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Impressing Luis Enrique, Ivan Toney for England, cardiac health & more

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Over the last 15 years, Brentford fans have seen it all.

Relegation, several promotions, several more promotion heartbreaks, a revolution, a new stadium to replace one of England’s most iconic, and – for the first time in their history – Premier League football.

Sergi Canos hasn’t quite experienced all of these things with the Bees, but he’s seen a fair few of them and even wore shirts adorned with their old, clunky crest. Besides a six month spell at Norwich in 2016, he is the current squad’s longest-serving player alongside Rico Henry.

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“I came on loan, so I don’t know if that counts!” Canos jokes. “I do, it’s part of my life and my football career. I think that year on loan was one of the most important ones in my career.”

Canos is present at the Gtech Community Stadium for Brentford’s unveiling of their Heart of West London partnership, teaming up with several leading heart foundations to raise awareness about cardiac health.

The winger is one of few remaining Brentford players to have worked under technical director Robert Rowan, who tragically lost his life after suffering a cardiomyopathy episode in his sleep. The club’s new initiative is in part in memory of him.

“When I [first] came, Rob was here. He was a big part of Brentford and he still is a big part of Brentford because thanks to him we have these initiatives. We have these things that can show people that this actually helps. He was a big part of Brentford, he was a big part of what we are now,” Canos says solemnly.

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At the age of 28, Rowan’s death shocked Brentford to their core. In a release accompanying their new initiative, Brentford revealed that roughly 12 people under the age of 35 in the UK die every week due to undiagnosed cardiac conditions.

“That’s why it was shocking the rates today I know now because I didn’t know that many young people was involved in this,” Canos, who learnt how to perform CPR at the unveiling as part of the initiative, says in disbelief.

“If someone collapsed and we have no medical team around us, then it’s [on] us. We need to make sure everyone is good and everyone knows what to do if something like that happens.”

Image courtesy of Brentford FC

Rowan was – and still is – seen as an important figure in Brentford’s modern history. He embodied the club’s principles and values, oversaw a period that would eventually help the club reach the Premier League in the seasons following his passing.

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“Everything has changed,” Sergi says. “Everything in the training ground, in the mentality of training, in training, in games, how we approach games, how we want to attack and how we want to win in the Premier League.

“It’s amazing because when I came on loan, I was a young boy and there was a little bit of transition in the club. We were in the training ground and there was not much of a way, a straight line. So now we’re doing really good and the mentality is one of the best things that this club has.”

Brentford aren’t quite yet an established Premier League club, but even after the high-profile exit of Christian Eriksen in the summer, very few tipped them to be relegated, to fall victim to ‘second season syndrome’.

They even have a player breaking into a competitive England squad ahead of the World Cup. Ivan Toney was called into Gareth Southgate’s setup for their September internationals, though did not win his maiden cap in either of their matches last month.

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“We all love Ivan,” Canos calmly states. “We were a bit sad that he didn’t come on but they had two tough games and are preparing for the World Cup, so the fact Ivan has been there in the last squad it’s amazing. It’s all positive. We as a club don’t want to look at the negatives. We are happy for Ivan, we hoped he would play some minutes, but he’s going to come back and will play many games for England. There’s no worry about that.”

Closer to home, Canos has seen teammate, friend and compatriot David Raya break into the Spain squad. He looks a safe bet to be part of La Roja’s World Cup party.

Raya and Canos hold a distinction of never playing professionally in their home country, only in England. But if the former is being picked for such a high-profile national team, then that must mean Luis Enrique has been watching Brentford matches to get a glimpse at their Spanish contingent.

“Definitely,” Canos says with a smile. “Now Brentford is in the top flight, you know? Everyone watches Brentford now. We feel privileged to have the ability to show the world who we are. Luis Enrique, of course he is watching because David is there and that gives me confidence to be [in the squad], you know, maybe…but now I’m just thinking about getting back in the [Brentford] squad, enjoy training and score some goals.”

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Canos has three Premier League goals to his name so far in his career having played much of last season at wing-back, and he shot to fame when he fired home Brentford’s first top-flight goal in 74 years in their 2-0 win against Arsenal. It was a moment that came in front of the Sky Sports cameras on opening night, broadcast around the globe on the return of fans to stadiums.

“Before my family used to go walking [around London] and it was fine. Now it’s still fine but you get more people. My family likes it because they love me being uncomfortable!” Canos laughs.

“But it’s nice when people know you. The other day, I was in the small Sainsbury’s [close to the stadium] and someone came up with his two kids and he was just so happy to see me more than the kids! He told me, ‘thanks for doing this to Brentford, thanks for lifting this place up’, and that made me so happy because he said not only the football, but it’s about the community. We are as one. That made me so happy that someone in the street recognises you and tells you this.”

