The Republic of Ireland will face Belgium and Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium in March.

The first of the two friendlies will see Belgium visit Dublin on March 23 for a 5pm kick-off, with Switzerland following three days later at 7.45pm.

Ireland last faced Belgium in a 2-2 draw in March last year, while Switzerland will play a match in Dublin for the first time since a 1-1 draw in September 2019 in a European Championship qualifier.

Ireland are currently without a manager after Stephen Kenny’s contract was not renewed following the end of a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

They finished fourth in Group B, with their only points coming from two victories against Gibraltar.

Ireland will also play a friendly double-header in June, with the opposition to be announced at a later date, before the start of the Nations League in September.

With Saturday's Euro 2024 group-stage draw done and dusted, Europe's elite know what awaits them in Germany next year and all eyes will turn to the opening game in Munich on June 14.

Steve Clarke's Scotland will be Germany's first opponents as they kickstart their bid to become the first sole host nation to win the tournament since France in 1984.

Elsewhere, England can be content with a somewhat kind draw as Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane and company look to bring football home, while Group B looks set to earn the title of 'group of death', with defending champions Italy pitted against Spain and Croatia.

As fans across the continent begin plotting their nations' routes to the final, to be held in Berlin on July 14, Stats Perform runs through the best facts and figures from each of the six groups. 

Group A: Germany, Hungary, Scotland, Switzerland

Germany have endured a troubled build-up to their home tournament, with Julian Nagelsmann parachuted in after the dismissal of Hansi Flick in September. The last Germany boss to win a major tournament at his first attempt was Jupp Derwall, who led the team (then West Germany) to Euro 1980 glory.

They will face a familiar foe in the form of Switzerland, who they will meet for the 54th time in senior internationals – no other team has faced Germany as often, but the teams have never met at the Euros before.

Germany's matchday one opponents will be Scotland, who will be making their fourth appearance at the Euros after also qualifying in 1992, 1996 and 2020. They have never reached the knockout stages. 

However, they may fancy their chances of edging out Switzerland and Hungary in what could be a battle for second place this time around. Hungary took bronze when they first appeared at the Euros in 1964, but they have only won one of their nine games at the tournament since then (four draws, four defeats), beating Austria in the 2016 group stage.

Group B: Spain, Albania, Croatia, Italy)

All eyes will be on Group B ahead of the tournament, with three-time winners Spain drawn alongside defending champions Italy – who they beat in the 2012 final – and 2022 World Cup bronze medallists Croatia. 

Excluding penalty shoot-outs, La Roja have only lost two of their last 22 matches at the Euros, winning 13 and drawing seven. The last two teams to beat them? Croatia and Italy in 2016.

Spain are the only nation to win back-to-back editions of the Euros, doing so in 2008 and 2012. Luciano Spalletti's Italy are looking to replicate that feat, having inched past Ukraine to claim second place in their qualification group.

The Azzurri have now qualified for eight successive editions of the tournament, though this is the first time they have reached a major competition while losing two or more games in their qualifying group, having been beaten home and away by England.

While Spain and Italy will feel unfortunate to have landed in such a difficult group, the omens are good for teams that face Croatia when it matters. They have lost to the eventual winners at four of their last six major tournaments, being beaten by Spain at Euro 2012, Portugal at Euro 2016, France at the 2018 World Cup, and Argentina in Qatar last year.

GROUP C: England, Denmark, Slovenia, Serbia

Gareth Southgate may be relieved to have avoided some of the heavy hitters with England landing in Group C, where they will start against Serbia on June 16 before taking on Denmark and Slovenia.

England's rematch with Denmark – who they beat in the Euro 2020 semi-finals – could be decisive in the battle for top spot. The Three Lions are unbeaten in all three of their meetings with Denmark at Euros/World Cups (two wins, one draw), with Switzerland the only team they have faced as often at tournaments without ever losing.

With Kane thriving at Bayern Munich and Bellingham a former star at Borussia Dortmund, two of the Three Lions' star players are no strangers to German turf.

 

They also have an excellent record against Slovenia, winning five and drawing one of the teams' six all-time meetings. The only one of those games to take place at a major tournament came at the 2010 World Cup, when Jermain Defoe hit the winner in a 1-0 victory for Fabio Capello's team.

Serbia, meanwhile, will be featuring at the Euros for the first time as an independent nation. They competed as Yugoslavia or FR Yugoslavia in five editions, finishing as runners-up in 1960 and 1968.

Group D: France, Austria, Netherlands, play-off winner A

With Kylian Mbappe spearheading their star-studded team, France head to the Euros among the favourites. Boss Didier Deschamps captained his country to glory at Euro 2000, and he could become the first person to win the competition as both a player and a head coach.

Les Bleus, however, face a tough set of opponents in Group D, none more so than the Netherlands.

France have faced the Oranje more often at the Euros without ever winning than they have any other side, losing their last two such matches against them at the 2000 and 2008 tournaments.

