Managerial Merry-go-round

The end of the Premier League year and the start of summer often brings around a period referred to as ‘silly season.’ Normally, this refers to transfer activity as clubs are linked with every name under the sun by journalists who have literally nothing else to do. However, the ‘silly season’ this summer hasn’t taken its normal shape yet. The Premier League is currently witnessing a managerial merry-go-round of the highest proportion. With the names in the division’s dugouts changing more frequently than Jordan’s husbands, there is an unusual amount of activity for the summer months. The Coin Toss assesses the movers and shakers on the touchline:

LIVERPOOL

After their miserable season and subsequent eighth placed finish, it was no surprise to see Kenny Dalglish given the boot. Despite winning the Carling Cup, the Reds just weren’t competitive enough and they will spend another season outside of Europe. To be honest, had it not been for Dalglish’s history at Anfield, chances are he’d have been given the chop a long time ago. A host of names have been linked, Roberto Martinez was interviewed, a number of people turned it down including Didier Deschamps, Frank De Boer and Jurgen Klopp, while Liverpool themselves decided Andre Villas-Boas wasn’t the right man. The endless saga has led them to Brendan Rodgers who performed miracles in charge of Swansea last season. Playing football of the highest calibre, his 11th placed finish represented a fine return for a man who is relatively inexperienced and therefore the step up to Liverpool will be a significant challenge for Rodgers. Having learnt the tricks of the trade from the ‘Special One’ himself though, Rodgers has all the necessary tools to fire the Reds back into the Champions League.

CHELSEA

It’s all gone quiet on the Western front of London as far as the Chelsea job is concerned. After his FA Cup and Champions League triumphs, it seemed almost impossible for Roberto Di Matteo not to be appointed as the permanent boss at Stamford Bridge. However, no one can second guess Roman Abramovich and the lack of news regarding Di Matteo’s future is worrying for the Italian. Clearly, the Russian owner is looking for a more household name to lead the challenge and the likes of Fabio Capello and Laurent Blanc have been mentioned. However, rumour has it the Blues are desperate to convince Pep Guardiola to move to London and abandon his planned sabbatical. Everyone apart from Abramovich can see it would be crazy not to appoint Di Matteo full-time, but having finally bought the prize he so desired, the Russian is not concerned what the pundits think. Expect a potential surprise this summer.

SWANSEA

With Brendan Rodgers set to sign a deal with Liverpool, this unfortunately means the Swans need a new man in charge at the Liberty Stadium. Whoever is appointed faces an incredibly difficult challenge. It could prove almost impossible to replace Rodgers given his achievements last season, while the players have publically stated how gutted they are about his departure. The new man needs to able to play football the Swansea way and therefore all early signs point to Brighton manager Gus Poyet. He has performed miracles at the Amex Stadium, first leading them out of League One, then impressing last season in the Championship, while also playing a decent brand of attacking football. Whether he wants to leave his Brighton project is another matter so Chairman Huw Jenkins would have to work hard to prize him away. Ian Holloway has also been mentioned and it would be a surprise if the Swans didn’t appoint someone involved in the lower leagues. Jenkins saw something in Rodgers that other clubs obviously didn’t so names previously unheard of in the Premier League like Karl Robinson at MK Dons or Paul Tisdale of Exeter City could be potential candidates.

ASTON VILLA

Randy Lerner made the worst decision of his professional career bringing Alex McLeish over from rivals Birmingham last summer and Villa almost paid for that with their ever-present Premier League status. They survived by the skin of their teeth and McLeish was moved swiftly on, reputation in tatters. Lerner needs to make a far better choice this time around. Although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appeared the early frontrunner, the former Manchester United hero decided the role wasn’t for him. Roberto Martinez was also a candidate, but he publically rejected the role 12 months ago. This has pushed Villa towards Norwich’s Paul Lambert, whose name has been consistently at the top of the bookies’ lists. After weeks of deliberation, it seems Lambert has decided to quit Carrow Road and head to a side that finished lower in the table. For Villa though, it’s a sound decision based on footballing terms. Lambert has worked wonders sealing two successive promotions before leading the Canaries to a twelfth placed finish in the Premier League. Given the lack of talent in his squad, his tactical brain and motivation skills are obviously of the highest order and under his guidance, Villa should improve considerably next year.

