Thursday, January 31, 2013

31 January 2010 - A Multi-Record Setting Goal

On 31 January 2010, Egypt won the Africa Cup of Nations with a record nineteenth consecutive unbeaten match in the tournament, a streak that dates back to 2004.

The run of unbeaten games started in February 2004, when they played to a scoreless draw with Cameroon in the last group stage match (which was also Egypt's last match of that competition, as they failed to advance). And it continued through the 2006 and 2008 tournaments, both of which Egypt won (their fifth and sixth trophies overall).

Then, in 2010, they remained unbeaten to reach the final, where they faced Ghana. Played before a crowd of 50,000 at the Estádio 11 de Novembro in the Angolan capital of Luanda, the match remained scoreless until the 85th minute, when substitute midfielder Mohamed "Gedo" Nagy scored to put Egypt up 0-1. They held on to that margin to claim their record third consecutive Cup of Nations and seventh title overall.

In addition to being their nineteenth unbeaten match, it was also their record ninth consecutive win. Both streaks remain active as Egypt failed to qualify for the 2012 and 2013 tournaments.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

30 January 2010 - A Classic Case Of Adding Insult To Injury

On 30 January 2010, the Confederation of African Football suspended Togo from the African Cup of Nations and fined them for withdrawing from the tournament after the team was attacked by gunmen.

The attack occurred on 8 January as the team was traveling by bus to the 2010 Cup of Nations. Shortly after crossing the border from the Republic of the Congo to the Angolan province of Cabinda, a group of Angolan rebels opened fire on the buses with machine guns, killing three people and wounding several others, including two players. Afterward, Togo withdrew from the competition and called for other teams to boycott it.

The CAF offered their condolences to the team, but took issue with Togo's withdrawal. In particular, the organization was bothered by the timing, as Togo did not formally give notice of their decision until the day after their first scheduled match.

The Confederation met on 30 January to consider Togo's actions and announced their decision that day. Citing the Togolese government's decision to bring the team home as an infringement on CAF regulations, they fined the team $50,000 and banned them from the next two editions of the Cup of Nations.

Togo Interior Minister Pascal Bodjona called the CAF's decision "insulting to the family of those who lost their lives and those traumatized because of the attack" and threatened to take immediate legal action. The CAF eventually lifted the bans in May 2010, but Togo failed to qualify for the 2012 tournament.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

29 January 1966 - He Roamed Where He Wanted

On 29 January 1966, well-traveled Brazilian striker and 1994 FIFA Player of the Year Romário was born in Rio de Janeiro. Playing over the course of twenty-four years, he was a prolific goalscorer, with a career tally that--according to some estimates--topped 1,000 goals (though some discount that number, with several goals coming in youth matches and unofficial competitions).

Starting with Vasco da Gama in 1985, he played for several teams across Brazil and Europe, including PSV, Barcelona, Valencia, and multiple stints with Vasco, Flamengo, and Fluminense. In the 2000 season, during his second spell with Vasco, he scored an astonishing 65 goals in 71 appearances across all competitions.

But his Player of the Year performance came in 1994, when his 30 goals in La Liga helped Barcelona to the title. That same year, he scored five goals in the World Cup, winning the Golden Ball as Brazil took the trophy with a win over Italy in the final.

His milestone 1,000th goal came in May 2007, when, after joining Vasco for a fourth time, he scored a penalty kick in a league match against Sport Recife. FIFA recognized the accomplishment, but noted that the number was reached by Romário's "personal count."

Monday, January 28, 2013

28 January 1900 - Clearly, It Was A Step In The Right Direction

On 28 January 1900, the German Football Association was founded in Leipzig. It went on the create one of the world's top national teams and one of the top leagues.

German football traces its origins to 1874 with the formation of the country's first club, the Dresden English Football Club. As more teams sprouted up, they coalesced into a variety of regional leagues and competitions. By 1900, many of the clubs sought to introduce a national organization, including the establishment of a national championship and a national team.

So in 1900, representatives of 86 different clubs met in Leipzig to vote on the creation of a new national association. Out of a total of 84 votes cast, the final tally was 62 in favor and 22 against and the Deutscher Fußball-Bund was born.

The DFB originally maintained the regional competitions, but consolidated them into a national title, first won by Leipzig in the 1902-03 season. Five years after that, the German national team played their first match, a 5-3 loss to Switzerland.

Since then, the national team has become one of the world's most successful, reaching the World Cup final seven times and winning it three. They have also won three European Championships. Along the way, the DFB reorganized the domestic leagues into the Bundesliga, which has become one of the world's most successful and prestigious leagues.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

27 January 2011 - Surely The Loss Was Punishment Enough

On 27 January 2011, the Premier League fined Blackpool £25,000 for fielding a weakened team against Aston Villa earlier that season.

