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100 football trivia facts to take to your next Zoom quiz

Trivia facts
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Some players make a career simply through being the obscure answer to a trivia question. The only player to score a World Cup hat-trick. A player who was never booked. A player who played in every big derby going (feel free to get a point if you know each of those). 

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And when it comes to football trivia, it's never-ending. There are records beyond records, at all levels of the game. 

Believe it or not, these facts can save your life. Or at least save your pub quiz team a trip to the toilet to snidely check your phone for the answer. 

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Chelsea

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1. Chelsea are the only team to be holders of the Europa League and the Champions League at the same time

In 2012, the Blues won their first Champions League. The following season, with Rafa Benitez at the helm, the club won the Europa League final, on 15 May. Given that the Champions League final was due on May 25, for 10 days only, Chelsea were the holders of both titles.

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Giuseppe Bergomi

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2. Giuseppe Bergomi played in four World Cups but - but never in a qualifier

'The Uncle' was a late call-up to the 1982 squad at the age of 18, playing in the final three matches of the tournament - but he wasn't a regular during the qualifying process for the tournament. As holders in 1986, Italy didn't have to qualify, while in 1990, The Azzurri held the tournament. After being dropped under Arrigo Sacchi, Bergomi was a late call-up for 1998, when he made three appearances.

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Sir Matt Busby

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3. Matt Busby played for Manchester City and Liverpool

Yep, the legendary Manchester United manager racked up over 300 appearances as a player for United’s two biggest rivals before leading the Red Devils to their very first European Cup victory and defining the path that the club would walk down for the following half-century. 

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Nemanja Vidic

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4. Nemanja Vidic is the only Premier League winner with a surname made entirely of Roman Numerals

V is five, I is one, D is 500 and C is 100. 

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Fratton Park

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5. Portsmouth hold the record for having held the FA Cup for the longest - seven years - despite only winning it once in that time

This was because they won it in 1939 and there was no professional football during the war. 

Likewise, Italy held the World Cup between 1934 and 1950 - 16 years, or four tournaments - having only won it twice in that time. 

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Bixente Lizarazu

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6. Bixente Lizarazu was the first World and European Champion at both club and international level

The Frenchman won the Champions League final and Intercontinental Cup in 2001 with Bayern Munich, after lifting the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.

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Raul Jimenez

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7. In 1967, Wolves, Stoke and Sunderland played domestic football in the USA

The newly formed United Soccer Association lifted whole teams from Europe and implanted them to America. Wolverhampton Wanderers, Stoke City and Sunderland were renamed LA Wolves, Cleveland Stokers and Vancouver Royals respectively with the squads and coaches going over to compete for these teams. Wolves ended up winning the one and only season the league played.

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New Zealand

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8. New Zealand were the only unbeaten team in the 2010 World Cup

New Zealand's three draws weren't enough to see them out of their group, unfortunately. Spain won the tournament in the end but capitulated in their opening game, losing 1-0 to Switzerland.

Fascinatingly too, Spain only scored eight goals across the seven matches of the tournament, winning every knockout game 1-0. Strange to think, given the romanticism of the side's tiki-taka and wealth of attacking talent. 

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Kettering Town

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9. Kettering Town have scored more FA Cup goals than anyone else

The Poppies have scored 864. That's 23 more than second-placed Aston Villa - plus, they've reached the first round proper more times than any other club outside of the Football League.

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England

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10. Only one team have ever won the World Cup final playing in red

England. Despite the popularity of the colour at club level, no team with red as a first-choice shade has ever won a world title. 

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Fernando Torres

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11. Fernando Torres was captain of the Atletico Madrid side that Diego Simeone played in

Torres was a young captain at Atletico Madrid, as El Cholo was winding down his career at the club. Diego Simeone later managed Torres at Atletico. 

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Dundee United vs Barcelona

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12. Dundee United have a 100% record against Barcelona

Played four, won four. Dundee United have twice been drawn against Barcelona in European competition - they've scored seven goals and conceded only two in the process, to win the lot. 

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Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid

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13. In 2014, three Chelsea goalkeepers were awarded clean sheets in a 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid

Mark Schwarzer came off the bench to replace Petr Cech in the 18th minute with the score goalless. Schwarzer didn’t concede and neither did the Atletico keeper, Thibault Courtois… who was on loan from Chelsea.

