With precious few sporting events taking place due to the coronavirus, we looked back through sporting history to identify key and major events to take place on this day.

March 18 has proven a busy day down the years, but we have highlighted five particularly memorable or notable occasions.

From the formation of a world-renowned football club, to the suspicious death of a former cricketer, below we have everything you need for a little education, or a trip down memory lane.

 

1900 – Ajax are formed

March 18 is a momentous day not only for Dutch football, but for the entire sport globally. On this day in 1900, Ajax were formed by Floris Stempel (their first chairman), Hen Dade (sports director) and Carel Reeser. Named after the mythological Greek war hero Ajax, most known for fighting against Troy in the Trojan War, the club has since gone on to dominate much of Dutch football history and influenced many of the most famous ideologies and philosophies in the world game.

1942 – Two black players try out for Chicago White Sox

Jackie Robinson is remembered as an iconic baseball player, in more ways than one. Regarded a great for his exploits with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was also the first black player to break the colour barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947. However, he could have made the move from the 'Negro Leagues' five years earlier, as on March 18, 1942, Robinson and Nate Moreland – who was also black – had a trial with the Chicago White Sox. Manager Jimmy Dykes acknowledged their abilities, but he did not sign either, doubtful the White Sox would allow black players to join.

2000 – England win inaugural Six Nations

The Six Nations has had many forms through the years, initially starting off as a tournament between the British 'Home Nations' and then becoming the Five Nations. It was further expanded to its current guise in 2000 as Italy joined the fold. England won the inaugural Six Nations, thrashing the newcomers 57-12 in Rome – Jonny Wilkinson's kicking and Austin Healey's hat-trick of tries doing the damage.

2007 – Former cricketer and coach Bob Woolmer found dead

On March 18, 2007, one day after his Pakistan team were knocked out of the Cricket World Cup, coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room. Initially he was thought to have had a heart attack, only for another pathologist's report to suggest he had been murdered. Further reports proposed health problems contributed to his passing, but a jury later returned an open verdict, unable to rule out the theory Woolmer was strangled. Other prominent former cricketers have since claimed Woolmer did not die of natural causes.

2012 – Panathinaikos v Olympiacos leads to chaos

Those familiar with Greek football – and specifically the rivalries involved – will not be unaware of the problems often seen when Olympiacos and Panathinaikos face each other. In March 2012, the disturbances were particularly serious, as Panathinaikos were losing 1-0 at home to their bitter rivals. The second half was initially delayed by 45 minutes due to fans throwing flares and Molotov cocktails at police, and the contest was eventually abandoned. Twenty police officers were hurt, 50 fans were arrested, three fire engines were required to tackle blazes, and Pana were docked five points on top of having to play four games behind closed doors.

For so long, Donny van de Beek has been tipped to join Real Madrid.

Madrid previously contacted Eredivisie champions Ajax over a possible deal for the midfielder at the start of the season.

The LaLiga giants reportedly have an agreement in place for Van de Beek, however, Manchester United are still fighting for the Dutchman.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED OUT TO HIJACK MADRID'S DONNY PURSUIT

Manchester United are looking to beat Real Madrid to the signing of Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek, according to Marca.

Madrid reportedly have a pre-agreement with Van de Beek, who was close to swapping Amsterdam for the Spanish capital at the start of 2019-20.

Now, United are trying to pip Madrid to Van de Beek amid doubts over star midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Juventus remain the preferred option for Pogba, despite United insisting the Frenchman will be at Old Trafford in 2020-21.

- Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland team-mates at Madrid? The LaLiga giants are interested in the pair, however, Marca has described it as an "impossible dream". That is because Mbappe and Haaland reportedly do not get along following the Champions League last-16 tie, which saw PSG mock the Dortmund forward.

- Calciomercato says Napoli and Inter are set to go head-to-head for Sassuolo midfielder Jeremie Boga.

