Former Barcelona and France star Jeremy Mathieu has retired after suffering a knee injury in training at Sporting CP - news that has left Bruno Fernandes "crestfallen".

Manchester United midfielder Fernandes paid tribute to his former Sporting team-mate who quit after damaging the medial collateral ligament in his left knee on Wednesday, calling Mathieu "a centre-back with the quality of a number 10".

Mathieu, 36, won only five caps for France but shone in spells with Valencia and Barcelona, playing for the Catalan giants from 2014 to 2017 before joining Sporting.

At Barcelona, he won two LaLiga titles plus the Champions League in 2014-15, coming on as a late substitute in the 3-1 final win over Juventus.

Portuguese newspaper Record quoted a statement from Mathieu, in which he said: "I thought I would end my career in another way, but it is part of football. I wanted to finish on the pitch so badly, but destiny decided otherwise.

"Anyway, I spent 19 years living my life with intense passion, with ups and downs, joy and crying, victories and defeats and incredible trophies."

Mathieu played in France with Sochaux and Toulouse before moving to Spain with Valencia.

Fernandes posted on Instagram: "I had news that left me sad and crestfallen.

"I learned that the best centre-back I ever had as a team-mate was injured and decided to end a career full of titles and unforgettable moments."

Fernandes added: "I had two and a half years with you, two and a half years of apprenticeship, two and a half years of eternal bets in training to see who scored the most free-kicks, two and a half years to see magic come from the feet of a centre-back, yes from a centre-back."

He stressed Mathieu "was a centre-back with the quality of a number 10 and extreme speed" and said he intended to reunite with him on the golf course.

Fernandes said: "Thanks for the tears in the final of the Taca de Portugal that showed me what it is like to love the game and how all victories are as important as the first."

The Golden State Warriors and Tiger Woods both became champions again on June 16 in previous years, while Didier Deschamps' France also started their road to glory in Russia.

Steve Kerr's Warriors have dominated the NBA for much of the past half-decade, but five years ago they were trying to end a long championship drought.

Woods was already a multiple major winner by 2008, though his victory at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines while he essentially played on one leg was one of his most incredible successes.

Here we take a look at major sporting events that have happened on June 16 in previous years.

 

2008 - Wounded Woods wins U.S. Open play-off

The 2008 U.S. Open had been due to finish on Sunday, June 15 but 72 holes could not separate Woods and veteran Rocco Mediate, so the two came back for 18 more on Monday.

Woods had a three-stroke lead through 10 holes but, clearly hampered by a serious knee injury, he was reeled in by the world number 158 and needed a birdie at the last to force a sudden death.

After 91 holes, Woods eventually emerged victorious to claim his 14th major title - four short of record-holder Jack Nicklaus' haul - though it would be another 11 years before he tasted major success again at the Masters.

It was later revealed Woods had played on with a double stress fracture and a torn anterior cruciate ligament, making his victory all the more remarkable.

2015 - Warriors end title drought

Finals between the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers would become a regular theme, and it was Stephen Curry and Co. who came out on top in 2015, as they did in 2017 and 2018 too.

The 2015 series had been tied at 2-2 but a 104-91 Game 5 win gave Golden State the chance to end a 40-year wait for another title on June 16, which they did with a 105-97 Game 6 victory.

Curry and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala scored 25 points apiece, with the latter winning praise for his defensive display against LeBron James, who would need to wait another 12 months before he brought a title to the long-suffering Cleveland fans.

2018 - VAR helps France edge past Australia

They may have undoubtedly been the best team at Russia 2018, but France had an underwhelming start to a campaign that would end with them winning the World Cup.

Les Bleus were thankful for VAR when it was used - for the first time ever in a World Cup match - to award them a controversial penalty after Josh Risdon's tackle on Antoine Griezmann originally went punished in Kazan.

Griezmann duly dispatched the penalty but Australia pulled level through Mile Jedinak's spot-kick, only for France to claim a 2-1 win 10 minutes from time courtesy of an own goal from Aziz Behich.

Thierry Henry has been grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with himself during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, with the Montreal Impact coach acknowledging his day-to-day responsibilities have taken their toll.

Arsenal and France icon Henry called time on his playing career in 2014 following a four-year spell in MLS with New York Red Bulls, but since then he has led a busy life.

After a near three-year stint as a television pundit in England, he began to focus on his coaching career and was initially assistant to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez, before an ill-fated spell in charge of Monaco and then moving to Montreal.

Despite the situation caused across the world by coronavirus, Henry has looked on the positive side of being forced into lockdown, which allowed him to focus on his own well-being after a hectic few years that have afforded him few chances to consider his health.