The match in question was played on 10 November. Blackpool, playing in their first top-flight season since 1971, had risen to 11th in the table after a win over West Brom and a draw with Everton over the previous week. With upcoming games against West Ham and Wolves, who occupied the table's last two spots, Blackpool manager Ian Holloway (pictured) made ten changes to his side for the Villa match, resting key players.

Holloway acknowledged that the line-up was not his strongest, but defended his decision, saying "We've got four games in twelve days and the lads I've played every week are struggling to keep up the level." Even with the changes, Blackpool nearly got a result, but fell 3-2 (they then got a win and a draw in their next two games).

Afterward, the Premier League accused Blackpool of deliberately fielding a weakened side in contravention of league rules. An offended Holloway threatened to resign in the league levied any fine against his team.

Nevertheless, on 27 January, the Premier League announced its decision to fine the club £25,000. Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston labeled the decision "unjust" and said they would appeal, but they ultimately decided against it. Holloway remained with the club, who finished the season in nineteenth and were relegated.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

26 January 2000 - That Was Probably Some Kind Of Record For Guam, Too

On 26 January 2000, China matched what was, at the time, the world's biggest margin of victory in international football, beating Guam 19-0. That record didn't last long, though.

China had held the record for several years after beating the Maldives 17-0 in 1992, but it finally fell when Tahiti got an 18-0 win over American Samoa in June 2000, then Iran pushed the record to 19-0 with a November 2000 win over Guam in a World Cup qualifier. So the Chinese were motivated to reclaim the title when they began their Asian Cup qualification campaign in January 2000.

On the first day for their qualification group, China beat the Philippines 8-0, while Guam lost to Vietnam 11-0. That set the stage for China to make a run at the top score, and run they did.

Playing at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, striker Hao Haidong (pictured) got the ball rolling with the opening goal in the second minute, the first of four he scored on the day. He was joined on the scoresheet by Qu Shengqing (5), Su Maozhen (3), Yao Xia (2), Li Weifeng, Shen Si, Qi Hong, and Li Tie before Ma Mingyu scored the final goal with ten minutes remaining.

Unfortunately for the Chinese, however, their reign as joint record holders was short, as about three weeks later, Kuwait beat Bhutan 20-0 in another Asian Cup qualifier. Even that number did not hold up for long; Australia set the current record with a 31-0 win over American Samoa on 11 April 2001.

Friday, January 25, 2013

25 January 1942 - Portugal Reaps The Benefit Of Colonization

On 25 January 1942, Portuguese star forward Eusébio, the 1965 European Footballer of the Year, was born in what is now Mozambique.

At the time of his birth, Mozambique was under the control of Portugal and was known as Portuguese East Africa. Eusébio grew up there and signed his first contract there in 1957 with his neighborhood club, Sporting de Lourenço Marques, and remained there until he signed with Benfica in December 1960.

He quickly made his mark at his new club, scoring a hat-trick in his first appearance, a May 1961 friendly against Atlético Clube de Portugal. He went on to score a total of 473 goals for them in 440 appearances across all competitions while winning eleven league titles, five Portuguese Cups, and the 1962 European Cup, scoring the last two goals in Benfica's 5-3 win over Real Madrid.

In the 1964-65 season, he scored a career-high 48 goals, leading to his European Footballer of the Year award. He remains the club's all-time appearances and scoring leader.

He left Benfica in 1975 and spent time with several different clubs in the United States, Mexico, and Portugal before retiring in 1980.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

24 January 1912 - Home Is Where The Goals Are

On 24 January 1912, Wolverhampton beat Watford 10-0 in a first-round FA Cup replay after being held scoreless in the first meeting.

And the previous match, played on 13 January at Watford, truly was the first meeting between the two teams, who at the time played in different leagues (Wolves were in Division Two of the Football League while Watford were members of the Southern League). It ended as a scoreless draw, forcing a replay at Molineux eleven days later.

The return home made a world of difference for Wolves, who rolled to a 10-0 victory with goals from Halligan (3), Needham (2), Brooks (2), Harrison, Hedley, and Young. Despite the impressive scoreline, it fell short of their record of 14-0, set against Crosswell's Brewery in the FA Cup in November 1886.

