Squeezed between the Champions League final and Euro 2024 this summer will be a far more exclusive competition.
England is hosting the inaugural Over 35s World Cup – and no, the bloke down the pub called Steve who claims he used to have a wicked left peg won’t be playing.
That’s because it will be a bonanza of glorious players from years gone by, with the joga bonito of Ronaldinho, the je ne sais quoi of Thierry Henry, and all the defensive prowess of Rio Ferdinand.
Mail Sport exclusively revealed on Monday that the tournament, bringing together eight teams of legends, will take place in June, dripping with nostalgia.
But what exactly is it? Who will we see involved? We’re on hand to take a deeper dive into the Over 35s World Cup, also known as the EPG Cup.
Ex-Barcelona and Brazil star Ronaldinho will be one of the headline acts at this summer’s ‘Over 35s World Cup’
Eight teams will contest the EPG Cup in June in England, with a venue to be finalised (David Villa pictured)
Plans are in place to launch an eight-team tournament involving England, Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Uruguay – the past champions of the FIFA World Cup.
Seven matches are scheduled to be staged in the same stadium over one week at the start of June. While the venue is still being finalised,
Mail Sport understands talks have taken place with some of the Premier League’s biggest northern clubs.
The competition is being organised by the Elite Players Group (EPG) – a group of top-level former footballers and sports businessmen who joined forces last year – and will be known as the EPG Cup.
Under their proposals, only players who are aged 35 or over and have been capped by their country or made 100 top-flight appearances will be eligible to take part in the tournament.
EPG Cup games will be 11-a-side, but over 70 minutes rather than 90, and teams can use roll-on substitutes utilising their 18-man squads.
The quarter-finals are scheduled to be played on June 4 and June 5, with both semi-finals on June 8 before the final on June 11.
Organisers have deliberately chosen the window between the Champions League final on June 1 and the start of Euro 2024 on June 14 – and believe they can get all logistics in place despite having less than four months to plan.
The tournament will be squeezed in between June 4 and June 11, flanked by the Champions League final and the Euros (Marcel Desially pictured)
The players and teams
The captains of each country are founders of the EPG.
Steve McManaman is set to lead England while the other skippers are Esteban Cambiasso (Argentina), Emerson (Brazil), Christian Karembeu (France), Kevin Kuranyi (Germany), Marco Materazzi (Italy), Michel Salgado (Spain) and Diego Lugano (Uruguay).
Mail Sport has seen provisional squad lists, with five former Ballon d’Or winners included, so let’s take a look at what we know so far about each team.
As stated, McManaman will wear the armband for England, who are putting forward a strong team.
To guard the goal, England are said to have enlisted David James, the friendly giant who amassed 53 caps for England.
He has the rare distinction of having been a first-choice custodian for five Premier League clubs: Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Manchester City, and Portsmouth.
James, 46, is used to pioneering ventures. In 2014, he wrapped up his career by becoming the player-coach of Kerala Blasters, a newly formed team in India, and led them to the Indian Super League finals. That came after a stint in Iceland in 2013.
He would later return to Kerala in 2018 as a manager and the Icelandic league for one game as an assistant manager.
Former Liverpool and Real Madrid favourite Steve McManaman will captain England
Ex-Kop magician Robbie Fowler will play up front alongside Michael Owen for England
Old England team-mates Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand will help to form a strong spine
The defence in front of James is tipped to include Ferdinand and Ashley Cole, former England team-mates.
Between them they won eight Premier League titles and they have both gone on to be pundits.
Cole’s only wrapped up his career at Derby County in 2019, so he might be considered among the fresher legs for the tournament.
In midfield, England will hopefully be able to call on Frank Lampard and Joe Cole, who played 339 matches together for West Ham, Chelsea and England.
Cole was one of the most outspoken pundits when Chelsea sacked Lampard in 2021, calling it the ‘harshest’ dismissal of Roman Abramovich’s reign.
That midfield knows how to score goals, and if we’re talking about goals, then how about McManaman on the wing, with Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen up top for good measure.
Fowler and Owen busted the net 523 times between them over the course of their careers for club and country, so if England can be watertight at the back, anything can happen.
Six Brazilian names are public knowledge at this stage, and they’re enough to make most players in their prime shiver.
Ronaldinho headlines the quintet. The 2005 Ballon d’Or winner was one of the world’s most stunning players when he was in his pomp with Barcelona and AC Milan.
