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Argentine superstar, Lionel Messi has posted a heartfelt tribute to his former Barcelona team-mate Ronaldinho following his retirement from football.

On Tuesday, Ronaldinho’s brother and agent, Roberto Assis, revealed the Brazilian World Cup winner’s retirement after his stellar career.

Following his decision to hang his boots, a host of football stars sent out heartfelt messages to the 37-year-old Brazilian legend on social media.
Lionel Messi posted a picture of the pair together at Barcelona sitting down on the pitch.

He wrote: ‘As I always said, I learned a lot by your side. I will always be grateful to you for how easy it was that you did everything to me when I got to the dressing room.

‘I was lucky to share many things with you and I am very happy because, in addition to a phenomenon with the ball, you are a very great person and that is the most important thing.

‘Even if you decide to leave, football will never forget your smile. All the best, Ronnie.’

The duo played together at the Camp Nou for four years before Ronaldinho departed for AC Milan.

David Beckham, who played with the Brazilian at Milan, also posted a heartwarming message on Instagram.

He said: ‘Welcome to retirement my friend … Pleasure to play with you , against you and to see someone smile doing something they love.’

Fellow Brazilian Neymar wrote: ‘@ronaldinho which honours to be part of its history. I will always remember your joy on the field, you left a legacy that will hardly be beaten in football ART … Thank you for everything you did for FOOTBALL lovers.’Ronaldo, who won the World Cup in 2002 with Ronaldinho as part of a terrorising front-three with Rivaldo as well, said: ‘Dividing the name, the nickname and so many historical moments with this genius was an honour. It ends now a victorious trajectory, perpetuating the trail of art and joy in our football. Thanks.’

Other top stars to pay tribute on the social media platform included Ronaldo Andrea Pirlo and Steven Gerrard among many others.

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[BREAKING] Coronavirus: Arsenal Players Quarantined, EPL Game Postponed

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Arsenal’s game at Manchester City was postponed on Wednesday after players from the London club were put into quarantine, making it the first Premier League fixture to be called off because of the new coronavirus.

Arsenal said players and four staff had been isolated at their homes after coming into contact with the owner of Greek club Olympiakos, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are strictly following the government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact,” an Arsenal statement said.

“As a result, the players are unavailable for tonight’s (Wednesday’s) match against Manchester City and the Premier League has decided the game should be postponed.”

The first postponement in the Premier League, which has a worldwide following of billions of TV viewers, follows widespread disruption to football and other sports across the globe.

Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League by Olympiakos in late February. Vangelis Marinakis, the owner of the Greek club and England’s Nottingham Forest, announced on Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

But Arsenal said the players and staff, who met Marinakis after the game at the Emirates Stadium, will return to work on Friday ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton.

“The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing COVID-19 at extremely low,” it added.

The Premier League called the move a “precautionary measure” and said there were no plans to postpone any other games.

Football’s Serie A and all other sports have been put on hold in Italy, while the top two divisions in Spain and France will be played in empty stadiums for at least the next two weeks.

UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League have also been both forced to arrange matches behind closed doors as the epidemic spreads.

Olympiakos host Wolverhampton Wanderers in Athens this week in the Europa League, in one of the last-16 games that will be played in front of an empty stadium.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo has joined a number of managers, including Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, in voicing disquiet at being asked to play without fans.

“If we have to go we will. But we don’t agree — we’re not happy to go,” he told Sky Sports.

“Behind closed doors doesn’t make sense,” he added. “We’re pretending to live a normal life when things aren’t normal.”

Wednesday’s postponement could also frustrate Premier League leaders Liverpool, as a Manchester City defeat would have taken them to the brink of their first top-flight title in 30 years.

 

AFP

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GTBank Masters Cup Season 9 Reaches Semi Final Stage

Peter Okunoren

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After a thrilling round of football in the quarter-finals, eight teams in the male and female categories have advanced to the semi-final stages of the 2020 GTBank Masters Cup. All four games will be played at the Campos Stadium, Lagos Island, on Wednesday 5th February 2020, where the Semi-Finalists will compete for a coveted spot in the grand finale.

