David Luiz keen to end his career at Benfica

‘I always said I would like to end my career at Benfica’: David Luiz will NOT see out his playing days at Arsenal as he admits he wants to return to Portugal

  • David Luiz has revealed his desire to end his career with Portuguese side Benfica
  • The Brazilian flourished with the Portuguese club before joining Chelsea in 2011 
  • And the 33-year-old says he would like to return to his former side one day
  • Luiz is soon to enter the final 12 months of his contract with Arsenal  

David Luiz has revealed his intention to end his career at Portuguese giants Benfica, as the Arsenal centre half nears the final 12 months of his contract in north London. 

The enigmatic Brazilian joined The Gunners last summer from Chelsea, but has done little to shore up a leaky defence at the Emirates Stadium. 

The 33-year-old made a name for himself at Benfica, where he played from 2007-2011 before joining the west London club. 

David Luiz has revealed his desire to return to Portuguese side Benfica to end his career 

The 33-year-old made a name for himself with the club before joining Chelsea in 2011

And Luiz has said he would like to return to Portugal to see out his career, in which he has won the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, the FA Cup and EFL Cup. 

‘I always said that I would like to end my career at Benfica,’ he told the Portuguese club’s official website via Goal. 

‘In football everything changes, what is true today, tomorrow is a lie, but my feeling is not! 

‘I love Benfica. My dream is to step on the pitch of Estadio da Luz in their colours.

‘For all that I lived and felt, for what Benfica is in my life and in my history, for everything, Benfica is bigger than any player.’

Mikel Arteta has previously spoken on Luiz’s leadership qualities in Arsenal’s dressing room

Whether or not Luiz returns to his former club remains to be seen, with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta crying out for leaders that have a proven track record to steer his side in the right direction. 

The Spaniard has said that he needs a player like Luiz to be demanding of his young team-mates in the Arsenal dressing room. 

‘That’s what I wanted to demand of him. He is a player that has won more trophies than anybody else in that dressing room,’ Arteta said. 

‘We have to use that in a very powerful way. I am very pleased with him. In the games he has played under me so far he has been terrific.

‘His attitude in training, the way he communicates with his team-mates, his desire to still learn, it’s superb. I am delighted with him.’

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Sean Dyche says he and his Burnley players are raring to go

‘Fitness? I’m not bothered. Let’s just crack on…we’re all in the same boat’: Sean Dyche admits football’s return isn’t ideal but he says he and his Burnley players are raring to go

  • Sean Dyche says he isn’t bothered about player fitness when football returns 
  • The Burnley boss said every club is in the same boat in terms of time frames 
  • Dyche claimed individuals must decide whether it’s right for them to return

In these strange and complicated times, some things remain simple. It was, for example, after the very briefest of meetings that the players of Burnley Football Club decided to come back to work.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche told Sportsmail: ‘We had a video conference call a couple of weeks ago and I just asked them what they were feeling. They said they were ready. All of them. I didn’t tell them my view. I just said, “What are your thoughts lads?”

‘A couple asked simple questions — simple enough for me to answer — and I said we would catch up in 24 hours and that anyone could talk to me or the doctor away from the group in the meantime.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche asked his players how they felt about returning to training

‘But they just said, “No, we are all fine”. So that was it. We are ready to play.’

As the Premier League edges towards a resumption, the voices of the dissenters have been shrill. 

Watford manager Nigel Pearson talked last week about the possibility of fatalities and suggested football was ‘closing its eyes to the threat’ of Covid-19. Newcastle’s Danny Rose has suggested footballers are being treated like ‘lab rats’.

Dyche’s view is a little more understated. He has read and digested the scientific advice from the Government and the Premier League and has chosen to trust it. More importantly, he has been guided by his players.

Dyche said his players were fine to return and were ready to get back to playing football

‘I feel for the people out there who don’t lead the life I lead,’ he said. ‘Those who are in apartments and don’t have a garden. That must be a challenge.

‘I am not going to start crying about my challenge or a young footballer’s circumstances. You try to respect each player’s opinion.

‘All I can imagine is that if a player has decided returning is not for him then I presume he is sitting in the house every day, not going out. Because if they are not just staying in then the obvious question would be, “If you feel OK (safe) to go out then why are you not training?”

