Sports Quotes of '97: `My mind is very, very open and so is my mouth - as you've probably gathered. Hopefully I can synchronise them' - Tony Banks, on being named Minister of Sport

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Sayings of the Quotemeister

It flashed through my mind that Rory might be taking the piss. It was just as well I didn't say something like, `Fuck off, Rory.' Because that wouldn't have gone down too well. Tony Banks, friend of impressionist Rory Bremner, on receiving the call offering him the job of Minister Of Sport.

I know one thing. If I'd been Tony Blair, I wouldn't have appointed me. Banks.

Tony Blair said to me, "Get in there and liven it up", and I'm going to do precisely that. Banks on his suggestions to form a United Kingdom football team and for players to turn out for the country they play in.

Picking the England side is a matter for Glenn Hoddle. Tony Banks is certainly livening things up. Downing Street statement on the same issue.

On certain subjects it's better to think before you speak. Cesare Maldini, Italian national coach, on Banks' ideas.

National flags should not be carried into the stadium, because then sport becomes almost an extension of war. I don't think you should have the playing of national anthems before football matches. Why stir people up? Banks.

When God gave Paul Gascoigne his football talent he took his brain out at the same time. Banks.

So much of women's tennis is treated like soft porn.We have read nothing about Tim Henman or Greg Rusedski's choice of underwear or their body shapes. Banks during Wimbledon.

The idea of throwing my arms around the Queen when Chelsea score, or screaming "the referee's a wanker", which I'm likely to do, probably would not go down too well in the Royal Box. I'm not going to have my enjoyment of one of the great days of my club spoiled by being next to Royalty of no fixed abode. Banks, on being offered a seat in the Royal Box for the FA Cup final.

If I had to choose between being the Sports Minister or a Chelsea supporter, I wouldn't be the Sports Minister. Banks, in the run-up to the final.

The idea that the only sports worth encouraging are competitive sports is bollocks. Its ideological bollocks. And I hope that you ain't going to see much ideological bollocks around here. Banks.

I'll have a hell of a job not leaping up if he scores. Banks, on Italian striker Gianfranco Zola before the crucial World Cup decider in Rome.

A cosy stitch-up. Tony Blair on Uefa's backing of Germany's 2006 World Cup bid.

If people don't like the way I do things, stuff 'em. Banks.

The gospel according to the gaffer

I am ugly, but I have other qualities. You, I think you have problems with your wife but you seem a nice person. Georges Leekens, Belgium coach, asked about the spirit in his squad before the World Cup play-off against Ireland.

There was nothing between the sides. Apart from the seven goals. Danny Wilson, Barnsley manager, after his side's defeat to Manchester United.

I want this to become my ticket to dreams. I came by underground because I wanted to know the way the fans feel coming to Spurs. Christian Gross, new Tottenham manager, holding up a Tube ticket at the club's press conference.

They have the potential to be a sleeping giant. Chris Waddle, on his new side, Burnley.

We are developing our youth policy. Kenny Dalglish, Newcastle United manager, after acquiring the aging Ian Rush, John Barnes and Stuart Pearce in the close season.

I don't want to be anyone's assistant but I'd go to Manchester United as the kit manager. Sammy McIlroy, Macclesfield manager and former United player, on his career ambitions.

I don't know how old I was at the start of the game, but I'm 93 now. It was like 120 years in Alcatraz. Martin O'Neill, of Leicester City, after his team's Coca-Cola Cup semi-final victory over Wimbledon on away goals.

I will spend next week coaching my players on how to get their hands out of the way of a ball belted at them from six yards and travelling at 120mph. Gary Megson, of Stockport, upset at the penalty awarded against his side in a 1-0 defeat at Reading.

Perhaps he did go in with two feet, but I thought referees in England allowed that. Ruud Gullit, of Chelsea, after a challenge by Dennis Wise on Arsenal's Patrick Vieira.

I'm going to be as natural as I can - a right miserable bastard. Ray Harford, taking over at West Bromwich Albion.

Magnifico, as they say in Paris. Peter Reid, of Sunderland, on a display by Lionel Perez.

I think he will eventually play for England. Reid predicts a call-up for Lee Clark. A couple of hours later, the player was drafted into the Tournoi de France squad.

