Gianluigi Buffon kicks idea of Paris Saint-Germain winning the Champions League into Row Z

The legendary Italian stopper is finally set to make his Champions League debut for PSG against Napoli next Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 02 November 2018

Gianluigi Buffon kicks idea of Paris Saint-Germain winning the Champions League into Row Z

  • Italian keeper says his new team are not ready to win Europe's biggest prize.
  • PSG currently up against it, lying third in their group behind Liverpool and Napoli.

PARIS: Gianluigi Buffon believes Paris Saint-Germain are not ready to win the Champions League as he prepares to make his European debut with the club against Napoli and play his first game in Italy since leaving Juventus.
The 40-year-old World Cup winner was suspended for PSG’s opening three European games for his behavior and comments toward the referee during Juventus’ quarterfinal loss to Real Madrid last April.
“To achieve certain successes we need a path, a project, a management and a team that have known each other for a long time,” Buffon said in an interview with Sky Sport Italia.
“PSG have been renewed in recent years and need time.”
Buffon said Lionel Messi’s Barcelona and Juventus, who bought Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo last summer, were the favorites.
“In the Champions League there are two or three favorites — Barcelona, because they have the first or occasionally the second (best) player in the world.
“Then there is Juventus, who in recent years have consolidated at these levels and taken the other player who is considered the first and sometimes the second in the world.
“There are outsiders like the (Manchester) City ... who have a coach and a team that make them one of the potential winners.”
Qatar-owned PSG are third in Group C with four points, behind Liverpool (six) and Napoli (five), and will be battling for a win to salvage their flagging European campaign.
“It will be a delicate match against a very high-level opponent,” he said.
“The arrival of (Carlo) Ancelotti means this team now has a certain awareness that it’s not certain they would have had before.”
Buffon added it had been tough watching the first three games from the sidelines.
“I watched on TV in the dressing room, not being able to participate makes me suffer.”
He said he still did not understand why he had been sent off by English referee Michael Oliver.
His suspension followed a post-match rant in which he said the referee had a “rubbish bin” where his heart should be.
“I really was in a foul temper and the Gigi from Carrara (his hometown in Tuscany) came out,” said Buffon, who added he would laugh off the incident if he met Oliver again.
“I would joke, because irony is the best way to break down walls and immediately create empathy.”


Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community

Updated 16 January 2021

Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community

  • The New York Jets’ new head coach has families and community leaders excited in neighborhoods all across the US
  • The 41-year-old Saleh, expected to be formally introduced next week by the Jets, is the son of Lebanese parents and grew up in Detroit

NEW YORK: Robert Saleh has made history that extends far beyond any football field.
The New York Jets’ new head coach has families and community leaders excited in neighborhoods all across the country, celebrating the first known Muslim American to hold that position in the NFL.
That’s a source of great pride for a group that has been generally underrepresented in the league’s on-field leadership roles.
“It’s something that shows the growing diversity of our nation, the inclusion we’re trying to achieve at all levels of our society,” said Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “And I think it’s a very positive sign.”
The 41-year-old Saleh, expected to be formally introduced next week by the Jets, is the son of Lebanese parents and grew up in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to the largest Muslim population in the United States per capita.
“I think he’s just a trailblazer for a lot of coaches who are Muslim, to let them know that they do have a chance to be a head coach,” said Lions offensive lineman Oday Aboushi, a practicing Muslim who has played in the NFL for eight seasons — including his first two with the Jets.
“He shows them you do have a chance to be a defensive coordinator, you do have a chance to grow up and have a job at the professional level,” Aboushi added. “As long as you’re professional and you’re passionate about it like he is, I think a lot of people will look to him as a trailblazer, as far as everyone feeling like they could do it themselves and it’s an attainable dream.”
After Saleh’s college playing career as a tight end at Northern Michigan ended, he got his start in coaching by working as an assistant at Michigan State, Central Michigan and Georgia before being hired as a defensive intern by the Houston Texans in 2005.
Then came stints with Seattle and Jacksonville before Saleh became San Francisco’s defensive coordinator in 2017, helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl last year with his No. 2-ranked unit. He was a popular candidate among the seven teams looking for a new coach this offseason, and quickly emerged as the favorite for the Jets job.
Saleh, known for his energy on the sideline and being well-liked by players, impressed the Jets during his first remote interview. He was flown in a few days later for an in-person meeting with Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, president Hymie Elhai and general manager Joe Douglas at the team’s facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.
After a two-day visit, Saleh left to meet with Philadelphia for its coaching vacancy — but the Jets knew they found their new coach. The team announced Thursday night the sides reached an agreement in principle.
“As a pioneer in the sports world, Saleh will serve as an inspiration to many young American Muslims,” Selaedin Maksut, the executive director of CAIR’s New Jersey chapter, said in email to The Associated Press. “In addition to the positive impact that he’ll have on Muslims, Saleh’s presence in the field and on the screen will remind the rest of America that Muslims are a part of the fabric of this nation and proudly contribute to society. It’s a step toward tearing down walls and building bridges.
“Welcome to Jersey, brother!”
Ahmed Mohamed, the legal director of CAIR’s New York chapter, congratulated the Jets and Saleh for what he called a “historic hiring in the National Football League.” He’s optimistic it’s a sign of increasing inclusion and recognition of the Muslim community.
“For all the Muslim youth who may be told they don’t belong or can’t do something because of how they pray, we hope that when they see Mr. Saleh on national television, they will say to themselves that anything is possible and will reach for the stars,” Mohamed said in an email to the AP. “We hope Mr. Saleh’s hiring opens the door for other American Muslims in sports.”
Saleh is believed to be the third Arab American to become a head coach in the NFL. He follows Abe Gibron, who led Chicago from 1972-74, and Rich Kotite, who coached the Eagles (1991-94) and Jets (1995-96) — both of whom also had Lebanese roots.
Saleh is also just the fourth active NFL head coach who is a minority, joining Miami’s Brian Flores, Washington’s Ron Rivera and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin.
“Robert Saleh has made history on the field and off,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Friday night. “Now he’s knocking down barriers in our own backyard. Congrats, Coach!”
While Saleh’s focus will be on restoring the Jets to respectability and not necessarily being an inspiration, he has provided a path for others to someday follow.
“Any person in a new job, their first goal is going to be performance in their job,” Hooper said. “But I think a secondary consideration might be being an example to Muslim and Arab American youth around the country, that this kind of inclusion and respect for diversity is possible.
“But I don’t think he got the job because of his ethnic or religious background. He got this job because he’s good at what he does.”