The Iker Casillas Saga: When Parting Is Not Sweet Sorrow.

Standard

Iker Casillas has left the building.

The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, that is.

It was one of the longest drawn-out goodbyes/breakups in recent football history.  And boy, was it messy. Predictably, a sizeable amount of Real Madrid fans are still on meltdown mode.

I am not a Real Madrid supporter. I do, however, admire and dare I say it, love some of their past and current players. They are a very interesting team to watch, and they are probably the biggest Reality Show in Football (N.B. There also have been comparisons made with Game of Thrones, and really, they are not far wrong).

I have expected Iker’s departure for months now; the only question was to which club he will end up in. The Arsenal rumours were there for a long time, until they managed to snag Petr Cech from Chelsea which effectively put them out of the running. Roma, Fenerbache and a few other clubs were tossed around, but none of those apparently made the grade. Then came Porto.

It’s almost a strange joke by destiny; Iker ending up with the Portuguese club that is so strongly linked with Jose Mourinho—the Special One, a.k.a that Manager he famously fell out with during his tenure at Real Madrid (and possibly, that became the tipping point of everything). Not quite a few scratched their heads at this. Porto? The Portuguese League? Iker Casillas is a World Cup/2x European Champion for Spain and has had more than his fair share of titles and cups with Real Madrid. So how come no bigger club has taken an interest in him?

How did it all come to this?

One side of it is, Iker—nay, San Iker—wants us to believe that he has been unceremoniously pushed out from the beloved club he has dutifully served for 25 years. He was cheated financially, bullied, and pressured from all sides. The president and the board has allegedly mounted a multi-season smear campaign against him and despite his repeated wishes to stay on and fight for a place in the starting lineup, he was simply not wanted anymore. The now-infamous interview of his parents in El Mundo revealed juicy details that make up wet dreams of British tabloids.

(Sidebar: What bothered me most about that El Mundo interview was the bit where it was revealed that Iker has been estranged from his family for years now due to monetary/personal reasons. How come this hasn’t been picked up by the press sooner? Or perhaps I just missed it somehow?)

Conversely, the club wants us to believe that the Saint the public adores is not really a Saint but just a regular, even greedy footballer that got too big for his boots and tried to take on a club that has nurtured him for most of his career. The nerve! He was good, became a great and then throughout time, somehow turned …toxic. He leaked secrets, pushed out a manager and fellow players, and slowly became a symbol of division.   

There are three sides to this story: Iker’s, the Club’s and the Truth. Sadly, it seems we will never truly know the real score.

To quote Cersei Lannister-Baratheon, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

Perhaps Iker should have demanded Trial by Combat instead, because he sure got mercilessly battered and lost the Public Trial that ensued.

Tears were unabashedly shed by Iker as he read his farewell statement—alone, and the event was simply attended by photographers and journalists. Not the ideal sendoff befitting a player of his caliber. Predictably, backlash ensued not just from the RM fans but from football fans in general, and so a “proper” farewell was arranged by having him stand in the middle of the Bernabeu pitch with the trophies he has won and letting fans inside the stadium for him to say adios to. Let us not forget the mini testimonial, and then photo calls with the President, holding his “Legacy Shirt” and being forced to put on smiles as though he means them.

It was a ridiculous and insulting charade and we all know it.

Perhaps Iker can take comfort from the fact that this was not the first time this has happened to a football player, and this will certainly not be the last.

Screw or be screwed. Sad, but this sums up the business of Football in this age.

Can time really heal all wounds? We shall see.

At the back of my mind, I think there will come a time when Iker will return to the Bernabeu; he will don the club shirt yet again and maybe play in one of the Corazon Charity Matches with his former colleagues. He will be glad to be back and put the ghosts of the past behind him, but for now, he needs to live with the choices he has made and start over.

Meanwhile, the fans can busy themselves expressing all their hatred and obscenities at Perez, but in the end, they will still buy their match tickets and the replica shirts of the new players. They will fill the stadium and resume singing the club songs. They will make new legends of fresh, unsuspecting players. They will perhaps remember Iker in passing and think, “He was good, and he was one of us.”

And life in the Santiago Bernabeu will go on.

 

Advertisements

101 Random And (May Not Be) Obscure Football Trivia, Part 2.

Standard

1392307846224

.

I never expected the first part of this to be one of the most popular and most-viewed articles on my blog, and so without further ado, I shall give the public what they want–More football trivia to get your geek on:

.

Show-Offs and Bragging Right-Holders.

In Premier League history, the only player to have scored 3 perfect hat-tricks (1 header, 1 from right foot, 1 from left) is Robbie Fowler.