‘That is the balance for clubs. Some players will have very valid personal reasons for not playing and some will be questioned. That’s for each club to decide. That hasn’t happened at our club.

‘If our players are clear-minded then we get on with it and if they are not, I would expect them to come and see me and I would try to work a way through it. There is no right or wrong on this. It’s for each individual to decide what is best for him.’

The manager said he presumes players not wanting to return won’t be leaving their homes

Burnley’s players have been back in since Tuesday, working in ‘pods’ of five with a coach assigned to each. Under current guidelines, there is to be no mixing of groups so Dyche himself, for example, can only observe one pod.

News that his assistant and friend of 30 years Ian Woan was diagnosed with the virus in midweek was unexpected.

‘Yeah, that’s strange as he has absolutely no symptoms,’ Dyche said. ‘We have temperature and wellness checks at the gate here every day before you get in and there was no issue.

‘But then we got the results of our tests. So he has been frustrated and now we are without him for at least seven days. But the main thing is that he’s OK.’

One manager in the Championship said privately this week that one of the daily challenges is to stop players hugging and shaking hands. It is part of the modern player’s daily ritual.

Dyche laughed: ‘Well, maybe we are not quite as tactile at Burnley but we have reminded them about their distancing and our structured sessions play to that.

Dyche’s assistant Ian Woan tested positive for the virus this week despite having no symptoms

‘Ironically we are keeping them apart at a time when the general message from the Government may soon be that small groups can mix. The greater challenge is that we can’t debrief or plan as we are with our own pods.

‘That’s a bit weird. When you can’t interact it’s a nuisance but we will get on with it. The players understand. It’s not as though this has been hidden. It’s been all over the news and if you don’t get it there must be something wrong.’

With the Premier League working towards restarting in mid-June, managers such as Newcastle’s Steve Bruce have suggested it might be too early in terms of fitness. Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling has agreed. Dyche said: ‘I am not bothered. We will get on with it. We are professional athletes and if that’s the challenge then that’s the challenge. I am not going to change the Premier League’s mind on the dates am I?

‘These are exceptional times. There are people far worse off out there in other businesses than we are in football. If we are not as good or fit as we would normally be then at least everybody is in the same boat.’

They say that players, even in the modern age, don’t miss a word their manager says in public. With that in mind, Dyche’s message is clear and during the break in the season Burnley have also shown the way forward.

The club’s commitment to their foodbank scheme has been ramped up and Burnley — one of the Premier League’s smallest outfits — have not furloughed staff.

‘We get criticised for not spending (on players),’ said Dyche. ‘Sometimes it’s valid and sometimes not. I have said myself we have to stretch the thinking of the club financially.

‘But the balance to that is that when a challenge like this comes, there are no financial problems. Everything is paid for and we can have a very good impact on the community and town.

‘The players back that up as well. Other clubs do it too but we are such a big part of a town of 78,000 people. We are a club that tries to help our people out.’

The 48-year-old said he was not bothered about player fitness after months without matches

Sadly, Burnley’s fans will not be able to repay the favour for a while given that football will return behind closed doors. Dyche does not underplay the significance of that.

‘You can’t deny that the crowd is part of the theatre of football and that players feed off it,’ he said. ‘It’s like a pre-season or reserve-game feel. But the players aren’t daft. They know that most games will be on TV. They will want to perform.’

Perhaps a little romantically, Dyche hopes football stadiums will be better places when the turnstiles are opened again.

‘Sometimes you go in stadiums and it’s on the edge of being really nasty and I hope now that when people go back in they will realise they are going there for a good reason,’ he said. ‘I hope people think, “I’d forgotten how much I missed football so now it’s back I can go with a more relaxed feeling and be happy to be back”.

‘I want fans to get involved as that brings the fervour and drama to the stadium but maybe this will take the edge off. I will be getting my share of stick again and I have my own gripes about football. But when it goes away I miss it. I have missed it during this period that’s for sure.’

Dyche has spent lockdown at home in the Midlands with his wife and two teenage sons. ‘I have spent a lot of quality time and I have enjoyed that,’ he said. ‘Bike rides, chatting.

