Tagged football

Wigan’s Beautiful Journey

Every club has their ups and downs and Wigan are a club that know how to adjust to new challenges.

When Dave Whelan bought Wigan in 1995 the club were in England’s 4th tier. When he took over he announced that he would take the Tics all the way up to the Premier League, and that’s exactly what he did!

First Wigan were promoted to Division 2 in 1997 before reaching the Championship six years later. It only took another two seasons for the boss to fulfil his promise and reach the Premier League to the surprise of many. It was the first time Wigan reached the top tier in the club’s history.

Their first season in the Premier League was a memorable one. After going on a great run under Paul Jewell the Tics were 2nd in the league in November. They also matched their league form with a cup run, reaching the final of the league Cup after beating Arsenal. They lost in the final to Man Utd and ended up finishing 10th in the league, but it was an amazing season for the Premier League newcomers and their highest ever position.

One of the reasons I joined Wigan was because I wanted to be part of a club with amount of passion and determination that they possessed.

From day one when I arrived and met Mr Whelan he made it clear what his objectives were and that he wanted me to make sure his team would stay in the Premier League. That’s pressure of course but isn’t that what football at the highest level is all about?

I had three great years doing whatever it took to stay in the league by keeping the team together, which is never an easy thing because you have to be creative. You have to know how you can keep so many players happy with the same thing during team building. But one thing I made sure on the day of the game was that I wanted to win whatever it took. We maybe didn’t always agree but who cares because after the win there were smiles all over the place.

Wigan spent eight seasons in the Premier League and in the final term reached the FA Cup final for the first time. For the first time in their history. In the final Wigan beat Man City 1–0 going on to win the club’s first ever major trophy and qualify for the Europa League. They were relegated from the Premier League that season but Dave Whelan had taken his beloved Wigan from the 4th tier to European football in just 16 years.

It had been a beautiful journey and it was time for Mr Whelan to hand the chairman role to his equally passionate grandson David Sharpe. Some tough times followed with the Tics falling down to League One before immediately returning to the Championship. It shows the heart and character that this club has and everyone involved knows what it takes to fight back.

It’s been hard finding the Wigan games on TV but I made sure I could see the game against Reading and they didn’t perform like a team that should be relegated. Football can be really cruel sometimes and I hope next season the negatives will turn into positivity and the mighty tics are back shining with happy faces in the stadium cheering the boys on.

#mmlove

Rooney Keeps on Scoring

I remember watching Wayne Rooney’s goal against Arsenal back in 2002. A fresh faced 16-year-old boy, exploding onto the scene with a net-rippling strike at Goodison Park.

“It’s Premier League history!” announced Clive Tyldesley, as Rooney became the league’s youngest ever scorer.

On Sunday Rooney made Premier League history again, breaking Thierry Henry’s one club scoring record. With 242 goals, he’s just seven behind Bobby Charlton’s all time record for Manchester United – another record he could (and should) break this season.

When I played my first game against Rooney back in 2002, his talent was clear.

Many players have talent but you never know how far they will take it. With Rooney though, it’s a story that a lot of players admire. If we look back at his career, his move to Manchester was a perfect one.

It’s well known that he does more than score goals for his team, always tracking back as he did when I faced him. When he sets his mind on you he will do what ever it takes to stop you.

Seeing him by passing so many legends in the record books is something that takes more then just hard work. You need natural talent, and the intelligence to know where to position yourself on the field.

I remember in my youth at Ajax they used to tell us, “if you’re always moving the defenders will struggle to pick you up.”

That’s what Rooney does. He know where to receive the ball, and loves doing it between the midfielders and the defensive line. This creates problems for teams. The midfielder sees him too late to pick him up and if the defender presses forward he leaves a dangerous gap in the middle of defence.

This is a trick that Rooney mastered, and today you’ll still see him do it.

His most dangerous weapon is his character and it comes out when defenders try to stop him and when he go trough a quiet spell. He will start working even harder on the field and it won’t be long before he starts to outsmart defenders again.

He might have lost a bit of pace but if he could outsmart opponents at such a young age, I’m sure he’s even smarter now.

He’s scored some spectacular goals in his career and I hope to see a good few more, as me as a spectator I enjoy watching the best excel.