NORWICH

Lambert’s decision to quit for Villa Park will come as a huge blow to the supporters who have enjoyed some wonderful times in the last couple of years. As with Rodgers, replacing Lambert will prove almost impossible. Given the more traditional nature of their footballing approach, the regular names have been doing the rounds, including Steve Bruce, Alan Curbishley and Mick McCarthy. However, a couple of obvious choices stand out. The first one is Chris Hughton at Birmingham, who has been strongly linked with West Brom, but would be a good choice if attainable. Second is Lee Clark, out of work since being surprisingly sacked by Huddersfield, but he is rated very highly in terms of managerial ability and masterminded the Terriers to a long unbeaten run. However, one potential candidate could be Malky Mackay who led his Cardiff squad to the playoffs, despite losing a host of key players last summer. He cut his managerial teeth at Watford and continued his progress at Cardiff last year. Whether the Bluebirds would let him go is another matter, but Norwich could do worse than to appoint another Scot in the dugout.

WEST BROM

Considering all the turmoil surrounding other clubs’ managerial changes, the open vacancy at the Hawthorns has gone somewhat under the radar. Roy Hodgson left the club for the England job and his shoes will leave a considerable hole to fill. Chris Hughton is believed to be a strong candidate following his work at Newcastle and then Birmingham and Ray Wilkins has apparently been interviewed, but it seems Chairman Jeremy Pearce is set to turn to 53-year-old Ralf Rangnick. For those of you unfamiliar with the Bundesliga, Rangnick is experienced in Germany’s top flight and led Schalke to a Champions League semi-final where they lost to Manchester United in 2011. Citing exhaustion, he resigned that summer, but he is ready to return to management and it seems as if West Brom could be his destination. Foreign appointments are often a gamble, but Rangnick comes with an impressive CV and West Brom fans will eagerly await what he has to offer.

WIGAN

For the last couple of weeks, it seemed as if Dave Whelan needed to start the search for another miracle worker. For that’s exactly what Roberto Martinez is, after keeping Wigan in the Premiership time and time again. This latest great escape may well have been the best and it is unsurprising a number of teams have been chasing the Spaniard. However, movements elsewhere mean it is likely Martinez will be in charge at the DW Stadium next year. If things change though, all signs once again point to Steve Bruce who has a good relationship with the Chairman following his two previous spells at the club. It’s a tough job managing the Latics, indeed once again this summer the star players are moving on and one has to wonder how long Martinez can continue at the club.

A Euro Minute 2004

Unibet are running an exclusive series stop-motion videos featuring the European Championships. It’s 2004, and host nation Portugal are favourites to win the European Championships against unfancied (and unattractive) Greece. Ronaldo has his eyes on the trophy and it all seems a done deal. Or is it? Here is the first in the series:

Vicente leading the Brighton Armada towards the Promised Land

David Villa scored 128 goals in 212 games for Valenica. The striker though, would be the first to thank the supply line for providing him with the opportunities to become one of the best strikers in the world. Two wingers that set up Villa time and time again moved to England this summer. However, while one was picking up the Champions League trophy at the end of the season, the other helped his side to a respectable 10th placed finish in the Championship.

You cannot help but feel Vicente may have been watching on enviously as his old colleague Juan Mata paraded the trophy round the Allianz Arena with his Chelsea teammates (despite his best efforts in the shootout!) While Mata cost Chelsea a cool £23.5 million, Vicente headed for the South East coast of England on a free transfer, with Brighton his destination. You cannot help but wonder how their careers have taken such drastic differences in direction.

Cast your mind back to the 2003/04 season. La Liga wasn’t just a two horse race and teams actually cared about the UEFA Cup. Coincidentally, that season, Valenica won both. Vicente proved to be a key part of Rafa Benitez’s title winning side that season, chipping in with twelve goals from the wing and forming a lethal partnership with striker Mista who contributed sixteen of his own. Although Vicente had been an established member of the first team since his move from Levante in 2000, 2003/04 was the first year he really came to the fore. He also signed a new four year contract despite growing interest from a number of top sides, in both Spain and other parts of Europe. Although he played every game in the Euro 2004 tournament, the winger was part of a side with a reputation back then for underperforming in international tournaments, with 2004 proving no different as Spain crashed out in the group stages. Vicente though seemed set to have a long future at international level.

Sadly his career has taken a turn for the worse since then. A spate of injuries ensured the player consistently missed out on both club and international selection and only in the 2008/09 season, where he made 27 appearances, scoring six goals in the process, did he look anywhere near his previously lethal best. The injury woe got so bad, he even took to blaming the club’s medical staff, making controversial remarks that earned him a slap on the wrist and a substantial fine. With Mata more and more prominent on the flanks for Los Che, the club decided to cut their ties with Vicente last summer, aged just 29.

