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Martin O'Neill's Ireland reign was accompanied by an undercurrent of animosity, and now, he might just have had enough

There is a question Martin O’Neill needs to ask himself, and it is not whether he should have stuck with his tried and tested defensive formula for Republic of Ireland’s World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark. It is whether the time is right for him to leave. At difficult moments like these, home is where the heart is; where his family surround him and O’Neill has lived in the UK for more than four decades. He will fly back to England today, bruised, battered and bitter. Annoyed with himself, to an extent, but mainly seething at the spiteful reaction to the defeat in Dublin and beyond. He sensed it in in the hostile tone of the post-match press conference in the Aviva Stadium, but the venom that has been spat at him since means it is now a distinct possibility that he will not continue as Ireland manager. That will be of interest to several clubs in England, who may now look to test his loyalty to the Football Association of Ireland and the verbal agreement to extend his contract. O’Neill was offered a two-year extension before securing the win, away in Cardiff, over Wales last month that secured a play-off place. But the ink is not dry on it because he has not picked up a pen to sign. For O’Neill, a handshake and a verbal agreement matter – he didn’t sign his last extension until several months after it was agreed – but the defeat to Denmark, the nature of it and the type of criticism that followed, has altered his perception of the job, as well as perceptions of him. Denmark ended Ireland's World Cup dream on Tuesday Credit: Getty images The lack of perspective and context given to the heavy defeat to Denmark annoyed him, but also the lack of understanding – appreciation even – of the limitations he works under has been a constant source of friction. He feels under-appreciated. Ireland have played 24 competitive games under O’Neill and lost four of them, yet there are those who feel he has under-performed. It could well be that he thinks, ‘ok, fine, let someone else have a go.’ O’Neill needs to let the dust settle. He will go away on holiday and he will think about things. He always does. He will not rush this decision, one way or the other. In his mind will be the fact Ireland qualified for the Euros, reached the knockout stage of that tournament for the first time and followed it up by finishing second in their World Cup group when they were the fourth seeds. Not bad, not amazing, but given the resources at his disposal, it is highly debatable anyone would have done better. He will wonder, has he taken the Ireland team as far as he can? Yet, much like the English, the Irish have an inflated opinion of how good their players are and a strange sense of entitlement when it comes to judging the fortunes of the national team. Ireland did well to get a play-off place, yet O’Neill is slaughtered for failing to win it. The Irish had a memorable time at Euro 2016 Credit: rex features He must ask himself, does he need that sort of criticism or should he return to club football in England with his assistant Roy Keane? There has been - and would be - plenty of interest in employing them. There are better paid jobs waiting for the pair if they want one of them. At the age of 65, O’Neill has a decision to make and the fascinating thing is that, rather the replace him if O’Neill departs the Ireland job, Keane is far more likely to follow him. Ireland are, on paper, a team that would struggle to stay in the Premier League. If you were being cruel, you might suggest they are one that would struggle to get out of the Championship given that only five of the starting line-up – Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward at Burnley, Shane Duffy at Brighton and Harry Arter at Bournemouth - started for their Premier League clubs the weekend before the international break. Ireland do not have a single world class player and their best individual, the only one who might sneak into the England squad when they head off to Russia next summer, Seamus Coleman, broke his leg in two places back in March and has not played any part in their campaign since. Up front, against Denmark, O’Neill had a choice to make between Nottingham Forest’s Daryl Murphy, a 34-year-old who has scored three international goals in 32 appearances, or Southampton’s Shane Long, a striker who has not scored for club or country since February. When goals win games, it is a Hobson’s Choice. Yet, in his post-match press conference, one journalist claimed his “luck had run out” as a manager. Another suggested he had been“humiliated” by failing to qualify for the World Cup. Ireland simply don't have enough quality, particularly up front Credit: Getty images As for the coverage in the aftermath of the Denmark defeat, the sentiments were clear. O’Neill was to blame for Ireland’s failure to qualify and people are already questioning the wisdom in offering him two more years. Emotions always run high in the wake of a devastating defeat, but there has been undercurrent of animosity towards O’Neill swimming just below the surface throughout his four-year reign. His demeanour, his prickliness and, at times his personality, have helped provoke that, but those who dislike him must ask, who would they prefer in his place and who could have done more? It is the nature of the beast. Success or failure in international football, sends a shudder through the national consciousness that cannot be matched by other sports. Just ask the Italians and the Dutch, who will also not be going to Russia next year. Ireland thought this was the moment the national team would return to the World Cup stage after a 16-year absence and they failed. The dream died and someone has to be blamed. At the moment, the blame is heaped upon O’Neill. That’s management, and he has to take it, but could put him off returning in the spring. Scotland are looking for a new manager, so might Northern Ireland soon. More pertinently, O’Neill has a CV that would put him the frame for countless vacancies at club level in the future. After four years with Ireland, he may simply have had enough.

Martin O'Neill's Ireland reign was accompanied by an undercurrent of animosity, and now, he might just have had enough

There is a question Martin O’Neill needs to ask himself, and it is not whether he should have stuck with his tried and tested defensive formula for Republic of Ireland’s World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark. It is whether the time is right for him to leave. At difficult moments like these, home is where the heart is; where his family surround him and O’Neill has lived in the UK for more than four decades. He will fly back to England today, bruised, battered and bitter. Annoyed with himself, to an extent, but mainly seething at the spiteful reaction to the defeat in Dublin and beyond. He sensed it in in the hostile tone of the post-match press conference in the Aviva Stadium, but the venom that has been spat at him since means it is now a distinct possibility that he will not continue as Ireland manager. That will be of interest to several clubs in England, who may now look to test his loyalty to the Football Association of Ireland and the verbal agreement to extend his contract. O’Neill was offered a two-year extension before securing the win, away in Cardiff, over Wales last month that secured a play-off place. But the ink is not dry on it because he has not picked up a pen to sign. For O’Neill, a handshake and a verbal agreement matter – he didn’t sign his last extension until several months after it was agreed – but the defeat to Denmark, the nature of it and the type of criticism that followed, has altered his perception of the job, as well as perceptions of him. Denmark ended Ireland's World Cup dream on Tuesday Credit: Getty images The lack of perspective and context given to the heavy defeat to Denmark annoyed him, but also the lack of understanding – appreciation even – of the limitations he works under has been a constant source of friction. He feels under-appreciated. Ireland have played 24 competitive games under O’Neill and lost four of them, yet there are those who feel he has under-performed. It could well be that he thinks, ‘ok, fine, let someone else have a go.’ O’Neill needs to let the dust settle. He will go away on holiday and he will think about things. He always does. He will not rush this decision, one way or the other. In his mind will be the fact Ireland qualified for the Euros, reached the knockout stage of that tournament for the first time and followed it up by finishing second in their World Cup group when they were the fourth seeds. Not bad, not amazing, but given the resources at his disposal, it is highly debatable anyone would have done better. He will wonder, has he taken the Ireland team as far as he can? Yet, much like the English, the Irish have an inflated opinion of how good their players are and a strange sense of entitlement when it comes to judging the fortunes of the national team. Ireland did well to get a play-off place, yet O’Neill is slaughtered for failing to win it. The Irish had a memorable time at Euro 2016 Credit: rex features He must ask himself, does he need that sort of criticism or should he return to club football in England with his assistant Roy Keane? There has been - and would be - plenty of interest in employing them. There are better paid jobs waiting for the pair if they want one of them. At the age of 65, O’Neill has a decision to make and the fascinating thing is that, rather the replace him if O’Neill departs the Ireland job, Keane is far more likely to follow him. Ireland are, on paper, a team that would struggle to stay in the Premier League. If you were being cruel, you might suggest they are one that would struggle to get out of the Championship given that only five of the starting line-up – Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward at Burnley, Shane Duffy at Brighton and Harry Arter at Bournemouth - started for their Premier League clubs the weekend before the international break. Ireland do not have a single world class player and their best individual, the only one who might sneak into the England squad when they head off to Russia next summer, Seamus Coleman, broke his leg in two places back in March and has not played any part in their campaign since. Up front, against Denmark, O’Neill had a choice to make between Nottingham Forest’s Daryl Murphy, a 34-year-old who has scored three international goals in 32 appearances, or Southampton’s Shane Long, a striker who has not scored for club or country since February. When goals win games, it is a Hobson’s Choice. Yet, in his post-match press conference, one journalist claimed his “luck had run out” as a manager. Another suggested he had been“humiliated” by failing to qualify for the World Cup. Ireland simply don't have enough quality, particularly up front Credit: Getty images As for the coverage in the aftermath of the Denmark defeat, the sentiments were clear. O’Neill was to blame for Ireland’s failure to qualify and people are already questioning the wisdom in offering him two more years. Emotions always run high in the wake of a devastating defeat, but there has been undercurrent of animosity towards O’Neill swimming just below the surface throughout his four-year reign. His demeanour, his prickliness and, at times his personality, have helped provoke that, but those who dislike him must ask, who would they prefer in his place and who could have done more? It is the nature of the beast. Success or failure in international football, sends a shudder through the national consciousness that cannot be matched by other sports. Just ask the Italians and the Dutch, who will also not be going to Russia next year. Ireland thought this was the moment the national team would return to the World Cup stage after a 16-year absence and they failed. The dream died and someone has to be blamed. At the moment, the blame is heaped upon O’Neill. That’s management, and he has to take it, but could put him off returning in the spring. Scotland are looking for a new manager, so might Northern Ireland soon. More pertinently, O’Neill has a CV that would put him the frame for countless vacancies at club level in the future. After four years with Ireland, he may simply have had enough.

