Vladimir Putin knows how to hit a hockey puck, says Marc Nexon in Le Point. The 68-year-old Russian president scored eight of his team’s 13 goals in a gala match at the Bolshoi Ice Palace in Sochi last week, with a backdrop of “smoke cannons, trumpets, balloons and commentators as excited as Brazilian football journalists”. Putin, wearing a distinctive white helmet, made the most of the “caviar” – easy opportunities – served up by the opposition. He scored after 30 seconds: “Watch how the president manages to change hands before shooting,” the commentator gushed.
It helps that he packs his Hockey Legends team with former Olympic pros and political bigwigs worth $50bn – and set up the league in which they play. In goal is “the dolphin”, Alexei Dyumin, Putin’s former bodyguard, a city governor and “the best goalie in the amateur world”. Putin’s hunting buddy and defence minister Sergei Shoigu also plays, alongside oligarch Vladimir Potanin, the “nickel king”.
Then there’s Viacheslav Fetisov, 63, a member of the Duma and “one of the six best players of the century”, who taught Putin to walk on ice “using a bar stool”. They “drink beers” together, but “never talk about work”. The gala match is useful for fortifying Putin’s image, but there have been bumps: on his last outing in 2019, when he was “playing the best hockey of his life”, he tripped over the ceremonial carpet on his victory lap.
The best goalie’s goal ever?
Goalkeeper Alisson’s injury-time winner for Liverpool against West Brom was “without question the best goal scored in the Premier League by a goalkeeper”, says Dave Tickner in Football365. The 28-year-old Brazilian rushed upfield with the score at 1-1 – a distinctive figure for the Reds in a black kit and white padded gloves – and scored with a thumping header.
Only six goalkeepers have scored since the Premier League began in 1991, says Ali Humayun in The Athletic. These goals are almost always a long clearance kick horribly misjudged by their opposite number – although Peter Schmeichel’s volley for Aston Villa against Everton at a corner in 2001 is another piece of “goalkeeping folklore”.
If a goalkeeper does come up for a corner, he runs the risk of the ball pinging straight back to nestle in his unguarded net. But “God put his hand on my head today”, said Alisson, whose father drowned in February. He’s the first keeper to score for Liverpool in the club’s 129-year history – and, by Tickner’s reckoning, the only professional footballer to do so wearing trousers.
Bend it like Romeo Beckham
David Beckham retired from football on 18 May, 2013, says Jack Kenmare in Sport Bible. Exactly eight years later, his son Romeo has shown that sporting skills run in the family. The 18-year-old aspiring footballer posted a video on Instagram of him imitating his father’s famous free-kick against Greece in 2001.
It’s uncanny, says Kenmare. Romeo strides up to the goal, “composes himself, places his left foot forward (like his dad always did) and delivers the goods with a cracking strike”. In a nod to the family similarity, Romeo wore a No 7 England shirt and captioned the video: “Practise makes perfect 🙂 xx @davidbeckham.” Dad replied: “Your welcome.” When he’s not playing football, Romeo dabbles in modelling – he was the face of Burberry at 10 – and post TikToks in which he dances with his influencer girlfriend, Mimi Moocher.