Ronald Koeman might be pleased to see his team drawn alongside Austria, with the Netherlands winning their last seven matches against them, averaging 2.9 goals per game throughout that run (20 in total).

The final team in Group D will be decided via the play-offs in March, with Wales, Finland, Poland and Estonia vying for a ticket to Germany. France have met any of those nations at the Euros.

Group E: Belgium, Romania, Slovakia, play-off winner B

Belgium headline Group E, with Domenico Tedesco at the wheel as the last members of the Red Devils' so-called golden generation look to finally deliver on their promise.

Since losing to West Germany in the final of Euro 1980, Belgium have never reached the semi-finals of the tournament, being knocked out in the last eight at each of the last two editions – versus Wales in 2016 and Italy at Euro 2020.

They will be content with a kind-looking draw, with Romania the team drawn into Group E from pot two. Their win ratio of just six per cent at the Euros is the worst of any nation to qualify for more than one edition, winning just once in 16 games at the tournament. 

Slovakia, meanwhile, have only won two of their seven games at Euro tournaments (one draw, four defeats), also failing to score in four of their last five games.

Ukraine, Israel, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland will battle for the final spot in this group in March.

GROUP F: Portugal, Turkiye, Czech Republic, play-off winner C

Group F contains 2016 winners Portugal, the only team to reach the knockout stages of the last seven editions of the Euros, a run that stretches back to the 1996 tournament. In fact, they have always progressed from the group stages in their eight previous appearances at the Euros.

Cristiano Ronaldo seems set to be sticking around for this tournament. He will be 39 by the time it rolls around. The Al Nassr attacker holds the records for most games (25) and most goals (14) at the Euros, has also managed a joint-record six assists (since records began in 1972).

Ronaldo's 20 total goal involvements at the Euros are twice as many as any other player since assist records began, with Michel Platini second on 10 (nine goals, one assist).

Roberto Martinez's team open their campaign against the Czech Republic, who are featuring at an eighth successive edition of the Euros (including appearances as Czechoslovakia). Only Germany (14) and France (nine) are currently on longer runs of consecutive appearances.

One of Georgia, Greece, Kazakhstan and Luxembourg will join Turkiye in rounding out the group. They are looking to improve on their dismal showing at Euro 2020, and have qualified for three successive editions of the Euros for the first time. However, they have lost six of their last seven matches at the tournament (one win).

Andy Murray inspired Great Britain to Davis Cup victory for the first time in 79 years on this day in 2015 after success in the final against Belgium.

Britain had last got their hands on the trophy in 1936, when Fred Perry and Bunny Austin helped defeat Australia.

When Murray completed a straight-sets win against David Goffin in Ghent to clinch it, he completed one of the most impressive feats of his career.

The Scot’s 6-3 7-5 6-3 triumph against the Belgian number one at the Flanders Expo was his 11th win in the competition that season.

Murray spearheaded the victory and claimed 11 of the 12 points which Britain needed for the title, eight in singles and three in doubles with brother Jamie. The only player not a member of the Murray family to contribute was James Ward.

Three other players have won 11 rubbers in a season since the current Davis Cup format was introduced in 1981, but Murray became the first to do so all in live rubbers and remain unbeaten.

On their way to victory, Britain defeated the United States 3-2 in Glasgow, France 3-1 in London and Australia 3-2 in the semi-finals in Glasgow before Murray sealed a 3-1 success against Belgium.

Murray said: “I probably haven’t been as emotional as that after a match that I’ve won.

“I’ve been pretty upset having lost matches before. But I’d say that’s probably the most emotional I’ve been after a win.

“It’s incredible that we managed to win this competition. I didn’t know that would ever be possible.”

Belgium international and former Tottenham star Jan Vertonghen has ruled out immediately starting a coaching career once he brings down the curtain on his illustrious playing career.

The 36-year-old, enjoying the challenge of rejuvenating Belgian giants Anderlecht after a disappointing campaign last year, now has his eyes firmly set on investment opportunities off the pitch.

Despite being coached by the likes of Roberto Martinez and Mauricio Pochettino, Vertonghen does not see the lure of being back on the grass when he calls time on his playing career in football.

"I have my A licence, I did it just to understand how coaches think and what kind of work they need to put in," he said to Stats Perform.

"So, when I'm sitting on this side of the room in a meeting, I understand where it comes from. It's important for me to understand people, how they think, what work they have to put in, how the data works, and the physical load.

"That's why I did it, to understand that side and for me, it's not an option – definitely not for the first couple of years – mainly because I am looking for the right balance in my life.

"I feel that the husband I want to be, the father that I want to be and the coach that I want to be, I can't see it will work because I see the work they put in.

"They arrive at seven, they go home after seven. I want to see my kids, as I said, my son has started playing football. I want to go to his training sessions. I want to go to his games. I want to take my daughter to dance class. I want to pick my other son up from school.