And at the end of the day, that’s what Canos thinks football is all about – improving lives.

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“The identity is everything,” he says. “What we show as a club, it’s what we try to show to the world, to the supporters, to everyone that comes to Brentford. They must feel the identity and the energy that we have and that’s great. Everyone’s different, every club is different, everyone here is very happy that the club has this identity and this energy, the initiatives [like the Heart of West London] we have in place [are] because they make you a better person. The squad and the group we have is unbelievable. We are all friends and we show it every weekend I think.”

You can read more about Brentford’s Heart of West London partnership here



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Lionel Messi reacts to Argentina reaching World Cup knockouts

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Argentina superstar Lionel Messi has claimed that his missed penalty in Wednesday night’s crunch World Cup win over Poland ended up galvanising the team and was on course for victory as soon as Alexis Mac Allister broke the deadlock.

La Albiceleste, one of the pre-tournament favourites, were in danger of a shock group stage elimination ahead of kick-off and had it all to play for against Robert Lewandowski’s Poland.

When Lionel Scaloni’s team were awarded a first half penalty and Messi stepped up, it looked as though it would be business as usual. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was looking to score in a seventh consecutive Argentina appearance, something he had never done before. But Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was equal to his spot-kick and confidently palmed the ball away.

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“Having missed the penalty, the team came out stronger from that,” Messi told TyC Sports.

“The team was convinced that we were going to win, it was a matter of the first one coming in. Once we scored the goal, the game was going to be played the way we wanted.”

After Mac Allister found the key first goal, Julian Alvarez eventually got the second.

Neither Alvarez nor Enzo Fernandez, who assisted the second goal, had started either of the first two games. Yet they came in to make a critical impact. Mac Allister, meanwhile, hadn’t featured in the opening defeat to Saudi Arabia, before starting back-to-back wins.

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Messi went on to praise the ‘strength of this group’ which makes that possible.

“We said it from the beginning. The players who come in know what they have to do and are always fully prepared. It is the strength of this group, the union and that when a player has to, he responds,” the 35-year-old explained.

With the group stage now over, Argentina will face a plucky Australia side that qualified from a very challenging Group D ahead of Denmark. That game will be played on Saturday.

“We know it’s going to be very tough,” Messi assessed.

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Harry Symeou hosts Jack Gallagher and Toby Cudworth to look back on Germany ’06 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click to download or listen to the episode in full!



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Minnesota United make Joseph Rosales loan permanent

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Minnesota United have announced the permanent signing of midfielder Joseph Rosales from Panama’s CA Independiente.

Rosales returns to Allianz Field following a loan spell starting in August 2021, with the Honduras international notching five primary assists in 35 appearances so far across all competitions.

MNUFC have signed Rosales on a deal through the 2023 MLS season with further options on 2024 and 2025.

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Rosales returns to a Minnesota United side enjoying a four-year in the MLS Cup Playoffs under Adrian Heath, though the Loons have exited in the first round three times.

The 22-year-old will continue to compete for a starting spot in the MNUFC midfield alongside the likes of Kervin Arriaga and Wil Trapp.

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.



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Atlanta United sign former Columbus Crew forward Derrick Etienne Jr via free agency

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Atlanta United have bolstered their attacking options with the signing of winger Derrick Etienne Jr via free agency, the club announced Wednesday.

As reported by 90min, the Five Stripes have been pursuing a deal with Etienne since mid-November, with the forward having already spent time at the club’s training facilities.

That deal was finally completed on Wednesday as Etienne was unveiled on a contract through the 2025 MLS season with further options on 2026 and 2027.

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“Derrick is a versatile winger who fits the profile of a player we were looking to bring in,” Atlanta United vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a club press release.

“We’re excited to secure his services as he was a top free agent coming off an excellent season and heading into the prime of his career. Derrick has a great mentality, knows the league well and we are looking forward to him being a big part of the team going forward.”

Etienne is entering his eighth season as an MLS player, notching 17 goals and 17 assists in 148 appearances so far for the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew so far.

His spell with the latter was particularly fruitful, winning MLS Cup and Campeones Cup titles, while the 26-year-old enjoyed a career-best return of nine goals and six assists in 33 regular season appearances in 2022.

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Etienne – who is also capable of playing through the middle – will now compete for places in Atlanta United’s forward line alongside the likes of Luiz Araujo and Edwin Mosquera as the club look to return to the MLS Cup Playoffs in head coach Gonzalo Pineda’s second full season in charge.

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.



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