GRAEME SOUNESS: I'm praying for Alan Hansen as he fights for his life. The best of men, he is a...

Alan Hansen

I, just like anyone else, was taken aback upon learning that my close pal Alan Hansen fell seriously ill during the week.

His wife Janet, children Adam and Lucy, and all those who are near him are experiencing a time of great adversity.

I'm hoping, to someone or something unknown, that he will come back soon to resume his usual teasing duties.

Alan is one of a kind because I haven't met anyone who speaks ill of him.

The most exceptional central defender in football history. He's a mischievous person with an uncompromising ability to make jokes. He's fantastic to be around, an outstanding narrator... and apparently, he has a superb recollection.

Alan Hansen was snapped in a photo with his former Liverpool comrades Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event in 2023.

Hansen is a unique individual and everyone has positive things to say about him. In this photo, he is seen celebrating his championship win with Liverpool in 1983.

Although our memories of events may vary, he tells his version of stories with such self-assurance that I am left with the belief that he must be correct. He exudes confidence.

In the dressing room, Kenny Dalglish and I were always the vocal ones in any disagreements. However, whenever Big Al intervened, the discussion would be abruptly stopped with just a simple shake of his head and a sarcastic remark. Compared to Kenny and I, Big Al was more discreet, but his intervention was always effective in settling disputes and allowed Kenny and I to emerge as the winners. This was a great example of teamwork as we were all close friends. However, in today's world, other players might feel targeted and complain to HR if they were in our situation.

Back in the day, we would snap the 'Three Jocks picture' every time we won a trophy. It was a moment for just us three amigos: me, my pals Phil Thompson and Terry McDermott. We even shooed away Phil Neal and Emlyn Hughes so we could have our own special moment to cherish. As time went on, we let Steve Nicol and Gary Gillespie join in on the pictures too.

Feel free to mention any other players, but honestly, Alan was the greatest center-back in football history. He played like a midfielder in disguise and could keep possession of the ball even in tight spaces.

There were moments when he would infuriate me. I would become impatient and say to him, "Can't you see that I need the ball?" He would reply, "No need to pass it to you when I can do a much better job."

He had an inherent talent for sports. Golf was his passion and he also excelled at playing squash. If he put his mind to it, he would have succeeded in any other sport too.

In the time leading up to a game, while we were all engaged in our own pre-game warm-ups, one of our teammates would be occupying himself differently. This player would be sitting with their legs crossed, singing tunes by Billy Joel, including "Don't Go Changing," while reading the programme's entire contents. When it was time to go out and hit the turf, the signal would sound, and he would rise to his feet, apparently stiff and inflexible. Struggling to straighten up, he would look to be in extreme pain. Yet, astonishingly, when the game began, he would give the opposing team's fastest player a head start and still be the first to cross the finish line within five minutes.

Out of the group of three, Hansen was the most understated. He was captured in a photo holding up the European Cup in 1981.

He had lightning speed.

He later mentioned that he was extremely anxious before a match, however, he never appeared that way. 30 minutes before the beginning of a soccer game, he seemed utterly relaxed.

No matter what occurred, Alan hardly ever appeared flustered.

It's possible that we might be having a game on a pitch that belongs to a farmer. Within just five minutes, Mark Lawrenson could get completely coated in mud, but by the end of the game, Alan would seem like he just walked out of a fancy store window with not even a little bit of dirt on him. Even though Lawro was fond of tackling, Alan didn't feel the need to go down. He was exceptional at forecasting and contemplating the game - genuinely a remarkable player.

People discuss the tactic of deploying an advanced defensive line, and Liverpool utilized this approach during the 1970s with a particular player on their team. This player had the ability to allow opposing players to have a three-yard advantage before catching up to them.

