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Heroes and Villains: Ben Flower bust-up and Joachim Low’s laurels

Heroes

Dave Beasant
Stevenage’s super-sub stopper Beasant only just missed out on a significant milestone, as the 55-year-old almost became England’s oldest professional footballer. In contrast to Raheem Sterling, Beasant showed you can never be too old or too tired to be a hero, stepping up bravely to plug a squad shortage.

The FA Cup winning, former Wimbledon keeper was named on the bench during Boro’s 3-0 defeat, after an injury to his son Sam left Stevenage in a pickle. The coach last played professionally in 2003 and would have easily beaten the record set by Neil McBain, who appeared between the posts for New Brighton in 1947, aged 51.

Poland
The Robert Lewandowski-led side had too many heroes to count in their 2-0 triumph over bitter rivals Germany. This victory is certainly one for the history books, as Poland had never before defeated World Cup winners Die Mannschaft.

From Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny, who survived 22 attempts on his goal, to skipper and striker Lewandowski’s impressive and surprising team ethic, the underdogs enjoyed a fairytale evening to top their qualifying group.

Arkadiusz Milic and Sebastian Mila inflicted the fatal blows on the German juggernaut, who were slain for the first time in 19 competitive games, to forever carve their names into Polish football folklore.

Giorgio Chiellini
The sensational Juventus centre half hit the headlines for hitting an unusual hat-trick over the international break, and deserves a mention for his sheer determination.

After putting Italy ahead against Azerbaijan from clubmate Andrea Pirlo’s perfect set piece, Chiellini then endured every defender’s worst nightmare, as he blundered by bundling the ball into his own net.

As any half decent sporting idol will do, though, super Chiellini refused to be defeated and went the extra mile to make amends, netting the winner to secure all three points for his country. The inspirational Italian will be hoping not to make it so difficult for himself in future.

Villains

Ben Flower
Flower is surely the biggest villain of this piece, becoming the first player to see red in a Super League Grand-Final, after pummelling St Helens star Lance Hohaia. The 26-year-old has since apologised for his moment of madness, but his violent and dangerous actions left a stain on what should have been a sensational sporting spectacle.

Flowers’ foul play saw aptly named Wigan Warriors reduced to 12 men and eventually lose their grip on the game, with both the perpetrator and injured Hohaia missing the rest of what could have been a career defining clash.

Joachim Low
The World Cup winning coach has so far done little to build on his legacy, with Germany looking a shadow of their former selves since the Brazil finals.

Low could not account for Szczesny’s sensational stopper antics, but his team selections have lacked inspiration, with Die Mannschaft’s manager once again opting for a starting XI with a false nine.

Guilty of resting on his laurels, Low has ignored goal getters such as Stefan Kiessling, whilst young talents from lesser Bundesliga lights, such as Julian Draxler and Max Kruse (three goals and two assists in five outings) should be given more of a chance to push underperforming first-team stars.

The autobiography
Sporting stars Kevin Pietersen and Roy Keane have done themselves no favours with the release and promotion of their respective autobiographies. Instead of simply putting their stories straight, the attention-drawing duo have only succeeded in making themselves appear as pantomime villains, drawing much criticism from their peers.

Rather than wait until they were no longer involved in their professions before trying to settle personal scores through the power of a pen, Pietersen and Keane have milked the media frenzy, and seem to have managed to burn many bridges in the process.

Whilst neither will complain about the publicity, it is always a shame to tarnish such illustrious sporting reputations with unbecoming feuds.