Dimitar Berbatov has announced his retirement from football, saying: "I played the way I wanna play, and I scored the goals I wanted to score!"

The 38-year-old former Manchester United, Tottenham and Bayer Leverkusen striker played his last game for Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League in February 2018.

He announced his retirement on the ninth anniversary of his hat-trick for Manchester United in a memorable 3-2 win over rivals Liverpool.

After starting his career at CSKA Sofia, Bulgarian Berbatov made a name for himself in the Bundesliga with Leverkusen and then enjoyed success in the Premier League with Spurs.

United paid £28million to take him to Old Trafford in August 2008 and he won two Premier League titles with the club, before going on to play for Fulham, Monaco, PAOK and Kerala.

In a post on his Instagram account, Berbatov said: "My last game was more than one year ago, so I think it's the right time now to stop and it's long overdue!

"Although when I think about it, it's never The End, because I will stay in the game in one way or another, the time has come to say that after almost 20 years playing football I am stopping with my professional ACTIVE football career!

"I will miss it! I will f***ing miss it! Everything! The games, trainings, the goals, preparations, the pressure, my teammates…the roar of the fans when I scored another banger.

"I was blessed and work hard to have the opportunity to play with one of the best ever and against some of the best ever! And coming from small country this makes it even more special for me!"

Berbatov reflected on the ups and downs of a career that included three Champions League final defeats – one with Leverkusen and two with United.

His most prolific spell came in Germany, where he netted 91 goals in 202 matches for Leverkusen, but he won his only league titles at United, along with the League Cup, the Community Shield and the FIFA Club World Cup.

He also netted 48 goals in 78 appearances for Bulgaria to become the country's all-time leading scorer before retiring from international football in 2012.

"I had my highs and of course some lows in my career, won my fair share of trophies, scored some goals along the way as well!" said Berbatov.

"I played the way I wanna play, and I scored the goals I wanted to score!

"Thank you to all the people who helped me develop, and became the player I always wanted to be!

"Thank you to all my former teams, my teammates and my coaches and staff! It was a pleasure! I know at times I was not easy to work with, but I always gave my everything for the teams I played for!

"I hope you all have enjoyed my game, and everything I gave to entertain you on the pitch!"

Jamaica international Michael Hector has officially completed a move from English Premier League (EPL) club Chelsea to Championship club Fulham but will be unable to play until the next transfer window.

The 27-year-old Reggae Boy joined the Blues in a surprise move on deadline day in 2015 but was immediately loaned back to Reading for the 2015-2016 campaign.

 The defender spent the next three seasons on loan at clubs like Eintracht Frankfurt, Hull City, and Sheffield Wednesday and never made an appearance for his parent club.  Although he cannot officially beginning playing for the club until January, Hector will join Fulham to immediately begin training with the squad.

“Although Michael can’t officially join our First Team until January, what’s important is he’s now a member of Fulham Football Club,” Fulham’s co-owner Tony Khan said.

“Michael will help us challenge for promotion and make us better in the second half of the season, at a time when depth, experience, and quality will be at a premium in the Championship. Come on Fulham!” he added.

He spent last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, playing in 37 Championship games for the Owls.

“It was an easy decision to make. My mum’s from Fulham, so it’s nice to join a club that some of my family support,” Hector told Fulham’s official club website.

Hector, who was close to completing a deal to join the club on deadline day before it fell through, signed a two and a half year contract.

 

 

Fulham have announced they will sign Michael Hector from Chelsea in January for an undisclosed fee.

Defender Hector joined the Blues from Reading in 2015 but has never made a competitive appearance for the club.

He spent last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, playing in 37 Championship games for the Owls.

The Jamaica international has also had time on loan with Hull City and Eintracht Frankfurt but has committed his future to Fulham until 2022, with the club also holding the option to extend for a further 12 months.

"It was an easy decision to make. My mum's from Fulham, so it’s nice to join a club that some of my family support," Hector told Fulham's official club website.

"It's good to now be a part of the set-up here. Hopefully things can work out well and we can get promoted. I know how tough the Championship is and it won't be any different for us.

"We'll have to work hard for it but the squad is very good and my job will be to help them push for promotion."

Hector will train with Fulham, who are sixth in the Championship table, until completing his move to Craven Cottage at the start of 2020.

I wish I could decide my career like in Football Manager.

That was the thought of Christian Eriksen after he was unable to engineer a move away from Tottenham.

The transfer window slammed shut on Monday but Eriksen is still in the headlines.

 

TOP STORY – INTER EYE ERIKSEN BID

Inter are interested in making a January move for Tottenham star Eriksen, claims The Express.

Eriksen wanted to leave Spurs prior to the transfer window closing but a departure did not materialise amid reported interest from the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus.

