Xherdan Shaqiri is ready to take centre stage for Switzerland once again as he dismissed doubts about his match fitness ahead of Euro 2024. 

Shaqiri, who will feature in his seventh major tournament in Germany, will hope to continue his glistening career with his nation as they kickstart their Group A campaign against Hungary on Saturday. 

The 32-year-old has scored or assisted 46 percent of Switzerland’s goals at major tournaments over the last 10 years, becoming only the fifth player to reach 100 caps for his country two years ago. 

Despite his experience, coach Murat Yakin has questioned Shaqiri's ability to play back-to-back games in the competition, with the forward insisting he has not travelled to Germany to make up the numbers. 

"It's almost embarrassing to have to answer this question. Every player who comes into the national team can and wants to play -- over the full distance," Shaqiri said. 

"No one should only show up for work half the time. I don't see any problems with that. Did (Yakin) really say that?

"I gave the answer: I'm here with the national team because I want to help the team and play as much as possible. I didn't travel to the European Championships to take a vacation."

Shaqiri scored three times during qualifying as the Swiss finished five points behind group winners Romania, drawing five of their 10 fixtures in a group that included Israel, Kosovo and Belarus. 

But Switzerland have proved in recent tournaments they have the ability to compete against the top sides, most notably beating France on penalties at Euro 2020. 

The former Liverpool midfielder believes the group of players have the quality to succeed in Germany, and is hopeful his national team can lift an international honour in the years to come. 

"It's my seventh finals, and each one has its story," Shaqiri said. "I love the tension before tournaments, it doesn't exist anywhere else.

"Since I joined the national team, we have continually improved. The respect of the opponents and the public for us has grown, as has the quality in the national team. Many players have important roles at big clubs.

"To talk about the best national team of all time, we don't have the big exploit -- three years ago we were very close to the semi-finals. The next generation is in the starting blocks and I hope that at some point Switzerland can lift a trophy."

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has found itself embroiled in yet another controversy following the announcement of the Reggae Boyz squad for the upcoming Copa America competition. The squad, revealed on Wednesday, included Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey, who quickly took to social media to label the inclusion as "misleading information." This development has sparked confusion and debate among fans and stakeholders alike.

JFF President Michael Ricketts, in an interview with Sportsmax.TV early Thursday, provided insight into the selection process and the circumstances surrounding Bailey's inclusion. The president explained that no player is selected for national duty until there is dialogue with the player’s club or representatives.

According to Ricketts, the situation stemmed from complex interactions between the JFF, Bailey, and his father and agent, Craig Butler. Butler, he said, had attempted to negotiate Bailey's availability for the national team by seeking the selection of players from his Phoenix Academy for both the national senior team and the national U20 team.

"We don’t speak with the players; we speak with the player's club or the player's agent. In this case, (Craig) Butler, got in contact with the General Secretary Dennis Chung,” Ricketts said.  “He wanted other players [from Phoenix Academy] in the U20 squad and he wants players in the senior team in exchange for Bailey. The General Secretary told him no, I can’t deal with that."

The president explained that the general secretary does not play a role in team selection, that is the responsibility of the coaching staff.

Ricketts noted that following his conversation with Chung, Butler then placed a call to Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson and during their conversation assured him that Bailey would not be available for Jamaica’s game against Mexico but would be available for the second and third group-stage games of the Copa America. Consequently, the coach decided to include Bailey in the squad based on this assurance.

Ricketts said he is unaware of any other matters that arose between Butler and the Reggae Boyz head coach.

"Having told the coach that Bailey would be available for the second and third games, the coach named Bailey as part of the squad," Ricketts stated.

Bailey, who has been suspended since the November international break for breaking curfew, had not featured in Jamaica's recent matches, including the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against the Dominican Republic and Dominica earlier this month. Following his suspension, Bailey announced on a podcast that he was taking a break from international football.

On social media Wednesday, Butler reiterated Bailey’s stance, stating that posts suggesting Bailey’s willingness to participate in the Copa America were misleading. "Posts made on social media that are surfacing at this time is a misrepresentation of his position," Butler wrote. "We wish the Reggae Boyz well in the Copa America competition and he, along with his management team, will continue to support the Jamaica National Team at all levels … change must come…Respect and One Love for all."

The squad was announced at Tracks and Records in Kingston on Wednesday evening when Coach Hallgrimsson told media that discussions between Butler and the JFF had gone well, indicating that several issues of concern were addressed, which presumably led him to believe that the player was available for selection.