The club have not furloughed staff and have kept up their commitment to its foodbank scheme

‘The boys are forming opinions about what is going on and I like that. I am on the road a lot so it’s been good to stop moving for once and spend that time.

‘I did about 10 days of jet- washing. A simple task to concentrate on, just to keep your mind off everything. But after eight weeks of virtual retirement, I am definitely not ready for that!’

Dyche is in his eighth season at Turf Moor and a run of four wins and three draws prior to the interruption has Burnley well-placed to attempt another top-half finish.

They are 10th, a point behind Arsenal and two behind Tottenham. Annual progress presents familiar challenges, though, and the 48-year-old doesn’t hide from that.

‘The idea of stepping forward at Burnley is difficult,’ he explained. ‘The finances are highly unlikely to change radically whatever happens this season. We develop players well but at some stage you do have to support those players with others you bring in. So it’s always a challenge.

The coach said he has enjoyed being able to spend extra time with his family during the break

‘We are not in a position to guarantee what happens next season or beyond because it’s just not like that. Every season is a big season for us. It’s small steps at Burnley, never big strides.’

As Dyche spoke, he was preparing to return to the flat in Lancashire he uses during the working week. It’s been a while. ‘I’ve been watching The Last Dance (about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls) on Netflix and will watch the final episode in my flat tonight,’ he said. ‘I am back in for the first time for eight weeks so I am on cleaning duty later.

‘The flash world of Premier League management, eh? Football is back and I am cleaning my flat. It will take some doing, trust me.

‘We don’t live in a grandiose world here. There is no cleaner. I don’t even have a PA so I am not worried about cleaning a flat. I think I am capable, let’s put it that way.’

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Dale Hawerchuk describes his battle against stomach cancer

Dale Hawerchuk described his battle against stomach cancer in an episode of Sportsnet’s After Hours on Sunday. The Hockey Hall of Famer was diagnosed with stomach cancer in Aug. 2019.

The 16-year NHL forward said he’s feeling “pretty good” as he recuperates from his home.

“From eight months ago when I was first diagnosed, it really felt like a death sentence but then you learn a lot more about cancer, talk to a lot of people, do a lot of research,” Hawerchuk said. “My surgeon was pretty blunt with me, basically said you’re going to have to go through some serious chemo, we’re going to have to remove your stomach and then more serious chemo. Here I am at the end of it. It’s been a battle but I feel pretty good.”

On April 13, Hawerchuk got to ring the bell at the hospital after completing his final round of chemotherapy.

He said he didn’t want to ring the bell — he just wanted to get in and out of the hospital with the COVID-19 pandemic going on —but was urged to do so.

“The nurses really wanted me to ring the bell,” Hawerchuk said. “It felt really good walking out of there after ringing the bell and saying, ‘Man, it’s been a long journey, but this was the goal, in the end, to get to this point.'”

Hawerchuk, who totaled 1,409 career points in 1,188 games for the Jets, Sabres, Blues and Flyers, said he felt something was wrong when he began experiencing acid reflux for the first time in his life. It kept getting worse and worse, and after scans didn’t show anything wrong, he went in for a scope.

“I went in and did the scope and when I woke up the doctors at the end of the bed said, ‘Sorry, I’ve got bad news. You got cancer.’ You just think you’re in a bad dream. You want to wake up but that was the reality,” Hawerchuk said. “Within a few hours, I was meeting with the surgeon and my surgeon was excellent.”

His doctors told him that he was going to need a feeding tube until he got going on chemotherapy. He said he was on a pump and feeding tube for two and a half to three months, giving him enough nutrition to save his life. Now, he has resumed eating food again.

“The chemo knocked down the tumor enough that I can start eating again. I thought I would never even like food again, that’s how bad it was,” Hawerchuk said. “Now, I really enjoy it again so happy to be here now with an appetite.”

Hawerchuk compared his cancer battle to a bag skate, which he hated while playing but in the end, he knew he would come out better because of it.

“It wasn’t fun going through it (bag skates) at the time but you always seem to feel better when it was over and you were healthier or you were more fit,” Hawerchuk said. “I take it one day at a time and tried to enjoy every moment of the day. I’m up early now and I really enjoy watching that sun come up over the hills. It’s the kind of thing where it’s unknown territory, but you got to listen to your doctors and got to have a great attitude and you got to feel like you’re going to do it.”

