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What Joshua Is Learning From Ronaldo Training Regime |The Republican News

Anthony Joshua is studying Cristiano Ronaldo’s training regime in a bid to prolong his career, The Sun reports.

The Portugal star’s Juventus medical this summer showed he has a biological age of 23 – despite being 10  years older.

The world heavyweight champion claims tests undergone by sports manufacturers Under Armour go even further to show Ronaldo’s body is in fact just 21 years old.

Joshua, who defends his IBF, WBO and WBA titles against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley on Saturday, said, “Cristiano Ronaldo did a body test. He is 33, but has the body of a 21-year-old. You have to preserve your body.

“I could go in there and knock out Povetkin in a round or two, but then there is the eight weeks of ¬intense sparring, doing 200 rounds, you have to protect your body.”

Fellow boxers Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquaio and Vasyl Lomachenko are also inspiring Joshua.

The British-born Nigerian  said,  “It’s a bit weird because boxing is old school. But I am learning to ¬adjust my life.

“When I watched a Pacquiao documentary, he runs and trains when his body is ready, Mayweather and Lomachenko the same.

“There is so much information out there. I tried it and feel much better. It looks lazy, but you’re still getting the same amount of work done and in a better way.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn believes Joshua is streets ahead of any other British boxers in terms of looking after his body.

And he puts this down to an “obsession” with improving –not fast cars and women.

He said,  “When he went to Under Armour for a body analysis, it blew his mind.

“For a British fighter, Anthony is by far the most advanced in terms of training facilities or what he does. These –scientists looked at his sleep and ¬rehab.

“Joshua’s drive now is purely the challenge to improve himself, and there are more people working with him in new areas. Early-¬morning runs have gone. Joshua sleeps until he wakes.

“He is obsessed with improvements. He has brought all these people into camp. The only thing that is on his mind is performance and improvement. Not cars, not women, not jewellery, just improving. He won’t do anything that affects his ability to prepare.

“He knows when he has to eat, he knows when he has to sleep and nothing will get in the way of that.”  (Punch)

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Cristiano Ronaldo: I Always Say I’m The Best And I Show It In The Field |RN

Dejan Kalinic
CristianoRonaldo-cropped: Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo          © Provided by Goal Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo  

Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo again hit back at his critics after winning yet another individual award.

Ronaldo was named the best Portuguese player of 2017 on Monday, beating Sporting CP goalkeeper Rui Patricio and Manchester City star Bernardo Silva.

The 33-year-old claimed a record-equalling fifth Ballon d’Or last year, having helped Madrid win La Liga and the Champions League.

Ronaldo is finding form again late this campaign and the superstar forward dismissed his critics.

“I am grateful for this award to all those who are here,” he said. “It is also an award for all my colleagues — 2017 was an excellent year, unforgettable both collectively and individually.”

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his side's fifth goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)© AP Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his side’s fifth goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid…

 

“I also won my fifth Ballon d’Or and my second The Best award. I also dedicate it to my four children. That’s another record — three children in three months.

“We have to defend what is ours because there is always a Portuguese in the fight.

“I always believe and say that I am the best, whatever they say, and then I show it in the field. We are in the fight year after year.”

Ronaldo scored 42 goals in 46 games in all competitions in 2016-17, while he has 37 in 35 so far this season.

He scored four times in a 6-3 win over Girona on Sunday, marking the 50th hat-trick of his career for club and country.

Madrid sits third in La Liga, 15 points behind rivals Barcelona. They resume league play against Las Palmas after the international break before travelling to face Juventus three days later in the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final tie.  (Goal.com)

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How Gene Doping Will Change Sports Forever |The Republican News

Tom Murray
              © Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast 

First came the Schwarzenegger mice. Then a German track coach tried to get his hands on Repoxygen.

And thus began discussion about gene doping in sport.

Lee Sweeney, a scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, created the well-muscled “Schwarzenegger mice” by inserting a gene into their cells that signals the body to make more muscle. Sweeney’s research aims to create new therapies for muscles degenerating from age or diseases such as muscular dystrophy. Soon after the news about the mice broke in 1998 Sweeney was inundated with calls from people connected to sport. He says that one junior college football coach wanted him to gene-dope his entire team. Sweeney told The Daily Beast he refused.