While many may have retired following this blow, Vicente’s career took a surprising turn. Although the Spaniard wasn’t short of options to continue his playing days in Spain, he must have been pretty shocked when he received a phone call from Gus Poyet, describing a seaside town on the coast of England. Remarkably, the player decided to opt for a move across Europe, citing the way Brighton play football ‘differently from other English clubs’ as a key reason for his decision.

Credit therefore has to go to Gus Poyet. The Uruguayan has set Brighton up as a decent footballing outfit since he first took over as manager in 2009 and this style saw the Seagulls return to the Championship for the first time in six years as Champions in 2010/11. The fans were pleased with some of the calibre of signings made last summer like Craig Mackail-Smith and Kazenga Lua Lua, but no one expected them to bring in a Spanish international with 38 caps. Poyet has big ambitions for the club though and hopes Vicente won’t be the only international to ply his trade at the Amex Stadium in the future.

Although Vicente made a promising start to life in England, scoring his first goal for his new team in October against Ipswich, the inevitable happened and he was ruled out for three months. However, since his return in February, the winger undoubtedly added a touch of class to proceedings at the Amex, helping the Seagulls to a twelve game unbeaten run to lift them into the playoffs. Although they tailed off at the end of the year, they still finished in tenth position, a decent achievement for the newly promoted side.

Vicente himself certainly impressed. He provided eight assists and three goals from the left wing despite just making 17 appearances all season. Since his contract runs out this summer, other clubs with a better pedigree than Brighton are obviously interested, but Poyet is confident of keeping his star man. Poyet told The Argus: “Vicente is away but we are in contact with him and I think there is a big possibility he will be with us next season.” Persuading the winger to stay would be a huge boost for the club. They have set their sights on the Premier League and Gus Poyet has signed a new contract until till 2014. If they can keep Vicente fit for a whole season,Brighton stand a great chance at breaking into the promotion chasing pack next season and possibly even winning the battle. And there isn’t a person back at the Mestella who wouldn’t want to see Vicente and Mata clashing in the Premiership.

Mind the Windows Tino: Cricket's Top 10 Sledges

After the West Indies’ Shannon Gabriel had to return back to the Caribbean with a back problem following the first test at Lords, his replacement saw the return of a certain Mr Tino Best, much to the delight of Freddie Flintoff. Back in 2004, with Flintoff at the height of his powers, the West Indies were touring and in action at Lords. With England looking to bowl their opponents out in the second innings, Tino Best came to the crease against spinner Ashley Giles. This prompted Flintoff to infamously ask Tino to ‘mind the windows’, a comment that caused Best to charge down the wicket, only to miss the turning ball and get stumped for his troubles. In celebration of Tino’s return to England, here are 10 of the best sledges cricket has ever heard:

10. James Ormond vs. Mark Waugh

Back in 2001, Jimmy Ormond, a young bowler of just 23, made his full test debut against the Australians. As he walked out to bat, he met the usual Aussie chirp upon his arrival at the wicket. Mark Waugh could always offer a few choice sayings to unsuspecting batsman and on this occasion he asked Ormond: “Mate, what are you doing out here? You’re not good enough to play for England.” Ormond’s reply? “Maybe not. But at least I’m the best player in my own family.”

 

9. Rod Marsh vs. Ian Botham

Botham and Marsh were both great characters of the game who could be expected to provide a few fireworks. However, when Beefy marched to the crease during an Ashes clash, Marsh greeted him with the question: “How’s your wife and my kids?” Never one to miss an opportunity, Botham piped up: “The wife’s fine, but the kids are retarded.”

 

8. Eddo Brandes vs. Glen McGrath

Glen McGrath bowling at the Zimbabwean number 11 Eddo Brandes, who was a chicken farmer by full-time trade, was never going to be much of a contest. However, as the Aussie flashed another delivery past Brandes’s outside edge, he snarled at the batsman: “Why are you so fat?” Quick as a flash, Brandes retorted: “Because everytime I f**k your wife, she gives me a biscuit.”

 

7. Fred Trueman vs. Raman Subba Row

Truman was a fiery Yorkshireman who wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion on the pitch. He also wasn’t afraid to sledge his own teammates. During one game, Trueman caught the batsman’s outside edge, only for it to race to the boundary after passing through Subba Row’s legs. He apologised to Fiery Fred, saying: “Sorry Fred, I should have kept my legs together.” An angry Trueman replied: “So should your mother.”