Players with the most number of hattricks in the Premier League: Alan Shearer (11); Robbie Fowler (9); Thierry Henry (8); Michael Owen (8); Wayne Rooney (6).

Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel holds the Premier League record of scoring the fastest brace by a defender (9 minutes and 28 seconds).

Dani Alves is currently the La Liga player with the most wins over Real Madrid: 13 (8 with Barcelona and 5 with Sevilla).

The partnership of Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley during the 1993-1994 season for Newcastle has produced the most number of goals at 55, followed by Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard for Chelsea (51 during 2009-2010) and Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton for Blackburn (49 during 1994-1995).

Four players who’ve all played in the Liverpool and Manchester Derbies, as well as Spain’s El Clasico: Nicolas Anelka, Mark Hughes, Steve McManaman and Michael Owen.

Both Nicolas Anelka and Michael Owen have scored goals in all of them too.

5 Goalkeepers who have scored a goal (or more) in the Premier League: Peter Schmeichel, Brad Friedel, Paul Robinson, Tim Howard and Asmir Begovic.

Ryan Giggs has won more trophies (34) since 1991 than the whole of Manchester City FC (14) since 1889.

Luis Suarez now holds the record for scoring the most goals in a Premier League season (excluding penalties).

Jari Litmanen was voted Finnish Footballer of the Year for seven consecutive years (1992-1998).

David Beckham has scored the most direct free kicks in the history of the English Premier League (15).

Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet can speak 4 languages (English, French, German and Dutch) and has a degree in Political Science.

.

.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys… 

Joey Barton was made to serve 200 hours of community service in 2009 as punishment for beating up his teammate Ousmane Dabo during training.

Robin van Persie was accused of rape in 2005 and was held in jail for 14 days. These allegations have never been proven true and were dismissed.

On January 1991, then-Sheffield United player Vinnie Jones was booked within 5 seconds of play vs Manchester City. He beat his own record a year later, when as a Chelsea player, he was booked after 3 seconds, while the ball was still in the center circle.

Eric Cantona was banned from the French National Team in 1988 after he described his manager Henri Michel “a sack of shit”.

.

.

The Strange, the Curious and the WTF-worthy.

Michael Owen has taken 21 penalties in the Premier league, but has only converted 14 of them. So far, Wayne Rooney has the same record.

Technically, Juan Pablo Angel has the worst penalty conversion rate in the Premier League, having only scored 50% of the penalties he has taken.

Which team has been awarded the most number of penalties in Premier League history? Liverpool FC with 119 (as of January 2014).

Robert Lewandowski was supposed to fly to England for a £3 million move to Blackburn in 2008, but a volcanic ash cloud prevented him from completing the move in time.

Cristiano Ronaldo was once told by his school teacher to forget about football as there’s “no money to be made there”.

Famous chef Gordon Ramsay’s hopes of becoming a professional footballer was ended by a knee injury.

Spanish TV presenter Sara Carbonero, the girlfriend of Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas (as well as the baby momma of his son Martin), is an Atletico Madrid supporter.

Fernando Torres has his name tattooed in Tengwar, the script from Lord of the Rings.

India withdrew from the 1950 World Cup in protest at the rule that requires players to wear boots.

The 1981 FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspurs ended in a 1-1 draw, with Man City’s Tom Hutchinson scoring both goals.

An England centre-forward during the 1890s called G.O. Smith had an unusual quirk for his position: he refused to head the ball. He believed that the ball should stay on the ground and that the forwards who needed to use their head were not playing the game correctly.

In the run-up to the 15th World Cup, held in USA in 1994, Macau played 6 games in the Asian group, lost all 6, scored zero goals and conceded 46.

Jose Mourinho is the first manager to lose in 4 UEFA Champions League Semifinals. He’s lost 6 in total.

Since the Premiership replaced the old First Division in 1992-1993, no English manager has succeeded in winning it.

Cesc Fabregas is afraid of mushrooms.

Kaka was a virgin when he got married.

David Batty was once sidelined for 3 weeks after his child ran over his ankle with a tricycle.

.

.

Quote Them On That

Dutch striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy once told Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain that “Goals are like ketchup, you keep hitting the bottle and eventually plenty comes out”!

Andrei Arshavin once said, “I started off playing checkers. When I realized that I won’t be able to become an International Grand Master, I had to leave it for football.”