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David Beckham

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14. David Beckham and David Moyes used to play together

Moyes was at Preston North End from 1993 to 1999 - while Beckham played the 1994/95 season at Deepdale on loan from Manchester United.

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Robert Earnshaw

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15. Robert Earnshaw is the only player to have scored a hat-trick in all three divisions of the English Football League, the Premier League, the League Cup, FA Cup, and for his country at International level

The Welshman has been there and done that. 

His first hat-trick came in the FA Cup for Cardiff City against Bristol Rovers in November 2000; a month later, he netted three against Torquay United in what is now League Two. In September 2002, he scored his first League Cup hat-trick for Cardiff against Boston United, and in November of that year, he scored another three against Queens Park Rangers for his first League One hat-trick.

In 2003, he scored a Championship hat-trick for Cardiff against Gillingham, in 2004, he scored three for Wales against Scotland and in 2005, he completed a quite unique collection, scoring a Premier League hat-trick for West Bromwich Albion against Charlton Athletic.

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Celtic

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16. Pre-Champions League, Scotland were the only country to produce two cities with two clubs that reached the European Cup semi-finals

In 2016, Manchester City reached the Champions League semi-finals, nearly 50 years after United first did it in 1968; Chelsea first made the final four in 2004 at the expense of cross-town rivals Arsenal, who got there in 2006. 

But Scotland boasted a record like this long before. Rangers reached the final four of the 1960 European Cup, while bitter enemies Celtic won the competition in 1967. Dundee were beaten semi-finalists in 1963, while Dundee United completed a set of sorts in 1984, when they got the semis. 

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Teenagers

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17. In 1941, Rapid Vienna won the German championship

In fact, that Bundesliga title means that Rapid Vienna have actually won more German titles than Bayer Leverkusen... awkward. 

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Javier Mascherano

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18. Javier Mascherano's first game in senior football was for Argentina's national team, not for his club at the time, River Plate

Mascherano was such a wonderkid that his country came calling before his club. Aren't you glad that this is our Mascherano fact, rather than the time he "tore his anus" making a last-ditch tackle on Arjen Robben?

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Gianfranco Zola

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19. Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola is the only player to be sent off in a World Cup finals... on his birthday

The match occurred at the 1994 tournament. Well, at least the referee got him a card. 

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Hugo Sanchez

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20. In 1984/85 legendary striker Hugo Sanchez was La Liga top scorer with 19 goals. In 2011/12, Cristiano Ronaldo scored 46 goals and that was only enough to finish 2nd for the award

See also: Liverpool's runner-up tally of 2018/19 being enough to win the title in all but one other Premier League campaign. 

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Italy

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21. The 1968 European Championship semi-final was decided by a coin toss

Italy beat the Soviet Union on the toss and later won in the final. Madness. 

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Old Trafford

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22. The highest attendance recorded at Old Trafford was 76,962 for an FA Cup semi-final between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Grimsby Town on 25 March 1939

Despite the Theatre of Dreams being Manchester United's stadium, United haven't filled it to quite the same capacity that Wolves have. 

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Celtic

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23. The last time both European Cup/Champions League finalists had no foreign players in their starting XIs was in 1967

Despite overseas players being a modern phenomenon that we associate with the 1990s onwards, you have to go back to the 1967 clash between Celtic and Inter Milan to find no foreigners in the starting XI of the two European Cup finalists. 

Here’s a bonus - the entire Celtic side was born in a 30-mile radius of Glasgow. Surely, that will never ever happen again for any club?

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Gabriel Batistuta

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24. The last Welsh speaker to score a goal at the old Wembley is rumoured to be Gabriel Batistuta

OK, less of a fact, but an urban legend. 

There’s a Welsh settlement in Patagonia, Chubut Province, Argentina - the Welsh people first arrived in Patagonia in 1865, after migrating to protect their native Welsh culture and language, which they considered to be threatened in their native Wales. 

The story goes that Batigol had Welsh speakers from Patagonia in his family. Apparently he knew a bit of the lingo, too - so after scoring against Arsenal for Fiorentina in the Champions League at Wembley in the late 90s, he became the last Welsh speaker to net at the old ground. 

It’s never been confirmed unfortunately; Gabriel Heinze was also rumoured to be a Welsh speaker, too.

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Karen Brady

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25. While she was a director at Birmingham City Karen Brady sold her husband Paul Peschisolido to Stoke for £400k

Pretty sure they talked about it first.