"And that life doesn't exist being a coach or being an assistant coach or a physical coach. And if you take a job like this, you can't disrespect the job. You have to put the hours in, and I can't do that at the moment."

Vertonghen joins other elite athletes to work with investment company APEX to invest in the sports, media and entertainment industry.

APEX boasts 15+ investments among an athlete community of over 100 from the world of F1, football, boxing and surfing.

Antonio Cacorino, APEX co-founder and chief executive, believes having Vertonghen on board, along with the other global sporting stars, reinforces that notion athletes are keen to make the most of their potential away from their respective fields.

CaCorino said: "Traditionally, the thought was, 'Let me only think about investing or being active in something different when I retire. Let me focus 1,000 per cent on sports'.

"Unless you are Cristiano Ronaldo or a few other athletes in the world, when you retire, you just become irrelevant. It's unfortunate but it's the reality.

"We work with guys like Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly. In football, Siem de Jong, Luuk de Jong, Christian Eriksen, Raphael Varane. Anthony Joshua is a big boxer, so just really building a very strong, diverse asset community.

"We created an amazing athlete community of athletes from all over the world who have this sort of entrepreneurial mindset and this like-minded approach to how they want to position themselves beyond pure athletes."

Vertonghen, an Athlete partner at APEX, reveals meeting the young and ambitious co-founders, along with a star-studded list of sports stars involved, gave him the confidence to get involved with the Lisbon-based company.

"When you invest in a company with other high-profile names, most of the time they're surrounded by the best possible people," added the defender, who is Belgium’s most-capped player with 153 appearances for the Red Devils.

“They invest in the best possible companies with great opportunities.

"It makes a bit less sense if I invest in software from any kind of thing. For me, it's a sport-minded company where I can have my input, where I can talk to anyone who I want, where I can get the information that I want."

However, Vertonghen has no intention of hanging up his boots just yet, nor is he ready to give up keeping clean sheets either.

After a difficult 2022-23 season, which saw Champions League regulars Anderlecht finish in a lowly 11th place, he takes satisfaction in what has been a positive start to the campaign.

He continued: "Last year was a very, very bad and disappointing season, but we had a very good transfer window, great signings.

“[The manager] brought some great young guys in, experienced players like Kasper Schmeichel, for example, just leaders and guys who just want to win, and that's what we needed. The atmosphere in the team is great.

“In Belgium, it works with a play-off system. If you get into the top six, you go for the Champions Playoffs, and that's our ambition, to be in that top six.

“And then whoever's in the top six can be champion. It's just important for all the teams who have the ambition to achieve the highest things, to be in the top six.”

Romelu Lukaku scored four times in 20 first-half minutes as Belgium thrashed 10-man Azerbaijan 5-0 in Euro 2024 qualifying.

Lukaku headed the opener from Jeremy Doku’s cross before Eddy Pascual was shown a second yellow card for a foul on the Roma striker, who is on loan from Chelsea.

The 30-year-old completed his hat-trick by the half-hour mark and grabbed his fourth after 37 minutes before being substituted at half-time. Arsenal forward Leandro Trossard completed the rout late on.

Lukaku’s total of 14 goals is a record for a European Championship qualifying campaign, beating the mark of 13 set by Northern Ireland’s David Healy in 2008 and equalled by Poland’s Robert Lewandowski in 2016.

Belgium had already booked their place at next year’s tournament and the win saw them finish top of Group F ahead of Austria.

Sweden, who could not qualify, beat Estonia 2-0 in the group’s other fixture.

Serbia qualified for Euro 2024 with a 2-2 draw with Bulgaria in Group G, where group winners Hungary beat Montenegro 3-1 thanks to a brace from Liverpool midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai.

Serbia only needed a point or for Montenegro not to beat Hungary to secure their berth in Germany, but that looked a distinct possibility when they trailed 2-1 and Montenegro led 1-0 in Budapest.

However, Serbia’s Srdan Babic equalised in the 82nd minute and Szoboszlai scored twice in the space of two minutes in the second half to turn Hungary’s game around.

Scotland concluded their successful campaign with an action-packed 3-3 draw with Norway at Hampden Park.

Steve Clarke’s men twice came from behind before Stuart Armstrong gave the home side the lead just before the hour mark, but Norway substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi levelled in the 86th minute.

Group A winners Spain beat Georgia 3-1 in Valladolid.

Portugal ended their qualifying campaign with a 10th straight win as goals from Bruno Fernandes and Ricardo Horta gave them a 2-0 victory over Iceland.

Group J runners-up Slovakia enjoyed a 2-1 win over 10-man Bosnia and Herzegovina, who will join Luxembourg in the play-offs.

England were handed another blow in their Nations League campaign on Tuesday night after losing 3-2 to Belgium.

A late penalty from captain Tessa Wullaert handed the Red Flames victory as the Lionesses tumbled to third place in Group A1.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what has happened to England in the competition.