“The natural state of the football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score.” –Nick Hornby

“All I know for certain about the morality and the obligations of men is that I owe it to football.” –Albert Camus

“Ryan Giggs is one of those rare players who could play football in a phone box and find the door no matter how many players were in there with him.” –Carlos Queiroz

“I took a whack on my left ankle, but something told me it was my right.” –Lee Hendrie

“My wife often complains about my tactics. She tells me to stick with the players who won the last match.” –Pep Guardiola

“He’s a specialist in failure. I am not.” Jose Mourinho on Arsene Wenger.

“They taught us at school that family is the most important thing for a human. Roma is my family. Have you ever heard of someone who left his poor parents to live with rich strangers?” –Francesco Totti when asked why he refused to join Real Madrid back in 2006.

.

.

Milestones and History Lessons

The 700th goal scored in the Premier League was by Tomas Rosicky of Arsenal vs Sunderland (February 2014).

Lionel Messi became the youngest player ever to play 400 matches for FC Barcelona at 26 years and 7 months, beating his teammate Andres Iniesta’s record (he was 27 years and 11 months old at the time).

Statistically speaking, Arsene Wenger is more successful during his first 1000 matches with Arsenal compared to how Sir Alex Ferguson did during his first 1000 matches with Manchester United.

Fabrice (at 16 years and 98 days old) is currently the youngest player to score in La Liga history.

Ryan Giggs (at 40 years and 110 days old) currently holds the record for the oldest outfield player to play in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.

The goal scored by Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) after just 44 seconds is the fastest goal scored by an away team at Old Trafford in Premier League history.

Fernando Torres became the youngest captain of Atletico Madrid at 19 years old.

Bryan Robson’s netted strike vs then-Yugoslavia (December 13, 1989) after 38 seconds was the fastest goal scored in Wembley.

The Hall of Fame was created at the National Football Museum in Preston in 2002, and 29 people who were deemed to have made an ‘outstanding and lasting contribution to English Football’ were inducted into the roll of honour.

The governing body of Football, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA to you and me), was founded at the rear of the HQ of the Union Francaise de Sports Athletiques in Paris on May 21, 1904. The English Football Association—the oldest in the world—refused to join until April 1905.

Football was introduced into Moscow by an English mill owner, Clem Charnock, who showed the game to his Russian workers in 1887.

.

.

The First, The Last, The Everything…

Fernando Llorente is the first player from Athletic Bilbao to represent Spain when he was called up in 2002. He also plays the clarinet.

Sergio Ramos is the first defender to score 2 goals in a UEFA Champions League semifinal.

Karim Benzema is not only the first Frenchman to score a brace vs FC Barcelona since Thierry Henry, he’s also the first to score a brace against them at the Bernabeu since Raul.

Scott Parker is the first player to be signed for 5 London clubs (Charlton, Chelsea, West Ham, Tottenham, and Fulham) in his Premier League career.

Borussia Dortmund were the first-ever German side to win a European trophy in 1966, beating Liverpool 2-1 after extra time in the final of the Cup Winners Cup.

Only 15 teams took part in the first-ever FA Cup, and 13 of them were from London. The other 2 were Donington School from Lincolnshire and Queen’s Park from Scotland.

Ian Rush is the last Liverpool player to score 30 goals in a season, setting that record in 1986-1987.

Kevin Phillips is the last Englishman to win the Premier League Golden Boot back in the 1999-2000 season.

Everton FC were the first football club to play in Anfield.

On April 23, 1927 (also known as St. George’s Day), the first radio commentary of a football match was broadcast in the United Kingdom. The commentator on the Arsenal-Cardiff City match was George Allinson, and his assistant was Derek McCulloch.

Blackpool first wore their distinctive tangerine strip in the 1923-24 season. The colour was suggested by a club director named Albert Hargreaves, who was inspired by the Dutch national team and thought that orange would help Blackpool stand out among fellow English clubs.

The first indoor arena used in a World Cup was the Pontiac Silverdrome in the United States city of Detroit, which was one of the venues for the 1994 World Cup.

The first recipient of the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year Award was Stanley Matthews of Blackpool in 1948.

In 1888, while still having the name Small Heath Alliance, Birmingham City was the first club to adopt limited liability. The share capital of the club was £650.

The first team to win the FA Cup three times in a row were the Wanderers. They won 3 finals from 1876-1878 beating Old Etonians, Oxford University and Royal Engineers.

The first player to be capped by England while playing for a foreign team was Gerry Hitchens. The former Aston Villa player played for Inter Milan and a number of Italian clubs between 1961-1970.

The first major football tournament won on penalties was the 1976 European Championship. Czechoslovakia beat West Germany.