Martin O'Neill's Ireland reign was accompanied by an undercurrent of animosity, and now, he might just have had enough

There is a question Martin O’Neill needs to ask himself, and it is not whether he should have stuck with his tried and tested defensive formula for Republic of Ireland’s World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark. It is whether the time is right for him to leave. At difficult moments like these, home is where the heart is; where his family surround him and O’Neill has lived in the UK for more than four decades. He will fly back to England today, bruised, battered and bitter. Annoyed with himself, to an extent, but mainly seething at the spiteful reaction to the defeat in Dublin and beyond. He sensed it in in the hostile tone of the post-match press conference in the Aviva Stadium, but the venom that has been spat at him since means it is now a distinct possibility that he will not continue as Ireland manager. That will be of interest to several clubs in England, who may now look to test his loyalty to the Football Association of Ireland and the verbal agreement to extend his contract. O’Neill was offered a two-year extension before securing the win, away in Cardiff, over Wales last month that secured a play-off place. But the ink is not dry on it because he has not picked up a pen to sign. For O’Neill, a handshake and a verbal agreement matter – he didn’t sign his last extension until several months after it was agreed – but the defeat to Denmark, the nature of it and the type of criticism that followed, has altered his perception of the job, as well as perceptions of him. Denmark ended Ireland's World Cup dream on Tuesday Credit: Getty images The lack of perspective and context given to the heavy defeat to Denmark annoyed him, but also the lack of understanding – appreciation even – of the limitations he works under has been a constant source of friction. He feels under-appreciated. Ireland have played 24 competitive games under O’Neill and lost four of them, yet there are those who feel he has under-performed. It could well be that he thinks, ‘ok, fine, let someone else have a go.’ O’Neill needs to let the dust settle. He will go away on holiday and he will think about things. He always does. He will not rush this decision, one way or the other. In his mind will be the fact Ireland qualified for the Euros, reached the knockout stage of that tournament for the first time and followed it up by finishing second in their World Cup group when they were the fourth seeds. Not bad, not amazing, but given the resources at his disposal, it is highly debatable anyone would have done better. He will wonder, has he taken the Ireland team as far as he can? Yet, much like the English, the Irish have an inflated opinion of how good their players are and a strange sense of entitlement when it comes to judging the fortunes of the national team. Ireland did well to get a play-off place, yet O’Neill is slaughtered for failing to win it. The Irish had a memorable time at Euro 2016 Credit: rex features He must ask himself, does he need that sort of criticism or should he return to club football in England with his assistant Roy Keane? There has been - and would be - plenty of interest in employing them. There are better paid jobs waiting for the pair if they want one of them. At the age of 65, O’Neill has a decision to make and the fascinating thing is that, rather the replace him if O’Neill departs the Ireland job, Keane is far more likely to follow him. Ireland are, on paper, a team that would struggle to stay in the Premier League. If you were being cruel, you might suggest they are one that would struggle to get out of the Championship given that only five of the starting line-up – Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward at Burnley, Shane Duffy at Brighton and Harry Arter at Bournemouth - started for their Premier League clubs the weekend before the international break. Ireland do not have a single world class player and their best individual, the only one who might sneak into the England squad when they head off to Russia next summer, Seamus Coleman, broke his leg in two places back in March and has not played any part in their campaign since. Up front, against Denmark, O’Neill had a choice to make between Nottingham Forest’s Daryl Murphy, a 34-year-old who has scored three international goals in 32 appearances, or Southampton’s Shane Long, a striker who has not scored for club or country since February. When goals win games, it is a Hobson’s Choice. Yet, in his post-match press conference, one journalist claimed his “luck had run out” as a manager. Another suggested he had been“humiliated” by failing to qualify for the World Cup. Ireland simply don't have enough quality, particularly up front Credit: Getty images As for the coverage in the aftermath of the Denmark defeat, the sentiments were clear. O’Neill was to blame for Ireland’s failure to qualify and people are already questioning the wisdom in offering him two more years. Emotions always run high in the wake of a devastating defeat, but there has been undercurrent of animosity towards O’Neill swimming just below the surface throughout his four-year reign. His demeanour, his prickliness and, at times his personality, have helped provoke that, but those who dislike him must ask, who would they prefer in his place and who could have done more? It is the nature of the beast. Success or failure in international football, sends a shudder through the national consciousness that cannot be matched by other sports. Just ask the Italians and the Dutch, who will also not be going to Russia next year. Ireland thought this was the moment the national team would return to the World Cup stage after a 16-year absence and they failed. The dream died and someone has to be blamed. At the moment, the blame is heaped upon O’Neill. That’s management, and he has to take it, but could put him off returning in the spring. Scotland are looking for a new manager, so might Northern Ireland soon. More pertinently, O’Neill has a CV that would put him the frame for countless vacancies at club level in the future. After four years with Ireland, he may simply have had enough.

Martin O'Neill's Ireland reign was accompanied by an undercurrent of animosity, and now, he might just have had enough

There is a question Martin O’Neill needs to ask himself, and it is not whether he should have stuck with his tried and tested defensive formula for Republic of Ireland’s World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark. It is whether the time is right for him to leave. At difficult moments like these, home is where the heart is; where his family surround him and O’Neill has lived in the UK for more than four decades. He will fly back to England today, bruised, battered and bitter. Annoyed with himself, to an extent, but mainly seething at the spiteful reaction to the defeat in Dublin and beyond. He sensed it in in the hostile tone of the post-match press conference in the Aviva Stadium, but the venom that has been spat at him since means it is now a distinct possibility that he will not continue as Ireland manager. That will be of interest to several clubs in England, who may now look to test his loyalty to the Football Association of Ireland and the verbal agreement to extend his contract. O’Neill was offered a two-year extension before securing the win, away in Cardiff, over Wales last month that secured a play-off place. But the ink is not dry on it because he has not picked up a pen to sign. For O’Neill, a handshake and a verbal agreement matter – he didn’t sign his last extension until several months after it was agreed – but the defeat to Denmark, the nature of it and the type of criticism that followed, has altered his perception of the job, as well as perceptions of him. Denmark ended Ireland's World Cup dream on Tuesday Credit: Getty images The lack of perspective and context given to the heavy defeat to Denmark annoyed him, but also the lack of understanding – appreciation even – of the limitations he works under has been a constant source of friction. He feels under-appreciated. Ireland have played 24 competitive games under O’Neill and lost four of them, yet there are those who feel he has under-performed. It could well be that he thinks, ‘ok, fine, let someone else have a go.’ O’Neill needs to let the dust settle. He will go away on holiday and he will think about things. He always does. He will not rush this decision, one way or the other. In his mind will be the fact Ireland qualified for the Euros, reached the knockout stage of that tournament for the first time and followed it up by finishing second in their World Cup group when they were the fourth seeds. Not bad, not amazing, but given the resources at his disposal, it is highly debatable anyone would have done better. He will wonder, has he taken the Ireland team as far as he can? Yet, much like the English, the Irish have an inflated opinion of how good their players are and a strange sense of entitlement when it comes to judging the fortunes of the national team. Ireland did well to get a play-off place, yet O’Neill is slaughtered for failing to win it. The Irish had a memorable time at Euro 2016 Credit: rex features He must ask himself, does he need that sort of criticism or should he return to club football in England with his assistant Roy Keane? There has been - and would be - plenty of interest in employing them. There are better paid jobs waiting for the pair if they want one of them. At the age of 65, O’Neill has a decision to make and the fascinating thing is that, rather the replace him if O’Neill departs the Ireland job, Keane is far more likely to follow him. Ireland are, on paper, a team that would struggle to stay in the Premier League. If you were being cruel, you might suggest they are one that would struggle to get out of the Championship given that only five of the starting line-up – Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward at Burnley, Shane Duffy at Brighton and Harry Arter at Bournemouth - started for their Premier League clubs the weekend before the international break. Ireland do not have a single world class player and their best individual, the only one who might sneak into the England squad when they head off to Russia next summer, Seamus Coleman, broke his leg in two places back in March and has not played any part in their campaign since. Up front, against Denmark, O’Neill had a choice to make between Nottingham Forest’s Daryl Murphy, a 34-year-old who has scored three international goals in 32 appearances, or Southampton’s Shane Long, a striker who has not scored for club or country since February. When goals win games, it is a Hobson’s Choice. Yet, in his post-match press conference, one journalist claimed his “luck had run out” as a manager. Another suggested he had been“humiliated” by failing to qualify for the World Cup. Ireland simply don't have enough quality, particularly up front Credit: Getty images As for the coverage in the aftermath of the Denmark defeat, the sentiments were clear. O’Neill was to blame for Ireland’s failure to qualify and people are already questioning the wisdom in offering him two more years. Emotions always run high in the wake of a devastating defeat, but there has been undercurrent of animosity towards O’Neill swimming just below the surface throughout his four-year reign. His demeanour, his prickliness and, at times his personality, have helped provoke that, but those who dislike him must ask, who would they prefer in his place and who could have done more? It is the nature of the beast. Success or failure in international football, sends a shudder through the national consciousness that cannot be matched by other sports. Just ask the Italians and the Dutch, who will also not be going to Russia next year. Ireland thought this was the moment the national team would return to the World Cup stage after a 16-year absence and they failed. The dream died and someone has to be blamed. At the moment, the blame is heaped upon O’Neill. That’s management, and he has to take it, but could put him off returning in the spring. Scotland are looking for a new manager, so might Northern Ireland soon. More pertinently, O’Neill has a CV that would put him the frame for countless vacancies at club level in the future. After four years with Ireland, he may simply have had enough.