Wolves, who had already won the tournament twice (1893 and 1908), advanced to the second round, where they beat Lincoln City before falling to Blackburn Rovers in the third. Since then, they've reached the final four times, winning it in 1949 and 1960.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

23 January 2002 - Where The Special One Became Special

On 23 January 2002, José Mourinho took charge of Porto, where he would establish his reputation as the "Special One."

Just three days short of his 39th birthday at the time, Mourinho had already briefly managed Benfica (2000) and Leiria (2001-02), where his analytical approach to training and success on the pitch attracted the attention of Porto. They had been the league's most successful club throughout the 1990s with eight top-flight titles during the decade, but had fallen off a bit, finishing as runners-up in 2000 and 2001. By the time Mourinho arrived, they had slipped to fifth in the table after a loss to Boavista on 20 January.

In their first match under Mourinho, at home to Maritimo in the league on 26 January, Porto won 2-1, then followed that with  five more wins out of their next six league matches to climb into third, which is where they finished the season.

In 2002-03, Mourinho's first full season at Porto, they reclaimed the league title and won the UEFA Cup with a 3-2 win over Celtic in the final, then repeated as league champions in 2004 while winning the Champions League over Monaco, 3-0.

That performance led to his move to Chelsea, where he earned the nickname The Special One after telling the English press "Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

22 January 1973 - When He's Not Saving Them, He's Scoring Them

On 22 January 1973, Rogério Ceni, the world's highest-scoring goalkeeper, was born in Pato Branco, Brazil.

He started his professional career in 1990 with Sinop, but moved to São Paulo in 1992 and has remained there ever since, making 1,050 appearances through the 2012 season. He got off to a great start with the team, winning the Copa Libertadores, the Intercontinental Cup, the Recopa Sudamericana, and the Supercopa Sudamericana in 1993, though he himself made only fifteen total appearances that year.

In 1997, he became the team's starting goalkeeper and went on to be named the Brazilian Série A's best goalkeeper six times between 2000 and 2008, when he was also named the league's best player. Along the way, São Paulo won three league titles (2006, 2007, 2008), another Copa Libertadores (2005), and the Club World Cup (2005).

Apart from being an outstanding keeper, however, Ceni has been an excellent goalscorer, with a world-record total of 107 goals in all competitions through 2012, always through free kicks and penalty kicks. His most prolific year was 2005 when he scored a total of 21 times, including ten league goals.

Going into the 2013 season, the 40-year old Ceni remains São Paulo's starting goalkeeper and is also the club's captain.

Monday, January 21, 2013

21 January 2012 - Deuce With A Triple

On 21 January 2012, Clint Dempsey became the first American to score a hat-trick in the Premier League, lifting Fulham to a 5-2 win over Newcastle.

A striker/midfielder, Dempsey--nicknamed "Deuce"--was in his sixth year with the London club, having joined them in January 2007 in a deal worth a reported £2M. He quickly established himself as a regular in the starting eleven, making over forty appearances in each of the next five seasons.

Midway through the 2011-12 season, Fulham were struggling in the bottom half of the table while Newcastle were challenging for a European spot. Newcastle won the first meeting 2-1 at St. James' Park back in August. So the odds were stacked against Fulham in the return fixture at Craven Cottage.

The match went according to form in the first half, with the visitors going up 0-1 after a Fulham error led to a 43rd-minute goal from Newcastle midfielder Danny Guthrie. But the hosts roared back in the second half, drawing level with a penalty kick from Danny Murphy in the 52nd minute, then going ahead with a pair of Dempsey goals (59', 65'). Another Fulham penalty, scored by Bobby Zamora in the 68th minute, stretched the lead to 4-1.

Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa closed the gap to 4-2 in the 85th minute, but Dempsey completed his hat-trick four minutes later to restore the three-goal lead and end the day at 5-2.

Dempsey went on to score a career high 23 goals in all competitions that season before moving to Tottenham in August 2012 for a reported fee of around £6M.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

20 January 1974 - A Match Made In Heaven

On 20 January 1974, English teams played league football on a Sunday for the first time.

The FA, along with several clubs and players, had expressed support for Sunday matches earlier in the season, hoping that the move would help improve declining attendances, but they faced a couple of substantial obstacles. The Sunday Observances Act, for one, barred the selling of tickets on Sundays. In addition, many in the public opposed Sunday football on religious grounds.

But by January 1974, attendances continued to decline, driven in part by a ban on floodlights that stemmed from the worldwide energy crisis, prompting the FA to approve the playing of four third-round FA Cup matches on Sunday, 6 January. In order to get around the Sunday Observances Act, the clubs sold programs, which were used instead of tickets to gain access to the games.

