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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Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones