Earlier this week, in the aftermath of the Ballon d’Or gala event in Zurich, a friend of ours asked the following question on a WhatsApp group:
Which former Premier League player was on the 23 man list for Ballon d’Or but failed to win the backing of his brother?
The answer is: Paul Pogba.
His brother Florentin Pogba (on the left in the picture above) is the captain of Guinea and chose the following three players as his choices for the Ballon d’Or: 1. Leo Messi. 2. Cristiano Ronaldo. 3. Manuel Neuer.
It seems safe to say that this will go down as a football fact that sounds ludicrous, but is actually true.
So, we decided to make a list of football facts that sound like rubbish but are actually true. With some help from the good people of Reddit Soccer and a fair bit of fact checking ourselves.
Let us know in the comments, on Twitter and Facebook, if you have any football facts that sound ludicrous but are actually true.
Or, feel free to question some of our facts below…
1. The longest football club name in the world is:
Nooit opgeven altijd doorgan, Aangenaam door vermaak en nuttig door ontspanning, Combinatie Breda.
More commonly known as Dutch Eerste Divisie side NAC Breda.
The full name of NAC Breda translates to: Never give up always keep going pleasant through entertainment and useful through relaxation combination Breda.
2. Norwich finished third in the 1992/1993 Premier League season, but had a goal difference of -4 after 42 games.
3. Barcelona won just 1 La Liga title between 1960 and 1985.
4. Scotland have two cities (Glasgow and Dundee) that have two teams that have managed to reach at least one European Cup / Champions League semi-final – more than any other European country.
5. Robbie Keane is the highest scoring international footballer in the world that is still playing. With 67 goals in 143 appearances for Republic of Ireland.
6. While she was managing director at Birmingham City, Karren Brady sold her husband Paul Peschisolido to Stoke for £400k in 1994. They got married a year later.
7. The highest ever attendance at Old Trafford is 76,962. For an FA Cup semi-final. Between Wolves and Grimsby Town in March 1939.
8. Manchester United’s highest home attendance is 83,260 for a match at Maine Road, in January 1948, against Arsenal. Whilst Old Trafford was being rebuilt.
9. Birmingham City were the first English club to play in Europe (1955–58 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup on 15 May 1956). And the first to reach a European final (the 1960 Fairs Cup final).
10. SPFL side St. Johnstone are the only professional team in Britain with a “J” in their name.
11. Dundee united have a 100% record against Barcelona. The Scottish side have won all four games against the Catalan giants.
1966-67 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup:
1st Leg: FC Barcelona 1 (Fusté) – Dundee United 2 (Hainey, Seamann)
2nd Leg: Dundee United 2 (Mitchell, Gillespie) – FC Barcelona 0
1986-87 UEFA Cup:
1st Leg: Dundee United 1 (Gallacher) – FC Barcelona 0
2nd Leg: FC Barcelona 1 (Calderé) – Dundee United 2 (Clark, Ferguson)
12. Southend United have a 100% win record against Man Utd.
13. Jermaine Pennant is the only Englishman to have played in a Champions League Final (for Liverpool v AC Milan), but never play for England.
14. In 2009, Bolivia beat Argentina and Leo Messi 6-1. The altitude in La Paz helped!
15. Denmark won the 1992 European Championship after failing to qualify. Yugoslavia was disqualified and the Danish team was announced that they were allowed to participate only 10 days before the start of the tournament.
16. Real Madrid played against their B team in the 1980 Copa Del Rey final. Madrid’s first team won 6-1. The match was staged at The Bernabeu. Obviously.
17. The first British player to win the Champions League (after it was rebranded in 1992) was Paul Lambert in 1997 with Borussia Dortmund.
18. Mathieu Flamini has never lost a Premier League game at the Emirates.
19. Scott Carson has a Champions Leage winners medal. He was part of the victorious Liverpool Champions League winning squad in 2005.
20. Celtic legend Henrik Larsson’s first and last goals at Celtic Park were both AGAINST Celtic (first was an own goal, his last was for Barcelona against Celtic).
21. Dennis Wise is the only player to have won the FA Cup in three different decades. (Wimbledon 1988, Chelsea 1997 & Chelsea 2000).
UPDATE: At least two other players have won the FA Cup in three different decade. Nicolas Anelka won the FA Cup in 1997, 2009 and 2010. Patrick Vieira won in 98/02/03/05/11.
22. Roberto Soldado is the only Spanish player with more than one hat-trick in the Champions League since the format change in 1992.
23. Watford (29) earned more points in the Premier League than Aston Villa (25) in the calendar year of 2015.
24. Manchester United have had a youth team graduate in their first team squad for every match since October 1937. Which is over 3,750 matches.
25. John Terry (39) has scored more league goals than Andres Iniesta (34).
26. No Barcelona player had ever been named La Liga player of the month until Neymar was in November 2015.