Rice labels Bellingham 'the future of English football'

By Sports Desk September 28, 2022

Declan Rice has described Jude Bellingham as "the future of English football", claiming his international midfield partner is the most talented 19-year-old he has ever seen.

Although England suffered relegation from the top tier of the Nations League last week, Bellingham has done no harm to his chances of starting at the upcoming World Cup during the international break. 

With Manchester City's Kalvin Phillips enduring an injury-blighted campaign, Bellingham started alongside Rice in matches against Italy and Germany, impressing in a box-to-box role.

In Monday's 3-3 draw with Germany, Bellingham led England's charts for passes completed (41), touches (67), touches in the opposition box (six), duels won (eight), tackles won, interceptions and fouls won (all three).

Rice believes the Borussia Dortmund star's all-round ability is unique for someone of his age, telling the Daily Mirror: "I don't think I've seen anyone as good as he is for 19.

"I look at a lot of 19-year-olds, whether it's at a club, around the world, around the country. To have the whole package is a hard thing and I feel like he's got that.

"He's 19 but he's got the body of a 28-year-old – he's a man. He thinks like a man, plays like a man and shows personality and character. 

"I've been around and played so many more games than he has in my career, but you can just tell as a 19-year-old what he brings to the team already, the energy he's got.

"He can play in a holding role, he can play as an eight, he can play as a 10.

"He's a man – you can see it when he plays for Dortmund. As a 19-year-old, you're normally scared to talk to the referee but he's in the referee's face demanding answers, demanding decisions and he leaves himself on the pitch constantly. 

"He really pushes you on the pitch. We push each other on and it's a privilege to play next to him.

"Every time I play with Jude, we're building that connection and I say to him; 'you go and bomb on and do your attacking stuff and I'll sit here and defend for you'. So we're getting that good connection, he's great to play with.

"Hopefully, he keeps flourishing. He's the future of English football to come for the next 15 years."

While Bellingham's individual displays have earned rave reviews, England will begin the World Cup – against Iran on November 21 – having gone six games without a win (D3 L3).

This is their longest such run going into a major tournament, but Rice believes the Three Lions were much improved against Germany, adding: "We're sticking with a formation that needs work and we're working on that in training all the time. 

"I feel like there's positive signs there. It's just a blip at the moment but that was a massive, positive step."

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    Luke Shaw says England are extra motivated heading into their World Cup clash with Wales after their opponents wildly celebrated the Three Lions' exit from Euro 2016.

    An infamous video circulated following England's embarrassing last-16 defeat to Iceland six and a half years ago showing Wales' players lapping up their fierce rivals' demise.

    Wales surpassed expectations by making it to the semi-finals of that competition, despite losing to England in the group stage, but they have had less success at Qatar 2022.

    The Dragons require a victory against England at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium if they are to avoid a group-stage exit and must hope the United States and Iran play out a draw elsewhere.

    A four-goal win for Wales against their neighbours on Tuesday would also be enough, but they have not so much as avoided defeated against England in their past six meetings.

    Shaw, who played a full part in England's 6-2 win over Iran and goalless draw with the USA, believes the scenes from 2016 will add more spice to an already feisty fixture.

    "I think you could say that," Shaw said. "But our motivation in itself has to be at its highest level. We are at the World Cup. We have great aims for what we want to achieve.

    "We have to have the maximum motivation at every game. I don't think there's any more motivation than what we have already. 

    "It wasn't nice. I don't want to dwell too much on that. I want to focus on what we do on the pitch. We can say things in interviews and I'd rather do our talking on the pitch."

    Asked if England's players would consider recording similar scenes of celebrating should they knock out Wales, Shaw said: "I think we are a respectful group.

    "We do things in the right way. That's the example Gareth [Southgate] wants to set. We are fully behind that. We are fully respectful.

    "I think their motivation is going to be extremely high. They are going to give everything to win. It's not an easy game. But we need to focus on what we do."

    England will advance to the knockout stage if they avoid a heavy loss to Wales, though Southgate's side will be targeting a victory to make certain of top spot in Group B.

    Speaking ahead of England's first ever World Cup match against a fellow British side, Southgate said: "We have got to play well. 

    "We are going to play an opponent that is wounded and, like everybody else, desperate to beat the English. We've got to play an intelligent game, play well and match their spirit.

    "I would be very disappointed if someone says their players will want it more than ours. I'd be asking questions about what we stand for and what we have been for five years."

    England have lost their third and final group-stage game in just two of their 14 participations at the World Cup (W7 D5), doing so against Spain in 1950 and Belgium in 2018.