- PSG full-back Thomas Meunier will join Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer at the end of the season, reports RMC. Meunier's contract is due to expire in June.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future at Milan is uncertain. Gazzetta dello Sport says Ibrahimovic will only extend his contract if the Rossoneri build a strong winning team in Serie A.

Manchester United's improved form is said to be leading to increased confidence of landing Jadon Sancho.

Sancho, 19, has been linked with a move to the Premier League after starring at Borussia Dortmund since joining the German club from Manchester City.

And, with United in fine form and eyeing a Champions League spot next season, Old Trafford could be shaping as his most likely destination.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD CONFIDENT OF SIGNING SANCHO IF THEY QUALIFY FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Manchester United believe they are in pole position to sign Sancho, according to the Mirror.

The report says Paris Saint-Germain are their biggest competitors for the England international's signature.

United are unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions and sit three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

ROUND-UP

- Thomas Partey starred for Atletico Madrid against Liverpool in the Champions League and the midfielder is attracting interest. The Telegraph reports Arsenal will consider making a move for the Ghana international ahead of next season.

- Juventus are continuing to work on a new contract for Paulo Dybala. CalcioMercato reports one aspect of a possible deal relates to the Serie A champions showing how much they value Dybala by offering him a salary second only to Cristiano Ronaldo at the club.

- Out of contract at the season's end, Willian's future at Chelsea remains uncertain. The Sun reports manager Frank Lampard is keen to offer the Brazil international, who has been linked to Arsenal, a new deal, while club director Marina Granovskaia is reportedly focusing on off-season transfer targets.

- With England's women's side out of form, could Phil Neville be set for an exit as coach? The Daily Mail reports Neville is considering his future with England having won just three of nine games since finishing fourth at last year's Women's World Cup.

- Hakim Ziyech is joining Chelsea from Ajax ahead of 2020-21, and he wants a team-mate to come with him. The Daily Mail says the attacker is hoping to persuade Chelsea to sign Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana.

- Juventus are considering a move for 22-year-old Lille and former Brazil youth international defender Gabriel, according to SportMediaset.

Getafe continued their sensational season by dumping Ajax out of the Europa League on Thursday, the LaLiga high-flyers progressing 3-2 on aggregate despite a 2-1 away defeat.

Jose Bordalas' side won a bad-tempered first leg 2-0 against last season's Champions League semi-finalists and they extended their advantage in the fifth minute of the reverse fixture when Jaime Mata struck.

That left Ajax needing four goals to progress but Danilo, making his first start for the club, tapped in Donny van de Beek's low cross five minutes later to equalise on the night.

Carel Eiting whipped a deflected free-kick past David Soria in the 63rd minute to give Ajax some hope, though Getafe progressed despite being denied by the woodwork on three occasions.

Elsewhere in the round of 32, Istanbul Basaksehir produced a stunning comeback to knock out Sporting CP 5-4 on aggregate, Edin Visca scoring the winner in extra time, while Shakhtar Donetsk beat Benfica 5-4 on aggregate after a thrilling 3-3 draw in the second leg in Lisbon.

Sevilla, who won the Europa League three times in a row under Unai Emery between 2014 and 2016, edged through their tie with Cluj on away goals after a 1-1 aggregate draw.

The Romanian champions were denied a famous victory when Alexandru Paun's late strike was ruled out following a VAR check that ruled Lacina Traore handled the ball.

Last year's finalists Arsenal crashed out in extraordinary circumstances with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's overhead kick having seemingly secured their progress only for Youssef El-Arabi to strike in the last minute of extra time to send Olympiacos through on away goals.

Manchester United, Inter, Roma, Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen were among the major sides to progress, with the draw for the last 16 set to be made in Nyon on Friday.

Ajax will be without Hakim Ziyech for the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie with Getafe, Erik ten Hag has confirmed.

Ziyech will join Chelsea at the end of the season, with the player having agreed a five-year contract to move to Stamford Bridge.

The Morocco international was a star of Ajax's charge to the Champions League semi-finals last season and has scored nine goals across all competitions in 2019-20.