Those FA Cup matches drew large crowds, convincing the Football League to move forward as well using the same admission-by-program scheme. While some clubs--including all First Division clubs--declined to participate, citing religious reasons, that first league Sunday hosted a total of twelve matches, three each in Divisions Two and Three and six in Division Four. Nine of those games reported their biggest crowds of the season.

The first Sunday league goal was scored by Millwall's Brian Clark in their 1-0 win over Fulham.

Despite the success of Sunday games, opposition remained strong and it took several more years before Sunday football became a regular feature in the league.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

19 January 2010 - The Margin For Error Was Apparently Very, Very Small

On 19 January 2010, Olympiacos sacked Brazilian legend Zico only eight months into his two-year contract as manager.

After starring as a playmaker for Flamengo and Brazil in the 1970s and '80s, Zico moved into management with Kashima Antlers in 1999. But he established his credentials as the manager of Japan from 2002 to 2006, winning the 2004 Asian Cup and guiding them through an impressive qualification campaign for the 2006 World Cup. He stepped down after a poor showing at the tournament itself, however.

Then came a brief but successful spell at Fenerbahçe from 2006 to 2008, followed by even shorter stints at Bunyadkor (2008) and CSKA Moscow (2009) before he moved to Olymipacos in September 2009.

At the time, only two games into the season, the team was in fourth place. Under Zico, they rose to the top of the table by the end of September and mostly remained there for the rest of the year on the strength of an undefeated run that saw them win eight of Zico's first ten games. But a loss in his eleventh, away to Aris Salonika, followed by another at home to AEK Athens, proved too much for club president Socrates Kokkalis. Even though Olympiacos got a win and a draw in their next two games, he moved to terminate Zico's contract.

Olympiacos went on to finish the season in second place, while Zico took some time off before managing Iraq from 2011 to 2012.

Friday, January 18, 2013

18 January 2012 - Xamax Crosses The Line

On 18 January 2012, the Swiss Football League expelled Neuchâtel Xamax for financial irregularities, ending the reign of Bulat Chagaev, one of football's most bizarre owners.

Founded in 1970 from the merger of FC Xamax and FC Cantonal Neuchâtel, the club won the Swiss league title in 1987 and 1988, but declined shortly afterward. In 2006, they were relegated for the first time in club history. Although they returned to the top flight in 2007, they continued to struggle.

Chagaev, a Russian businessman, took over as the club's new owner in May 2011 and promised a cash infusion to return Xamax to their former greatness. Signs soon appeared, however, to suggest that his control would not be smooth, starting when the club filed a lawsuit to stop an investigation into the source of Chagaev's wealth.

The situation grew stranger at the start of the 2011-12 Super League season, with Chagaev going through three different managers in the span of a month and firing staff and players immediately after bad losses. During the season, the SFL imposed an eight-point penalty on the club for "irregularities" in player payments.

The last straw came in January 2012. Suspecting Chagaev of forging a financial security document, they revoked the club's license and suspended them from the league. The club folded later that month. Shortly afterward, a new club--free of Chagaev's influence--formed under the name Neuchâtel Xamax 1912 and entered the Swiss league's fifth tier for the 2012-13 season.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

17 January 1920 - A Good Day To Stay At Home

On 17 January 1920, the home teams went undefeated in all 20 matches in England's Football League, as well as the day's two FA Cup games.

At the time, the Football League consisted of only two divisions (though a separate Southern League existed, with two divisions of of its own). While each division consisted of 22 teams, two games were not played, so there were only 20 games total across both divisions.

The results in Division One consisted of eight wins and two draws, including 21st-place Oldham Athletic's 1-0 upset victory of second-place Newcastle. The largest margins were Manchester City's 4-1 win over Arsenal and league-leader West Brom's 5-2 win over Blackburn.

In Division Two, there were nine wins and only one draw, a 1-1 result between Bury and Nottingham Forest, while Lincoln City's 4-0 win over Wolves set the day's largest margin of victory.

There were also two first-round FA Cup matches played that day, with Bradford City beating Portsmouth 2-0 and West Stanley beating Gillingham 3-1.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

16 January 2010 - Messi's Milestone

On 16 January 2010, Lionel Messi scored his 100th goal for Barcelona, becoming the youngest person in club history to hit that milestone.

The goal came in a home league match against Sevilla. The two teams had already met twice that month in the Copa del Rey Round of 16, with Sevilla advancing on away goals after drawing 2-2 on aggregate. In the second leg, which Barcelona won 1-0, Sevilla goalkeeper Andrés Palop repeatedly frustrated Messi, denying him in several one-on-one attempts and preventing him from scoring.

