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Balotelli_presser2

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Mario Balotelli.

Say what you like about football, but there is never a dull year. Soccer writer John Goliath hands out his awards for 2012.

Performance of the Year: Chelsea (v Barcelona,Champions League semi-final second leg)

I love my sports movies, especially true stories about heroic tales of guts, determination and glory, basically the stuff that legends are made of.

There is bound to be a movie about Chelsea’s Champions League triumph this year, which was built on a platform of blood, sweat and tears that were spilled on a historic night at the Nou Camp.

The violent among us would say the best way to stop Barcelona’s attackers is to shoot them in the head from point-blank range, and make sure they don’t get up.

That night, though, Chelsea had to stop them unarmed, and without captain John Terry, who was red-carded for putting a knee into an opponent’s back.

But the Blues showed determination, and a will to overcome. They defended as a team. They fought together like brothers. They were brilliant.

Player of the Year: Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina)

Speed off the mark, electric pace, sublime control, vision and a deadly left foot.

That is supposed to be Lionel Messi in a nutshell. But it isn’t. The fact is, a nutshell is way too small when trying to bottle the superlatives when describing the world’s best footballer. The debate still rages on whether “The Flea” is the best player ever to walk the planet, but all of us will concede that he is a cut above the current crop of players.

This year, he surpassed the great Gerd Muller’s record for goals in a calendar year. He also scored five goals in a single Champions League match, a record.

Messi is just phenomenal!

Goal of the Year: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden v England)

The Queen of England is rumoured have spilled her cup of Earl Grey when she watched a clip of this goal on YouTube on her tab (yes, the Queen knows how to operate one ...).

Although it requires immense skill (not to operate a tab), these days we see more and more bicycle kicks being performed. Not all of them are successful, as some players fire their efforts closer to the corner flag than the goal. But when they do come off, they are truly spectacular.

But what makes the Swede’s effort against England stand out is that it was from way outside the penalty area, and from an acute angle. He also had the presence of mind to know the England goalkeeper Joe Hart was off his line.

And then, with a little “Ibra Kadibra”, his effort bulged the back of the net!

Save of the year: Petr Cech (Chelsea v Liverpool,FA Cup Final)

He might look a bit ridiculous in that scrum cap he wears because of all the head injuries he has had to endure, but Cech still remains one of the world’s premier goalkeepers.

I chose this save above of a plethora of others, not only because of the quality, but also because of the importance of the occasion. And partly because Andy Carroll finally got a ball on target ...

With Chelsea leading this year’s FA Cup final 2-1, Carroll powered in a header from point-blank range. But Cech managed to get to the ball, which was slightly behind him, with an outstretched left hand to save it on to the post.

Worst Hairstyle(s) of the Year: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City)

I don’t really know where he finds the time to get to the hairdresser in between setting off fireworks in the bathroom, shooting fellow players with an air gun at the training ground or handing out money on the streets.

But it seems his hairdresser was the busiest person in Manchester this year in coming up with new ways to make Super Mario’s Mohawk look, well, interesting. Some would say, though, that the hairdresser might have a problem with his or her sight.

If only he could put in as much effort into his football. (sigh).

Best signing of the Year: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Aguero was one of the main reasons why Manchester City won the Premier League for the first time in, gosh ... (I can’t count that far back).

Besides scoring the winner against Queens Park Rangers in the final minute of the season, he contributed with goals, assists, hard work and just his general professionalism on the park. He is one of the few model footballers in the modern era, with no scandals hanging over his head.

He is also married to one Diego Maradona’s daughter, and if I was City, I would offer his baby boy a pre-contract. Immediately!

Quote of the Year: Zeca Marques (Moroka Swallows coach)

“You need eggs to make an omelette.”

That was the Swallows coach’s response when quizzed about how his side have managed to go off the boil so badly after a bright start in the league. But it makes me wonder which ingredients he did use for the omelette when he won the MTN8 title with the Beautiful Birds earlier this season. This will not sit too well with the players, and old Zeka might have to take his players out for, ummm, breakfast to make up.

I prefer my eggs scrambled to be honest with you, coach ...

Controversy of the Year: Safa’s match-fixing scandal

If the people suspended are found guilty of rigging matches afterwards say they did it for the country, I must just make sure I’m in a comfortable position to roll around on the ground and laugh.

The argument could be that they wanted to boost the confidence of the national team by getting a few victories heading into the biggest sporting showpiece. Never mind the alleged monetary gain. That is certainly the defence the late Johnnie Cochran and I would have used. Instead of pulling the race card, they can pull the patriot card: “We did it for Mzansi!”

Drama of the Year: English Premiership finish

I remember sitting in the office and watching a few Manchester United supporters celebrate winning the league. But those celebrations would prove to be a bit premature.

It took two goals in the most intense 90 seconds I have ever experienced in sport. QPR seemed to have the match won, but City weren’t going to let this title slip through their fingers.

It was a perfect finish to an English Premiership campaign that no one would have been able to predict. That is the beauty of sport, and that’s why we will never get tired of enjoying it.

Tweet of the Year: @MikeMakaab

“Pienaar decision to quit Bafana must be related to AFCON – takes players away from European clubs for min 6 wks. NB to re-think AFCON date.”

The sports agent is right, because Bafana Bafana are going to miss their playmaker during the African Cup of Nations on home soil next month. Other big-name players will also be more committed to the cause if the continental showpiece is staged during the European summer.

and the

wish-list for 2013 ...

1. Instant weight loss for Benni McCarthy before Afcon.

2. Promotion for at least one of the Cape teams in the NFD.

3. Peace in the boardroom at Ajax Cape Town.

4. Alex Ferguson to put on some foundation to hide the redness in his face.

5. No more deadly car

accidents for the South African football fraternity. - Cape Times


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