Friday, October 31, 2014

31 October 1964 - Birth Of The Dutch Master

On 31 October 1964, World Player of the Year and three-time European Footballer of the Year Marco van Basten was born in Utrecht.

In 1981, the then-16-year old striker signed with Ajax in 1981. He made his first appearance for the senior side in April 1982, scoring a goal on his debut. He secured a starting position for the 1983-84 season and became the Eredivisie's top scorer that year with 28 goals in 26 league appearances. He remained the league's top scorer for the next three seasons.

While at Ajax, the club won three league titles (1981-82, 1982-83, 1984-85), three Dutch Cups (1983, 1986, 1987), and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (1987).

In 1987, Van Basten transferred to Milan. An ankle injury limited his playing time to 11 matches in that first season, but Milan won the Scudetto. Internationally, he led the Netherlands to the 1988 UEFA European Championship as the tournament's top scorer. He won his first European Footballer of the Year award that year.

The following season, he helped Milan to the Serie A title and the 1989 European Cup trophy, scoring two goals in the Final along the way to claiming his second European Footballer of the Year award.

He won his third European Footballer of the Year award in 1992, along with the FIFA World Footballer of the Year award, after leading Milan to yet another Serie A title as the league's top scorer.

His recurring ankle injury ended his playing career in 1993, though he did not officially retire until 1995.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

30 October 1960 - The Albicelestes' Greatest Star Is Born

On 30 October 1960, Argentinian superstar Diego Maradona was born in the city of Lanús.

Raised in poverty on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Maradona joined Argentinos Juniors as a 10-year old youth player. He signed his first professional contract with them in 1976 and made 167 appearances before transferring to Boca Juniors in 1981.

After an impressive performance for Argentina in the 1982 World Cup, he moved to Barcelona for a then-record fee of £5 million. Although successful during his time in Spain, winning a 1983 treble of the Copa del Rey, Copa de la Liga, and Spanish Super Cup, his relationship with the club was tempestuous and he moved to Napoli in 1984 for a new record fee of £6.9 million.

He became a true international superstar in 1986, when he captained Argentina to the World Cup title, playing every minute of every match for the Albicelestes, scoring 5 goals and making 5 assists. Two of those goals came in the legendary 2-1 win over England--the "Hand of God" and the "Goal of the Century," which cemented his status as one of football's greatest players. He followed his World Cup success by winning silverware with Napoli, including two Serie A titles (1987, 1990) and the UEFA Cup (1989). He left Napoli in 1991 and spent time with Sevilla (1992-93), Newell's Old Boys (1993), and a second stint at Boca Juniors (1995-97) before retiring.

Despite a controversial personal life, including a constant struggle with a cocaine addiction, Maradona was voted FIFA's Co-Player of the Century in 2000, along with Pelé.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

29 October 1997 - The Start Of A Century

On 29 October 1997, 19-year old Parma goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made his debut for the Italian national team in a 1-1 away draw with Russia in a qualifying playoff match for the 1998 World Cup.

The Azzurri qualifed after defeating Russia 1-0 in Naples on 15 November, but Buffon was an unused substitute for the Cup. He also missed Euro 2000 due to injury. Buffon secured the starting job for the 2002 World Cup, however, and remains Italy's first-choice keeper. As of 10 October 2009, he has made 99 appearances for the Azzurri.

Buffon was an integral part of Italy's World Cup winning side in 2006, giving up only two goals in regulation (an own goal in the group stages against the United States and a penalty in the Final against France). Italy defeated France on penalties, 1-1(5-3) to claim their fourth World Cup trophy. Buffon won the Yashin Award for best keeper in the tournament.

He currently plays for Juventus, with whom he signed in 2001.

[Update: As of 29 October 2014, Buffon now has 145 caps with Italy.]

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

28 October 1998 - He's A One-Club Man

On 28 October 1998, 17-year old center back John Terry made his first appearance for Chelsea's senior team, coming on as a second-half substitute in a League Cup match against Aston Villa. Chelsea won 4-1.

Terry was born in London on 7 December 1980 and played for the Chelsea youth team from 1995 to 1998. He signed his professional contract with the Blues for the 1998-99 season, making 6 appearances.

