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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007, 05:41 GMT 06:41 UK
Kevin Nolan column
The Kevin Nolan column
By Kevin Nolan
Bolton captain

It is absolutely fantastic from an English point of view to have three sides in the Champions League semi-finals.

We have been saying for years that the Premiership is the best league in the world and right now, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea are proving it.

Hopefully English clubs will dominate both the Champions League and the Uefa Cup for the next five seasons or more.

One indicator of the quality of the Premiership and a gauge of how hard it is to play in, is when players come over and don't quite make the grade.

Even world class players like Andrei Shevchenko and Michael Ballack have taken time to settle in.

I don't think they were ever going to be able to dominate immediately - it takes a lot to adjust to the Premiership.

I firmly believe the Premiership is the best league in the world - and I'm sure Shevchenko and Ballack came over to prove themselves, even after years of them being massive names and performing brilliantly.

Cristiano Ronaldo
In Ronaldo, the Premiership has probably the world's best player

They would have come over with the intention of making sure everyone in England knows they are world-class - and they are starting to do that now.

People may have suggested in the past that players have come to the Premiership at the end of their careers, but I don't believe that.

Players are attracted to the Premiership because of the coverage it gets all over the world and because they want to prove themselves in a place where they can make the biggest name for themselves.

I don't believe money is the sole motivation.

And we have fantastic talent playing their football in England. Cristiano Ronaldo has come on so much in the last couple of seasons and he is one of the top players in the world at the moment.

Alongside him is Wayne Rooney - and he is another young player who has grown up in the Premiership.

Before that we had David Beckham playing here and he was one of the best players in the world when he was at Manchester United.

We have big players here and we will always have big players coming here - and not to retire but to rise to the challenge.

I really do hope the Champions League final will be an all-English affair. My preference is for Liverpool to win it, but it'd just be nice to see one of the English clubs be successful.

To have Europe's biggest club prize back in England would be very, very nice.

And next year, maybe Bolton will be involved in the competition!


Hi Kevin, interesting choices for your starting XI last week. Most of them I would agree with - but how come there was no place for Thierry Henry?
Andrew Jones, England

Thierry Henry is an absolutely great player but I went for old and young - with Alan Shearer picked for all he has done over so many years in the Premiership and Wayne Rooney for the way he has burst onto the scene.

Having said that, I wouldn't argue with anyone who would put Henry ahead of them - and everyone will have their own choices. I'm sure my own choices might be different in a year's time!

Great column Kev! I was wondering whether it had ever crossed your mind to become a football official if you didn't make the grade as a player?
Alex Stewart, England

No, not at all. I think referees and their assistants have a tough job. I wouldn't like to be hounded by players or all the people on the sidelines. It's really not something I fancy doing.

But I think it is a good idea to get ex-players working with officials, to help them get a feel for the game and to better assess challenges and other incidents. Sometimes referees have never played the game themselves and anything we can do to help them improve their understanding of the game can only be good.

Hi Kevin, if there is a break in play - or a corner or something - do you ever have any banter with the opposition?
Sam, England

Yes, we do. When we get a corner I always stand right on top of the goalkeeper and I always have a little bit of banter with him. I might try to annoy them, or tell them I'm going to stand on their toe or something.

And a lot of the keepers have a good chat back and have a laugh with you - and of course, you usually know the guys pretty well as you play against them regularly.

Hi Kevin, When a new player arrives at the club is there a get-together to welcome them? Similarly, when a player leaves is there a right old knees-up - or are you sometimes just happy to see them go?
Paul Chapman, Denmark

The days have gone where all the players would go down the local for a pint to welcome the new lad. Now it tends to be that new players will be invited along if a night out has been organised, but there is no specific welcome committee.

And these days when someone is leaving the club, they usually do just that - sometimes they don't even say goodbye. But sometimes you might be delighted that they've gone so you don't want to say goodbye anyway!

  • Kevin will continue to answer a selection of your questions each week throughout the season. Send us your questions using the post form in the top right-hand corner.

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