What’s actually at stake in the Nations League?

This year marks the inaugural Nations League competition in women’s football and takes a similar format to the men’s edition, where 51 competing nations are divided into two leagues of 16 and one of 19.

Crucially there is plenty to play for in the tournament as the winners from League A will reach the finals, which also act as Europe’s 2024 Olympic qualifiers – meaning that a place in Paris is up for grabs.

Tuesday’s loss to Belgium means England’s hopes of Olympic qualification are in danger with only two games remaining in the competition to try and turn things around.

What happened on Tuesday?

Having beaten Belgium at Leicester on Friday night, the Lionesses travelled to Leuven in the reverse fixture on Tuesday hoping to boost their chances of qualification.

They got off to a poor start, falling behind to Laura De Neve’s ninth-minute free-kick before Manchester City defender Alex Greenwood was carried off the pitch on a stretcher following a clash of heads and received treatment on the pitch for over 10 minutes. City confirmed on Wednesday that she will return to the club for further assessment.

England took the lead through goals from Lucy Bronze and Fran Kirby in quick succession, but Wullaert levelled things deep into first-half stoppage time.

The Belgian captain came to her side’s rescue again in the 85th minute, slotting home from the penalty spot to leapfrog England into second.

How have England done so far?

Defeat to Belgium handed England their second Nations League loss in four matches, but the Lionesses have already endured plenty of tough challenges in Group A1.

Kicking off their campaign in Sunderland, England were able to seal a 2-1 win in a closely-fought contest against Scotland where the visitors were unable to capitalise on a multitude of chances in the second half.

However, defeat followed in Utrecht as Renate Jansen struck in the 90th minute for the Netherlands to squeeze a 2-1 victory against their former boss Sarina Wiegman.

Lauren Hemp’s goal gave England an important three points with a 1-0 win against Belgium on Friday, but the reverse fixture ended in defeat on Tuesday.

What does the table look like now?

With two wins and two losses, the Lionesses are third in the table, just one point behind the Red Flames in the standings.

The Netherlands are on track for that vital Olympic spot after back-to-back wins against Scotland ensured they sit at the summit, having won three and lost only one of their four games so far.

Scotland are at the foot of the table with only one point picked up throughout the competition, which came during their 1-1 draw against Belgium in September thanks to Sophie Howard’s last-gasp header.

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England’s slim hopes of Olympic qualification continue in December when the next round of fixtures are set to be played.

The Lionesses kick off matchday five at Wembley, where they come up against the Netherlands on December 1 before travelling to Hampden Park to play their final fixture against Scotland four days later.

Belgium will host Scotland before taking on the Netherlands where two wins would see England miss out on the top spot regardless of how the Lionesses do and Wiegman knows the challenges that lie ahead for her side.

She said post-match on Tuesday: “First of all, we have to win with more than one goal against the Netherlands at Wembley, and then we have to win the other game too, because Belgium is in a very good place too.

“We know we have work to do – we always do, but we have put ourselves in a hard position at the moment.”

Alex Greenwood is well enough to return home and is set to be checked out by Manchester City after sustaining a head injury while on England duty.

England’s 3-2 Women’s Nations League loss in Belgium on Tuesday evening was compounded by Greenwood being carried off on a stretcher following an accidental clash of heads with Jassina Blom in the first half.

Greenwood was “conscious and talking” afterwards, according to Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman, who added: “I haven’t talked to the medical staff yet. She’s alright – when she’s walking, she’s alright.”

City issued a further update on their defender, who received treatment for more than 10 minutes on the field before being taken off and replaced by Chelsea’s Jess Carter.

A statement on City’s website on Wednesday morning said: “Alex Greenwood will return to the City Football Academy for further medical assessments after sustaining a head injury on international duty.

“We can confirm she has been carefully monitored, is alert and well and will return home later today ahead of a review with our medical team.”

England’s hopes of progressing in the competition suffered a blow following a second loss, with Belgium leapfrogging the Lionesses into second place in their group after a seesaw encounter in Leuven.

Belgium took the lead through Laura de Neve but an England side missing several key players hit back through Lucy Bronze and Fran Kirby before a leveller from Tessa Wullaert, who then scored a penalty.

Former England captain Faye White believes this will be a good test of the resolve of the Euro 2022 champions and Women’s World Cup finalists and called on them to be more clinical in front of goal.

“I think after major tournaments in the past, England have always gone into really easy qualifying group games and this Nations League is a good test now because it’s higher quality opposition, almost like the knockouts or a group stage of a of a tournament,” White told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“It’s dealing with all these different factors, plus (they had) two real key players still out, waiting for Beth Mead and Leah Williamson to come back. Lauren James wasn’t available either in the squad.

“But we’re strong enough still to be able to get these games – when you make 18 chances but only put two away and still concede three, that’s the issue, isn’t it?”

Sarina Wiegman said England had made life difficult for themselves and been given a “hard lesson” after a 3-2 Nations League loss to Belgium in Leuven.