In 2004, new manager Jose Mourinho handed the captain's armband to Terry, who rewarded the decision by leading Chelsea to back to back league titles in 2005 and 2006.

Apart from a brief loan spell with Nottingham Forest in the 1999-2000 season, Terry has spent his entire club career with Chelsea. Through the 2008-09 season, he had made 404 appearances for the London club. He added a third league title in 2010 and has also won the Champions League (2012), five FA Cups (2000, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012), two League Cups (2005, 2007), and two Community Shields (2005, 2009).

Monday, October 27, 2014

27 October 2005 - England Does Not Suffer From Triskaidekaphobia

On 27 October 2005, England defeated Hungary 0-13 in a qualifying match for the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup.

The two sides met in Tapolca, Hungary for their second match in UEFA Group 5. Coincidentally, both teams' previous match had been against Austria, with England emerging 1-4 victors and Hungary losing 0-3.

Against Hungary, England got off to a quick start with a 3rd minute goal from striker Kelly Smith (pictured) and another in the 5th minute from midfielder Rachel Yankey. Both Smith and Yankey had started their careers with Arsenal Ladies, whom they had recently rejoined after brief spells with the New Jersey Wildcats in the USL W-League.

The match against Hungary was completely one-sided from start to finish, with a total of eight English players finding the back of the net: Smith (3', 43', 80'), Yankey (5'), forward Eniola Aluko (12', 50'), full back/winger Alex Scott (15', 38'), midfielder Katie Chapman (30'), midfielder Fara Williams (61', 88'), substitute Jo Potter (75'), and striker Jody Handley (79').

The teams finished qualification at opposite ends of the table, with England on top and Hungary at the bottom. England advanced to the 2007 World Cup quarterfinals, where they were eliminated by the United States.

The win against Hungary set the largest margin of victory in the history of the English women's team (and tied the record scoreline for the English men's team, who defeated Ireland 0-13 in Belfast on 18 February 1882).

Sunday, October 26, 2014

26 October 1863 - Not Just A Football Association, It's THE Football Association

On 26 October 1863, English football's governing body, the Football Association, held its first meeting, making it the oldest national football association in the world.

Twelve clubs sent representatives to the meeting, held at Freemasons' Tavern on Long Acre, Covent Garden, London, in order to agree on a common set of rules. The clubs were Barnes, Civil Service, Crusaders, Forest of Leytonstone, No Names Club (Kilburn), Crystal Palace, Blackheath, Kensington School, Percival House (Blackheath), Surbiton, Blackheath Proprietary School, and Charterhouse (who declined the offer to join).

Prior to the creation of the Football Association, football clubs in England operated under different sets of rules, including the Cambridge Rules, which were used by many clubs throughout the nation, and the Sheffield Rules, which dominated the northeast. Although those two sets of rules contained slight differences, they both prohibited hacking, which would prove to be a point of contention for the new FA.

Indeed, when the FA ultimately adopted a set of rules that closely mirrored the Cambridge Rules, several clubs chose to form a separate Rugby Football Union that allowed hacking. Thus the Football Association was instrumental in triggering the split between association football (or "soccer") and rugby.

The FA currently oversees all association football competitions in England and is in charge of the English men's and women's national teams. As the first football association in history, it is the only one not to include its nationality in its name.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

25 October 1981 - Oriali Bleeds Blue And Black

On 25 October 1981, Inter defeated Milan 1-0 in the Milan Derby. The winning goal was scored in the 69th minute by Inter midfielder Gabriele Oriali (pictured). It was first of five Serie A goals he would score all season.

He also made headlines that day by requiring thirty stitches after being kicked in the face by Milan defender Mauro Tassotti.

A product of the Inter youth academy, Oriali played for the Nerazzurri from 1970 to 1983, scoring 33 goals in 277 league appearances. In that time, he won two Scudettos (1971, 1980) and two Coppa Italia trophies (1978, 1982).
Inter also won the second Milan derby of the season, but finished in fifth position in the table, behind Juventus, Fiorentina, Roma, and Napoli. Milan finished 14th out of 16 teams and were relegated to Serie B.