However, a calf problem ruled him out for the opening leg against Getafe, which Ajax lost 2-0 in Spain.

Ziyech missed a 1-0 defeat to Heracles on Sunday with a recurrence of the issue and Ten Hag has now revealed the 26-year-old will be absent again on Thursday.

"Still for the same reason, he hasn't recovered enough," Ten Hag said in a news conference when asked about Ziyech.

"Given the injury, we cannot take a big risk with that. We cannot risk putting everything at stake for one match."

Sunday's defeat left Ajax just three points clear of AZ at the top of the Eredivisie, though Ten Hag has been boosted by the return of Quincy Promes. Noussair Mazraoui and David Neres, however, are both still out.

The future of Lautaro Martinez could also have an impact on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Martinez is wanted by Barcelona and Real Madrid, while Aubameyang is reportedly eyeing an Arsenal exit.

Both players could be at different clubs in 2020-21.

 

TOP STORY – MARTINEZ OUT, AUBA IN?

Inter will look to replace Barcelona target Martinez with Arsenal star Aubameyang, according to Calciomercato.

Martinez has been heavily linked to LaLiga champions Barca as well as Real Madrid, Manchester United and Manchester City following his exploits for Inter.

The Daily Mail claims Arsenal are considering selling forward Aubameyang, who is out of contract in 2021, and he could be targeted by Inter should Martinez leave San Siro.

ROUND-UP

- Kepa Arrizabalaga is Chelsea's record signing but his future at Stamford Bridge is in doubt. El Chiringuito TV reports Chelsea have offered out-of-favour goalkeeper Kepa plus €30million (£25m) to Atletico Madrid for Jan Oblak.

Madrid are ready to offer €70m to Napoli for star midfielder Fabian Ruiz, claims Calciomercato. City and Barca are also reportedly looking to sign the Spaniard.

- Manchester Evening News writes that United have stepped up their interest in Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish. It comes as the Daily Express claims United are likely to offload Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira.

- Calciomercato says Inter are ready to battle Europe's elite for the signing of Gent star Jonathan David. The Canada international is wanted by the likes of United, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, Tottenham and Ajax.

Juventus hold an interest in Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar, according to Calciomercato. Aouar is an option for Juve should the Serie A champions fail in their efforts to sign either United midfielder Paul Pogba or Brescia's Sandro Tonali.

Chelsea have confirmed Hakim Ziyech has agreed a five-year contract and will join from Ajax at the end of the season.

Ajax announced last week that the 26-year-old would be moving to Frank Lampard's side in a deal potentially worth €44million.

The forward, who will spend the rest of 2019-20 with the Eredivisie champions, told Chelsea's official website: "I am delighted and proud to have signed for such a huge club as Chelsea. I am looking forward to next season and hope we can achieve great things together."

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia made clear the club's delight at signing a player who has taken the Champions League by storm in recent seasons.

"We are delighted Hakim will be joining us in the summer, having been a key target of the club's in this last window," she said.

"He has consistently been one of the most dangerous attacking players in Europe in recent years, which we saw first-hand in our two games against Ajax in the Champions League.

"We wish Hakim and Ajax all the best for the rest of the season and look forward to welcoming him to Stamford Bridge in the summer."

Ziyech joined Ajax from Twente in August 2016 and was a star performer as Erik ten Hag's men reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and secured a domestic double last term.

The Morocco international is the first major signing confirmed by Chelsea since Lampard took over as head coach from Maurizio Sarri prior to the start of the season.

Deals to bring in Christian Pulisic and loanee Mateo Kovacic permanently had been agreed prior to Lampard taking charge, and the Blues were then forced to endure a one-window transfer ban after they were found guilty of breaching FIFA rules regarding the signing of minors from overseas.

Their initial two-window suspension was reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in December, however, allowing Chelsea to sign players in January, but they failed to secure any new arrivals.

Speaking at the start of this month, Lampard said his side had become "underdogs" in the battle to finish fourth in the Premier League because their rivals had strengthened their own squads.

