Team: Bradford City AFC
The west Yorkshire club defied the odds again to become the first fourth-division outfit in 51 years to reach the English League Cup final, following Rochdale AFC's unlikely achievement in 1961/62. The old adage that good things come in threes rang true in wintry Birmingham on Tuesday as Phil Parkinson's team completed a 4-3 aggregate victory over Aston Villa FC to take their third Premier League scalp of a fairy-tale run to Wembley, having previously ousted Wigan Athletic FC and Arsenal FC.
The man who headed the crucial away goal in the Bantams' 2-1 second-leg loss at Villa Park, James Hanson, used to stack supermarket shelves and is the only player in the Bradford XI to have commanded a transfer fee. "Why can't we go on and win it?" said goalkeeper Matt Duke. "Let us dream. I am not convinced this will ever sink in."
Player: Björn Vleminckx (Gençlerbirliği SK)
It is hard to imagine your first day in a new job going much better than Vleminckx's. The Belgian international forward's debut for Gençlerbirliği last Sunday was the stuff of dreams as he etched his name into the record books. The 27-year-old, a loan signing from Club Brugge KV, struck four times in a 5-3 Super League success at Antalyaspor, with his first three goals – on 2, 4 and 28 minutes – representing the fastest hat-trick in Turkish top-flight history.
"Of course I didn't expect to score four goals in my first match," said Vleminckx, with interest in the front man now so intense that Gençlerbirliği coach Fuat Çapa banned the media from training on Thursday and Friday to ensure his players could focus on their weekend encounter with struggling Akhisar Belediyespor.
Goal: Paul Pogba (Juventus)
The towering midfielder made sure the absence of Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Simone Pepe and Kwadwo Asamoah was not acutely felt against Udinese Calcio last weekend. The 19-year-old doubled his tally of career league goals with two ferocious right-footed strikes in Juventus's 4-0 Serie A home win, with both efforts worthy of acclaim.
It was his 41st-minute opener, though, which took the breath away. Seizing on a headed clearance around 30 metres out, Pogba took a touch to set himself before cutting across the ball and unleashing a drive that sailed past Daniele Padelli and in off the underside of the crossbar.
"The first goal was crazy. Just thinking about shooting from there was crazy. I am very happy with the brace, but it's already in the past. Now we must focus on continuing to work and pick up points," said Pogba, who mysteriously shaved off his trademark blond crest the following day.
Their midweek French Cup round of 32 tie against Toulouse FC was Paris Saint-Germain FC's 2,000th competitive fixture since the club were formed in 1970. Carlo Ancelotti's side marked the milestone by winning 3-1 at the Parc des Princes – PSG's 930th victory.
"It is no problem that he is a bit smaller. We don't sign players according to height, otherwise I'd be doing all our scouting at basketball courts from now on."
Hannover 96 sporting director Jörg Schmadtke reacts to the revelation that midfield acquisition França is only 1.82m tall – eight centimetres shorter than they were led to believe.
Guardian angel: Ángel Rangel (Swansea City AFC)
The Swansea defender caused a sensation on social media last Friday when he tweeted his 24,000 followers to ask where in the Welsh city he could go to help homeless people. The 30-year-old said he had "food going spare", having reportedly been at a sandwich shop earlier in the day where the manager was preparing to bin unsold stock at closing time.
"My wife Nikki, who is a very caring and charitable person, asked if we could have them for the homeless rather than see them thrown in the bin," said Rangel. "They agreed and we drove around Swansea for over an hour, but couldn't find any homeless people as it was so cold out on the streets with all the snow."
The Rangels eventually ended up at a homeless shelter following a raft of responses. "Thanks a lot but it was just a little gesture – we drove for only one hour – and felt great," he later tweeted.
Emergency service: Luciano Zauri (S.S. Lazio)
Lazio defender Luciano Zauri sought to trump Rangel's bid for sainthood when he rescued a seven-year-old girl – the granddaughter of former Poland striker Zbigniew Boniek, no less – who had fallen four metres into an ornamental well. The incident occurred in the toilets of a Rome restaurant where Zauri was eating, when a plank she was standing on to look in the mirror suddenly gave way.
"We had almost finished lunch when I saw people running in a panic towards the toilet, shouting that a little girl had fallen," Zauri said. "There was a big hole under the washbowl and the little girl was there screaming and crying. It was completely dark. I immediately went down, trying to make some light with my phone, and saw she was managing to keep her head above water."
Ex-Italian international Zauri was lowered down the well to lift the girl – the daughter of former Italian tennis player Vincenzo Santopadre and Karolina Boniek – to safety, but insisted it was all in a day's work. "I'm not the hero – she is," the 35-year-old added. "She kept going until we got her out and did exactly what I told her."
Hoops rings: Neil Lennon (Celtic FC)
A reporter's phone ringing during a press conference has been known to incur the wrath of journalists and coaches alike. So when the mobile of a Scottish football writer, being used as a recording device, went off in Neil Lennon's post-match briefing following his team's 4-1 Premier League defeat of Heart of Midlothian FC last Saturday, the Celtic FC boss caused much hilarity by cutting short an answer to take the call.
The shocked caller quickly hung up upon hearing the unfamiliar voice of Lennon, who told the packed room: "She's not happy." The woman, now revealed as the wife of The Herald's chief football correspondent, tried her luck again moments later.
"Are you going to stop interrupting my press conference, please," Lennon answered. "This is Neil Lennon." When the call was cut short for a second time he turned to the phone's owner, adding: "You're not going out tonight, Michael."
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