Attracting millions of fans across the globe, soccer – or football depending on where you’re reading this – is one of the most popular sporting disciplines that has been in existence for more than a century. During this time, there have been many goals scored, losses conceded and historical moments made. In between, there have also been some fun, comical and strangely coincidental moments that have just added to the football flavour. Here are some really random soccer facts to mull over.
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10 Awesome Soccer Facts
1. A ‘van’tastic side
It’s been 18 years since the Netherlands played an international match without someone with a ‘van’ surname in their starting XI – this was against France. The last time they didn’t have a ‘van’ in their match-day squad was in 1996, a friendly against China.
Netherlands Soccer Team
2. Oldest and youngest players
The youngest ever player in a World Cup winning side was Brazilian footballer, Pele, at 17 years, 249 days old back in 1958. On the other side of the spectrum is Italian goalkeeper, Dino Zoff, who was 40 years, 133 days old when his side took the cup in 1982.
3. Going for gold
While most teams have to settle for a silver Premier League trophy, Arsene Wenger’s Gunners were handed a gold version of the coveted trophy to commemorate their ‘invincibles’ season in 2004.
4. Seven of clubs
Spanish striker, Fernando Torres, is the first player to have scored in seven official club competitions in one season. For the 2012/2013 season, the Chelsea striker scored in the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, FIFA Club World Cup, FA Community Shield, FA Cup and League Cup.
5. Four decades strong
Finland’s Jari Litmanen is the only ever footballer to have played internationally across four decades. Debuting in 1989, he continued to kick his was through the 90s and 00s before ending his career in 2010, having represented his country 137 times.
6. Italian grudge
The Italians were so miffed about being knocked out of the 2002 Football World Cup when Korean player, Ahn Jung-hwan, scored against Italy, that they actually cancelled his contract with Italian club, Perugia, for ‘ruining Italian soccer’.
7. Hammer hat trick
Former West Ham footballer, Alvin Martin, made history in 1986 when he scored a hat trick against three different goalkeepers in one game. He slipped the first one past Newcastle goalkeeper, Martin Thomas, who went off at halftime suffering from an injury. Centre back, Chris Hedworth, took to the nets as there was no substitute goalie, and Martin got one past him. Hedworth also went off with an injury, only to be replaced by Peter Beardsley who let the final goal slip past.
8. Generous bonus
A true philanthropist, German footballer, Mesut Ozil, donated his entire €300 000 World Cup victory bonus to charity. His money covered the surgery bills of 23 Brazilian children.
9. Baby boom
The Germans were extremely happy to have hosted the 2006 Football World Cup. So much so, that the German birth rate went up a whopping 30% nine months after hosting the competition, when compared with the same month the previous year.
10. War time truce
Sport has always had an incredibly uniting influence, even in war time. On Christmas Day, 1914, as World War I was creating havoc globally, Germany and the United Kingdom agreed to a day-long truce during which time they decorated their shelters, exchanged gifts and played a game on no-man’s land.