"Taking care of myself is something you forget as a player or coach, you give your time to everyone," he told UEFA.

"I took some time for myself, if I can say in a selfish way, but it's important we all once again become human – the virus has reminded us what it is to be human, what it is to be together, respectful.

"Generally, since I stopped playing, I passed my badges straight away so I've been busy and then I worked on TV, but you know what – taking time for myself [is what he's been doing in lockdown].

"I didn't do that for a long time. People will say, 'that's not great,' and I know it's not, but for me it was priceless.

"You can have time with your own mind, your own body, your own thoughts and not always being responsible for others.

"As a coach no one cares what you think or how you are, they want to give the coach their problems and he needs to find solution – whether it's the press, fans, the board. As a leader that's how you need to be, sort stuff, look like the guy who isn't suffering and it takes its toll on you.

"So, for the first time I reconnected with my body and my mind."

 

The full interview with Henry can be found on UEFA's official YouTube channel.

For Eduardo Camavinga, Ansu Fati, Phil Foden, Joshua Zirkzee and Youssoufa Moukoko, a delayed European Championship may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

The 24-team tournament, which was postponed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, was due to start on Friday. Instead, it will now begin on June 11, 2021.

There is a strong likelihood several nations will have different starting line-ups in 2021, with new stars tipped to emerge.

Using Opta data, we take a look at those uncapped youngsters who might benefit from the Euros being moved back to next year.

 

EDUARDO CAMAVINGA

The central-midfield axis of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante was well-established during France's run to glory at World Cup 2018, though, due to injury, neither man featured regularly in the Euro qualifiers as Didier Deschamps utilised Corentin Tolisso, a bit-part player for Bayern Munich, and Moussa Sissoko, who will soon turn 31.

Teenager Camavinga shot to prominence by dominating in a win over Paris Saint-Germain as a 16-year-old in August. His assist in that game makes him the youngest player to be involved in a goal across Europe's top five leagues this term, and he has since established himself as a regular for high-flying Rennes.

His 64 tackles in Ligue 1 this season is more than any other midfielder in the major European leagues, while he played more than three time as many minutes (2,112) as any other under-18 player in those divisions prior to the COVID-19 suspension.

Already a France Under-21 international, Camavinga has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and, based on his current trajectory, it is easy to see him muscling his way into Deschamps' plans.

 

ANSU FATI

The youngest goalscorer in the history of the Champions League was granted Spanish citizenship in September and it appears only a matter of time before Fati is a senior La Roja international.

There were reports that the Barcelona forward, who was born in Guinea-Bissau, would have been included in the preliminary Spain squad for the March friendlies that were ultimately cancelled.

There were no teenagers in the most recent Spain squad so, at 17, Fati can use the extra time to convince Luis Enrique he is a special case worthy of a regular spot in his selection.

After all, only Lionel Messi (110) and Luis Suarez (125) in the Barca squad have better minutes-per-goal ratios than Fati (202) this season, while the fearless and gifted teenager averages the fourth-most dribble attempts (2.38) per match among Blaugrana players.

PHIL FODEN

You have to be pretty decent if Pep Guardiola has called you "the most talented player" he has ever coached.

Although there have been only fleeting glimpses of Foden in a Manchester City shirt, he has certainly made an impact. In his 11 starts this term, Foden's had a hand in nine goals (seven assists, two goals), while he also has the best minutes-per-assist record (155) across all competitions of Premier League players to have played more than 1,000 minutes.

Regular playing time will surely be less of an issue for the 20-year-old once David Silva departs after the 2019-20 season.

The Spaniard's heir-apparent Foden has already caught the eye for England Under-21s, and might have made the cut for Gareth Southgate's squad in 2020 anyway, but both club and country will have earmarked the classy midfielder for a breakthrough campaign next year.

JOSHUA ZIRKZEE

The enforced break could be considered both a blessing and a curse for Bayern Munich's young Dutch striker Zirkzee.

An injury to Robert Lewandowski had resulted in the 19-year-old starting Bayern's previous two Bundesliga games before the suspension and, having needed just three minutes to score his first two league goals earlier in the season, he was seemingly set to enhance his reputation in the following weeks.

But the season hiatus put paid to that and Lewandowski was fit to return when the campaign resumed, with the Pole typically lethal since. But that doesn't take away from the fact Zirkzee is Bayern's third-youngest Bundesliga goalscorer, as he lays the groundwork for a potential breakthrough season in 2020-21, either at Bayern or on loan elsewhere.

Having only represented Netherlands as high as Under-19 level so far, Zirkzee still has a way to go to force his way into Ronald Koeman's senior squad for competitive fixtures, but another year of development will surely aid his case, particularly given the Oranje's lack of established options in the striker role.

YOUSSOUFA MOUKOKO

A name that may be unfamiliar to many outside of Germany, though perhaps not for much longer given the goalscoring record Borussia Dortmund's 15-year-old prodigy has.

Moukoko netted for the 34th time in his 20th Under-19 Bundesliga game in March, setting a record for the competition, having scored 50 in 28 appearances at U17 level last season.

A Euros this year would have definitely come too soon for Moukoko but Lucien Favre wants the Germany youth international training with his first team soon, and following a regulation change, he will be able to make his debut when he turns 16 in November.

By this time next year, a man already on Joachim Low's radar may just be a long shot for Die Mannschaft's senior team too.

Jefferson Poirot quit international rugby at the age of 27 on Sunday in a decision he admits will leave some people "surprised and perhaps disappointed".

The France prop has retired from duty with Les Bleus and stressed his decision was "not a whim" but had been carefully considered.

Poirot, who won 36 caps for his country, said he took the decision to allow him to better focus on his club career and fatherhood.

He played at last year's Rugby World Cup and made his final France appearance in the shock defeat to Scotland on March 8, a Six Nations jolt after wins over England and Italy.

In a statement on Instagram, Poirot said: "It's time for me to tell you about the difficult decision that I took a few months ago.

"That of taking a step back from this grail that is the France team, this wonderful team that makes you dream so much, which is so hard to reach but which is also sometimes testing."

He said playing for France "has always filled me with joy" but that it was time "to devote myself fully to other personal goals".

"This decision will allow me to no longer feel like I am 50 per cent on all fronts, and to focus on a 100 per cent goal," Poirot said. "The goal that keeps me obsessing about winning club titles, achieving a milestone in my career, and being a full-time dad.

"Those who do not know me will be surprised, perhaps disappointed, those who know me will be able to understand.

"My loved ones support me, and this decision has been carefully considered, in any case it is not a whim: it is for me the right decision. The upright man, the father, is the one who makes the right decisions, at the right time, to be as tall as possible."

Poirot said he was sure the current France team "have a bright future", describing emerging talent as an "exceptional generation".

France coach Didier Deschamps has backed the decision to end the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, insisting others are only resuming due to financial reasons.

Following guidance from the government, the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) made the decision to prematurely end the Ligue 1 campaign and decide the final standings by virtue of points per game at the end of April.

Some clubs have threatened to take legal action, while Lyon and their president Jean-Michel Aulas have been particularly vocal in their displeasure, urging the decision to be overturned following the resumption of the Bundesliga and confirmation that LaLiga can continue next month.

Serie A and the Premier League could also recommence in June, meaning Ligue 1 will be the only one of Europe's top five leagues to not be concluded on the pitch.

But Deschamps believes the French authorities have made the correct decision, highlighting inconsistencies with certain protocols in Germany and suggesting monetary concerns are behind LaLiga and the Premier League returning.

"I don't want to judge, to condemn, to blame," he told Le Parisien. "The containment conditions are not the same for everyone.

"I have watched the Bundesliga since the resumption of matches in Germany. It certainly looks like soccer. I'm not going to talk about the pace or intensity of the meetings, but some images seem so incoherent to me.

"I see players playing a game with all the elements specific to football: namely contact and tackles. And then, we see in the stands masked substitutes two metres away from each other.

"Honestly, I don't understand. They are in the same enclosure, likely to come into play at any time. In the stands, is the risk increased? What an inconsistency. I do not like it.

"Life resumes with a lot of restrictions in all areas. In football, the resumption of certain championships obviously responds, first of all, to an economic problem.

"Look at the decisions made in Spain and England. These two major football countries are planning the resumption of LaLiga and the Premier League, but they have decided not to resume the women's championships, which generate much less revenue. That says everything."

Deschamps, who is contracted to be France coach until the end of the 2022 World Cup, is also concerned players in the leagues that have resumed are not prepared enough, and the risk of injury will be increased.

"It worries me. Whether you are a coach or president of a club, we all have interests specific to our function," he continued. "The physical integrity of my players is my main concern.

"Some abroad will resume competition without having carried out full preparation. No matter how much you say, such a stop requires six weeks of refresher training with at least five friendly matches. That's far from being the case.

"They will chain matches every three days in summer, with high temperatures. The risk of injury is increased. I was already denouncing very busy calendars. It will not work out and it looks even more sensitive with very few breaks."

Vincent Clerc is excited by the potential a youthful France side has but warned it is premature to be talking up their chances of winning the 2023 Rugby World Cup on home soil.

Les Bleus were top of the Six Nations table with one game to play against Ireland when the tournament was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

An inexperienced France team had started the Fabien Galthie era in style by beating England and were on course for a Grand Slam before losing to Scotland at Murrayfield.

French rugby fans have been starved of success in recent times, with their last Six Nations title coming a decade ago.

Clerc is optimistic about the future, but stressed the importance of patience. 

Reflecting on the Six Nations performances, the former France wing told Stats Perform: "It was nice to watch. It is enjoyable, we wanted to see them winning. They started very well against England and lost one game.

"We are getting excited with this team and that's normal because we know they are very talented, they have a good team spirit, the players want to be together and play for each other. There is a solidarity between the players, so we like them.

"But we have to be patient. They are young players, they can make some mistakes, there will be some defeats. We said many good things about them, but there are some difficulties, we can't be too severe.

"We have to give them some time to grow. They have a good potential and a great team spirit. It was what we were expecting. The team spirit and the values of this team were important in the last Six Nations, maybe more important than the performances on the field."

Clerc says France must show more proof that they can step up against high-quality opposition before the next World Cup.

"I think they have to be ready before 2023, 2023 is the final goal. I think that many players, who are now in the French national team, will play several World Cups," he added.

"I think this team has to be stronger and stronger to be at 100 per cent in 2023. That also means that, in the meantime, they have to win Six Nations, they have to win friendly games in November or in the summer, they need to win against teams from the Southern Hemisphere.

"It will be important, they have to learn. There will be some ups and downs in the next years."

The Bundesliga has been given the green light to resume later this month, having been on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic since March.

With nine rounds of the season still to be completed, there remains much to play for in Germany's top-flight and play is set to re-commence in the second half of May.

And given there have been precious few other sporting events around the world allowed to resume yet, the Bundesliga could be set for an influx of new viewers and fans.

While most football fans will be well aware of the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland, Timo Werner, Jadon Sancho and the Bundesliga's other leading stars, there are other players perhaps not quite at that level yet who are also worth keeping an eye on.

We identified six who were either enjoying impressive seasons before the suspension, or have shown significant promise.

Amine Harit (22), attacking midfielder – Schalke

To seasoned viewers of the Bundesliga, Harit won't be a new name – after all, he was Rookie of the Year in 2017-18. But after a difficult 2018-19 Harit is enjoying his finest season in professional football. With six goals and four assists, the Morocco international has been a key player for David Wagner's Schalke this term – the skilful and creative attacking midfielder a threat to any defence on his day. However, all of his goal involvements came before Christmas, and if Schalke are to hold on to a Europa League spot, the 22-year-old rediscovering his 2019 form could be vital.

Christopher Nkunku (22), central midfielder – RB Leipzig

A product of Paris Saint-Germain's academy, Nkunku broke into their first-team squad last term but couldn't hold down a place in the starting XI. Leipzig had seen enough of him to feel compelled to part with a reported €15million for the French midfielder, however, and it looks great business. After scoring with his first touch in Bundesliga football, he has contributed another three goals and 12 assists – a haul bettered by only Sancho and Thomas Muller. A wonderful technician, Nkunku is a dead-ball specialist, a fine striker of the ball and a supreme midfield athlete.

Marcus Thuram (22), forward – Borussia Monchengladbach

There aren't a huge amount of similarities between Marcus and his dad Lilian, one of the greatest centre-backs of his generation, but physical presence is one. Marcus Thuram is a handful for defences in virtually every way possible; quick, strong, tall, athletic and a good dribbler. Capable playing anywhere in attack, Thuram is particularly useful coming in off the left on to his right foot, and he has played a role in 14 league goals this term, eight of which were assists. Gladbach are looking to secure Champions League qualification – if they don't, keeping Thuram could be a challenge.

Dayot Upamecano (21), centre-back – RB Leipzig

You won't find many more-complete centre-backs than Leipzig's Upamecano. Strongly linked with a move to Bayern Munich at the end of the season, the France Under-21 international seems to have it all. His excellent distribution is highlighted by the fact his 66 per cent long-pass success is better than Mats Hummels (58), Manuel Akanji (55) and Benjamin Pavard (61), while his 35 interceptions is more than Virgil van Dijk has managed. The next superstar-in-waiting off the Red Bull production line, Upamecano has a big future in front of him.

Giovanni Reyna (17), attacking midfielder – Borussia Dortmund

The son of former Manchester City and United States midfielder Claudio Reyna, Gio appears destined to go on to bigger things than his old man. The 17-year-old made his debut as a substitute in the 5-3 win over Augsburg on January 18 and has played another seven Bundesliga matches since. Although mostly making cameo appearances, his direct approach to dribbling, upright running style and effortless elegance on the ball bear resemblance to Brazil and Milan great Kaka. It's only a matter of time before he gets his first Bundesliga start.