“So the talk was between his (Bailey’s) agent and the JFF, so I would like to give a lot of credit to Craig and Mr Chung so they sorted out whatever was the issue between him and the JFF so after that I think he has always wanted to represent Jamaica,” the head coach said.

“I don’t want to talk too much about what went on at a meeting I wasn’t attending but I’m just grateful  that this happened and this was resolved. We have been talking about some of the issues he was talking about so we shared some of the same thoughts in so many matters and hopefully it will just help us grow, continue to improve to become more professional…”

However, in an interview on CVM Television Thursday morning, hours after Bailey’s social media post, Butler explained that he met with the JFF and he explained his concerns and they long-term reparations of the damage (of the relationship between the player and governing body.

He said they did not commit to any player whether Bailey of (Dujuan) Whisper Richards rejoining the national team because “we felt that we should take a stand (against the JFF’s lack of professionalism) but more importantly that Leon is taking a break.

“Leon hasn’t had a break since 2016 and he is taking a break to spend time with family. We explained to them that he is not ready but we will speak to him and they (JFF) are not to make any attempts to include him in the squad until I got confirmation or a communication from Leon, who is at Disney World with his family.”

Jamaica is set to open its Copa America campaign against Mexico on June 22, followed by matches against Ecuador on June 26 and Venezuela on June 30.

President Ricketts emphasized the importance of moving forward regardless of the situation. "The show must go on," he declared, underlining the need for the team to remain focused amid the ongoing controversy.

Several calls made to JFF General Secretary went unanswered.

 

Luciano Spalletti hopes Italy can use their title of reigning champions to their advantage when they open their Euro 2024 campaign against Albania on Saturday.

The Azzurri secured Euro 2020 glory by upsetting England on home soil with a 3-2 win on penalties following a 1-1 draw to win their second European title.

After Roberto Mancini's shock departure last year, Spalletti stepped into his shoes, qualifying for Euro 2024, and he is confident they have what it takes to win the tournament for the second time in a row.

"It feels like heaven to be in situations like these," Spalletti told UEFA.com. "Matches come and go. These tournaments are really important, and this is why we need to be prepared for everything; as we say in our anthem, 'We are ready to die' for these matches.

"In my opinion, coming into the tournament as defending champions is an advantage. But we need to understand straight away that we need to behave like defending champions. We will only see whether or not we are up to the task during the matches.

"In a way, we are facing ourselves, not the outside world. We need to show what we are made of, to show what we have inside."

Albania, meanwhile, are making just their second appearance at the Euros, and their first since 2016 when they were knocked out in the group stage.

After topping a qualifying group including the Czech Republic and Poland, the Eagles have now been drawn into the 'group of death', also containing Spain and Croatia, but Sylvinho remains optimistic about their chances.

"We do all of this together and understand what we're all after," Sylvinho told UEFA.com. "We've achieved things, we've made it to the Euros: that's some feat.

"We've got this far, we know our size, we're improving. It's set to be a real challenge. However, we'll knuckle down to work.

"The games will be fantastic but hard, and if we're able to overcome our opponents, we want to keep going. We're doing well, but if we can take another step forward, then even better."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Italy – Nicolo Barella

Barella registered more assists than any other Italy player during Euro 2024 qualifying (three) and created seven more chances than any other Italian player (15). Barella also assisted two goals during Italy's victorious Euro 2020 campaign. The Azzurri will be hoping he can get fit in time to start the tournament.

Albania – Jasir Asani

Asani was Albania's joint-top goalscorer during Euro 2024 qualifying, scoring three times (level with Nedim Bajrami). All three of his strikes were scored from outside the box.

MATCH PREDICTION: ITALY WIN

This will be Italy and Albania's first encounter at a major tournament. Italy have won all four of their previous meetings with Albania (seven goals for, one against), which have all taken place since 2014.

Italy have not conceded more than one goal in a match across their last two Euros participations, in 2016 and 2020: that is a total of six goals conceded across their last 12 matches in the competition.

Italy's 45 matches at the Euros have produced 1.84 goals on average (52 for, 31 against) – it is the lowest ratio amongst any of the 25 teams to have taken part in 10+ matches in the competition.

This is just Albania's second appearance at a major international tournament after Euro 2016 – their sole victory in this competition came against Romania in the final group match that year (1-0).

