Do you want to hear the greatest news of all time? 2020 is nearly over.
Oh mama. I like to think of the last 20 years as one massive game of whack-a-mole – stick with me here, I’ve not the plot, yet – and 2020 is the most hideous, horrid and heinous mole of the bunch.
When other rubbish years pop up, you firmly smash it down with your mallet, but when 2020 rears its horrible face, you put the mallet down, stuff a grenade in its mouth and drive your mum’s car into the whole arcade game.
2020… you son of a gun
Ok, sorry, just working out some anger-management there, but we are, after all, talking about the wicked 12 month-span that has brought us a pandemic, national lockdowns and tragic passings.
If you’re wondering what’s brought me to remember that this God awful year is waving us goodbye, it’s the fact the footballing world is embarking on its final international break of 2020.
Yes, that’s right, the terrible invention that unfurls from between FIFA’s bum cheeks as one big middle finger to entertainment, but, nevertheless, us football fans persevere for the incredible international tournaments that emerge at the end of them.
GMS Awards week six
Besides, you’ve got to take life with both the rough and the smooth, which is no different here at the GMS Awards as we subject ourselves to hours of UEFA Nations League highlights just to find the winners for you.
And while an international break means nothing in comparison to the very real human tragedies of 2020, perhaps we can sprinkle an extra grain of happiness into our lives by way of kissing goodbye to their boredom until March.
So, strap yourselves in, firmly disengage your brain and check out the victors in everything from ‘Game of the Week’ to ‘Man Utd penalty of the week’ in our sixth edition of the GMS Awards.
Goal of the week
Nicolai Geertsen vs Slagelse
Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a Puskas Award contender for the second consecutive week and from where I’m sitting, Denmark’s Nicolai Geertsen is now in pole position after this bonkers strike.
There aren’t many centre-backs who can claim to have rattled a bicycle kick against the crossbar, but even fewer, if any, who can profess to have buried the rebound of said shot with a scissor kick.
Yes, you read that right, when Geertsen hit the ground from his initial effort, which could have won an award in its own right, he adapted like an Olympic gymnast to lash home the follow-up in equally-acrobatic style.
In fact, it was so out of character for Geertsen that the stadium announcer wrongly credited it to a more attacking player, but fear not, Nicolai, this GMS Award rightfully has your name all over it.
Player of the week
Call us shallow, call us reactive because yes, this is only the sixth edition of the GMS Awards and it’s the second time that Grealish has been crowned Player of the Week while on England duties.
But if you tuned in for the Ireland and Belgium games last week – ok, probably preaching to a small choir there, actually – then you’ll know exactly why he’s already been tipped to start at Euro 2020.
His display in Brussels, in particular, drew praise from the likes of Ashley Cole and Cesc Fabregas, providing the creative spark that England need right now and looking like their standout player by miles.
Manager of the week
Is this the correct winner? Probably not, but is this the right winner? You know it is.
Thursday night was a historic occasion for Scotland fans as they qualified for their first international tournament since 1998 with a dramatic penalty shootout in their Euro 2020 play-off against Serbia.
It was an emotional evening for everybody involved with Scott McTominay passionately celebrating, Ryan Christie almost breaking down in tears and David Marshall producing a reaction for the ages to his winning save.
And for that alone, we felt obliged to reward Clarke simply for making that magical victory happen because it was one of those moments when you just sit back and think: ‘sport, you bloody belter.’
Game of the week
Nigeria 4-4 Sierra Leone
Where do we even start with this chaos!? Nigeria must have thought there were on course for one of the biggest victories in their history when they raced into a 4-0 lead after 29 minutes vs Sierra Leone.
Their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier couldn’t have been more one-sided with Alex Iwobi bagging a brace, including a fourth-minute opener, while Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze added to the rout.
However, in an astonishing comeback seldom seen since Newcastle United 4-4 Arsenal, the visitors remarkably bagged themselves a draw despite still being 3-0 down with less than 20 minutes to play.
Kwame Quee had made it 4-1 at half-time, but it was Mustapha Bundu’s finish and a double from Alhaji Kamara that sealed the most mind-bending of fightbacks from FIFA’s 120th-ranked nation.
