With 2021 almost on the books, we take a look at 21 of football’s best moments this calendar year.
The collapse of Christian Eriksen
The Danish midfielder suffered cardiac arrest during the Euro 2020 group game against Finland. The most defining football moment of 2021, for the gravity of the situation, the brilliant work of the medical staff, the determination of the Danish team throughout this moment, then in their race to the semi-finals and, thankfully, Eriksen’s survival.
Withdrawal from the European Super League
In April, 12 of Europe’s top clubs came together to announce a breakaway league. Has encountered widespread opposition from players, clubs, leagues, governing bodies, politicians and, perhaps more importantly, supporters. Participating clubs then began to withdraw quickly due to the weight of the backlash. The ESL collapsed in three days. However, that probably won’t be the end of the story.
Lionel Messi at PSG
Arguably the greatest footballer in history signed for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer in August, ending 20 years at Barcelona, the club he joined when he was 13. Expected to remain a one-club man, Messi has scored a record 672 goals in 778 games for the Spanish side, lifting 35 trophies. A tearful goodbye press conference was watched around the world.
Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United
Just when it looked like he could move to Manchester City, rivals Manchester United flew in in late August to take over their former striker on a $ 17million deal. Ronaldo, 36, signed a two-year contract, with United’s social media team sent to overdrive. His initial spell lasted six years, comprising three Premier League titles, one Champions League, two League Cups and one FA Cup.
Saudi Arabia finalizes Newcastle United buyout
Provoked for some time and met with stiff opposition from many, a Saudi-backed consortium finalized the purchase of Newcastle United in October for $ 400million. The Saudi Public Investment Fund reportedly provided 80% of the funds for the deal, ending Mike Ashley’s 14-year tenure as owner of Newcastle.
Biennial World Cup controversy
The idea of having men’s and women’s World Cups every two years instead of four was launched in May by the Saudi Football Federation. He has since become one of the main talking points in football, meeting strong opposition from UEFA and Conmebol, but enjoying enormous support in Africa and Asia. Still no decision taken despite the results of the recently revealed Fifa feasibility study.
In late April, English football – players, clubs, organizations – boycotted social media over a weekend to highlight how social media companies, regulators and governments need to do more to root out discriminatory abuse online. Racism in particular continued to affect football in 2021, including racist chants from Hungarian fans directed at English players, while English players were abused online after their loss on penalties in the final of Euro 2020.
Euro 2020 final shootout
Italy came out on top in the delayed but delightful European Championship, beating England on penalties in the final at Wembley. The hosts quickly took the lead, but their 55-year wait for a major trophy continued. England missed three of five penalties, with Gianluigi Donnarumma turning down Bukayo Saka to increase Italy’s unbeaten streak to 34 appearances and seal the country’s second European title.
Chaos at Wembley
Despite all the jubilation in the country over England’s run for the centerpiece, the celebrations spilled over on the day of the final. A subsequent review by the Football Association found more than 2,000 people gained access to Wembley without tickets, with 17 massive security breaches, and clarified that fatalities and widespread injuries were narrowly avoided. The review called what took place a “national disgrace”.
Chelsea triumphs in the “Battle of Britain” in Europe
The third all-English Champions League final ended with Chelsea lifting the trophy for the second time. Kai Havertz scored the only goal of the game just before half-time in Porto, extending Manchester City’s search for the top prize in club football. Thomas Tuchel delivered a big blow to Chelsea – four months after being installed as manager.
José Mourinho sacked by Spurs
One of football’s main needle-movers was fired by Tottenham Hotspur in April, 17 months after his reign began. Spurs had fallen to seventh in the Premier League after dominating the table in December, with results and the atmosphere around the club deteriorating greatly. They had recently left the Europa League in an ignominious manner. Mourinho had left six days before Spurs played in the Carabao Cup final.
Zinedine Zidane says ‘Adios’ in Madrid – again
In May, the Frenchman resigned from Real Madrid – for the second time. Madrid had not won a major trophy for the first season since the 2009/10 campaign, losing the league title on the final day. Zidane, who in his first stint led Madrid to three successive Champions League titles, said the club “no longer have confidence” in him.
Mohamed Salah vs. Man City
The Egyptian’s effort in the 2-2 Premier League draw in October could well be the goal of the season. Salah slalomed through City’s defense at Anfield before cleverly finishing ahead of Ederson. Against their main rivals for the title, it worked out in great form for Salah, arguably elevating him to the rank of the best footballer on the planet right now.
Xavi’s seals return to mismanaged Barcelona
After a year of forgetting for Barcelona on and off the pitch – they struggled under enormous financial pressure – Xavi offered some solace. The Spaniard returned in November as manager of his childhood club, the team he has spent most of his career with, winning 25 titles in 17 years in 767 appearances. The former captain signed until 2024.
Messi joy with Argentina – finally
The Argentine ended his long wait for a first major international title as Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 in the Copa America final at the Maracana in July. Appearing in a 10th major tournament with his national team for 15 years, Messi was instrumental in scoring four goals en route to the final and was named the tournament’s best player.
Man United 0-5 Liverpool
A 5-0 loss at Old Trafford is embarrassing enough, but for your rivals? Liverpool were leading 4-0 at half-time in the Premier League meeting, with many United fans leaving the stadium during the break. The manner of the October loss put pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – he was sacked less than a month later.
Alisson scores for Liverpool
One of last season’s most memorable shows came in the campaign’s penultimate week. Needing the win to keep hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson brought home an incredible added time winner against West Brom. Of course, wild celebrations followed. Liverpool finished third.
Sergio Aguero ends his career
Not even six months after joining Barcelona, Aguero was giving a tearful press conference confirming his retirement at the age of 33. The Argentine was taken to hospital in October for “chest discomfort” during the game against Alaves. He ended his career early, but what a race: 427 goals in 786 games, Man City’s all-time top scorer and conjurer of the greatest final in Premier League history.
Robert Lewandowski’s magical goal
A decent way to overcome the loss to Messi at the Ballon d’Or, this month Lewandowski scored his 43rd Bayern Munich goal in 2021. The fact that he broke Gerd Muller’s record for most Bundesliga goals in a calendar year, a mark almost half a century old, that suited: the great Muller died, at age 75 and therefore far too early, in August.
Late, late drama in the Fifa Arab Cup
The first FIFA Arab Cup, held in Qatar ahead of next year’s World Cup, has more than kept its promises. The highlight came in the last clash between Qatar and Algeria, when the hosts equalized in the 97th minute, then Algeria snatched it, 2-1, in the 107th minute… of regular time. The North Africans won the final.
Harry Kane asks to leave Spurs
The Tottenham Hotspur talisman no longer wanted to be “one of them”. Kane, the home product chasing all types of club scoring records, has reportedly had a male-female deal to leave Spurs, with his seemingly imminent move to Man City a big summer scenario. A saga follows. In the end, Kane stayed.
Updated: December 29, 2021, 06:05