In the league match on 16 January, Palop got off to another good start, keeping the game scoreless through the first half. But shortly after the start of the second half, Barcelona took the lead with a 49th-minute own goal from center back Julien Escudé. A chip from Barça striker Pedro doubled their lead in the 70th minute.

Then Messi struck. In the 84th minute, he scored his record 100th club goal from just outside the six-yard box. At 22 years, six months, and 22 days old, he was the youngest player in club history to score a century. But he didn't stop there, adding another in the first minute of stoppage time to extend the final score to 4-0.

Now three years later, he is close to tripling that number with a current total of 290 goals.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

15 January 1981 - El Hadji Starts His Pilgrimage

On 15 January 1981, Senegalese striker El Hadji Diouf was born in Dakar. A talented but controversial player, he has spent time with nine different clubs across France, England, and Scotland.

He began his professional career with Sochaux in 1998, followed by quick moves to Rennes (1999-2000), and Lens (2000-02). At the latter, he scored 18 goals in 54 league appearances, which--combined with a strong showing for Senegal at the 2002 World Cup in which he helped the team to a quarterfinal berth--attracted the interest of Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier, who signed him that summer for £10 million.

Diouf failed to recapture his previous form and his time at Anfield was overshadowed by a March 2003 UEFA Cup incident in which he spat at a Celtic supporter. At the end of the 2003-04 season--in which Diouf failed to score a single goal--Liverpool sent him on loan to Bolton. There, he began scoring goals again and Bolton made the move permanent in 2005.

After four seasons with Bolton, he moved again, spending time with Sunderland (2008-09) and Blackburn Rovers (2009-11). But his scoring touch deserted him again and he spent the last half of the 2010-11 season on loan in Scotland with Rangers. All along the way, he developed a reputation for being hotheaded, with frequent bookings.

He moved back to England in the summer of 2011 to play for Doncaster Rovers, then joined Leed United in 2012 after Doncaster's season ended in relegation.

Monday, January 14, 2013

14 January 1997 - Boro Gets The Wrong Kind Of Penalty

On 14 January 1997, the FA docked three points from Middlesbrough for failing to appear for a match against Blackburn, a decision which ultimately sealed Boro's relegation.

The Premier League match had been set for 21 December at Blackburn's Ewood Park. But the day before kick-off, Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson canceled, claiming that a combination of illness, injuries, and suspensions left him unable to field a side for the game. Although club chairman and owner Steve Gibson claimed that he had gotten prior approval from the Premier League, neither Blackburn nor the Football Association were aware of the cancellation until Robson announced at what was intended to be the pre-match press conference.

Blackburn manager Tony Parkes was incensed, claiming that Boro had canceled the match to avoid a certain defeat, depriving his side of a needed three points (on the originally-scheduled match date, Rovers were in 17th, one spot behind Middlesbrough).

The FA instituted an investigation and determined that Middlesbrough's decision had been illegal. On 14 January, with Boro having since dropped into last place, the FA announced its decision, docking the team three points, fining them £50,000, and--adding insult to injury--ordering them to pay the costs incurred by the FA investigative commission. Upon hearing the news, Boro striker Fabrizio Ravanelli claimed the decision doomed the club to relegation.

He turned out to be correct, as Middlesbrough finished the season in 19th place with 39 points (including a point earned against Blackburn in the rescheduled match). An additional three points would have lifted them up to fifteenth, safely out of the relegation zone.

They spent only one season in the second division before returning to the Premier League for the 1998-99 season. But in 2009, they were relegated again and currently remain in the Championship.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

13 January 1907 - The Temperature Rises In Turin

On 13 January 1907, Juventus and Torino contested the first Derby della Mole, with Torino winning 2-1.

The two clubs share a history, with Torino forming in 1906 as an offshoot of Juventus. When members of the older club, founded in 1897, considered moving the club out of Turin, a group that included Alfredo Dick created a new club to guarantee a continued presence in the city. The derby's name comes from Turin's  landmark building, the Mole Antonelliana.

They met for the first time in the 1907 Italian Championship, playing a two-legged tie for the right to represent Piedmont in the final round. Torino hosted the first leg at the Velodrome Umberto I and won 2-1 with goals from Federico Ferrari Orsi and Hans Kempher (Juve's goal was scored from the penalty spot by Ernesto Borel). They then won the return leg 4-1 to advance 6-2 on aggregate, but lost the title to Milan.

Since then, the teams have played a total of 226 times, with Juventus winning 92, including the most recent meeting on 1 December 2012. Torino have won 72 times.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

12 December 1949 - A Born Leader

On 12 December 1949, two-time Club Coach of the Year Ottmar Hitzfeld was born in Lörrach, West Germany.