Indeed, after losing their first Euro 2024 qualifier against Poland, Albania did not lose any of their next seven (W4 D3).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Italy – 66.3%

Draw – 19.6%

Albania – 14.2%

Top seed Jessica Pegula bowed out of the Libema Open following a three-set defeat by Aleksandra Krunic in s'Hertogenbosch.

The world number five was ousted 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 by the 2018 winner of this event, who claimed the fifth top-10 victory of her career and advanced to the quarter-finals.

Now ranked 400th in the world, Krunic recovered from an earlier break in the opening set to force a tie-break, in which she won five straight points to draw first blood.

The Serbian also cancelled out a break before heading into another tie-break, but Pegula reeled off five points on the spin this time to level.

The American was appearing in her first tournament since April, having missed the European clay-court season with a rib injury.

However, she saw two break-point opportunities go begging in the opening game of the deciding set, and Krunic crucially broke in game three before holding out for an impressive victory. 

Later on, Alex de Minaur booked his place in the quarter-finals of the competition after a straight-sets victory over Zizou Bergs. 

The world number nine had to work for his victory over the Belgian, overcoming his opponent 7-5 6-4 to earn his first triumph on a grass court this year. 

Bergs matched his opponent in the opening exchanges, but the Australian would eventually prevail, winning a break-point and following up without dropping a point in the final game. 

De Minaur would again endure a difficult set to confirm the victory as Bergs threatened to level the encounter, but the number one seed again showed his class, finishing the contest in style. 

De Minaur will face either Roberto Bautista Agut or Milos Raonic in the next round.

Data Debrief: Krunic rekindles special memories as de Minaur earns maiden grass win

Krunic will forever have an affinity with s-Hertogenbosch, where she won her only career WTA title six years ago.

And the 31-year-old claimed an impressive scalp here to reach her first WTA quarter-final since 2022 - and first on grass since that 2018 triumph.

De Minaur impressed once again, winning 86 per cent of his first serve points against the Belgian. 

Their meeting in s-Hertogenbosch was the first between the pair, with De Minaur able to overcome his quarter-final defeat to Alexander Zverev at the French Open. 

West Indies batsman Sherfane Rutherford rates his well-compiled half century against New Zealand at the ICC T20 World Cup on Wednesday as his best knock.

The 25-year-old came to the crease with the hosts teetering at 22-4 in the sixth over after bring put in to bat at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba.

On a pitch that he described as “tacky” and “spongy” in the post-match press conference, Rutherford took his time in the early part of his innings before accelerating to a top score of 68* to help the West Indies post a match-winning 149-9 from their allotted 20 overs.

Rutherford described the innings as perhaps the best of his career, so far.

“I will put it as my best knock. It’s a World Cup. This is my dream. I’ve always wanted to play in a World Cup and this one is going to stay close to my heart. Hopefully, I can continue to take out good innings like this for my team and for myself,” he said.

At the halfway point of the innings, the West Indies were 49-5 and Rutherford says head coach Daren Sammy’s advice was to bat time and take it deep.

“He was just telling me to take it deep. I was batting with Akeal (Hosein) so I told him to keep going but my role was to basically take it to the 15th or 16th over but after we lost wickets I just told myself to try and take it to the 20th over and try and maximize those last two overs which they had to make up with two bowlers,” he said.

The Guyanese hard-hitter was recently a part of the Indian Premier League with the Kolkata Knight Riders and, despite not getting a game, he says he has been using that time to prepare for situations like the one he faced on Wednesday.

“I pattern my game off these situations. Even before the World Cup, I try to put myself in positions in the nets where I have to bat properly and then have to excel in the end so I think it’s good to see that my plans and my work are coming to show,” he said.

He faced a similar situation when the West Indies found themselves 79-5 batting first in the third T20I against Australia in Perth in February.

Rutherford and Andre Russell put on 139 for the sixth wicket with Rutherford finishing 67* off 40 balls.

He says the main thing he took from that innings was the importance of giving himself time at the crease.

“The innings in Australia is one that I kept close to me and, even though it was a good innings, I try to pick a few things out of it. One of the few things was give myself time. It’s always a process and when you look too far ahead you can forget about the process so, for me, it was just ball after ball, give myself time, run singles and get myself ready so that in the back end I can make up,” he said.

Finally, Rutherford made mention of the crowd at the Brian Lara Stadium.

“When batting I try not to worry about the crowd. I just try to look at what’s in front of me and focus on the process but it’s good to have some support. It’s good to have the home crowd with us and hopefully they can keep supporting us,” he said.

