Owen thanks Stoke for ´great experience´

20 May 2013 12:51

Michael Owen insists he has no regrets at moving to Stoke City after calling time on his career after Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Southampton.

The 33-year-old announced in March that he would be retiring after a frustrating campaign that has seen him only make eight substitute appearances for the Staffordshire club.

He was given 16 minutes of the final game at St Mary’s Stadium and went close to notching a trademark poached goal and, despite a lack of action this season, Owen claimed he had enjoyed his time at the club.

“It’s been a great, great experience being at Stoke for a season,” he said. “They’re a very good club, very good owners and it’s a good place to be.

“That’s about the fifth season they’ve been in the Premier League now. Hopefully, they can kick on and start getting into the top half.

That will probably be the next step.

“I’m certainly pleased to have joined them and played a season with them and I wish them all the best now.”

Both sets of fans sang the name of the former England international during the match which he was keen to thank them for, and he also revealed the good wishes he had received from fellow players.

“I couldn’t have asked for any more, really,” he added. “The Stoke supporters were fantastic, considering I’ve not had much of an influence on the team for the season I’ve been here.

“But they sang my name all game and I am really privileged to have the send-off. And the home fans as well, that was particularly special. So, it was a great day all round and pleased that we shared the spoils as well.

“Everyone’s been coming up to me saying so many nice things and that they’ve enjoyed watching me play over the years.

“I won’t name his name but even one of the Southampton players was saying that he used to watch my Soccer Skills video, so that made me feel a bit old.

“But it’s nice that I’ve brought some pleasure to a lot of people and it’s certainly been a pleasure playing myself. I’ve really enjoyed it and time to move on, as they say.”

Rizzoli to take charge of UEFA Champions League final

20 May 2013 12:36

Italian Nicola Rizzoli will referee Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.

The 41-year-old has been an international referee since 2007, and oversaw the inaugural UEFA Europa League final between Atletico Madrid and Fulham in 2010.

He has refereed 26 UEFA Champions League games to date and took charge of three matches at UEFA Euro 2012.

The Bologna-born official, who is an architect, has courted controversy in the past, with retiring Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson suggesting he was swayed by Bayern Munich players when he sent off Rafael da Silva in the 2010 UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash between the sides at Old Trafford, which the Germans won on away goals after drawing 4-4 on aggregate.

He is known as a no-nonsense official, but also draws plaudits for his calm demeanour when dealing with players on the pitch.

He will be joined in London by assistant referees Renato Faverani and Andrea Stafani, while Gianluca Rocchi and Paolo Tagliaventon are the additional assistant referees.

Raheem Sterling case dismissed

20 May 2013 12:18

An assault case against Liverpool attacker Raheem Sterling has been dismissed after the prosecution offered no evidence against him.

The 18-year-old was accused of assaulting a 27-year-old woman in the Toxteth area of Liverpool in November 2012, leaving the alleged victim with slight facial injuries.

Sterling, who had pleaded not guilty to the charge, had missed three previous court appearances and was not present again, choosing to wait outside the court, however, the prosecution offered no evidence against him after two witnesses failed to attend.

With no evidence against the England international, district judge Richard Clancy dismissed the case, and awarded Sterling defence costs.

The forward broke into the Liverpool team this season under Brendan Rodgers, making 24 appearances and scoring two goals.

His form earned him an international call-up from national coach Roy Hodgson, and he made his England debut against Sweden in November.

When contacted by Omnisport, Liverpool declined to make a comment on the case.

Schuerrle expects Leverkusen exit

20 May 2013 12:14

Andre Schuerrle expects to depart Leverkusen in the off-season amid rumours of a transfer to Chelsea.

Reports in April suggested the two sides have been in talks about a potential transfer for the Germany international, and the player admits he wants to complete a move away from the Bundesliga.

One potential hitch in the move is the future of Chelsea’s Kevin de Bruyne. The midfielder was expected to be used in a potential deal for Schuerrle, but the Belgian is keen on a move to UEFA Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund.

“We’ll see. Certain things were promised to me,” Schuerrle said following Leverkusen’s 1-0 win against Hamburg.

“I hope they will keep these promises. It also depends on Leverkusen. I think it was my last match.”

Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller confirmed that no deal had been reached with the UEFA Europa League winners, and said there is no guarantee a transfer would be finalised.

“Let’s all stay cool. We said it is only possible, if we find a proper alternative,” he said.

The forward has scored 14 goals in all competitions for Leverkusen this season, who finished third in the Bundesliga.

Howson delighted with Norwich progress

20 May 2013 12:03

Norwich midfielder Jonny Howson praised his side for beating Manchester City to secure an 11th-place finish in the Premier League on Sunday.

Howson grabbed the winner after 65 minutes as Norwich recorded a memorable 3-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium, and he is proud of what they club have achieved this season.

After finishing 12th last season, the club lost manager Paul Lambert to Aston Villa, and despite some tough times under new manager Chris Hughton they have finished higher in the table, which shows signs of progress for the former Leeds man.

“We’ve achieved what we set out to do at the beginning of the season,” he told the club’s official website.

“Fair play to the lads for finishing like that – it’s a tough league.

“It’s

been an up and down season for everyone involved, but when the manager

took over, I’m sure if you said that we’d finish 11th, then everyone

would have taken it.

“It’s very pleasing at this moment in time.”

Howson has been at Norwich since January 2012, making 44 appearances, but he had only recorded one goal before a long-range hit against West Brom at Carrow Road on May 12.

He made it two in two games with his solo effort from the halfway line against City, and he believes the latter goal was better than his strike the week before.

“I got the ball in the middle of the pitch, and my first thought was that I could drive,” he added. “Their two central midfielders were wide apart so I could run at the back two.

“It just seemed to open up. I had a touch and then another touch – I thought the defenders would take it off me but next thing I’m through on goal.

“I was just thinking of getting a good contact on it and getting across the keeper, and the next thing you know it’s in the net.

“On a personal note, it’s nice to be on the scoresheet but most importantly of all it’s another win for the lads.

“Personally I think this week’s is better. I’m not saying I’d expect to what I did last week all the time, but I’d find it easier than what I did today.”