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 Subject : on board the next .. 03.02.2015 - 07:32:10 
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There he was once again in space in the middle of the field. Josh Hamilton Angels Jersey . He took one quick look to the left, before firmly fixing his wide eyes on to his team-mate with the ball. He didnt just want the ball, he demanded it and his team-mates knew it too. A look from him and they knew they should give him the ball. The ball rolled towards him incredibly slowly in his mind, so slowly he was able to take a quick look to his right before he felt the ball grace against his right boot. Immediately he took a touch forward, keeping his head up to see the run, although he already knew it was coming, and as he dribbled deep into the opponents territory he waited until the perfect moment to supply the pass through the defenders and on to the rushing teammate. The pace of the pass was so precise, Jordi Alba only had to touch it once to settle himself before slotting home. 2-0 Spain. In the 41st minute that night in Kiev, Xavi Hernandez became the first player ever to assist in two different European Championship finals, but the pass that cemented that stat meant so much more than achieving a football first through an assist statistic. Xavi knew what the world knew at that moment. Spain, who hadnt given up a single goal in any of their previous nine knockout games at the Euros or World Cup, certainly were not going to concede twice to Italy that night. Xavis magnificent pass had secured their victory and put them amongst the greatest national teams to ever play the game. Spain would go on to win 4-0 with Xavi again providing a key assist for the third goal. Andres Iniesta, who is far more than a teammate to Xavi, rightly was handed man of the match to cap a marvellous tournament, but in terms of raising his game for the big occasion no one did it better than Xavi that night. Xavi and Spain had spent most of the tournament in third gear but when the midfield maestro stepped it up, so did the team. It has been the story of Xavis career. The previous summer in the Champions League final at Wembley, a theatre he loved because of how much be embraced the sports history, Xavi had the keys to unlock the opposition. Once again he had found space, this time between the lines, but as he attacked Manchester United had his options covered. Still Xavi waited, ever the ball treasurer, the Spaniard let Lionel Messi make a run to drag Patrice Evra central, exposing a bit of space for Pedro to run into. Xavi saw the space first and placed another perfect ball that allowed the eventual goalscorer to take one simple touch before firing home. Another assist and another completely masterful performance on the games biggest stage. In the summer of 2010, Xavi made more passes and more accurate passes than any player at the World Cup (599/669), yet his most crucial one comes from a corner against Germany in the semi final, one that landed on the head of Carles Puyol, to help power Spain into their first ever World Cup final. A few days later, Xavi lifted the World Cup after his footballing soul mate, Iniesta, scored the games only goal. After that win in South Africa, UEFA President Michel Platini did not ask for Iniestas winning shirt. He asked, and received, the shirt of Xavi. The same Xavi who in the summer of 2009, again in the Champions League final, placed a magnificent ball on to the head of Lionel Messi who nodded it past Edwin van der Sar. Messi did not win man of the match that day, Xavi did. The same Xavi, a summer earlier, that got it all started for Spain, who changed their identity from perennial underachievers to winners, when he placed a wonderful ball through to Fernando Torres to score the games only goal. Xavi has been around long enough to know what it was like when both his teams struggled, yet he, more than any other player, helped them both reach the top of the sports mountain. When the footballing genius eventually calls it a career his legacy will be reflected by the incredible impact and importance he had for his teams in big games. Xavi is simply not just a player who won everything there is to win with club and country. He is a player that dictated their identity; an identity and style that helped both Barcelona and Spain dominate. Two days prior to his Kiev display, the artist stood in front of the worlds media and had to answer a question on whether that style was boring. "If we are boring but we are winning, that is fantastic for us. We will keep playing our game, we are not bored." How could he be? The victory in Kiev was Xavis 17th winners medal in four years. In between the Euro 2008 and 2012 victories, he and Iniesta had won a World Cup, two Champions League titles, three Spanish league crowns, three Spanish Super Cups, two Spanish Cups, two European Super Cups and two World Club Cups. Since he has won another league title and a Spanish Super Cup all done in a style far from boring. "We go out from the first moment looking for the ball and looking to put pressure on the opposition. If you are not going to pass the ball then why play the game. That is not football in my opinion," Xavi explaind. For another coach someone like (Javier) Clemente or (Fabio) Capello they may have another idea of football but it is good that the Barcelona idea works. What were Holland looking for in the World Cup final? A Robben counter-attack? Penalties? We won a lot of games 1-0 but it was the opposition that were boring, not us." Xavi turned 34 last month and played in his 700th game for Barcelona. He has played more games in the five-and-a-half seasons than anyone yet there are very few signs of weariness. "I dont want to miss any games, but