The West Indies will next take on Afghanistan at the Daren Sammy Stadium on June 17.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No tournament is complete without a 'group of death'. 

Euro 2024 may have two, with France and the Netherlands looking to fend off a challenge from Austria in Group D, while heavyweights Spain, Croatia and Italy battle it out in Group B.

It's Spain and Croatia who get the latter pool under way on Saturday, facing off in a huge tussle at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

La Roja are the only team to win back-to-back editions of the Euros, achieving that feat in 2008 and 2012, yet they have only won two knockout ties across five major tournaments since that latter triumph.

Luis de la Fuente's team did, however, win the 2022-23 edition of the Nations League, overcoming Croatia on penalties in the final. Spain also memorably eliminated Zlatko Dalic's team from Euro 2020, winning an eight-goal thriller in the last 16.

Spain may have previous against Croatia, but few will be writing Dalic's team off following their third-place finish at the 2022 World Cup, at which an ageing but supremely talented side used all their big-game know-how to eliminate Brazil.  

The result of Saturday's game could go a long way to deciding both teams' fates in a group that could easily see a giant fall. Here, we use Opta data to preview the game.

What's expected?

The Opta supercomputer makes Spain favourites for this one, but La Roja's win percentage of 50 per cent suggests the outcome is far from a foregone conclusion.

Croatia were victorious in 24 per cent of match simulations conducted by the supercomputer, with 26 per cent ending level and potentially handing the initiative in the group to Italy.

There will certainly be plenty of familiarity between these two sides. Indeed, Spain and Croatia are facing each other at a fourth successive edition of the Euros.

That has only previously occurred on one occasion, when Spain and Italy met in four straight editions between 2008 and 2020. They will, of course, do battle at a fifth successive tournament when they square off in Gelsenkirchen on June 20.

La Roja have won two of their previous three encounters with Croatia (5-3 at Euro 2020, 1-0 at Euro 2012), while they were beaten 2-1 at Euro 2016.

If recent history is anything to go by, an entertaining affair could be in the offing. 

Three of the last five meetings between Spain and Croatia have contained at least five goals, and the most recent – a 5-3 extra-time win for La Roja three years ago – is the second-highest scoring game in Euros history, after France 4-5 Yugoslavia in 1960.

The supercomputer makes Spain Group B favourites with a 47.3 per cent chance of finishing top, to Croatia's 18 per cent, Italy's 29 per cent and Albania's 5.6 per cent.

With four third-place finishers reaching the last 16, La Roja (89.1 per cent), Italy (80.3 per cent) and Croatia (67.8 per cent) are all expected to progress.

Can Spain add punch to possession play?

At Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup, Spain won plenty of admirers for their patient, possession-based style, with Gavi and Pedri hailed as generational talents.

However, their approach did not win them enough matches. La Roja scraped past Switzerland on penalties at Euro 2020 before going out to Italy on spot-kicks, while a bold rearguard action from Morocco dumped them out in the first knockout round in Qatar. Before that, a shock defeat to Japan almost sent them out in the group stage.

Their patient approach is nothing new. Spain have had more possession than their opponents in each of their last 136 competitive games, last seeing less of the ball when they beat Germany with 46 per cent of the play in the Euro 2008 final.

They have also attempted 1,000 or more passes in four separate World Cup matches but only won one of those, beating Costa Rica 7-0 in Qatar.

Their last 50 Euros goals have all been scored from inside the area, with their last strike from outside the box coming via Real Madrid great Raul, against Slovenia in 2000's group stage.

De la Fuente will not stray too far from Spain's identity, despite Gavi missing the tournament due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The key to their success will be adding punch to their patient build-up play, and wide duo Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams could hold the key in that regard.  

Williams (second, 191) and Yamal (fourth, 141) both ranked among the top four players for dribbles attempted in LaLiga last season, also ranking third and fifth respectively for carries ending in a take-on (Williams 97, Yamal 82).

Athletic Bilbao's Williams has six goal involvements (two goals, four assists) in 13 senior appearances for Spain, while Yamal will become the youngest player in Euros history as long as he gets an outing before the final, which is one day after his 17th birthday. Few nations boast a pair of wingers as exciting as the Roja duo.

Tournament specialists set up to surprise

As is the case with Spain, control has long been the name of the game for Croatia, yet many would argue they do it with a level of savviness that deserted La Roja long ago.

