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N’Kono: Making of a legend and hero to Buffon

first_img There was also international fame; his 112 Cameroon caps included winning the 1984 African Nations Cup, and memorably helping the Indomitable Lions shock holders Argentina 1-0 in the opening game of the 1990 World Cup. In fact, his performances in reaching that tournament’s quarter-finals in Italy inspired a 12 year old Gigi Buffon to become a goalkeeper and to, years later, name his son Thomas after his idol. After leaving Espanyol, N’Kono stayed in Spain’s north-east, playing for Catalan clubs Sabadell and Hospitalet before spells in Bolivia [where he won two league medals with Bolivar de la Paz], Brunei and Indonesia before finally retiring as a player aged 45. His coaching career kicked off when helping Cameroon to win gold medals at the 2000 Olympics, when the goalkeeper was then 16-year-old Carlos Kameni, who would later follow N’Kono in starring in LaLiga with Espanyol. Another protege was Jacques Songo’o, who won the LaLiga trophy with RC Deportivo in 1999/2000. Since 2003, N’Kono has worked back at Espanyol, first training the club’s young goalkeepers, then using all his experience and knowledge when working with seniors including Gorka Iraizoz, Kameni, Kiko Casilla, Pau Lopez and current number one Diego Lopez. read also:Buffon confident he can still make difference as Juventus draw with AC Milan A role-model for a generation of African goalkeepers, and now a nurturer of emerging new LaLiga talents, N´Kono’s unique career makes him one of the most respected and loved figures in Spanish, African and world football. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 Promoted ContentTop 10 Most Romantic Nations In The WorldWhat Are The Most Delicious Foods Out There?6 Extreme Facts About Hurricanes7 Universities In The World With The Highest Market ValueCouples Who Celebrated Their Union In A Unique, Unforgettable WayPlaying Games For Hours Can Do This To Your BodyWe’re Getting More Game Of Thrones: Enter House Of The Dragon!10 Characters That Should Be Official Disney PrincessesThe 10 Best Secondary Education Systems In The World8 Superfoods For Growing Hair Back And Stimulating Its Growth8 Things You Didn’t Know About CoffeeUnderappreciated Movies You Missed In 2019 Loading… Espanyol legend, Thomas N’Kono’s unique career made him a trailblazer for African goalkeepers in Europe and inspiration for LaLiga shot-stoppers of the past, present and future. A highly decorated international with Cameroon for nearly 20 years, he became much loved throughout LaLiga during almost a decade in Espanyol’s first team during the 1980s, and still contributes valuably as a coach at the RCDE Stadium. Born on 20 July 1956 in Dizangue, N’Kono came to prominence at Canon Yaounde, where he won five national titles and two African Champions Leagues. Outstanding performances for Cameroon at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, when as national captain he conceded just one goal in three games, led to a move to LaLiga with Espanyol. N’Kono kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 over Racing Santander at Espanyol’s then Sarria stadium on his LaLiga debut, and quickly established himself as first choice. During 241 LaLiga games over eight seasons he became a firm favourite among Periquitos fans due to his razor-sharp reflexes, superb athleticism and strong personality and leadership. These were often all displayed when denying neighbours Barcelona in Catalan capital derbies, such as the 1-0 home victory at Sarria in December 1983. There was also a famous clean sheet in a 2-0 win over Real Madrid in March 1985. Another highlight was Espanyol’s run to the 1987/88 UEFA Cup final, with future Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde and blaugrana forward Angel ‘Pichi’ Alonso in the team, only to eventually lose out heartbreakingly to Bayer Leverkusen on penalties in the decider. By the time he left Sarria in 1990, N’Kono had played more times for Espanyol than any foreigner and featured in more LaLiga games than any other Cameroonian in history. While both those records have since fallen – to future colleague Mauricio Pochettino and fellow countryman Samuel Eto’o – N’Kono without doubt remains one of the most iconic figures in LaLiga history.last_img read more

