World Cup story 1: Boniek from Honduras!

Honduras reached for the first time in their history the World Cup! We are in the summer of 1982, year in which the team from Central America participates at the final tournament. They won’t make it through the group stage, but the two draws against Spain and Northern Ireland and an almost one in front of Yugoslavia, against which they lost 0-1 in the 88th minute, looks like great reasons for a national party. The historical moment was also enjoyed a lot by mister Garcia. In fact, many guys named Garcia celebrated in Honduras their countries achievement, but this one is a particular one. He continued to watch the tournament even though his country was out and he witnessed one of the major surprises of the competition. The national team of Poland reached the third spot at the end only because Italy, the future champions, beat them in the semifinals. Still, leaving behind Cameroon, Peru, Soviet Union, Belgium and France was quite a shocker.

Poland-Legends-Zbigniew-Boniek_882755All this was possible thanks to a group of great players, guided by the legendary Zbingniew Boniek. A footballer which impressed very much mister Garcia, even though the man was initially concentrated on his native country, Honduras, which also left a good impression. Two years past and the same Boniek won three major trophies alongside Italian giants Juventus Torino. Serie A, The Cup Winners’ Cup and the European Super Cup. In the same year, in Honduras, the wife on mister Garcia gave birth to a son. We are in September. Still with the fresh memories of the World Cup in his head and with the ones of Boniek even fresher, from now one his idol, mister Garcia took the decision: his son has to be named Oscar Boniek! Exactly, the middle name after the great Pole! Also, almost sure, his biggest wish would be to see his boy playing football at international level. Like Boniek appearing in the shirt of Honduras!

Oscar+Boniek+Garcia+Honduras+v+Guatemala+NUTDYa6zJDAlOnly a dream once, became true in 2005, when Oscar Boniek put that shirt on for the first time! By now he gathered another 90 (!) and so he’s been one of the most capped players from the history of his country. A country, Honduras, which also meets maybe its best period from all its existence. First, the qualification to another World Cup, in 2010, after 28 years. Five years from Oscar Boniek’s first appearance flew and he was for sure a part of the squad for the tournament. Unfortunately, he didn’t play a single minute there, but in 2014 the situation will be different for sure! For the third time in the history and second time in a row, the Central Americans, will play at the supreme tournament. This time, with Boniek in the squad. Not the one which thrilled mister Garcia in 1982 with his performance in the shirt of Poland, but his own son who now will try to fulfill the expectations of most people from Honduras who dream at a first World Cup victory!

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Austria, the 128-th!

index The UEFA Champions’ League edition that is about to start will gather, as usual, 32 teams at the start of the competition. From all, one is at its first appearance in the most important competition from the continent: Austria Wien. In fact, the Austrians will be the 128-th team to take part in the UEFA Champions’ League group stage, since the first edition of this format, in 1992. Words are useless in this kind of article, so I will present you, above, a complete list of the squads that qualified for the group phase of this competition.

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France
Olympigue Marseille
AS Monaco
Paris Saint Germain
FC Nantes Atlantique
AJ Auxerre
RC Lens
Girondins de Bordeaux
Olympigue Lyon
OSC Lille
Montpellier

Scotland
Glasgow Rangers
Celtic Glasgow

Belgium
Club Brugge
Anderlecht Brussels
Lierse
KRC Genk
Standard Liege

Russia
CSKA Moscow
Spartak Moscow
Lokomotiv Moscow
Zenit Sankt Petersburg
Rubin Kazan

Italy
AC Milan
Juventus Turin
AC Parma
Inter Milan
Lazio Rome
AC Fiorentina
AS Rome
Udinese Calcio
SC Napoli

Sweden
IFK Goteborg
AIK Solna
Helsingborg

Portugal
FC Porto
Benfica Lisbon
Sporting Lisbon
Boavista Porto
Sporting Braga

Netherlands
PSV Eindhoven
Ajax Amsterdam
Feyenoord Rotterdam
Willem II Tilburg
SC Heerenveen
AZ Alkmaar
Twente Enschede