 

6. James Anderson vs. Mitchell Johnson

During England’s comprehensive Ashes victory in 2010, pace bowlers Anderson and Johnson had a battle of wits going on throughout the series. However, Jimmy showed that actions speak louder than words and I’ll let the video tell the full story…

 

5. Tony Greig vs. David Hookes

Tony Greig may have been the captain of England, but just like much of the present day team, his origin of birth was South Africa. So in 1977, when 21-year-old Hookes walked out to bat on his debut for the baggy green and golds, Greig inquired: “Sonny, when are your balls gonna drop?” Hookes then responded: “I don’t know, but at least I’m playing cricket for my own country!”

 

4. Arjuna Ranatunga vs. Ian Healy

Sri Lankan skipper Ranatunga wasn’t exactly the slimmest of figures on the cricket pitch and Aussie keeper Ian Healy was quick to point that out on a number of occasions. However, during a one-day clash between the two countries, Ranatunga called for a runner after suffering a minor injury. Healy however, doubted the necessity for a runner, declaring: “You don’t get a runner for being an overweight, unfit, fat c***!!!”

 

3. Viv Richards vs. Greg Thomas

The West Indian was at the top of his game, playing for Somerset against Glamorgan in the Country Championship. However, on this occasion Thomas was enjoying a bit of luck, making Richards play and miss a number of times. Frustrated at his lack of wickets, Thomas walked up to Richards and held up the ball, telling him: “It’s red, round and weighs about five ounces if you’re wondering.” Next ball, Richards dispatched the bowler clean out of the ground and into the river, quipping “You know what it looks like, go and find it.”

 

2. Merv Hughes vs. Robin Smith

Australian paceman Hughes was famous for three things, his lightening-fast bowling, his legendary moustache and also his quick-witted sledging. Hughes never missed the opportunity to rile his opponent and could produce a top ten list of his own. However, he had a great ongoing battle with England batsman Robin Smith, once telling him to turn over his bat where he’d find the instructions to use it. However, during one test in 1989, Hughes had Smith all over the place during one particularly fine spell of bowling and snarled at the Englishman: “You can’t f*****g bat.” Smith promptly dispatched the next ball to the boundary and yelled down the wicket: “Hey Merv, we make a fine pair. I can’t f*****g bat and you certainly can’t f*****g bowl.”

 

1. Sharne Warne vs. Darryl Cullinan

Whenever South Africa and Australia clashed during the 1990’s, the highlight of the game was often the slanging matches between Warney and South African batsman Darryl Cullinan, who notoriously struggled against the King of Spin. However, on one occasion, Cullinan, who had been out of the game for the best part of two years with injury, walked to the wicket with Warne awaiting. The larger-than-life Aussie proclaimed: “I’ve been waiting two years for this opportunity to humiliate you in front of your own crowd.” Cullinan replied nonchalantly: “Looks like you’ve spent it eating!”

The Drogba Years: Ten Memorable Occasions

The news has been confirmed, Didier Drobga will leave Chelsea at the end of the season. The Ivorian’s future at Stamford Bridge had been subject to much speculation since the club’s refusal to offer him the two year contract he required to stay. And now, having fired Chelsea to Champions League glory, he will move on after eight fantastic years. To remember the Drog, here are 10 of his more memorable moments (not all of them good)!

Drogba’s Blunders

10. Champions League 2009 vs Barcelona

Chelsea stood on the brink of knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League semi-final in 2009, but Andres Iniesta scored a priceless away goal that ended the Blues’ hopes for another year. However, Chelsea’s fury was aimed at Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo, whose performance Gus Hiddink later described as one of the worst ever. Drogba, as per usual, was most vocal in his criticisms, shouting ‘it’s a f*****g disgrace at TV cameras when he came off the pitch. Four match ban for that then Didier.

 

9. Champions League Final 2008 vs Manchester United

Chelsea and Manchester United were locked at 1-1 in Moscow in extra time with the Champions League at stake. With tensions rising, a fracas broke out on the pitch. However, Drogba showed his petulant side, slapping Nemanja Vidic in the face (brave call!) and receiving a red card. His side missed his presence in the shootout, as John Terry hit the post with the chance to win the game.

8. Premier League 2007 vs Arsenal

While Didier was undoubtedly a special player, he became somewhat of a hate figure for opposition fans for his on-field theatrics. However, the one that really springs to mind was him and Jens Lehmann’s ‘dive-off’ after a clash in the Premier League. Oscar winning and utterly disgraceful.