Early detection was important for Hawerchuk and he recommends people get a scope done in their forties, earlier than the current recommendation of doing it in their fifties. 

“Just be sure because the one thing you find out with cancer and even talking to other people who’ve had cancer, the symptoms don’t hit until it’s further along than you want,” Hawerchuk said.” If you can get in stage one, you’re way ahead of the game and a lot of the times the symptoms don’t show up until stage three or four. I think just the way things are in the world now, whether it’s the food we’re eating, you should do these scopes earlier than when we used to recommend.”

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Novak Djokovic slammed for his anti-vaccine stance by top scientist

‘He’s created misconceptions’: Novak Djokovic slammed for his anti-vaccine stance by the top scientist involved in the battle against coronavirus in his home country of Serbia

  • Novak Djokovic’s anti-vaccine stance has been criticised by a leading scientist 
  • Epidemiologist Predrag Kon voiced his concern over the influence of the star
  • He is leading the Serbian government’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic
  • Kon has suggested that Djokovic’s stance and statement had done damage 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Novak Djokovic’s anti-vaccine stance has been criticised by one of his country’s top scientists who is involved in Serbia’s fight against Covid-19.

The world No 1 has suggested that he could delay his return to the tennis tour, were it to be made compulsory for him to take any safeguard that emerged against the virus.

That drew the ire of leading Serbian government epidemiologist Predrag Kon, who is concerned about the influence that the nation’s top sporting icon could have on others.

Novak Djokovic’s anti-vaccine stance has been criticised by one of his country’s top scientists

The world No 1 suggested he could delay his return to the tour if a vaccine was compulsory

‘As one of Djokovic’s most loyal supporters, I wish I had had the opportunity to explain the importance and immense contribution of immunisations to the health of the population,’ wrote Kon on his Facebook page. ‘It’s too late now, he’s created misconceptions.’

Djokovic has a keen interest in scientific and spiritual matters, and has previously spoken of his preference for natural healing as opposed to conventional medicine.

While he has not ruled out taking a vaccination if necessary, he told fellow Serbian athletes in an open online conversation that he would not be comfortable with it.

He has spoken about a preference for for natural healing as opposed to conventional medicine 

His wife Jelena also holds what many would consider unconventional views.

She has had a ‘false information’ label slapped on one of her Instagram posts after she shared a video promoting the belief that coronavirus could be spread via 5G technology.

Instagram fact checkers are unhappy with the 10-minute video made by American doctor Thomas Cowan which focuses on the 5G conspiracy theory.

It was still up on her account on Tuesday, although she has put out a statement denying that it was an endorsement of his theories, explaining that she merely had a wider interest in the subject.

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Andy Murray gives his verdict on GOAT debate between Federer, Nadal and Djokovic

Andy Murray is certain that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are already the greatest players of all time on their favoured surfaces but believes the GOAT debate is firmly in the balance as the trio head into the latter stages of their careers.

Murray, 32, hosted an Instagram live with ‘Big Three’ member Djokovic on Friday night, looking back on their respective careers and giving an insight into the men behind the racquets.

The two-time Wimbledon champion is an avid tennis fan and he, like many observers of the sport, is fascinated by the golden era of men’s tennis – which has thrown together the three most dominant players the sport has ever seen.

Murray provided the most consistent challenge to their relentless dominance, winning three Grand Slam titles and reaching world No. 1, and he believes he has competed against the strongest hard-court, clay-court and grass-court player of all time.

Read the latest updates: Coronavirus news live

But he suggested there is still plenty to play for in the race to be crowned the GOAT.

‘It’s something that I hear about all the time in the media, I would talk about it with my friends and other tennis players and stuff. It’s something that people are really interested in,’ said Murray.

‘In reality all three of the best players are playing in the same generation. I’m sure Borg would have been amazing in this era and Rafa would have been amazing in Connors, McEnroe time, for sure, but the thing that is special about just now is you have three guys who are playing at the same time so you can compare them.