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Asmir Begovic

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26. There are only three clubs who've had a player score against his clubmate at the World Cup

In 2006, Zinedine Zidane met Iker Casillas as France took on Spain; Zizou came out on top, scoring against his Real Madrid teammate, as the French won 3-1. 

Four years later, Wesley Sneijder scored for the Netherlands against Julio Cesar in goal for Brazil, just weeks after they’d both won the treble with Inter Milan. 

And in 2014, Stoke City’s Peter Odemwingie netted for Nigeria against club-mate Asmir Begovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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Maracana

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27. There was no World Cup final in 1950

The format had a final four in a group, so while there was a deciding match between Uruguay and Brazil - which became the last time that Brazil would lose at home in competitive football until Germany whupped them 7-1 in 2014 - it wasn't really the World Cup final. 

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Alex Stepney

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28. In 1975, the Manchester United goalkeeper, Alex Stepney dislocated his jaw while shouting at his defenders

You wouldn't want to be one of his defenders, would you? 

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Corentin Tolisso

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29. Since 1982 at least one Bayern Munich player has played in every World Cup final

The record used to be that there was at least one Bayern player starting - but Corentin Tolisso was on the bench for the 2018 final. Lucas Hernandez signed for the German side that summer but was an Atletico Madrid player when he won the Cup. 

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Ronald Graafland

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30. Feyenoord goalkeeper Ronald Graafland waited 18 years to make his senior league debut for the club after first joining them

Graafland came through the Rotterdam outfit’s academy in the late 90s and was in the first team squad as a back-up keeper as a 19-year-old. He left in 2000, though he did move back in 2011. 

He was brought on as a substitute in the final game of the 2013/14 season, aged 34, against AZ Alkmaar for a 15-minute debut and Feyenoord 1-0 up… and he couldn’t keep a clean sheet. Johan Gudmundsson, now at Burnley, hit a long-range equaliser. Poor old Ronald. 

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Sir Alex Ferguson

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31. Before Alex Ferguson took over at Manchester United, Aston Villa were the more successful club

In 1986, both sides had one European Cup and seven league titles apiece - however, the Villans had one more FA Cup than the Red Devils. 

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Peter Osgood

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32. Peter Osgood's ashes are buried under the penalty spot at the Shed End of Stamford Bridge

There's something incredibly badass about that. 

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Barcelona

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33. Johan Cruyff played for PSG

Despite being 23 when the club was formed, Cruyff played two games with Paris Saint-Germain in 1975, during the Paris Tournament. The Dutchman agreed to do so, since he was a fan of designer Daniel Hechter, who was then-president of the club and the man who designed those iconic red, blue and white shirts.

Not many people know either that despite the obvious connection with Ajax, Cruyff left the club to join Feyenoord in his twilight over a dispute with them. 

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Ballon d'Or

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34. Stoke City were the last team in the Premier League to have a Ballon d'Or winner play for them

The last Premier League player to win the Ballon d’Or was Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008. Since then, the award has flitted between CR7 and Lionel Messi, while the pair were at Real and Barcelona respectively, with Los Blancos’ Luka Modric picking one up in between. 

But in 2012, Stoke signed 2001 BdO winner, Michael Owen. The last Premier League club that the former boy wonder turned out for, in fact. 

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Bobby Zamora

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35. Bobby Zamora and Obafemi Martins are the only two footballers to have scored penalties with their right and left foot in the Premier League

Thierry Henry and Robert Pires are the only two players to try passing a penalty to each other in the Premier League, too. Not that it worked. 

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Hull City

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36. Hull City is the only team in the Football League with a name in which you can’t colour in any of the letters

Because there are no closed letters in the words "Hull" and "City". 

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Julio Iglesias

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37. Julio Iglesias was once the goalkeeper of Real Madrid

Well, Real Madrid Castilla in the Segunda Division, to be precise. The crooner’s professional football career was ruined when he was involved in a serious car accident in 1963 that left him unable to walk for two years. He later fathered Enrique, who released melty banger, Hero.