Now, Antonio Conte's Inter could be willing to offer Eriksen a way out of London.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to The Sun, Inter may have a battle to secure Eriksen's signature. Having been linked during the transfer window, Manchester United are reportedly preparing a shock move for the Spurs star in January.

- Marca says Neymar's father "harassed" Real Madrid with phone calls as a return to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain became more unlikely.

- AS reports that Mariano Diaz rejected a move to Schalke prior to Monday's transfer deadline day. The Bundesliga side wanted Diaz, however, the Real Madrid forward opted to remain at the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Yannick Bolasie turned down the chance to join Russian giants CSKA Moscow over racism fears, according to the Daily Mail. He decided to swap Everton for Sporting CP on loan instead.

- What is better than one Sessegnon? Two. After signing Ryan from Fulham, Tottenham are targeting his twin brother Steven Sessegnon, says The Sun.

Cardiff City were unable to make the most of their numerical advantage as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by 10-man Fulham, with Harry Arter sent off against his former club.

The contest between sides relegated from the Premier League last season saw two contrasting styles on display, but in the end neither Fulham's possession-based approach nor Cardiff's more direct outlook came up trumps.

Fulham started the brighter of the two teams, but Cardiff improved after the half-hour mark and found the breakthrough in the 42nd minute on the counter – Josh Murphy firing across Marcus Bettinelli.

But their lead did not even last until the break, Tom Cairney releasing Ivan Cavaleiro and his low delivery was tapped in by Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Fulham's hopes took a hit 22 minutes from time when midfielder Arter – who spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Cardiff - was dismissed for a second bookable offence, appearing to dive just a few moments after being handed his first yellow card for a robust challenge.

The Cottagers understandably sat back more after the dismissal but Cardiff failed to break them down, with the point leaving Fulham fourth and their hosts in 10th place in the table.

Fulham thrashed Millwall on Wednesday but are only third in the Championship table thanks to victories for Leeds United and Swansea City.

Sheffield Wednesday went top on Tuesday but have dropped three places following wins for three of the early-season pacesetters.

Cardiff City overcame Huddersfield Town in south Wales in a battle of two of last season's Premier League sides, while Jack Butland had a game to forget for Stoke City at Preston North End.

West Brom and Nottingham Forest, meanwhile, each earned a point by virtue of late goals.

 

FULHAM ON SONG AS CARDIFF EDGE HUDDERSFIELD

Fulham's front three of Ivan Cavaleiro, Anthony Knockaert and Aleksandar Mitrovic is starting to look a formidable attacking threat.

All three were on the scoresheet as the Cottagers saw off Millwall 4-0 for a third win in a row in England's second tier.

Cavaleiro fired home the opener and crossed for Knockaert to make it 2-0 at the end of a move that saw 26 completed passes involving all 11 Fulham players.

Mitrovic got the third from the penalty spot and Cavaleiro added a cool fourth for a Fulham side who enjoyed a remarkable 84 per cent of the possession and completed 934 passes.

Cardiff and Huddersfield, who joined Fulham in dropping out of the Premier League last season, played out a much more even encounter at Cardiff City Stadium.

Trevoh Chalobah cancelled out Joe Ralls' opener, but Neil Warnock's side snatched all three points in the 88th minute through Junior Hoilett's deflected strike.

LEEDS AND SWANSEA SETTING THE STANDARD

Leeds and Swansea are the only two teams with 10 points from their first four games of the season, although Marcelo Bielsa's side left it late at home to Brentford.

Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah was the hero on his Championship debut at Elland Road, tapping in Helder Costa's cross with nine minutes to go to seal a 1-0 win.

Swansea were a little more comfortable, although their 3-1 win away to QPR came despite them attempting 10 shots to the hosts' 22.

Bersant Celina put them ahead and, after Jordan Hugill headed in an equaliser, Borja Baston converted a penalty and Sam Surridge secured the points at Loftus Road.

BUTLAND IN DEEP TROUBLE AT DEEPDALE

Stoke's miserable start to the season continued with a 3-1 loss to Preston in which goalkeeper Butland had something of a nightmare.

Having failed to stop Daniel Johnson's improvised half-volley from finding the bottom-right corner, Butland allowed Billy Bodin's shot to squirm beneath his body and put Preston 2-0 up after 25 minutes.

Former Manchester United man Josh Harrop netted the third from a rebound after Butland denied Johnson, meaning James McClean's close-range finish was little consolation for a side who have taken one point from four games.

West Brom had been staring at a home defeat to Reading until the 88th minute, when Kenneth Zohore's penalty – conceded by Ovie Ejaria – cancelled out a stunning goal from the Royals' Liverpool loanee.

Charlton Athletic's meeting with Forest at The Valley also finished 1-1, with Albert Adomah earning a point after Lyle Taylor had headed in the opener.

Huddersfield Town have sacked head coach Jan Siewert three matches into the new Championship season.