Ajax have confirmed the signing of Antony from Sao Paulo in a €21.75million deal.

The 19-year-old, who has agreed a five-year contract with the Eredivisie champions, will move on July 1.

"We will have to be patient for a few more months before Antony can start here, but with him, we are getting a creative player who can play in every position up front," director of football Marc Overmars said via Ajax's website.

"It's already been established that some of our players will be leaving this summer. We need to plan for that, so it's great that we've been able to finalise this transfer."

The signing of Antony – a Brazil Under-23 international - comes after Hakim Ziyech agreed to join Chelsea at the end of the season in a deal that could be worth €44m.

Erik ten Hag admits he expected more from Ryan Babel after the winger let his frustration get the better of him in Ajax's 2-0 loss to Getafe in Thursday's Europa League tie.

Last season's Champions League semi-finalists Ajax named a strong side that included Donny van de Beek, Dusan Tadic and new Chelsea signing Hakim Ziyech but registered just two shots, neither of those on target.

The last-32 first leg was briefly halted after Deyverson appeared to be hit by an object thrown from the away end when celebrating Getafe's deserved opener.

And Kenedy compounded Ajax's misery with a deflected shot at the end of a feisty affair.

Babel was one of three visiting players booked after catching Allan Nyom with a stray arm, before comically mocking his opponent's theatrical reaction by rolling on the floor and then mimicking the Getafe player's limp.

Ten Hag questioned Babel's actions, and the Netherlands international himself acknowledged he should have kept his cool.

"It wasn't smart. I don't expect that from an experienced player," Ten Hag said at his post-match news conference.

"You need to stay calm and use your head. You have to focus on your job, playing football."

Babel, speaking to FOX Sports, said: "I don't know if I would do it again.

"I found that the referee was fooled by the opponent at crucial moments. I was done with that. 

"I thought the opponent was exaggerating a lot, so I got a yellow card. 

"At times, we played nicely, but it wasn't good enough. We have a lot to analyse. Hopefully we can make it up to the fans."

Getafe - third in LaLiga - frustrated Ajax as the ball spent just 42 minutes and 36 seconds in play - the second-shortest amount of time in a Europa League game since 2009.

"There's been a lot of teams that lost here," Ten Hag added. "We know we can do better, we showed that in the final phase of the match.

"The fact is that you can't make mistakes at this level. In that case, your opponent gets the better of you - especially this opponent. 

"We gave them what they were looking for, and we know that, too. We're experienced enough to realise that, but you need to be patient and wait for decisive moments."

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag is hopeful of retaining star midfielder Donny van de Beek amid interest from Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Van de Beek has continually been linked with a move to LaLiga giants Madrid, who previously contacted Ajax over a possible deal at the start of the season.

The 22-year-old Netherlands international has also reportedly emerged as a target for Premier League side United.

Ten Hag was asked about the future of Van de Beek on the eve of Thursday's Europa League clash against Getafe in Madrid.

"I do not think so [that he will leave]," Ajax boss Ten Hag told reporters in his news conference.

"He has had a great evolution and has attracted international attention. There are players who are in the spotlight and then things change."

Ten Hag added: "Donny van de Beek has had a stormy progression the last months. A lot of big clubs noticed this.

"That's has been the last one and a half years like this with our players. We have not to think about this, but we have been doing these the last one and a half years already."

In 2019-20, Van de Beek has scored 10 goals in all competitions for Dutch champions Ajax – eight of those in the Eredivisie.

Steven Bergwijn has opened up on how his "world collapsed" upon hearing the news his good friend Abdelhak Nouri had suffered permanent brain damage.

Nouri collapsed during a pre-season fixture between Ajax and Werder Bremen in July 2017 and was placed in an induced coma.

The Amsterdam club later announced Nouri, a burgeoning talent in the club's academy, had been diagnosed with "serious and permanent brain damage".

Netherlands winger Bergwijn, who joined Tottenham in January, became big friends with Nouri – known as 'Appie' - in the youth ranks at Ajax before he switched to Eredivisie rivals PSV.