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Tomas Galasek

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38. One man was involved in both games that used Silver Goal

There was only ever one Silver Goal in international football and one in club football - and Tomas Galasek was on the pitch for both. The only Silver Goal in international football was scored by Traianos Dellas in the Euro 2004 semi-final against the Czech Republic - his only goal for his country in 53 appearances. The only Silver Goal in club football came in a Champions League qualification match between Ajax and Grazer AK.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy

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39. Only one of Ruud Van Nistelrooy's 150 goals for Manchester United was from outside the box

It was against Charlton Athletic and if you ever watched the man play, this isn’t really much of a surprise. Still, impressive.  

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Zinedine Zidane

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40. France have a record of firsts when it comes to new technology in the sport

France were awarded the first penalty by VAR at the 2018 World Cup, in a group game against Australia - they also had the first goal disallowed by VAR, in 2017 against Spain. 

In 2014, Karim Benzema scored the first goal to be awarded by goal-line technology in a World Cup mauling against Honduras, while in 2006, Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt was only punished by a red card when the referee missed it originally and Gianluigi Buffon told the fourth assistant to watch the footage, pointing at the big screen. This became the first sending off to be given by an official watching video footage. 

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St Johnstone

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41. St Johnstone is the only team in Britain with a J in it

Have this one as a bonus: Cowdenbeath FC is the only team in the UK with the letters A, B, C, D and E contained in the name.

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Neymar

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42. Only three times has the world transfer record been broken by teams not from Italy, England or Spain

Obviously, Paris Saint-Germain most recently broke it for Neymar, but the other two teams you’re looking for? River Plate and Falkirk. In 1932, River paid £32,000 for Bernabé Ferreyra; 10 years prior, Falkirk had smashed the piggy bank to cough up £5,000 for West Ham United’s Sydney Puddlefoot. Crazy money.

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1904 Olympics

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43. The U.S. Men won both silver and bronze at the 1904 Olympics

Despite the Yanks' reputation for not being that involved in football culture, they've been scattered over the history of the game a fair bit. Perhaps unsurprisingly on this occasion, there were only three teams in the competition. FIFA does not consider the results to be “official”, but the IOC does.

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Widzew Lodz

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44. Widzew Lodz is the only club this century to defend the title of second division champions

They won it in 2007/08 and got promoted to Ekstraklasa but were relegated back down immediately, due to their involvement in a corruption scandal. In 2008/09, they won it again.

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Jimmy Rimmer

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45. The only player to have won European Cup winners’ medals with two different English clubs is Jimmy Rimmer

Rimmer was injured after only nine minutes in the 1982 final with Aston Villa and had to be replaced by Nigel Spink as the club beat Bayern Munich. As a 20-year-old, he was on the bench for Manchester United during their win in 1968.

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USA

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46. The first World Cup hat trick and clean sheet were by Americans

Them again. United States goalkeeper Jimmy Douglas managed the first clean sheet of the inaugural 1930 tournament in a 3-0 win against Belgium. Four days later, Bert Patenaude scored three goals in another 3-0 win, this time against Paraguay.

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Franz Beckenbauer

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47. In 2003 Franz Beckenbauer threatened the German league with moving Bayern Munich to Italy

The Bayern president made the threat in the wake of Bundesliga administrators accusing his club of financial misdemeanours. 

“If they continue to nag us we will apply to play in the Italian league,” Becks said. “Juventus, AC Milan and Roma are fantastic teams and would make great opponents. Then we’ll see how the Bundesliga gets on without us.” Borussia Dortmund are gutted it never happened. 

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Rio Mavuba

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48. Rio Mavuba was born at sea

The midfielder, most famously of Lille, was born on a boat in international waters and did not have a nationality. He received French citizenship in 2004 as he grew up there.

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Zola and Ancelotti

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49. Gianfranco Zola and Carlo Ancelotti have really got to stop meeting each other like this

Has anyone met each in football in so many different scenarios as Zola and Ancelotti?

As players Zola and Ancelotti played against each other in the Serie A, for Napoli and AC Milan respectively, between 1989 and 1992. As players, they played on the same team exactly once, when Italy faced Norway in a European Championship Qualification match in 1991; it was Ancelotti's last game for the Azzuri and Zola's debut. 

When Ancelotti managed Reggiana in the 1995/96 Serie A season, Zola played against Don Carlo for Parma. Ancelotti was Zola's manager for 3 months at Parma in 1996, before Zola left for Chelsea. 

And finally, in the 2009/10 Premier League season they met as managers, in charge of West Ham United and Chelsea, respectively.