Spain
FC Barcelona
Real Madrid
Athletic Bilbao
Atletico Madrid
FC Valencia
Deportivo La Coruna
Real Mallorca
Real Sociedad
Celta Vigo
CF Villareal
Real Betis Seville
FC Seville
Malaga

Turkey
Galatasaray Istanbul
Beşiktaş Istanbul
Fenrbahce Istanbul
Bursaspor
Trabzonspor

Germany
Werder Bremen
Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmund
Bayer Leverkusen
FC Kaiserslautern
Hertha Berlin
SV Hamburg
Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen
VfB Stuttgart
VfL Wolfsburg

England
Manchester United
Blackburn Rovers
Newcastle United
Arsenal London
Chelsea London
Leeds United
FC Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester City

Ukraine
Dinamo Kiev
Sahtior Donetsk

Croatia
Hajduk Split
Croatia / Dinamo Zagreb

Romania
Steaua Bucharest
CFR Cluj
Unirea Urziceni
Oţelul Galaţi

Austria
Casino Salzburg
Sturm Graz
Rapid Wien
Austria Wien

Greece
AEK Athens
Panathinaikos Athens
Olympiacos Piraeus

Denmark
Aalborg
IF Brondby Copenhagen
FC Copenhagen
Nordsjaelland

Poland
Legia Warszawa
Widzew Lodz

Norway
Rosenborg Trondheim
FK Molde

Hungary
Ferencvaros Budapest
Debrecen

Switzerland
Grasshopper Zurich
FC Basel
FC Thun
FC Zurich

Czech Republic
Sparta Prague
Slavia Prague
Viktoria Plzen

Slovakia
FC Kosice
Artmedia Bratislava
Zilina

Finland
HJK Helsinki

Slovenia
NK Maribor

Israel
Maccabi Haifa
Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Hapoel Tel-Aviv

Serbia
Partizan Belgrade

Bulgaria
Levski Sofia

Cipru
Anorthosis Famagusta
APOEL Nicosia

Belarus
BATE Borisov

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Ronaldinho, the trophy collector

Ronaldinho is no ordinary football player. He is the type which resists in front of the spotlight all his career. No matter what happens. Since 1998 and until the very current 2013, the legendary Brazilian midfielder means something for football lovers. In fact, he means a lot! The debut from Gremio, first experience in Europe at PSG – a team which wasn’t at the caliber of the one Paris has right now -, the World Cup won alongside Brazil, the European domination with a magic FC Barcelona, the transfer to AC Milan… A short description of his prodigious career, until 2011. In that year, maybe even one earlier, something looked like breaking up and his prestige got lower and lower. He return to play in his native Brazil. First at Flamengo, were, despite being one of the best players, he didn’t impress. But he did impress a couple of days ago, alongside more modest Atletico Mineiro, squad for which he plays since 2012. Why? Because he help his squad winning its first Copa Libertadores from the history that started in 1908! In fact this was the second important trophy achieved by Atletico in its existence, after the first league obtained in 1971!

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Still, for Ronaldinho the trophy means even more. Reaching 33 years last spring, the number 10 became the first name in the history of football which wins the World Cup, Copa America, the Confederations Cup, UEFA Champions League, the Golden Ball and Copa Libertadores. „This was the reason” for returning in Brazil”, said Ronaldinho after lifting the trophy above his head. And how right he is! Looking back at his career, let’s remember all his major achievements:

18.07.1999, Ronaldinho wins his first important international trophy, Copa America with Brazil.

30.06.2002, Brazil, with Ronaldinho in the team, becomes fifth time World Champion.

29.06.2005, The midfielder scores a goal in the Confederations Cup final, 4-1, against Argentina.

29.11.2005, the Brazilian is awarded with the Golden Ball for the only time in his career.

17.05.2006, Ronaldinho is named the best man of the UEFA Champions League final, 2-1 for Barcelona in front of Arsenal.

24.07.2013, after seven years of expectations, Ronaldinho completes his trophy collection with Copa Libertadores.

