BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Former star Gabriel Batistuta, Argentina's record goal scorer for the national team, says he once asked a doctor to amputate his legs to relieve intense pain in his ankles.
Batistuta, speaking in a television interview in Argentina, said the pain suffered after retiring in 2005 became so intense that he "urinated in bed with the toilet only a few steps away. I couldn't move."
Batistuta said he visited a doctor he knew, who turned down his request.
LIVERPOOL, England - Mario Balotelli is in line to make his Liverpool debut against Tottenham on Sunday after impressing manager Brendan Rodgers in the Italy striker's first practice sessions with his new club.
Rodgers says Balotelli "has settled in very well and has looked fantastic in training. . He is engrossing himself into the club and the people, but more importantly into his football."
LONDON - From the World Cup semifinals to a bruising introduction in Britain, Louis van Gaal's fortunes have changed rapidly inside two months.
The coach who led the Netherlands to a third-place finish at the World Cup enters his fourth match as Manchester United manager still searching for his first win.
MONACO, Monaco - Michel Platini won't fight Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency, though he still hopes somebody will.
The UEFA president decided Thursday not to challenge Blatter in an election next May, insisting he was not dodging a battle with his former mentor.
Platini denied FIFA critics a potentially bitter contest, but then urged more conflict within the Blatter-led executive committee.
MONACO, Monaco - European greats Real Madrid and Liverpool will meet again in the group stage of the Champions League after a draw on Thursday that promised many reunions.
Aiming to be the first club to retain world football's most coveted club trophy for 25 years, the road for ten-time winner Madrid leads to five-time champion Liverpool on Oct. 22.
MANCHESTER, England - Angel Di Maria will provide an ailing Manchester United with plenty of missing qualities following his big-money move from Real Madrid — pace, energy, incisiveness and goals.
Just don't expect instant miracles from the Argentina midfielder.
"I hope he shall give us good results," Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said at Di Maria's official presentation on Thursday, "but we cannot expect after two days' training that he is the miracle what I already read.
LONDON - Despite an often tempestuous relationship with fans and past concerns over his temperament, Wayne Rooney has received the symbolically-prestigious honour of captaining England.
Taking over the leadership of an inexperienced squad that is recovering from the national team's worst-ever World Cup, Rooney knows the rebuilding process requires unity.
"I hope that I will have the full backing of the fans," Rooney said Thursday. "I am their type of player once I am on that pitch."
MONACO, Monaco - Real Madrid's Champions League title defence takes shape Thursday at one of the most open draws in years.
Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Chelsea — the past four winners — are among the eight top-seeded clubs in the 32-team draw.
However, lower-ranked seeding pots loaded with big spenders returning to the Champions League after years away promise to deliver trickier than usual groups.
LONDON - Bulgarian club Ludogorets reached the Champions League group stage for the first time Wednesday when a defender saved two penalties in a shootout after the team's goalkeeper was sent off late in extra time.
On a night when Arsenal, Athletic Bilbao and Bayer Leverkusen all qualified for Europe's top competition, Ludogorets centre back Cosmin Moti upstaged everyone with his heroics in Sofia.
LONDON - Premier League sides Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers followed Manchester United in being beaten by lower-tier clubs in the League Cup on Wednesday.
A day after United's surprising 4-0 loss at MK Dons, another third-tier club, Leyton Orient, won 1-0 at Aston Villa, and fourth-tier side Burton edged past QPR by the same score.