Wolverine Watch: Swimming With Sharks

Jim Harbaugh’s team is stroking for all it’s worth, 11 weeks into a marathon swim along the Great Barrier Reef.

英籍泳手環港島游一圈破世界紀錄

【體路專訊】居港英籍泳手 Simon Holliday周六(11日)以 12小時32分獨力 完成環繞香港島不停站游泳一圈壯舉,成功打破澳洲泳手Linda McGill於1976 年的紀錄,成為世界上最快環繞香港島不停站游泳一圈的泳手,並為其創辦的 Splash Foundation 籌得逾1百萬港 元,將於2020 年為五千名本地弱勢兒童、外傭及難民免費提供游泳課程。 Simon Holliday周六凌晨3時於西環泳棚出發(上圖),途經維多利亞港、石澳、鴨脷洲,游至下午3 時20分,兩名本地奧運代表韋漢娜及鄭莉梅於最後200米以 safety swimmer 身份為Simon護游,並於3時32分抵達西環泳棚完成 壯舉,預計此項游泳紀錄將獲國際海峽游泳協會(Channel Swimming Association)承認。 居港多年的 Simon Holliday有擁13年長途泳經驗,現年39歲的他生於英國湖區,自小與水為伴,曾於 2011 年 8 月游泳橫渡英倫海峽。 資料來源:公關提供

英籍泳手環港島游一圈破世界紀錄

【體路專訊】居港英籍泳手 Simon Holliday周六(11日)以 12小時32分獨力 完成環繞香港島不停站游泳一圈壯舉,成功打破澳洲泳手Linda McGill於1976 年的紀錄,成為世界上最快環繞香港島不停站游泳一圈的泳手,並為其創辦的 Splash Foundation 籌得逾1百萬港 元,將於2020 年為五千名本地弱勢兒童、外傭及難民免費提供游泳課程。 Simon Holliday周六凌晨3時於西環泳棚出發(上圖),途經維多利亞港、石澳、鴨脷洲,游至下午3 時20分,兩名本地奧運代表韋漢娜及鄭莉梅於最後200米以 safety swimmer 身份為Simon護游,並於3時32分抵達西環泳棚完成 壯舉,預計此項游泳紀錄將獲國際海峽游泳協會(Channel Swimming Association)承認。 居港多年的 Simon Holliday有擁13年長途泳經驗,現年39歲的他生於英國湖區,自小與水為伴,曾於 2011 年 8 月游泳橫渡英倫海峽。 資料來源:公關提供

Long Distance Swimmer Diana Nyad Opens Up About Sexual Assault

Long distance swimmer Diana Nyad opened up about her alleged sexual assault by a swim coach when she was 14 years old in an op-ed for the New York Times.

The coach was not identified by name. Nyad, now 68 years old, wrote that the incident took place in 1964, and that the molestation continued for several years. She details the graphic nature of the abuse in her story for the New York Times.

Nyad first told a teammate about the incident when she was 21 years old. The friend also said that she was molested by the same coach. He was fired from Nyad's school but moved onto other coaching jobs. The coach died in 2014 but Nyad noted that he was a celebrated coach in the swimming community.

Nyad says that she was motivated to share her story and speak out after other women have shared their accounts of sexual harassment through the #MeToo campaign on social media. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney is among athletes that have come forward with their own stories. Maroney says that former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar abused her when she was 13 years old.

"Those who have found a platform to speak, and to be heard, within recent weeks have most likely forged unexpected connections as a result," Nyad wrote in the Times. "Whenever I mention my case in front of a live audience, invariably women come up to me afterward and let me know that they too are survivors. They immediately command my full attention with a particularly steady gaze and they say, “The same thing happened to me — my stepfather.” Or “I’m a survivor, too.” Then we hug, long and hard. And we often find tears for each other. We connect. It’s our version of #MeToo."

Nyad is famous for swimming from Cuba to Florida in 2013. The 103-mile swim took her 53 hours and took place without a shark cage.

Mysterious 'LFC' pattern found carved into Shropshire countryside

Crop circles and their provenance are subject to innumerable conspiracy theories, and if there is life beyond earth it appears they are all Liverpool fans.  The letters 'LFC' have been found mysteriously carved into the Shropshire countryside, and are approximately the same length as the Anfield pitch. The discovery was made by Ordnance Survey as they flew over the north side of Titterstone Clee Hill, and they were intriguing to find such unusual markings scrubbed into the landscape.  Danny Hayman of Ordance Survey said: “I think we can safely rule out aliens on this occasion. "Perhaps there is someone living in this area who supports Everton and has a back garden or bedroom window with a view of the hill and has a Liverpool supporting friend with an extreme sense of humour? "It is one of the most unusual ways of showing support for a team I’ve ever seen.” Upon further analysis, the letters appeared to measure between 85 and 95 metres long, however they could well be longer because of the slope they are on. Ordance Survey also concluded that the letters could be seen from up to six kilometers away.  If the lettering is the work of Liverpool supporters, they will not be the first group of fans to look for a ways to be remembered for eternity. A group of Manchester United-supporting construction workers famously buried a red jersey under concrete while working at Manchester City's Etihad stadium.  A group of Liverpool fans working on Gary Neville's home claim to have buried a club scarf under his swimming pool.  In London, a West Ham fan posted a picture on Twitter of a scarf and jersey laid down in the foundations to Tottenham's redeveloped ground at White Hart Lane. 

Santi Cazorla almost needed foot amputated due to gangrene as he reveals scar from eight Achilles surgeries 

Santi Cazorla was Arsenal’s talisman when they last won at Manchester City but, ahead of their return on Sunday, he has revealed the astonishing injury nightmare that left him with gangrene and prompted fears that his right leg could be amputated. After an ordeal that included eight operations, an ankle skin graft from where his daughter’s name was tattooed on his arm, and a blood infection that caused him to lose eight centimetres of his Achilles tendon, Cazorla is targeting an improbable return early next year.  In an extraordinary interview with the Spanish newspaper Marca, Cazorla admitted that doctors had said that he would be lucky to walk again, let alone perform on the elite Premier League stage.  “If you get to walk again with your son in the garden, be satisfied, they told me,” said Cazorla.  Despite ongoing pain and shocking photographic evidence, Cazorla retains his trademark smile and his determination to play again is constantly evident in his WhatsApp profile message. “I will not give pleasure to those who do not want me to play again – I will return,” it says.  Cazorla’s amazing optimism and lack of rancour had so far also extended to there being no public sense of him seeking to apportion blame for the potential curtailment of his career, despite some of football’s previous legal precedents. West Ham’s Dean Ashton settled out of court with the Football Association in 2011 over the ankle injury he sustained during training with the England squad five years earlier. Michael Appleton won £1.5 million damages from a surgeon in 2010 over an unnecessary operation on the knee he injured in a training accident at West Brom in 2001. Arsenal’s visit to the Etihad Stadium is likely to reinforce just how deeply his absence has been felt. He was the catalyst behind what was their best away performance in ­recent memory in 2015 when he scored, assisted and generally dictated the rhythm of the match in a 2-0 win against Manchester City.  #LaPortada El calvario de Cazorla pic.twitter.com/gt3QVOdZf7— MARCA (@marca) November 2, 2017 Arsenal’s title challenges also lost their impetus in each of the past two seasons after Cazorla suffered serious injuries, but what was striking about Friday’s revelations was just how long he had been playing in acute pain.  It was on Sept 10, 2013 when Spain were playing Chile in Geneva that Cazorla suffered the first major damage to his right ankle. It caused a bone fissure but he played on, scoring in the 2014 FA Cup final ­before moving into a more central midfield position where he became arguably Arsenal’s most influential player. “If I got warm I could play, but at half-time, as soon as I cooled down a bit, I would cry,” he said.  Cazorla was still managing that pain for club and country when he suffered a separate knee ligament injury against Norwich City in November 2015 that also required surgery. Arsenal were never quite the same team as the Leicester City fairy tale of 2015-16 gathered pace.  Cazorla did return in 2016 and was again outstanding early last season before coming off during the 6-0 home win against Ludogorets last October. A tendon injury in the plantar area of his right foot required surgery but the wound kept re-opening to the extent that eight operations were needed.  “The medical professionals told me it was OK, the problem was that it did not heal and the wounds would reopen, become infected,” he said. “Look, in this picture I can see the tendon.”  One step more, one step closer! #Lookingforwardtoseeyouall! A post shared by Santi Cazorla (@santicazorla) on Aug 23, 2017 at 8:04am PDT Marcapublished a photograph in which the full gaping wound, and what appears to be gangrene, is evident. Cazorla was then seen in Spain by Dr Mikel Sanchez. “He saw I had a tremendous infection, that I had damaged part of the calcaneus bone and it had eaten the Achilles tendon,” said Cazorla. “There was eight centimetres of it missing.”  Dr Sanchez, says Marca, put his hands to his head as he absorbed the full severity of Cazorla’s injury. He had never seen anything like it. The aggressive nature of three bacteria required antibiotic treatments and it was at this stage that fears arose of a blood infection that could mean amputation.  Despite obvious concerns for Cazorla’s career, Arsenal agreed a ­one-year contract extension. His current deal expires next June and, at the age of 32, his ambition remains fierce. “I do not have clearance until January, but I will come back by then,” said Cazorla. Just the sight of him running on a pitch recently brought his brother to tears. Although Cazorla’s family are still living in London where his children are at school, he has been based at a hotel in Salamanca since July, where he is working daily with Juan Carlos Herraez, the Spain team’s physiotherapist. His routine involves swimming, massage, cycling and pilates.  The “hardest thing”, says Cazorla, is being alone without his family and there is no timescale on his return to Arsenal’s London Colney training base. Regular messages from team-mates and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger have boosted Cazorla’s spirits and he says it is “a relief” to now explain the full extent of his injury. “Everything I have gone through has not been as simple an injury as people have believed,” he said. “Nobody trusted me but I do. I still do, although the pain keeps me cautious.”  Wenger hopes to reintegrate Cazorla gradually after Christmas but Arsenal remain unwilling to place any expectation on his rehabilitation by commenting on the timetable. “It has been extremely tough and testing for him,” said Wenger. “He suffers a lot not to be out there with the ball. He is extremely strong and brave. Behind his smile is a strength you would not guess.”

