Every now and again on The Football Writer's Facebook page, I have posted a random football fact. So I’ve decided to post all 30 of them I have posted so far as a dedicated article. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, 30 incredibly random football facts…
(the dates I posted them have been added to some of the facts to show they were correct at the time but may change in the future!).
A random football fact, #1: (7/2/13)
The last time the Netherlands played an international match without a 'van' in their starting XI was against France during Euro 2000 (they won 3-2).
However, the last time they didn't have a 'van' in their entire match day squad (Peter van Vossen appeared as a late substitute against France) was way back in 1996 in a friendly 2-0 victory against China.
A random football fact, #2: (9/2/13)
The highest amount of goals scored by half time occurred in 1954, when Motherwell and Dumbarton played out a huge 6-6 draw; Motherwell were 6-4 up at the end of the first half - a huge 10 first half goals.
A random football fact, #3: (11/2/13)
Quite fittingly, Pelé is the youngest ever World Cup winner, picking up the gold in 1958 at just 17 years and 249 days.
Way up the other end of the scale is former Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff, who in 1982 became the oldest player to lift the trophy at 40 years and 133 days.
A random football fact, #4: (updated 02/03/14)
Andy Selva hold the distinction of being the only man to ever score a winning goal for San Marino, having scored in their 1-0 victory against Liechtenstein in 2004 (in 121 games, San Marino's record is 1 win, 3 draws and 117 losses).
Selva is also the nation's all time top goalscorer, with 8 goals (in 64 appearances). Manuel Marani is the only other man to score on more than one occasion for San Marino, with 2 goals (34 appearances).
A random football fact, #5:
Forget about Messi; if you want to find a goalscorer, look no further than Fernando Peyroteo.
The Portuguese boasts the world's greatest goals to game ratio of 1.77, having found the net an incredible 331 times in just 187 games for Sporting Lisbon between 1937 and 1949 (compared to Messi's 0.82 for Barcelona).
Adding to that, he reportedly scored 4 or more goals in a game on more than 30 occasions, including a phenomenal nine in one game.
A random football fact, #6: (14/3/13)
No country has ever won the World Cup during the papacy (term) of a Pope from the same country.
Not that it should worry Argentina; Messi's broken enough records already, so what's one more?
A random football fact, #7: (18/3/13)
Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic is the only Premier League players whose last name is completely made up of roman numerals: V (5), I (1), D (500), I (1), C (100).
A gladiatorial name that perfectly suits his play?
A random football fact, #8: (updated 02/03/14)
The power house nations of Algeria, Ghana, South Korea and Saudi Arabia are part of an elite group; being the only countries in the world to boast an undefeated record against England.
A random football fact, #9: (29/3/13)
Arsenal are the only team to have received a gold version of the Premier League trophy, when it was specially made to commemorate their 2004 ‘Invincibles’ season, instead of the silver trophy that every other title winning team have lifted.
A random football fact, #10: (updated 02/03/14)
In the 2009-10 season, Barcelona's Pedro became the first man to score in 6 different, official club competitions in one season, scoring in La Liga, the Supercopa de España, the Copa del Rey, the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
However, this has since been trumped by Spanish striker Fernando Torres, who scored in 7 official club competitions during the 2012-13 season. The Chelsea striker netted in the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, FIFA Club World Cup, FA Community Shield, FA Cup and League Cup.
A random football fact, #11: (31/3/13)
Martin O'Neill's departure from Sunderland is the first time in his career that he has left a professional club because he has been sacked. He has previously managed Wycombe, Norwich, Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa, but left them all on his own terms.
A random football fact, #12: (22/4/13)
Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola is the only player to be sent off in a World Cup finals... on his birthday! The Italian received a red in their second round victory against Nigeria on his 28th birthday.
On the bright side, at least he got a card from the referee.**
**I apologise for how rubbish a joke that was...
A random football fact, #13:
Less of a football fact and more pub quiz-y, but I think this is brilliant. As the question goes, ‘Sunderland did it in 1979, Villa did it in 1981. Who did it in 1980?’
The answer isn’t another team as you may expect, but is in fact ‘Trevor Brooking’. For Brooking scored the winning goal in the 1980 FA Cup Final for West Ham, much like Alan Sunderland did for Arsenal in 1979 and Ricky Villa did for Tottenham in 1981.
A random football fact, #14: (22/4/13)
Arguably Finland’s greatest ever player, Jari Litmanen holds an incredibly unique distinction: he is the only footballer to have played international football in four different decades.
‘Kuningas’ made his Finland debut in 1989 (the 80s), was a regular throughout the 90s and 00s, before making his final appearance in 2010 (the 10s). No surprise then that he is the nation’s most capped player, representing Finland a whopping 137 times.
A random football fact, #15: (28/5/13)
Welshman Robert Earnshaw boasts an impressive record as the only player to have scored hat tricks in: the top four domestic leagues in England (The Premiership and Divisions 1, 2 and 3 before they were rebranded) and both domestic cups in England (the League and FA Cups), along with netting a treble in an international for Wales.
Hat tricks in 7 different competitions doesn’t scream complacency now, does it..
A random football fact, #16: (23/7/13)
While teams fluctuate in the FIFA World Rankings, Malaysia holds the record for the greatest difference between their highest and lowest ever ranking. In August 1993, the nation held a respectable 75th position, yet in June 2008 they were 170th – a difference of 95 places between their best and worst ranking positions.
