It’s May, in case you’d forgotten. We should be gearing up for the Champions League final and Euro 2020 right now, but thanks to COVID-19 all of that has been put on ice.
So, what is a football fan to do in these frustrating times? Simple. Take a trip down memory lane of course. Nostalgia is the perfect tonic to your sporting withdrawal symptoms.
With that in mind, here are some football things for you to enjoy – which all happened on this day throughout history.
1946 – George Best is Born
On this day in 1946, George Best was born. One third of the United Trinity – who helped Manchester United become the first English club to lift the European Cup in 1968 – Best is one of the most fondly remembered players in the club’s history.
The Northern Irishman was an unstoppable dribbler. Equipped with an extensive arsenal of tricks, he feinted and flicked his way around defenders with ease.
Alcoholism would dim his genius during the latter part of his career and life but the memories he created for a generation of United supporters – and football fans in general – will last forever.
1987 – Arturo Vidal is Born
Arturo Vidal has had some career. Very few players can boast about having a Serie A, Bundesliga and La Liga’s winners medal and even fewer can say they’ve also experienced similar success with their country as Vidal did at the 2015 Copa América.
Often misrepresented as solely an industrious midfield shuttler, the Chilean is one of the most complete players of his generation, complimenting his incredible work rate with a deceptive eye for goal and ample creativity.
Though his story is now approaching its final act, Vidal will be remembered fondly when he eventually retires. Happy birthday Arturo.
1996 – Juventus Actually Win a Champions League Final
No team in history has a worse record in European finals than Juventus. The Old Lady have been runners up no less than seven times, making their victory in 1996 even sweeter.
It was not the most comfortable win by any means with Marcello Lippi’s side needing penalties to dispatch of Louis van Gaal’s excellent Ajax side.
Juventus – lined up in a 4-3-3 formation including three out and out strikers – took the lead through Fabrizio Ravanelli, before Jari Litmanen scored his ninth Champions League goal of the season to level things up before the break.
The scores remained level for the rest of regulation and extra time with misses by Edgar Davids and Sonny Silooy in the resultant shootout gifting Juventus their second European Cup.
2010 – Inter End 45 Year Wait for European Glory
Today marks a decade since Inter won their first Champions League since 1965, beating fellow finalists Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
After miraculously defeating Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the semi final, I Nerazzurri dispatched of the Bundesliga champions courtesy of a brace from Diego Milito.
Milito’s first strike was route one at its absolute best with the Argentine nodding down Julio Cesar’s long ball to Goran Pandev who then slipped in his strike partner to fire home. His second on the other hand was a fine solo effort which capped off a man of the match performance.
2011 – A Dramatic Premier League Final Day
Going into the final day of the 2010/2011 Premier League season, two relegation spots still had to be filled with no less than five teams still in danger of the drop.
Wigan and Blackpool were 19th and 18th respectively with Birmingham, Wolves and Blackburn all within touching distance of the dreaded drop zone. It was a ridiculously dramatic culmination to an entertaining season
Ian Holloway’s entertaining Blackpool side had the hardest game of the bunch against champions Manchester United but they very nearly overcame the odds. The Tangerines took a 2-1 lead courtesy of Gary Taylor-Fletcher before a United onslaught condemned them to relegation.
Elsewhere Blackburn squeezed a 3-2 victory against Wolves while Birmingham’s defeat to Tottenham saw them take the final relegation spot. Of course, highlights from the games where screened alongside each other later that evening on Match of the Day for maximum tension.
2016 – Barcelona Win Copa del Rey
Back in 2016, Barcelona needed extra time to defeat Unai Emery’s Sevilla in a fiery Copa del Rey final.
The game witnessed no less than three red cards with Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega and Daniel Carrico all being given their marching orders for various indiscretions.
It would take until the seventh minute of additional for the game’s first goal with Jordi Alba latching onto Lionel Messi’s lofted pass and sneaking the ball past Sergio Rico. Neymar then put the game beyond in second half stoppage time, with Messi again providing the assist.
2016 – England Step Up Euro 2016 Preparations
Four years ago, England took on Turkey in a warm up match for Euro 2016. With captain Wayne Rooney suffering with injury, Harry Kane and man of the moment Jamie Vardy played up front together – with both getting on the scoresheet in a 2-1 win in Manchester.
Kane got the Three Lions off to a perfect start by slotting away Delle Ali’s cute pass with just three minutes played – even though the Spurs man was about a yeard offside.
Hakan Calhanoglu then scored a scrappy equaliser before Vardy scored an either scrappier winner ten minutes from time. What a great result, we’re sure that Euro 2016 went just as well, right? Right?!