastle showdown has been billed as a £5 million match given the potential rewards for whoever goes into the European group stages.

“As players we’re not really thinking about what’s at stake financially,” said Scales. “We just want to go there and win and finish third because our aim at the start of the season was to finish as close to the top two as we could.

“If we could finish third by winning at the weekend, that will be our goal achieved.

“It is important for the club to make as much money as possible to keep pushing in the right direction but as players our goal is to finish third, which will give the players who are here next season the opportunity to play European football which is where we want to be.”

It remains unclear whether Scales, who is nearing the end of a season-long loan from Celtic, will be at Pittodrie next term.

“Not really,” said the 24-year-old Irishman when asked if there had been any movement regarding his future. “I’m focusing on playing the next two games for myself – obviously there’s three games for the rest of the lads (Scales is ineligible against his parent club on the last day) – and hopefully finishing third and then we’ll take it from there.

“I’ll have a chat with Celtic and with my agent and see what’s best for myself at the end of the season. I don’t think there’s any point thinking about it right now because there are big games coming up. There’s plenty time to sort things out between Celtic and Aberdeen. It’s not on my mind that much at the moment.

“This has been my first season playing regularly in Scotland and I think from the start to now, I’ve learned a lot and improved a lot. I’ve enjoyed it.

“We started well before the World Cup and that was enjoyable and then we went through a patch that was not so enjoyable but you learn a lot from that.

“The last 10 games or so has been brilliant, winning games, keeping clean sheets, shooting up the table. That’s what every footballer wants to be involved in. I’ve taken so much from this year. I really enjoy playing here.”

Katie Taylor is relishing the “biggest night” of her illustrious career, hoping to make a triumphant homecoming and become a two-weight undisputed world champion by beating Chantelle Cameron.

The Irish fighter has reigned supreme as the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO lightweight champion since mid-2019 and is now moving up to light-welterweight to challenge for Cameron’s four belts at Dublin’s 3Arena.

Added significance comes from this being her first professional fight on home soil – major boxing shows have not occurred in Ireland since a deadly shooting at a weigh-in at a Dublin hotel in May 2016.

Taylor made her debut in the paid ranks six months later and has gone on to win all 22 fights, six inside the distance, but the 36-year-old faces arguably her toughest test in Britain’s Cameron.

“I’m so proud to be here and represent this great nation and I’m going to give it my all and become a two-weight undisputed champion,” said Taylor at Friday’s weigh-in ahead of the weekend showdown.

“It will absolutely be the biggest night of my career so far.”

Despite being the challenger, it was Taylor who made her way to the stage second in front of a partisan crowd singing her name, greeted by two violinists performing the Irish folk song ‘Drunken Sailor’.

She weighed in first, however, with both Taylor and and fellow undefeated fighter Cameron coming in at 139.7lbs, below the 140lbs limit.

“This is absolutely incredible, seeing the crowd here, thank you so much for all the support,” added Taylor.

“To bring big-time boxing back to this great nation, this is a nation who loves our sport, loves our boxing. I cannot wait to get a hold of those belts.”

Taylor was initially slated to face Amanda Serrano on Saturday night in a rerun of their epic contest at Madison Square Garden in April last year – the first women’s bout to headline the famed venue.

Taylor won that affair by wafer-thin split decision after withstanding some punishment in the middle rounds and hoped to entice Serrano to Croke Park, only for security cost issues to scupper the dream.

 

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Serrano’s injury then led to Taylor, somewhat uncharacteristically, taking to social media to call out Northampton fighter Cameron, who gleefully stepped into the breach.

Cameron, who will have height and reach advantages over Taylor, has not been unduly tested in her 17 wins, eight inside the distance, and has seemed unfazed by all the hysteria surrounding her opponent.

“Cool heads in a hot kitchen, it’s just down to business,” said Cameron, who claimed all four major world titles last November by beating Jessica McCaskill.

“I’ll bring everything I’ve got.”

On the undercard, Doncaster fighter Terri Harper makes the first defence of her WBA light-middleweight title defence against former undisputed world welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus.

Harper tipped the scales at 150.8lbs, while Braekhaus weighed in at 153.3lbs.

Sports stars and clubs across the world continue to provide an insight into their lives on social media.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the best examples from May 19.

