Sport Football The wacky and the sublime: What a year in football
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The wacky and the sublime: What a year in football

Sir Alex Ferguson
AFP
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Another year has passed in the world of football with new champions crowned, a list of farewells and some pure wackiness shown on the global stage. Here’s to 2013 and an even better 2014.

The Wacky:

Suarez takes a bite out of Ivanovic

Well… he must have been hungry. During Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Chelsea in April, Luis Suarez decided to take a bite out of Serbian Branislav Ivanovic. In ever controversial fashion, Suarez went on to score the games equaliser. The Uruguayan later received a 10 match ban but came back to score 19 goals for Liverpool after his suspension in the second half of 2013.

Eden Hazard kicks ball boy

With Swansea in a 2-0 lead aggregate lead against Chelsea at Liberty Stadium in the League Cup semi-final in January, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard decided to have a kick at the ball boy. The kick signalled the end of Chelsea’s campaign as the Belgium international was given his marching orders and later received a three-match ban. As for the ball boy, who was 17 at the time, he turned out to be a son of a principle Swansea shareholder and even bragged about what he was going to do before the match on twitter…. and later ended up with a mere 38,000 retweets.

The king of all ball boys is back making his final appearance #needed #for #timewasting — Charlie Morgan (@CHARLIEM0RGAN) January 23, 2013

The snow game

Seeking an advantage in their World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica, the United States took the game to Denver in mid March…. and yes, as in true Denver fashion it snowed, a lot. With the pitch covered in snow the Americans took the first half lead before the referees decided to call off the game in the 55th minute. Both sides decided that the game should continue, and so it did. The USA went on to claim the three points as months later both nations clinched berths for a much warmer Brazil 2014.

Joey Barton creates twitter storm

Never far away from controversy, Joey Barton landed himself in a storm once again with a controversial tweet aimed at PSG and Brazil star Thiago Silva. Barton referred the centre back as a “overweight ladyboy” that saw the Englishman receive a two-match ban as Marseille finished second in Ligue 1 behind Silva’s PSG.

@Joey7barton – “Have to take back what I said about Thiago Silva being over-rated today. Been immense tonight. Still looks like an overweight ladyboy though!”

The reason this is the world game:

Smiles in Afghanistan

This year’s heart warming story from world football saw Afghanistan claim their first international trophy after defeating India 2-0 in the final of the South Asian Football Federation Final. After the match Afghan coach Yousef Kargar said: “You can’t imagine how big this moment is for our country.” Celebrations saw thousands of Afghans celebrating in the streets.

The Sublime:

Neymar sends a warning to the world

It was a year to remember for the young Brazilian superstar. After signing for Barcelona from Santos for a transfer fee of 57 million euros in May, Neymar went on to claim the Confederations Cup Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player. Neymar scored four goals in the tournament including one in Brazil’s 3-0 victory over Spain in the Final and the tournament’s opener against Japan which is nominated for FIFA’s goal of the season. Since joining Barcelona, Neymar has scored 11 goals in 26 matches and will lead Brazil as favourites into the 2014 World Cup.

Abby Wambach breaks world record

It’s not everyday you get an opportunity to enter the record books but on June 20, American women’s international Abby Wambach scored her 159th international goal to surpass previous record holder, and former teammate, Mia Hamm as the all time leading international goal scorer, male or female. She currently sits on 163 goals.

Bayern five star

What a season for Bayern Munich. Five titles in all including the European Champions League were they defeated fellow Germans Borussia Dortmund 2-1 through a late Arjen Robben strike. Bayern also claimed the Bundesliga title by a mere 25 points along with the DFB Pokal and UEFA Super Cup before becoming FIFA Club World Cup Champions defeating Morocco’s Raja Casablanca 3-0. Is this the greatest Bayern Munich side ever? 

Bayern Munich
Bayern enjoyed an historic season. Photo: Getty

Ronaldo returns to the summit Long regarded as the best footballer in the world alongside Lionel Messi, 2013 was one for Cristiano Ronaldo to remember. After being labelled a “commander on the field” by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who also claimed that Ronaldo spent more money on his hair than Messi in what seemed to be an attack on the star, Ronaldo came out with a hat-trick in his next game. Ronaldo ended the year with 59 goals in 51 games for Real Madrid and 10 goals in nine games for Portugal. The highlight of the year saw Ronaldo score a hat-trick in the second leg of the World Cup qualifier against Sweden in what was the game of the year. The Portuguese superstar is now favourite to claim a second Ballon d’Or and will headline Portugal’s chances at Brazil 2014 – which the commentator in this video is excited about.

The farewells:

Fergie calls it a day

After initially deciding to retire in 2002, Sir Alex Ferguson finally chose to call it quits in 2013. After 26 years at United, Ferguson knocked Liverpool off their perch by lifting the Premier League 13 times, helping United to their 20th overall along with a long list of other achievements including two prized European Champions Leagues. Upon retirement, Ferguson released his highly anticipated autobiography where he criticises former players David Beckham, Roy Keane and our very own Mark Bosnich.

Sir Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson lifts the Premier League trophy for the final time. Photo: Getty

Beckham’s french au revoir

Football’s global superstar called it a day in May as Beckham farewelled to his footballing career with PSG. Ever criticised for his celebrity, Beckham’s footballing achievements should be highly regarded with six Premier League titles, a La Liga, a Ligue 1, MLS Cup and a European Champions League. Regarded as one of FIFA’s 125 greatest footballers, Beckham will be forever remembered as a true football icon.

The just plain rich:

Bale becomes a Galactico Purchased for seven million pounds in 2007 by Tottenham from Southampton, Gareth Bale transformed into the most expensive footballer on the planet this year as Real Madrid splashed 85 million pounds for the winger. Since becoming a Galactico in September, Bale has made 15 appearances for Madrid, scoring nine times. The boy who once dreamed of playing for Real Madrid is now living that dream, and this handshake is worth a combined £150 million.

Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo
An expensive pair: Bale and Ronaldo. Photo: AFP

An Aussie view:

Socceroos begin transition

If any team could claim to have an up and down year it was the Socceroos. After drawing with Oman in March the Socceroos were on the back foot in qualifying for Brazil 2014. However, manager Holger Osciek turned results around with a draw away to Japan before home wins against Jordan and a late Josh Kennedy header against Iraq saw the Socceroos qualify for a third straight World Cup. Things turned quickly sour with two 6-0 thumpings away to Brazil and then France which saw Osciek get the sack in an unforgettable Paris night. In came Ange Postecoglou weeks later, and he has the uneasy task of injecting youth into the ageing squad as well as dealing with the shock international retirement of Mark Schwarzer, Australia’s most capped player. To end the year, the Socceroos were handed a nightmare World Cup draw with Spain, the Netherlands and Chile.

Ange Postecoglou
Ange Postecoglou has an uphill battle to turn around the Socceroos. Photo: Getty

An A-League fairytale

The 2013 A-League Grand Final saw the fairytale match up between Central Coast Mariners and the Western Sydney Wanderers. Heading into the A-League final in their first season, the Wanderers were favourites against a Mariners side that had lost their three previous Grand Finals. But the Mariners defeated the Wanderers 2-0 through goals from Daniel McBreen and the retiring Patrick Zwaanswijk.