Ilima Macfarlane heads into Bellator 186 aiming to become first female MMA flyweight champ in USA history

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane appears to have been born and raised to be a leader. Or at least to shine. A pupil from the Punahou High School, Honolulu, an establishment attended by former US President Barack Obama and golf prodigy Michelle Wie, from a middle class family with few jagged edges, had been destined for a life in academia after a bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology and then a Masters Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences. But then her fighting genes ambushed her.  She had wrestled a bit. But partied a lot more. Unhappy with getting out of shape, Macfarlane hit the gym. Hit it so hard, in fact, that those in MMA sat up and took notice, and encouraged and cajoled her to up her game. It was a no-brainer, they said. They saw something in the Hawaiian. Fighting talent, power, and fine athletic skills. She had just gone to the gym, though, to lose weight.          Yet three years later, Macfarlane will make history on Friday when she fights fellow 125-pounder Emily Ducote for the first major women's MMA flyweight title ever to be fought over in the United States, where the sport has a home on all the major television networks.  The Bellator MMA women's flyweight division crowns its first flyweight champion here, and Macfarlane has been installed as the favourite to carry the crown home.   The Hawaiian, as comfortable talking with the media as she is liberally punching opponents in the face and slamming them to the ground, has joined a group of female role models in MMA fight sport who have brought about change in the landscape for all women. Win on Friday at Bellator 186 here in State College and the fight organization has a viable and ready-made star.  In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Macfarlane, flower behind her ear in Hawaiian style, explained that the renowned women in this sport - Gina Carano, Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey, Cat Zingino Miesha Tate and the like have paved the way for her.  Ilima-Lei Macfarlane interviewed by Gareth A Davies  Credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator "I think they are all amazing because they are role models for women. Then there are women like Heather Hardy, Valérie Létourneau, mothers in the division. I've always loved women fighters who don't need to talk trash or draw unnecessary attention to themselves," explained the 27-year-old. "They lead by example. They let their fighting do the talking. I really admire a lot of the women in this division for being that positive role model." Macfarlane admits that this journey is as much a surprise to her as it is to friends and family. She studied at San Diego State College, an MMA heartland. "I did my undergrad in Cultural Anthropology. I did my Masters in Liberal Studies with a focus on indigenous issues. It's something I hold dear to my heart. I'm always working with indigenous people, natives, organisations. I still try to do that whenever I can, when I'm not in training." Laudable. Her background has shaped that attitude. "My identity is native Hawaiian. I have a strong identity in that, and also being born and raised in Hawaii I feel very connected to my culture and my heritage and my people. There's a lot of disenfranchised youth, mainly so in native communities, and I want to show them I'm following my dreams and doing well and they can do it too. I wanted to be a teacher originally. Now I feel I can still work with the youth but don't have to necessarily be in the classroom with them." No ghetto upbringing, no rambling, dysfunctional upbringing for this eloquent human being. "Not at all," she explains, sitting chatting to the media in dress and flip flops. "I went to a private school. My mum was form the westside of the island. My dad was from the townside. We all went to private school. I had an amazing upbringing." Nor was fighting, or fight sports, part of her viewing schedule growing up. "I totally did not watch fighting at all. I didn't really know about MMA until I was in high school. I'd never been in an altercation. We are not from a family of fighters. I've never been in a street fight before in my life. I didn't even fight with my siblings." Remarkable. So, how do Ilima's parents feel ? "They are totally into it. In the beginning they helped put me through college so my mum was like 'Why did we spend all that money if you're just going to go and fight?' But then after a while she came around and now she's in the front row of all my fights. She's going crazy and everything. They're totally supportive. They said to do it while I'm young." Makes sense. So, back to San Diego State, and a little more meat on the bones of this amazing tale. "The College is quite renowned for partying. It's a huge party school. That's how I gained my weight. The biggest I got was 175. Fifty pounds heavier than my fighting weight..." Then the rub. The athletic bent was there. Perhaps hidden a little. But there. "I was an athlete my entire life. I grew up playing basketball, volleyball, soccer, wrestling," she explained, before adding, "But I'm one of the only Hawaiians that doesn't surf. I love swimming but no surfing. My whole family are athletes. But once I graduated from high school I was like 'Alright, I'm never playing sports again'. I had a couple of surgeries on my knees and so it just didn't sound appealing to me. When I got fat that's when I was like 'Ok, I've got to get back into shape'." The Hawaiian fighter has compiled a 6-0 record Credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator  A dark cloud was enveloping her. She was 23, bright, beautiful, but unhappy with what she had become. What happened next is an object lesson for anyone with similar feelings. "You could call it depressed. I had low self esteem," Ilima told The Daily Telegraph. "Drinking, Mexican food at two in the morning every night." Then she joined the San Diego Combat Academy and Tenth Planet San Diego. And Ilima has not looked back. "My background in wrestling made my transition to jiu jitsu easy but striking was definitely something that had to be developed. Something I did have was toughness. When I got punched I was like cool. I get punched every day by Liz Carmouche (a former UFC title challenger). After that, when I realised I could handle it, and it wasn't too bad, I was like ok I can do this." Macfarlane can certainly do it. And some. There was also a viral internet storm created when she knocked out her first opponent in brutal fashion in 10 seconds. That first professional fight was an unsanctioned match, footage of which went viral and caused the California State Athletic Commission to launch an investigation into unsanctioned events. It became known as the knockout of the 'soccer mom', and 'the Iliminator' legend was born. It helped. But Macfarlane 'has it' on so many fronts.   "There is so much to fight sports, but another thing I'm really strong about is unity with other women," she explained to me. "I'm always very supportive and using the hashtag 'girl power'. I love this rise in strong women. We don't need men. A lot of us are single or single mothers. That's totally fine if you do have a partner. I do like to set the example that you can do it by yourself." So how far can Macfarlane go, how far does she wish to go ? "I still feel I'm in the infancy in my career and very new to the game. Like 6-0 is only six fights. There are veterans out there who are like 20 and 6. I'm not under any illusions that I'm unbeatable or the best. I'm still very realistic about everything and like look I'm still learning, I'm still very green in MMA. If anything, it helps ground me and helps keep my head in the game." And, of course, Ms Ducote is gunning for her, as they have met once, Macfarlane taking the decision in a great fight. "I think if anything it lit a fire under her a-- to come back and avenge her loss. Especially because this is a huge opportunity for her." RT if you’re ready to see @ilimanator & @ducote_brunette fight for the Inaugural Women’s Flyweight title this Friday! #Bellator186pic.twitter.com/4rShuJ8XVY— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 1, 2017 "She didn't think she was going to get this. I've watched a couple of her interviews since our fight and she didn't think at all after her last fight that she was going to get a title shot. The fact that she's in this position now she's not going to blow it. I think she's coming back stronger." "Me and Emily are actually really cool," she adds, intriguingly. "We have each other's phone numbers. But if people aren't calling me out then that's weird. Because that should be the goal. To fight for the belt, be the world champion. I don't get offended if people call me out. That's their job." Macfarlane is so confident, a victory speech has already been penned in her head. "It ties in nicely to what we were talking about before, female empowerment. It wasn't going to be a victory speech. It was actually a post about my ex boyfriend. The gist of it is thank you for treating me so terribly and filling my head with all these insecurities and telling me I shouldn't fight because look at me now. That's what I meant. It's about my personal life and how I was able to accomplish all of this, whether or not I win the belt." "I tell everybody before all of my fights, I'm going to retire after this fight. I told my coaches if I win the belt I'm retiring. But we know that's not going to happen. It's an addiction. It keeps me sober. I can't drink when I'm in camp. I've been sober for like three months. It's a record. I think it's very healthy. It keeps me active, I'm not doing drugs or alcohol. I'm going to be opening up a gym in about a year in Hawaii. It will be tenth planet Oahu. But even if I end up in the classroom, as a teacher, which is what I planned originally, that would be amazing."   Remember the name of Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. You'll be hearing a lot more about her. A remarkable woman, and the next generation of female fighter who wants to change the world; and the way it thinks.    

