Team: Swansea City AFC
"It's the most important trophy I've won," said Swansea manager Michael Laudrup after his side beat Bradford City AFC 5-0 in last Sunday's English League Cup final. The 48-year-old lifted the 1991/92 European Cup with FC Barcelona as well as domestic titles with Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid CF and AFC Ajax, but remarked: "You will win trophies with big clubs. With smaller clubs, it's very rare."
After fourth-tier Bradford were outclassed at Wembley, the Swans' centenary celebrations will continue into the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League. In fact, their first major trophy was even commented on at the Oscars, Swansea-born Catherine Zeta-Jones telling reporters: "Swansea won – haven't you heard? How long is it since Swansea's been in Wembley Stadium? Long time."
Player: Milan Baroš (FC Baník Ostrava)
Though the former Czech Republic striker failed to score last Saturday on his first appearance for Baník in 11 years, Baroš had nonetheless proved himself a hero even before coming on in the 0-0 First League draw with SK Dynamo České Budějovice. The 31-year-old had nobly offered to put his wages directly into the club's youth system, having earned a comfortable nest egg from his time with Liverpool FC and Galatasaray AŞ.
Baroš, who had not played a competitive game all season, said of his České Budějovice cameo: "I had butterflies in my stomach during the first half. That has not happened to me for a long time. I am glad these feelings came as they mean I still enjoy football 100%."
Goal: Arjen Robben (FC Bayern München)
Robben's superb strike against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday sent Bayern into the semi-finals of the German Cup – and judging by his celebrations after the 1-0 home win, it meant a lot to the Dutchman as he exorcised the memory of a missed penalty against the same opponents last term. "You can be pretty pleased when you decide a game with a goal like that," the winger said. "I'm 29 but when you look back at your career, it's always goals like that you'll remember."
Lucky goal: Luis Ibáñez (GNK Dinamo Zagreb)
Croatia's rescheduled 'Eternal Derby' went Dinamo's way thanks to a glorious stroke of luck on Wednesday. Hosts HNK Hajduk Split had just equalised at 1-1 when, pretty much from the kick-off, Dinamo defender Luis Ibáñez wrapped his foot around the ball out on the left and arced it beautifully over Hajduk's 2m-tall goalkeeper Goran Blažević. If only he had meant it. "I was trying to cross it, but I got lucky – the ball went straight in," admitted the 24-year-old Argentinian.
"He is, in all fairness, one of the most prestigious coaches in the world."
An official spokesman from Setubal Town Hall explains the local general assembly's unanimous decision to name a street in the southern Portuguese city in honour of Real Madrid CF coach José Mourinho.
FC Rapid Bucureşti were forced to release 17 players over the winter break due to an insolvency agreement, but still managed to win their first league game of the spring 1-0 at CSMS Iaşi last Saturday. The hope now is that a youthful team dubbed 'The Rapid Kindergarten' will thrive in Romania's First Division. "Those youngsters will get better and better," said coach Marian Rada.
Young player: Jürgen Locadia (PSV Eindhoven)
PSV set up a Dutch Cup final against AZ Alkmaar following a 3-0 victory at PEC Zwolle on Wednesday, with Locadia the unexpected star. The 19-year-old forward only started the match because Jeremain Lens (suspended) and Tim Matavž (ill) were unavailable, but seized the spotlight by scoring in the 16th, 34th and 85th minutes.
Nor was it his first hat-trick for PSV – he had come off the bench on 68 minutes at VVV-Venlo for his Eredivisie debut on 30 September and hit three in a 6-0 win. However, his cup haul could have been even more impressive. "Things went brilliantly, but I am actually not feeling very well," he revealed afterwards. "I am totally finished right now."
Statue: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan)
Some players find themselves immortalised in bronze once their careers are over, but the way Italy striker Balotelli sees it, why wait until you retire? Local sculptor Livio Scarpella has been commissioned to make a life-size effigy of the 22-year-old to go in the player's Brescia home.
"I have received the commission, but I've never met Balotelli so I am working from photos," he said. "I sent him several ideas but Mario wanted to be immortalised in a pose that shows him having scored a goal, highlighting his muscles and with an expression of defiance. I have imagined him as an athlete from ancient times and the statue will be a mix of classical and pop style – in platinum, coloured bronze, and with eyes made of stones."
Overhead kicks: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK FC)
Greece forward Dimitris Salpingidis is publicity shy, so he let his football do the talking in PAOK's 3-1 Super League victory at home to Kerkyra FC last Saturday, scoring two overhead kicks in the space of nine minutes. After Kostas Katsouranis had set up the first acrobatic effort on 25 minutes, the 31-year-old repeated the feat nine minutes later.
The first strike brought him the local goal of the week award with a staggering 91.6% of the public vote, though coach Giorgos Donis did his best to keep a lid on the excitement, saying: "Dimitris scored two great goals – that will help boost his morale ahead of some tough matches."
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