I see the need to dose my efforts a bit more," he said recently. "Maybe in Spain people get carried away when a player reaches 30, but this is the best I have felt in my career. More mature, physically better. It is because I have learned things." Xavis football brain will carry him into his senior years and well beyond his playing days, likely into a job as Barcelona coach one day, but while he has his legs we still have opportunities to watch him play. It is these opportunities, as football lovers, that we must grab. We are the guardians of future history and when we are asked in years to come what was Xavi like? it will be down to us to explain to the next generation what a magnificent, complete player he was. Unfortunately, in Canada we are robbed of seeing him play every week on domestic television but next week the Champions League presents us all with another opportunity to watch him. There, of course, is one other window of opportunity that could burst open for North American fans. "Rumours about moving to Qatar or New York this year? My wish is to stay here until the end of my contract. Im not moving," said Xavi recently. That would take him to the summer of 2016, by which point he will be 36. Xavi is smart enough to know that will likely be too old to be a major player in such a technical style that both his club and country play. However, a move to MLS when he is 36 would give him a great opportunity to compete for a couple more winners medals while playing into his late thirties. Xavis path to the United States could be boosted by what his friend and mentor, Pep Guardiola, decided to do when he took a sabbatical from coaching last season and came to New York. Xavi, who was kept out of the side by Guardiola when he was young and almost moved because he couldnt get in ahead of him, went on to be a very different player (occupied further forward to make those key assists) thanks to Frank Rijkaards progressive thinking but has always had a special bond with his former teammate and coach. Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristains primary job is to succeed with Manchester City, but the former Barcelona executives will play a crucial role in the success of new MLS team, New York City FC, as 80% of that club is owned by the Premier League club. Xavi has every right to stay focused on the tasks at hand in his homeland right now. After all, in the next four months, he has a Champions League and a Spanish Cup to try and regain and a La Liga and World Cup to try to defend but when he is 36 he will have a decision to make and it is difficult to imagine him choosing retirement. He would be magnificent in Major League Soccer. Of all the current players in the game today, not named Ronaldo or Messi, he would be the one I would want to watch play in North America. A recent twitter poll of this question saw just 2 of 100 answer Xavi (with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being the overwhelming popular answer) but then again the Spanish maestro is used to being in the shadows of the true superstars. Less than 18 months ago I went to Barcelona to watch them play, excited to see Messi and my favourite, Iniesta, play. Not for the first time, Xavi crashed the party putting on a passing clinic in midfield. Enjoy him while he is still playing at a high level, folks. Spain have created many wonderful footballers, but on January 25th, 1980, Xavi Hernandez i Creus, the greatest of them all, was born. He grew to be a footballing giant at 5ft 7 inches, who played a major role in the way the game was played. One can only hope the last chapter of this fabulous footballing life can one day be written in North America. Just think of the ways the league and its players could benefit. Albert Pujols Authentic Jersey . The 22-year-old from Notre Dame started 29 games and had five goals and six assists this season. The league announced Monday that Powers received 93 per cent of team, media and player votes. Jered Weaver Authentic Jersey . They just probably couldnt have imagined how much. BlakeGriffin had 26 points, 11 rebounds and six assists Sunday night as Los Angeles stormed out to a 31-point lead in the first quarter with its All-Star point guard back on the court and pummeled the Philadelphia 76ers 123-78.PHILADELPHIA -- MartinBrodeur missed all the post-season fun a year ago. One of the games all-time greats, the veteran goaltender considered retirement and the New Jersey Devils were absent from the playoffs for the first time since 1996. Flash forward a year later. The cheering and hollering from behind closed doors in the Devils locker room could be heard way down the Wells Fargo Center hallway. Days after he turned 40, Brodeur has the Devils back where theyve been six other times before in their 30-year history. The Eastern Conference Finals. BryceSalvador, DavidClarkson and IlyaKovalchuk scored goals to lift New Jersey to a 3-1 Game 5 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, sending the Devils into the conference championship round for the first time since 2003. The Devils await the winner of the New York-Washington series, which the Rangers lead, 3-2. New Jersey rebounded this season under coach Peter DeBoer in his first season on New Jerseys bench after the franchise suffered one of its worst years since general manager Lou Lamoriello took over in 1987. Brodeur had 27 saves and the Devils hope they can ride him all the way to June one more time. "It seems forever for a lot of guys," Brodeur said. "Its tough to do that. Were fortunate to have made it there so far." The sixth-seeded Devils scored twice in the first period and became the first East team to win four straight games in these playoffs. "It was just sticking with the game plan and doing what it takes