“Back in the glory days when football was new, Sky used to give their man of the match a bottle of bubbly,” tweets Ben Jones. “Did it ever go to a youngster under 18? If so, did they have to leave it with the other interviewee from the club?”
This has happened quite a lot, both on and off screen. Let’s start with a famous example on Sky Sports. In April 2009, 17-year-old Federico Macheda scored an astonishing injury-time goal against Aston Villa on his Manchester United debut. It was a matchwinning contribution – and a man-of-the-matchwinning one. He did his post-match interview with Gary Neville, who was given the champagne on his behalf. Macheda cheerily grabbed it off Neville and danced into the dressing room, never to be seen again.
A similar thing happened in Scotland in 2017. Harry Cochrane, aged 16, scored the first goal when Hearts ended Celtic’s 69-match unbeaten run with a stunning 4-0 win. He was named man of the match on Sky and did a post-match interview with the French-Serbian forward David Milkinovic, who selflessly put Cochrane’s booze in his safe keeping. Over the next couple of years, Cochrane was given cans of Irn-Bru when he was man of the match. He turned 18 in April 2019, at which point his mum started commandeering his grown-up prizes.
Gareth Bale, then 17, had to be accompanied by a responsible adult, 18-year-old Andrew Surman, when he collected his bubbly after being named man of the match for Southampton against Norwich in 2006. Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere was just 16, and a future superstar, when he won a bottle of champagne for his performance against Wigan in the Carling Cup; he gave it to his mum.
At the 2018 International Champions Cup – a pre-season tournament with a pretentious and factually incorrect name – Christian Pulisic starred as Borussia Dortmund beat Liverpool 3-1. Pulisic was 19 at the time, below the legal drinking age in his home country of America, so the Heineken-sponsored award was instead given to Virgil van Dijk. A similar thing happened to the 20-year-old Jordan Morris when he scored in USA’s 2-0 friendly win over Mexico in 2015. On that occasion, Budweiser were the sponsors, and Morris was deemed ineligible for the award.
Any more for any more? Mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The oldest winger in town
“Who is the oldest men’s England international?” asks Margaret.
Sometimes the obvious answer is also the correct one. The oldest man to play for England is Sir Stanley Matthews, who was 42 years, 103 days when he won the last of his 54 caps against Denmark in 1957. He lost his place after that, but famously played for Stoke City in the top flight at the age of 50.
What makes Matthews record even more remarkable is that he played on the wing. The next four men on the list of England’s oldest players are all goalkeepers:
Stanley Matthews (42 years, 103 days)
Alec Morten (41 years, 113 days)
Peter Shilton (40 years, 292 days)
David James (39 years, 330 days)
Ted Taylor (39 years, 41 days)
The joy of six (or more) goals in every domestic competition
“Which teams have scored six goals in a game in all three of the league, FA Cup and League Cup in a single season?” posed quizmaster Philip a few weeks back.
“Nobody answered,” writes Adam Webster. “Nobody! Are standards slipping? In the 2018-19 season Manchester City scored six against Southampton and Chelsea in the league, seven versus Rotherham and six v Watford (in the final) in the FA Cup. They also rifled nine past Burton Albion in the League Cup, and, for good measure, six v Shakhtar Donetsk and seven against Wolfsburg in the Champions League.”
You seem to have covered that nicely Adam, thanks.
“In light of Real Madrid’s sacking of Fabio Capello, are there any other managers who have been sacked after winning the league title twice by the same club?” enquired Gordon Tait in July 2007.
Madrid actually only swung the axe at poor Fabio’s head on one occasion, Gordon; on the other, in 1997, he left the Bernabéu for Milan of his own accord. However, Vicente del Bosque has been effectively sacked by the club twice: first, during a short tenure as manager in 1994 and then, infamously, in 2003 when the club decided not to renew his contract even though he had just led the club to their second La Liga title in three seasons. He had also, somewhat shabbily, won two Champions League crowns in his four years in charge. “Del Bosque was showing signs of exhaustion,” deadpanned the Real president Florentino Pérez, before adding, with a straight face: “I want to be sincere about this – our belief that he was not the right coach for the future.”
Even before Del Bosque, Madrid had form for severing the hand that feeds them: in 1998, they sacked German coach Jupp Heynckes after one season – a season in which they won the European Cup for the first time in 32 years. Heynckes paid the price for some relatively miserable domestic form – Madrid finished fourth in La Liga, although they actually lost fewer games than the champions Barcelona – and was gone within eight days of the 1-0 victory over Juventus.
However, surely the hardest-done-by manager in history was the Bayern Munich boss Udo Lattek, also sacked by his paymasters on two occasions. “In 1975, after he had won three German championships in a row and the European Cup, a Bayern side full of tired World Cup winners only finished 10th in the league,” recalled Raphael Honigstein. “Legend has it he then told club president Wilhelm Neudecker that ‘things have to change’, only to receive the reply: ‘Yes, they have to: you’re fired!’ He was reappointed in 1983 and again won three German championships and two cups in four seasons. But the European Cup final defeat in 1987 exposed a fraught relationship with his players. The club ultimately blamed him for the 2-1 loss against Porto and he was sacked. Again.”
Can you help?
“While perusing the Norwegian Eliteserien standings for this season I noticed that Bodo/Glimt were currently top and that interestingly their name contains a forward slash (/). Are there any other examples of teams around the world containing this or other such symbols commonly found on your keyboard?” asks Chris Whearty.
@TheKnowledge_GU Emre Can won the goal of the season for the Bundesliga (https://t.co/2sDkpI8sNA) meaning he now has goal of the season in two different leagues. Is there anyone who's won it more often, or in different countries?— Alex Davies (@SheikhLeJaguar) August 7, 2020
Hoffenheim qualified for Europe after back to back 4-0 wins in their last 2 games. Are they the first team to qualify for Europe with a 0+ goal difference?— Craig (@Craig_SAFC) August 11, 2020
After 18 years and 607 appearances, Jon Stead finally made his first appearance at Wembley in this year's National League playoff final. Has anyone waited longer to make their bow at the national stadium?— Steve Hyde (@StevenJamesHyde) August 11, 2020
“Are there any players with more Premier League experience than Stead – 86 games – who have later gone on to lead a team into the Football League?” adds Paul Moran.
“I notice that on Saturday 8 August 2019-20 Champions league ties were played. On the same day, qualifying ties for the 20-21 Champions League took place. Is this the first time that two different seasons of the same competition have been played on the same day” wonders Adam Webster.
@TheKnowledge_GU Silvio Piola has two stadia named after him, at Novara and Pro Vercelli. Does any other footballing personality have more?— Jimbo (@jamesv_t) August 9, 2020
I feel like this must've been asked already but asking on the off-chance it hasn't!