Ilima Macfarlane heads into Bellator 186 aiming to become first female MMA flyweight champ in USA history

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane appears to have been born and raised to be a leader. Or at least to shine. A pupil from the Punahou High School, Honolulu, an establishment attended by former US President Barack Obama and golf prodigy Michelle Wie, from a middle class family with few jagged edges, had been destined for a life in academia after a bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology and then a Masters Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences. But then her fighting genes ambushed her.  She had wrestled a bit. But partied a lot more. Unhappy with getting out of shape, Macfarlane hit the gym. Hit it so hard, in fact, that those in MMA sat up and took notice, and encouraged and cajoled her to up her game. It was a no-brainer, they said. They saw something in the Hawaiian. Fighting talent, power, and fine athletic skills. She had just gone to the gym, though, to lose weight.          Yet three years later, Macfarlane will make history on Friday when she fights fellow 125-pounder Emily Ducote for the first major women's MMA flyweight title ever to be fought over in the United States, where the sport has a home on all the major television networks.  The Bellator MMA women's flyweight division crowns its first flyweight champion here, and Macfarlane has been installed as the favourite to carry the crown home.   The Hawaiian, as comfortable talking with the media as she is liberally punching opponents in the face and slamming them to the ground, has joined a group of female role models in MMA fight sport who have brought about change in the landscape for all women. Win on Friday at Bellator 186 here in State College and the fight organization has a viable and ready-made star.  What a personality @ilimanator is - should be terrific fight at @BellatorMMA 186 w/ Emily Ducote. Interview w/Ilima https://t.co/xXCrVoeVe3pic.twitter.com/dRSLgnRgja— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) November 3, 2017 In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Macfarlane, flower behind her ear in Hawaiian style, explained that the renowned women in this sport - Gina Carano, Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey, Cat Zingano Miesha Tate and the like have paved the way for her.  "I think they are all amazing because they are role models for women. Then there are women like Heather Hardy, Valérie Létourneau, mothers in the division. I've always loved women fighters who don't need to talk trash or draw unnecessary attention to themselves," explained the 27-year-old. "They lead by example. They let their fighting do the talking. I really admire a lot of the women in this division for being that positive role model." Macfarlane admits that this journey is as much a surprise to her as it is to friends and family. She studied at San Diego State College, an MMA heartland. "I did my undergrad in Cultural Anthropology. I did my Masters in Liberal Studies with a focus on indigenous issues. It's something I hold dear to my heart. I'm always working with indigenous people, natives, organisations. I still try to do that whenever I can, when I'm not in training." Laudable. Her background has shaped that attitude. "My identity is native Hawaiian. I have a strong identity in that, and also being born and raised in Hawaii I feel very connected to my culture and my heritage and my people. There's a lot of disenfranchised youth, mainly so in native communities, and I want to show them I'm following my dreams and doing well and they can do it too. I wanted to be a teacher originally. Now I feel I can still work with the youth but don't have to necessarily be in the classroom with them." No ghetto upbringing, no rambling, dysfunctional upbringing for this eloquent human being. "Not at all," she explains, sitting chatting to the media in dress and flip flops. "I went to a private school. My mum was form the westside of the island. My dad was from the townside. We all went to private school. I had an amazing upbringing." Nor was fighting, or fight sports, part of her viewing schedule growing up. "I totally did not watch fighting at all. I didn't really know about MMA until I was in high school. I'd never been in an altercation. We are not from a family of fighters. I've never been in a street fight before in my life. I didn't even fight with my siblings." Remarkable. So, how do Ilima's parents feel ? "They are totally into it. In the beginning they helped put me through college so my mum was like 'Why did we spend all that money if you're just going to go and fight?' But then after a while she came around and now she's in the front row of all my fights. She's going crazy and everything. They're totally supportive. They said to do it while I'm young." Makes sense. So, back to San Diego State, and a little more meat on the bones of this amazing tale. "The College is quite renowned for partying. It's a huge party school. That's how I gained my weight. The biggest I got was 175. Fifty pounds heavier than my fighting weight..." Then the rub. The athletic bent was there. Perhaps hidden a little. But there. "I was an athlete my entire life. I grew up playing basketball, volleyball, soccer, wrestling," she explained, before adding, "But I'm one of the only Hawaiians that doesn't surf. I love swimming but no surfing. My whole family are athletes. But once I graduated from high school I was like 'Alright, I'm never playing sports again'. I had a couple of surgeries on my knees and so it just didn't sound appealing to me. When I got fat that's when I was like 'Ok, I've got to get back into shape'." The Hawaiian fighter has compiled a 6-0 record Credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator  A dark cloud was enveloping her. She was 23, bright, beautiful, but unhappy with what she had become. What happened next is an object lesson for anyone with similar feelings. "You could call it depressed. I had low self esteem," Ilima told The Daily Telegraph. "Drinking, Mexican food at two in the morning every night." Then she joined the San Diego Combat Academy and Tenth Planet San Diego. And Ilima has not looked back. "My background in wrestling made my transition to jiu jitsu easy but striking was definitely something that had to be developed. Something I did have was toughness. When I got punched I was like cool. I get punched every day by Liz Carmouche (a former UFC title challenger). After that, when I realised I could handle it, and it wasn't too bad, I was like ok I can do this." Macfarlane can certainly do it. And some. There was also a viral internet storm created when she knocked out her first opponent in brutal fashion in 10 seconds. That first professional fight was an unsanctioned match, footage of which went viral and caused the California State Athletic Commission to launch an investigation into unsanctioned events. It became known as the knockout of the 'soccer mom', and 'the Iliminator' legend was born. It helped. But Macfarlane 'has it' on so many fronts.   "There is so much to fight sports, but another thing I'm really strong about is unity with other women," she explained to me. "I'm always very supportive and using the hashtag 'girl power'. I love this rise in strong women. We don't need men. A lot of us are single or single mothers. That's totally fine if you do have a partner. I do like to set the example that you can do it by yourself." So how far can Macfarlane go, how far does she wish to go ? "I still feel I'm in the infancy in my career and very new to the game. Like 6-0 is only six fights. There are veterans out there who are like 20 and 6. I'm not under any illusions that I'm unbeatable or the best. I'm still very realistic about everything and like look I'm still learning, I'm still very green in MMA. If anything, it helps ground me and helps keep my head in the game." And, of course, Ms Ducote is gunning for her, as they have met once, Macfarlane taking the decision in a great fight. "I think if anything it lit a fire under her a-- to come back and avenge her loss. Especially because this is a huge opportunity for her." RT if you’re ready to see @ilimanator & @ducote_brunette fight for the Inaugural Women’s Flyweight title this Friday! #Bellator186pic.twitter.com/4rShuJ8XVY— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 1, 2017 "She didn't think she was going to get this. I've watched a couple of her interviews since our fight and she didn't think at all after her last fight that she was going to get a title shot. The fact that she's in this position now she's not going to blow it. I think she's coming back stronger." "Me and Emily are actually really cool," she adds, intriguingly. "We have each other's phone numbers. But if people aren't calling me out then that's weird. Because that should be the goal. To fight for the belt, be the world champion. I don't get offended if people call me out. That's their job." Macfarlane is so confident, a victory speech has already been penned in her head. "It ties in nicely to what we were talking about before, female empowerment. It wasn't going to be a victory speech. It was actually a post about my ex boyfriend. The gist of it is thank you for treating me so terribly and filling my head with all these insecurities and telling me I shouldn't fight because look at me now. That's what I meant. It's about my personal life and how I was able to accomplish all of this, whether or not I win the belt." "I tell everybody before all of my fights, I'm going to retire after this fight. I told my coaches if I win the belt I'm retiring. But we know that's not going to happen. It's an addiction. It keeps me sober. I can't drink when I'm in camp. I've been sober for like three months. It's a record. I think it's very healthy. It keeps me active, I'm not doing drugs or alcohol. I'm going to be opening up a gym in about a year in Hawaii. It will be tenth planet Oahu. But even if I end up in the classroom, as a teacher, which is what I planned originally, that would be amazing."   Remember the name of Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. You'll be hearing a lot more about her. A remarkable woman, and the next generation of female fighter who wants to change the world; and the way it thinks.    

