Thursday 19 October 2017

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo. Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Stephen Hunt: Ronaldo the unlikely hero showing youngsters it's not all about money for top footballers 

One of the most important pointers for what happens in football in 2017 might well have come in the last few days of 2016. I was very impressed with Cristiano Ronaldo's decision to turn down an astronomical deal to go to China. Even if there was an element of PR behind it, I think it sends a very loud message and sets a significant example in what is likely to be one of the biggest stories...

Stephen Hunt relaxing with his then Irish and Reading teammates Kevin Doyle and Shane Long

Stephen Hunt: There's no pigging out for footballers at Christmas time 

There's one thing that stands out for me from all my years of experience in England's famous Christmas schedule. It would be the effect on the body, and the stomach - but not because of the turkey dinner or anything like that. It was because I used to have my own pre-match routine that would be repeated a little too often in too short a time. If it was a 3.0pm game, I'd have two coffees in the morning, a thing called Phase 1, that was around the same as six or seven coffees, although I eventually replaced that with Red Bull, and then I might take some caffeine tablets too.

Jason McAteer

Stephen Hunt: You don't need to be playing well for your club in order to stand out for your country 

If you were to properly lay it out - regardless of whatever else is happening in the world - there probably haven't been too many years in Irish football history as good as 2016, even from the really great times. The fact that we moved up 10 places in the Fifa world rankings announced last week is a nice little sign-off. It reflects how the team have built on the genuine success of Euro 2016,...

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill

Stephen Hunt: Senior players must channel pain of previous defeats 

Patrice Evra should have been happy. It was late on a November night in Paris and France had just qualified for the World Cup. I was sharing a car with him and John O'Shea as we made our way to the airport to fly back to England in Manchester United's private jet. But Evra wasn't happy, he was just relieved. France had been lucky, and they needed Thierry Henry's hand to help them, but myself and John were devastated. We knew how close we had come and now there was no second chance.