Having fallen behind to Laura De Neve’s early free-kick and then seen defender Alex Greenwood carried off on a stretcher, the Lionesses turned things around to lead via goals from Lucy Bronze in the 38th minute and Fran Kirby in the 44th.

But Belgium captain Tessa Wullaert equalised in first-half stoppage time before notching the winner with an 85th-minute penalty awarded for a Georgia Stanway handball as England slipped to third in Group A1 with two games to play.

Boss Wiegman, whose side had beaten the Belgians 1-0 in Leicester last Friday, told ITV: “This was a game (where) I think we should have been tighter on the ball.

“We weren’t as great in the tempo. We did create lots of chances, we still dominated the game totally, but at moments we lost the ball and then they were gone on the counter-attack. They had five, six moments like that and then they got two or three chances. So it was really us that made it (for) ourselves so hard.

“They played tough, were very compact, and as soon as they win the ball then they were trying to play the counter-attack, and that’s something we really have to get out of our game.

“And besides that, we did create lots of chances but we just have to do better in the final third.”

She added: “We were sloppy on the ball and they were ready for that. We have to be tight, especially in the build and create, at moments we don’t expect to lose the ball, and we didn’t do that good enough today. That’s a hard lesson for us.”

This competition provides England with the opportunity to secure a Paris 2024 Olympics qualification spot for Great Britain – they need to finish top of the group to have a chance to do that, something they are in danger of failing to achieve after their second defeat in four matches in the pool.

With six points, they are now three behind table-toppers the Netherlands – 1-0 victors over Scotland on Tuesday – and one behind Belgium.

The final two rounds of fixtures see England play the Dutch, who beat them 2-1 in Utrecht in September, at Wembley on December 1 then Scotland at Hampden Park four days later.

Meanwhile, Ives Serneels’ Belgium will host Scotland then face the Netherlands away – two wins for the Red Flames would see England miss out on top spot regardless of how they fare.

Wiegman said: “First of all we have to win with more than one goal against the Netherlands at Wembley, and then we have to win the other game too, because Belgium is in a very good place too.

“We know we have work to do – we always do, but we have put ourselves in a hard position at the moment.”

Greenwood went down around 20 minutes into the contest following an accidental clash of heads with Belgian forward Jassina Blom. She received treatment on the field for about 10 minutes before being placed on a stretcher and taken off.

While it was a worrying scene, a subsequent post from the Lionesses’ official X account said Greenwood was “conscious and talking, and…being monitored by our medical staff.”

And Wiegman said of the Manchester City player: “I haven’t talked to the medical staff yet… She’s alright – when she’s walking, she’s alright.”

England suffered another Nations League setback as a late penalty from Belgium captain Tessa Wullaert condemned them to a 3-2 defeat in Leuven.

After falling behind to Laura De Neve’s ninth-minute free-kick and then seeing defender Alex Greenwood carried off on a stretcher having been involved in a clash of heads, the Lionesses turned things around to lead via goals from Lucy Bronze and Fran Kirby.

But Wullaert subsequently put Belgium back on level terms in first-half stoppage time, then notched the winner from the spot with five minutes of normal time remaining at the end after Georgia Stanway handled.

The result sees England – 1-0 victors over the Belgians in Leicester last Friday – leapfrogged by the Red Flames in Group A1 as Sarina Wiegman’s side slip to third place having been beaten for a second time in four matches in the pool.

With six points, England, who lost 1-0 to the Netherlands in September, are three behind the table-topping Dutch and one behind second-placed Belgium – the former won 1-0 against Scotland on Tuesday.

England’s next game is against the Netherlands at Wembley on December 1 as they look to bounce back in a competition that provides them with the opportunity to secure a Paris 2024 Olympics qualification spot for Great Britain – they need to finish top of the group to have a chance to do that.

New England call-up Khiara Keating is well aware that one day she could make history as the first keeper from an ethnic minority background to play in goal for the Lionesses.

Keating is just 19 but her spectacular start to the season for Manchester City has caught the eye of England boss Sarina Wiegman, who named her in the squad who will face Belgium in two Nations League fixtures this month.

It may be some time before Keating – one of four keepers in a camp that includes England number one and FIFA Best award-winner Mary Earps – gets playing time, but she is already embracing her rapid rise to role model status.

She said: “Obviously I think it’s important for anyone to make their debut but obviously coming from a background of colour, there’s not many of us. I think we are starting to see a rise and I’m just happy that I could be an inspiration.

“Obviously anyone out there that’s thinking ‘maybe I will get judged’ or ‘maybe it’s not for me’, but yeah, I feel like I’m just grateful to be in a position where I can be a role model to people.”

Keating’s invitation, alongside fellow maiden call-up Grace Clinton, came during a week Arsenal came under criticism on social media after posting a photo of their squad consisting entirely of white women.