Ilima Macfarlane heads into Bellator 186 aiming to become first female MMA flyweight champ in USA history

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane appears to have been born and raised to be a leader. Or at least to shine. A pupil from the Punahou High School, Honolulu, an establishment attended by former US President Barack Obama and golf prodigy Michelle Wie, from a middle class family with few jagged edges, had been destined for a life in academia after a bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology and then a Masters Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences. But then her fighting genes ambushed her.  She had wrestled a bit. But partied a lot more. Unhappy with getting out of shape, Macfarlane hit the gym. Hit it so hard, in fact, that those in MMA sat up and took notice, and encouraged and cajoled her to up her game. It was a no-brainer, they said. They saw something in the Hawaiian. Fighting talent, power, and fine athletic skills. She had just gone to the gym, though, to lose weight.          Yet three years later, Macfarlane will make history on Friday when she fights fellow 125-pounder Emily Ducote for the first major women's MMA flyweight title ever to be fought over in the United States, where the sport has a home on all the major television networks.  The Bellator MMA women's flyweight division crowns its first flyweight champion here, and Macfarlane has been installed as the favourite to carry the crown home.   The Hawaiian, as comfortable talking with the media as she is liberally punching opponents in the face and slamming them to the ground, has joined a group of female role models in MMA fight sport who have brought about change in the landscape for all women. Win on Friday at Bellator 186 here in State College and the fight organization has a viable and ready-made star.  What a personality @ilimanator is - should be terrific fight at @BellatorMMA 186 w/ Emily Ducote. Interview w/Ilima https://t.co/xXCrVoeVe3pic.twitter.com/dRSLgnRgja— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) November 3, 2017 In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Macfarlane, flower behind her ear in Hawaiian style, explained that the renowned women in this sport - Gina Carano, Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey, Cat Zingano Miesha Tate and the like have paved the way for her.  "I think they are all amazing because they are role models for women. Then there are women like Heather Hardy, Valérie Létourneau, mothers in the division. I've always loved women fighters who don't need to talk trash or draw unnecessary attention to themselves," explained the 27-year-old. "They lead by example. They let their fighting do the talking. I really admire a lot of the women in this division for being that positive role model." Macfarlane admits that this journey is as much a surprise to her as it is to friends and family. She studied at San Diego State College, an MMA heartland. "I did my undergrad in Cultural Anthropology. I did my Masters in Liberal Studies with a focus on indigenous issues. It's something I hold dear to my heart. I'm always working with indigenous people, natives, organisations. I still try to do that whenever I can, when I'm not in training." Laudable. Her background has shaped that attitude. "My identity is native Hawaiian. I have a strong identity in that, and also being born and raised in Hawaii I feel very connected to my culture and my heritage and my people. There's a lot of disenfranchised youth, mainly so in native communities, and I want to show them I'm following my dreams and doing well and they can do it too. I wanted to be a teacher originally. Now I feel I can still work with the youth but don't have to necessarily be in the classroom with them." No ghetto upbringing, no rambling, dysfunctional upbringing for this eloquent human being. "Not at all," she explains, sitting chatting to the media in dress and flip flops. "I went to a private school. My mum was form the westside of the island. My dad was from the townside. We all went to private school. I had an amazing upbringing." Nor was fighting, or fight sports, part of her viewing schedule growing up. "I totally did not watch fighting at all. I didn't really know about MMA until I was in high school. I'd never been in an altercation. We are not from a family of fighters. I've never been in a street fight before in my life. I didn't even fight with my siblings." Remarkable. So, how do Ilima's parents feel ? "They are totally into it. In the beginning they helped put me through college so my mum was like 'Why did we spend all that money if you're just going to go and fight?' But then after a while she came around and now she's in the front row of all my fights. She's going crazy and everything. They're totally supportive. They said to do it while I'm young." Makes sense. So, back to San Diego State, and a little more meat on the bones of this amazing tale. "The College is quite renowned for partying. It's a huge party school. That's how I gained my weight. The biggest I got was 175. Fifty pounds heavier than my fighting weight..." Then the rub. The athletic bent was there. Perhaps hidden a little. But there. "I was an athlete my entire life. I grew up playing basketball, volleyball, soccer, wrestling," she explained, before adding, "But I'm one of the only Hawaiians that doesn't surf. I love swimming but no surfing. My whole family are athletes. But once I graduated from high school I was like 'Alright, I'm never playing sports again'. I had a couple of surgeries on my knees and so it just didn't sound appealing to me. When I got fat that's when I was like 'Ok, I've got to get back into shape'." The Hawaiian fighter has compiled a 6-0 record Credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator  A dark cloud was enveloping her. She was 23, bright, beautiful, but unhappy with what she had become. What happened next is an object lesson for anyone with similar feelings. "You could call it depressed. I had low self esteem," Ilima told The Daily Telegraph. "Drinking, Mexican food at two in the morning every night." Then she joined the San Diego Combat Academy and Tenth Planet San Diego. And Ilima has not looked back. "My background in wrestling made my transition to jiu jitsu easy but striking was definitely something that had to be developed. Something I did have was toughness. When I got punched I was like cool. I get punched every day by Liz Carmouche (a former UFC title challenger). After that, when I realised I could handle it, and it wasn't too bad, I was like ok I can do this." Macfarlane can certainly do it. And some. There was also a viral internet storm created when she knocked out her first opponent in brutal fashion in 10 seconds. That first professional fight was an unsanctioned match, footage of which went viral and caused the California State Athletic Commission to launch an investigation into unsanctioned events. It became known as the knockout of the 'soccer mom', and 'the Iliminator' legend was born. It helped. But Macfarlane 'has it' on so many fronts.   "There is so much to fight sports, but another thing I'm really strong about is unity with other women," she explained to me. "I'm always very supportive and using the hashtag 'girl power'. I love this rise in strong women. We don't need men. A lot of us are single or single mothers. That's totally fine if you do have a partner. I do like to set the example that you can do it by yourself." So how far can Macfarlane go, how far does she wish to go ? "I still feel I'm in the infancy in my career and very new to the game. Like 6-0 is only six fights. There are veterans out there who are like 20 and 6. I'm not under any illusions that I'm unbeatable or the best. I'm still very realistic about everything and like look I'm still learning, I'm still very green in MMA. If anything, it helps ground me and helps keep my head in the game." And, of course, Ms Ducote is gunning for her, as they have met once, Macfarlane taking the decision in a great fight. "I think if anything it lit a fire under her a-- to come back and avenge her loss. Especially because this is a huge opportunity for her." RT if you’re ready to see @ilimanator & @ducote_brunette fight for the Inaugural Women’s Flyweight title this Friday! #Bellator186pic.twitter.com/4rShuJ8XVY— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 1, 2017 "She didn't think she was going to get this. I've watched a couple of her interviews since our fight and she didn't think at all after her last fight that she was going to get a title shot. The fact that she's in this position now she's not going to blow it. I think she's coming back stronger." "Me and Emily are actually really cool," she adds, intriguingly. "We have each other's phone numbers. But if people aren't calling me out then that's weird. Because that should be the goal. To fight for the belt, be the world champion. I don't get offended if people call me out. That's their job." Macfarlane is so confident, a victory speech has already been penned in her head. "It ties in nicely to what we were talking about before, female empowerment. It wasn't going to be a victory speech. It was actually a post about my ex boyfriend. The gist of it is thank you for treating me so terribly and filling my head with all these insecurities and telling me I shouldn't fight because look at me now. That's what I meant. It's about my personal life and how I was able to accomplish all of this, whether or not I win the belt." "I tell everybody before all of my fights, I'm going to retire after this fight. I told my coaches if I win the belt I'm retiring. But we know that's not going to happen. It's an addiction. It keeps me sober. I can't drink when I'm in camp. I've been sober for like three months. It's a record. I think it's very healthy. It keeps me active, I'm not doing drugs or alcohol. I'm going to be opening up a gym in about a year in Hawaii. It will be tenth planet Oahu. But even if I end up in the classroom, as a teacher, which is what I planned originally, that would be amazing."   Remember the name of Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. You'll be hearing a lot more about her. A remarkable woman, and the next generation of female fighter who wants to change the world; and the way it thinks.    

Italian swimmers questioned by anti-doping authorities

FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015, men's 4x100m freestyle relay team Italy's Filippo Magnini, left, and Michele Santucci hold up their bronze medals at the Swimming World Championships in Kazan, Russia. Two-time swimming world champion Filippo Magnini and sprint relay teammate Michele Santucci are being questioned by Italian anti-doping authorities over their relationship with a nutritionist being investigated for alleged illegal drugs distribution. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

Catalan secession threatens Spain's golden age for sports

FILE - In this Thursday, July 27, 2017 file photo, Spain's Mireia Belmonte celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's 200-meter butterfly final during the swimming competitions of the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Catalonia's audacious attempt to secede from the rest of Spain represents a threat to one of the world's sporting powers. The star of Spain when it comes to the Olympics is swimmer Mireia Belmonte. She has delivered four medals in the last two Summer Games, including a gold medal in the 200-meter butterfly in 2016. That made her one of three Catalans who contributed to Spain's haul of seven gold medals in Rio. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Swimming - Women's 50m Freestyle Semifinals

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Semifinal - Women's 50m Freestyle Semifinals - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Cate Campbell (AUS) of Australia reacts. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Swimming - Women's 50m Freestyle Semifinals

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Semifinal - Women's 50m Freestyle Semifinals - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Cate Campbell (AUS) of Australia reacts. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Swimming: Campbell rediscovers love for swimming after long break

Swimming - Women's 50m Freestyle Semifinals

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Semifinal - Women's 50m Freestyle Semifinals - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Cate Campbell (AUS) of Australia reacts. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Cate Campbell enjoyed her first night back in competitive swimming with a short course record.

Cate Campbell enjoyed her first night back in competitive swimming with a short course record.

Cate Campbell makes her return to swimming at the national short course championships.

Cate Campbell makes her return to swimming at the national short course championships.

UK Sport may hit British Para-Swimming in pocket over bullying crisis

UK Sport may hit British Para-Swimming in pocket over bullying crisis

UK Sport may hit British Para-Swimming in pocket over bullying crisis

Chris Furberm was found to have shown a ‘lack of empathy’ in an independent report into allegations of bullying of British para-swimmers.