The Mitropa Cup was the first major international cup for club teams. The name Mitropa is an abbreviation of Mitteleuropa which means Middle or Central Europe. The competition began in 1927 originally with 2 teams each from Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

Arthur Wharton was the first black professional footballer in Britain. Born in Ghana in 1865, he played in goal for a number of clubs including Preston North End and Sheffield United.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the first player to break the 15 goals-in-a-season tally in the UEFA Champions League during the 2013-2014 season.

Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid is the first Uruguayan to score in an UEFA Champions League Final (2014 vs Real Madrid).

.

.

I Didn’t Know That

4x Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel’s favourite team is Eintracht Frankfurt.

Football commentator Martin Tyler reportedly lives in a house called Squirrels Leap.

Jamie Carragher started his career with England as a striker.

Fernando Torres started playing football as a goalkeeper.

Gerard Pique’s girlfriend, famous popstar Shakira, is a MENSA member.

Aaron Ramsey was actually approached to play rugby when he was younger but was already signed to Cardiff City’s youth team.

John Terry started out as a Manchester United supporter.

Sergio “Kun” Aguero is Diego Maradonna’s son-in-law.

As a youngster, Michael Schumacher’s hero was Toni Schumacher (no relation), Cologne and West Germany’s goalkeeper.

The goal net was patented by J.A. Brodie of Liverpool in 1890.

Two-handed throw-ins were made mandatory in 1882.

What is The Acme Thunderer? It is a brand of whistle invented by Birmingham toolmaker Joseph Hudson in 1884, and is still used to this day in football.

It was only in 1891 that penalties were introduced.

A match that is brought to a halt before the end of the full 90 minutes is classified as “abandoned”.

The Italian system of play called catenaccio literally means “door bolt” and describes the defensive wall approach used in Italy. The system involves 4 markers at the back with a player (a sweeper) behind them—a door bolt.

Peter Corr, an ex-Ireland and Everton player, is the paternal uncle of the Irish siblings/musicians The Corrs.

There has never been a knockout tie in the UEFA Champions League that has ended on 0-0 aggregate.

The Mexico vs Bulgaria match during the 1994 World Cup was held up for 15 minutes due to one of the goals collapsing.

The full and formal name of FC Barcelona’s home stadium is El Nou Estadi del Futbol Club Barcelona.

 .

.

What’s In A Name?

Manchester United’s original name was Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Newton Heath. It was then shortened to Newton Heath before becoming Manchester United FC in 1902.

There are 20 top-flight British clubs that have the word ‘United’ in their name: Sheffield United, Newcastle United, Scunthorpe United, West Ham United, Manchester United, Carlisle United, Southend United, Hartlepool United, Ayr United, Leeds United, Dundee United, Torquay United, Hereford United, Rotheram United, Boston United, Peterborough United, Colchester United, Cambridge United, Oxford United, Airdrie United.

Founded in 1891, the Uruguayan club of Peñarol was then known as The Central Uruguay Railway Cricket Club.

The Czech club Sparta Prague was originally called King’s Vineyard when it was founded in 1893.

Manchester City’s first name was West Gordon St. Marks when they were founded in 1880. It changed to Ardwick FC in 1887 before becoming Manchester City in 1894.

81 The Finnish team FC Jazz was founded in 1934 under the name Porin Pallo-Toveritand. Their current name comes from the fact that they are based in Pori, the home to an annual jazz festival.

The Mexican club Atlante once called themselves U-53 in honour of a German U-boat.

 .

.

Until the next installment! Stay bouncebackable!

 

Unusual Nicknames In Football.

Standard

Ah, name-calling: a practice that is now inextricable from the intricately-woven culture of football (and sport in general, actually).

Some are “legitimate”, some are gathered from various fansites, forums and word-of-mouth, and some are… from my colorful imagination. Wherever they’re from, all I know is, it is highly amusing and infinitely funnier to give footballers weird monickers:

.

Xabi AlonsoMr. Perfect, Dexter, The Long Ranger


Daniel AggerDagger, Aggersome


Nicolas Anelka- Le Sulk

Andrei ArshavinArseshaving

David Beckham- Becksywecksy, Mr. PWhipped, Goldenballs

Joey BartonJoey Farton, JB, Mr. Hipster-Homicidal-Secretly a Teddy Bear Footballer

Craig Bellamy- Bellend

Rafa Benitez- Fat Spanish Waiter

Karim Benzema- KBenz

Dmitar Berbatov- BRBtov

Sepp Blatter- Sepptic Blatter, Sepp BlahBlahtter

Bojan- El Jailbait

Jamie Carragher- Carradonna, 23CarraGold

Iker Casillas- Mofeta, El Dork, San Nevernude

Petr Cech- Cechmate

Ashley Cole- A.Hole, Mr. Tweedy

Didier Drogba- The Drog, The Drog’s Balls

Patrice Evra- Whatevra

Cesc Fabregas- Cescbomb

Rio Ferdinand- Braapder, Oreo

Sir Alex Ferguson- Rednose, Purplenose, Hairdyer Master

Steven Gerrard- The G, Captain Fantastic

Pep Guardiola- Peppers

Guti- El Diva, Gutiiiiii!!!!

