Belgium’s much vaunted ‘golden generation’ stumbled through to the World Cup quarter-finals before another drab performance saw them heading home, much like every other team who have ever borne the label.
The golden generations of Yugoslavia (1990), Cameroon (1990), Romania (1994) and Nigeria (1994-1998) all stumbled at the quarter-final stage or sooner, while the golden generation of the Ivory Coast (2006-2014) didn’t even make it that far, owing to an unfortunate tendency to be drawn alongside other golden generations in their qualifying groups.
England famously enjoyed the services of a ‘golden generation’ between 2002 and 2006, so-called because a team that included Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney was widely considered dense and unreactive. A record of three successive quarter-final exits in major tournaments was only halted after England’s experimentally-titled ‘superplatinum generation’ failed to qualify for Euro 2008.
The research is given added weight by the tendency of Belgium’s conquerors Argentina to refer to themselves as ‘the putrid generation’, while the Dutch are known back home as ‘the generation of gormless imbeciles’ and Brazil as ‘the generation that deserves to win nothing, let alone a World Cup on home soil at the Maracana on July 13.'
Additional studies have concluded that no team dubbed ‘dark horses’ has ever come close to winning a trophy, citing the examples of Chile in 2010, Portugal in 2006, South Korea in 2002 and Croatia in every tournament since independence. Research also indicates that no political candidate described as a ‘dark horse’ has ever won an election, and no duskier-than-average mount has won the Grand National in a hundred years.