Liverpool Ladies and Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala has been named as the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. Fans voted for the winner and Oshoala, 20, won the award after starring at the Under-20 World Cup in Canada last summer. In addition to being the tournament’s leading scorer and voted the best player, her performances led Nigeria to the final, where they were narrowly beaten by Germany. She was also a major influence in the senior Nigeria team who won the African Women’s Championship in October. That ensured their qualification for this summer’s World Cup in Canada. To win the award, Oshoala beat the likes of Spain’s Veronica Boquete, Germany’s Nadine Kessler, Scotland’s Kim Little and Brazil’s Marta. “I would like to say thank you to the BBC, to my fans around the world and to everyone who voted,” she said. The award is the first of its kind hosted by a global broadcaster. Oshoala said the honour was a big lift for Nigeria ahead of the World Cup and would help inspire young players in her homeland. She said: “It’s a really good thing for us as a team because we now know that we have something great and now we want to go at the trophy. We can do it, we did it in 2014 we can also do it this year as well. “There is going to be a lot of motivation for women’s football in Nigeria now because of this award because there are a lot of fans out there. “Support for women’s football in Nigeria is now growing very high. “I know my Liverpool Ladies coach is going to be happy right now. Before I left the UK he called me and said to me ‘don’t worry I hope you win the award and we’re going to celebrate it when you come back’.”
Real Madrid players including Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez have paid tribute to axed manager Carlo Ancelotti. Pichichi winner Ronaldo had signalled his support for Ancelotti just a day before news came on Monday of his sacking, the Italian paying the price for a season without a major trophy. “Great coach and amazing person. Hope we work together next season,” the Portugal forward wrote on Twitter alongside a photo of the pair. After president Florentino Perez confirmed Ancelotti’s exit at a press conference, a string of players followed suit. “Thanks for everything boss,” left back Marcelo wrote on the social media network. “You are really great.” Germany midfielder Toni Kroos added: “Thank you boss. It was a pleasure to work with you. I wish you all the best for the future.” Colombian international James Rodriguez also thanked Ancelotti, saying he had “learned a great deal in a short time” from the 55-year-old. Captain Sergio Ramos soon added his tribute, posting: “One of the best coaches I’ve ever had. @MrAncelotti thanks so much. A great professional leaves, a friend stays.” Ancelotti, who leaves the Bernabeu just a year after leading Real to a historic 10th European Cup triumph, posted his own note of thanks on Twitter, writing: “I’d like to keep in mind this (sic) two fantastic years at Real Madrid. Thanks to the club, the supporters and my players.” The former Chelsea manager is widely tipped to be replaced by Napoli’s Spanish boss Rafa Benitez.
Norwich City secured an instant return to the Premier League with victory over Middlesbrough in the Championship play-off final at Wembley. In a match worth a potential £120m to the victors, Cameron Jerome took advantage of a Daniel Ayala error to put the Canaries ahead. It was 2-0 after 15 minutes when Nathan Redmond arrowed a shot into the corner. Jelle Vossen came closest for Boro when he struck the bar, but their six-year absence from the top flight continues. Victory for the Canaries in front of more than 85,000 fans is the culmination of a remarkable run of results under manager Alex Neil. The 33-year-old was unheralded in England, but presided over Hamilton’s promotion to the Scottish Premiership last season. That was enough for him to be given the chance to replace Neil Adams at Carrow Road in January, with the club seventh in the table and three points off the play-offs. Neil oversaw victory in his maiden game in charge against eventual league champions Bournemouth, the first of 17 wins in 25 games during his tenure, and will now become the youngest manager in England’s top flight, beating Swansea’s 36-year-old boss Garry Monk.
Rafael Benitez is expected to be installed as the new Real Madrid manager after his season with Italian club Napoli finishes on Sunday. The former Liverpool manager, 55, has not yet signed a contract with the 10-time European champions but negotiations are at an advanced stage. Carlo Ancelotti was sacked as Real Madrid manager on Monday after two seasons in charge at the Bernabeu. Italian Ancelotti, 55, secured Real’s 10th European Cup last season. But this year they were knocked out by Juventus in the Champions League semi-finals, while Barcelona won La Liga. Spaniard Benitez has managed in his home country before, winning two La Liga titles and the Uefa Cup with Valencia. He has been at Napoli since 2013 leading the Serie A side to the Coppa Italia last season.
West Ham United have qualified for next season’s Europa League after topping the Premier League Fair Play table. The Hammers will be one of 104 teams entering the competition at the first qualifying round stage, which begins on 2 July. Joint chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold said: “Starting in early July will bring its challenges, “But everyone at the club will be relishing the opportunity to feature on the European stage.”
Mexico striker Javier Hernandez will return to Manchester United after Real Madrid decided not to exercise an option to buy him after a loan spell. The 26-year-old joined Real last September on a season-long loan. He scored nine times in 33 appearances for the Spanish side, who finished second in La Liga, two points behind champions Barcelona. Hernandez has played 154 times for United, scoring 59 goals, and his contract is due to run until 2016.
Roberto Di Matteo has resigned as manager of German side Schalke after seven and a half months in charge. Former Chelsea boss Di Matteo, 44, took over in October 2014 and steered the Bundesliga side from 11th to third. But defeat by strugglers Hamburg on Saturday left Schalke with two wins from 10 games to miss out on a Champions League place. Schalke ended the season sixth meaning they will compete in next season’s Europa League. The Italian led Chelsea to the 2012 Champions League title but was replaced by Spaniard Rafael Benitez after eight months. Di Matteo said he resigned because of a difference of opinion over plans for next season following a meeting with the club’s director of sport Horst Heldt. “I offered a plan for a possible successful future and what the conditions for that would need to be,” said Di Matteo, who had two years left in his contract. “It became clear that the club had a different emphasis. This is why I decided to resign from my position as head coach.”
Carlo Ancelotti has been sacked as manager of Real Madrid after two seasons in charge of the Spanish club. The Italian, 55, led Real to victory in the Spanish Cup before claiming the club’s 10th European Cup last season. But this year they were knocked out by Juventus in the Champions League semi-finals, while Barcelona won La Liga. Napoli boss Rafael Benitez is the favourite to take over the vacant role once the Italian season ends. Ancelotti’s side finished second in Spain’s top flight, two points behind Barca, who have reached the Spanish Cup and Champions League finals. Club president Florentino Perez told a news conference it had “not been an easy decision” before thanking Ancelotti and adding that a new manager would be appointed “next week”. “What did Ancelotti do wrong? I don’t know,” Perez added. “The demands here at Real Madrid are very high. The affection that the players and the fans have for Carlo is the same as the affection I myself have for him.”