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Euro 2016 team of the quarter-finals – featuring two Arsenal stars

first_img 10 Midfield: Aaron Ramsey (Wales) – Ramsey looks unrecognisable to the player who Arsenal have been fielding all last season and has been one of the players of the tournament. He was everywhere against Belgium and came out with two assists to take his total to four during the Championships – no one else has more. Defender: Pepe (Portugal) – Once he cuts out all the play-acting and histrionics, Pepe is actually a world-class defender and he showed it during the game against Poland. The Real Madrid man made some vital interceptions and headers as the game ebbed towards penalties. 10 Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer (Germany) – click the arrow, right, to see talkSPORT’s team of the quarter-finals – Neuer made a few good stops to keep out the Italians and was the hero of the penalty shootout, saving Matteo Darmian’s spot kick to ensure Germany progressed to the last four. 10 Forward: Antoine Griezmann (France) – Griezmann’s goal against Iceland saw him become the tournament’s top scorer with four. His effort just before half time was a brilliantly timed run and an even better finish as he dinked the ball over the on-rushing Hannes Halldorsson. 10 10 10 Forward: Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales) – The offers will surely be flooding in for the man without a club. He was a nightmare for Jordan Lukaku and Jason Denayer to deal with and scored one of the goals of the tournament so far with his amazing Cruyff-turn to avoid three players before calmly slotting home. Defender: Ashley Williams (Wales) – This was Williams’ best performance of the Euros so far as he kept the Welsh defence organised and defiant under some intense scrutiny from the Belgian attack. Also scored the equaliser with a thumping header. The semi-final line up of Euro 2016 is now complete with the dreams of four more countries coming to an end.Wales shocked Belgium with a magnificent 3-1 win while Iceland’s fairytale came to a crushing end with France romping to a 5-2.The other two went to penalty shootouts as Italy and Poland were dumped out of the tournament at the hands of Germany and Portugal respectively.Wales now face Portugal, with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo coming face to face, while hosts France will be confronted with their biggest test so far as Germany stand in their way of the final.But who stood out during the quarter-final stage? Click the arrow above, right, to see talkSPORT’s team of the last eight in a 4-3-3 formation. 10 Midfield: Renato Sanches (Portugal) – Manchester United fans must be ruing not signing Sanches from Benfica after his all-action display against Poland. The 18-year-old scored in normal time and also converted his spot kick as he controlled the Portugal midfield. 10 Defender: Chris Gunter (Wales) – Gunter worked tirelessly throughout Wales’ incredible 3-1 win over Belgium, keeping Eden Hazard quiet for 90 minutes. The Reading full back also sent in the cross for Sam Vokes’ late goal. Defender: Kamil Glik (Poland) – Glik was on top form for Poland and managed to keep Cristiano Ronaldo at bay for the whole 120 minutes before scoring brilliantly from the penalty spot during the shootout. 10 10 Forward: Olivier Giroud (France) – Giroud put in a magnificent man of the match performance against Iceland, scoring twice and assisting another. His physicality was a constant source of trouble for Iceland as France hammered five past them.last_img read more

Nunez balancing ideals, political realities

first_imgFabian Nunez felt betrayed. It was 1993 and the immigrant-rights activist was fuming mad: A lawmaker for East Los Angeles, a Mexican-American Democrat, wanted to stop California from issuing driver licenses to illegal immigrants. Nu ez wrote and called Assemblyman Louis Caldera to demand an explanation, but the legislator only confirmed his decision to co-author the measure. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” Nunez recalled. Then, Nu ez did something he never expected: He crossed the trench from political observer to political insider, eventually running for Assembly on a pro-immigrant platform, in Caldera’s old district. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champToday, the 40-year-old charismatic, ambitious and liberal legislator is speaker of the California Assembly, arguably the second-most powerful politician in Sacramento and most influential Latino politician in the state. His resume is packed with achievements from 2006 that led to national and international fame for Assembly-produced laws to reduce global warming, raise the minimum wage and make prescription drugs more affordable. But as he completes his fourth year as leader of the 80-member Assembly, Nu ez has hit an unexpected skid that could threaten his political future. The Tijuana-reared son of a gardener and maid is in political turmoil over his extravagant spending on first-class travel; fine wine; and purchases at high-priced retailers such as a Louis Vuitton store in Paris, a surprising revelation about someone who has defined himself as a champion of the working class. Nu ez insists the campaign expenses were legal, ethical and directly related to invitations from dignitaries for whom he bought gifts. His foes who disagree are awaiting the results of an investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission. But some say the flap only exposes deeper questions about Nu ez that persist at the Capitol and in his district: Has this once-tireless advocate for the working class – who as a child was so poor he borrowed his sisters’ clothes, who dropped out of college to become a security guard to support his pregnant girlfriend – abandoned his core causes and humble roots for political power and a lavish lifestyle? “As an overall picture of what’s going on,” said Juan Jose Gutierrez, a Los Angeles immigrant rights activist who hired Nu ez in the late 1980s and has closely followed his career, “a lot of us scratch our heads and say, well, what happened here?” In many ways what happened is a familiar story about the clash of idealism and political reality. How does one remain loyal to old constituents and causes in the face of political ambition that dictates serving broader interests? And how does one retain the appearance of humility while being required to move effectively and effortlessly in a world of deep- pocketed movers and shakers? Nu ez was born in a San Diego County hospital – the 10th of 12 children raised by his parents, Pablo and Soledad Nu ez, who lived in a wood-frame home in Tijuana and commuted to jobs across the border. The family got by with barely enough clothes. Other families lived on a hill in cardboard huts, which led Nu ez in his youth to question economic disparities. “This is where my political views were shaped, while I was here living in this tiny two-bedroom home,” Nu ez said on a recent visit to his old Buena Vista neighborhood. “This is where I began to develop my core, who I am as a person, my beliefs, and I think a sense of mission, too.” As a child, Nu ez had a passion for learning, and dreaming a big dream. “Ever since he was small he liked to study,” said eldest sister Alicia Lopez, 55, who lives in Tijuana. “And when we would ask what he wanted to be, he said, `I’m going to be president of the United States.”‘ When he was seven, his father, a former bracero farmworker with U.S. residency, moved the family to a basement apartment in San Diego’s Logan Heights, known for poverty, drugs and gangs. Nu ez focused on school. He was a student crossing guard and president of his junior high. In high school, he ran cross-country, boxed and, his mother said, took Spanish classes to perfect the language. He entered UC San Diego in 1985, prepared to change the world, organizing campus demonstrations to defeat an “English- only” initiative and fight for farmworkers. But Nu ez left San Diego due to a personal crisis: His girlfriend, a nurse named Maria Robles, was pregnant. He became a security guard in West Hollywood, then later took a job with fanatical zeal teaching English and civics to Mexican and Salvadoran immigrants. Still in his 20s, he was promoted to manage One Stop Immigration’s branch in Pomona, responsible for a $1 million budget. Along the way, the couple had a son, Esteban, were married and later divorced. Nu ez graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont, and became political director of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, then lobbyist for the Los Angeles Unified School District, from 2000 to 2002, which laid the foundation for his Assembly race. Labor unions and immigration- rights groups vaulted Nu ez into office in late 2002. His first piece of legislation sought to require state agencies to accept identification cards issued by foreign consulates as official ID, commonly used by illegal immigrants. He also co-authored a bill with his political mentor, Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, to restore licenses to immigrants. Both measures failed – his idealism rebuffed by political reality. By the end of that first year, however, Nu ez had become popular among his peers and emerged as the leading candidate for speaker at the young age of 37. Immigrant-rights groups had renewed hope. But that’s when, advocates say, they began to observe a political transformation. Nu ez now seemed less interested in old causes that can define a local lawmaker and more interested in the broader policies necessary to be an effective Assembly speaker. “It’s not surprising me to me that the pro-immigration activists are disappointed,” said USC analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe. Leaders, she said, should be judged not on broad legislation, but whether the issues they push move in the same direction the advocates expect. As part of his political evolution, Nu ez in 2004 ditched his oval-frame glasses for eye surgery, and