Football

Phil Jones paid tribute to Manchester United fans after it was confirmed he will be leaving the club.

Manchester United remembered Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game as a manager.

Aaron Ramsdale reflected on his time at Arsenal after signing a new contract.

Declan Rice celebrated West Ham reaching the Europa Conference League final.

Chelsea reminisced about their Champions League final win over Bayern Munich.

Rugby union

An emotional day for Alun Wyn Jones and Welsh rugby.

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A post shared by @alun.wyn.jones

 

Tributes were also paid to flanker Justin Tipuric following his own retirement from Wales duty.

Golf

Tom Kim got a bit muddy at the US PGA Championship.

Snooker

It makes perfect, Ronnie!

Mostabshir looks a colt sure to go on bigger and better things following a dominant display on day three of the Dante Festival at York.

An impressive victory on his debut at Kempton in November earned the Shadwell-owned youngster a place in last month’s Craven Stakes at Newmarket with a view to a potential 2000 Guineas bid, but he could finish only fifth of seven runners.

Perhaps as a result, Mostabshir was passed over on this occasion by Shadwell’s retained rider Jim Crowley, who instead elected to partner Wood Ditton runner-up Kathab.

The latter was the 6-4 favourite on the strength of that fine effort behind Thursday’s luckless Dante Stakes third Passenger, but he was ultimately unable to lay a glove on John and Thady Gosden’s highly impressive winner.

With William Buick in the saddle, the son of Dark Angel set his own fractions in front and once asked to go about his business quickly put daylight between himself and his rivals. His stablemate Ziryab finished best of the rest, pipping Kathab to the runner-up spot, but was a full five lengths behind Mostabshir.

Gosden senior said: “He’s like a lot of ours – the grass gallops were closed in Newmarket, so they had to train on the all-weather and then when they went to the races they ran in a bog and he didn’t like it. This was the first summer ground we’ve had this year and it’s a different result.

“William gave him a great ride from the front and said he gave him a lovely feel. What was nice was that William said he quickened twice, and when they do that you’ve got to take note.”

Coral cut Mostabshir to 8-1 from 50-1 for the St James’s Palace Stakes a Royal Ascot, a Group One contest Gosden has previously won with Kingman (2014), Without Parole (2018) and Palace Pier (2020).

The Clarehaven handler was non-committal regarding future plans, though, adding: “He was giving 6lb to the opposition so it was a decent performance, but we’re in a complete muddle now as we don’t know if we’ll go to the Britannia or the handicapper will make it impossible – the other option is to go in at the deep end.

“What he’s shown today is that on genuine summer ground he’s a decent horse.”

Shadwell’s racing manager, Angus Gold, walked into the paddock with a rather puzzled look on his face.

He said: “I’m delighted to see him quicken like that, I didn’t expect it.

“He looked a galloper when he won at Kempton and it didn’t work out for him in the Craven for whatever reason – course, ground, needed the run, whatever.

“William said he quickened twice and under a penalty that was a handy enough performance today.

“Timing-wise you’d love to run him in a Listed race somewhere and if that went well then go St James’s Palace, but there isn’t the time to do it. We’ll have to see how he is and see what John thinks.

“We ran in the Craven to see if he was a Guineas horse, it fell in a hole so we thought we’d come back down to bring him back up but to do that with a penalty in that style – that’s why I was a bit puzzled, I was surprised to see the speed.

“As for Kathab, Jim says he probably needs 10 furlongs, if anything.”

Dundee United left-back Aziz Behich will use his positive experience of fighting relegation to try to seize the initiative against Livingston in a game he is treating like a cup final.

United sit bottom of the cinch Premiership with three games left and defeat in West Lothian could see them staring into the abyss depending on results elsewhere.

“We all know what’s at stake here,” the former Bursaspor and Istanbul Basaksehir player said. “We are bottom of the table. We can’t look ahead of this week and we are treating this game as a final. That’s the mentality we need to go in with.

“A lot of players maybe haven’t been in this situation before. Personally I have, two or three times over in Turkey, and come out on top of it.

“This is a new situation for a lot and it’s just how you deal with it. You either take it by the scruff of the neck or you roll over. I don’t think we have got players here that want to roll over.

“We have got good characters in the changing room and us older guys have to push that leading into Saturday.”