Badgers’ pitchers acing test as of late

first_imgAlthough the Wisconsin softball team had its 13-game winning streak snapped Wednesday at the hands of No. 19 Nebraska, the Badgers feat of rattling off 13 straight wins was no small task. At the nucleus of that run were the pitching duo of senior Cassandra Darrah and sophomore Taylor-Paige Stewart.Wisconsin (31-16, 13-6 Big Ten) got run-ruled in the opening act of the double header, with Darrah getting lit up for 12 runs over five innings, leading to a 12-0 defeat. But Stewart righted the ship in the finale, allowing four runs in a complete game outing, which turned out as a 6-4 Badger victory.Throughout the winning streak, Wisconsin starters Darrah and Stewart posted a combined 13-0  record for the team, scattering 34 runs across those 13 contests. In only two of those games did either hurler allow more than two runs, giving up eight against UW-Green Bay on April 16 and five against Purdue on April 26. Darrah was on the mound for both.“Having the team back me up many times when I was struggling [was helpful],” Darrah said of her squad’s offensive efforts throughout that winning streak. “It was nice to see our team on a roll. Our team hadn’t had that all year. Even when I was struggling they came back and scored a lot of runs for me.”This season, only one other Badger, Sara Novak, has entered the circle for UW. She has made two appearances for a total of 1-2/3 innings. This means that just Stewart and Darrah carry the pitching load for the Badgers. Heading into Wednesday’s double-header against Nebraska, Stewart had tossed 118 innings in 22 appearances, while Darrah has amassed 172 innings in 26 appearances this season.The two have combined for all of Wisconsin’s 31 wins this season. Stewart has posted a 13-5 record, while Darrah has 18 wins and 11 losses.The 31 wins by UW is the fourth straight season it has reached the 30-win plateau, coinciding with the first four years of head coach Yvette Healy’s tenure in Madison.Prior to Healy’s arrival at UW, the program had only reached the 30-win mark five times.“I think that they, the pitchers, have been complementing each other all year,” Healy said.Since the doubleheader is the common scheduling format in collegiate softball, Healy says  it is always nice to have the first pitcher test the waters in the first game, allowing whoever is next in the rotation to exploit the other teams’ offensive weaknesses in the second game.“You’re facing the best teams in the country,” Healy said. “You just have to manage your expectations. You can’t go into an offense, like the one we just faced [Nebraska] and think that you’re going to shut them out. You just have to contain them, and that’s what Taylor did in that second game.”Other than the disparity between the two in wins and losses, both have similar statistics otherwise. Stewart has a 2.73 earned run average, while Darrah has a 2.81 ERA. Stewart has struck out 110 batters this season, while Darrah has set down 113 batters whiffing. Darrah has completed three complete-game shutouts, while Stewart has blanked her opponents twice this season.Darrah has long been a key contributor on the pitching staff for the Badgers. This season she continued her role of staff ace, and is having her best season at Wisconsin. On March 20 against Detroit, Darrah tossed her second career no-hitter.Darrah, a Corydon, Iowa native, is second on the Badger all-time wins list, with 83 career victories. She is just four wins shy of Andrea Kirshberg’s 87 wins, a feat she hopes to break between now and the conclusion of the season.Darrah is also currently second all-time for the Badgers in games started (119), innings pitched (788.0) and shutouts (22).She explained that while chasing records is exciting, she is more focused on winning ball games and being part of a team effort.“It would be cool,” Darrah said. “Breaking the records as a team is huge, and that’s the most important thing.”It is different story for Stewart. The sophomore from Calabasas, Calif. appeared in only 12 games last season, starting 5 games for Wisconsin. She was 4-0, including three shutouts. This season, she has stepped into a much larger role on the Wisconsin pitching staff, and has relished the opportunity.“It’s nice being part of the team and knowing that you play a part in the wins, and even the losses,” Stewart said. “I think that since our team is really coming together, and that’s what bringing me a lot of confidence, it’s not necessarily that a lot of things have changed, but I think everybody is on the same page.”With Stewart’s emergence, Darrah has taken the opportunity to groom the future ace for the next two seasons following her imminent departure.“I try to relay my knowledge that I’ve used in my experiences here,” Darrah said. “I definitely think that I can help her along the way, and she helps me too. We help each other along the way.”As the Badgers head into a key three-game series against Michigan this weekend and the postseason next week, the focus will be on pitching. Darrah and Stewart will have to be stronger than ever for Wisconsin to make any postseason run and defend their Big Ten tournament title.last_img read more

Lions sign Jermaine Kearse after disappointing season with Jets

first_img How to get Calvin Johnson back in Lions family: ‘Put that money in my pocket’ While Detroit didn’t reveal the terms of the contract, ESPN reported that it’s a one-year deal worth $1.35 million that has a max of $2.3 million and a guarantee of $350,000.In a corresponding move, the Lions waived receiver Jordan Smallwood. Related News Now Kearse will be reunited with Bevell, who was fired by the Seahawks last season and recently hired by the Lions.He’s expected to serve as a sturdy backup for receivers Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay, who both have not fully practiced yet due to being in the rehab group.Danny Amendola was also was signed to the team this offseason and is expected to be the slot receiver. However, the Lions are thin when it comes to talent further down the depth chart. Lions’ Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison, Darius Slay skipping minicamp in hopes of reworking contracts, report says Kearse, 29, went undrafted in 2012, but eventually was signed by the Seahawks, where he worked under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.In five seasons with Seattle, he caught 153 passes for 11 touchdowns and 2,109 receiving yards.He remained in Seattle until 2017, when a trade sent him over to the Jets. In his first season with New York, he caught 65 passes for 810 yards and five touchdowns, marking one of his better seasons in the league.However, he struggled under rookie quarterback Sam Darnold last season, catching just 37 passes for 371 yards and one touchdown. It was one of his worst seasons in the league. Jermaine Kearse is heading to Detroit.The receiver signed a contract with the Lions, the team announced Wednesday. Le’Veon Bell says relationship with Jets coach Adam Gase ‘is great’last_img read more