“I was a typical footballer – I was thinking about cars, women, clothes, going out in the evening and football. Going to prison was the worst story of my life, but it changed my life completely. You go to one of the hardest prisons in the world, in a country where there’s the death penalty, there’s still caning, there’s many criminals in one cell. You wake up in the morning, after sleeping on the floor, next to a guy who slashed up his mother and father. You see people getting killed. You had no bed, no toilet, no toilet paper. I was treated like an animal. I was punched in the face every day. I had to punch them back after a while. I had stitches everywhere. It was just a nightmare. But I realised then, at this lowest point of my life, that there were still positive things to go after…I could have sat there and cried every night, but I tried to look at the positives. You have to believe in yourself, believe you can achieve whatever you want to, and I think going to prison gave me this power. And I managed to play professional football for another ten years.”
*Lutz Pfannenstiel, the former goalkeeper and the only man to play professionally each of FIFA’s six confederations, on the 101 days he spent in jail in Singapore. Pfannenstiel was later cleared of all charges.
Presenter: Lionel Messi?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Fantastic.
Presenter: Cristiano Ronaldo?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Good.
Presenter: Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Wow.
*The Swede after being asked in an interview to describe people in one word
“Fashion is my passion. To me it’s just a confidence thing – confidence in what you’re wearing. It’s really sexy. I wore that yesterday – my butt’s out, my legs are showing, and I enjoy it. But it’s like sometimes it’s really hot, but as long as you dress and look good, you feel good, and the weather doesn’t really matter.”
“Zlatan’s the best. We used to sleep in the same room before games. One night, he woke up. Ibra told me, ‘Adi, wake up! I had a nightmare. I dreamed Ronaldo was better than me!’ He only went back to sleep after I told him, ‘No, Zlatan, no! You are the best in the world! Calm down!”
*Adrian Mutu on former Juventus colleague Zlatan Ibrahimovic*
“I’m not laughing. Because her husband went to Chelsea to replace Roberto Di Matteo and he went to Real Madrid and replaced Carlo Ancelotti. The only club where her husband replaces me was at Inter Milan, where in six months he destroyed the best team in Europe at the time.”
*Jose Mourinho responds to Montse Seara claiming Rafa Benitez “cleans up Mourinho’s messes”*
“If my era was today, I would bet anybody that I would be the best in the world two or three times. The way football is overseas, I would definitely have over 50 goals per season. Easily. Especially in Spain.”
"I am overwhelmed by emotion. Just playing against Sampdoria was a dream. Serbian people love Sampdoria. [Vujadin] Boskov, your hero, our hero. [Vladimir] Jugovic, [Sinisa] Mihajlovic… [Serbia] has a special connection with Sampdoria. To win 4-0, it’s difficult to find the words. The atmosphere on the place was unbelievable – I thought I was at a concert! But I only gave them five minutes to celebrate – we have to think about playing Javor on Sunday.”
*Zlatomir Zagorcic on his Vojvodina side’s implausible victory in Genoa
"I had to order a new phone from my network provider. I rang them up to get it ordered and was told to wait two to three months for it to arrive. I thought, 'No problem'. The guy then asked my name and I said, 'Cherno Samba'. With surprise, he asked, 'The one from Championship Manager? You'll get it the next day’.”
*Cherno Samba, who despite being an unheralded teenager at Millwall, was one of the best players on the video game now known as Football Manager*
"I understand people need scapegoats and they also need heroes. Messi carries the two roles on his shoulders. When the team wins and he contributes to the success with his fantastic football, we go to the altar to worship him. When the team loses, we go to the same altar to sacrifice him.”
*Jorge Valdano on Lionel Messi
“If you asked me, ‘Is any player worth £50m?’, I'd say no. But the reality of it is every player is worth what someone is willing to pay. Do you think your fillet steak is worth 25 quid when you go to a restaurant in London? I go to London, I pay £28 for a rib-eye steak. Do I think it's worth it? No! I can get one for five quid in a supermarket! The whole world has gone mad, but people never complain about motor racing, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf.”**
"We played Barcelona in a friendly and there were almost 60,000 fans there. Ronaldinho was at his peak and Barcelona were terrific. Before the game, Romanov approached me and told me he wanted to play in the game. He wanted me to pick him! He wasn’t joking. I refused and told him he had done no training and therefore he couldn’t play. He said to me, ‘Fine, but you will not be the coach for long.’ He sacked me soon after."
*Anatoly Korobochka explains his 2008 sacking as Hearts manager by owner Vladimir Romanov*