Football: Nilsson heads for Sweden to retire: Homesick defender walks out on Wednesday

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ROLAND NILSSON, pining for home, is to leave Sheffield Wednesday after their match against West Ham United a week before Christmas, to return to Sweden and retire.

Wednesday's manager, Trevor Francis, offered the 30-year-old right-back a week's break at Christmas inbetween matches and suggested that he might go home whenever Wednesday had no midweek games, but Nilsson is determined to rejoin his family, who returned to Sweden a few weeks ago.

Jimmy Gabriel wants to be given the chance to stake a claim to the Everton manager's job on a permanent basis. Gabriel, who has taken temporary charge at Goodison after Howard Kendall's departure, filled in as manager three years ago before Kendall returned to take over from Colin Harvey. Everton won the only game they played under him.

Kendall's next club could be Birmingham City, where he played for three seasons in the 1970s.

Gordon Taylor, the players' union chief executive, yesterday accused the Football Association of deliberately heading for conflict with the professional game over youth coaching, on the day the FA's 'Programme for Excellence' plan to revolutionise grass-roots coaching of youngsters was approved by the 90-member FA Council. 'It is the anti-professional attitude of the FA's coaching system we object to,' Taylor said. 'There is no evidence that they are making any attempt to do any better quality coaching. They are just looking to control the syllabus.'

Billy Bonds, the West Ham manager, and his assistant, Harry Redknapp, have been offered new three- year contracts as a reward for masterminding the London side's climb up the Premiership.

Roy Vernon obituary, page 27