Siewert was appointed by Huddersfield in January following David Wagner's departure but he failed to keep the club, who were already facing relegation, in the Premier League.

The German was dismissed after Friday's 2-1 home defeat to fellow relegated side Fulham left the Terriers 20th in the second tier having taken one point from three games.

Huddersfield won a single match in all competitions - beating Wolves at home in February - during Siewert's seven-month tenure.

They also crashed out of the EFL Cup at the first hurdle this week, losing 1-0 at home to League One side Lincoln City.

Karlan Grant scored for the third Championship game in a row but Ivan Cavaleiro struck late to earn Fulham a 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town on Friday.

Fulham took the lead in the 51st minute when Juninho Bacuna hacked an awful clearance into the air with Aleksandar Mitrovic climbing above Tommy Elphick to profit on the error by nodding home at the back post.

Their advantage lasted only six minutes as Grant's third goal of the season levelled the scores, the striker's header narrowly crossing the line despite the best efforts of Cottagers goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.

But Fulham followed a 2-0 home win over Blackburn Rovers last time out with another three points against their fellow relegated outfit, who are yet to win this term, when Cavaleiro whipped in a fantastic finish in the 80th minute.

Jamaica international Michael Hector is likely to be without regular first-team football until the next transfer window after deadline day moves to Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham collapsed.

The 27-year-old defender signed with Premier League club Chelsea in 2015 but has spent all his time on various loan spells.  Since signing for the Blues, at Stamford Bridge, the Jamaican has been loaned back to Reading to Frankfurt, Hull City, and Sheffield Wednesday.

Having clearly found himself to not be a part of new manager Frank Lampard’s plans, Hector was in talks with Sheffield Wednesday over a permanent move a few days before the close of the summer window. 

Chelsea were, however, said to want £5 million for Hector, who recently entered the final year of his contract with the club for whom he has never played a competitive fixture. 

The player came close to joining Fulham on Thursday but that move fell through.  Fulham were hopeful of landing Hector before the window closed but couldn't as they were still waiting on the agreement for Ryan Sessegnon to be completed with Tottenham.

The Cottagers were then forced to go for other targets on loan in order to comply with FFP regulations.  Hector is, however, expected to join the club in the January window.

 

Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic were the only teams to maintain their 100 per cent records in the Championship, while Reading, Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers again slipped to defeats.

Last season's relegated Premier League sides Cardiff City and Fulham both bounced back from disappointing starts with home victories, the Bluebirds beating Luton Town 2-1 and Scott Parker's side claiming a 2-0 win against Blackburn.

Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate was furious after his side had two goals disallowed in a 1-0 home defeat to Brentford, Tommy Rowe's late equaliser earned Bristol City a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City and Preston North End beat Wigan Athletic 3-0.

Meanwhile, Leeds United, QPR, West Brom and Derby County, who all won their opening games, were held to draws by Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town, Millwall and Swansea City respectively.

GRABBAN DENIES LEEDS ANOTHER WIN

Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi was facing the prospect of starting the season with consecutive defeats until Lewis Grabban grabbed an equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Leeds, who dominated for long spells at Elland Road.

Marcelo Bielsa's men swept Bristol City aside in the first half an hour of their season opener but found themselves embroiled in a battle with an uncompromising Forest side determined to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat at home to West Brom.

After Patrick Bamford hit the crossbar, it was playmaker Pablo Hernandez who put Leeds in front, latching onto Mateusz Klich's chipped pass over the defence and burying a shot into the far corner of the net for his second goal in as many games.

But Forest equalised with their only shot on target of the game, Grabban capitalising on a penalty-box scramble and bundling the ball over the line from close range.

TWO WINS IN TWO FOR BOWYER'S MEN

Lyle Taylor, who scored Charlton Athletic's winner in their opening-day victory over Blackburn Rovers, picked up where he left off by firing Lee Bowyer's Addicks into the lead at home against Stoke.

The Potters responded through Tom Ince, but the tireless work ethic of Bowyer's newly promoted side wore the visitors down.

Close-season signing Chuks Aneke slammed the ball into the bottom corner from close range after Josh Cullen's cut-back to make it 2-1 to the hosts, and Conor Gallagher put the result beyond doubt seven minutes from time.

OWLS OFF TO A FLYER

Loanee winger Jacob Murphy wasted little time endearing himself to the Hillsborough faithful, pouncing on a loose ball and side-footing Sheffield Wednesday into the lead after two minutes of the South Yorkshire derby against Barnsley.

The Owls carried the momentum of their victory at Reading into the game and withstood waves of pressure from a well-organised Barnsley side before doubling their lead through Steven Fletcher.

After Murphy's mazy dribble, Kieran Lee fed Fletcher and the Scotland international showed great technique with a finish into the bottom-right corner from outside the box.