A few years later, Thomas Springstein, a prominent German coach, attempted to get an experimental gene therapy to use on his athletes. Repoxygen, as it was known, was intended to insert a gene that would increase endurance by boosting production of red blood cells. By 2006 Springstein was on trial for giving illegal substances—performance enhancing drugs—to a minor including a 16-year-old girl. There is no evidence he ever found any Repoxygen. In any event, commercial development on it was abandoned. But there seems little doubt that he’d have tried it on athletes in his care if he had.

“Gene doping,” like the more familiar doping with anabolic steroids and other drugs, relies on using biomedical technologies to enhance an athlete’s performance. However, with gene doping, rather than swallowing a pill or injecting a drug, you’re targeting the genome itself—the instruction kit that tells your body, among other messages, which hormones to make and when. It’s helpful to know that many of the drugs athletes use are hormones—synthetic anabolic steroids, erythropoietin (EPO) and growth hormone, for example.

                    © Getty 

Following decades of frustration and a number of deaths, the FDA has now approved three gene therapies, the most recent to treat a rare genetic mutation that can cause blindness.  The first approval, which required a scientific judgment that the benefits outweighed the risks, came just last year.

The same technology powers both gene therapy and gene doping. If and when gene therapies that build muscle or increase endurance become available, the people who peddle enhancement drugs to athletes will surely do the same with gene therapies. A 2008 report from Beijing claimed that Chinese scientists were selling gene doping for $24,000. But the headline was misleading: they proposed to use stem cells, not genetic manipulation. In any event, the stem cells likely would have been no more effective at enhancing performance.

We can think of genes as sentences—the fundamental unit of meaning in the genetic language. That language has only four letters, A, C, G and T; every word has precisely three letters. But the genes, the genomic sentences, can be of Faulknerian length. In gene therapy/doping, the gene is packaged inside a tiny vessel intended to deliver its payload to your cells. The most common delivery system at this time is an adeno-associated virus or AAV, a small virus unlikely to provoke an immune response. Previous exposure to AAV viruses is very common in humans but there is little evidence that AAV causes any human diseases. (A report just published makes it clear, however, that AAV is not risk-free. Three monkeys and three piglets were injected with a high dose of AAV in a study to develop a treatment for motor neuron diseases. The researchers observed “severe toxicity occurred in both NHPs and piglets.”) We can think of the successful “delivery” of new genetic sequence via AAV as editing the collection of sentences—genes— that constitute your genome. The “story” your genome would now tell is different from the one you were born with.

                           © Getty 

When the goal is to treat a serious disease, we can justify modest, proportionate risks in the human research trials necessary to prove the therapy works; likewise, we weigh the benefits and the risks in deciding whether to use this or any other therapy for this patient. When the goal is to boost an athlete’s strength, speed or stamina, the calculation must be different. How do we justify exposing young athletes—make no mistake, the “experimental subjects” are likely to be young, some may be children—to very risky interventions? What weight if any should we give any potential “benefit” in enhanced performance that would be measured in fractions of seconds or inches? Does the remote possibility that such an enhancement could some day mean the difference between victory and second place change our moral assessment?

Despite these powerful ethical stop signs some people will try to sell what they claim is gene doping to athletes. Much of what is being peddled is likely to be something else. (Steroids are a good guess.) Nor is whatever “gene doping” athletes might use today likely to help them perform better. If an athlete is naïve or foolish enough to try underground “gene doping” I hope they’re getting a placebo instead. That way, at least the risks aren’t so awful.

It’s worth noting that anti-doping scientists are on the case. Remnants of the AAV delivery system can be detected. Furthermore, the genes inserted into our cells aren’t identical to our own, and that difference can be picked up by sequencing the gene, which is becoming increasingly cheap and easy to do. It turns out that the sentences in our natural genes consist of fragments called “exons”—phrases— interspersed with other stretches of DNA called “introns.” An unnatural intron-free gene would be evidence of gene doping.