The club have since issued a statement acknowledging the lack of diversity in the first team and ambitions for that to change as a ‘key priority’ from the academy level and upwards.

Becky Spencer made history in 2014 when she became the first goalkeeper from an ethnic minority background called up to the Lionesses under Mark Sampson, but did not feature in a match before switching allegiances to Jamaica.

On the men’s side, David James is the only black goalkeeper to have represented England at senior level, while Shaka Hislop, who would later play for Trinidad and Tobago, was also called up for England.

Keating has started all three of Women’s Super League (WSL) leaders Manchester City’s matches to open the season, winning two clean sheets and conceding just one goal in a controversial 1-1 draw with Chelsea that saw two of her team-mates sent off.

She was driving when Wiegman first rang her with the good news, and it was only when she saw the England boss’ picture pop up on her phone that she realised she had potentially let a potentially life-changing chat go to voicemail.

“I thought maybe I should call her back to see what she wants!” joked Keating. “She delivered the great news and then I was just buzzing.

“[Training with Earps], she’s proven to everyone over this past year that she is so good and the best in the world and she can achieve anything. Obviously it is a bit surreal that I am here with her.

“I feel like it only became real yesterday when I was in the team meeting and obviously Sarina introduced us to everyone, seeing it first-hand.

“I feel like that was a pinch-me moment, where it was like ‘wow, Grace, we’re actually here’.”

England, Scotland, Spain, France, Portugal, Turkey, Belgium and Austria all secured their places at Euro 2024 in the latest round of qualifying fixtures.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what still to be resolved in November and the play-offs.

Group A

Scotland and Spain have both qualified for the finals, but top spot remains up for grabs.

Spain head to Cyprus and then host Georgia, while Scotland face a trip to Tbilisi before welcoming Norway to Hampden Park – where the Tartan Army are expected to revel in a Euro 2024 qualification party.

Georgia are set to go into the play-offs based on their Nations League ranking as a group winner.

Norway are one of several countries who will have to wait on all the other results to see if they can make the cut as one of 12 teams split through three paths.

Group B

While France have qualified automatically for the finals as group winners, the Netherlands still have work to do.

The Dutch edged past Greece with a stoppage-time penalty from captain Virgil van Dijk on Monday night – and victory over the Republic of Ireland in Amsterdam will secure a top-two finish.

Greece, though, could also still reach Euro 2024, having already been assured of a place in the play-offs.

Indeed because of UEFA’s complex weighted system based on overall Nations League rankings, the Republic are still not theoretically out of the running to be involved in the play-offs in March – and could even see their slim hopes boosted by a loss in Amsterdam on November 18 if other results also fall into place.

Group C

England’s 3-1 win over Italy at Wembley on Tuesday night saw them qualify with two matches left.

Italy are third, but qualification remains in their own hands if they can beat North Macedonia.

The Azzurri would then edge out Ukraine to the runners-up spot should they go on to avoid defeat in the final group game between the two countries in Leverkusen on November 20.

Italy are also assured of place in the play-offs should it be needed.

Group D

Turkey have secured qualification, but the race to join them looks set to go to the wire.

Wales will if they beat Armenia in Yerevan and Croatia suffer an unexpected defeat away to Latvia.

Armenia, though, are still not out of the mix, sitting just three points behind Wales and Croatia with two games left.

Qualification could all hinge on the very last round of fixtures – which sees Wales host Turkey in Cardiff and Croatia play Armenia in Zagreb on November 21.

However, Croatia are assured of at least a play-off spot if they do not qualify automatically.

Group E

In another tight group, leaders Albania, the Czech Republic, Poland and even Moldova can all still qualify.

Albania will qualify if they avoid defeat by Moldova in their next match or if Poland – currently third and with just one game left – beat the Czechs.

An away win in Warsaw, though, would see the Czech Republic qualify if Moldova do not beat Albania.

Moldova have two games left, which they realistically would need to win to keep in the qualification mix.

Despite being bottom of the table with just one point from seven games, the Faroe Islands could yet find themselves in the play-offs depending on other results.

Group F

Austria and group leaders Belgium have both qualified.

Belgium’s game against Sweden at the King Baudouin Stadium on Monday night was abandoned at half-time after two people were shot dead in Brussels. It has yet to be confirmed whether the fixture will be replayed.

Azerbaijan are not theoretically out of play-off contention, while bottom side Estonia are the top-ranked team from Nations League Group D.

Group G

Leaders Hungary – who have Barnsley midfielder Callum Styles in the squad – missed the chance to qualify after having to recover to draw 2-2 in Lithuania.

However, a point in their next match away to Bulgaria would see them through, as would Montenegro not beating Lithuania.

Second-placed Serbia will qualify if Montenegro fail to win on November 16 or they themselves beat Bulgaria in their last game.

Bottom side Bulgaria have slim play-off hopes, but Serbia are secured a spot if they need it as one of the Nations League group winners.

