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Flashback: 2016 – A year of surprises

Tuesday 27th December 2016
As we have entered into the final week of 2016, and before we bid adieu to the year, I would like to take you to a short memory ride of the football events that left the world shell-shocked at times, and these stories and situations are why we all love the beautiful game so much.

They say to expect the unexpected, and anything is possible in football. The year 2016 literally proved it.

  1. The Foxes made a clean swipe in the most melodramatic Premier League season

I bet nobody even in their wildest dreams would have thought of this. Leicester City, a club which only managed to get promoted to the English top flight just two seasons ago, and finished the league in 14th place a season before claiming the ultimate prize.

Leicester City turned the sporting world upside down by winning the Premier League by a remarkable margin (10 pts). Credits to all the players, the manager and of course the fans! But, there will always be some stand out performers or should I say, heroes? In Leicester's case, those were Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, and N'Golo Kante.

Mahrez and Vardy were the ‘magical duo' for the Foxes in their title winning season. The pair scored 41 goals between them. Even there were reports claiming that Leicester fans produced an earthquake after a last minute goal and named it as ‘Vardy quake' after their top scorer. Who can forget about Kante? He was the unsung hero for them - he was a real driving force with his interceptions, distribution, and tackling.

All in all, it was a season to be remembered forever by their fans and surely would go down in history as the most bizarre season.

Here are some lines of my favourite commentator Peter Drury describing Leicester City's Premier League triumph –

“We prepare here to witness a moment in time for world's sports”

“Leicester City are the champions of England, a Premier League tale beyond compare”

“They did it, they only went and did it. How on earth this happened? It's happened and now's the proof.”

2. Portugal's epic journey in Euro
Yes, another unbelievable journey from start till the very end. Maybe that's why we call it ‘the beautiful game' and that's why we all love it. Who could have possibly thought of this? The team that finished 3rd in their group, won just 1 of their 7 matches in the regular time period and lost their talisman early on the biggest night in their history.

But, destiny had something else for them. And it was way, way more delightful than they could've imagined. Their captain Cristiano Ronaldo's tears of pain and despair turned into jubilation as Eder scored in the 2nd half of the extra time and broke the hearts of the hosts.

Everybody called them underdogs, the dark horses, the outsiders and what not. And when their main man Ronaldo was forced off the pitch on a stretcher in tears, everyone must have thought that now it's over for Portugal. But no, defying all the odds, they came out on top and claimed their first major trophy. A result that made the headlines and the history.

3. Iceland's fairytale
Last but not the least; this is yet another true fairytale in itself.

While Portugal acquired all the laurels, the most attention-grabbing story came from a country with a population of mere 330,000. And the even more intriguing thing is their coach, who is a part-time dentist. Can it get more awkward?

Iceland was placed in the same group as the winners Portugal. They finished above Portugal in the group stage (2nd). Thanks to a last-minute goal in their last group match against Austria.

Then in the round of 16, they produced a miracle, yes a miracle! They knocked out England. A memorable match in which they came from behind to defeat the Three Lions. A night of volcanic Icelandic celebrations which will be long remembered and a night which will haunt England for years.

Eventually, they faced a heavy defeat at the hands of the Hosts France (5-2). But, it was a huge leap in the right direction for Icelandic football. Not the prize but surely they have won many hearts!

The year 2016 have demonstrated that football can be more dramatic than Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead!
Zaid Pathan

A huge fan of Peter Drury's bombastic post-goal narration and an ardent football follower since his teens, Zaid believes the beautiful game is the best mode of escape from the daily hustle and bustle. He particularly loves to watch the Premier League and wants English clubs to dominate Europe again.

Life may or may not be beautiful, but football surely is.

Total articles: 112

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