 "When I heard Appie had brain damage, I just can't describe my feelings," Bergwijn said.

"At that time I didn't sleep so much. In the first weeks I was scared to play, scared to go on the pitch because Appie was a young boy and out of nowhere. 

"It was difficult. It's still difficult. I speak to his brother every day but it's still difficult.

"We were like brothers. I have known Appie all my life, from when we were seven years old. We were in the same squad and since then we are best friends.

"We [PSV] played against RKC and I scored two. I was happy and after the game the team manager came to me and he said this has happened. Yeah, my world collapsed.

"I just waited for the calls from my agent because he went to see Appie. Then I heard two or three weeks later that he had brain damage. I can't describe it. At that time, I didn't sleep so much."

Bergwijn began his Spurs career with a sensational strike against Manchester City in a memorable 2-0 win earlier this month.

The 22-year-old had made a promise to Nouri's brother before making his debut for the Premier League club.

"I spoke with his brother and he told me, 'you're going to score for Appie,' and I said, 'okay, watch me, I'm going to score'. I did it."

Ajax were reportedly interested in bringing Bergwijn back to the club at the beginning of this campaign, but a move failed to materialise and he is now a Spurs player instead.

Bergwijn admits there was little time to think things through in January, saying: "My father called me and said, 'pack your stuff, you're going to London'.

"It was like this. It was fast. I didn't expect to make the transfer now, I thought in the summer. But if Tottenham wants you, you can't say no. It's an honour to be here.

"They have big players. In Holland, everyone regards them as big players, including me. But now they have welcomed me."

Chelsea have committed €44million to the signing of Hakim Ziyech, who has become one of the most admired talents in European football over the past two seasons at Ajax.

The impending transfer was announced on Thursday but remains subject to Morocco international Ziyech agreeing personal terms at Stamford Bridge.

The 26-year-old was one of the best players on the pitch during a barnstorming 4-4 draw in November's Champions League clash between the sides.

Kepa Arrizabalaga may have been credited with an own goal but it was Ziyech's sensational bending free-kick from the right touchline that did the damage as the visitors opened up a 3-1 half-time lead.

Ziyech, who predominantly operates from the right but can play behind a striker, is now set to feature more regularly at the Bridge and we used Opta data to examine his ability.


THE EREDIVISIE'S MASTER CREATOR

Ziyech has been one of the Eredivisie's top performers since breaking into the first team at Heerenveen in 2012 having risen through the club's youth teams.

After a two-year stop at Twente, Ziyech moved to Ajax in August 2016 where his performances domestically and in Europe have seen his star continue to rise.

Since his switch to the Johan Cruijff ArenA, only four players can boast a higher goals return than his 38 while his sensational tally of 51  Eredivisie assists is 16 better than the 35 of Steven Berghuis, the next highest on the list.

Indeed, his combined 89 goal involvements is in the best in the league during this time, seven more than Berghuis, while Bryan Linssen (who has the most goals with 52 ) is way behind with 66 .

To really emphasise Ziyech's attacking brilliance, his 421 chances created since September 2016 is a whopping 134 more than second-place Berghuis.


MIXING IT WITH MESSI AND MBAPPE IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ajax were the great entertainers of the of the 2018-19 Champions League and only a last-gasp goal from Tottenham's Lucas Moura denied Erik ten Hag's men a place in the final.

Ziyech was typically influential in that run to the last four and since August 2018 he has provided seven assists in Europe's premier competition (excluding qualifiers).

That is as many as team-mate Dusan Tadic and just one fewer than the best of eight achieved by Kylian Mbappe and Riyad Mahrez - and one more than Barcelona great Lionel Messi.

His five goals are 13 fewer than the sensational 18 scored by Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski in the same time, with Messi registering 14 .

Messi tops the list of goal involvements at 20 , with Lewandowski (18) , Mbappe (17) , Raheem Sterling (14) , Tadic and Mohamed Salah (both 13) above Ziyech's combined goals and assists tally of 12 .