As a striker, he enjoyed a successful playing career, including a spell with Basel (1971-75) in which he won two league titles and was once the league's top scorer. After subsequent stints with Stuttgart (1975-78), Lugano (1978-80), and Luzern (1980-83), he moved into management, starting with SC Zug (1983-84) and Aarau (1984-88).

But he rose to prominence with Grasshopper Zürich, where, between 1988 and 1991, he guided the team to two league titles and two Swiss Cups. That earned him a move to the Bundesliga where he led Borussia Dortmund to the championship in 1995 and 1996, then lifted the Champions League trophy in 1997. The latter performance led the IFFHS to name him their Club Coach of the Year.

He then moved to Bayern Munich, where he won another four Bundesliga titles, including the 2001 title when he also claimed a second Champions League trophy. That year, IFFHS again made him their Club Coach of the Year.

Hitzfeld left Bayern in 2004, but returned for a second spell in 2007 and won yet another league title, then left in 2008 to manage Switzerland, his current team.

Friday, January 11, 2013

11 January 2008 - Yeah, It's All Smiles Now, But Just Wait

On 11 January 2008, Bayern Munich announced that Jürgen Klinsmann would replace outgoing manager Ottmar Hitzfeld at the end of the season, but it was a match that didn't last.

Klinsmann, who played briefly for Bayern during a career that also included stops at Stuttgart, Inter, Monaco, and Tottenham, had held only one prior managerial post, but it was an impressive one. Guiding the German national team from 2004 to 2006, he retooled the administration of the entire organization, from the youth team up. But after taking the senior side to the World Cup semifinals in 2006, he stepped down, citing his intention to rest and spend more time with his family.

But in 2008, Bayern lured him from retirement, announcing in January that he was going to take the team over in July, replacing Hitzfeld (who went on to win the league title--his fifth with Bayern--that year, as well as his third German Cup).

Klinsmann proceeded to restructure the club as he had done with Germany, starting with a new player development center. But toward the end of his first season, his relationship with the board of directors had soured. Even though Bayern had reached the semifinals of the Champions League and were sitting three points out of first in the Bundesliga with five games still to play, the board sacked Klinsmann.

After another two-year break, Klinsmann returned to football as manager of the United States.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

10 January 2010 - Marta Takes Five

On 10 January 2010, Marta won her fifth consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year award.

After finishing third in voting for 2004 and second in 2005, the Brazilian forward finally won her first World Player of the Year award in 2006 while playing for Umeå in Sweden, then repeated as winner in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, she moved to the US to play for the Los Angeles Sol and finished the season as the league's top scorer, leading to her record fourth World Player of the Year award (Lionel Messi matched that record with a fourth award of his own in 2012).

When Los Angeles folded in January 2010, she joined FC Gold Pride, who selected her with the first pick in  the WPS supplemental draft. She repeated as the league's top scorer that season and helped Gold Pride win the WPS Championship with a 4-0 win over Philadelphia on 26 September. Just over two months later, she was named World Player of the Year for a fifth time, setting a new record.

She came close to extending the record in 2011 and 2012, but finished second in the voting for both years, first to Japan's Homare Sawa and then to the USA's Abby Wambach.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

9 January 1930 - Putting The Sportsmanship In Sports

On 9 January 1930, Igor Netto, renowned for one of the most memorable displays of sportsmanship in football, was born in Moscow.

One of the Soviet Union's greatest players, Netto, who played at left back and in central midfield, spent his entire club career at Spartak Moscow, where he made 368 appearances from 1949 to 1966. Along the way, he won five league titles (1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1962) and three Soviet Cups (1950, 1958, 1963).

In 1952, he earned his first cap for the Soviet national team and eventually claimed the captain's armband. During his time with the team, they won the gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics, then lifted the trophy at the 1960 European Championship.

But his most famous moment came during the 1962 World Cup in Chile. On 6 June, the Soviets were playing against Uruguay in the group stage with both teams needing a win to guarantee a spot in the knockout rounds. In the 75th minute, with the score level at 1-1, the referee awarded a go-ahead goal to Soviet striker Igor Chislenko, but Netto explained that the ball had entered the goal through a hole in the side netting and convinced the referee to reverse his opinion and disallow the goal (the USSR went on to win anyway with an 89th-minute goal from Valentin Ivanov and advanced, but lost to hosts Chile in the quarterfinals).