Behich’s season has veered between huge highs and massive lows, from conceding seven goals on his United debut against AZ Alkmaar to playing for Australia against Argentina in the last 16 of the World Cup and nearly scoring a sensational late equaliser.

The ups and downs continued. After a strong return from the World Cup, United went 11 league games without a win before claiming three consecutive victories going into the split.

But they have still not been able to kick on and successive defeats against St Johnstone and Ross County have left them in the mire.

“It has been a bit of a roller coaster but that’s part of football, part of the journey,” the 32-year-old defender said.

“But I’m happy to be at this club. It’s a great football club, a great fanbase.

“Obviously we have to look at ourselves, why we are in this situation, as individuals.

“But it’s not the time for that now because we still have three final games to play and we still have to have that belief within the four walls, in that changing room, that we are going to get out of this.

“We are the only ones that can do that. Not the coaching staff, not the people on the outside – it’s us players on the pitch that, at the end of the day, define the outcome really.”

Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy believes last weekend’s tough experience at Ibrox can ultimately be of benefit to some of the younger players in the team.

The likes of Yuki Kobayashi, Alexandro Bernabei and Oh Hyeon-gyu were handed derby starts but were on the wrong end of a 3-0 defeat.

Celtic had already wrapped up the cinch Premiership title and beaten Rangers in both cup competitions but the first derby defeat of the season still stung Ange Postecoglou’s side and supporters.

However, Kennedy believes there was plenty to take from the game which can help treble-chasing Celtic continue to move forward.

“There is learning in every game for us, individually and collectively,” he said.

“If we go out and win 5-0 we will always pick the holes in it and the positives and feed that back to the players as a group and individually.

“It’s the same process when we suffer a defeat or a poor performance. The players are very comfortable with that, they know that.

“But sometimes in terms of going through that tough experience, you do get a lot of learning from that.

“When you are winning every week you get in a mindset and that becomes the norm, and sometimes it just shakes you up a little bit and gives you a reminder that if part of your game is not quite on it or if you don’t attack the game in the right intent, it gives us a reminder.

“Even the way we started the game wasn’t to our normal standards. Rangers came on to us, we lost a lot of duels, missed a lot of passes. And straight away that put us under pressure.

“It’s important for us to always remember that we play a style that we look to impose on the opposition.

“When the game is more challenging, there is certainly more things to look at.

“In hindsight, a lot of the boys will look back at that and learn a lot from that, especially the younger lads, who hopefully will be able to go into the next games and correct some of the errors that happened.”

Celtic had two-thirds of the ball at Ibrox but only one shot on target compared to Rangers’ eight.

Kennedy said: “I think that was Rangers’ strategy, they had two quick players at the top end, they gave up possession at times, but we were probably as wasteful with it as we have been in most of our games.

“In terms of decision-making, execution and the technical side of the game, we missed too many passes and made too many bad decisions.

“And that led to a lot of turnovers and gave Rangers the opportunity to hit us on counter-attacks and catch us when we weren’t quite organised.

“There was certainly a lot to look into on the game. As much as it was a bad result and poor performance, it’s a good reminder for us as a group that we have constantly got to be on it. You can’t drop 10 per cent because we know how much that affects our game.”

Celtic bid to bounce back at home to St Mirren on Saturday and Kennedy is sure there will be an edge to his team’s game, especially with the Scottish Cup final against Inverness to come on June 3.

The former Scotland international said: “There’s always that drive. Players are stimulated by playing for the club and you want to perform in every game. They are competitors and there is always that motivation.

“The fact we have the cup final to go, it gives us that stimulant right through to the end of the season.

“We are not just playing games out, we want to finish as strong as we can and it’s important we get the right form and conditioning going into the cup final because on the day you have to put in a performance that merits the win.”

Rangers incoming chief executive James Bisgrove has suggested away fans could return to Old Firm derbies next season albeit a full allocation of visiting supporters is “highly unlikely”.

The two most recent cinch Premiership Glasgow derbies were played in front of home supporters only due to “safety and security” issues.

Previous to that around 800 away supporters were allowed, which in itself was vastly reduced from the approximately 7,500 tickets which were once allocated to visitors.

However, Bisgrove – who will officially take over the role on July 31 – said: “It’s definitely an area we are going to look at.