Roy Hodgson- Woyster

Gerard Houllier- Monsieur “We’re turning the corner soon”

Mats Hummels- Prince Mats

Andres IniestaCasper, Miniesta, Geniusta

Stephen Ireland- Stephen England; Otter

Toni Kroos- Count Kroos

Philip Lahm- Emperor Lahm

Frank Lampard- Mr. Deflection, Fat Lampard, Lumpard

Juan Mata- John Matter

Jose MourinhoJMo, Trollinho, Maureen

David Moyes- Gollum

Thomas Mueller- Precious Tommy

Michael Owen- Little Mickey, PermaCrock, MUMO

Lionel Messi- Football Messter, Mes Que Un Player

Mesut OzilBambi, Deer-Caught-In-Headlights

Gerard PiqueMr. Moc Moc, Mr. Christmas Tree, Piquechu, Mr. HerpDerp

Lukas Podolski- Polkadot, Prince Poldi

Carles Puyol- Slash, Tarzan

Peter Ramage- Rampage

Sergio Ramos- The Ramos, Alice in Wonderband, The Horse Whisperer, El Caballo

Harry Redknapp- ‘Arry ‘Oudini

Jamie Redknapp- Mr. “He’ll be disappointed with that”, Glass

Pepe Reina- El Jester, Pepsicle

Frank Ribery- The Face

Cristiano Ronaldo- Crispy, Eurogrease, Cristina

Ronaldo- Teletubby, Bucktooth

Wayne Rooney- Grannynator, Shrek

Bastian Schweinsteiger- Swaggermeister

Paul Scholes- Gingerpubes

Alan Shearer- She-Ra

David Silva- David Silver

Martin Skrtel- Skittles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Skrtle

Jay Spearing- Spearochaun

Luis Suarez- Gerbil

John Terry- Cockney Yob

Fernando Torres- Fernanda Tresses, Ratita

Francesco Totti- Top Totty

Victor Valdes- The “Not Iker Casillas” Spanish Goalkeeper, VV

Andre Villas-Boas- Mourinho 2.0, Like A Boas

Neil Warnock- Nutter Neil

Arsene Wenger- Mr. Myopia, Mr. “I Didn’t See The Incident”

.

Do you have your own kickass contribution/s? Leave a comment below and I’ll add it/them to the list!

Football Rap-Off: Jose Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola.

Standard

Another Clasico has come and gone, and the controversy and animosity between Spain’s biggest clubs remains on a high. Apparently, even the managers got in on some off-pitch action and had a rap-off to the tune of Kelis’ Milkshake:

.

Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid started off the throw down:
Mi equipo brings all the girls to the yard
And they’re like, ‘We’re hotter than yours!’
Damn right, I’m their entrenador!
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

Mi equipo brings all the fans to the yard
And they’re like, ‘Vamos, Galacticos!’
Damn right, I’m their entrenador!
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

I know you want it,
The thing that makes me
What the world goes crazy for
They lose their minds
I’m the Special kind
I think it’s time
La la la la la
Turn it up
La la la la la
The world is watching
La la la la la
Turn it up
La la la la la
Special One is rapping

Mi equipo brings all the girls to the yard
And they’re like, ‘We’re hotter than yours!’
Damn right, I’m their entrenador!
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

.

Pep Guardiola of FC Barcelona shot back:
Mi equipo brings all the cups to the yard
And they’re like, ‘Y’all suck at Clasicos!’
Damn right, we’re The Fantasticos
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

Mi equipo brings all the cups to the yard
And they’re like, ‘We play better than yours!’
Damn right, we’re equipo mejor!
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

I have to see you on it,
You want me to teach the…techniques that win us points
It can’t be bought, we dive, don’t get caught
Watch if you’re smart
La la la la la
Ham it up
La la la la la
The refs are watching
La la la la la
Act it up
La la la la la
The refs are watching…

Mi equipo brings all the cups to the yard
And they’re like, ‘Y’all suck at Clasicos!’
Damn right, we’re The Fantasticos
I could teach you, but I have to charge…

(And we all know who “won” for this round.)

——————————————————————————

Daamn. Who says these two aren’t hollaback boys?! Way to keep it OG, hombres.

Video of the Day: The Special One Gets Catty (And Pokey).

Standard

Post-Supercopa loss to Barcelona with a 5-4 aggregate tally, Mourinho of Real Madrid walks over to Barca’s Assistant Coach Villanova and gives him a poke in the ear/neck.

Was The Special One being a sore loser, or was he just being cheeky (given that he has prior connections with Barca as a staff member)? You decide.

All I can say is that his Evil Genius has somehow found a way to take a piece of the limelight off Barca’s victory. Well played, Sir. Well played.

101 Random And (May Not Be) Obscure Football Trivia.

Standard

Let’s face it, the Off-Season is hard. And long. Still, it does not mean that we football fans can allow ourselves to stagnate whilst our favorite players are off lounging and tanning themselves somewhere sunny and expensive.

So whether you’re merely passing time, simply bored or you’re genuinely open to the possibility of learning something new football-wise, have a look at the list below and consider yourself schooled (or maybe not).

——————————————————————————–

Ground-ed.

* Stamford Bridge, home ground of Chelsea, was originally offered to Fulham, who turned it down.

* In 2004, FC Porto was the only club in the whole world to have 2 operating grounds: Antas and Dragon Stadion (Dragão). Due to problems with the grass on the new ground, the team regularly changed grounds between games.

* Villa Park’s dressing rooms were used as bomb shelters in WW2.

* Before the demise of the Wembley Stadium in 2000, the last time England played a tournament match home fixture away from Wembley was in 1966 for the World Cup Quarter Final against Poland at Goodison Park.

* In 1956, Portsmouth’s homeground Fratton Park staged the first ever floodlit Football League match (against Newcastle United).

* The stand redevelopment of Newcastle United’s St. James’ Park has created the largest cantilever structure in Europe.

.

Girl Power.

* The last time the Queen attended the FA Cup Final was in 1976.

* Karren Brady is known as the “First Lady of Football”. Oh, and she has also sold her footballer husband, Paul Peschisolido, twice. Ruthless.

* Milene Domingues, the ex-wife of Ronaldo, is the female world record holder for keepie-uppie: She kept the ball up in 9 hours and 6 minutes in 55,188 touches.

* Patsy Kensit brought up son Lennon as a Manchester United fan to spite his Manchester City-supporting father and her ex-partner, (ex?) Oasis frontman, Liam Gallagher.

.

Famous Fanatics.

* Current Agent 007 (James Bond to you and I) Daniel Craig is a Liverpool FC supporter.

* Future England Monarch and England FA Head Prince William is an Aston Villa supporter.

* The spare heir Prince Harry, however, is an Arsenal supporter.

* Mick Hucknall named his band “Simply Red” in honor of his beloved club, Manchester United.

* King of Tweens Justin Bieber recently aligned himself with FC Barcelona.

* Scottish tennis player Andy Murray did not endear himself to the English crowd in Wimbledon when he was seen wearing a Portugal NT shirt during a match warmup, prior to the England v Portugal WC 2006 Quarterfinal match.

.

It Figures.

* Only 7 teams have competed in all Premiership seasons: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs.

* 7 Managers who have played football on the same side as David Beckham: Mark Hughes, Gareth Southgate, Steve Bruce, Stuart Pearce, Paul Ince, Roy Keane and David Moyes, who played for Preston North End when Beckham was on loan to them!

* Portsmouth and Huddersfield were the first two teams to wear shirts numbered 1-11 in a club match, in their FA Cup semi-final encounter at Highbury in 1939.

* Shirt numbers were first worn as an experiment in the 1933 FA Cup Final when Everton beat Manchester City 3-0.

* Scientists have measured data that records a 20 percent drop in testosterone levels in supporters following a match defeat, and a converse increase for the winners.

* Oldham suffered the heaviest defeat in League history losing 13-4 on Boxing Day 1935 to Tranmere Rovers.

* Crystal Palace is the English club that sent the most men to service during World War II  (98).

* In 1998, Jose Camacho was sacked from his managerial position at Real Madrid after just 23 days, and without taking charge of a single match. He returned to the position in 2004, lasting 115 days before being fired for the second time.

* It took a triple bypass heart surgery to get Dutch legend Johan Cruyff to finally stop smoking.

* In 1999, a research by New Scientist found that footballers are especially susceptible to a condition called SARA: Sexually Acquired Reactive Arthritis, which causes inflammation in different parts of the body at different times.

* Leicester City have appeared in the most FA Cup Finals without winning the trophy (4).

