first_imgThe 26-year-old returned to the Knights in 2016 after two seasons at the Dragons, but was unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension, ending his time in the Hunter for a second time. Mata’utia never missed a game for the Knights this season and was regarded as one of their more consistent players on the paddock, scoring seven tries and averaging 85 metres. He took to social media to deliver the news on Thursday. “I got the chance to come back and play for my hometown again and I enjoyed every minute of the last two years,” Mata’utia said in the Instagram post.”I’ve known for a while what I wanted to do, I just didn’t know if it was the right choice. But my chapter here at the Knights has officially come to an end.”Mata’utia joins a long list of players to depart the Knights in 2017 with props Jack Stockwell and Pauli Pauli the latest to be farewelled by the club.The club have recruited well in return with Connor Watson, Tautau Moga, Aidan Guerra, Herman Ese’ese and Kalyn Ponga on board for next season, while Warriors forward Jacob Lillyman and Storm utility Slade Griffin are also expected to join in coming weeks.last_img read more

first_img1 Simon Mignolet has no desire to be Liverpool’s hero in the Europa League final despite earning praise from former Reds goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek.The Merseysiders will be aiming to secure a first European triumph since their famous Champions League win over AC Milan in 2005 where, after coming back from 3-0 down, Dudek was the star in the penalty shoot-out.The former Poland international, who replicated Bruce Grobbelaar’s ‘spaghetti legs’ for the penalties, stopped efforts from Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko having also denied the Ukrainian with a memorable double-save in extra time.Dudek last week hailed the current Liverpool goalkeeper but Mignolet wants to avoid the spotlight in Basle against defending champions Sevilla on Wednesday.He said: “I know Dudek spoke well about me. I want to thank him for that as he was one of my heroes when I was younger because of what he did in that Champions League final.“One thing I’d like to make clear is that I don’t want to be a hero in the final, I don’t think it’s important for any individual to do that.“Of course people will decide games like any other but what is most important to me is that we win the final. It doesn’t matter in what kind of way.“Winning the final is all important. Being the hero doesn’t make any difference to me.“It can go to extra time and penalties and then of course I would get the chance to help the team and be decisive but hopefully we can win it inside 90 minutes.”Mignolet watched Dudek’s 2005 heroics in the garden of the family home and they have stuck with him ever since.If it does come down to penalties, however, there will be no antics from the straight-laced Belgian.“Dudek didn’t only make great saves in the shoot-out but he made a few before that,” he added.“The final could have been finished before penalties but for his double save from Shevchenko and then he put the strikers off in the shoot-out and delivered for his team.“I’ve seen what Grobbelaar did against Roma too but I don’t think I’ve got the shaky legs!“There is so much pressure on the penalty taker so I suppose anything that puts him off will help.”READ MORE: Jerzy Dudek – Having ‘passionate and enthusiastic’ Jurgen Klopp as manager is a big advantage for Liverpool Simon Mignolet is expected to be in between the sticks for Liverpool in the Europa League final last_img read more

first_imgThey were two small Argentina players with the same enormous challenge — to meet the expectations of a soccer-mad country.Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi have both proved themselves to be skilful giants on the world soccer stage despite their diminutive frames of 1.65 and 1.70 metres respectively. (Maradona should encourage Messi to come out of retirement, says Bhutia)But, while Maradona reached the heights by lifting the World Cup, Messi’s only major international honour has been Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Games, even though at club level he has won four Champions Leagues with Spanish greats Barcelona.Argentina’s failure to beat Chile in the final of the Copa America Centenario in the United States, a fourth lost final with the national team for Messi, proved too much for the little magician and he chose to quit international football on Sunday. (Messi retirement could hurt his legacy)”The pressure (Messi) got from fans and media was and is very big. ‘Messi must continue with the Maradona legacy’ is the message,” sports medicine specialist Norberto Debbag said.”The fans expect him to be leader and football star at the same time but it appears he’s not prepared for the social pressure the national team demands,” he told the Argentine website (Shock retirement leaves Messi-Ronaldo debate unsettled)Maradona, who had so much natural skill that he would often juggle the ball during the team’s warm-up with his bootlaces still undone, was always going to be a hard act to follow in an Argentina shirt.advertisementHe had to be pulled out of a cesspit he fell into as a two-year-old, fought tooth-and-nail for everything he achieved and, with his immense footballing talent, led Argentina to their second World Cup triumph in 1986 in Mexico.It was rarely easy, though.POOR RESULTSArgentina arrived in Mexico after disappointing results in warm-up games and even the country’s president was trying to get coach Carlos Bilardo replaced for fear of a poor tournament but a them-and-us attitude helped steer Maradona’s team through.Argentina fans have always wanted Messi to replace him as the team’s leader on such crusades, creating unbearable pressure with each failure to end a trophy drought dating back to 1993. (Did Maradona trigger Messi’s shock retirement?)The street-wise urchin approach that served Maradona so well does not work for Messi.Taking into account the Confederations Cup, Argentina have lost seven major finals since 1995, three of them to arch-rivals Brazil, and four since Messi’s debut in 2005, including the 2014 World Cup final defeat by Germany.The man closest to the force of personality brought to the team by Maradona and former defender Oscar Ruggeri, who captained Argentina to their 13th and 14th Copa America titles in 1991 and 1993, is Javier Mascherano.But he has suffered even more than Messi with defeats in five finals from 2004.Coach Gerardo Martino brought in former Argentine rugby union international Federico Todeschini in March to help his team with their motivation.Argentina went on a run of eight straight wins, including a tournament group stage victory over Chile without an injured Messi. But for the final, they evidently needed something extra.Harmony appeared to reign in the squad, Messi came back into the team after recovering and scored a record 55th goal for his country against the United States in the semi-final.But he also had a troubled start to the build-up to the final, openly criticising the Argentine FA (AFA) over disrupted travel plans from Houston to East Rutherford in New Jersey.He then decided to stay quiet over his team’s complaints about a lack of proper support from the AFA until after the final, telling reporters: “I’ll tell you afterwards.”However, Argentina’s defeat on penalties for the second time in a year to Chile has overtaken Messi’s concerns for now.last_img read more