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Stamford Bridge

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50. Bringing celery to Stamford Bridge is outlawed and could get you a lifetime ban

After a NSFW chant involving the vegetable grew in popularity in the 2000s, fans began chucking it onto the pitch - which was swiftly banned by the club. 

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Dion Dublin at Coventry

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51. Coventry City did not finish in the top six of any division between 1970 and 2018

In 1970, the Sky Blues finished sixth but the teams either side of them qualified for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. What followed was nearly 50 years of near-misses. 

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Ainsley Maitland-Niles

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52. The Arsenal captain always chooses the length of the entire team’s sleeves for the game

The white sleeves were introduced by legendary manager Herbert Chapman to help the Gunners stand out from other teams. These days, it’s common for the Arsenal captain - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - to just choose short sleeves and let the rest of the team wear long-sleeved undershirts should they wish. It was common, however, during the early 2000s for French skippers Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry to choose long sleeves, while preceding captain Tony Adams favoured a shorter sleeve.

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Reading

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53. Reading are (possibly) allowed to wear their home kit every game if they wanted

Well, apparently Reading don’t even know if this is true. Because the club are the figurehead team of the royal county of Berkshire - they’re the Royals, duh - they can, if they so wished, play every league game in their home kit. 

That’s right - they could play Birmingham City at St. Andrews, for example, and force City to don their away kit by royal decree. At least… that’s the idea. Reading have never enforced it (obviously) though they have officially acknowledged the rumours and have never contacted the Football League about whether it would be theoretically possible. 

They’ve even said that the specifics of the rule have been lost in time. We may never know… 

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Inter AC Milan

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54. AC and Inter Milan were one club who split due to a dispute

Back in the early days of Italian football, there were two leagues: one for Italian players and one for overseas players. Figures at AC Milan only wanted to let Italians on their team with no international players - strange really, as the club was founded by English people (hence the anglicised spelling of Milan). 

Some at the club disagreed with this, and so Internazionale was formed. The two leagues didn’t last very long and merged pretty soon after Inter had splintered off. 

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Owen Hargreaves

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55. Owen Hargreaves is the only player to have played for England without having previously lived in the United Kingdom

Hargreaves represented Wales U19s, was brought up in Canada and was playing in Germany when the call-up came. 

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Arsenal

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56. Arsenal and Port Vale are the only two clubs in the country that don’t have the geographical location of the team in their name

Arsenal were originally named Woolwich Arsenal after the area in south London they were named after, shaking the ‘Woolwich’ moniker when they moved to the north of the city. Port Vale’s name is a reference to the valley of ports on the Trent and Mersey Canal; the club are based in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.

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Mark Hughes

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57. Mark Hughes once played for Wales and Bayern Munich in the same day

Hughes joined Bayern Munich in November 1987 on a season-long loan from Barcelona. Manager Uli Hoeness sorted the two games in a day for him, apparently. 

“In passing, he said ‘what time is the game?’ And I said, ‘I think it's about half-past three, four o’clock’. From that moment on he was making phone calls and came back into the room and said, ‘I think you may be able to play for us the same night’,” Hughes recalled. 

“I thought he was just kidding but obviously he wasn't, so he organised everything.”

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Brunei

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58. The Brunei national team used to enter Malaysian club competitions and won the Malaysian Cup in 1999.

The Brunei national football team is young compared to some members of FIFA and have never reached a World Cup - in fact, they didn't even enter the qualifiers in their early days. They've been consistently invited into Malaysian cup competitions, though and went as far as winning a tournament in 1999 - which was a shock to everyone. 

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Marco Silva

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59. At one point, the three teams that had the worst record of conceding set pieces in Premier League history were: Marco Silva's Hull, Marco Silva's Watford and Marco Silva's Everton

It's safe to say he hasn't mastered them.

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David Beckham

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60. David Beckham was born at Whipps Cross hospital

The aptly-named hospital is just north of Leytonstone.

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Gil Scott-Heron

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61. Gil Scott-Heron's dad was the first black player for Celtic.

Gil Scott-Heron was a poet, author, musician and activist, labelled “the godfather of rap”; his work has been sampled by the likes of Kanye West, Jamie xx and Drake. 

His father, Gil Heron, was a Jamaican striker who represented the Bhoys in the 1950s. 

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Samuel Eto'o

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62. Samuel Eto’o won consecutive trebles in 2009 and 2010 with Barcelona and Inter Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic swapped Inter in 2009 for Barcelona in 2010 as part of Eto’o clearly getting the better end of the deal.