At the 2022 World Cup, only Spain (135) recorded more sequences of 10 or more passes than Croatia, with Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic pulling the strings in midfield. 

Brozovic (509) and Modric (484), as well as centre-back Josko Gvardiol (505), ranked among the six players to play the most passes in Qatar, with Rodri out in front with 676 despite only playing four matches.

It was not everyone's cup of tea as Croatia relied on the penalty shoot-out heroics of goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic in their two knockout triumphs over Japan and Brazil.

Despite playing the full seven games, they only ranked seventh in the tournament for expected goals, their 7.05 xG some five fewer than Brazil, who managed 12.08 xG in five games.

But it was not simply a case of Croatia playing keep-ball until they could show their nerve from the spot. Dalic's team led everyone at the tournament for high turnovers (59), shots from high turnovers (10) and pressed sequences (109).

Andrej Kramaric, Lovro Majer and Ante Budimir are all comfortable doing the dirty work up top, and the latter was on target as Croatia scored an impressive friendly win over Portugal on Saturday – admittedly with Cristiano Ronaldo rested.

Difficult to beat and comfortable in transition and in possession, Croatia deserve their reputation as tournament specialists. Spain will underestimate them at their peril.

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Spain – Alvaro Morata

Missed opportunities have been a theme for Spain at recent tournaments. At Euro 2020, Morata missed more big chances (six) than any other player and also fluffed his lines as La Roja were beaten on penalties by Italy in the last four.

However, after enjoying the joint-most prolific campaign of his career in Europe's top five leagues, scoring 15 goals for Atletico Madrid in LaLiga, Morata will be trusted to shoulder the goalscoring burden again.

 

He ended a five-match goal drought for his country as Northern Ireland were routed 5-1 in a warm-up friendly last week, and though he has his detractors, he has tournament pedigree.

Only Ronaldo (eight) and Antoine Griezmann (seven) have scored more goals than Morata's six across the last two editions of the Euros.

Croatia – Luka Modric

Modric personifies Croatia's measured approach, and despite playing a reduced role for Real Madrid in 2023-24, he will be their key man again at this tournament.

The 38-year-old only started 18 games in LaLiga last term, yet he ranked ninth in the league for total passes in the opposition half, with 923.

Among players with at least 15 starts, he ranked fourth for chances created per 90 minutes (2.94), joint-fourth for open-play chances created (2.14) and seventh for passes into the final third (10.9).

Modric versus Rodri and Pedri could be the most watchable midfield battle of the group stage.

Harry Kane believes the experience he gained playing for Bayern Munich last season has prepared him for Euro 2024 in Germany.

Kane made the move to Bayern from Tottenham in August last year, becoming the most expensive Bundesliga signing in history.

He enjoyed an impressive maiden season in the German top-flight, scoring 44 goals in 45 matches across all competitions.

Kane acknowledged how his time at Bayern has improved his game and given him valuable experience going into the tournament.

"It's been an incredible experience," Kane told UEFA.com.

"I think playing for a club like Bayern Munich can only improve you and only push you to another level because you're under huge pressure to be successful in every game and I think the standard of players, and the quality of coaches, you know, it's just a really high level, and I’ve really enjoyed that.

"And I just think playing, for me personally, it was time to play in different stadiums against different teams, and I've really enjoyed that experience.

"Some of the atmospheres here have been some of the best I've ever played in. So, I'm loving that part and I expect the games in the Euros to be the same as well."

Kane is set to become the first player to captain England at four major tournaments when he leads them out against Serbia on Sunday.

As the Three Lions' all-time top-scorer with 63 goals, Kane is set to be one of their key men once more, but he believes the team have earned the right to be labelled as one of the favourites.

"Being England captain and leading the boys out is probably the highest privilege I can have as a player, and I'll never take that for granted.

"That feeling is truly one of a kind. It's an honour to do it for a fourth time. We've had a semi-final, a final and a quarter-final, so I'm hoping we go to the very end and go on and win.

"I think this squad is one of the best, if not the best, we've had, going on form and the domestic seasons a lot of us have had.

"I hope that the guys can lean on me and ask me questions, and if I can help them get through anything, then great. But we have such a good togetherness, we're always talking or having dinner together and there's always conversations being had, so that helps us."

After their opening fixture, England will play Denmark and Slovenia in their other group games.

Matthijs De Ligt believes the Netherlands have every chance of claiming their first international trophy since 1988 at Euro 2024. 