Gene therapy is finally a reality. People will try to sell what they’ll claim is gene doping to athletes, even in the absence of solid evidence that it’s safe and it works. Expect buzz about gene-doped athletes in Pyeongchang; the likelihood that any medals will be affected in 2018 is close to zero.    (The Daily Beast)

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Badoo Smashes Woman’s Head After Church Vigil In Lagos |The Republican News

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                Some policemen during a raid in Ikorodu

Afeez Hanafi

Suspected members of the Badoo cult disguised as worshippers on Saturday to attack the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Okin Parish, Igbo Agbowa, Ibeshe, in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State.

PUNCH Metro learnt that a woman, who had attended a vigil in the church, was injured after her head was smashed with a stone.

It was gathered that three Badoo suspects had mingled with the congregation during the vigil, which ended around 3 am on Saturday.

Shortly after the members slept off, the assailants reportedly struck, smashing the stone on the head of the woman whose name had yet to be ascertained.

Our correspondent was told that the victim raised the alarm, which woke up other church members and residents of the area.

A resident, who gave his name only as Joseph, said the crowd gave the suspects a chase and one of them was apprehended.

He added that the woman had been admitted to a hospital.

He said, “After his arrest, he told us that they were three that attended the vigil. They pretended to be members of the church. People were exhausted after the service and slept off inside the church. During that period, they attacked the woman. She was seriously injured in the head.

“Two of them fled, but the third suspect was apprehended and taken to the Ipakodo Police Station. Some youths wanted to lynch him, but they were stopped.”

An elder in the community, who spoke on condition of anonymity, urged the police to conduct an adequate investigation on the suspect with a view to arresting other fleeing members and their sponsors.

“The woman is in a critical condition at the hospital. It took the intervention and assurances from elderly members of the community that justice would be done before the youths agreed to hand over the suspect to the police.

“We have witnessed a situation where a suspect was caught like this and handed over to the police, but nothing came out of it. The police should ensure diligent investigation and prosecution. If justice is done, people will stop jungle justice,” he added.

An executive member of the Ibeshe Community Development Association, who did not want his name in print, said many residents had relocated from the area following the killing of a couple and their two children last Sunday in the Oke-Ota community.

He called the police to extend night patrol to inner streets, adding that panic had gripped the neighbourhood.

He said, “The security situation in the community is still bad. People are packing out en masse from Oke-Ota and the community is becoming scanty. I know of about 20 people who have moved out.

“Police patrol is the same old way of blaring sirens on the road. They don’t come to the inner parts of the community. The major security work lies on vigilantes.”

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, who confirmed the incident, said the command did not want to disclose details of the suspect so as not to jeopardise investigations.

The CP said, “We don’t want those ones that ran away to have an inkling of what we are doing. We have been looking for how to get them. If we blow this open, others may go into hiding.”  (Punchng.com)

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Wilfred Ndidi’ Belgian Foster Parents Speak On The Nigerian Star

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Wilfred Ndidi 

…My wife was in tears when Ndidi moved to Leicester — Foster dad

Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi is one of the former English champions’ shiny stars after a dream £17m move to the English Premier League from Belgian side KRC Genk in January.

The Nigerian international caught the eye after two outstanding seasons in Belgium’s Jupiler Liga, where his wonder strike against Club Brugge was adjudged the Goal of the Season as well as coming second in the Young Player of the Year last season.

Also, a great outing for Genk in the Europa League group stages, where Ndidi made more tackles and interceptions than any other player, convinced the then Premier League champions about the youngster’s abilities in their pursuit for a successor to Frenchman N’Golo Kanté, who had left for Chelsea. And they moved swiftly to tie up a deal for him, churning out £17m, what Genk wanted, for a player they signed for £78,000 from Lagos side Nath Boys two years ago.

The 20-year-old made his debut for the Foxes on January 7, in a 2–1 win against Everton in an FA Cup third round tie but a week later, he was on the losing side on his first EPL game as the former champions, who were managed then by Claudio Ranieri, got trounced 3-0 by eventual champions Chelsea at the King Power Stadium.

However, the Nigerian international quickly settled down to business and emerged one of the spectacular players on offer in the EPL this season.

Ndidi, though more saddled with winning balls and setting up his team’s play also scored twice, to also show his knack for goals when the occasion demanded and both strikes were amazing.

First his superb shot from 25 yards inside five minutes of extra time, after being on the pitch for just four minutes, gave Leicester a 2-1 lead against a stubborn Derby County side before Demarai Gray put the game beyond the Championship side late on in an FA Cup game on February 8.

