Player: Javier Zanetti (FC Internazionale Milano)
Less than 200 days after rupturing his Achilles tendon, 40-year-old Javier Zanetti returned for FC Internazionale Milano in their 2-0 win against AS Livorno Calcio on Saturday. The 2010 UEFA Champions League winner started the move which led to the second goal and was subsequently mobbed by his team-mates. "Right from the day of the operation, I always said I wanted at least one more game in front of my fans," he said. "I could not ask for anything more. There were no tears but it was very emotional. It wasn't easy after six months out."
Inter coach Walter Mazzarri also had his say on Zanetti's remarkable powers of recovery: "He has something special. He came on for ten minutes and gave everyone a great sense of calm. To come back after such a long lay-off and be immediately so confident is extraordinary. He's bionic."
"If we had to find a real mascot, we'd find something better suited to our region, like a woodpigeon or a woodcock for example."
FC Girondins de Bordeaux invited the local zoo's llama, who recently became a celebrity when he was 'liberated' and taken for a night out in the city, to attend their derby against FC Nantes. However, after a 3-0 defeat, president Jean-Louis Triaud said Serge Le Lama had failed his audition to be the club's mascot.
Team: 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam
Potsdam lost the round of 16 first leg 1-0 at home, and when Camille Abily doubled her Lyon's advantage 11 minutes into Thursday's return fixture in front of a crowd of nearly 10,000 in France, few would have bet against Patrice Lair's side forging on towards a fifth UEFA Women's Champions League final in as many seasons. However, Stefanie Draws responded before the break, before Maren Mjelde hit their second from the spot to secure a 2-1 win and progress on away goals.
"It is something special to win against such a top team," said Draws. "That's why we cannot describe it, we are simply happy." Abily felt the pain afterwards, noting: "It will be difficult to watch the Champions League on TV – it will hurt," while Lair gave Potsdam full credit. "We were dominated physically, we were very clumsy technically. When you don't play good football, it slaps you in the face, and that's what happened."
Timo Werner and Andrija Vukčević, both aged just 17, are making waves in Germany and Montenegro respectively. Already the club's youngest ever debutant, VfB Stuttgart's Werner registered twice in Stuttgart's 3-1 derby victory at SC Freiburg on Sunday, while FK Budućnost starlet Vukčević is justifying his billing as the 'Montenegrin Gareth Bale', having now been selected for his nation's Under-17, U19 and U21 sides in 2013. "He is my favourite player," admitted the teenager. "I watch a lot of his matches and his movement – he is my role model."
Goal: Tolo Barceló (UE Alcúdia)
Mulling over their goal of the week contenders last weekend, Spanish pundits were left stunned when footage emerged of the final throes of UE Alcúdia's Tercera Division encounter against RCD Mallorca B. Heading towards a 12th consecutive win, Mallorca braced themselves to defend an added-time free-kick. The set piece was headed high into the air and opposition goalkeeper Tolo Barceló – chancing his luck in the visitors' area – connected with a spectacular overhead kick to earn his team a point. He said on Twitter: "That's the best goal I'll ever score in my life."
Global worming: VfR Wormatia Worms
In the greatest coincidence in German football since Wolfgang Wolf coached VfL Wolfsburg, fourth division side Wormatia Worms have been beset with worms. Experts estimate that over 250kg of worm biomass has infiltrated the former 2. Bundesliga outfit's pitch, littering the playing surface with excrement and posing a significant challenge for groundsman Holger Busch. "When the players try to go up for a header, their feet sink deep into the ground," he explained.
Wormatia called upon fans and youth players to unite in the fight against the worms, detailing an anti-worm squad to spray the grass with a special lotion which will force the night crawlers to the surface, where they will be placed in buckets before being relocated to nearby woods. The issue provides a reasonable explanation for the club's slide down the table, their sluggish start sees them fourth bottom after 16 games.
Stamp it out: Zlatan Ibrahimović
The Paris Saint-Germain star is usually in the headlines for his goals but this time it is for a series of stamps in his native Sweden. Not the kind that would warrant a straight red card but a collection of five postage stamps, with his face on them, which will be released in March 2014.
"It's a great honour to get to appear on a stamp and I'm very happy and proud to have been chosen," said Ibrahimović, who has 46 goals in 94 appearance for Sweden. "Personally, I get mostly bills and they seldom have nice stamps. Maybe that will change now."
A bus stop: JK Nõmme Kalju
Estonian side Nõmme Kalju got a genuine lift from their supporters in their final league game on Saturday after the team coach broke down en route to their match at JK Tammeka Tartu. Fortunately, a number of Kalju faithful were not far behind, and the fans – excluding the designated drivers – offered to swap places with the starting XI so they could get to the match.
Kick-off was only delayed by 15 minutes and the substitutes turned up with the remaining supporters during the game, which Kalju won 3-0. "I have never been in this kind of situation," said Japanese midfielder Hidetoshi Wakui. "It was a great day spent with our fans. Many thanks to all of them." Defender Jorge Rodrigues also added: "Our fans are just the best in Estonia."
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