2013 was yet another scintillating, emotion-soaked year for football and its fans in general. As we enter this New Year, let’s revisit the most memorable moments of the beautiful game, that we will cherish for years to come. Grab your tissues!
5. The Gareth Bale transfer –
When you combine Daniel Levy’s frugal negotiating powers with Fiorentino Perez’s willingness to splash the cash, you know what you will get.
When Gareth Bale expressed his desire to join the Spanish giants Real Madrid in the summer of 2013, we knew what we had on our hands; another player-club dogfight. Tottenham Hotspurs were not willing to let go of their phenomenal Welshman whereas the latter was pulling every string possible to build his bridge to Madrid.
The result was what a lot of people expected; Bale was Madrid-bound, but it was the price that surprised the majority. Perez broke the transfer record he once set while signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United. The fee was $135 million and it made the former Southampton left-back the most expensive football player in the world.
Having won the PFA Young Player of the Year and PFA Player of the Year awards last season, Gareth Bale was always destined to leave and the Premier League was always destined to witness it’s yet another superstar leave for the Galacticos.
4. Bayern’s quadruple and Heynckes’ retirement –
A few years ago, whenever we discussed Bayern Munich, there was this word that was mentioned a lot; underachievers. The German champions were often sued for not winning enough silverware despite having a world class squad at their disposal. 2013 saw all these claims bite the dust. They won everything there was to win.
They finished their calendar year 2013 with 93 points in the league, a new record. Not to forget, they also remain undefeated in the league till date. Their record 10-match unbeaten streak in the UEFA Champions League came to a bitter end when they lost to Manchester City at the Allianz Arena in December, but that does not take away the fact that they have given modern football a new dimension.
Bayern played in 5 major tournaments last season, namely; 2012-13 UEFA Champions League, 2012-13 German Bundesliga, 2012 DFL-Supercup, 2012-13 DFB-Pokal and 2013 FIFA Club World Cup. They ended up as winners in each of them. They also bid adieu to their manager Jupp Heynckes, who couldn’t have asked for a better farewell season.
This season saw the former Real Madrid manager being replaced by the former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, who has made the best team in the world look even worldlier. With the way they are rambling on, the end of this reign seems unlikely.
3. The Special One returns –
After having spent most intriguing and exasperating three years of his life, Jose Mourinho made a return to the Stamford Bridge. After having a relatively unsuccessful stint at Real Madrid, he returned to England to manage his beloved Chelsea.
His time at Madrid was filled with controversies and the usual conspiracy theories. Tussles with the Spanish media and Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola saw Mourinho struggling in the Spanish capital. A lowly 2 trophies in three years duly sums up his treacherous tenure. Some reports also claimed that he had a verbal one-two with fellow Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo.
With Sir Alex retiring from managerial duties, Mourinho was touted as his number one replacement at Manchester United, but the 20-time English champions didn’t see anything special in the ‘Special One’. David Moyes was appointed instead, leaving Mourinho in atrociously agonized according to his close friend.
Mourinho’s loss turned out to be Chelsea’s gain. The former Inter Milan coach claimed that he was now the ‘happy one’. The Stamford Bridge faithful now chant his name perpetually and he promises to reward their love with silverware. 2014 will tell how this love story goes.
2. India wins the bid to host the FIFA Under-17 WC –
A population of 1.2 billion and yet we fail to find a single Lionel Messi.
Tracing the footprints of the beautiful game in a cricket-dominated nation is perhaps not the most intelligent thing to do. The statement might sound a tad bit pessimistic, but harsh as it may sound, it is painfully true. Despite holding a plethora of football fans, the country just doesn’t do enough when it comes to producing any notable footballing talent.
The state of football in the country has invited a lot of furore from the football fans in the past. In spite of possessing so many football-kicking youngsters, the platform to perform just doesn’t suffice the talent and its abundance. The footballing infrastructure of the country is abysmal and fails to meet the omnipresent standards.
But that is soon to change. FIFA personally invited India to table a bid to host the 2017 U-17 World Cup, which they went on to win. This only leads to one thing – better infrastructure and more opportunities. The officials have to choose six cities from this shortlist of eight: New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Goa, Pune, Kochi and Guwahati.
If you have a young son who loves football, encourage him to play at a professional level. You may not regret your decision. Here’s your little sneak-peek into the history of the FIFA U-17 World Cup!
1. Sir Alex Ferguson retires –
Every good thing finally comes to an end, so did ‘Fergie Time’.
After 26 years of glorified service to English champions Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson retired after guiding his Red Devils to a record 20th League title. The Scottish manager joined United in November 1986, replacing the much-fashionable Ron Atkinson. He was known for his temperamental attitude which was highlighted a lot in his time at St. Mirren and Aberdeen.
His first three years at Old Trafford were not particularly impressive. He was on the verge of being sacked, but the signing of Eric Cantona brought an end to his ‘squeaky-bum’ time. Since then, he has won 34 trophies with United which consists of 13 League titles, 5 FA Cups, 2 European Cups, 4 League Cups and 1 FIFA Club World Cup.
The biggest success of them all came in the 1999 campaign when Manchester United won the treble under his management. They became the first English team to have ever achieved the feat. They won the English Premiership, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League in a month’s time. No other English team has ever won the treble since.
He also knocked Liverpool off their ‘perch’, without letting their Merseyside rivals to win a single edition of the Premier League. The man who made the impossible dream possible for United fans is now their club’s ambassador and director, so they are not exactly bereft of his ebullient presence.
And as far as the hairdryer’s concerned; that’s never too far away, is it?