Blog Archives

Arjen Robben’s Final Finishing Touch

Arjen Robben, the 35-year-old Mr. Wembley himself, has officially retired from professional soccer that began in 2000 with Dutch club Groningen.

“I have decided to put an end to my career as a professional football player,” Robben said in a statement.

His statement included the following.

“It is without doubt the most difficult decision I have had to make in my career. A decision in which ‘heart’ and ‘mind’ collided.”

The former Bayern Munich #10 — as well as the #11 for the Netherlands National Team and Real Madrid, and various other numbers for Chelsea, PSV and Groningen — has chosen to end his esteemed professional playing career after 19 years. Mr. Robben’s exciting style, though painfully obvious, was painfully lethal for opponents. It didn’t matter if every defender and their grandmother knew he was going to cut inside for a deftly-placed shot or pass, Arjen Robben succeeded with beautiful, spectacular goals.

And that feat alone is remarkable. Think about it. Imagine knowing exactly what you have to do to stop something from happening, but being powerless to stop it from happening?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is another level of world-class talent.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is Arjen Robben.

This blog post is difficult for me as Arjen Robben is my favorite soccer player of all-time. And now the left-footed maestro is done.

It’s trying to put everything into words because I could go on and on and on…Instead, I’ll put just a few things into words as an initial reaction.

I’ve written many blog posts about him with Bayern Munich and the Netherlands throughout the years, including one in late May as a reaction to his final chapter with Bayern Munich.

Here’s an excerpt.

I actually got to see Arjen Robben play in the Allianz Arena for a Champions League game against Atlético Madrid back in late 2016. Bayern Munich won 1-nil on a Robert Lewandowski goal in, let’s say, chilly weather. I believe the thermometer read 20-degrees.

Regardless of having to wear a couple extra layers, which was no big deal at all for the awesome prize of seeing Arjen Robben and Bayern Munich battle (and defeat!) Atlético Madrid in a Champions League match inside the stunning Allianz Arena in Munich. The entire experience was amazingly unforgettable.

His wonderfully impressive tenure leading the Dutch National Team as part of the golden generation with Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie won’t soon be forgotten.

This golden generation for the Oranje played the beautiful game the right way. They deserved to win the World Cup, most especially the team from 2014. However, falling just short of ultimate soccer glory just seems to fit with the unfortunate fortune of the Dutch National Team: The best soccer nation to have never won the World Cup and the soccer nation other winners model their teams after in the same glorious pursuit.

With the aforementioned golden generation, the Dutch reached the semifinal of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, played in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final against Spain and reached the quarterfinals of the 2008 UEFA Euro tournament.

As posted on Bleacher Report’s Twitter account today:

Arjen Robben will be remembered as a legend at Bayern Munich, highlighted by his iconic cuts inside and laser-focused blasts that rattled many nets across Europe. His greatest moment with FC Hollywood was his unforgettable game-winning goal against Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 UEFA Champions League Final with an assist from his Robbery partner-in-crime Franck Henry Pierre Ribéry in the 89th minute in front of over 86,000 fans packed into London’s Wembley Stadium.

Arjen Robben will be remembered as a legend and an icon with the Netherlands. His lasting legacy will be as one of the — if not the greatest — wingers of all-time.

Thank you, Arjen Robben. You are an original, world-class footballer. 

Alex Morgan’s 31st Minute Tea Party Was Just What the USWNT Needed

For the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT), it was red, white and phew.

The USWNT defeated England 2-1 in dramatic fashion today in front of 53,512 fans in Stade de Lyon to clinch a spot in the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final this Sunday. The second semi-final match of Sweden vs. the Netherlands will be played tomorrow.

The score was 1-1 after just 20 minutes, with goals from the USWNT’s Christen Press in the 10th minute (a header) and the equalizer by England’s Ellen White in the 19th minute. USWNT captain Alex Morgan celebrated her 30th birthday with what turned out to be the winning goal in the 31st minute. And while her goal-scoring header was great — her sixth goal in five games at this World Cup — it was her goal celebration that stole the moment for the ultimate troll of England. It was fantastic.

(Because FOX/FS1 has decided to be difficult with sharing its own YouTube video of the World Cup, please click play, watch the video on YouTube and return to Jimmy’s Daily Planet!) 

England got iced tea’d by Alex Morgan.

The second half of the USA vs. England provided some drama in France as a supposed equalizer at 2-2 was called back after VAR deemed a very close offside call to keep the game at 2-1. And then there was an English penalty kick in the 84th minute that Alyssa Naeher saved to preserve a 2-1 victory for the red, white & blue.

Megan Rapinoe sat out the game with a hamstring injury but is presumed to be ready for Sunday’s final.

The 2019 Women’s World Cup Final will be the USA vs. Netherlands/or Sweden on Sunday, July 7, in Grand Stade Olympique Lyonnais.

Bob Ley’s Legacy Is Exceptional, Sportive, Professional & Newsworthy

Bob Ley, 64-years-old, was one of the original ESPN SportsCenter reporters from 1979. Now, 40 years later, Bob Ley has announced he’s leaving the same yet different ESPN.

In addition to his sincere thanks to ESPN senior leadership and his loyal ESPN viewers for the past four decades, Mr. Ley posted the following on his Twitter account. This is an excerpt.

“Now it’s time for a change.

I will be retiring from ESPN, as of the end of this month. 