‘When people ask me what’s your toughest match you play, who is the hardest guy to play against, I’m like I feel like I’m competing against the best hard-court player ever, I’ve competed against the best clay-court player ever and the best grass-court player ever. So for me it depends on the surface.’

Federer holds the most Grand Slam titles (20), with Nadal (19) and Djokovic (17) not far behind – and likely with several years in hand on the 38-year-old Swiss – and Djokovic admitted that figure still remains the most important in the sport.

‘I think it’s a combination of Slams, weeks at No. 1 and obviously the Masters, and the head-to-head,’ said Djokovic.

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic’s dream tennis players

Andy Murray

Serve: Kyrgios/Isner
Return: Djokovic
Forehand: Del Potro
Backhand: Djokovic
Volley: Federer
Mentality: Nadal
Physicality: Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Serve: Kyrgios/Isner
Return: Murray
Forehand: Nadal
Backhand: Murray
Volley: Federer
Mentality: Nadal
Physicality: Ferrer

‘I think Grand Slams would probably stand out. But it’s hard to say. I’m very fortunate I’m in the conversation but at the same time it’s hard to really say greatest of all time taking the amount of Slams you won or tournaments you’ve won because it’s hard to compare generations.

‘I speak with my team and my friends about it. People close to me are biased and obviously leaning towards me. People support Roger and Rafa, which is normal.

‘But I think it’s good for tennis we have this kind of conversation and that we all are competing at the same time.

‘It’s really amazing and I think we’re all not really conscious of all these results, achievements and the proportions and depth of the conversation in the world of sport. I don’t think we’re conscious because we’re still in the storm.

‘Only when I’m finished in my career I can step back and observe things from a more neutral stand point and say, “Okay, this is my opinion about this and that” but for now what you have said that you have three guys dominating on three different surfaces, I’d agree 100%. That’s all there is right now.’

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Kawhi Leonard has improved his offensive game in first season with LA Clippers

Kawhi Leonard has made incremental offensive improvements throughout his career. His first season with the LA Clippers has seen him continue that trend, writes Sky Sports NBA analyst Mark Deeks.

Jordan's Last Dance on Sky Q from April 20

Watch The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary on the 1997-98 Bulls, on Netflix via your Sky Q box

A certain line of conventional wisdom holds that the hallmark of a basketball superstar lies in how they always come back each season with something else added to their game. It is that which separates the superstars from the mere stars, the greats from the very goods, the perennial All-Stars from the fringe.

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Faldo on his second claiming of the green jacket 30 years ago

‘It must say something about you to win back-to-back majors in play-offs’: Sir Nick Faldo on his second claiming of the Masters green jacket at Augusta 30 years ago

  • Nick Faldo claimed six major championship wins during an illustrious career
  • But Faldo feels his second triumph at Augusta in 1990 is often neglected 
  • He won a play-off at 11th hole against Raymond Floyd to claim the green jacket
  • Only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have also claimed back-to-back Masters

If you had to rank Sir Nick Faldo’s six major championship wins, his successful defence of his Masters title 30 years ago might well finish bottom of the list.

Faldo’s first Open and Masters wins were particularly memorable – he finished off with 18 pars to claim the former at Muirfield in 1987 and Scott Hoch missed a tiddler that gave him his chance at Augusta in 1989.

His other two Open wins saw Faldo wipe the floor with Greg Norman at St Andrews in 1990 and then dig deep to win at Muirfield once more in 1992. As for his final major, his merciless reeling in of Norman again at the 1996 Masters has become part of British sporting lore.

Nick Faldo celebrates his memorable Masters victory over Ray Floyd at the Augusta in 1990

So Faldo often sees his second claiming of the green jacket neglected, although looking back offers persuasive evidence that it might be time for a revision.

Only Jack Nicklaus had won back-to-back Masters before Faldo achieved it and only Tiger Woods has done so since.

‘The coolest company to keep,’ says Faldo now.

Furthermore, with a rampaging display of aggressive golf over the back nine, he caught none other than Raymond Floyd – one of the hardest American nuts.

To this day, Faldo remains the only golfer to win successive majors in extra time, and both at the 11th hole, the beautiful opener to Amen Corner.