Group H

Slovenia, who beat Northern Ireland in Belfast on Tuesday night, and Denmark are in the driving seat to qualify, sitting four points clear of Kazakhstan.

A win in Copenhagen for either team on November 17 would see them through, as would San Marino getting an unlikely positive result against Kazakhstan.

Finland will go into the play-offs, which is also the likely route for Kazakhstan.

Group I

Switzerland’s fightback with two late goals to draw 3-3 against Belarus left them second in the table, a point behind leaders Romania having played a game less.

Israel – assured of at least a play-off spot – are four points adrift, and have their rearranged match with the Swiss on November 15.

Switzerland will qualify if they win their next two fixtures, while Romania will if the Swiss lose in Tel Aviv and they themselves then beat Israel on November 18.

Romania are set to host Switzerland in the final round of fixtures, while Israel’s postponed match against Kosovo has still to be rescheduled.

Group J

 

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Portugal qualified for the finals as runaway group winners with a 100 per cent record so far through eight games.

Slovakia will also qualify with a match to spare if they avoid defeat against Iceland.

Luxembourg are five points behind, so look likely to go into the play-offs along with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sweden defender Victor Lindelof has said he was “lost for words for the cruelty and inhumanity” after two fans were shot dead before Monday evening’s Euro 2024 qualifier in Belgium.

The match in Brussels was abandoned at half-time with the score at 1-1 after two Swedish supporters were killed and another injured three miles from the King Baudouin Stadium.

The gunman, reported to be a 45-year-old Tunisian national, was shot dead by police in a Brussels suburb on Tuesday morning.

 

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Manchester United centre-half Lindelof said on Instagram: “I’m shocked and devastated by the terrible incidents in Brussels with the cold-hearted attacks on our fellow Swedes.

“I’m lost for words for the cruelty and inhumanity, I want to send my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those affected.

“At the same time, my thoughts go out to all the supporters in Belgium last night, no one should ever go to a game of football and feel unsafe when supporting their team.”

The Swedish Football Association on Monday evening urged supporters to stay in the stadium on police advice “for security reasons” and co-operate with the authorities on site.

 

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Fans were kept in the stadium for more than two hours before a message on the stadium screen asked them to leave “calmly”.

The Sweden men’s national team posted on Instagram on Tuesday: “Swedish football has sadness – Sweden has sadness.

“Yesterday we tragically lost two blue-yellow supporters, on the spot in Brussels to do something that should be obvious – to support our Swedish national teams wearing the blue-yellow national team shirt.

“Our thoughts go out to all loved ones of the victims, who today are forced to wake up to an indescribable sadness.

 

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“We are also thinking of all your supporters on site in Brussels. We know that you, like us, were afraid and worried. Yet you remained calm and followed the instructions that were called out from the speakers.

“We will never forget those who fell victims of this senseless attack. Take care of each other.”

Tottenham midfielder Dejan Kulusevski linked to the team statement in his Instagram Stories, alongside a broken heart emoji.

The Belgium team said on social media: “We are still devastated by what happened in our capital on Monday.

“We want to thank all the fans and stewards in the stadium for their understanding and support in these difficult circumstances.

“Our thoughts are with the Swedish, we hope everyone gets home safely.”

Sweden manager Janne Andersson said the players had asked for the game to be abandoned when they heard about the shooting.

“I felt it was completely unreal,” he told a press conference. “What kind of world do we live in today? I was supposed to have a good chat with the players but I heard it and almost started crying.

“When the team started talking, we agreed 100 per cent that we didn’t want to play on out of respect for the victims and their families.”

UEFA said “a moment of silence” would be observed at all Tuesday night’s Euro 2024 qualifiers in memory of the victims.

Kylian Mbappe scored twice, including a stunning strike from just outside the box, as France beat the Netherlands 2-0 in Amsterdam to secure Euro 2024 qualification.

After putting Les Bleus ahead with a seventh-minute finish, Mbappe added a breathtaking second eight minutes into the second half, exchanging passes with Adrien Rabiot and sending a curling shot over Bart Verbruggen and into the top corner.

Quilindschy Hartman reduced the deficit with seven minutes of normal time remaining.

The result extended France’s perfect record in Group B to a sixth victory as they rubber-stamped their place in next summer’s finals in Germany with two fixtures to spare.

Their opponents dropped from second to third, replaced by Greece – who won 2-0 against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Georgios Giakoumakis and Georgios Masouras scored in the first half as Ireland’s chances of automatic qualification officially came to an end.

Greece are now three points clear of the Netherlands, who have a game in hand.

In Group F, Belgium sealed progress to the finals with a 3-2 win away against second-placed Austria.

The visitors appeared to be cruising after Dodi Lukebakio’s double and a Romelu Lukaku effort had them three goals up before the hour mark.

Things then became less comfortable as Konrad Laimer pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute, Belgium were reduced to 10 men by a red card for Amadou Onana six minutes later, and Marcel Sabitzer scored an 84th-minute penalty – but Domenico Tedesco’s side managed to see out the win.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan registered their first win in the group as they beat Estonia 2-0 in Tallinn.