To be clear, this is entirely my decision. I enjoy the best of health, and the many blessings of friends and family, and it is in that context that I’m making a change.”  

In the final part of his Twitter statement, Mr. Ley ended with the following.

“In September, I signed off my last show saying, “I’ll catch you on the flip side.” Now it’s time to take that vinyl off the turntable (ask your folks), flip it over, and drop the needle on the B-side. There are always great cuts, and hidden gems on the B-side. 

Thank you for a great run.” 

What is Bob Ley’s next step? He didn’t say.

One thing we do know is that he is one of the original anchors who helped make ESPN the worldwide leader in sports. He has been — and surely will continue to be — a reliable sports journalist with wit who delivered uncompromised trust and authority to his audience. And as a soccer fan, I always enjoyed his high-quality analysis and reporting during ESPN’s past coverage of the FIFA World Cup.

As a matter of fact, the image below is Mr. Ley’s Twitter profile picture.

Bob Ley

As a matter of another fact, Dan Patrick — an anchor of ESPN from 1989-2006 — shared his thoughts on Bob Ley’s retirement announcement from the “DaDaDa, DaDaDa” network on his radio show.

Bob Ley will be viewed as one of the standard-bearers and nostalgic reference points for what made ESPN the worldwide leader in sports. He did his part by taking journalism as seriously as he took having fun and covering sports as a future unfolds in which that revolutionary network is being challenged by a wide variety of sports network upstarts — and established network giants — attempting to replicate those original (and wildly entertaining) sports journalists with those iconic four letters sewn on their jackets.

Thank you, Bob Ley.

And good luck with your future, which will hopefully involve covering the beautiful game in either human form or in 16-bits.

La Coupe du Monde ne sera jamais trop riche en traditions

(“The World Cup Will Never Be Too Full of Tradition”)

Get excited because the 2019 Women’s World Cup kicks off today with host country France vs. South Korea at 3 p.m. The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) are certainly one of the favorites in this tournament, having won the ultimate trophy in women’s soccer three times. As a matter of fact, the women in red, white and blue are the defending champions.

The USWNT’s tournament begins Tuesday for its first group game against Thailand at 3 p.m., which is when coverage will start on Jimmy’s Daily Planet.

For now, it’s impossible for the mind not to wander to the future involving the next men’s World Cup and the soccer stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosted by Qatar. Why? Because at this year’s World Cup — hosted by France with its long, distinguished tradition — there’s a clear soccer identity for soccer fans and casual soccer/sports fans to associate with for this world-class tournament that only occurs every four years. French stadiums, ranging in 10,000 – 80,000 seat capacities, have character and history that transports fans to other times and eras of yesteryear. We’ll see this in the next month, even if only through the TV.

The same cannot be said for the next men’s World Cup in 2022 that will take place in the desert (yet crazy rich) country of Qatar.

Being built from the sand up, Qatar will be the center of the soccer universe in just a few years in November and December. The date change from the normal summer months reservation is, coupled with the sheer fact that brand new stadiums and air conditioning apparatuses are being constructed, evidence enough that Qatar can pay for anything it wants except tradition. If it wanted to host the World Cup so badly, it should have clearly established the country’s true love of soccer like every other soccer nation on Earth: Through housing world-class talent, interweaving the sport into the culture and, yes, history and time.

Like sand through the hourglass…

Soccer and tradition go together like America and apple pie. Or France and soccer.

For now, here’s a visual update on the progress being made in Qatar for the biggest stage for the world’s game.

Having visited Qatar and fully enjoyed this unique experience with family, this middle eastern country will, like the fictional John Hammond, spare no expense. And as a non-traditional country for the world’s biggest soccer tournament, Qatar and FIFA are banking on those famous words heard in that Iowa cornfield, “If you build it, he will come.” Change the “he” to “they” and that’s what will ultimately define the success of the 2022 World Cup concerning regional and global attendance.

FIFA gambled with Qatar. Moreover, this forthcoming World Cup seems like it’s being built for FIFA rather than the sport of soccer and its fans, coaches, and players. And there needs to be a real concern that all of the soccer stadiums being built for 2022, though impressive to a certain degree, will be empty in the years that follow. In other words, the post-Olympic downturn could very likely occur. In China, some of the world-class facilities from the 2008 summer Olympics fell to ruin in the subsequent years.

By contrast, the 2006 World Cup in Germany — which I was fortunate to attend with my parents and see some amazing games, stadiums, cities, hotels, players and fellow Quinnipiac soccer teammates — was incredibly unforgettable. And soccer in Germany, it seems, is even bigger now today following the World Cup due to increased global demand and interest in the Bundesliga, the German national team (2014 World Cup champions) and its rich soccer/football culture.

Will Qatar in 2022 evolve into aforementioned Germany circa 2006 or China circa 2008?

That’s a legitimate question, ladies and gentlemen. And one that should have been considered more closely by FIFA when selecting the host country for its biggest competition, specifically following disgraced former FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s resignation in recent years.

At this point, watch and enjoy the many talented teams and players in the 2019 World Cup in France. And while doing so, contemplate whether that special energy on the pitch and off the pitch with teams and fans from around the world will seamlessly translate to a non-soccer nation/Qatar in three years. Will it be the same?

While the new soccer stadiums being built in Qatar may be eye-opening through the lenses of modern design and sustainability, tradition cannot be bought.

Although, FIFA proved winning a bid to host a World Cup can, so there’s that I $uppo$e.