* The Azteca Stadium in Mexico City stands at 7000 feet above sea level.

.

The Cup Of Life.

* The unenvied record of most games without a win belongs to Bulgaria, who went on a streak of 17 winless matches in tournaments from 1962-1974, 1986 and 1994.

* Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is the only captain to lose 2 World Cup Finals: 1982 and 1986.

* No Team Captain has held the World Cup trophy aloft more than once.

* The first player to be sent off in a World Cup match was Peruvian Mario de Las Casas against Romania in 1930.

* Alfredo di Stefano was capped 6 times for Argentina but then went on and moved to the National Team of Spain, where he was capped 31 times.

* The World Cup mascot was introduced during the 1966 World Cup in England. It was a happy, football-playing lion named World Cup Willie.

* The mascot for France ’98, a smiling cockerel, was named Footix.

* The yellow Brazil shirt worn by Pele in the 1970 World Cup Final was sold at a Christie’s auction for 157,750 pounds, a record for a football shirt at an auction.

.

Monickers.

* The first “Red Devils” were Salford Rugby League Club.

* The Bournemouth FC from England are nicknamed “The Cherries”.

* Dundee United from Scotland are known as “The Arabs”.

* A little-known nickname of Chelsea FC is “The Pensioners”.

* “The Robins” is used by 5 British clubs: Bristol City, Cheltenham, Charlton, Swindon, and Wrexham.

* Ten Players with only 4-Letter Names: Pele, Deco, Xavi, Dani, Cafu, Didi, Kaka, Alex, Zico, Mido.

.

Quote Them On That.

* When Wimbledon stunned Liverpool to win the 1988 FA Cup final, commentator John Motson described it as “A victory for the Crazy Gang over the Culture Club”.

* Football demigod Pele was once quoted as saying that “A penalty is a cowardly way to score.”

* Jose Mourinho calling Arsene Wenger a “voyeur” in an interview sparked a big row between the two back in October 2005.

Time out for bickering toddlers…er, managers Arsene and Jose.

* Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola on ex-teammate Dennis Wise: “Ninety-five percent of my language problems are the fault of that stupid little midget.”

* In 1997, Sepp Blatter proposed outlawing sliding tackles, saying they are “too dangerous and were not allowing skillful footballers to show their true style.”

* While in April 2004, his new idea was to eradicate dull draws from football, telling a German journalist: “Every game should have a winner. When you play cards or any other game, there’s always a winner and a loser. We should have the courage to introduce a final decision in every game of football.”

The strange logic Mr. Sepp Blatter.

* “There are three things in life where you do not need a common language– football, music and sex.” Turkish footballer Rustu Recber turns into a philosopher.

* In 1997, Barcelona Vice-President Joan Gaspart further inflamed tensions between his club and Real Madrid by saying, “The most educated person at Real Madrid is the woman who cleans the toilets.”

* “If brains were chocolate, he wouldn’t have enough to fill a Smartie.” Ex-player Alan Birchenall sums up the infamous Robbie Savage.

* “Maybe because he is blond and pretty, referees are capable of sending him off for that” Uruguayan Pablo Garcia offers an explanation on why Real Madrid teammate David Beckham was sent off (it was actually for ironic applause directed at an official).

.

Show-offs.

* Arthur Friedenreich, half-German and half-Brasilian player, is the King of Brasilian football. He scored 1329 goals throughout his 26-year career.

* Which Englishman has played the most games under Sven Goran-Eriksson? Des Walker.

* The one player to have played in the Manchester, Merseyside and Glasgow Derbies? Andrei Kanchelskis.

* Scott Parker starred in a McDonald’s advert, playing keepy-uppy, when he was just 13 years old.

Aw, bless Scotty’s little cotton socks.

* Nicky Byrne of Westlife once tried out as a goalkeeper for Leeds United.

* Rosenborg was the Norwegian League Champions from 1992 to 2004 (Yes, that’s 12 seasons in a row). In 2005, Valerenga finally broke their streak and became new champs.

* Jose Luis Chilavert became the first goalkeeper to score a hat-trick in the history of football, for Velez Sarsfield against Ferro Carril Oeste in 1999.

* The “Great Dane”, goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel scored 13 goals, including an International goal for Denmark, in his long and distinguished career history.

* Birmingham City were the first English club to tour China, back in 1979.

* Milan is the only city to have won the Champions’ League with two different teams– Inter and AC.

* Five clubs have been awarded the Champions’ League trophy permanently: Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool.

* The first winner of the European Football Player of the Year award, or Ballon D’Or, is then-Blackpool player Stanley Matthews (1956).