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Tahiti new entry

150px-Tahiti_FA.svg Saudi Arabia, United States, Argentina, Ivory Coast, Denmark, Mexico, Nigeria, Japan, Brazil, Australia, Czech Republic, Uruguay, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Bolivia, Egypt, Germany, New Zealand, France, South Korea, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Turkey, Tunisia, Greece, Spain, Iraq, Italy. It looks like a random list of countries from all continents, but in reality we are talking about the all participants of the FIFA Confederations Cup from 1992 until 2009. 29 nations took part of the mini World Cup and all have something in common: all participated, at least once, at a real World Cup tournament, since 1930. It’s fair that a part of them first appeared at the Confederations’ and after a while at their first supreme tournament. Now, in 2013, a new entry is about to take place. The 30th team! We are talking about Tahiti, a national team that never participated at a World Cup and definitely never could have catch even this competition, if Australia didn’t have change the continent in which it played!

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Tahiti is the most exotic name which participated in an intercontinental official competition. Maybe can only be compared with Trinidad & Tobago who appeared at the final tournament from 2006, in Germany. But the Caribbean country managed then a huge 0-0 with Sweden, so for Tahiti this seems a heavy heritage. Unlikely that they will gather any point in a group with Spain, Uruguay and Nigeria, but their coach figured out a solution that will help in improving their little chances. Its name? Marama Vahirua! Most football lovers know that the 33 years old forward was born in the capital town of Tahiti, Papeete, and made career in the French league at Nantes, Nice, Lorient, Nancy and Monaco. So, naturally, he had only two choices to appear as an international. Of course, the two nations mentioned above. Still, after only six matches at U21 level for France, between 2001 and 2002, Marama, wasn’t caped ever again. But didn’t choose to represent Tahiti. Now, at the end of his career, he got another chance because Tahiti needs him the most. This time he won’t refuse it because the chance of playing against Spain and Uruguay, in official matches, it’s a real one-in-a-life-time chance for a player born in an exotic country such this.

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Sure, Tahiti’s chances to win any point remain almost the same as without Vahirua, which means approximately equal to zero… But the probability of them scoring some goals increases considerably, because even though their new striker has a quite advanced age, his sense of opposite post surely increased as years passed. Or at least remained, in general terms, the same as ten years ago, even though speed and stamina got a bit down…

Though, forgive me, because I omitted to present an essential thing: how in the earth qualified Tahiti for this competition which still remains a hard reachable one?! In fact, we all know that only champions from all continents have the right to participate. OK, so in the Oceania things are easier now since the Australian national football team, by far the best in the region from all time, decided to join competitions from Asia, but still this doesn’t explain the success of Tahiti. I mean, New Zealand still plays here and despite not being at Australia’s level, they have important performances in front of all other countries from Oceania. In fact, the first eight editions of the OFC Nations Cup were shared by the two countries mentioned before: four each. Since 1973 and until 2012, no other side raised the trophy above its head even though Tahiti, in three occasions, and New Caledonia, in two times, reached the final, which they eventually lost.

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Steevy Chong Hue But last year, in 2012, Tahiti shocked with a great performance which included five victories out of five matches. 10-1 against Samoa, 4-1 against Vanuatu and, most important, a decisive 4-3 against New Caledonia, ensured him that they won’t play in the semifinal against the powerful New Zealand. So, there, the Solomon Islands, was a good opponent, especially because they also were the hosts of the tournament, but Tahiti pushed to the final after a 1-0 win. There, they once again avoided New Zealand, again thanks to New Caledonia. The French colony surprisingly beat 2-0 and the last group match was replayed. Tahiti won again, this time with 1-0, thanks to the historical goal of Chong Hue, from the 10th minute. The first important success from Tahiti’s history and which ensured a very unexpected qualification to the FIFA Confederations Cup. A competition which starts tomorrow and has the role to show if Brazil is ready for hosting the World Cup from the next year!