De Ligt, who will be featuring in his third major tournament for the Oranje in Germany, did not feature in the final four games of their qualifying campaign through injury.

The 24-year-old endured another stop-start season with Bayern Munich, making 22 appearances in the Bundesliga and was left on the bench as the Netherlands concluded their preparations for the competition against Iceland. 

De Ligt has made 45 appearances for his country and is one of the more experienced players within Ronald Koeman's ranks heading into the tournament despite his age.

However, De Ligt is confident that the selected 26-man group has more than enough to deal with the pressures of tournament football.

"It's good that we have a lot of guys at top teams in Europe,” he said ahead of their Group D opener against Poland in Hamburg on Sunday.

“That’s very important for a tournament like this because it means we have the necessary experience playing against top players every three to four days.

"We have a lot of quality across the board. We have to take it game by game but I think we can certainly go far.”

The Netherlands have had to deal with a number of injuries leading up to the tournament, with Barcelona's Frenkie De Jong the latest to withdraw from the squad. 

While the Oranje have an array of talent within their group, De Ligt believes not having a standout player could prove to be an advantage heading into their Euro 2024 campaign. 

“It means that everyone has their nose on the same starting line and are all pulling in the same direction.

“We have a nice, good group. It's about performance. We are working well on that. We have a group that can grow closer together, on and off the field."

Rafael Nadal confirmed he will miss Wimbledon in order to focus on competing at his "last Olympics" in Paris.

The Royal Spanish Tennis Federation confirmed on Wednesday the 22-time major winner will feature in the men's singles and men's doubles events, which will be played on the clay courts of Roland-Garros.

Nadal, who will partner Carlos Alcaraz in the doubles, played what was expected to be his final French Open campaign last month, where he said he was unlikely to play at Wimbledon following his first-round exit to Alexander Zverev.

And the 38-year-old confirmed his decision on his social media channels, opting to continue his preparations on clay rather than switching from grass at the All England Club, where he is a two-time champion.

"It was announced yesterday that I will play at the Summer Olympics in Paris, my last Olympics," said Nadal, who will prepare for the Olympics by entering the ATP 250 event in Bastad earlier in July.

"With this goal, we believe that the best thing for my body is not to change surfaces, and to keep playing on clay until then. It's for this reason that I will miss playing at the Championships this year at Wimbledon.

"I am saddened not to be able to live this year the great atmosphere of that amazing event that will always be in my heart, and be with all the British fans that always gave me great support. I will miss you all."

West Ham have announced their first signing of the Julen Lopetegui era, with young Brazilian winger Luis Guilherme set to sign from Palmeiras on Friday. 

The 18-year-old, who will complete his move when the transfer window officially opens, has put pen to paper on a five-year deal at the London Stadium.

The Brazil under-20 international will join the Hammers with plenty of experience already under his belt, having won a Brazilian Serie A title with Palmeiras and played in the Copa Libertadores.

Widely regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in South America, he is delighted to fulfil his boyhood dream by making the move to England.

"I'm very happy to be signing with West Ham United, a club that trusted in my work," said Luis Guilherme. "If things go well, we have a beautiful journey ahead.

"The head coach and I have already had a conversation. He showed me his project and I believe I'll learn a lot from him. He's coached at the national level in Spain and managed big clubs.

"The Premier League is the best league in the world. I believe I'll improve a lot here with the entire staff at West Ham, which is crucial for my development.

"Growing up, whenever I had the chance, I watched English football. Seeing how it is and now being able to play here is an incredible feeling. Since I was 11, I have had this dream, and now it's becoming a reality."

In an unfortunate developing situation, Jamaica and Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey has withdrawn from the Reggae Boyz 26-man squad named for the upcoming Copa America tournament. His inclusion and subsequent withdrawal comes amid controversy and conflicting statements from Bailey and his representatives.

Bailey, who was suspended for breaking curfew during the November international break, has not featured in Jamaica's recent matches, including the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against the Dominican Republic and Dominica earlier this month. Following the release of the squad by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Wednesday, Bailey took to Instagram on Wednesday night to label the selection as "misleading information."

The winger’s father, Craig Butler, reiterated Bailey’s stance on social media, stating that his son's decision to step back from international duty remains unchanged. "We kindly ask that you respect his wishes at this time," Butler wrote. "Posts made on social media that are surfacing at this time is a misrepresentation of his position. We wish the Reggae Boyz well in the Copa America competition and he, along with his management team, will continue to support the Jamaica National Team at all levels … change must come…Respect and One Love for all."

