The Highlight Reel: Maradona: a man's man

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The Independent Football

You'd have thought Dandy Diego subscribed to this manly solidarity from his exuberant and extremely tactile celebration with players after the defeat of South Korea. But hang on. "I still prefer women", he said. "I am dating Veronica who is blonde and 31-years-old. No, I have not gone limp-wristed." Does the lady protest too much?

Shearer talk of township

You sometimes wonder whether footballers who claim to be men of the people really are. Whisked away from the studio for a bit of non-punditry public relations action, Newcastle's favourite son found himself interviewing people in a township. "So when you were segregated, how did you feel about that?" he said at one point. Then, just for good measure, he added: "Happy?" Alan, think about it.

Missing in action

Normally when players are marked absent on a teamsheet it leads to queries about injuries or rows in the camp. In North Korea's case it sparked excited rumours of a defection. Fifa and the North Korean delegation were at pains to deny that four players who were listed as "absent" on the teamsheet for their opener with Brazil had sought political asylum in South Africa. The problem for the team managers is that the world has come to take North Korean denials a little less seriously than Pyongyang might like. A harassed Fifa official was forced to issue a statement insisting that "all 23 players" were at their team hotel. Similar denials were made last year by the Eritrean team at a youth tournament in Kenya. The problem was that despite the angry denials more than two-thirds of the team had indeed fled rather than return home.

Federer does the trick

Worth pointing out, incidentally, that when the Swiss lost 2-1 to Luxembourg in a qualifier way back in September 2008, Roger Federer visited his compatriots to give them a little pep talk. Losing's for wimps, he must have said, having cried when losing to Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon two months earlier. The Swiss haven't lost since.

Green shoots of recovery

He's saved it! Well, if only. This brilliant bit of counter-factual history, dreamed up by some whizz-kid no doubt, and available on YouTube at, has England gloveman Rob Green fumbling that infamous shot by Clint Dempsey last Saturday, but saving it rather than letting it dribble in. There's commentary to match, and Fabio Capello even smiles with relief. If only.