Thank you: Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United FC)
"Sir Alex Ferguson retires. #thankyousiralex" Has a tweet ever brought the same avalanche of praise, lionisation, emotion and reflection as Wednesday morning's offering from the English champions? After 26 years, 13 Premier League titles, two UEFA Champions League triumphs, a European Cup Winners' Cup, a UEFA Super Cup, five FA Cups and four English League Cups, the Scotsman will step down at Old Trafford this month.
"My players and staff, past and present, I would like to thank them all. Without their contribution the history of this great club would not be as rich," he said. Many from the football world and beyond returned the compliment and then some. The 71-year-old goes into semi-retirement with plenty to look back on, maybe even his first match in charge, a 2-1 defeat by Oxford United FC. That feels a lifetime away and for many, of course, it is: half the planet's seven billion people were born after 1986. David Moyes has big shoes to fill.
They have not done it in quite the same style as last season, when their loss column in Serie A remained empty to the end, but Antonio Conte's team have made the transition from hunters to hunted look easy. Last Saturday Arturo Vidal's 59th-minute penalty set Juventus on course for a 1-0 win against US Città di Palermo that wrapped up a second successive Scudetto with three games to spare.
"It's a huge weight off our shoulders – a responsibility we've had from the start of the season," said goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. "When you're favourites and expected to win, it's only yours to lose. We did well. I've really enjoyed this particular Scudetto triumph. We never put a foot wrong when it counted and, in recent matches, we took the decisive steps by winning difficult games that were anything but guaranteed victories."
Elsewhere, AFC Ajax put the finishing touches to their third consecutive championship in the Netherlands, Galatasaray AŞ retained their Turkish crown and FC København wrested back the Danish title relinquished last term. FC Dinamo Tbilisi crossed the threshold in Georgia and FC Steaua Bucureşti were confirmed as Romanian champions – more on that one below.
Player: Martin Slaninka (Slovakia)
His name translates as 'little bacon', but Slaninka has been bringing home all the bacon at the 2013 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. The left-sided MŠK Žilina player only made his international debut at this level in Slovakia's maiden U17 finals match against Austria last Sunday, and within 18 minutes of coming off the bench he had his first goal, a match winner to boot.
Fast forward to Wednesday, Slovakia trailed Switzerland 2-1 so coach Ladislav Pecko turned once more to Slaninka. Within 15 minutes he had equalised to earn a point that leaves the host nation on the verge of the semi-finals. "It was a super feeling," the 17-year-old said. Not bad for a player who usually features in a less glamorous role on the left of midfield or defence.
Goal: Raul Rusescu (FC Steaua Bucureşti)
Rusescu celebrating has become a familiar sight in the Romanian top flight but there was a sense that against CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu last Friday his 20th goal of the campaign meant something. It was a bit special, as he ran onto Adrian Popa's pass from the right and drilled a shot low into the bottom corner. Just how special became clear the next day when FC Petrolul Ploieşti's failure to win meant Steaua's 2-0 home victory saw them crowned First Division champions.
The triumph ends a seven-year spell without the title for Romania's most successful club, but it is no surprise – Laurențiu Reghecampf's side have been dominant all season. With four games left and a 16-point chasm between them and second-placed FC Petrolul Ploieşti, they are on course to record the biggest winning margin in a Romanian championship race. Rusescu is not done yet either. "I want to reach 24 goals to mark the club's 24th title," said the 24-year-old.
Midfielder Stiliyan Petrov, Bulgaria's most-capped player, announced his retirement on Thursday aged 33, some 14 months after being diagnosed with acute leukaemia. Throughout this campaign Aston Villa FC supporters – and many opposition fans and coaches – have applauded during the 19th minute of every match in reference to 'Stan's' squad number. Villa's last game of the season at Wigan Athletic FC will be 'Stiliyan Petrov day'.
"We gave a heroic performance and the players were dying on the pitch throughout the 90 minutes. The second match will be Die Hard II."
Igor Tudor warms to his role as new coach of HNK Hajduk Split after his side came from behind to beat NK Lokomotiva Zagreb 2-1 in the first leg of the Croatian Cup final. The sequel is in the capital on 22 May.
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