In 2011 he moved back to Brazil, playing the final years of his career there and in Mexico.
Brazil fans will be hoping Roberto Carlos can produce one of his thunderous free-kicks
Playmaker Kaka could rain down assists on the EPG Cup, with Rivaldo available to finish any chances he creates
In 2016, he did something similar to this, playing two games in the India’s Premier Futsal League alongside Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Michel Salgado, Hernan Crespo, and futsal player Falcao.
Their caption will be Emerson, the defensive midfielder who claimed league titles with Real Madrid and Roma.
Teaming up with Ronaldinho on this occasion will be Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Kaka, and Rivaldo.
That’s probably one of the most brilliant creative forces you could ever witness, although they’ll need to sort a goalkeeper!
What they do have? World Cup-winning experience.
We’ve got three names lined up for France so far.
Midfield titan Christian Karembeu will skipper the side, and whicheer way he chooses to pass, he’s got good options.
If he turns back, he can count on Marcel Desailly, one of those typical ‘Rolls Royce’ defenders who played for AC Milan and Chelsea.
Thierry Henry will aim to silence opposition defenders – but does he still have blistering pace to count on?
With a World Cup, a couple of Champions Leagues, and a couple of Serie A titles under his belt, he knows what winning looks like.
Whether it’s a long ball or tiki-taka passing, there’s a clinical man at the end of any moves for France – Thierry Henry.
The former Arsenal favourite now plies his trade as a pundit with CBS Sports, cracking up a loyal fanbase alongside Jamie Carragher, Micah Richards, and presenter Kate Abdo.
Esteban Cambiasso is in line to captain Argentina and will be joined by Hernan Crespo and Pablo Zabaleta.
Across a 21-year career, Cambiasso won 21 titles, but only managed 52 international caps – fairly modest for his status as a world-leading midfielder.
He’ll be looking to bring some discipline to a side that includes Crespo – a man with 307 goals in his locker – and Zabaleta, who helped lead the revolution at Manchester City.
Esteban Cambiasso will captain an Argentina side consisting of Pablo Zabaleta and Hernan Crespo
Not many former Blackburn Rovers players get invited to things like this. Meet Michel Salgado.
More reupted for his decade at Real Madrid, tough-tackling Salgado will captain a Spain side consisting of at least David Villa and Carles Puyol.
Former Barcelona defender Puyol can fit in at centre-back or right-back if they don’t gather any more players, while Villa can count on 441 goals during his career for inspiration.
Both are former World Cup winners.
Kevin Kuranyi doesn’t quite have the same status on English shores as same other players on this list, but the striker captains a team with good potential.
Kuranyi was a prolific goalscorer for Stuttgart, Schalke, and Dynamo Moscow in the 2000s and 2010s and managed 19 goals in 52 games for Germany.
Mesut Ozil will be hoping to provide him with some assists – and perhaps has unfinished business on English turf – while Sami Khedira could be the midfield enforcer.
Both Ozil and Khedira are on Germany’s draft list.
Carles Puyol will bring grit to a Spain side that will also have David Villa and Michel Salgado
Arsenal fans will have the chance to see Mesut Ozil in action once again, albeit in his country’s colours
Italy will be captained by Marco Materazzi, the defender who stars with rival Rui Costa in one of football’s most iconic photos.
Of course, the defender won’t be joined by Costa for this as he was Portuguese, nbut he will be able to form a formidable defensive partnership with Fabio Cannavaro.
Good luck scoring against that.
Up top will be Francesco Totti, Roma’s favourite son. He was a one-time Serie A winner and could have won so much more but stayed loyal to his tam.
Totti is 47 now, but longevity was his thing. Until November, he was the oldest Champions League scorer in history, having netted aged 38 and 59 days, but Pepe, 40, put that to bed earlier this season.
Uruguay hosted and won the first World Cup in 1930 before adding another to their locker in 1950.
Marco Materazzi (left) will captain Italy, playing wiht Fabio Cannavaro and Francesco Totti
Diego Forlan, who scored 310 goals over his career, will try to bring a ‘World Cup’ back to Uruguay for the first time since 1950
Former centre-back Diego Lugano will captain them, while Diego Forlan is listed to lead the line.
Both are veterans of Uruguay’s iconic 2010 World Cup team, who reached the semi-finals after a Luis Suarez handball denied Ghana’s Asamoa Gyan an equaliser in the last eight.
Source From: Football | Mail Online
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