began to favor Italian Ermenegildo Zegna pin-striped suits. He also spent much of 2005 publicly attacking Gov. Arnold’s Schwarzenegger’s anti-labor- union reform agenda, while at the same time, oddly, developing a friendly relationship with him. Schwarzenegger would invite Nu ez for cigars in the Republican governor’s Capitol smoking tent. Nu ez took the governor to a favorite restaurant in East Los Angeles. Schwarzenegger invited Nu ez to watch movies at his Brentwood estate. After the initiatives were defeated, Schwarzenegger adopted traditionally Democratic measures, much to the dismay of his key supporters. At the top of the list was A.B. 32 to reduce greenhouse gases – a critical environmental issue Nu ez knew “zero” about when he first entered the Assembly, according to a close associate. The measure, signed into law in 2006, did wonders for Nu ez and Schwarzenegger, who glowed side-by-side at news conferences. “His political acumen is superior to people that have been there 10, 15 years,” Nu ez says of Schwarzenegger. “He really has good instincts for this, he really does. Too bad he’s a Republican. He should be a Democrat. He’s in the wrong (expletive) party.” Schwarzenegger, 60, showers Nu ez with praise. “He’s interested in what’s best for the people,” Schwarzenegger says, “rather than just what’s best for the party.” And he added that Nunez comprehends the challenges Schwarzenegger faces with his more conservative constituents. Their tight relationship has empowered Nu ez and made him more effective. But it also has further distanced him from immigrant supporters who wonder if the governor has replaced Cedillo as the speaker’s mentor. Nu ez never reintroduced the identification card measure that was a highlight of his first year. He never again signed on as co-author to Cedillo’s numerous attempts at passing the driver’s license law. Nu ez scoffs at the notion that he’s abandoned the immigrant cause. “I’ve never deviated; my views on those issues are very clear,” Nunez said. “But I have to look at larger issues. I have to broaden my perspective.” While as assemblyman he used to regularly host meetings with immigrants lobbying for legislation, he’s now as prone to focus on poll results that conclude voter sentiment on those same issues is generally unpopular. “I think he’s lost touch with reality and his constituency, to be honest with you,” said John Fernandez, a high school teacher in Boyle Heights, east of downtown Los Angeles, who once served on One Stop Immigration’s board of directors. “He was basically seduced by power and money, and I think that’s really been problematic for him, and I think he’s in trouble.” But some advocates have a different take. “Assembly Speaker Nu ez has a long history of standing up for workers and low-income families during budget battles in Sacramento, and he’s often sided with California’s most vulnerable communities, especially to provide them health care,” said Isabel Alegra, spokeswoman for the California Immigrant Policy Center. Nu ez says being speaker is more demanding that most people think – he’s expected to raise at least $16 million every two years to keep Democrats in power, and doesn’t have enough time to meet with all the people he used to associate with. “I put a lot of time into this job, and I have very little time for my kids and not enough time in my district as I would like,” said Nu ez, a father of three, “but that’s the choice one makes when you become speaker.” Nu ez now finds himself in a precarious position. In less than two months, Californians will decide his political future with their vote on Proposition 93, which seeks to limit the length of time legislators can remain in office, but also allows incumbents such as Nu ez to serve an additional six years. The initiative’s opponents call Nu ez the poster child of the measure, using words such as “imperialistic.” Nu ez says he doesn’t know what will become of his future if the Feb. 5 term limits initiative fails. But he concedes that his image has taken a hit. Over the past two months he canceled out-of-country trips and is supportive of the state’s election watchdog’s recent proposal to force legislators to more specifically disclose expenses. “I have to have a higher standard for myself now,” he said. But there’s one place Nu ez doesn’t need to rehab his image. He recently stopped by his parents’ modest San Diego home for a bowl of his beloved pozole soup. This, his siblings and wife insist, is the real Fabian Nu ez, the same humble man he’s always been, the one who concludes annual Assembly sessions by publicly thanking his $200,000 chief of staff and the janitors who clean his office. “He’s very simple,” said Robles, whom he remarried two years ago after 11 years apart. “He continues to be inspired by the same issues he was inspired by as a young man. He does wear nicer suits now than before.” [email protected] (916) 441-4651160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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