The JFF has not commented on whether they received a commitment from Bailey to participate in the tournament.

Bailey, 26, recently expressed his deep love for his country and his frustrations with the national team environment. In a recent interview with The Cut, he said, "Honestly I don’t know when I will be back in the national team colours. I love my country to the core. I am always here in Jamaica. I can’t tell when I will be back in the national team colours. Once I feel like I have seen a little bit of change … I don’t know how to explain it but why I’m taking a break is because it is too much for my head sometimes."

He continued, "A lot of people don’t understand or look deeply into why I am representing. I really love my country. I love my country so much that I am willing to get injured, willing to risk not going back to a starting Aston Villa team. I make so many sacrifices to make the national team. People don’t understand that and that’s what hurts me. It’s too much for my head sometimes."

The Reggae Boyz squad for the Copa America is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Shaquan Davis, Andre Blake, Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Jahmali Waite

Defenders: Dexter Lembikisa, Di'Shorn Bernard, Greg Leigh, Damion Lowe, Michael Hector, Richard King, Wesley Harding, Ethan Pinnock, Jon Bell, Amari'i Bell

Midfielders: Kasey Palmer, Kevon Lambert, Bobby Reid, Alex Marshall, Joel Latibeaudiere, Karoy Anderson

Forwards: Shamar Nicholson, Renaldo Cephas, Michail Antonio, Demarai Gray, Kaheim Dixon, Leon Bailey*

 

With Bailey's participation in doubt, the Reggae Boyz will have to navigate the Copa America without one of their key players, unless further developments arise. The situation remains fluid, and fans are eagerly awaiting clarity on Bailey’s final decision regarding his national team duties.

Wimbledon have announced a record prize pot of £50million for the 2024 tournament, which begins next month.

Both singles champions will receive £2.7million each, after Carlos Alcaraz and Marketa Vondrousova pocketed £2.35million apiece after winning last year's events.

The total prize money is £5.3million higher than 12 months ago, while it has doubled from £25million in 2014.

First-round singles losers will take home £60,000 - a £5,000 increase on 2023 - while the prize fund for wheelchair events increases to £1million. 

There is also a 14.9 per cent increase in the qualifying competition for Wimbledon, which will run from July 1-14 at the All England Club.

Edin Terzic has resigned as coach of Borussia Dortmund, the Bundesliga club confirmed in a statement on Thursday. 

Terzic departs after leading his side to the Champions League final, which they lost 2-0 to Real Madrid at Wembley earlier this month. 

The 41-year-old, who was in his second spell in charge of Dortmund, asked Die Schwarzgelben to terminate his contract, which was due to expire next year.

"Even though it really hurts, I want to inform you that I will leave BVB today. It was a huge honour to lead this club to a DFB Cup final and recently a Champions League final," Terzic said in a club statement.

"After our final at Wembley, I asked the club bosses for a talk, because I've been at BVB for over 10 years now, with five as a coach and two-and-a-half as head coach, and I have the feeling that our new beginning should also come with someone new on the touchline.

"After intense discussions, my feeling hasn't changed. I wish Borussia Dortmund all the best. It's not goodbye, but till next time."

The German had previously been interim boss for seven months in the 2020/21 season, guiding Dortmund to their fifth DFB-Pokal title. 

Terzić oversaw 96 competitive fixtures during his two seasons at the helm, having stepped into the role on a permanent basis before the 2022-23 campaign, winning 55 matches and averaging 1.93 points per game. 

The New England Patriots will retire the number 12 shirt and build a statue in honour of iconic quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady was inducted into the Patriots' Hall of Fame on Wednesday, having led them to six Super Bowl titles during his 20-year stint with the franchise.

The three-time MVP is the all-time regular-season leader in pass attempts (12,050), completions (7,753), passing yards (89,214) and touchdown passes (649) in the NFL.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the statue would be placed outside the franchise's Hall of Fame to recognise Brady "not as the greatest in franchise history, but as the greatest in all of NFL history".

"I am eternally grateful. I am Tom Brady. And I am a Patriot," Brady said at the ceremony at the Gilette Stadium.

Former Patriots coach Bill Belichick added: "Thank you for all that you've done for us. Thank you for all you've done for me. And thank you for the example and motto you've been for all of us on a daily basis for 20 years."

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