A random football fact, #17: (23/7/13)
PSV Eindhoven appear to claim an interesting sponsorship record. With the club originally founded by engineering and electronics giant Philips, PSV, standing for ‘Philips Sport Vereniging’ (translating as Philips Sports Union) have retained these close links. Thus since 1982, the first year Eredivisie clubs were permitted to have shirt sponsorships, ‘Philips’ has been imprinted on the players’ torsos as the primary shirt sponsor.
To show a comparison in the same time period, (not including different shirt logos within the same sponsorship) Chelsea and AC Milan have had 9 different shirt sponsorships, Real Madrid 8 and Manchester United 5 (including Chevrolet, agreed to commence 2014).
A random football fact, #18: (26/7/13)
Winning the Copa Libertadores with Atlético Mineiro has placed Ronaldinho into a very exclusive club, becoming one of only seven players to win both this and the UEFA Champions League, along with Cafu, Dida, Roque Júnior, Carlos Tevez, Juan Pablo Sorín and Walter Samuel.
A random football fact, #19: (1/8/13)
Sergio Batista (1986) and Gennaro Gattuso (2006) are apparently the only 2 players to have won the World Cup while sporting a full beard.
A random football fact, #20:
In the wake of the Munich Air Disaster, Real Madrid President Santiago Bernabeu’s respect for Sir Matt Busby and his Manchester United team led to attempts to help rebuild the club following such tragedy.
They offered holidays to Spain and allowed the use of their facilities for the bereaved, set up cut price annual friendlies to help raise funds, and even offered Argentine legend Alfredo Di Stéfano to the club on loan (the player also agreed but the move was blocked by the FA as it was considered a place that could instead be used by another British player).
A random football fact, #21: (29/8/13)
Miguel Muñoz, Giovanni Trapattoni, Johan Cruyff, Carlo Ancelotti, Franch Rijkaard and Josep Guardiola are the only 6 people to win the European Cup/Champions League crown as both a player and a manager, lifting the trophy a whopping 23 times between them.
A random football fact, #22:
Paul Merson stated in his book that during his time at Middlesbrough, himself and Paul Gascoigne, who he was living with, used to play a game after training. They would buy several bottles of red wine and a packet of sleeping pills, before betting thousands of pounds on who would fall asleep first.
A random football fact, #23:
Stefan Schwarz arguably had the most bizarre clause to have ever been inserted into a player's contract. When signing for Sunderland in 1999, the Swede was banned from travelling into space!
A random football fact, #24: (11/11/13)
Falkirk and River Plate are the only two football clubs outside of Italy, England and Spain to have broken the world record transfer fee. Sydney Puddlefoot joined the Scottish side for a then record £5,000 in 1922, whilst the Argentinians splashed out a record £23,000 on Bernabe Ferreyra ten years later.
A random football fact, #25:
Former Hammer Alvin Martin achieved quite a feat in 1986 when he scored a hat trick – against 3 different goalkeepers. He first scored past Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Thomas, who then came off at half time having been struggling with an injury coming in to the match. With no substitute goalkeeper, centre back Chris Hedworth went between the sticks and was beaten for Martin’s second before picking up an injury, at which point Geordie legend Peter Beardsley donned the gloves, being beaten for Martin’s third.
Not bad for a centre back.
A random football fact, #26:
The much loved Football Manager game was once banned in China because it 'threatened its content harmful to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity... (that) seriously violates Chinese law'. This was because the 2005 version included Taiwan and Tibet as separate countries and not as part of China.
A random football fact, #27: (14/1/14)
Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo recently scored his 400th career goal. However, out of all these goals, he has never scored in the 7th minute - the only minute he has failed to do so! Discounting injury time (where he has bagged 20 goals), Ronaldo's most prolific minutes are the 68th, when he has netted 11 times, followed by the 23rd minute, where he has 10!
A random football fact, #28:
Every player dreams of representing their nation, but as far as international careers go, surely there are none more strange than Guillermo Stábile’s.
Uncapped for Argentina, Stábile was selected for the first ever World Cup in 1930. After missing the first game, he was selected for his debut as a replacement for the unfit first choice – and bagged a hat trick. He then scored 2 goals in the final group game to secure qualification to the semi finals (as there were less teams competing). He bagged another brace in the semi final, before netting a single goal in their unsuccessful final versus winners Uruguay.
After this tournament, Stábile never played for Argentina again. This meant that in his international career, he could boast having scored a hat trick on his debut, scoring in every game he played for the national side, a goals per game ratio of two (four games, eight goals), and being the top scorer at the first ever FIFA World Cup.
A random football fact, #29:
Former Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham star David Ginola is very unfortunate: his name is an anagram for ‘vagina dildo’.
A random football fact, #30: (2/3/14)
This season has seen the Premier League be unusually tight, yet it is nothing on the final standings in the 1983-84 season in Romania’s third division, which consisted of 16 teams. Just 10 points separated Champions Muresul Deva (38 points), and bottom placed Minerul Aninoasa (28).
Perhaps even more unbelievable, however, is that the champions were somewhat run away leaders: second placed UMT Timisoara mustered just 31 points, meaning that just 2 points separated 2nd from 15th, who had 29 points. Truly unbelievable stuff – the final league table truly was outstanding.
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