“We are going to have dialogue with all the right stakeholders and authorities, be that Police Scotland, be that Celtic, and we recognise all the different viewpoints on that and we will see where those discussions go for next season.

“There’s no specific date in the diary for those talks but I would imagine that during the summer and before the next Old Firm game that the dialogue would take place.

“For next season, the season tickets have not been sold in the corner of the Govan stand, where the allocation was previously.

“So for next season we do have the opportunity should we decide to restore that allocation of about 700-800, that’s our maximum for next season.

“Beyond that it’s a broader conversation. We need to have that dialogue with those stakeholders because there’s a lot of different views on it.”

Celtic fans had traditionally occupied the Broomloan Stand at Ibrox for Old Firm clashes, with Rangers supporters housed in the corner of the Main Stand and Jock Stein Stand at Celtic Park.

Bisgrove said: “We’ll take the decision that is right for Rangers and is right for our supporters.

“I think the question was, ‘is there the chance to go back to the traditional allocation of 8,000?’ I think that’s very unlikely at the moment.

“We need to see where the conversations go. But I don’t think that is imminent at the moment.”

The Viaplay Cup final and the Scottish Cup semi-final between Rangers and Celtic this season were played at Hampden Park with a 50-50 split of tickets.

Marco Silva praised Roy Hodgson’s impact at Crystal Palace since his return, which has seen the Eagles find their feet in front of goal and climb the Premier League table.

Hodgson, who took over from Patrick Vieira in March, has steered the Eagles to safety with five wins in eight matches. There has also been an upturn in attacking output, with the south London club scoring 15 goals since their 4-1 defeat to Arsenal two months ago.

Fulham boss Silva talked up Palace’s improved attacking form, attributing it to the confidence former England boss Hodgson has instilled in his squad since his arrival.

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“The new manager impact for sure (has helped them in front of goal) because they are in a good moment,” Silva said ahead of Saturday’s clash between the teams at Craven Cottage.

“It was a matter of confidence for them to find goals because they have the quality, the talent up front, to punish any team in this league.

“When they won the first game under Roy (Hodgson) and then the second, the confidence came again on different levels and they’re now expressing themselves, you can feel during the matches.

“The way some of their players are playing right now you can feel they are full of confidence.”

Silva’s side dismantled Palace 3-0 at Selhurst Park in December but the Fulham boss admitted he expects a different challenge on Saturday as he highlighted the form of their young players.

Eagles top goalscorer Eberechi Eze has netted six goals in eight games, including a brace in last week’s 2-0 victory over Bournemouth, and Silva is aware of their attacking threat.



Silva added: “They also have the quality there, (Michael) Olise, Eze, (Wilfried) Zaha, (Odsonne) Edouard, the support they have from the midfielders.

“With the players they have they can go on, I think they have a lot of individual quality in the attacking line.

“You can see the young talents who have the experience already in the Premier League to create many problems for the opposition every time.

“They have some very good connections, the players link (with) each other very well and of course some players in the back line too.

“I think it will be a very good game against a good side who will want to keep the same capacity to get points – and we want to do the same.”

The Cottagers have avoided any threat of relegation on their return to the top flight, spending the majority of the campaign in the top half.

Silva, who stated in the summer that his squad “was not ready” for the league, credited his players for their efforts – they are currently only two points off their record Premier League points tally of 53.

He added: “We showed the capacity to adapt in any moment of the season in  what the season demands of ourselves…some moments without our full squad, without some important players for us.”

Alun Wyn Jones, the world’s most capped rugby union player, has announced his retirement from the international game.

The 37-year-old lock played 158 times for Wales and made 12 British and Irish Lions Test appearances.

Wales flanker Justin Tipuric, who won 93 caps, had earlier announced his decision to step down from Test rugby.

The players’ decisions come less than four months before Wales’ World Cup opener against Fiji in Bordeaux, and both had recently been named in a 54-player preliminary training squad for the tournament by head coach Warren Gatland.

Writing on his Instagram page, Jones said: “Having been sele3cted in this year’s preliminary Rugby World Cup squad, and after ongoing dialogue with the coaching staff and WRU (Welsh Rugby Union), I have decided to step away from the international game.

“So, after 17 years, I look back on special memories with Welsh greats and future Welsh greats.”

