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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 26 May, 2019
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The famous soccer player hiding in plain sight in a bakery and more of the week's best sportswriting

Hakan Sukur has led an interesting life after football.

Hakan Sukur of Turkey pictured in 2005.
Hakan Sukur of Turkey pictured in 2005.
Image: John Walton

1. Most customers do not recognize the fit, well-dressed man walking around Tuts Bakery and Cafe, picking up used cups and dirty dishes. Why would they? And what would he be doing here?

They enter and gawk at the pastries artfully displayed under glass or stare at the big chalkboard menu on the wall, written in the man’s neat hand. They step to the register and order lattes or teas, maybe the avocado tartine or menemen, the traditional Turkish breakfast. At lunch, maybe the Soujouk sausage panini or the Turkish meatballs.

The meatballs — that is what Hakan Sukur ate as he explained how he got here. And by here, he is not referring just to this upscale cafe, or Palo Alto, or even America. But here. In this predicament, exiled from home and hiding in plain sight.

The New York Times take a look at the new life of former Turkish footballing superstar Hakan Sukur. 

2. They all knew the situation. Clark—the man who reached up into the night air in January of 1982 and came down with The Catch; who helped alter the direction of a franchise, triggering a run of Super Bowls; who was admired for his charm and work ethic and loyalty, first as a nine-year player and then as a team exec—had been diagnosed with ALS in 2015. The following March he announced it publicly on the website of DeBartolo, the former 49ers owner and franchise paterfamilias. Last October the team held Dwight Clark Day at Levi’s Stadium, back when Clark could still walk, and he addressed a roaring crowd (“I’m going through a little thing right now,” he told the fans). That same month Clark began having weekly lunches with old teammates and friends near his house in Capitola, Calif., reliving memories and telling jokes. By March he and his wife, Kelly, had decided to move to a ranch in Montana, 15 minutes from where DeBartolo spends half the year. Throughout, Clark has put on a brave face, but ALS is a merciless disease. No cure exists, and it wastes little time, systematically shutting down body functions. Clark is now confined to a wheelchair. His once-boisterous laugh has dimmed, if not his smile. Originally DeBartolo had planned a summer event. Better, he now decided, to hold it in late April.

Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated reports on the 49ers reunion for Dwight Clark.

3. After a Champions League goalfest earlier in the week, there was something peculiarly refreshing about Thursday night’s exhibition of Atletico Madrid defending.

In their 1-0 victory over Arsenal, Atleti conceded territory and possession to Arsenal for the majority of the contest, yet their centre-backs were entirely comfortable in their deep block: Diego Godin made crucial clearances and punched the air, Jose Gimenez sneakily blocked opponents from getting on the end of crosses. Everyone else mucked in, and it all felt like proper old-fashioned defending. But if Atleti can do it, why can’t anyone else?

Champions League goals flow freely as the art of defending is lost across Europe, writes ESPN’s Michael Cox.

4. It is hard to convey to the uninitiated the enormity of loss experienced by Killarney, Irish basketball and even as loud and wide a city as his adopted home of Las Vegas with the passing of the life-force that was Paudie O’Connor.

Not even as titanic and unique a character as the late great P Ó Sé of Ceann Trá could indisputably claim to be the most roguish, charismatic and brilliant Kerry sports personality of the 1980s. That honour went to Paudie.

Kieran Shannon of The Irish Examiner mourns Irish basketball’s first superstar and greatest visionary.

5. On a broiling, airless night, the din was biblical. From the Curva Sud came a locust trill, as if God on his home patch had permitted Rome to strike down on Liverpool as he once did over Egypt in demonstration of his power. This time, however, a Liverpool team containing its own Pharaoh did not suffer the ultimate penance.

If you believe in celestial influences and you think one might have been at play here, you will conclude it sided with Liverpool at judgement time. Roma were back to square one and chasing three goals again when Stephan El Shaarawy’s shot was the recipient of a save, one that was probably better than any made by either of Liverpool’s goalkeepers this season. One issue. The save was made by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The Independent’s Simon Hughes on Liverpool’s chaotic route to the Champions League final.

6. This column loves both anniversaries and sporting documentaries and, with last Tuesday being 30 years since Luton Town’s 3-2 victory over Arsenal in the Littlewoods Cup final which sparked three decades on a roller-coaster, a print version of ESPN’s 30for30 series was required to capture 30 events since 1988 supporting the Hatters.

Independent.ie’s Aidan O’Hara on the highs and lows of supporting Luton Town.

7. Mohamed Salah’s routine is familiar now. As the Liverpool Football Club stadium erupts joyously around him, celebrating yet another of the Egyptian’s goals, he runs to the fans closest to him, arms outstretched. He stands stock still, soaking in the adulation.

Once his teammates have congratulated him, he walks slowly back to the center circle. “Then there is this pause,” said Neil Atkinson, host of The Anfield Wrap, a Liverpool fans’ podcast, and a regular at the stadium.

Mr. Salah raises his hands to the sky and then kneels on the field, prostrating himself in a deeply personal demonstration of his Muslim faith. “The crowd goes a little quieter, allows him that moment of reflection,” Mr. Atkinson said. There is another roar as he stands up, “and then everyone celebrates again.”

Rory Smith of The New York Times explains why Mo Salah is breaking down cultural barriers, one goal at a time.

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‘I don’t think we deserved to lose the game at all’>

Sending good wishes to Alex Ferguson and more tweets of the week>

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