Trials and tribulations, troubles and treachery

You must be daft. No one person can throw a game. Bruce Grobbelaar, on trial for match-fixing with Hans Segers, John Fashanu and others.

Christopher Vincent is the repository of treachery. He is a serpent - no creator of literature could have invented him. He slithers forward to his riches, hoping you will do right by him. He might as well have taken the oath on a cheque-book. Rodney Klevan, Grobbelaar's barrister, on the chief prosecution witness.

Maybe we'll have to decide this on penalties. But we'll win because we've got two goalkeepers. Grobbelaar, after the jury in the first trial was discharged.

Nobody has the right to win at all costs... What happened was a dirty trick, an unworthy blow which in everyday life would have criminal consequences. "Corriere dello Sport" editorial following the shunt in the European Grand Prix that put Michael Schumacher out and gave Jacques Villeneuve the world title.

I knew Michael was capable of just taking me off, and that's what he tried to do. Villeneuve.

Certainly, I closed the door. It was clearly about winning it, all or nothing, and there was nothing more to lose. Without me, Jacques would have more or less driven into the gravel pit. That's why I don't quite understand the situation now. Schumacher.

He is a very good player but a shit man. Frank Lebeouf, of Chelsea, on Arsenal's Dennis Bergkamp, whom he accused of trying to elbow him.

We would prefer not to play Pontypridd at all. They are semi-civilised animals. Laurent Seigne, Brive coach, following the bar-room brawl between the two sides, before their second game.

Tiger Woods has shown the world he is a spoiled brat. If he doesn't get what he wants instantly on the course he flies into an infantile rage. It's pathetic and the players don't like it. Mac O'Grady, golf entrepreneur.

He didn't pull up. He's a coward. Donovan Bailey on Michael Johnson, after winning the $1m (pounds 600,000) head-to-head challenge in Toronto.

Ears and tears in boxing spheres

I snapped in that ring and did something that I have never done before and will never do again. I apologise to the world. Mike Tyson, two days after being disqualified for biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear.

I have something he probably wants. Mitch Libonati, cleaner, on taking the chunk of ear to the champion's dressing-room.

Holyfield is not the warrior he claims he is. He got a nick on his ear and he quit. Tyson.

Boxers should eat before they fight. Sylvester Stallone, at ringside.

When he walked away I thought it was a joke. I thought he was trying to fool me so he could sucker-punch me. Lennox Lewis, after beating Oliver McCall, who ended the fight in tears.

I am never going to get beat. I am going to retire a legend. Naseem Hamed, before beating Billy Hardy.

I wasn't there when he killed the guy, but shit, if the guy got killed he was probably doing something he shouldn't have been doing. Tyson on his manager Don King, who served four years for beating a man to death.

People like Don King shouldn't be allowed to be in boxing. He's a disgrace to the human race. Frank Maloney, Lennox Lewis's manager.

I'm going to get on the aeroplane tomorrow and bare my big, black ass out the window and show what I think of Denmark. Larry Holmes, the former heavyweight champion, after losing on a split decision to Denmark's Brian Neilsen.

Women are made for loving and not hitting. Women's boxing could attract some kinky people. I am all against it. Henry Cooper.

Sex and violence and wild, wild athletes

He's the only player I've ever known who could drink 16 pints and still play football the next day. Paul Gascoigne, on why his hero is Bryan Robson.

Smoke billowed out of the toilets when the door was opened. Caitlin Cherry, waitress at the restaurant in New Zealand which Phil Tufnell was asked to leave after allegedly smoking a joint.

I won't let them do it at the hotel where we're staying but I won't object if they rent a house or find a place to do it. Daniel Passarella, Argentina coach, consents to his players having sex during the World Cup finals.

I have worked hard on my own by doing lots of swimming, cycling and making love as often as possible. Gianluca Vialli, of Chelsea, on his fitness regime.

I tackle to hurt people - Samoan players are like that. When they go for a hit, the aim is to put the player out so he never comes back. Terry Fanolua, Gloucester's Western Samoan signing.

There were lots of pictures of Martina [Hingis]'s knickers and Anna [Kournikova]'s short skirt. This year I think they went too far. These are 15- and 16- year-olds. These are babies. Monica Seles, on this year's Wimbledon.

She may be a Light Blue, but she'll be a dark blue when she's finished. Cambridge rugby fan on the Varsity match streaker.