However, Ndidi’s second goal against Stoke in the Premier League, another long range effort from 30 yards, was even more sublime. Danny Drinkwater teed up the Nigerian, who charged forward before  rifling home an explosive 30-yard shot into the top-right corner past goalkeeper Lee Grant for his side’s first goal in a 2-0 win.

After a campaign that went awry mid-season culminating in the sack of history-making Ranieri, with his assistant Craig Shakespeare put in his place, Leicester ended the season in mid-table.

But once again Ndidi was one of the highlights of The Foxes’ topsy-turvy season, and ended being voted Leicester City’s Young Player of the Year despite just being at the club for five months. His goal against Stoke was also nominated for the Goal of the Season. Drinkwater’s strike against Liverpool won the award.

The son of a soldier, Ndidi was born in Lagos on December 16, 1996 but the youngster’s quick adaptation to European life and football was largely aided by a Belgian couple, Theo van Vlierden and his wife, Marleen, who adopted the emerging star on his arrival at Genk in 2015.

African players struggle to adapt to the weather, food, culture, language and several other barriers on their arrival in Europe but Ndidi, the footballer with humble beginnings, found love in Belgium the moment he met the Van Vlierdens.

The couple tells ’TANA AIYEJINA about their first encounter with Ndidi and how they have lived as one happy family ever after…

How and when did you get to know Wilfred?

Theo: That was the beginning of January 2014 when Wilfred arrived in Belgium for his two-month test period with KRC Genk. At that moment he was still a young guy, just 17 years old.  The first three or four days he arrived, he was staying in a hotel. But there was a lack of hospitality space and KRC Genk called us with the request if we wanted to take Wilfred in our home for a few weeks. My wife and I looked at each other, we didn’t say anything and we nodded our heads, which meant yes.

What was your first impression of him and what attracted your family to him?

Marleen: I think our first impression of Wilfred was one of a shy and timid boy. We immediately thought it must be very cold in his summer clothes, it was winter and very cold. His shy smile and pearly white teeth did the rest and we agree.

How challenging was it for him adapting to life in Europe?

Theo: Of course it’s a big challenge for every boy of that age to adapt in a foreign country. But I must say that he has adapted quickly to life here and even in England. When he first got to Belgium, he felt quite at home after just a few weeks. We also told him several times what he should do when he was at home and he was a part of our family.

They say Wilfred is such a charming personality, do you agree?

Marleen: Yes, we fully agree. Wilfred is a charming personality. Always good humoured, friendly and polite. Not only in our home, also towards other people. He is loved by KRC Genk staff, his teammates and the fans.

When he made the move to England, how did the family feel? Theo: After more than two years living together, this certainly creates a special bond. Of course we have and will always miss him. He has become a part of the family. He is our son and will always stay our son. His move to England left Marleen with some tears. For me, it was also very emotional. We hear from him almost on a daily basis via WhatsApp and social media. In the past few months, we visited him with our son Christophe, several times. The first time was in January for the game between Leicester City and Chelsea.  The second time was a few weeks after then. Together with our son, we transported in a Ford Transit van, we took his clothes and other things via the Channel Tunnel to Leicester in the UK. In March and April we also visited him again and we watched a few games of Leicester.

With his amazing talents and personality, how far do you think Wilfred can get as a footballer?

Theo: We strongly believe Wilfred will go very far as a football player. If his attitude keeps focused on football, he will make progress. For sure, I do not believe that this is his final station.

Ndidi scored his first goal in England, a superb 25-yard effort in the FA Cup. How did the family celebrate the goal?

Marleen: We were very happy. At the same time that evening my husband and son were at the Belgian Golden Shoe Gala evening. Wilfred was awarded with the Most Beautiful Goal of the Year 2016 in Belgium and he was also one of the three nominees for the Promising Young Player of the Year. He scored a magnificent goal against Club Brugge, which you would have also seen, I suppose.

Quite a lot of people feel it would be difficult for him to fill N’Golo Kante’s large boots. Were you skeptical initially?

Theo: No I was not at all. You cannot compare both players. Kante is Kante and Ndidi is Ndidi. Let’s face the future, Kante has large boots but Ndidi has long and extendable legs that are everywhere to recover the ball. He has a very large running ability and huge endurance.