  • Queiroz accuses Klinsmann of 'outrageous' slurs against Iran, demands German quits FIFA job Queiroz accuses Klinsmann of 'outrageous' slurs against Iran, demands German quits FIFA job

    Carlos Queiroz has demanded Jurgen Klinsmann resign from his FIFA position after making a string of accusations about Iran's World Cup team, labelling the German's comments "a disgrace".

    Iran head coach Queiroz reacted after his team were accused by Klinsmann of having "worked the referee" during the 2-0 win against Wales on Friday.

    Working as a BBC pundit, Klinsmann suggested Iran getting to the match officials and pushing the boundaries of acceptability was "part of their culture".

    In response, Queiroz suggested California-based Klinsmann's "outrageous remarks" stemmed from his "American/German" background.

    He said Klinsmann should visit Iran's training camp to learn more about the team, but must step down from FIFA's World Cup technical study group beforehand.

    Prompted about the conduct of Iran's players in the Wales game just staying on the right side of the game's laws, Klinsmann said: "That's their culture, that's their way of doing it, and that's why Carlos Queiroz, he fits really well the Iranian national team.

    "He struggled in South America and failed with Colombia to qualify, and then he failed with Egypt to qualify as well, and he went back right before the World Cup and guided Iran, where he worked already for a long, long time.

    "This is not by coincidence. This is just part of their culture, that's how they play it. They worked the referee. You saw the bench, always jumping up and always working the linesman and fourth referee on the sidelines, they are constantly in their ear.

    "This is their culture; they make you lose your focus, make you lose your concentration and what's important to you."

    Klinsmann said there could have been a "big difference with another referee" and added: "Let's say it did not play into the hands of Wales."

    Queiroz responded on Saturday with a string of withering Twitter messages aimed at Klinsmann, who was a 1990 World Cup winner as a player with West Germany and later coach of Germany and the United States.

    Queiroz began by saying: "Even not knowing me personally, you question my character with a typical prejudiced judgement of superiority.

    "No matter how much I can respect what you did inside the pitch, those remarks about Iran culture, Iran national team and my players are a disgrace to football. Nobody can hurt our integrity if it is not at our level, of course.

    "Even saying so, we would like to invite you as our guest, to come to our national team camp, socialise with Iran players and learn from them about the country, the people of Iran, the poets and art, the algebra, all the millennial Persian culture…

    "And also listen from our players how much they love and respect football. As American/German, we understand your no support. No problem. And despite your outrageous remarks on BBC trying to undermine our efforts, sacrifices and skills, we promise you that we will not produce any judgements regarding your culture, roots and background and that you will always be welcome to our family.

    "At the same time, we just want to follow with full attention what will be the decision of FIFA regarding your position as a member of Qatar 2022 technical study group.

    "Because, obviously, we expect you to resign before you visit our camp."

    This is former Manchester United assistant boss Queiroz's third consecutive World Cup as Iran boss. His short spells with Colombia and Egypt followed the 2018 tournament, with Queiroz leading Egypt to this year's Africa Cup of Nations final.

    They were defeated in that game on penalties by Senegal, and Egypt also lost by the same method to the same opposition in a World Cup play-off, with Queiroz departing and returning to the helm with Iran in September.

  • Barcelona boss Xavi reveals he turned down opportunity to join Brazil Barcelona boss Xavi reveals he turned down opportunity to join Brazil

    Barcelona boss Xavi has revealed he was offered a role as part of Brazil's backroom team ahead of the World Cup, but turned it down to hold out for the top job with the Blaugrana.

    The former Spain international succeeded Ronald Koeman last year in charge at Camp Nou, and has helped to revive fortunes at the Catalan side since his arrival.

    Though his team have slipped into the Europa League for a second season running, they remain competitive in the domestic top-flight, sitting two points ahead of rivals Real Madrid at the World Cup break.

    Xavi has revealed he was approached by Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Rogerio Caboclo over a role with the Selecao during his time in charge at Al Sadd, but that he turned them down to hold out for Barca.

    "It was an opportunity [that came] through the president of the CBF," Xavi told ESPN. 

    "They [came] to Qatar, and they talked to me, [and asked if] I could be part of Tite's staff.

    "But I wanted to be a coach, not an assistant. My desire was to be a coach.

    "It would be a tremendous opportunity - it was [a chance] to make history, to be the first European to work in the Brazilian national team.

    "But, at that moment, it did not happen. I was clear that I wanted to be coach of Barcelona, ​​which was my dream, and here I am."

    However, Xavi teased he would not rule out taking up the chance if it was offered again, adding: "You never know. It would be a spectacular opportunity.

    "But my intention was to take over Barcelona. You never know about the future [though]. I'm working hard, and you can't rule anything out."

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