#mmlove

The Price of Football

It’s become a huge issue for many fans. The price of a season ticket at Premier League clubs can equate to a full months wage for the average earner. At the Emirates you can pay over £2000 for the privilege, with a match day ticket costing up to £97.
To put things in perspective, you will find that Bayern Munich and Barcelona – arguably THE top two clubs in Europe at the moment – offer fans season tickets at a lower price than all but one club in the English Conference. Eastleigh is the only club where supporters can get hold of a season ticket for less than the £109 price tag at the Allianz Arena, but it is still more expensive than the cheapest asking price at the Camp Nou.
The price of football in England today is simply unaffordable.
It means even the most die heard of fans can not show their beloved clubs support week in and week out because of capitalism’s grasp on the sport. Do the fans not matter anymore?
Bayern President Uli Honess has revealed the philosophy shared by German clubs which makes the Bundesliga a much more affordable prospect for supporters:
“We could charge more than £100, let’s say we charged £300. We would get £2million more in income but what is £2million to us? In a transfer discussion you argue about that sum for five minutes, but the difference between £100 and £300 is huge for a fan.
“Football has got to be for everybody, and that is the biggest difference between us and England.”
In Germany clubs feel like it is their obligation to make football affordable for fans – the people who really make the game what it is. Without fans football is just 22 men kicking a ball around a field. Fun, but the £billions of football rights should be used to drop ticket prices.
So, clubs of England, appreciate the fans. Sharing is caring.
#mmlove

Back To My Roots

Thanks to my oldest brother I grew up watching ‘YO MTV Raps’.

Hoping that one day I’d know how to rap like Tupac, I’d understand women like Keith Sweat and I’d give back like Young Jeezy.

I still remember the day I arrived in Atlanta, me and my buddy Zues had been hopping from one store to the other. Every store we’d walk in, I’d hear the same music playing and these music videos of a young rapper, who after hitting fame, went back to his home town and distributed food to everybody in need.

That got me wondering who this artist was that was taking over Atlanta. And after the fourth store I couldn’t help myself. I asked the store clerk for the name of this mysterious artist.

His name was Young Jeezy. I immediately bought his album ‘The Motivation’.

It’s been 10 years since that day in Atlanta, but every day I have carried that message of giving back, in my heart.

I started a charity and every year I host a big soccer event at the two Mario Melchiot soccer pitches I own in Amsterdam. Kids of all ages and backgrounds are invited to come spend the day, participate in a tournament and win memorable prizes. Food and drinks are handed out for free and a known musicians come to entertain.

I’ve also been back to my homeland Suriname several times to feed the poor and the elderly. I remember during one of my visits to the senior home I had the pleasure of meeting this older gentleman who told me that he knew my grandfather. He said that he could see much of him in me.

I sadly never got to meet my grandfather, but I grew up on his stories and even in his absence, we lived our lives following his beliefs.

My grandfather was the very foundation of my family and I couldn’t have been prouder to carry his last name, Melchiot.

#mmlove

Amsterdam

I will take this occasion, since tomorrow is Kings Day back in Holland, to celebrate  the country I was born in.

We are famous for our coloured tulips, bicycles, museums, grass and of
course our red light district. But what really makes Holland special to
me is the natural and simple life of the Dutch.

We are known to get along with everybody wherever we are in the world. We understand the
importance of connecting with one another and that’s why no matter
where we spend our lives, our children learn to speak English at a very
early age.

My heart still beats for Amsterdam. A city brimming
with beauty whether you experience it on land or by boat. This is what
makes it so unique and charming.

I love the variety of cultures that can be found throughout the narrow streets of Amsterdam.
Surinamese, Turkish, African, Middle Eastern – people of all backgrounds
living together in vibrant harmony.

With this comes not only great friends, but also great food.

A huge variety of incredible dishes are served at every corner of the
city. It is the only place in the world where you can leave your house
any day, at any time and within five minutes have our traditional fries
with mayo.

But of course, one of the main reasons I love Amsterdam is because it kick started my career.

I still remember sitting on the underground as a 17 year old, listening
to my music, covered from head to toe in mud because I had just come
from training.

Ajax’s home stadium the Amsterdam Arena was under
construction and every time I’d pass it by, I would look out of the
Metro’s window and pray to God that one day my feet would touch it’s
grass.

Little did I know that one year later I would be making my
debut on the stadium’s opening night, against none other than Maldini’s
AC Milan.