The Englishman embraces caddie Fanny Sunesson after his dramatic play-off victory

‘I love stats like that one, it must say something about you if you can win back-to-back majors in play-offs,’ says Faldo. ‘It takes so much out of you, nobody will ever win three.’

Faldo showed up that week at Augusta with a new caddie, Fanny Sunesson. ‘I had a lot on my mind with defending the green jacket, but showing Fanny around Augusta proved to be hugely beneficial,’ recalls Faldo. ‘It really helped in terms of visualisation, walking her through each hole.’

A two-round total of 143 left Faldo five shots behind Floyd, who underlined his reputation as a front runner with a third round 68. Faldo, though, made inroads with a wonderful, bogey-free 66.

He was third heading into the final round and, on Sunday, was playing alongside Nicklaus.

Imagine how that scenario must have resonated. Nineteen years earlier, Faldo, then aged 13 and watching on television, had been inspired to take up the game after falling in love with the grace and rhythm of Nicklaus’ swing against the backdrop of Augusta.

Faldo feels his second victory at Augusta is neglected among his six major triumphs

‘I thought it was a good omen,’ says Faldo. ‘The man who’d got me interested in golf and also the only man who had successfully defended the Masters. They were good things for me to sleep on.’

On the Sunday Faldo recovered manfully from a double bogey at the first, but saw Floyd was still four ahead. Faldo got to the 12th and pulled his tee shot into the back bunker, where it plugged.

‘I’m not sure there are many scarier shots in golf than that one,’ he says. ‘All I could see was the water. The only thing in my favour, and this is a good lesson for kids, is that I’d actually practised such shots. I’d grind the ball into the sand with my heel and try to pop it out. So I tried to pop it out this time and it came out perfectly. It stopped on the fringe just short of the water and I holed the 15ft putt for par.

‘That might have been the best up and down of my career.’ In the final group, Floyd, playing conservatively, invited others to try to catch him. Faldo responded with birdies at the 13th and 15th. Then came the 16th.

‘That was positively spooky,’ he recalls. ‘The previous night I’d dreamed I had a 20ft putt for birdie and I made it. I had exactly the same putt in reality, with the same result. If you watch the film, there’s no fist pump, just a tip of the putter.’

Two pars to finish and, as he had the year before, Faldo retired to Butler’s Cabin to wait. His lead down to one stroke, Floyd pulled his approach to the par-four 17th.

Only Jack Nicklaus (above) and Tiger Woods have won back-to-back Masters like Faldo

‘The putt he left himself was brutal over several shelves and ridges,’ says Faldo. ‘There was no way he could two-putt it and he didn’t. Then he made his par at the last and we’d tied. Here we go again, I thought. Same as last year. Back to the 10th tee.’

A skied drive left Faldo with a four iron approach, which plunged into a greenside bunker. Floyd played a beauty to 15ft. Faldo came out to 3ft and holed for a par, Floyd missed.

Some of the heart seemed to leave the American after that. Faldo strode purposefully to the 11th tee. 

‘It was a good up and down, and it showed him that I was feeling all right,’ says Faldo After their drives, Floyd took a bathroom break. 

‘The next time I looked back he was standing over the ball and I was thinking, bloody hell, he’s about to hit it already!’ says Faldo. 

‘Then he pulled it into the water and Fanny and I were trying to do the maths. What’s the best he can score?

‘It was, of course, a five, which meant I still had to find the green. My irons that week were right on the money and I hit one more solid eight iron to 20ft, and followed it with the perfect lag putt to three inches.’

Floyd was plainly devastated. ‘The hardest loss of my career,’ he would say later.

By contrast, Faldo was engulfed in a sea of emotion.

‘Fanny was in tears, I was in tears, Sir Michael Bonallack (then CEO of the R&A, who had known Faldo since he was a teenager) was in tears,’ he recalls. ‘It was quite a thing to pull it off again. Eleven is definitely my lucky number.’

Today, the solid silver replica of the Augusta National clubhouse, presented to the winner alongside the green jacket, stands on a Chinese table in Faldo’s home in Florida. ‘It’s a very impressive trophy,’ he says. ‘And there’s not a day goes by when I don’t look at it and think back.’

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