Sport Juan Mata could go through a Manchester United initiation, but hopefully it won't be anything like David Beckham's

Beckham was forced to perform a sexual act on himself while looking at a picture of former United star Clayton Blackmore whereas in comparison Mata is likely to sing a song

Johanna Konta: The Briton, born in Sydney, has reached the second round of qualifying

Investment at Edgbaston pays off with tournament earning premier status

Pre-Wimbledon event gains star appeal as Britons progress at Melbourne qualifying

Lionel Messi poised for fourth Ballon D'Or

Award is handed out tonight, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta the other contenders

Terence Blacker: Why is it so hard to say goodbye?

For reasons no one quite understands, film directors have lost the knack of the satisfactory ending. Films tend to continue well after their natural ending, according to the actor Samuel L Jackson, who cites Spielberg's latest, Lincoln. Some meander, others go off in a new direction, or close with modish, irritating ambiguity. Ben Affleck, another Hollywood man, has blamed the need to pitch film ideas. "The thing about a pitch is that it does a great job figuring out the first and second acts, but no one ever sits down and works out the third act."

Mo Farah crossing the finishing line to win gold in the 5,000m final

Farewell 2012, the year Britain found its confidence

We may not have known it, but we are a confident nation

Christian Benteke

Premier League: Swansea v Aston Villa match preview

A look ahead to this week's Premier League fixture at the Liberty Stadium

Michael Clarke celebrates reaching his century at the MCG yesterday

Michael Clarke eclipses Ricky Ponting's record for runs in a year

Michael Clarke's inspired century at the Melbourne Cricket Ground today ticked off another milestone for Australia's high-flying captain but was also a stunning riposte to critics who had suggested he should never have been selected.

Wasps’ No 8 Billy Vunipola goes on the charge during the win over Sale at Adams Park yesterday
The end of the world didn’t materialise and many were left with egg – or other objects – on their faces

11.12am came... and went. Oh well, it's not the end of the world

Everyone from nervous, hasty converts to tin-foiled pilgrims looking for room in a mountain were left somewhat wanting, says Peter Popham

Suzi Perry

Suzi Perry replaces Jake Humphrey as BBC's Formula One presenter

BBC will not be showing the Monaco Grand Prix next season

Armageddon flop: After all that fuss it really wasn't the end of the world

Events organised across the planet for people to either gather for the oncoming Armageddon or to celebrate together the continuance of the human race

The Queen sits among members of the Cabinet today, flanked by David Cameron and Nick Clegg

If the world is going to end on Friday, good thing HM the Queen has started on her ‘bucket list’

First up a meeting with the Cabinet, but what comes next?

Indigenous Mayan people at a ceremony outside Guatemala City

What have the Mayans ever done for us... apart from predict the end of the world?

Tim Walker on the constructive side of the prophets of doom

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi agrees new Barcelona deal

Argentina international extends deal until 2018

Terence Blacker: Christmas cards are an empty ritual

Dear Once-a-Year Friend, I am writing to tell you of a change to our normal Christmas arrangements. This year, we (as I like to call myself on occasions like this) shall not be sending out Christmas cards to you or our other once-a-year friends.

Rafael in action against West Ham

Rafael savouring regular starts for Manchester United

Brazilian feels he has grown in confidence and maturity

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A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice