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FOOTBALL

Eriksson fired from Mexico job

Sven-Göran Eriksson has been sacked from his position as coach of the Mexican national team following defeat to Honduras in a World Cup qualifier.

Eriksson fired from Mexico job

The Mexican Football Federation said on Thursday it had fired the Swede as national coach after Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat.

Wednesday’s defeat was Mexico’s second loss in three matches in the final phase of qualifying in the region coming hot on the heels of a reverse to the United States sandwiched by a home success over Costa Rica at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

Eriksson had acknowledged before the Costa Rica encounter that he knew he was under pressure to deliver with media predicting his days were numbered after just 13 matches at the helm.

“The decision was made because we could not risk Mexico’s participation in the World Cup,” said federation president Justino Compean, who, noting poor away form, added it was not sufficient to rely wholly on winning home matches.

The midweek loss in San Pedro Sula was only the latest in a series of poor showings on the road.

“This morning we had a meeting with Eriksson and we told him his spell with the Mexican team had come to an end,” added Compean.

Eriksson, who angered supporters by bringing four foreign-born players into the squad, said he regretted not having longer to prove his credentials.

“I enjoyed the work, the country, everything. Sooner or later patience runs out,” said Eriksson, who won a swathe of honours with IFK Gothenburg in his homeland before further successes with Portugal’s Benfica and then in Italy with AS Roma, Sampdoria and Lazio, with whom he won Serie A prior to taking the England job.

“It’s a shame because I always thought I would be in the Mexico dugout for a World Cup as Mexico are going to qualify,” said the Swede, who readily admitted that poor away showings were to blame.

“We did not play well away from home and this is my responsibility.”

Compean said a replacement would be lined up within days with the media quickly putting their money on former incumbent Javier Aguirre, who recently left Atletico Madrid, with Jose Manuel de la Torre of Mexican champions Toluca another name in the frame.

When in charge of England, Eriksson appeared to have inherited a ‘golden generation’ of players including the likes of David Beckham and Steven Gerrard.

But a run to the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals and the same stage of both Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup were as far as he could take the side and he stepped down in 2006.

A turbulent season with Manchester City followed before he took, to general surprise, the Mexican job but after patchy results ahead of the win over Costa Rica he admitted: “We must win or life will be very difficult for me – I will probably be out of work.”

Reports in the English media have in recent days linked him with a return to the English Premiership with struggling Portsmouth following Pompey’s sacking of Tony Adams.

Three teams from the six-nation final phase of qualifying advance directly to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, with the fourth-placed team playing off for a berth against the fifth-placed team from South America.

Mexico were not overly impressive even in the first phase of qualifying which included, among other sub-standard showings, a loss to Jamaica.

Eriksson took the reins last June on a reported seven-million dollar salary following the sacking of legendary striker Hugo Sanchez three months earlier.

Facts: Sven-Göran Eriksson

Date of Birth: February 5 1948

Place of Birth: Torsby, Sweden

Player position: Defender

Player career: Torsby 1966-71, KB Karlskoga FF 1972-75

Club managerial career: Degerfors (Swedish third division) 1976-79, IFK Gothenburg (SWE) 1979-82, Benfica (POR) 1982-84, AS Roma (ITA) 1984-87, Fiorentina (ITA) 1987-89, Benfica 1989-92, Sampdoria (ITA) 1992-97, Lazio (ITA) 1997-2000, Manchester City (ENG) 2007-2008

Club honours: Swedish Cup (IFK Gothenburg) 1979, 1982; Swedish League (IFK Gothenburg) 1981; Portuguese Cup (Benfica) 1983; Portuguese League (Benfica) 1983, 1984, 1991; Italian Cup (AS Roma) 1986, (Sampdoria) 1994, (Lazio) 1998; UEFA Cup (Lazio) 1999; Italian League champions (Lazio) 2000

England manager: 2000-06

Appointed as Mexico coach in June 2008. Sacked April 2, 2009.

International record: 2002 World Cup quarter-finals; Euro 2004 quarter-finals; 2006 World Cup quarter-finals

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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