That night my nerves were running so high that when my
coach, Louis Van Gaal, told me to get ready I warmed up so much I was
tired before I had even stepped foot on the field.

I will never forget where I came from.

#mmlove

Harry Kane – Living the Dream

As a football-crazy kid you sit down in front of your TV and watch the weekend’s games, dreaming about celebrating a goal like Harry Kane.

Before establishing himself at Tottenham, Kane spent time on loan in League One playing for Leyton Orient. Many players at Premiership clubs would snub a chance to play in the lower leagues.

“I’m part of the Premier League elite. I’m already playing at the highest level – I’m too good for them.”

This is because their ego’s eclipse the opportunity to gain experience that could take them 10 steps forward.

In the Championship playing for Millwall and Leicester City, and in the Premier League for Norwich City, Kane found his feet and became confident in front of goal – growing into a name which was at home with the score sheet. Now he’s playing against world renowned defenders that fear him the day before the big game.

“I’m going to stick to Harry like glue tomorrow, he’s not even going to get a chance in front of goal!”

The next thing they know Kane is running up to the Spurs faithful after slotting his third past the helpless keeper.

“Help… Please blow the whistle ref?”

He’s always a step ahead of defenders, waiting for the right moment when they slip up because they’re too focused on him and forget about their own game.

Playing in the Premier League and scoring for his country at Wembley is what Kane would have dreamed about as a kid. The man is living that dream and good luck to him. He’s still got a way to go before he can be added to the list of Shearers and Linekers, but I’ll be sitting on my sofa with some chips and popcorn watching the goals fly in.

#mmlove

Racism in Paris

“We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it, we like it.”

The words chanted by a group of Chelsea fans, if I may
call them fans, who shoved a black man off the Paris Metro in footage
which has been circulating the web since the Champions League last-16
match on Wednesday.
Hateful, infuriating and embarrassing to football.

Sadly, racism and football have been connected for
decades and the sight of fans drunkenly chanting abuse around cities is
nothing unusual. But why is this old fashioned ignorance still prevalent
in the game
today? The victim of the abuse, a Frenchman of Mauritian descent named
Souleymane, is somebody’s husband, brother, friend, and a father of
three. An innocent local racially attacked by a mob of football fans –
for what?

Football is supposed to bring people together for
entertainment. People pay to watch the players, support their favourite
teams and with a bit of luck celebrate victory – but the people you see
chanting in the
video are not fans of football. Chelsea is a great football club with a
fantastic fan base, and the “fans” at the centre of this controversy are
a disgrace to the club and to English football.  They are merely using
the sport as an outlet to behave like pathetic,
ignorant individuals.

Perhaps it would be unfair to impose stronger punishments
on Clubs due to the actions of a small bunch of supporters, but Chelsea,
the FA, the Premier League and the police must do what they can to send
out a
message that racism is totally unacceptable.

Anyone in the world can speak the language of football and the sport repeatedly shows us that human beings are equal.
I don’t see colour!

#mmlove

Form Trio: Kane, Hazard and Yaya

Harry Kane headed home his 23rd goal of the season at White Hart Lane last weekend, clinching all three points for Spurs in the North London derby and prompting a media frenzy around the young striker. He is “the goal scoring gift that keeps giving,” and it would be hard to argue a case against his reported England call-up and January Premier League Player of the Month accolade.

Kane has engineering Spurs’ recent success, bagging almost half of the clubs goals so far in 2015. He’s passionate, well rounded and clinical in front of goal – making him indispensable to his club at the moment.

Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is wreaking havoc across England’s top grounds from week to week. Hazard has found the back of the net 13 times in 36 games this season, and has been fouled 74 times (the most in the league), indicating how much of a tricky individual he is to deal with. Former Chelsea star Pat Nevin has claimed “he could become one of the best players in the world,” and his recent performances have helped him secure a new five-and-a-half year deal at Chelsea worth £200k per week.

But perhaps the most influential player in the Premier league today is Yaya Touré. One jaw-dropping statistics to come out of English football of late is that Manchester City, the Premier League title holders, had failed to win a single game without the Ivorian powerhouse since April (up until their midweek romp at The Britania). It just goes to show how impactful the talismanic midfielder is on the Sky Blues – who will be heavily relying on Touré to influence a comeback in this year’s title race.

#mmlove.