When he first arrived in Belgium, how did he cope with the food, weather, culture etc?

Marleen: Of course it took some time.  But in general everything was going very well. I cooked a lot of food with rice, noodles and chicken. He also likes to eat egg omelette with ham, tomatoes and onions. He also finds delicious oven casserole, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and leeks. Sometimes a Nigerian teammate brought him Nigerian food from the city of Antwerp. The weather was something else. I hear in Nigeria it’s always warm between 28 degrees in winter till 36 degrees and more in summer. That is a lot of difference with the temperature here. For example he never saw snow (before he arrived in Belgium).

How much do you know about his Nigerian roots?

Theo: We know something about his roots. We saw some pictures of his mother, father and two younger sisters. Of course we know something of the Nigerian society and we see also the news on TV.             (Punchng.com)

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Tyson Fury Returns, Announces Super Bout Against Anthony Joshua In 2018

Returned Tyson Fury announces new super camp in boxing to
                Photo: REUTERS

In April 2018 the British enfant terrible boxing Tyson Fury and his compatriot and world champion Anthony Joshua will fight against each other at Wembley Stadium.That leaves Fury Monday at least as recorded in the Daily Telegraph.

According to Fury’s promoter Joshua, Eddy Hearn, fully engaged in organizing the camp. “Hearn has already captured the Wembley Stadium in April 2018. There is no other stadium where the fight would take place. I’d have boxed him in October but I suspect Joshua and Klitschko a rematch plans, “said Fury.

Anthony Joshua beat Vladimir Klitschko on April 30 at Wembley and thus took the IBF and WBA titles at heavyweight. Fury had the Ukrainians, in turn knocked out in November 2015. Fury was provisionally last camp. A cocaine addiction and mental problems kept him out of the ring since.  (BELGA)

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Lebron, Cavaliers Complete Sweep Of Raptors, Make Eastern Conference Finals

 

TORONTO (AP) — LeBron James and the Cavaliers are headed back to a familiar place after sweeping aside another overmatched opponent.

James scored 35 points, Kyrie Irving added 27 and Cleveland swept Toronto, beating the Raptors 109-102 on Sunday to give James his seventh consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

BOX SCORE:  CAVALIERS 109, RAPTORS 102

“It’s rewarding when you can advance,” James said. “It’s not just given to you, you have to go out and earn it. Once again I’m part of a team that’s been able to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s going to be my ninth time in 14 years. I’ll take those numbers.”

Kyle Korver scored 18 points to help the Cavaliers become the first team to win eight straight playoff games the year following a title, and the first team to win eight straight in consecutive postseasons.

“The fact that we play our best basketball in the postseason lets us know that we’re up for the challenge,” said James, who had nine rebounds and six assists.

Channing Frye scored 10 points, and Irving had nine assists for Cleveland. The Cavs were 16 for 41 from 3-point range.

“When LeBron is shooting the 3 ball the way he is, at the rate he’s shooting it, they’re difficult,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “It’s gong to take a Herculean effort to beat them.”

The Cavs finished off the Raptors about an hour before Game 4 between the Celtics and Wizards tipped off in Washington.

That series won’t end until Wednesday night at the earliest, and could run until Monday night, meaning the Cavaliers will have plenty of time to rest before the Eastern Conference Finals.

Asked to choose between the Celtics and Wizards, James claimed not to have a preferred opponent.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I’m excited about us getting an opportunity to represent our franchise in the Eastern Conference Finals to go play for the big one.”

Serge Ibaka scored 23 points, and DeMar DeRozan had 22 for Toronto. The Raptors took their first fourth-quarter lead of the series but couldn’t avoid their fourth straight loss.

“We needed that, we needed to be tested throughout 48-minute games,” Irving said. “One of the hardest things to do is sweep teams. We understand how important it is to come in and get a win and get rest.”

Making his second start in place of injured point guard Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph had 20 points and 12 assists for Toronto, which lost in six games against Cleveland last year in the Conference Finals. P.J Tucker had 14 points and 12 assists in his first career playoff start.

A 3 by Toronto’s Fred Van Vleet cut it to 87-86 at 9:51 of the fourth, but James answered with a 3. Toronto kept it close, and took a 93-92 lead when Ibaka converted a three-point play with 6:38 left.