Frank Lampard has revealed he tried to sign Erling Haaland for Chelsea during his first spell as the manager at Stamford Bridge.

The Manchester City striker came up against Lampard’s team in a pre-season friendly in 2019 while he was playing for RB Salzburg in Austria.

He scored 28 goals in 22 matches that season before signing for Borussia Dortmund the following summer, but Lampard said he attempted to bring him to west London instead during his 18-month spell in charge between 2019 and 2021.

Ultimately competition for the Norway international’s signature, together with the fact not everybody at Chelsea was convinced that a bid for Haaland would have been the right move, meant that Lampard was left frustrated.

His 36 Premier League goals for title-chasing City this season mean he has scored as many times in the league as the entire Chelsea squad have, with the two teams meeting at the Etihad on Sunday as City look for the victory they need to seal the title.

Chelsea by contrast remain in the bottom half of the table, with their struggles in front of goal this season having shown no sign of easing in recent weeks.

“I’ve got huge respect for him as a player, he’s a player I tried to bring to Chelsea the first time I was here,” said Lampard. “I was really keen to get him here but obviously that couldn’t happen. His level at that point was very clear, we played against him in a pre-season game for Salzburg.

“Credit to him, I love seeing players of that level, I love seeing players of that personality and hunger to play and be the best which he’s proved himself to be. In terms of having to deal with him you have to have obviously a plan and an idea, but players of that level can make anything happen at any moment.

“I think he’s special, I thought he’d adapt straight away just (because of) his level. I think with the level of players and his record of scoring, firstly in Austria then for his country and in the Bundesliga – which is not an easy league – to come into a really good unit already.

“The rest is just credit to himself and the team around him. I did expect that, it’s not just an easy hindsight answer, I’ve got real respect for the player.

“I don’t know whether he would have decided to come here anyway but I was a big fan. There are some of those that happen that people don’t know about that could have been this way, people talk a lot about mistakes and the things that could have been in football.

“Whether he would have come I don’t know, but I was pushing big, and for a couple of other players as well. But he was the outstanding one.

“From our point I was pushing it, I’m not sure what the appetite everywhere else in the club was to do it. The competition was big to take him because he was an outstanding player. I think there was a buyout clause at the time which I think was relatively reasonable given the player (he joined Dortmund for around £17million). I don’t have enough detail to say how close it was.”

Lampard has two matches left of his interim spell in charge, with Manchester United at Old Trafford and Newcastle at Stamford Bridge to come after City.

He has won only once during his eight games in the job, a 3-1 victory at Bournemouth earlier in May, with six defeats having come in that time including a Champions League exit to Real Madrid.

Mauricio Pochettino is expected to be confirmed as the permanent successor to Graham Potter, who was sacked on April 2, in the coming days, and he will have a huge rebuild on his hands after a disastrous season for the club.

Despite the poor form, Lampard said he has no regrets about agreeing to take over in the short-term from Potter.

“I have enjoyed it, I get asked it a lot,” he said. “You want to always get results but you have to be realistic in football.  When I came into this, the Champions League dream that everyone talked to me about, (saying) it’s been done before, can we do it again?

“The realistic answer was we were where we were in the league for a reason. Our view was to try and beat Real Madrid then possible City to get to a final. In terms of the rest of the job, it’s been how many small wins can I try and impact behind the scenes. You can’t always impact results.

“Generally there’s a lot of work to do here. I can have a certain impact with certain individuals within the group because I have a big feeling for the club.”

Giavellotto turned the tables on his St Leger conqueror Eldar Eldarov to secure top honours in the Boodles Yorkshire Cup.

The Roger Varian-trained Eldar Eldarov was the Classic hero at Doncaster, a race in which Marco Botti’s Giavellotto passed the post in fourth but was later promoted to third after suffering interference.

In a twist on the Knavesmire, Giavellotto was the one causing interference, but following a stewards’ inquiry the placings remained unaltered in the one-mile-six-furlong feature.

Ninth behind the reopposing Broome in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March, the 14-1 chance quickened up smartly to grab the lead under Andrea Atzeni, but hung left under pressure, impeding both the long-time leader Quickthorn and Broome on the far side of the track.

In the meantime Eldar Eldarov, making his first appearance since the autumn, was building up a head of steam closer to stands rail and charged home to beaten just half a length, with Broome only a further length behind in third.

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