* Liverpool is the only city – through Everton or Liverpool – to have staged top-flight football in every League season since 1888.

* Fabio Cannavaro was one of the ballboys during the 1990 World Cup held in Italy.

* In 1992, Denmark, a late replacement for the banned Yugoslovia, went on to win the European Championships by beating Germany 2-0.

* Daniel Agger is a certified Tattoo Artist.

* Clarence Seedorf is the only player to have won the Champions’ League with 3 different clubs: Ajax (1995), Real Madrid (1998) and AC Milan (2003).

.

Swots.

* Arsene Wenger has a degree in Economics.

* Steven Harper was all set to study at Liverpool’s John Moore University, until Newcastle United offered him a contract as a goalkeeper.

* Famous existentialist Albert Camus was a goalkeeper for the University of Algiers.

* Iain Dowie has a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

.

That Round Thing They Play With.

* The English FA did not stipulate the exact size of the football until 1872.

* In the first World Cup Final of 1930, a different ball was used in each half after a
dispute between Uruguay and Argentina.

* The first World Cup Final played with a synthetic ball was in 1986.

* Footballs were once brown and tanned, or orange in the memorable case of the 1966 World Cup Final.

* Law Two of the FA rules states that the referee must check the ball for weight (410-450 grams), size (68-70 cms circumference), shape (spherical), pressure (0.6-1.1 atmospheres) and material (leather or other approved material).

*  In leagues for the partially sighted, 150 ball bearings are placed inside a standard football to create a ball that you can hear coming.

.

We Are Family.

* Harry Redknapp and Frank Lampard Sr. are brothers-in-law (which of course makes Jamie Redknapp and Frank Lampard Jr. cousins).

* Former Liverpool player Richie Partridge married the younger sister of his ex-teammate, Michael Owen.

* The younger brother and only sibling of Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Unai, is a lifelong Barcelona supporter.

.

What’s In A Name?

* Italy’s oldest football club, Genoa, founded by Englishmen in 1893, have opted to keep their “English” name and have rejected a change of name to the city’s Italian name, Genova.

* Iker Casillas would have been called Ainhoa if he was born a girl.

* Arsenal is one of two teams to not be named after a place, the other being Port Vale.

* Arsenal were once known as Dial Square FC.

* West Ham United were once known as Thames Iron Works FC.

* Manchester City were once known as Ardwick FC.

* Dennis Bergkamp was named after Scottish football legend Denis Law, but his parents changed the spelling because Denis is a girl’s name in Holland.

* The famous Buenos Aires club River Plate adopted the anglicised name rather than the Spanish Rio de la Plata, after some of the founders spotted the name on a ship’s container down by the docks.

* West Ham United once had a player named “Marco Boogers” in their books, during the 1995 season.

* The 6 Confederations of FIFA are: 1. Asian Football Confederation (AFC); 2. Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF); 2. Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF); 4. Confederacion Sudamericana de Futbol (CSF); 5. Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and 6. Union des Associations Europeennes de Football (UEFA).

.

W.T.F?

* Michael Owen once jokingly signed a photo commemorating one of the international records Wayne Rooney broke with, “Stop stealing my records, you ugly arse!”

* Francesco Totti once celebrated a goal by assuming the position of a woman giving birth.

Not your most flattering angle, Mr. Totti.

* Norwegian Svein Grondalen had to withdraw from an international match during the 1970s after colliding with a moose while out jogging.

* Kasey Keller knocked out his front teeth in 1998 while pulling his golf clubs out of the boot of his car.

* Brazilians Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, and Robinho once rolled on their backs and wiggled their arms and legs to celebrate a goal against Alaves, interpreted by many as doing “The Cockroach”. The complains from the Alaves Chairman fell on deaf ears.

* Paul Gascoigne (Gazza to the adoring masses) once walked into the Middlebrough canteen and ordered lunch wearing nothing but his training socks.

* Argentinian Carlos Roa refused to discuss a new contract with his then-club Real Mallorca, for he was a member of a religious sect that believed the world will end in the year 2000.

* In 2005, Robert Pires was fined 35,000 pounds by the French FA for giving an interview while wearing a Puma shirt. His national team was sponsored by Adidas.

* Middlebrough supporter Adrian Carr was arrested by the stadium police for falling asleep during a match in 2003.

.

.

.

There you have it. Hopefully you are now armed with some delightfully-meaningless information which you can either use to impress your friends or to win a couple of quid in a pub quiz somewhere. Sorry, I cannot give you back the minutes you’ve lost while reading this. I never promised you satisfaction, (you fickle-minded football fan) did I?