After his retirement as a player, Netto managed several teams, including brief spells in charge of Spartak Moscow and the Iranian national team. He passed away in 1999 at the age of 69.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

8 January 1978 - A Revolution In Paris

On 8 January 1978, Paris Saint-Germain turned the tide in their budding rivalry with Marseille. And they did it by a record margin.

While the contest, known as Le Classique or the Derby de France, has become one of the country's most heated rivalries, it started as a very one-sided affair. First played in 1971, Marseille won the first three in a row and seven of the first eleven while losing only once (a 2-0 loss in the Coupe de France in March 1975). By the time Marseille arrived at the Parc des Princes in January for the twelfth match of the series, they had taken three of the last four.

Playing in front of a crowd of 33,386, the visitors looked to continue their run of success, going ahead with a 12th-minute penalty from striker Sarr Boubacar. But PSG rallied to take a 2-1 lead into the break with goals from François Brisson (29') and Mustapha Dahleb (44').

In the second half, an own-goal from Marseille defender Marius Trésor (46') extended PSG's lead to 3-1, then a brace from striker François M'Pelé (pictured) (49', 82') took it to 5-1. The four-goal margin was the largest win of the derby and remains the record, though it was later matched by Marseille's 4-0 win in November 1986.

Since then, the rivalry has been relatively balanced across all competitions, with a total of 27 PSG wins to 32 for Marseille.

Monday, January 7, 2013

7 January 2006 - Getting Off On The Right Foot

On 7 January 2006, Kris Boyd made his Rangers debut in style with a hat-trick against Peterhead in the Scottish Cup.

The striker had been with Kilmarnock since he was a youth player, then turned professional in 2000. Over the next five and half seasons, he scored at an impressive rate, collecting 67 goals in 168 appearances across all competitions, including 15 league goals in the first half of the 2005-06 season. That attracted the attention of Rangers, who signed him on 1 January for an approximate fee of £400,000.

His first Rangers appearance came at home against Peterhead in the third round of the Scottish Cup. Although he nearly scored with an attempt just seconds after the opening kick, he had to wait until after the break for his opening goal. With Rangers leading 1-0 early in the second half, Boyd struck home from the penalty spot in the 50th minute after a Peterhead foul on Peter Lovenkrands. Four minutes later, he scored again from a cross, then completed his hat-trick with a 71st-minute header. Ross McCormack added a final goal to cap the 5-0 victory.

Boyd remained with Rangers through the 2009-10 season and was their leading scorer each year. He was the league's top scorer in three out of four seasons there, winning two SPL titles and two Scottish Cups before moving to Middlesbrough in July 2010.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

6 January 2012 - Apparently, You Can Go Home Again

On 6 January 2012, Arsenal confirmed the return of striker Thierry Henry, the club's all-time leading goalscorer, on loan.

Henry played for the Gunners from 1999 to 2007, making 369 appearances and scoring 226 goals. While there, he won two league titles (including the undefeated "Invincibles" run in the 2003-04 season) and three FA Cups before leaving for Barcelona in a deal worth €24M. He continued to collect silverware in Spain, with a record six-trophy haul in 2009 that included the La Liga title, the Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal, however, had failed to win any trophies after Henry's departure. Halfway through the 2011-12 season, as a rocky start left them struggling to capture a Champions League qualification spot, they looked to Henry, who had by then moved to the New York Red Bulls.

He joined them in January for a two-month loan. On 9 January, he made his first appearance, coming on as a substitute to score the only goal in a FA Cup win over Leeds United. He went on to make another six appearances and scored again in his final match, a 1-2 away win over Sunderland, before returning to New York.

Rumors swirled in December 2012 of yet another return to Arsenal, but the move never materialized. Henry has said, however, that he would like to rejoin Arsenal in a coaching capacity after he retires from his playing career.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

5 January 2010 - Benny's Back In Black (And Red)

On 5 January 2010, DC United hired their former captain, Ben Olsen, as an assistant manager. Seven months later, he took full charge of the club.

A tenacious midfielder, Olsen joined DC United for the 1998 season after three years at the University of Virginia (where his first coach was then-DC manager Bruce Arena). He was named the league's Rookie of the Year as DC finished as runners-up to Chicago in the MLS Cup and won both the CONCACAF Champions League and the Copa Interamericana.

The following year he won the first of two MLS Cups and was the tournament's most valuable player. He won his second MLS Cup in 2004 and a US Open Cup in 2008. Injuries dogged his career, however, forcing his retirement in 2009 after 221 league appearances.

His retirement was short-lived as he returned to DC United in 2010 as an assistant to new manager Curt Onalfo. But a poor start to the season led the club to sack Onalfo in August 2010 and appoint Olsen as the interim manager, then confirmed his permanent status that November, making the then-33-year old the league's youngest manager.