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The ODD performance

Odd-Grenland Taking a look on the lists of teams which won the most national Cups in the most countries of Europe, we see names like Barcelona, Bayern, Galatasaray, Juventus, Manchester United, Olympiacos, Ajax, FC Bruges, Malmo, Marseille or Benfica. So, naturally, you think that also, in Norway, the top team at this chapter should be Rosenborg Trondheim, the squad which won 22 League titles, much more than Fredrikstad which held the second spot in this table, with ‘only’ nine ‘pieces’. But what a surprise! The situation isn’t this way, because leader is Odd Grenland. For sure, few of you heard about this squad and this isn’t something to be blamed for! And the explanation is quite simple… How can a team known in international or at least European football, if it hadn’t win a single League title? Well, they didn’t…

1903 team

Quite a big surprise for a club founded in 1894 especially if we take in consideration that Odd Grenland won 12 Norwegian Cups! Exactly, more than any other squad from this country! Fredrikstad has win 11 and Rosenborg only nine! So, Odd is really an ODD appearance for any football lover. Now the club plays in the top league, but is quite a modest presence. In fact, all their history was quite discrete: their headquarters can be found in Skien a small town with little more than 70.000 inhabitants and their colors are, well… black and white! But the remark isn’t the same when you strictly talk about the Cup. So, Odd won the competition in 12 occasions: 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1913, 1915, 1919, 1922, 1924, 1926, 1931, 2000, playing also another eight finals: 1902, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1921, 1937, 1960, 2002.

2000 team

Jone Samuelsen You maybe think that this is more than enough for such a little team, but hold on! There is more! What? Well… is a 58.13 meters header good enough to take your attention? I guess so! This happened much more recently than the last Cup achieved, on 25th of September 2011. In that day, Tromso was desperate to equalize and their goalkeeper went into the opposite box. That corner was quite dangerous but Odd players cleared the danger and got a counterattack from which resulted, after a couple of ricochets a header from the own half of Jone Samuelsen. So, it result the longest header which ended in a goal from professional football and also to mention is that the distance was calculated by the Norwegian Police! The ‘masterpiece’ of a man who played 45 matches for all Norwegian national teams’ levels from U16 to U21, but without scoring a single goal!

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Chain of curses for the Wunderteam

220px-Sindelar-autIt is said, that the first ever football team to practice total football was the Austrian national squad from the ’30. Not Ajax from the ’70, Milan from the ’90 or Barcelona from current days! No, Austria was it. All football lovers know that side as ‘The Wunderteam’, but even though it was the most powerful team of its era, Austria didn’t win what so ever any major trophy. All of these mostly because a long row of bad lucks, maybe even curses! All started in 1934, at the World Cup in Italy. Austria qualified to the semifinal against the host nation and the lads from central Europe were by then considered major favorites for raising the trophy above their heads. The reality on the pitch was totally different. Still, the bad weather forbid Austria to play its style and the harsh marking of Luis Monti, to Matthais Sindelar, the captain and most important player of the Austrians weren’t enough! So, the legend say that the referee from the match officiated unevenly so the only goal of the encounter, from the 19th minute, came after the Wunderteams’ goalkeeper was pushed over the goal line.

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Hugo Meisl Austria lost after also the third place match, but the boys started to prepare the next major competition: 1938 World Cup. All things should have been promising, but the death in 1937 of Hugo Meisl, the coach and architect of the Wunderteam, because of a heart-attack at only 55 years of age, generated a quick decline. Even though Austria did qualify for the tournament, they couldn’t play, because Nazi Germany annexed the country in March 1938 and Hitler ordered that all players appear for one team, obviously, Germany. A black end for a beautiful team, but no one could figure that this chain of curses will end here.

wunderteam

In early 1939, after a strange episode, Matthias Sindelar, the key player of that squad and stthe greatest footballer of all time from the history of Austria were found dead, alongside his girlfriend in his house from Wien. Clear was only that the death was caused by a carbon monoxide poisoning. The official statement reveled that it was an accident, but the myth say that Sindelar committed suicide because of the German Anschluss of Austria only a couple of years before, and because in this case he couldn’t have beneficiate of a grave of honor, all changed into an accident. Sindelar, which is still known as “The Mozart of football” or the “Paper man”, because of his fragile physical constitution played in eleven years for his country (1926 – 1937) 43 matches and scored 37 goals. From these, a couple such are: 7-1 and 8-1 against Switzerland, 6-0 and 8-2 in front of Hungary, 5-0 and 6-0 with Germany and 5-0 against Scotland, will forever remain in the history, even though all were friendly encounters.