Outrageous skill of the week
Jack Grealish’s touch vs Belgium
If you think I’m bowing down to the throne of Grealish this week… then how the heck did you break into my house? Geez, I keep my Grealish shrine firmly under lock and key.
Ok, woeful jokes aside, one of the moments that had England fans on their feet during Grealish’s masterclass was his astonishing backheel touch that reminded everybody of Luis Suarez vs Bayern Munich.
We can’t even begin to fathom how Grealish calculated the perfect way of making contact with the ball in order to spin and go, never mind leaving Thomas Meunier karate-kicking thin air to boot.
That being said, special shoutout to Memphis Depay for producing a similar piece of skill for the Netherlands as well as Sergiño Dest for claiming Daniel James’ soul during Wales vs USA.
Etrit Berisha’s dive vs Kazakhstan
Now, as much we could have dug deep into some random lower-league Central Asian mid-table clash to find you a worthy piece of simulation, we’re having to switch up this week’s Fallon d’Floor for a different type of diving.
That’s because we couldn’t bring ourselves to possibly exclude the crazy moment Kazakhstan’s Aybol Abiken scored immediately from kick-off against Albania in the UEFA Nations League.
Mere seconds after Albania had scored their second goal at home, they were picking the ball out of their own net when the ball was immediately punted the length of the pitch in just two touches.
The Fallon d’Or floor in question? Well, goalkeeper Etrit Berisha gave everybody a chuckle with his bewildered attempt to follow the flight of the ball, which ultimately culminated in him sliding into the net.
Strangest punditry of the week
‘Greenwood could be the next Morrison’
The British media hasn’t always been the proudest of establishments when it comes to handling controversy surrounding young footballers – and the Mirror certainly found themselves in hot water this week.
That’s because their bizarre, seemingly-unsubstantiated article claiming that Manchester United are fearing Mason Greenwood could become the next Ravel Morrison was widely panned on social media.
It’s impossible not to sympathise with aggrieved United alumni such as Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville as Greenwood continues to be battered about the tabloid back-pages at just 19 years old.
Tweet of the week
Marcus Rashford vs the Daily Mail
Regretfully, we’re going from one instance of the British press driving the knife into a young United player… to another instance of the British press driving the knife into a young United player.
In this instance, the Daily Mail inexplicably published an article on Marcus Rashford’s decision to invest in property and most egregiously of all, referenced his charity work in the headline for no apparent reason.
Whether unconsciously or not, it read pretty clearly as a thinly-veiled dig at Rashford’s spending and as alarmingly negative compared to similar headlines on Phil Foden and David Beckham.
However, to say Rashford had the perfect reply would be an understatement as he reminded everyone for the 1,000,000,000th time that he’s both an incredible human being and role model.
Disasterclass of the week
Sergio Ramos vs Switzerland
Oh, Sergio. Saturday night should have been a celebratory evening for the Real Madrid legend as he surpassed Gianluigi Buffon’s 176 Italy appearances to become the most capped European player ever.
But instead, it will go down in the history books as the evening Ramos ended his streak of 25 consecutive penalties scored by missing two within half an hour.
Yup, it was an absolute horror show from Ramos as Yann Sommer saved back-to-back penalties to his right-hand side with the second proving one of the worst attempts at a Panenka we’ve ever seen.
Craziest bet of the week
Huge wager on Dustin Johnson
To tell you the truth, it’s been a pretty boring week for fans of whacky bets because it seems as though nobody, for reasons unknown, has been lumping tens of thousands on San Marino vs Gibraltar.
As a result, we’re instead turning our attention to the golf because everybody loves a flutter on the Masters… you know, you open your wallet, submit a cheeky $10,000 to the bookies, we can all relate to that, right?
Yeh, absolutely not, unless you’re the crazy BetMGM customer who plonked an insane $10,000 wager on Dustin Johnson to win the green jacket, pocketing themselves an eye-watering $120,000 in the process.
The Sunday League award
Kieran Tierney vs Aston Villa
And if you thought that was clutching at straws, then oh boy, I’ve got both fists full of the drink-aiding, ocean-destroying cylindrical utensils right now, but forgive me, Sunday League is technically banned in the UK right now.
So, instead, I’m turning to something that technically happened the week before, albeit by just a few hours, but we think Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney did a pretty good impression of a drunken pub player.
