Formal recognition for a football/grime lookalike, a life-saving intervention in Prague and a dubious penalty in England are highlights as UEFA.com catches up on three weeks of email.
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- What was happening a few weeks ago?
- Domestic league and cups
- All of Europe's reigning champions and cup holders
Stormzy and Lukaku: officially doppelgangers
First up: it is now officially OK to say that British grime star Stormzy looks like Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku. Even Stormzy himself thinks its true, saying this week: "I'm not gonna lie – every time I see him I just look at him and think: 'Yeah you dooo mate!' We just look the same." Stormzy's recent appearance on stage alongside Ed Sheeran has led to a rash of Stormzy/Sheeran-Lukaku/De Bruyne comparisons.
A life-saver in the Czech Republic
Francis Koné is the toast of the Czech Republic after the Slovácko player dived in to stop Bohemians Praha goalkeeper Martin Berkovec from choking when he swallowed his tongue following a collision with a defender. The forward said it was the fourth time he had been called on to perform the manoeuvre, but hoped it would be the last, saying: "I thank God it all ended well." Berkovec, meanwhile, was grateful Koné had been so quick to intervene. "I will invite him for dinner next time he is in Prague, and I won't be looking to save money on the bill," he said.
Expecting Smith meets expectations
It's your testimonial, and FIFA World Cup final referee Howard Webb has awarded a dodgy last-minute penalty for you to bow out on a high. Only problem is, you didn't actually play in the game as you are several months pregnant. That was the case with England's Kelly Smith as she managed an all-star team against her long-time club Arsenal to mark her retirement, but her nerve held as she came off the bench to score. "I was so nervous," the 38-year-old said. "But I kept it low and in the corner. I did say to Howard Webb beforehand: 'Can I do it again? I'll be so embarrassed if I miss.' But luckily it was on target."
Hagi on what it takes to succeed
Want to become a top footballer? Start starving. Romanian all-time great Gheorghe Hagi reckons hunger is what marks out genuine contenders. "Football is not played by princes, but only by people who are hungry, who can overcome any hurdle. I know, because I played on snow or ice-covered pitches, in freezing weather, in all sorts of conditions. Players have to adapt and to cope. Trust me: people who are well fed have to quit football – only those who are hungry can succeed."
Dining the French way
Czech defender Lukáš Pokorný experienced a different kind of hunger after leaving Slovan Liberec for Montpellier last month, suddenly discovering that a meal was something to be enjoyed rather than bolted at pace. "For team dinners at Liberec, everybody was finished and back to their hotel room in 15 minutes," he marvelled. "Here, we sit and talk and it lasts an hour and a half – we have to wait until the last person finishes. Nobody leaves until the captain gives the signal."
Montenegro on Montenegro
Argentinian Julián Montenegro is the toast of his namesake country after arriving in Montenegro to play for Lovćen during the winter. The former Boavista, Farense and Lynx player is learning what life is like in the former Yugoslav republic. "I knew about Montenegro, but playing football in Montenegro – I could not even imagine," he admitted. His first impressions? "It was very cold when I arrived and for the first time in my life I saw snow."
Midfielder, board member ... coffee boy?
Wednesday evening will be unique for København midfielder William Kvist when his team face a cup tie against third-tier outfit B93 – where the 32-year-old is a board member. "It adds some pizzazz to the game and gives me more motivation because I don't want to be teased by the other members," he said. "I don't want to be the person who has to bring coffee to every other board member for the next year if we lose."
Romanian quote of the week
Champions Astra's 3-1 victory at Concordia Chiajna was their sixth straight league win, but success is taking its toll on coach Marius Şumudică – who turns 46 on 4 March. After the match he said: "If we win a second successive title, I give my word I will quit the job for one year. I will go where there is warm weather; spend the summer on the beach and the winter in Dubai. I want to relax. Look at my white hair. My neighbours call me as 'Mister Şumudică'. They think I am my father."
Maximum beard in Iceland
Iceland's captain fantastic, right-back cum midfielder Aron Gunnarsson, ceremonially shaved off his Viking-style facial hair last week, bringing a formal end to the beard era in modern football.
Malta hot once more
UEFA.com was inundated with offers of scarves and snoods from concerned readers after we reported that temperatures dipped as low as 4C in Malta in January. The good news from UEFA.com's Domenic Aquilina is that the weather is beautiful once more. To prove it, here is a picture of some warm substitutes at a recent friendly between Malta's women and Lithuania. And a picture of a dog in a Malta top too, just for fun.