Who’s saying what at the World Cup

Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel crossed swords with Lionel Messi in 2005, they meet again on Tuesday

Moscow (AFP) – AFP Sport picks out some of the best quotes at the World Cup:

“Before the game people said that I was going to win the Golden Ball for being the player of the tournament. But then Messi scored twice, both of them penalties, Argentina won 2-1 and I got the Silver Ball. Messi has kept on stealing awards from me.”

— John Obi Mikel talks about the 2005 World Youth Championship in Britain’s Guardian newspaper. He faces Lionel Messi again on Tuesday in the Nigeria v Argentina showdown in Group D.

“I would like to remind all Russian fans Croatia played a big role in one of the best Russian successes because we won at Wembley Stadium with nothing to play for in 2007 that allowed Russia to go to Euro and have a really good performance (at Euro 2008).”

— Croatia defender Vedran Corluka on maybe becoming Russians’ second favourite team.

“I wasn’t going to stand with a sling on my bloody arm, that’s for certain.”

— Gareth Southgate explaining why he wore strapping under his shirt on the sidelines for his dislocated shoulder at the England v Panama game.

“England were so astonishingly good it was surreal to watch.”

— Headline in The Times after England’s record 6-1 World Cup win over Panama.

“Finally thanks to social media and good management, people can see that footballers are largely eloquent, humble, likeable and decent. ‘Twas ever thus, but no one knew.”

— Former England striker Gary Lineker reflects on the behind-the-scenes insight social media gives fans about their favourite players.

“I’d like to thank the Peruvian people for all the affection they have shown towards the team. It has been unforgettable. We have managed to unite Peru.”

— Paolo Guerrero has a message for supporters of Peru, who have travelled to Russia in huge numbers to see their team at a World Cup for the first time since 1982.

“Salt, pepper, vinegar, as you like. Everyone is free to say what they want and has to accept responsibility. It wasn’t a very nice thing. The players read and listen more than me. They know very well what the coach said.”

— Didier Deschamps when asked if criticism of the French team from Denmark coach Age Hareide would spice up Tuesday’s Group C showdown. Hareide later said his comments were “taken out of context”.