The Scot seemed to just, well, malfunction during the 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa with footage of him falling in a blur of limbs resembling the inflatable tube men you get outside car dealerships.
With his right arm playing Chelsea away and his left leg making a trip to Tottenham, no doubt it gives us all flashbacks of ‘Badman Dave’ floundering around a boggy pitch at 9am still with the taste of Jaeger on his tongue.
S***housery of the week
Brentford announcer looks foolish
If you’re of a certain age and went to the school in the UK, then you’ve probably played the hugely-mature and whoppingly-grown-up game of making inappropriate names from seemingly genuine ones.
Ben Dover, Phil McCracken… yeh, yeh, you get the picture, but seldom has that ever left Year 9 German lessons and been declared for the world to hear at one of English football’s fanciest new stadiums.
Well, that was the case, until now, because the poor Brentford pitch announcer was completely oblivious that he was being pranked when he read out a bogus birthday message at the weekend.
I hope Mike Oxlong erected his party decorates in time, while Sal Army and Hugh Jenas tossed the salad for refreshments. Ok, sorry, that was terrible, check out the footage down below:
The Roy Keane award
San Marino players crying
Now, if you saw Keane having heart palpitations in the Sky studio when Aston Villa celebrated Premier League survival, then you’ll know how much San Marino will have given ‘Keano’ seizures this week.
Defender Dante Rossi wept tears of happiness after helping the small, Italy-surrounded nation to their second consecutive clean sheet and the first two-game unbeaten streak of their entire history.
You can just imagine Keane wrapping his vice-like grip around Rossi’s temples and screaming in his face: ‘You’ve drawn 0-0 with a country that’s a f***ing rock, you’ve not won an Oscar, you’re interrailing your d*** back to San Marino!”
Urban dictionary of the week
Word: Liverpool (verb)
Definition: To be massively weakened by unfortunate events out of your control
In a sentence: Honestly, I’ve been properly Liverpooled this week. I lost my job because a colleague falsely accused me of being naked in the copy room and my house burnt down during a burglary as the robber left the hob on. That’s not to mention that a deer crashed into my car… while it was stationary on the drive.
Man Utd penalty of the week
Scott McTominay vs Serbia
It might be the international break, but you can find home comfort in the fact a United player was still in their natural habit regardless: about three or four paces back from the penalty spot.
Enter the stage, McSauce, with the United midfielder holding his nerve during the aforementioned penalty shootout between Scotland and Serbia that booked the former’s place at Euro 2020.
And although it was Marshall who became the hero for denying Aleksandar Mitrovic, you can’t fault McTominay for holding his nerve from 12 yards with a screwed finish into the bottom corner past Predrag Rajković.
Managerial innuendo of the week
“We were a bit slow at the start but that’s understandable. The longer they went on some of the interplay was very good, especially down the left.”
Woof, fair enough. Clearly England players like their erogenous zones where Ben Chilwell likes his positioning, down the left. Everyone to themselves.
TV Burp Award
Most unfortunately-timed Pro Clubs goalkeeping glitch of the week
If the Gibraltar goalkeeper had shown such bad positioning during a home game, he probably would have ended up in Morocco.
International football almost over in 2020
Congratulations, not only have you made it through the awards but now you only have a few more days to wait until the international breaks of 2020 are jettisoned into the lonely wilderness of the past.
Look, to be honest with you, I don’t actually hate them as much as I make out… and yes, I am pandering to all the memes and viral tweets of Pablo Escobar waiting around on swings.
Besides, seeing England play, albeit an alternative to sleeping tablets, does have me rather excited to see Euro 2020 next summer and don’t tell me you didn’t love the scenes of Scotland celebrating their qualification?
For all the snooze-inducing friendlies and ultimate arbitrariness of the Nations League, ultimately, deep down, there’s nothing like seeing players representing their countries and showing what it really means to them.
Football can’t heal a square-nanometre of the wounds that 2020 has inflicted on us all, particularly those who have lost loved ones, but we can all be grateful that it takes away the sting sometimes, even if it is just an international friendly.
After all, I think we can all take a lot from anything representing togetherness when the whack-a-mole hydra of 2020 has done nothing but force us apart.