Jean-Clair Todibo (20), centre-back – Schalke

A newcomer to the Bundesliga, having joined on loan from Barcelona in January, the jury is still out on Todibo. Schalke accept it's unlikely they'll be able to trigger his purchase clause – reportedly worth €25m plus €5m in add-ons – due to the pandemic, but a loan extension is said to be a possibility. A technically gifted centre-back who is comfortable on the ball and a solid passer, Todibo, 20, was perhaps unlucky to not get more opportunities at Camp Nou. He made five league appearances after joining Schalke, and although only two were starts, he is considered a real prospect.

Michel Platini’s claim to fame comes from being one of the finest passers the game has ever seen. His efforts from the penalty spot and from free kicks are legendary but he was also quick and elegant on the ball, combined with being a very intelligent reader of the game. His technical ability was also renowned during a period where South Americans were believed to be the masters in this arena. Platini also had an eye for goal from his more withdrawn role behind the strikers and was prolific as a midfielder, winning a number of top goalscorer accolades throughout his career.

Playing Career

Full name: Michel Platini

Date of birth: 21 June 1955 (age 64)

Place of birth: Jœuf, France

Height: 1.79m (5ft 10 in)

Playing position: Attacking midfielder

Club Career

           Years                Team                    Apps      (Gls)

  • 1972–1979          Nancy                    181        (72)
  • 1979–1982          Saint-Étienne         104        (58)
  • 1982–1987          Juventus                147        (68)
  • Total                                              432    (224)

 

Club Honours

  • Nancy - Coupe de France: 1977–78; Division 2: 1974–75
  • Saint-Étienne - Division 1: 1980–81; Coupe de France runner-up: 1980–81, 1981–82
  • Juventus - Serie A: 1983–84, 1985–86; Coppa Italia: 1982–83; European Cup: 1984–85; runner-up: 1982–83; European Cup Winners' Cup: 1983–84; European Super Cup: 1984; Intercontinental Cup: 1985

International Career

  • 1976–1987 France 72 (41)
  • 1988 Kuwait  1   (0)

International Honours

  • UEFA European Championship: 1984
  • Artemio Franchi Trophy: 1985
  • FIFA World Cup third place: 1986
  • 1976 Pre-Olympic Zone European

 

Individual Honours

  • Ballon d'Or: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Onze d'Or: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Onze d'Argent: 1977
  • IOC European Footballer of the Season: 1983–84, 1984–85
  • World Soccer Player of the Year: 1984, 1985
  • UEFA European Championship Player of the Tournament: 1984
  • UEFA European Championship Top Scorer: 1984
  • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 1984
  • French Player of the Year: 1976, 1977
  • French Player of the Century: 1999
  • L'Équipe French Champion of Champions: 1977, 1984
  • FIFA XI: 1979
  • Guerin d'Oro: 1984
  • Capocannoniere (Serie A Top Scorer): 1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85
  • European Cup Top Scorer: 1984–85
  • Intercontinental Cup Most Valuable Player of the Match Award: 1985
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1982, 1986
  • FIFA World Cup All-Time Team: 1994
  • World Team of the 20th Century: 1998
  • FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2002
  • Italian Football Hall of Fame member
  • English Football Hall of Fame member (voted All-Time Greatest European Footballer. He is only the second person outside the English game to be honoured by the Museum.)
  • Artemio Franchi Prize
  • Golden Foot: 2004, as football legend
  • FIFA 100
  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #9
  • Premio internazionale Giacinto Facchetti: 2011
  • Globe Soccer Awards Player Career Award: 2012
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Juventus Greatest XI of All Time: 2017

Malang Sarr will leave Nice at the end of the season after turning down a new contract, with Arsenal, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen among the clubs linked.

The France Under-21 international has long been considered a potential future pillar of Les Blues' senior side, such has been his development.

Now 21, centre-back Sarr is already in his fourth full season in Nice's first-team squad, having made the breakthrough in the 2016-17 campaign as a 17-year-old.

After making 35 Ligue 1 appearances last term, Nice managed to hold on to Sarr for the 2019-20 season and he played 19 times in France's top flight prior to the coronavirus pandemic bringing things to a halt.

With the Ligue 1 season now officially over, it appears Sarr has already played his final match for his hometown club, announcing he will not sign a new deal in an encouraging turn of events for many clubs supposedly interested in his services.

Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) revealed its plans to resume the 2019-20 Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons on June 17 and complete the campaigns by July 25.

Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 were suspended indefinitely on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with France on a nationwide lockdown until at least May 11.

The LFP provided an update on the situation, with French football's governing body that runs the major professional leagues in the country awaiting a final decision on whether fixtures will be played behind closed doors.

"The bureau of the board of directors unanimously voted on April 10 for the resumption of the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 championships to finish by July 25, and a commencement on August 22 and 23, 2020 of the 2020-2021 season. This provides for a restart of the 2019-2020 season on June 17, 2020," the LFP statement read.

"The LFP is now awaiting the deconfinement procedures that the government will announce at the end of April, and in particular the conditions under which the matches could be played behind closed doors.

"The LFP is also awaiting UEFA's recommendations, which will be presented to its executive committee on April 23, as well as the Champions League match calendar.

"Last but not least, the LFP asked the medical commission of the FFF [France football federation] and the representative of the doctors on the board of directors of the LFP to develop a health and medical protocol for resuming training.

"Since the start of this crisis, the LFP and all the players in football have placed health as the top priority.

"In this context, the LFP has always scrupulously followed the instructions of the government, and works in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of the Interior to study the best conditions of the recovery guaranteeing first of all the health of all the actors as well that sports equity and the economic sustainability of professional football."

Reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain topped Ligue 1 by 12 points at the time of the postponement, having played 27 games – one match less than their rivals – while Toulouse and Amiens were in the relegation places.

In Ligue 2, Lorient and Lens occupied the two automatic promotion spots, ahead of Ajaccio, Troyes and Clermont through 28 rounds.

April 14 is a date defined by the unexpected in the world of sport.

From a unique edition of one of rugby's most famous competitions, to an Anfield turnaround that defied belief, sporting events on this date have produced their fair share of surprises.

It is also a date that will be forever etched in the memory of arguably the greatest golfer of all time.

Here we look back at some of the best sporting moments to take place on April 14.

1973: France failure ensures five-way tie

April 14, 1973 was the day on which an anomaly in the long and storied history of the Five and Six Nations was secured.

A tournament that saw all five teams struggle for consistency came to a close in Dublin. France had the championship in their sights after seeing off defending champions Wales in their previous encounter.

That victory left them as the only team capable of winning the title outright. Triumph at Lansdowne Road was needed to seal it but, in extremely windy conditions, inaccuracy from the tee cost them.

France missed three penalties and a conversion as Ireland claimed a 6-4 win that ensured every team finished on four points. The lack of a tiebreaker meant there could be no outright winner, with all five teams claiming a share of the championship. Had there been a points difference tiebreaker, Wales would have again prevailed.

2016: Klopp knocks out Dortmund in famous Liverpool comeback

Six months on from taking over at Liverpool, Klopp was reunited with the club where he made his name in the Europa League quarter-finals.

The last-eight tie with Borussia Dortmund was finely poised after a 1-1 draw at Signal Iduna Park.

It was Dortmund that appeared poised to progress to the semi-finals, though, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave them a 2-0 lead.

Divock Origi pulled one back for Liverpool three minutes into the second half but Marco Reus looked to have put the tie beyond doubt, his effort leaving the Reds needing three goals to progress.

However, a rasping low drive from Philippe Coutinho gave Anfield hope and Mamadou Sakho's close-range header in the 77th minute set the stage for a grandstand finish. Dejan Lovren proved the unlikely hero as he towered to turn home James Milner's cross in the 91st minute.

Liverpool went on to defeat Villarreal in the semi-finals but were denied in the showpiece in Basel as Sevilla claimed a 3-1 win.

2019: Tiger caps comeback with remarkable Masters win

One of sport's greatest comeback stories was completed on this day at Augusta last year.

Most had doubted whether Tiger Woods would ever recapture the form that saw him win 14 majors after his well-documented back problems.

Yet, the closest challenger to Jack Nicklaus' major record of 18 inched one closer with the kind of performance many considered consigned to history to win his fifth green jacket.

Woods began the final day two strokes behind Francesco Molinari, but a captivating final day tilted firmly in his favour on the 15th.

Molinari sent his tee shot into the trees and then found the water with a misplaced lay-up, eventually making double bogey.

Woods, by contrast, birdied from two feet to take the outright lead, with a sensational tee shot at 16 leaving him a short putt for a two-stroke advantage.

He made par at 17 to ensure a bogey would be enough on the last, and there would be no last-gasp slip-up, Woods standing on the 18th green with his arms aloft in celebration of a triumph few thought possible.

Paris Saint-Germain ended strong speculation about Jonathan Ikone joining Juventus when finally securing him to a professional contract in 2016. At the time, it was seen as a potential turning point for PSG's academy.