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Luka Modric

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63. Luka Modric and Mark Viduka are cousins

Viduka's father, Joe, was from Croatia, from where he emigrated to Australia in the 1960s. 

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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64. Norway have an unbeaten record against Brazil

Played four, won two, drawn two. Watch out, Neymar. 

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France

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65. 10 of France’s top 12 most-capped players played in the Euro 2000 final

That’s Lilian Thuram, Thierry Henry, Marcel Desailly, Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira, Didier Deschamps, Laurent Blanc, Bixente Lizarazu, Sylvain Wiltord and Fabian Barthez. The other two who make up the top 12 - Hugo Lloris and Olivier Giroud - are still playing today. 

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Ruud van Nistelrooy and Patrick Kluivert

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66. Patrick Kluivert and Ruud van Nistelrooy were born on the exact same day but lived wildly different careers

Both born on July 1 1976, Kluivert was a Champions League final scorer and winner in 1995 and had played at AC Milan and Barcelona before the millennium. 

By the time van Nistelrooy joined Manchester United in 2001, Kluivert was on the descent as a force, eventually moving to Newcastle United in 2004. RVN would eventually turn out for Real Madrid in the mid-2000s, while Big Pat had already moved back to the Netherlands to PSV Eindhoven

Their careers barely intersected considering their joint age: Van Nistelrooy’s last international goal, for example, came eight years after Kluivert's.

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Eidur Gudjohnssen

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67. In 1996, Eidur Gudjohnsen was subbed on for Arnor Gudjohnsen, making them the first (and still only) father and son to appear in the same international match.

Eider was 17 at the time, Arnor 34. And the pair are still cheesed off that they never got to play for Iceland together.

The president of the Football Association of Iceland, Eggert Magnusson, gave the coach Logi Olafsson an express order to not play them together in that game: he wanted it to happen on home turf, but Gudjohnsen Jr ended up breaking his leg. By the time he was fit again, Gudjohnsen Sr has retired. 

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Hans-Jorg Butt

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68. Hans-Jorg Butt scored three Champions League goals - all penalties for different clubs against Juventus

In 2000, Butt scored against Edwin van der Sar in the Juventus goal for Hamburg, during a 4-4 Champions League thriller. The German joined Bayer Leverkusen on a free transfer in 2001 and appeared in every game up until the Champions League final, scoring a penalty in a 3-1 home win against Juventus in the second group stage. 

In 2009, the 35-year-old slotted another spot-kick home against Gianluigi Buffon - this time in a 4-1 win while playing for Bayern Munich. 

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Steve Finnan

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69. Steve Finnan is the only player to have played in the World Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup, and the top 5 levels of English football

That’s the 2002 World Cup with the Republic of Ireland and the European competitions for Liverpool - plus the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. Finnan also played for Welling United, Birmingham City, Notts County and Fulham during his tour de force of the pyramid. 

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France

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70. France went 20 years not winning a World Cup game on foreign soil

1986’s third-place play-off with Belgium in Mexico was the last time that Les Bleus would win a game “away” at a World Cup for two decades: they didn’t qualify for 1990 or 1994’s editions of the tournament, before winning on home ground in 1998. 

In 2002 as holders, they crashed out of the group stage in Japan and South Korea without a win to their name. After drawing their first two matches in Germany in 2006, the French beat Togo 2-0 to end the long drought. 

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Gillingham

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71. Neither Manchester United nor Liverpool have ever beaten Gillingham in a competitive match

They’re the two most successful English clubs ever but they’ve never got one over the mighty Gills. Manchester City have though, thanks to George Weah. 

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John Obi Mikel

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72. John Obi Mikel's actual name is Michael: Mikel was a spelling error

Mikel was born John Michael Nchekwube Obinna. During the registration process for the 2003 Under-17 World Championships, Nigerian officials mistakenly submitted his name as “Mikel” rather than “Michael”. The former Chelsea and Manchester United (sort of) midfielder liked the ring of his new name and stuck with it, before changing his name to Mikel John Obi in 2016. 

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Arsenal

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73. Arsenal was close to merging with Fulham, Chelsea and Tottenham

In 1908, Arsenal were in financial trouble. The likes of Chelsea and Tottenham wanted to absorb the club, while in 1910, Fulham chairman Sir Henry Norris suggested merging the Woolwich-based club with his West London side - but that fell through. 