She's got nipples like organ stops. Roger Black, British athletics team captain, on heptathlete Denise Lewis's photo spread in `Total Sport'.

I am a British spy. You can't do this. Alex Higgins, on being arrested in a Manchester hotel.

`Today, Italy is inferior to England' - Gazzetta dello Sport

We played the Italians at their own game. They are very good at diving, cheating, trying to waste time. Paul Gascoigne on England's success in the World Cup qualifier in Rome.

He looked like a pint of Guinness running around. Gascoigne on the bandaged head of captain Paul Ince.

I look like a black Terry Butcher at the moment. I didn't want the bandage on because I thought I'd look silly. But I don't care now Ince.

They've become a great side. Cesare Maldini, Italy's coach, on England.

Today, Italy is inferior to England. It doesn't have its sense of security, its control of play and not even - listen to this - its adaptability. The lions who once knew only how to launch the ball and run under it, tackle, cross and mix it up, now dribble with skill, take control of the action, take possession with elegance and look for the winning chance. "Gazzetta dello Sport".

We are talking about a new epoch. "La Repubblica", Italian newspaper, on Roberto Baggio's decision to shave off his ponytail.

I have always planned to retire when I was at the top and at Manchester United I have reached the pinnacle of my career. Eric Cantona, on retiring from football.

The page has turned. Eric has gone to become a film actor. I preferred it when he was a footballer. I was proud of him. Maybe I will be proud of him in his new career, but not yet. Eleanore Cantona, Eric's mum.

I am the steering wheel. My foot is on the accelerator and the brake. The deal simply means we will have a bigger engine. Sam Hammam, managing director of Wimbledon, on selling part of his stake in the club.

Ronalditis: an infantile disease of footballing neoliberalism. "Fam-iglia Cristiana", Italy's best-selling magazine, on the lucrative move of Ronaldo to Internazionale.

The thrill of the European Cup was the immediate elimination, with one's chest bared. He who is hit dies. Alfredo Stefano on the Champions' League format.

There has been too much sloppiness and disregard for money. The golden tit, me, won't go on forever. Jack Hayward, Wolverhampton Wanderers owner.

I told them all - the butlers, the chambermaids, everybody - to have the day off and go and watch the game. I even had to make my own lunch. The Duke of Devonshire, president of Chesterfield, on the FA Cup semi- final against Middlesbrough.

I'm not mad. I cannot do it. If I train every day, I will die. Diego Maradona, on Boca Juniors' offer to take him back if he undertakes to train every day.

This is a highly sought-after location. We don't want someone rolling up and making it look like some kind of gypsy encampment. Neighbour of Frode Grodas, after the Chelsea goalkeeper was refused permission by his residents' association to put up a satellite dish.

Everton is a house on fire, the walls are down and, if the blaze

isn't put out soon, it will engulf the entire club. Alan Ball, former Everton player, on the Goodison Park crisis.

The FA is like Madame Tussaud's. We tell our people to keep them moving so we can tell them apart from the dummies. Alan Sugar, Spurs chairman, at the Oxford Union.

I could get Spurs into the top six and into Europe. Uri Geller.

If he was in Star Trek, he'd be the best player of whichever solar system they were in. Ian Wright on his Arsenal team-mate, Dennis Bergkamp.

The team are worshipped in my town. We love them and we think the team is well organised and has got high skills in football. Zakaria Yusuf Mwam- zandi, of Kenyan village side Msambweni FC, who changed their name to Darlington (The Quakers) FC after seeing them lose to Leeds in the Coca- Cola Cup last year.

The eyes were cut out and hanging down. It was really disgusting. Ian Botting, chairman of Eastbourne FC, who found a pig's head in the dug- out before a match.

Armenian Footballer. Very Hairy. Credit cards accepted. With Moustache. Advertisement in massage section of the "Fulham Chronicle's" classified pages.

Rugby union is a beast's game played by gentlemen, soccer is a gentlemen's game played by beasts, American football is a beast's game played by beasts and rugby league is a beast's game played by demons. Robbie Paul, Bradford Bulls captain.

This jersey is going to win the World Cup. Just make sure that when the final comes you are wearing it and not stuck at home watching some other bastard wear it. Clive Woodward to his England rugby union squad.