The attacker, who grew up in the same area of Paris as Kylian Mbappe, had long attracted admiring glances from some of Europe's biggest clubs, so PSG were eager to not let another get away.

Two years earlier, Kingsley Coman left for Juve when it became clear a route into the starting XI – and the France squad – was more straightforward in Turin than in Paris and, although injuries have since disrupted his career, there's little doubt PSG have been made to rue their ineptitude on that front.

Ikone's emergence was supposed to redeem PSG. For much of the QSI era, their use of homegrown young players has been heavily scrutinised.

"Jonathan is a midfielder with a big future," club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said after the contract was announced. "His signature is another example of the importance the youth academy holds for the club and just how much the club is counting on these young academy graduates."

But in 2018, PSG sold Ikone to Lille for a relatively insignificant fee – and the player has blossomed since his departure. 

False hope and new beginnings

After helping PSG to the UEFA Youth League final in 2015-16, Ikone's new contract was followed by promotion to the first team. He made a smattering of appearances before being allowed to join Montpellier on loan in January 2017.

This spell provided Ikone with his first genuine exposure to first-team football, playing 14 times in the second half of the 2016-17 Ligue 1 season.

He returned to Montpellier for the following campaign and, while it was not quite as fruitful as his first stint at the club, he did enough to earn a reported €5million switch to Lille, whose applaudable transfer policy in recent years has seen them snap up a host of well-regarded young players.

"We can say that PSG train young players very well, but actually playing there is complicated," Ikone told L'Equipe last year. "But the training you get in Paris, it's the best. Really, I enjoyed my time at PSG. I have no regrets. Getting playing time there is difficult, there are really great players there. So, I decided to show my talent at another club."

The transfer again raised doubts from some with respect to PSG's handling of their academy, while others suggested Ikone had not done enough to earn fresh terms, with the chance to earn a reasonable fee too good to turn down for PSG given his deal was due to expire in 2019.

Lille are reaping the rewards and will likely earn a significant fee when – if – he eventually leaves, with the latest reports suggesting he could be bound for the Premier League and Everton. At least PSG managed to secure a sell-on fee, which could amount to as much as 40 per cent of €70m, Les Dogues' apparent asking price.

Establishing himself

Although his skill set makes him a versatile option in attack, Ikone is at his most threatening when deployed as a no.10, behind the main striker.

The inside-right channel is where he operates most often, coming inside on to his left foot, allowing him a greater range of options whether he's dribbling, looking for a disguised pass or simply feeding Victor Osimhen into the space beyond defences.

Having been a regular option throughout the French youth setup, Ikone earned his first call-up to the senior side in September and netted on his debut, becoming the first player to do so for Les Bleus since Younes Kaboul and Marvin Martin in June 2011.

Skilful and inventive on the ball, there is a lot to like about Ikone, but he will not need anyone to tell him that staying in contention is not going to be an easy job.

France are blessed with a host of options in attack, many of whom boast similar strengths to Ikone.

Menacing but not in it for the long haul

Having scored three and set up nine goals in Ligue 1 last term, Ikone cannot be accused of a lack of consistency or taking a drastic backwards step. With a chunk of the season still remaining, he has the same amount of goals and six assists.

Ikone is averaging a goal involvement every 230 minutes, five less than last term, and appears to be playing with even greater confidence.

After averaging 3.6 dribbles per game in 2018-19, that's increased to just under five in 2019-20, while his completion rate has remained almost identical at 55 per cent. By comparison, Neymar's is 56 per cent.

Nevertheless, Ikone's productivity in the final third has significant room for improvement.

With 31 key passes, he is way behind the likes of Dimitri Payet (87), Angel Di Maria (77) and Zinedine Ferhat (52).

There are also doubts about his endurance. Since the start of last season, Ikone has been taken off 43 times in Ligue 1 alone.

But, at 21, he is developing impressively. While €70m may look a little steep at the moment, any potential buyer will hope there is still plenty more to come.

Kylian Mbappe has made a generous donation to the Paris-based charity Abbe Pierre Foundation as France continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Ligue 1, along with the vast majority of other sporting competitions, has been put on hold amid the crisis, with over 27,000 confirmed deaths worldwide.

France has 32,964 confirmed cases of the illness and, in a bid to assist the work of the Abbe Pierre Foundation, Paris Saint-Germain and France star Mbappe has donated a large sum to the charity.

"Concerned about the consequences of the serious health crisis which strikes our country, but also of all the consequences which it can generate on the most fragile people, Kylian Mbappe has just made a very large donation to support the work of the Abbe Pierre Foundation," the charity said in a statement.