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Real Madrid has English roots

Arthur Johnson In these days all TV channels and newspaper from Spain and from all over the World talk about Mourinho’s situation at Real Madrid. The Portuguese coach is about to fulfill his third season on the bench of the team and this will be, probably, his last. But I don’t want to talk about Mourinho right now, but he is the perfect ‘bridge’ to pass through the history of Real Madrid. Like any other giant club from Europe, it is natural that Real must have on the bench the best coaches as possible in different points of the history and, for sure, many of them couldn’t have been Spanish citizens. A total of 27 foreign managers walked on Paseo de la Castellana in the 111 years history of Real Madrid. But who could ever guessed that even the first full-time coach of ‘Los Blancos’ was from outside Spain’s borders?!?!

Real Madrid 1910 - 1920

The story is about a man named Arthur Johnson, born in 1879, and the specification of ‘the first full-time coach’ is very necessary as he didn’t took in charge in 1902, when Real Madrid was established, but only in 1910. The date being noted in the history of the club as the one when Real Madrid got its first true coach! But Johnson wasn’t only a quick and unnoticed presence in the family of Real Madrid, as his mandate was the second longest in the history of ‘Los Blancos’, surpassed only by Miguel Munoz who trained on ‘Santiago Bernabeu’ from 1960 and until 1974. Fourteen years, comparing to the decade in which Johnson set on the bench of the capital team (1910-1920). La Liga, didn’t exist in that period, only regional championships, and Real Madrid did manage to win that in four occasions.

1912, pitch inauguration

More important than that was the Copa del Rey. The competition, founded in 1902, was won in four occasions by Real Madrid before the arrival of Arthur. In 1916, after a memorable semifinal against Barcelona, won after four encounters, Real passed through the final. At that moment, goal difference was not important, so after Barcelona won 2-1 at home, Real obtained a 4-1 crushing victory on home soil and this ensured a play-off. 6-6 after extra time and another replay was necessary which, eventually, Real Madrid won 4-2, but with great complains from the Catalans, which claimed that their fourth goal was scored from off-side. The rivalry existed but in that period the hate increased to parameters that lasted until our days. Unfortunately, in the final, ‘Los Blancos’ lost 4-0 against Bilbao and the celebration had to wait one more year, for 1917. That was the season at the end of which Johnson obtained his first and only big trophy alongside Real Madrid, after a 2-1 victory in the last act in front of Arenas.

Santiago Bernabeu

Besides the story mentioned above, Arthur Johnson will forever remain the man under which command, Real Madrid played for the first time in complete white, color which remained unchanged for more than a hundred years and contributed decisively to the nick name of Real Madrid: ‘Los Blancos’. Also, in 1912, two years after he was named head coach, at the club played his first match the legendary Santiago Bernabeu. On 3rd of March, the future trainer and president of the club, was only 16 years old but hadn’t have any problem in scoring the winner in the friendly match against English Sports Club ended with 2-1. So, how could such an important man from the history of the club which is probably the most popular in the world disappear like an anonymous? I mean if we search all Internet sources, none can tell us when and where he ended his life! Shocking, I think, considering that we speak about Real Madrid’s first coach!

1902

Wait! This is not all the story! Why? Well, because Arthur Johnson took part, as a player, in Real Madrid’s first squad to ever play a football game. It happened on 13th of May 1902, when he was 23 years old. An encounter against the traditional rivals, FC Barcelona, lost 3-1. But guess who scored the only goal of ‘Los Blancos’? Arthur was obviously that man! What a mark he left on this club’s history and nobody now what happened to him during time. Very strange but also too sad in the same time…

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