AP Interview: Tokyo vows clean water for Olympic triathlon

Tokyo Organizing Committee CEO of the 2020 Olympics Toshiro Muto speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Tokyo Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. The top Tokyo Olympic organizer has pledged to keep water clean and safe at marathon swimming and triathlon venue where E. coli bacterial contamination has been detected during the summer, saying they are implementing measures that are showing improvement. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

AP Interview: Tokyo vows clean water for Olympic triathlon

Tokyo Organizing Committee CEO of the 2020 Olympics Toshiro Muto speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Tokyo Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. The top Tokyo Olympic organizer has pledged to keep water clean and safe at marathon swimming and triathlon venue where E. coli bacterial contamination has been detected during the summer, saying they are implementing measures that are showing improvement. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Report: ‘More Than 10,000' Athletes Doped in 80s and 90s, Former Chinese Doctor Claims

Xue Yinxian is a 79-year-old former Chinese doctor seeking asylum in Germany after revealing that "more than 10,000" Chinese athletes were taking performance enhancing drugs in the 1980s and 1990s as part of a systemic doping scandal by the country, he tells German broadcaster ARD.

The doctor claims that systemic doping had its roots with athletes as young as 11 years old and was used in major Olympic sports including swimming, diving, track and field, table tennis, soccer, volleyball, basketball and more. Xue worked closely with Chinese national teams in the 1970s. Xue said she was dismissed from her job with the national gymnastics team after refusing to assist an athlete with doping before the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In 2012, she fled the country after blowing the whistle on doping in 2012.

The World Anti-Doping Agency issued a statement saying that it was looking the allegations.

“Medals were tainted by doping – gold, silver and bronze," he said, according to The Guardian. "There must have been more than 10,000 people involved. People believed only in doping, anyone who took doping substances was seen to be defending the country. All international medals [won by Chinese athletes in that time] should be taken back.”

"One trainer came to me and said, 'Doctor Xue, the boys' breasts keep getting bigger,'" Xue also said. "These boys were about 13 to 14 years old."

The IOC's statute of limitations on re-testing drug samples from the 80s and 90s has passed so it is unlikely those allegedly tainted medals will ever get to clean athletes.

No members of the Chinese Olympic Committee and China’s sports ministry commented to the ARD reporters.

This is not the first time that China has been linked to doping in the 80s and 90s. In February 2016, a letter was revealed in which several Chinese athletes said controversial track coach Ma Junren helped operate a state-sponsored doping system. Ma's athletes set national and world records on the track that were considered unbreakable for years due to the possible use of performance-enhancing drugs. Whenever Ma was asked about his athlete's success, he would credit it to altitude training and athletes taking turtle blood. The leaked letter was being investigated by the International Association of Athletics Federation as the World Anti-Doing Agency investigated Russia for its own systemic doping.

Swimming - Women's 200m Butterfly Victory Ceremony

Rio Olympics - Swimming - Victory Ceremony - Women's 200m Butterfly Victory Ceremony - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10/08/2016. Madeline Groves (AUS) of Australia poses with her silver medal. REUTERS/David Gray FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. Picture Supplied by Action Images

Swimming - Women's 200m Butterfly Victory Ceremony

Rio Olympics - Swimming - Victory Ceremony - Women's 200m Butterfly Victory Ceremony - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10/08/2016. Madeline Groves (AUS) of Australia poses with her silver medal. REUTERS/David Gray FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. Picture Supplied by Action Images

Swimming - Women's 200m Butterfly Victory Ceremony

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Victory Ceremony - Women's 200m Butterfly Victory Ceremony - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10/08/2016. Madeline Groves (AUS) of Australia poses with her silver medal. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler

Swimming - Women's 200m Butterfly Victory Ceremony

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Victory Ceremony - Women's 200m Butterfly Victory Ceremony - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10/08/2016. Madeline Groves (AUS) of Australia poses with her silver medal. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler

Under Armour Signs Syrian Refugee, Olympian Yusra Mardini to Endorsement Deal

Yusra Mardini's incredible story has taken another turn, as the Syrian refugee and Olympic swimmer recently signed an endorsement deal with Under Armour.

"I shouldn't be alive today," Mardini says in a promotional video released by Under Armour. "I should have been one of the many faceless refugees who died along the way. But I am here. Because I kept moving."

In 2012, Mardini's home was destroyed in the early stages of the Syrian war, prompting her and her sister to make the perilous journey to Europe. A New York Times profile tells her incredible story in detail, but here is the condensed version:

The Mardinis flew from Demascus to Istanbul, Turkey, before they were bused to Izmir. There, they waited four days before boarding a bus headed for the Greek island of Lesbos. But just a few hours into the trip, the boat's engine failed and the vessel began to take on water. Mardini and her sister swam three and a half hours through choppy seas at night while pushing the boat, and they miraculously made it to Lesbos safely.

Mardini then travelled through Europe and settled at a refugee camp in Berlin. There, a swimming trainer discovered her and she continued her training before learning that the International Olympic Committee was putting together a team for refugees or stateless athletes who would otherwise be prohibited from competing. She received a training scholarship and swam the 100m butterfly in Rio, finishing 41st out of 45 competitors.

In April, Mardini was named a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Russia accuses US govt of pushing for its Olympic exclusion

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, poses with Alla Shishkina, who won her synchronised swimming team gold medal, during an awarding ceremony for Russia's Olympians in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Who wore it best? A brief history of footballers in bandages 

Gary Cahill became the talk of Twitter on Wednesday evening after sporting one of the strangest bandage-ensembles ever seen on a football pitch.  28 years after Terry Butcher famously left the field of play with his white kit almost entirely dyed red with blood from head wound, another England centre-back joined the long a list of bandaged footballers to battle on despite a significant head injury. After taking a blow to the chin, Cahill left the field for medical treatment before returning with strapping that stretched from the top of his head all the way around his face to the bottom to his chin. A bandaged-up Gary Cahill battles on at Stamford Bridge Credit: Getty Images  Here are just a few exceptional examples of bandaged-up footballers playing on without a care in the world for their own welfare. Paul Ince A bloodied Paul Ince leads England to World Cup qualification Credit: Getty Images  The Guvernor's finest hour in an England shirt. Battered, bruised and very bloodied, Ince fought back from a nasty head clash to lead England to a crucial goalless draw in Italy, securing qualification to World Cup 1998 in the process. “I remember coming off and the doctor said it would take half an hour to put the stitches in,” said Ince, who was also captain that night. “I wasn’t thinking at all about the cut, I was just thinking about getting back on the pitch. I didn’t want to leave us down to 10 men." Inspiring stuff. Marouane Fellaini Marouane Fellaini battles on with an unorthodox head dressing  Credit: Getty images  A more modern day take on the classic look. Despite Fellaini's dense lock of curls, the Belgian midfielder sustained a cut on his forehead in an aerial clash with Real Madrid defender, Sergio Ramos, during Manchester United's Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid earlier this season.  Manchester United medics were forced to improvise with a reinforced bandage to stem the flow of blood and keep the Belgian's afro in check. The result was John McEnroe-esque masterpiece.  Giorgio Chiellini  Giorgio Chiellini has his head wrapped with a blue bandage  Credit: AP  A player very much cut from the same warrior-defender mould as our own Terry Butcher.  Giorgio Chiellini required eight stitches after colliding with Olympiacios' Bjorn Engels earlier this season, but played on to ensure Juventus got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start. “I’ve got three points on the field and eight stitches in my head," said Chiellini in an Instagram post after the match. "All that counted tonight was the win. Let’s carry on like this." Vedran Corluka  Vedran Corluka sporting some unorthodox head-wear  Credit: EPA  Former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka required medical attention on four separate occasions after sustaining a nasty head gash in Croatia's Euro 2016 opener against Turkey. A Luka Modric volley handed the Croatians victory against Turkey but it was Corluka's bizarre headwear which will live longest in the memory. After initially having his head wrapped in conventional bandaging, the right-back was forced to improved when the cut re-opened in a clash later on in the game. Corluka returned to the pitch sporting a blue and red swimming hat to keep the dressing in place.

Who wore it best? A brief history of footballers in bandages 

Gary Cahill became the talk of Twitter on Wednesday evening after sporting one of the strangest bandage-ensembles ever seen on a football pitch.  28 years after Terry Butcher famously left the field of play with his white kit almost entirely dyed red with blood from head wound, another England centre-back joined the long a list of bandaged footballers to battle on despite a significant head injury. After taking a blow to the chin, Cahill left the field for medical treatment before returning with strapping that stretched from the top of his head all the way around his face to the bottom to his chin. A bandaged-up Gary Cahill battles on at Stamford Bridge Credit: Getty Images  Here are just a few exceptional examples of bandaged-up footballers playing on without a care in the world for their own welfare. Paul Ince A bloodied Paul Ince leads England to World Cup qualification Credit: Getty Images  The Guvernor's finest hour in an England shirt. Battered, bruised and very bloodied, Ince fought back from a nasty head clash to lead England to a crucial goalless draw in Italy, securing qualification to World Cup 1998 in the process. “I remember coming off and the doctor said it would take half an hour to put the stitches in,” said Ince, who was also captain that night. “I wasn’t thinking at all about the cut, I was just thinking about getting back on the pitch. I didn’t want to leave us down to 10 men." Inspiring stuff. Marouane Fellaini Marouane Fellaini battles on with an unorthodox head dressing  Credit: Getty images  A more modern day take on the classic look. Despite Fellaini's dense lock of curls, the Belgian midfielder sustained a cut on his forehead in an aerial clash with Real Madrid defender, Sergio Ramos, during Manchester United's Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid earlier this season.  Manchester United medics were forced to improvise with a reinforced bandage to stem the flow of blood and keep the Belgian's afro in check. The result was John McEnroe-esque masterpiece.  Giorgio Chiellini  Giorgio Chiellini has his head wrapped with a blue bandage  Credit: AP  A player very much cut from the same warrior-defender mould as our own Terry Butcher.  Giorgio Chiellini required eight stitches after colliding with Olympiacios' Bjorn Engels earlier this season, but played on to ensure Juventus got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start. “I’ve got three points on the field and eight stitches in my head," said Chiellini in an Instagram post after the match. "All that counted tonight was the win. Let’s carry on like this." Vedran Corluka  Vedran Corluka sporting some unorthodox head-wear  Credit: EPA  Former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka required medical attention on four separate occasions after sustaining a nasty head gash in Croatia's Euro 2016 opener against Turkey. A Luka Modric volley handed the Croatians victory against Turkey but it was Corluka's bizarre headwear which will live longest in the memory. After initially having his head wrapped in conventional bandaging, the right-back was forced to improved when the cut re-opened in a clash later on in the game. Corluka returned to the pitch sporting a blue and red swimming hat to keep the dressing in place.