to be successful," DeBoer said. "Marty made some saves when he needed to, and we held on." Max Talbot scored for the Flyers, but Philadelphia was eliminated in the conference semifinals for the second straight season. The Flyers finished the season without suspended All-Star forward ClaudeGiroux because of his illegal check to the head on New Jersey centre DainiusZubrus in Game 4. "It should have been a tighter series," Giroux said, wearing a suit. The Flyers underwent a facelift last summer that saw them trade team captain MikeRichards to the Los Angeles Kings and acquire goalie IlyaBryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes. The Kings and Coyotes will play in the West finals while the Flyers watch from home. The Flyers again failed in the post-season to hold a quick lead after Talbot scored in the first. Meanwhile, the Devils survived a rugged series of hits unleashed by a frustrated Flyers team that failed to build anything off the surprising first-round victory over Pittsburgh. AntonVolchenkov, MarekZidlicky and Zubrus all suffered punishing hits that knocked them down to the ice in Game 5. Bryzgalov had a disheartening end to an erratic first season in Philadelphia. He allowed two YouTube-worthy goals like only he can. Salvador unleashed a shot from outside the circle that skipped along the ice as if he threw a rock across a pond and sailed high over Bryzgalov for the tying goal. In a season loaded with head-scratching tallies allowed, Bryzgalov saved the weirdest for the finale. Clarksons dump-in was pushed by Flyers defenceman KimmoTimonen toward the goaltender. Instead of controlling it, wrapping it around the boards or even just covering it, Bryzgalov pushed it right back toward a charging Clarkson, whose stick grazed the puck as it slid through the netminder and past the line. "I honestly had no idea it went in until I heard the crowd yelling," Clarkson said. "Just to be on the forecheck when that went in is an unbelievable feeling." The Devils could have credited Bryzgalov with an assist on that goal. "I was just trying to pressure hiim to make a play," Clarkson said. Kevin Jepsen Authentic Jersey. "I had no idea it was in until the crowd starting booing. Its a goal Ill take any day." Kovalchuk fired a liner from the high slot after the Devils won the faceoff to make it 3-1 in the third to seal the win. From there, New Jerseys depth took over and stuffed any hope of a home team rally. "The fact that we have four lines and roll six defencemen really helps," DeBoer said. "Its a team game. We play that way, and guys really believe in what were doing. But thats a good team we just beat over there, and we have a long way to go." All the inspirational "Rocky" clips on their highlight reel couldnt inspire the Flyers. Even Girouxs presence may not have even mattered in Game 5. Without their leading scorer, the Flyers tried to knock around the Devils with a series of both clean and questionable hits. ZacRinaldo stayed on his skates when he charged full speed with his right shoulder and crushed Volchenkov against the boards. Volchenkov was down on his knees for several minutes before he gingerly walked to the bench. "Thats my bread and butter right there," Rinaldo said. "Thats what I feed off of and thats what gets the boys going." But the hit sparked just a short dose of momentum. Talbot won a fight for the puck in front of the crease to score moments later for a 1-0 lead. But that was it for the Flyers offence. Brodeur snared a Talbot slapper late in the period for one of his 27 saves. Rinaldo delivered a stiff knee to Zubrus in the second. WayneSimmonds creamed Zidlicky in the corner that left the defenceman sprawled on the ice. The hits meant nothing more than a brief roar from the crowd, though. Late in the third, the Flyers fans made an early exit -- much like their team. The Flyers havent won the Stanley Cup since snaring consecutive championships in 1974 and 1975. "Its hard right now," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "I can tell you that the group that is in that room right now is a terrific group of men. They play hard and they have a bright future." The Devils have won six of seven and believe they have another title run in them. This is the third time in franchise history New Jersey has defeated Philadelphia in the post-season. The previous two times (1995 and 2000), the Devils went on to win the Stanley Cup. Brodeur has gone from answering questions about retirement to ones about another chase for the Cup. He has been in net for all three of New Jerseys titles, including 2003, the franchises last one. With two different coaches behind the bench last season -- Jacques Lemaire came out of retirement to replace JohnMacLean -- the Devils went 38-39-5, and finished in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with just 81 points. Taking out the lockout-shortened 1995 season, that was the franchises lowest point total since 1990-91 (79). Brodeur came on board the next season. "I dont think he was ever a guy that was going to retire," Clarkson said. "Hes won us some games in the playoffs. Hes held us in. Hes exciting to watch." Notes: The Devils are 22-16 in Game 5s. ... Flyers D AndrejMeszaros (back) played for the first time since March 1. ... DeBoer is now 2-0 in playoff series this season after never having won a post-season round before as a coach. ... The Flyers, swept by Boston in Round 2 last season, are now 1-8 in their last nine Eastern Conference semifinals games. ... Even with the loss, Flyers F JaromirJagr loved his first season in Philadelphia. "I loved everybody on this team. This was probably the most enjoyable year I ever had." cheap jerseys cheap jerseys from china ' ' '

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