Before Christmas we had a bad taste in our mouth, but we shrugged off the cobwebs. Our jaded players from early in the week transformed from an obsolete spring into a coiled spring and threw off the psychological bondage. They responded spontaneously and made large dents in the scoreboard. Jack Rowell, then England RU coach, after the Five Nations' victory over Scotland.

We will get better. Christian Cullen, All Blacks full-back, after the 81-3 win over Llanelli.

He could come out with an axe and he wouldn't get sent off. Great Britain RL manager Phil Lowe after Australian hard-man Gorden Tallis escaped dismissal for three high tackles in the second Test.

My wife hits harder than him. Terry O'Connor, Wigan forward, on his brawl with Tallis in the World Club Championship.

I was watching some rugby for the first time. It made me think that tennis players are maybe a bunch of sissies. We'd better beef things up. John McEnroe after Twickenham rugby union Test.

If God had meant for sun to shine on Wimbledon, he would have put it in Florida. The "Miami Herald".

Don't stand there like the Statue of Liberty, give me some balls. Jeff Tarango, Wimbledon controversialist, to ball-girl during his defeat to Rodolphe Gilbert.

I have freed myself from the chains of the public. Boris Becker, who played his last Grand Slam at Wimbledon.

Rum and coke, bananas, sugar and laid-back, lazy black men. Speaker at the "Caribbean Experience" briefing for the England cricket team, on what to expect in the West Indies.

I expect our cricketers to die for England. When they wear those three lions on their chests it should be the greatest honour of their lives. If there is a laissez-faire attitude then we have a problem. Lord MacLaurin, England Cricket Board chairman.

Steve Waugh was saying just how much the Australians respect Atherton. He said, "they say he's like a cockroach you can't kill. You stamp on him but he keeps coming back." Adam Hollioake on the England captain, Michael Atherton.

It serves them right for sending us Rolf Harris. Bernard Manning, on Australia's first-Test defeat.

If anyone slags us off after that, they need beheading. Darren Gough, on England's memorable first day of the Ashes series.

In terms of the impact he can make on the game, he's the most important golfer who has ever played. Tom Watson on Tiger Woods, at the US Masters.

The only way I can create such arm speed is when I drive with my elbow hanging out of the car window. Nick Faldo on Woods' driving.

You'll nae turn this place into a pitch and putt. Spectator to Woods after the world No 1 found the rough in practice for the Open.

I'm a Cablinasian. Woods, who is a quarter black, a quarter Thai, a quarter Chinese, one-eighth white and one-eighth American Indian.

Everyone wants more money and it's better in my bank account than theirs. Eddie Irvine, after Ferrari extended his contract.

I didn't see what had happened to him. Our mirrors don't see that far back. Michael Schumacher on Damon Hill's parade-lap exit from the Melbourne Grand Prix.

It would be ludicrous to suggest that my brothers and I were down to our last three camels, but we can no longer go on as we have before... At present the process of owning horses is like driving with a flat tyre. All we seek is the luxury of a slow puncture. Sheikh Mohammed, racing's most powerful owner, threatens to remove his horses from Britain.

Their sole concern is to squeeze every last pound for their own purely selfish interests. The Sheikh on the bookmakers.

My Mum set five or six chapels ablaze because she lit so many candles for me. Maybe now she'll shut up about me getting a proper job. Ken Doherty, after beating Stephen Hendry to become world snooker champion.

I don't know why I do so well abroad. Perhaps it's because there's not much else to do and you can't nip out to the bookies to back three doubles and a treble at Fontwell. John Parrott at the German Open.

My son was sat having his breakfast the other day and he said, "You'll be finished by tomorrow, won't you daddy, because you just play, lose and come home". Steve Davis reveals the motivational secret behind his victory in the Benson and Hedges Masters final.

It felt like someone was stubbing a burning cigarette in my back for an hour and a half. Chris Boardman after a 33-mile time-trial the day before he pulled out.

It's a rather strange sensation slicing away at yourself with a scalpel. Pete Goss, competitor in the Vendee Globe yacht race, who operated on his two hernias at sea.

It was like a shadow going past. Liz McColgan, beaten by one second in the London Marathon by Joyce Chepchumba.

Speed skating is like water beetles on a whirligig. Goro Yoshimura, mayor of Nagano, scene of the 1998 Winter Olympics.