Who wore it best? A brief history of footballers in bandages 

Gary Cahill became the talk of Twitter on Wednesday evening after sporting one of the strangest bandage-ensembles ever seen on a football pitch.  28 years after Terry Butcher famously left the field of play with his white kit almost entirely dyed red with blood from head wound, another England centre-back joined the long a list of bandaged footballers to battle on despite a significant head injury. After taking a blow to the chin, Cahill left the field for medical treatment before returning with strapping that stretched from the top of his head all the way around his face to the bottom to his chin. A bandaged-up Gary Cahill battles on at Stamford Bridge Credit: Getty Images  Here are just a few exceptional examples of bandaged-up footballers playing on without a care in the world for their own welfare. Paul Ince A bloodied Paul Ince leads England to World Cup qualification Credit: Getty Images  The Guvernor's finest hour in an England shirt. Battered, bruised and very bloodied, Ince fought back from a nasty head clash to lead England to a crucial goalless draw in Italy, securing qualification to World Cup 1998 in the process. “I remember coming off and the doctor said it would take half an hour to put the stitches in,” said Ince, who was also captain that night. “I wasn’t thinking at all about the cut, I was just thinking about getting back on the pitch. I didn’t want to leave us down to 10 men." Inspiring stuff. Marouane Fellaini Marouane Fellaini battles on with an unorthodox head dressing  Credit: Getty images  A more modern day take on the classic look. Despite Fellaini's dense lock of curls, the Belgian midfielder sustained a cut on his forehead in an aerial clash with Real Madrid defender, Sergio Ramos, during Manchester United's Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid earlier this season.  Manchester United medics were forced to improvise with a reinforced bandage to stem the flow of blood and keep the Belgian's afro in check. The result was John McEnroe-esque masterpiece.  Giorgio Chiellini  Giorgio Chiellini has his head wrapped with a blue bandage  Credit: AP  A player very much cut from the same warrior-defender mould as our own Terry Butcher.  Giorgio Chiellini required eight stitches after colliding with Olympiacios' Bjorn Engels earlier this season, but played on to ensure Juventus got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start. “I’ve got three points on the field and eight stitches in my head," said Chiellini in an Instagram post after the match. "All that counted tonight was the win. Let’s carry on like this." Vedran Corluka  Vedran Corluka sporting some unorthodox head-wear  Credit: EPA  Former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka required medical attention on four separate occasions after sustaining a nasty head gash in Croatia's Euro 2016 opener against Turkey. A Luka Modric volley handed the Croatians victory against Turkey but it was Corluka's bizarre headwear which will live longest in the memory. After initially having his head wrapped in conventional bandaging, the right-back was forced to improved when the cut re-opened in a clash later on in the game. Corluka returned to the pitch sporting a blue and red swimming hat to keep the dressing in place.

Who wore it best? A brief history of footballers in bandages 

Gary Cahill became the talk of Twitter on Wednesday evening after sporting one of the strangest bandage-ensembles ever seen on a football pitch.  28 years after Terry Butcher famously left the field of play with his white kit almost entirely dyed red with blood from head wound, another England centre-back joined the long a list of bandaged footballers to battle on despite a significant head injury. After taking a blow to the chin, Cahill left the field for medical treatment before returning with strapping that stretched from the top of his head all the way around his face to the bottom to his chin. A bandaged-up Gary Cahill battles on at Stamford Bridge Credit: Getty Images  Here are just a few exceptional examples of bandaged-up footballers playing on without a care in the world for their own welfare. Paul Ince A bloodied Paul Ince leads England to World Cup qualification Credit: Getty Images  The Guvernor's finest hour in an England shirt. Battered, bruised and very bloodied, Ince fought back from a nasty head clash to lead England to a crucial goalless draw in Italy, securing qualification to World Cup 1998 in the process. “I remember coming off and the doctor said it would take half an hour to put the stitches in,” said Ince, who was also captain that night. “I wasn’t thinking at all about the cut, I was just thinking about getting back on the pitch. I didn’t want to leave us down to 10 men." Inspiring stuff. Marouane Fellaini Marouane Fellaini battles on with an unorthodox head dressing  Credit: Getty images  A more modern day take on the classic look. Despite Fellaini's dense lock of curls, the Belgian midfielder sustained a cut on his forehead in an aerial clash with Real Madrid defender, Sergio Ramos, during Manchester United's Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid earlier this season.  Manchester United medics were forced to improvise with a reinforced bandage to stem the flow of blood and keep the Belgian's afro in check. The result was John McEnroe-esque masterpiece.  Giorgio Chiellini  Giorgio Chiellini has his head wrapped with a blue bandage  Credit: AP  A player very much cut from the same warrior-defender mould as our own Terry Butcher.  Giorgio Chiellini required eight stitches after colliding with Olympiacios' Bjorn Engels earlier this season, but played on to ensure Juventus got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start. “I’ve got three points on the field and eight stitches in my head," said Chiellini in an Instagram post after the match. "All that counted tonight was the win. Let’s carry on like this." Vedran Corluka  Vedran Corluka sporting some unorthodox head-wear  Credit: EPA  Former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka required medical attention on four separate occasions after sustaining a nasty head gash in Croatia's Euro 2016 opener against Turkey. A Luka Modric volley handed the Croatians victory against Turkey but it was Corluka's bizarre headwear which will live longest in the memory. After initially having his head wrapped in conventional bandaging, the right-back was forced to improved when the cut re-opened in a clash later on in the game. Corluka returned to the pitch sporting a blue and red swimming hat to keep the dressing in place.

Who wore it best? A brief history of footballers in bandages 

Gary Cahill became the talk of Twitter on Wednesday evening after sporting one of the strangest bandage-ensembles ever seen on a football pitch.  28 years after Terry Butcher famously left the field of play with his white kit almost entirely dyed red with blood from head wound, another England centre-back joined the long a list of bandaged footballers to battle on despite a significant head injury. After taking a blow to the chin, Cahill left the field for medical treatment before returning with strapping that stretched from the top of his head all the way around his face to the bottom to his chin. A bandaged-up Gary Cahill battles on at Stamford Bridge Credit: Getty Images  Here are just a few exceptional examples of bandaged-up footballers playing on without a care in the world for their own welfare. Paul Ince A bloodied Paul Ince leads England to World Cup qualification Credit: Getty Images  The Guvernor's finest hour in an England shirt. Battered, bruised and very bloodied, Ince fought back from a nasty head clash to lead England to a crucial goalless draw in Italy, securing qualification to World Cup 1998 in the process. “I remember coming off and the doctor said it would take half an hour to put the stitches in,” said Ince, who was also captain that night. “I wasn’t thinking at all about the cut, I was just thinking about getting back on the pitch. I didn’t want to leave us down to 10 men." Inspiring stuff. Marouane Fellaini Marouane Fellaini battles on with an unorthodox head dressing  Credit: Getty images  A more modern day take on the classic look. Despite Fellaini's dense lock of curls, the Belgian midfielder sustained a cut on his forehead in an aerial clash with Real Madrid defender, Sergio Ramos, during Manchester United's Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid earlier this season.  Manchester United medics were forced to improvise with a reinforced bandage to stem the flow of blood and keep the Belgian's afro in check. The result was John McEnroe-esque masterpiece.  Giorgio Chiellini  Giorgio Chiellini has his head wrapped with a blue bandage  Credit: AP  A player very much cut from the same warrior-defender mould as our own Terry Butcher.  Giorgio Chiellini required eight stitches after colliding with Olympiacios' Bjorn Engels earlier this season, but played on to ensure Juventus got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start. “I’ve got three points on the field and eight stitches in my head," said Chiellini in an Instagram post after the match. "All that counted tonight was the win. Let’s carry on like this." Vedran Corluka  Vedran Corluka sporting some unorthodox head-wear  Credit: EPA  Former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka required medical attention on four separate occasions after sustaining a nasty head gash in Croatia's Euro 2016 opener against Turkey. A Luka Modric volley handed the Croatians victory against Turkey but it was Corluka's bizarre headwear which will live longest in the memory. After initially having his head wrapped in conventional bandaging, the right-back was forced to improved when the cut re-opened in a clash later on in the game. Corluka returned to the pitch sporting a blue and red swimming hat to keep the dressing in place.

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