 

DROGBA’S HEROICS

7. Premier League 2007 vs Everton

As Chelsea struggled to keep up with Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table, they could barely afford to drop points. However, the Blues visited GoodisonPark where a resolute Everton side held them till the 87th minute at 2-2. Step forward Drogba with arguably his best goal for the club. 35 yards out, the Ivorian let rip with a half-volley that flew past Tim Howard and kept his side in touch at the top.

 

6. FA Cup 2012 vs Tottenham

Neither Chelsea or Spurs had yet to register in the FA Cup semi-final in a season-defining match for both clubs. However, Drogba proved the difference, controlling a long ball and turning his marker before lashing the ball high into the top left hand corner. The Blues went onto to win 5-1 and Drogba had scored yet again at the home of English football.

5. FA Cup 2010 vs Portsmouth

Another Wembley appearance, another Wembley winner from the Drog. While no one expected Portsmouth to ever run Chelsea close, they proved tricky opponents. Kevin Prince Boateng missed the opportunity to put his side into the lead from the spot and Drogba made him pay three minutes later, bagging a free kick to help Carlo Ancelotti’s men complete the double.

 

4. FA Cup Final 2012 vs Liverpool

Chelsea were cruising at 1-0 after Ramires’s opening goal and once Drogba doubled the lead, finishing neatly just before the hour mark, it seemed as if Chelsea had sealed the win. However, Liverpool produced a stirring fightback, inspired by Andy Carroll, and in the end, Drogba’s goal, his fourth in an FA Cup final, proved to be the winner.

 

3. Champions League 2012 vs Barcelona

No one gave Roberto Di Matteo’s side a chance in hell of beating Europe’s supposed best over two legs in the Champions League semi-final. To stand any chance in the Nou Camp, Chelsea had to win at Stamford Bridge. Drogba’s tireless work rate and ability to hold the ball up proved crucial, but he provided the only goal as well, turning home a Ramires cross to set up the now infamous second leg victory.

2. FA Cup Final 2007 vs Manchester United

Manchester United and Chelsea seemed to have battled each other into submission in the first Cup Final held at the new Wembley as neither side could find the breakthrough and the match seemed destined for a penalty shootout. Drogba had other ideas though, playing a one-two with Frank Lampard before poking past Van der Sar to seal victory with four minutes remaining.

 

1. Champions League Final 2012

With Chelsea one down in Munich, the Blues won a corner with two minutes left on the clock. Having barely registered a shot all game, their chances of recovery looked slim. However, from Juan Mata’s corner, the big man rose highest of them all to nod a stunning equaliser beyond Manuel Neuer. Drogba’s influence didn’t end there either. Faced with the decisive spot kick in the shootout, Drogba personified calmness as he slotted the ball home to seal the greatest triumph in Chelsea’s history.

Top 10 Trophies decided by penalty shootout

So Chelsea have done it. Roman Abramovich’s millions finally bought him the trophy he so desired, the Champions League. The Blues did it the hard way though, scrapping through extra time before Didier Drogba sealed the victory in the shootout with his calm and collected effort. Many people believe a shootout is a cruel way to decide a game of football, but nothing beats it in terms of drama and excitement. In recognition of Chelsea adding their names to the list of masters from twelve yards, here are the Top 10 Trophies decided by penalty shootout:

 

10. Arsenal – FA Cup 2005 (Beat Manchester United 5-4)

This FA Cup Final will live long in the memory for Gunners fans, mainly because it’s the last piece of silverware they picked up. After both teams failed to find the net in normal time, extra time couldn’t separate them either and down to penalties it went. Decisively, Paul Scholes missed the second spot kick and it left Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira needing to score to send the trophy back to North London. With what turned out to be his last kick in a red and white shirt, the Frenchman slotted past Roy Carroll to win the cup.

9. Manchester United – League Cup 2009 (Beat Tottenham 4-1)

Another scoreless game in a Cup Final resulted in United and Spurs facing off in a shootout at Wembley in 2009. Sir Alex Ferguson had chosen to rest regular Number One Edwin Van der Sar, picking Ben Foster in his place. Foster turned in an impressive shift in normal time before he saved from Jamie O’Hara in the shootout. After David Bentley missed his, Anderson stepped up and completed the task. However, this shootout was memorable for Foster’s use of an I-Phone to research the spot kick takers moments before the penalties began. Modern technology eh!