Last season’s winners in the male and female category, Kings College and Lead-Forte Gate College, will hope to defend their title when they take on Eko Boys High School, Mushin and Queens College, Yaba respectively.

Coming off their five-goal rout of International School Lagos in the quarterfinals, Greensprings School, Lekki will be looking to keep up the momentum against last year’s male finalists, Anwar-Ul-Islam Model College, Agege who also completed a seven-goal rout of C.M.S Grammar School, Yaba. In the female category, Ansar-Ud-Deen Girls High School, Itire and Greensprings School, Lekki will battle it out for one of two spots in the final of the GTBank Masters Cup.

Since its commencement in 2012, the GTBank Masters Cup has become one of the most anticipated secondary school football competitions renowned for discovering and developing indigenous talents, some of whom have secured scholarships and trials with football academies around the world. Now in its 9th season, the competition hosts 50 teams from over 40 schools who come together to showcase their football talent, whilst promoting the values of sportsmanship, passion, and fair play.

The full schedule of the semi-finals is as follows:

Wednesday 5th February 2020

Female Category

Ansar-Ud-Deen Girls High School, Itire vs Greensprings School, Lekki

Lead-Forte Gate College, Lekki vs Queens College, Yaba

Male Category

Anwar-Ul-Islam Model College, Agege vs Greensprings School, Lekki

Eko Boys High School, Mushin vs Kings College, Lagos Island

 

 

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GTBank Sponsors 2020 Lagos International Polo Tournament

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From February 4th to 16th, 2020, Lagos will play host to some of the most prestigious teams for Africa’s premier polo competition – the 2020 Lagos International Polo Tournament.

Sponsored by leading African Financial Institution, Guaranty Trust Bank plc, the competition will feature 39 teams; the highest number till date. The teams will compete in four major cups; the Silver Cup, Open Cup, Low Cup, and Majekodunmi Cup. The finals of the Silver Cup and Open Cup will hold on Sunday 9th February 2020, while the finals of the Low Cup and Majekodunmi Cup holds on Sunday 16th February 2020.

This year, the Lagos International Polo Tournament, themed “Lagos Develops Polo”, aims to encourage the participation of young and indigenous talented players while featuring top-class action from some of the most experienced and acclaimed polo players in and out of the country, including South Africa’s Chris Mackenzie +7, Argentina’s Andres Crespo +5, Raul Laplacette +7 and Santiago de Estrada +6, as well as Nigeria’s Neku Atawodi-Edun +5, the first black female polo player and the highest-handicapped female player at the tournament.

Over the years, GTBank has been at the forefront of supporting Polo; widely revered as the Sport of Kings, and promoting the Lagos International Polo Tournament, which has hosted reputable personalities such as His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Played on the grounds of the Lagos Polo Club, Ikoyi, the premier polo club in the country, the tournament has featured polo greats like Alphonso Pieres, Gonzalo Pieres, and Alan Kent.

Commenting on GTBank’s sponsorship of the 2020 Lagos International Polo Tournament, Segun Agbaje, Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, said; “We love the game of polo, not only because it is one of the most anticipated events in the social calendar of the country, but also because its values such as discipline, rigour, and fair play strongly resonates with our brand.

He further stated; “Our sponsorship of the 2020 NPA Lagos International Polo Tournament also reflects our strong belief in the role of sports as a major vehicle of social development and our commitment to championing activities and events that bring people together.”

Guaranty Trust Bank is a leading advocate of Sports Education as a major way of promoting the values of excellence and fair play whilst laying a solid foundation for the emergence of sporting talent. The Bank maintains a defined Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy focused on championing causes and fostering initiatives that transform lives and uplift communities.

Alongside the GTBank Lagos International Polo Tournament, the Bank organizes and sponsors several other sports competitions, one of which is the GTBank Masters Cup; a football competition amongst secondary schools in Lagos State.

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