Portugal also completed the job of qualification via a 3-2 victory as they defeated Slovakia in Porto, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice.

Goncalo Ramos and a Ronaldo penalty had the hosts two goals up at half-time, and after David Hancko’s reply, Ronaldo made it 3-1 in the 72nd minute with his 125th international goal.

Stanislav Lobotka netted a second for Slovakia, who are second behind Portugal in Group J.

Friday’s other matches in the pool saw Iceland and Luxembourg draw 1-1 in Reykjavik and Bosnia and Herzegovina win 2-0 in Liechtenstein.

Former Chelsea winger Eden Hazard has announced his retirement at the age of 32.

Hazard won two Premier League titles at Stamford Bridge before moving to Real Madrid in 2019.

But the Belgian struggled with injuries and made just 76 appearances in four seasons at Real before leaving in the summer.

“You must listen to yourself and say stop at the right time,” he wrote on Instagram.


“After 16 years and more than 700 matches played, I have decided to end my career as a professional footballer.

“I was able to realise my dream, I have played and had fun on many pitches around the world.

“During my career I was lucky to meet great managers, coaches and team-mates – thank you to everyone for these great times, I will miss you all.

“I also want to thank the clubs I have played for: LOSC, Chelsea and Real Madrid; and thank the RBFA for my Belgian selection.

“A special thank you to my family, my friends, my advisers and the people who have been close to me in good times and bad.

“Finally, a huge thank you to you, my fans, who have followed me for all these years and for your encouragement everywhere I have played.

“Now is the time to enjoy my loved ones and have new experiences.
See you off the field soon my friends.”

Hazard scored 110 goals in 352 appearances for Chelsea after joining from Lille in 2012.

She is not only a bright prospect in her field, but Barbadian gymnast Olivia “Storm” Kelly, is also honing her skills as a budding philanthropist, as she reignited efforts to assist, and, by extension, ease the financial burdens of students and teachers in need, for the new school year.

Through a Back-to-School drive, Kelly uses her Social Media platforms to seek donations of stationery items and other office supplies for teachers in particular, who often have to dig deep into their pockets to acquire said items.

The American-born Kelly, who earns her Barbadian stripes through her father, Tori, pointed out that her zeal for helping others is spurred by her own appreciation for life’s experiences.

“Honestly, I’m not even sure when I first started volunteering. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been helping collect or giving toys, school supplies, clothes and more to people in need. I like how volunteering brings people together and keeps us humble and that is basically my motivation, just being grateful for where I am at,” Kelly told Sportsmax.tv. 

“Whenever I am collecting supplies, toys, food, clothes, or whatever I’m doing, my gym, my mom’s work, and my friends and family are always so supportive. They always donate and ask if I need anything. People always have no problem donating things, especially if they don’t have time to volunteer.

“It’s a good way for everyone to give back. Everyone doesn’t have the same resources, but most people are willing to give back in one way or another. I’m always looking to do a little more and trying to reach more people,” she added.

While the initiative is focused mostly on the United States, the 17-year-old has in the past extended a helping hand to Barbados and revealed that she is hoping to do more at some point.

“I’m always trying to bring my help into Barbados. It’s not cheap to get supplies over there. I have donated leotards to Flip Gym, went in and offered lessons to the gymnasts there and most recently posted and donated to a charity organization called Build up Bim,” she shared.

“I would definitely like to keep doing this, maybe even finding more time to actually go out and volunteer. I can’t talk about it yet, but I do have something in the works with a teammate of mine to help athletes who lack resources,” Kelly revealed.

The soft-spoken gymnast, who has her eyes set on becoming the first gymnast to represent the Eastern Caribbean Island at the Olympic Games, and, if successful, it would propel her career to higher heights.

Achieving such a dream is by no means impossible and Kelly, also known as "Storm," in gymnastics circles, is well positioned herself to make it happen when she takes the World Gymnastics Championships stage in Antwerp, Belgium, next month.

The event serves an Olympic qualifier and, as such, Kelly, despite her voluntary efforts outside of the gym, is focused on ensuring her performance quality and the details of her routine are on point, while staying physically and mentally healthy.

“Fortunately, volunteering never takes away any time or affect my training in any way. I’m able to work around my training and my family is a huge help in making it happen,” she declared.

“I had to take a few weeks off after PanAm for my back. I have Scoliosis and every so often I get to a point where my back needs some rest. I’m in the gym now adding things slowly and listening to my body and I am fortunate to have great doctors and coaches to help me through.

“Being back in the gym is going really well. I definitely feel like I’m in a better mental and physical space this year, and I feel much more confident going into this Worlds. I have much more experience this year as well, which definitely helps, so I’m very excited to compete in Belgium this year and give the 2024 Olympics a shot,” Kelly ended.

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