8. Manchester United – Champions League 2008 (Beat Chelsea 6-5)

The two rivals went head-to-head in the first all English clash and 120 minutes of football couldn’t separate them after first half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Lampard cancelled each other out. Interestingly for two English sides competing in a shootout, the spot kick quality was high until Ronaldo missed his effort, leaving John Terry the chance to win the game. His unfortunate slip saw him hit the post and after a round of sudden death, Van der Sar saved from Nicolas Anelka to ensure United were Champions of Europe.

7. Czechoslovakia – European Championship 1976 (Beat West Germany 5-3)

The 1976 Final went down to spot kicks after Czechoslovakia squandered a 2-0 lead against the Germans. The first seven penalties were all successful before West Germany’s Uli Hoeness blazed his effort over the crossbar. Midfielder Antonin Panenka then wrote himself into shootout folklore, cheekily chipping his effort straight down the middle to win the tournament. It was also the first and only time the Germans have lost on penalties, a remarkable record that now stretches back 36 years.

6. Liverpool – European Cup 1984 (Beat Roma 4-2)

English team winning the European Cup at the home ground of their opposition on penalties? Sound familiar? Well,Liverpool did it first, seeing off Italian opposition Roma on their home patch at the Stadio Olimpico. The game finished 1-1 and headed to the dreaded shootout and the Reds started badly after Steve Nicol skied his effort. However, Bruce Grobbelaar immortalised himself in shootout history after his wobbly legs tactics put off the Italian takers. Two of them subsequently missed and Alan Kennedy bagged the winning effort, sending the European Cup back to Anfield for the fourth time.

5. Italy – World Cup 2006 (Beat France 5-3)

Despite this clash finishing 1-1, the 2006 World Cup Final is remembered for one thing and one thing only. Zinedine Zidane’s astonishing behaviour that saw him sent off for head butting Marco Materazzi in the chest was one of the most reckless acts ever seen in the field of play. Unlike Zidane, Italy kept their nerve in the shootout, scoring all their penalties after David Trezeguet missed the second for France. Left back Fabio Grosso had the honour of delivering the match-winning strike and sending the nation into meltdown.

4. Zambia – African Cup of Nations 2012 (Beat Ivory Coast 8-7)

No one had expected Zambia to get beyond the group stage, never mind the final, but they defied all the odds to set up a clash with a strong-looking Ivory Coast side. The game was a disappointment, as the Zambians held on for a 0-0 draw, but they certainly showed everyone how to take penalty when the shootout came around. Both sides notched their first five and then the next two in sudden death before Kalaba missed to hand Manchester City’s Kolo Toure the chance to win the game. He missed though and Sunzu slotted home for Zambia, before Arsenal’s Gervinho also missed, ensuring Zambia defied all the odds to return home with the trophy.

3. Liverpool – Champions League 2005 (Beat AC Milan 3-2)

Liverpool’s truly astonishing comeback in normal time saw them recover from a three goal deficit at half time to snatch a draw and a shot at penalties. Jerzy Dudek decided he’d make up his own version of Grobbelaar’s wobbly legs and pranced around on his goal line distracting the opposition. It obviously worked. Serginho sent the ball into Heskey territory in row Z, before Dudek saved from Pirlo and Shevchenko, completing the most unlikely of victories.

2. Olympiacos – Greek Cup 2009 (Beat AEK Athens 15-14)

The Greeks certainly know how to do crazy and the 2009 Cup Final was certainly no different. The game itself was an absolute cracker as the sides drew 4-4, with Englishman Matt Derbyshire bagging twice for Olympiacos. The shootout was on another level though and after both sides scored their first five, they also both missed the decider. They both missed the ninth spot kick each as well and with the score locked at 14-14, Agustín Pelletieri stepped up for AEK. He failed though, leaving Olympiacos goalkeeper and Captain Antonios Nikopolidis the opportunity to win the cup. The Greek legend tucked home his second of the shootout and ended one of the all-time great penalty marathons.

1. Brazil – World Cup 1994 (Beat Italy 3-2)

A drab 0-0 affair in the final in Los Angeles saw Brazil and Italy face the first penalty shootout in the history of the World Cup Final. Defenders Marcio Santos and Franco Baresi traded misses first up, before both sides scored their next two each. However, Daniele Massaro missed his effort and after Brazilian skipper Dunga converted his, it left Roberto Baggio needing to score to keep the Italians in the game. The ‘Divine Ponytail’ had been the tournament’s star player, but he fired his penalty so far into space, NASA are still looking for it today.