FULHAM OFF THE MARK AS ROVERS FALTER

Blackburn were widely tipped to push on after finishing 15th in the Championship last season, but two games in they are still without a point following their home defeat to Charlton and a 2-0 reverse at Fulham.

Parker's side drew a blank when starting the season with a defeat at Barnsley but they went ahead against Rovers when former Blackburn midfielder Tom Cairney let rip from 25 yards.

Blackburn matched Fulham for much of the contest and Sam Gallagher squandered the chance to pull them level when he headed wide 14 minutes from time, moments before Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a tap-in.

Tottenham have completed the signing of versatile left-back Ryan Sessegnon from Fulham in a player-plus-cash transfer that sees Josh Onomah move the opposite way.

Sessegnon has been repeatedly linked with Tottenham over the past 18 months and an agreement has now been reached between the London clubs.

Spurs will reportedly pay Fulham £25million for the 19-year-old, with academy product Onomah - who has spent back-to-back campaigns on loan in the Championship with Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday - included as part of the deal.

England Under-21 international Sessegnon boasts one season of Premier League experience after appearing 35 times for relegated Fulham in 2018-19, scoring twice and laying on six assists for his team-mates.

He becomes Tottenham's fourth signing of the close season following the arrivals of Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Jack Clarke, who was loaned straight back to Leeds United.

The transfer window slams shut in England on Thursday and Romelu Lukaku is finally set to get his move.

Linked to Inter and Juventus throughout the off-season, Manchester United striker Lukaku is poised to swap Old Trafford for San Siro in Milan.

Lukaku's exit could trigger United to make a late dash for his replacement.

 

TOP STORY – LUKAKU TO SWAP UNITED FOR INTER

After months of speculation, Lukaku will swap Manchester United for Serie A side Inter according to widespread reports.

Lukaku landed in Milan in the early hours of Thursday morning ahead of his €75million (£70m) move to Inter.

Inter will reportedly pay a €65m fixed fee and €10m in add-ons, with the deal also including a five per cent cut of any future sale.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Lukaku leaving Old Trafford, United are willing to pay the £81m (€88m) release clause to lure Inaki Williams from Athletic Bilbao, reports El Chiringuito TV. The Red Devils are also continuing to be linked to Juventus' Mario Mandzukic and former Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente, who is a free agent.

Tottenham are set to complete deadline-day deals for Real Betis midfielder Giovani Lo Celso and Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon, reports the Telegraph. Spurs are hopeful of clinching a transfer for Lo Celso at £55m (€59.7m), while Sessegnon could cost £20m.

- According to Sport, Real Madrid have offered €120m plus Luka Modric for wantaway Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar. Barcelona have been linked with their former forward but the LaLiga champions must raise funds before trying to re-sign the Brazil international. Barca could free up space by selling Philippe Coutinho, who has reportedly attracted interest from Premier League trio United, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Arsenal are set for a busy deadline day. The Sun reports the Gunners could land Chelsea defender David Luiz in a £12m deal, while Unai Emery's side have agreed a Scottish transfer record fee of £25m for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney, according to the BBC.

- Tottenham have agreed to sign Juventus star Paulo Dybala but the player's image rights are holding up the deal, says the Independent. Dybala has also been linked to Paris Saint-Germain after turning down a move to Manchester United.

- Sportitalia says Wolves have agreed a £23m (€25m) fee to sign AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, who reportedly wants a wage increase. Wolves have already signed Patrick Cutrone from Milan.

- According to Sky Sports, Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has handed in a transfer request as Everton look to sign the former Manchester United forward.

Mario Balotelli is on the verge of joining Brazilian side Flamengo until December 2021. That is according to La Gazzetta dello Sport and Sky Sport Italia. Balotelli is a free agent following his Marseille exit.

Harry Arter is targeting promotion back to the Premier League with Fulham after joining the Cottagers on loan from Bournemouth.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder has stepped down from the top flight to spend the season with Fulham, who are managed by his brother-in-law Scott Parker.

It will become a permanent deal if "performance-related criteria" are met, Bournemouth announced.

Arter, 29, played over 250 games for Bournemouth across eight seasons before spending the 2018-19 campaign on loan at Premier League rivals Cardiff, who were relegated on the penultimate weekend.

He joins a Fulham team who suffered a dismal campaign in the top tier last term, never looking capable of surviving after coming up through the play-offs.

Arter told fulhamfc.com: "The club's ambition to get straight back into the Premier League was something that definitely attracted me. The manager, I knew he really wanted me at the club.

"From the owner down to all the staff it's clear that the target is to get promoted this year. It's a challenge I want to be part of and I'm really looking forward to it."

The former Charlton youth player, who grew up in south-east London, added: "It's a great move for me for family reasons. I've always had a desire to play for a club in London. Ever since Scott signed here five or six years ago I've always come and watched Fulham and it's great to be part of the club."

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