Irving responded with a 3 and, following a missed shot by DeRozan, added a pair of free throws to put Cleveland up 97-92 at 5:54. After a basket by Cory Joseph, Irving added two more free throws and a layup, scoring all of Cleveland’s points in an 11-2 run that gave the Cavs a 103-95 edge with 4:00 remaining.

“We needed that spark,” James said. “We just wanted to try to get defensive stops while he was in the zone and we were able to do that.”

Toronto posted back-to-back 50-win seasons for the first time in franchise history and reached the playoffs for the fourth straight year. Beefed-up by late-season deals for Ibaka and Tucker, Toronto expected to push Cleveland a little harder this year, but showed they still couldn’t handle the Cavs.

“It’s on us to let this sink in and understand we gotta come back better, individual and team-wise,” DeRozan said.

Casey tried to preach the positives, but acknowledged that his team’s performance hadn’t been good enough.

“It feels bad, it was ugly, but it shouldn’t diminish the excellent regular season we had,” Casey said.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Cleveland has swept its opponent all nine times it has taken a 3-0 series lead. … Korver’s career high for points in a quarter is 17.

Raptors: Toronto shot 10 for 29 from 3-point range. … The Raptors used a different starting lineup in all four games. … DeRozan’s eight assists were a career playoff-high.

ANKLED

Lowry sprained his left ankle in the third quarter of Game 2, and aggravated the injury while trying to warm up for Friday’s Game 3. He was not active Sunday.

BELOW THE BELT BLOW

Following a replay review, Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert was called for a technical foul in the second after he kneed DeRozan in the groin area while going up for a jump shot, an incident that left DeRozan lying on the court in pain.   (AP)

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English-born Nigerians Dump England For Nigerian National Football Team

 EnglandbornNigerians1

 

’Tana Aiyejina

It’s been cheery news for Nigerian football in recent days after several English-born/raised footballers of Nigerian descent, some of whom have played for England at various youth levels, decided to pledge their international future to the Super Eagles.

The development may not be unconnected with the state they found their predecessors, who were left in a dilemma, after pledging their futures to England only to be discarded after a few caps for the Three Lions.

From John Fashanu to John Salako and on to Ugo Ehiogu, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Carlton Cole, playing for England was a dream come true but perhaps ended in a nightmare, as their international football careers all but came to an end before it had even started.

Ex-Wimbledon forward Fashanu earned just two caps for England – against Chile and Scotland — at the 1989 Rous Cup, preferring to snub calls from Nigeria, his father’s country, to represent them at senior level.

Ex-Crystal Palace midfielder Salako managed five games for the Three Lions while Ugo Ehiogu had four caps. Agbonlahor and Cole earned three and seven caps respectively and found themselves in international football wilderness.

They ended up at best playing fringe roles for England, with no major international tournament to their name. But the likes of then unknown Reuben Agboola, perhaps having seen the handwriting on the wall, chose Nigeria over England.

He made his debut in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ghana on April 13, 1991, thus becoming one of the first non-Nigerian-born players to represent his native country. The left-back would go on to play at the 1992 AFCON in Senegal, with a bronze medal to show for representing Nigeria.

In 2001, ex-England U-21 manager Howard Wilkinson feared former Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi would be “kidnapped” by Nigerians.

While inside a hotel just outside Leeds, Wilkinson looked anxious: his plans to give Ameobi his international debut against Finland at Barnsley seemed in jeopardy with news from Lagos suggesting a possible snag.

“I’m worried the Nigerians are going to kidnap Shola,” said Wilkinson. “They want him to play for them.” In the end, England’s team bus was not waylaid, and the businessman the English described as having “West African appearance” spotted checking into the team’s hotel had nothing to do with football and no international calls from Nigeria (the country of Ameobi’s birth) were put through to his room.

However, 13 years later, after he was eventually ‘kidnapped’ by Nigeria courtesy of a plan hatched by the late Stephen Keshi, Ameobi was playing at the World Cup in Brazil at the grand old age of 32, not in England’s colours but for the Super Eagles.