In terms of chances created, Ziyech scores highly as well. His 39 is the same as Christian Eriksen and beaten only by Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos (51) , Tadic (47) and Messi (41) .


THE STATS

- Since the 2012-13 season, Ziyech has made 217 Eredivisie appearances, scored 79 goals and contributed 87 assists.

- Ziyech has at least 10 assists in each of his previous six Eredivisie seasons, no player has managed to do so in more than two campaigns in the same period.

- No players has more assists (51) , shots (528) , created chances (421) , completed dribbles (288) or recoveries (752) than Ziyech in the Eredivisie since he joined Ajax.

- Over the past two seasons, only Mohamed Salah (79) and Messi (77) have taken more Champions League shots than Ziyech ( 75 same as Cristiano Ronaldo). 

Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech will join Chelsea at the end of this season in a deal that could be worth up to €44million (£36.7m), the Eredivisie champions have confirmed.

Chelsea will pay an initial €40m for the Morocco international, with the remainder of the fee dependent upon unspecified "variables".

The Premier League club announced the deal remains subject to the agreement of personal terms with Ziyech, who will remain with Ajax until the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign.

Ziyech joined Ajax from Twente in August 2016 and was a star performer as Erik ten Hag's men reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and secured a domestic double last term.

Since moving to Amsterdam, the 26-year-old leads the Eredivisie in goal involvements thanks to a haul of 38 goals and 51 assists.

He scored five goals over the course of their 2018-19 Champions League run, concluding with the strike that put Ajax 2-0 up at home to Tottenham, preceding their heart-breaking collapse as the final beckoned.

Ziyech's performances during that run only heightened purported interest from a number of Europe's heavyweight clubs, with Chelsea emerging from the pack over recent days.

"Ziyech to Chelsea? A transfer was coming, we expected it to happen," Ten Hag told Fox Sports after Wednesday's KNVB Beker win over Vitesse.

"I actually already expected this one or two years earlier. And each time it was: 'Wow, he stayed again.'

"We are just happy that we will still have him until the end of the season."

Ziyech becomes Chelsea's first major signing since their player registration ban from FIFA was halved on appeal.

He will provide another exciting wide attacking option for head coach Frank Lampard, alongside Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi, while Willian might join Pedro in heading from the Stamford Bridge exit door.

Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech will join Chelsea at the end of this season in a deal that could be worth up to €44million (£36.7m), the Eredivisie champions have confirmed.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag confirmed Hakim Ziyech is set to join Chelsea at the end of the season, admitting he expected the star forward to leave "one or two years earlier".

Reports on Wednesday emerged that Eredivisie champions Ajax and Premier League giants Chelsea reached a verbal agreement on a €45million (£38m) transfer for Ziyech.

Ziyech came off the bench during Wednesday's 3-0 KNVB Beker victory at Vitesse and Ten Hag provided an update on the 26-year-old Morocco international.

"Ziyech to Chelsea? A transfer was coming, we expected it to happen," Ten Hag told Fox Sports post-game.

"I actually already expected this one or two years earlier. And each time it was: 'Wow, he stayed again'.

"We are just happy that we will still have him until the end of the season."

Ziyech has been directly involved in 166 goals since his Eredivisie debut in 2012-13, contributing 79 goals and 87 assists.

Since joining Ajax from Twente in 2016, Ziyech has scored 38 league goals and 48 across all competitions.

Ziyech's sensational tally of 51 Eredivisie assists from the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign is 16 better than the 35 of Steven Berghuis, the next highest during that period, while his 421 chances created since September 2016 is a whopping 134 more than his nearest rival.

Ten Hag added: "I am not surprised by the news about Ziyech. I know that our players are very popular with the big clubs in Europe. That is just great.

"I have known for a long time what Hakim wants. He has a picture in mind. He knows exactly which clubs he finds interesting and which ones are not. 

"Chelsea are a fantastic club. When it is final, I am very happy for Hakim, and I am very proud of him."

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