"His generosity will make it possible in particular to implement first aid actions: access to water and hygiene for people in very precarious situations, access to food and shelter for homeless people.

"The Foundation sends its most sincere thanks to Kylian Mbappe for his generosity and his attention towards people in great precariousness."

The charity did not confirm how much Mbappe had donated.

Earlier this week, it was reported Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes had donated a large sum to three intensive care units for coronavirus patients at hospitals in Portugal, while a hospital in Barcelona announced Lionel Messi had pledged money to support them during the crisis.

Tributes flowed on Thursday following news that former France coach Michel Hidalgo had died of natural causes, aged 87.

Hidalgo led France between 1976 to 1984 – hauling Les Bleus out of the international wilderness and to the glory of a maiden major honour at the 1984 European Championship.

France's run to the semi-finals of the 1982 World Cup established Hidalgo's swashbuckling side as a favourite of many neutrals, but he still needed a couple of tweaks to get the balance just right before expectant support on home soil two years later.

Ultimately he did just that, with a midfield quartet of Michel Platini, Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Luis Fernandez sweeping all before them.

Here, we take a closer look at the Hidalgo's foursome that is affectionately remembered as France's Carre Magique – Magic Square.

LUIS FERNANDEZ

The final piece in the puzzle and an invaluable presence at the base of Hidalgo's sparkling midfield diamond, Spanish-born Fernandez did not make his France debut until after the 1982 World Cup run. After that, he only lined up as part of the famous quartet when England visited Paris for a friendly in February 1984. A Platini brace saw off Bobby Robson's men and Fernandez' superb positional sense and tough tackling instantly laid a foundation for flourishes such as Giresse's mazy run to set up the opening goal.

The Paris Saint-Germain maestro also passed with smooth precision, not to be outdone by the more celebrated creatives before him. The youngest corner of the square, Fernandez was 24 at the European Championship and is perhaps best remembered for dispatching the decisive penalty two years later that saw France progress to the World Cup semi-finals once more at Brazil's expense.

He was also around for the denouement and the ignominy of failing to qualify for major tournaments in 1988 and 1990, before being granted a swansong of sorts as part of the Platini-coached France squad at Euro 92.

ALAIN GIRESSE

By contrast to Fernandez, Giresse was an international veteran of 12 years when France's moment of truth arrived. A diminutive gem of a footballer, his goal had France on the brink of semi-final glory against West Germany in 1982 – establishing a 3-1 lead in extra-time before a heart-breaking collapse to penalty shoot-out defeat.

Giresse arrived at the European Championships in prime form, having just collected a Ligue 1 crown with Bordeaux that was retained the following season. He made 592 appearances for the Girondins before joining Marseille in 1986.

Platini's relentless foil, living up to his nickname of 'Moteur', Giresse got on the scoresheet alongside Fernandez in the 5-0 group-stage hammering of Belgium – with Platini netting a hat-trick.

In retirement, a nomadic coaching career has seen Giresse lead the national teams of Georgia, Gabon, Mali, Senegal and Tunisia.

JEAN TIGANA

Giresse was not alone in underpinning lavish talent with a phenomenal work-rate. Any opponent of Tigana knew they had been in a game – not least the bedraggled Portugal backline as his slaloming run set up Platini's last-gasp winner in extra time of the semi-final. The goal stands as arguably the defining moment of France's victory march.

His long-time alliance with Giresse at Bordeaux was a gift to Hidalgo in plotting his celebrated configuration and Tigana would make the same move to Marseille in 1989, adding two more Ligue 1 titles to the three he collected on the Garonne River.

A future coach of Monaco and Fulham, Tigana was indisputably among the best in the world and finished second in the 1984 Ballon d'Or voting. There was, of course, only one winner.

MICHEL PLATINI

The true beauty of the Carre Magique was how the winning blend of technique and tenacity allowed Platini to enjoy the fullest realisation of his incredible talents. Few players have stamped their mark so irresistibly over a major tournament as France's main man did in 1984, making light of with weightiest expectations.

His preposterous final numbers read nine goals in five appearances, after scoring in each game of the competition. Having settled opening nerves 12 minutes from time in a 1-0 win over Denmark, the Juventus superstar made merry by claiming the matchball in consecutive outings against Belgium and Yugoslavia. He stood tallest in his country's moment of need in the semi-final before an error from Luis Arconada allowed his free-kick to squirm home in the showpiece.

From poached efforts, to delicate chips, via thumping drives and diving headers, no type of goal was beyond Platini, who won three consecutive Ballons d'Or between 1983 and 1985. He was a phenomenon, rightly celebrated and deserving of icon status now somewhat at odds with his discredited post-career in football administration chicanery.

Page 1 of 7
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.