“Possibly playing in a World Cup final is not something I thought was going to happen to me. I always thought I’d be sat in a bar watching the next one but I might play in Brazil now. At my age, it’s refreshing to have that chance, so I’ll be doing everything I can to get there,” Ameobi said with a huge sigh of relief after being part Nigeria’s qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

Over time, players of African descent have often been used by the English, only to be dropped for major tournaments. Recently, Wilfried Zaha, who moved to England with his family aged four, switched allegiance to his country of his parents Ivory Coast, after managing just two caps in four years for the Three Lions.

Interestingly, England manager Gareth Southgate tried to dissuade the 24-year-old from switching allegiance to the former African champions but it was too little too late, as Ivory Coast named him in their squad for the 2017 AFCON.

However, the new trend emerging, has several English-born or English-raised players now willing to commit their international futures to the green and white colours of the Eagles, despite having played for England at junior levels.

The recent successes recorded by the Nigeria Football Federation in convincing European-born players of Nigerian descent like Victor Moses, Steve Ukoh, Williams Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Joel Bazee, Tyronne Ebuehi and Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, who was born in Lagos but raised in England, to commit their futures to the country of their parents, is perhaps a major factor in others wanting to join the team.

But more importantly, Iwobi, Balogun and Troost-Ekong have sealed their first team places in the team, which has largely encouraged several England-based players to also want to consider a change of mind having represented England at junior levels.

The Eagles were based in Barnet during the international break, drawing 1-1 with Senegal before their next friendly against Burkina Faso was cancelled when the Burkinabe could not secure visas.

The NFF capitalised on the disappointment of the cancelled game by inviting English-based players to train with the Eagles, and also introduce them to the squad and the staff, as they hope to strengthen their squad ahead of the 2019 AFCON and 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

OLA AINA (CHELSEA)

Ola Aina trained with the Eagles in Barnet and has now decided that his international future lies with them. He is expected to be in the Nigeria squad for their next competitive game, a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, at home to South Africa on June 9.

Amongst the players that trained with the Eagles, Aina is the most famous name, the 20-year-old right-back having made five senior appearances for Chelsea this season. Aina, who was born in south London, has represented England at U-16, U-17, U-18, U-19 and U-20 levels.

Aina signed for Chelsea as an U-11 and made his youth team debut as a schoolboy in the 2012/13 season and went on to start in both legs of the semi-final and final of the FA Youth Cup.

On October 15, 2016, Aina made his Premier League debut in a 3–0 victory over champions Leicester City, replacing Victor Moses, who also dumped England for Nigeria, in the 82nd minute.

He’s won two UEFA Youth Leagues, Barclays U21 Premier League (2013/14) and the FA Youth Cup (2013/14, 2014/15).

EBERECHI EZE (QPR)

The Queens Park Rangers 18-year-old, who signed his first professional deal in January and made his debut this season, also trained with the Nigeria squad. He is expected to make a final decision soon and he is thought to be strongly leaning towards choosing Nigeria.

CHUBA AKPOM (BRIGHTON)

The Arsenal striker, who is on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion, was with the Nigeria squad as well, and featured for the Eagles in a friendly played behind closed doors last Tuesday and thereafter posed  for a photograph with Amaju Pinnick, NFF boss, at the Hive Stadium.

Getting Akpom may be relatively easy for the NFF, having grabbed Iwobi, his best friend and former Arsenal youth teammate, to play for them too, two years ago.

The striker has had loans at Brentford, Coventry City, Nottingham Forest (loan) and Hull City (loan) and has represented England at all youth levels.

Akpom, whose parents are Nigerians, will likely be in the Eagles squad for their AFCON qualifier against South Africa in June. He is set to quit Brighton in the summer.

FRED ONYEDINMA (MILLWALL)

Watford target Onyedinma was not part of the Nigeria training camp having been on duty for Millwall in their 1-0 defeat to Swindon Town during the period. But the 20-year-old winger, who was born in Lagos and moved to east London when he was three, is thought to be close to committing his future to Nigeria too.

Onyedinma has been one of Millwall’s best attacking players this season and has already made almost 100 Football League appearances. Aside Watford, QPR, whose boss Ian Holloway gave Onyedinma his Millwall debut, and Hull are also keen on the exciting prospect.