After a difficult finish in 2010 and another rough season in 2011, Olsen guided the team to an improved record in 2012, reaching the MLS playoffs for the first time in five seasons and making it all the way to the conference finals before falling to Houston.

Friday, January 4, 2013

4 January 1866 - The Man Who Managed Manchester

On 4 January 1866, Ernest Mangnall, who managed Manchester United to their first two titles, was born in Bolton. He also later managed Manchester City.

After an amateur career as a goalkeeper for Bolton, Mangnall moved into management with Burnley, starting in 1900. The club had been relegated into the Second Division at the end of the previous season and Mangnall narrowly missed out on getting them back into the top flight, delivering a third-place finish in his first season, four points away from the last promotion spot. But two seasons later, they ended dead last in the division and had to be re-elected to the league.

In October 1903, Mangnall left Burnley for Manchester United. They were in the Second Division at the time, but he guided them to a second-place finish in 1906 and promotion to the First Division. He led them to their first league title in 1908, the FA Cup in 1909, then to a second league title in 1911.

He moved to Manchester City in September 1912, after losing to them in his last match in charge of United, and remained there until his retirement in 1924.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

3 January 2004 - Goodnight, Sweet Prince

On 3 January 2004, Everton star defender Thomas "T.G." Jones, known as "the prince of centre-halves," passed away at the age of 86.

Regarded as a calm and composed player with excellent footwork and vision, Jones spent the first two years of his professional career with Wrexham before signing with Everton in 1936 for a fee of £3,000. He became a regular starter in his second season and, in his third, helped the Toffees win the league title--the last one before the league went on hiatus for the duration of World War.

Having established himself as a Welsh international in 1938, he continued to make wartime appearances for Wales during the break. When league play resumed in 1946, he rejoined Everton and remained there until 1950, making a total of 178 appearances and serving as team captain in his last season.

After leaving Everton, he joined non-league Welsh side Pwllheli as player-manager from 1950 to 1956. Additional managerial stops at Bangor City and Rhyl followed before his retirement in 1968.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2 January 2011 - Xavi Shares The Record

On 2 January 2011, Xavi made his 549th appearance for Barcelona, tying the club record set by Migueli in 1988. He has since gone on to beat the record by more than 100 appearances and is still going.

The midfielder joined the club as a youth player in 1991 at the age of 11, then started his professional career there in 1997. One year later, he cracked the first team, making a total of 27 appearances in the 1998-99 season.

His record-tying match was at home against Levante. The visitors were coming off an 8-0 mauling by Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey, so few people expected them to trouble the hosts, who had camped out at the top of table since late November.

But it turned out to be a scrappy match, with a scoreless first half. Barça eventually took the lead with a 47th-minute goal from forward Pedro, who then extended it with a second strike in the 59th. Ten minutes after that, Levante striker Christian Stuani scored to halve the deficit, but they could not find another and the match ended as a 2-1 Barcelona win. After the final whistle, the club surprised Xavi with a ceremony to recognize his accomplishment.

Now in his fifteenth season with Barcelona, he has taken sole possession of the appearances record with a current tally of 653 across all competitions.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

1 January 2005 - In Fairness, They All Were Probably Still Hungover

On 1 January 2005, Newcastle bought defender Jean-Alain Boumsong from Rangers in a deal widely regarded as one of the worst January transfers in history.

A French international, Boumsoung had played for Le Havre (1997-2000) and Auxerre (2000-04) before moving to Rangers on a free transfer in the summer of 2004. Although he signed a 5-year deal with the Glasgow club, his strong performances there attracted the interest of Newcastle manager Graeme Souness, who lodged an £8M bid that December, with the clubs finalizing the deal on the first day of 2005.

Although his time at St. James' Park started well, he struggled in the 2005-06 season, often shouldering the blame for defensive lapses that led Newcastle to concede 42 goals en route to a seventh-place finish. By the end of that season, new manager Glenn Roeder, who had replaced Souness in February 2006, sold the center back to Juventus for just £3.3M, taking a loss of almost £5M on the deal (though the agreement included performance-incentives).

Boumsong stayed with Juventus for one season, then played three seasons for Lyon before joining Panathinaikos, his current club, in July 2010. For his time on Tyneside, a 2008 Times poll rated him the Premier League's worst January transfer. Since then, however, polls have dropped him down behind more recent transfers, including Andy Carroll's £35M move from Newcastle to Liverpool in 2011 and Chelsea's £50M purchase of Fernando Torres from Liverpool.