Different football fans have different opinions on who the best defensive duo is. Manchester United supporters may consider Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand as the ultimate pair, while Chelsea fans would argue for John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho. However, Alan and Lawro are seen as the greatest partnership in football history. Despite one being aggressive, the other did not feel the need to be. They were ahead of their time and proved it by delivering a defensive masterclass in the 1984 European Cup final in Rome against Roma. The team's World Cup winning forwards were unable to penetrate their solid defense.

at the moment. The condition of his health is quite severe and he is putting up a determined struggle to stay alive. Hansen is currently receiving medical attention in a hospital setting.

Alan is always very intelligent both during games and in everyday life. Even when he is pretending, he is so persuasive that you end up believing him. He is a person who you can always rely on.

More than three decades ago, during the time of my cardiac surgery, he was the initial person to travel to Manchester to visit me in the medical facility.

I was surprised by his lack of sympathy. His sense of humor is merciless. He made fun of me as if I had undergone a simple procedure. His sharp wit can be intimidating, and it takes courage to engage with him. I decided to laugh it off and accept the criticism. The banter we shared back in our Liverpool days is something I miss dearly. He's truly a great person. It's hard to imagine that he's currently battling a life-threatening illness.

Man Utd Need To Seek Alternative Routes

Erik ten Hag is aware that his team must alter their style of play in the upcoming year.

If they don't drastically improve their performances, he will not remain there after Christmas. A significant shift in their attitude and abilities is necessary.

You can easily tell that they have been conducting interviews with other candidates for his position. Although they won the FA Cup, it only temporarily masked the problem that last season was not up to par. The numbers solidify this.

It is not wise to depend on the efforts of the two young lads, Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo, to win the game. Manchester United should consider purchasing new players and motivating their current squad to bring a fresh approach to their performance.

It's clear that his authority has been weakened due to the owners' mishandling of the situation. However, he must now discover a method of restoring his players' trust in him.

Erik ten Hag will comprehend that Manchester United must alter their playing style.

"No Point In Friendlies"

There is no need to attach any significance to England's loss to Iceland that occurred last week.

The match was not necessary for the players from England, as playing it posed the risk of getting injured, especially since a major tournament was coming up soon. This game, on the other hand, was the pinnacle moment of the careers of the players from Iceland, as they were presented with an opportunity to defeat England at Wembley and be watched by people all over the world, making it the moment of their lives.

As a player, I was advised against participating in international friendlies. And later, as a manager, when I attended these games to scout potential players, I quickly realized that they were not a valuable learning experience. Friendlies are simply a worthless exercise. Therefore, I still believe that England will easily advance through the group stages.

without any difficulty. The manager has created a solid team that has impressed everyone with their performances. England has a lot of talented players, and they have shown that they are a force to be reckoned with in international football. Southgate has done an excellent job of bringing together a group of players who are all committed to playing for their country. They have a team spirit that is second to none, and this has been a crucial factor in their success. In the group stage, England will face some tough opponents, but they should have enough quality to see them off. They have the ability to control games and dominate possession, which will make it difficult for any team to beat them. Overall, the future looks bright for England, and Southgate deserves a lot of credit for the work he has done. The team is playing with confidence and belief, and if they can maintain this form, they could go all the way in Euro 2024.

England's defensive skills are not up to par and it'll be crucial for John Stones to stay fit, but their offense is full of talented players that make them a major threat.

There is discussion about Serbia playing very aggressively, but I do not believe that is relevant now given the current referees. I am confident that England will make it to the final on July 14th.

I'm extremely excited to have been awarded a CBE.

I am filled with immense pride and gratitude, as are my family, over receiving this great honor. I am overjoyed, but I must acknowledge that my swim team played a significant part in my success last year in traversing the English Channel to raise funds for DEBRA, where I hold the post of vice-president. Winning the award is a fantastic opportunity to draw attention to Epidermolysis Bullosa, a dreadful affliction. At DEBRA, we are fighting a fierce battle that we cannot afford to lose, and so we require more support to keep pushing forward.

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