DOMINIC IORFA (WOLVERHAMPTON)

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager, Paul Lambert has reportedly refused to pick talented defender, Dominic Iorfa, for recent fixtures because the boy met with Gernot Rohr, the Nigeria manager, recently.

The lad’s father, Dominic Iorfa (Snr), an ex-international, was recently quoted on the social media saying his 21-year-old son was being made to pay the price for holding discussions with Rohr.

“You know Rohr came to Wolves recently and met with my son and Carl Ikeme. Since he learnt that my boy wants to play for Nigeria, he has been benching him. He believes there is no need developing him for Nigeria,” Iorfa said.

Iorfa has featured for England at junior levels but his father insists his international future belongs to Nigeria once the 6ft defender clocks 23.

JOSH MAJA (SUNDERLAND)

NFF officials are confident they have secured the future of Maja, the 18-year-old Sunderland forward, after he trained with the Eagles on Monday.

The attacking midfielder, who made his debut at QPR in the League Cup, was born in Lewisham but revealed in February he was eligible to play for Nigeria.

“I am originally from London but my family is from Nigeria,” he revealed. “I grew up with my three brothers and my mom and sister.”

The teenager joined Sunderland’s academy in 2015, having already had spells with Fulham, Crystal Palace and Manchester City. He impressed in pre-season, when he was taken under the wing of Jermain Defoe, his favourite Black Cats player.

NATHANIEL OSENI (MANCHESTER CITY)

A confident and powerful centre-back, Oseni has represented Nigeria at youth level but is also eligible to play for England.

A strong, tall and confident defender with good technique, the Londoner started life as a midfielder, which may explain his strength and composure on the ball. The youngster is adept at stepping out of defence to start a move or cut out the opposition pass, as well as excelling in one on one situations.

Since signing on as a first year scholar for City in July 2013, Oseni has been a reliable presence in the centre of defence alongside a number of different partners.

Last year, he joined Swedish side Prespa Birlik on a season-long loan alongside another England-born player of Nigerian descent midfielder Jermaine Udumaga from Brentford.

 JOE ARIBO

The highly-rated 20-year-old Charlton Athletic midfielder signed from Staines Town in 2015 and has been making waves at the club, to the point he has been ironically compared with Tottenham sensation Dele Alli, who has a Nigerian father but pledged allegiance to England.

Aribo has also been described by Addicks boss Karl Robinson, as “a young Patrick Vieira with his leggy range.”

Born in Camberwell, London, to Nigerian parents, Aribo has always insisted that he is open to a Nigeria call up and now that he has met with the national team, the youngster would probably be flying in Nigerian colours soonest.

(Punchng.com)

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‘I Once Gave A Server A $4,000 Tip’, Says Shaquille O’Neal |The Republican News

Jason RowanShaquille O'Neal is one generous tipper.           © Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports Shaquille O’Neal is one generous tipper.
Shaquille O’Neal boasted during an appearance this week on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that he is an incredibly generous tipper. So much so, in fact, Shaq claimed he once gave a restaurant server a $4,000 tip simply because they asked for it.

“When I’m at restaurants, I am a big tipper,” Shaq said, via Dime Mag. “I like to show people my appreciation, so when they come up to my table, I say, ‘The quicker I get my order, the bigger your tip will be.’ And then the food will come fast, and then when we get ready to leave, I’ll ask them, ‘How much you want’? And the most someone said is $4,000. And I said, okay, no problem.”

Wow. Talk about some serious gratuity action right there.

O’Neal obviously has the financial means to be overwhelmingly gracious with his gratuities, something other wealthy athletes have been known to do from time to time (here and here and here and here).

On the other hand, we’ve also heard countless, unflattering stories about professional athletes being embarrassingly cheap when tipping. Sometimes it has been warranted, as it was in this case, and other times it appears only to be a matter of cheapness, as was apparently the reason for Scottie Pippen, a notoriously bad tipper.

But Shaq? He’s next-level apparently when it comes to tipping.

Moving on, to say O’Neal is having quite the eventful week going might be an understatement. And it only gets better Friday, as the Los Angeles Lakers will officially unveil his statue outside Staples Center in what will be a well-attended ceremony.

It’s quite the honor, obviously, and perhaps it will help distract everyone from how Shaq trolled the world earlier this week by claiming he was a flat-Earther. That’d be nice.

YB

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