In the end, it was Rangers that bought two shares in the Gunners for a pound each - not a lot, really, but the two sides formed an alliance and held friendlies between each other. It saved Arsenal from the unthinkable, anyway. 

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Australia

(Image credit: PA)

74. In the qualification process for the 1998 World Cup, Australia didn't lose a single match yet still failed to qualify

The Socceroos were unstoppable in qualifying. They won all their group games - the highlight being a 13-0 romp over the Solomon Islands in which goalkeeper Mark Bosnich even got on the scoresheet - before having to play the other group winner, who were (surprise surprise) New Zealand.

After dispatching with their local (sort of) rivals 5-0 on aggregate, all that the Aussies had to do was beat Iran over two legs. They drew 2-2 at home and 1-1 away, sending the Iranians to the 1998 tournament on away goals. How unlucky can you get?

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Aberdeen

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75. Aberdeen's stadium, Pittodrie, roughly translates to "shitheap" in Gaelic

If that’s not the most Scottish thing you’ve ever heard… 

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Alvin Martins

(Image credit: PA)

76. Alvin Martin’s first-ever hat-trick was scored against three different goalkeepers

The West Ham defender - yep, defender - scored his first from close-range, tapping in a free-kick. Newcastle United keeper Martin Thomas was an injury doubt before the game and sure enough, had to leave the field of play after the first goal; he’d only started the match though, as Newcastle’s back-up keeper was also injured. 

Midfielder Chris Hedworth went in goal for half an hour, let in another Martin goal before damaging his collarbone, only for Peter Beardsley to step in between the sticks. Martin capped off the game with his third against the England star.

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Mario Balotelli

(Image credit: PA)

77. Mario Balotelli’s only Premier League assist ever was for Sergio Aguero's dramatic title-winning goal in 2011-12

The perfect time to start passing. 

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Brian Clough

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Nottingham Forest are the only team that have been champions of Europe more times than champions of their own country

Nottingham Forest won the league in 1978, qualifying for the European Cup the following year, which they won. As holders of the 1979 trophy, they qualified for the 1980 edition, which they also won. Forest are also the unfortunate recipients of another record though: they’re the first European Cup winners to be relegated two tiers.

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Jamie Vardy

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79. John Terry scored more Premier League goals for Chelsea than Andres Iniesta scored La Liga goals for Barcelona

Iniesta wasn’t really a goal-getter as such - but then neither was Terry. Terry beats Iniesta 42 to 35. 

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Whaddon Road

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80. Cheltenham Town once forgot to do the paperwork and enter the FA Cup

It was 1974, when a Kevin Keegan brace sunk Newcastle in the final - and King Kev was lucky beyond words that the mighty Robins weren’t on hand to holt him that season. 

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World Cup 1930

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81. In the 1930 World Cup, 300 people attended a match between Romania and Peru. One week later 80,000 attended the Uruguay v Romania match

Of course, it helped that the tournament was held in Uruguay. Quite the difference for those Romania players, though. 

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Kevin Keegan

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82. Three England captains have played for Scunthorpe United

Kevin Keegan, Ray Clemence and… Sir Ian Botham. Keegan started his career at Scunthorpe United, before moving to Liverpool. Fellow Red, Ray Clemence, never got to play with Keegan for Scunthorpe, leaving for Anfield in 1968. 

England cricket captain Botham had to choose between cricket and football as a career as a teenager and though he chose the smaller ball, Beefy made 11 appearances in the Football League for Scunny, between 1980 and 1985. 

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Juan Roman Riquelme

(Image credit: Getty)

83. Boca Juniors got their kit colours from Sweden

Legend recalls that in 1906, Boca Juniors played Nottingham de Almagro. Both teams wore similar black and white kits, so played a game to decide who would keep the colours. 

Boca lost, and decided to adopt the colors of the flag of the first boat to sail into the port at La Boca. This turned out to be a Swedish ship: and that’s why Boca have played in blue and yellow ever since. 

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Groningen

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84. When Groningen were promoted in 1971 they had only conceded seven goals during the entire season

All seven goals were scored in seven different matches, yet Groningen didn’t even win the league, coming second that year.

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Fitz Hall

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85. Fitz Hall acted in the movie The Fifth Element as a teenager

‘One Size’ Fitz Hall had a career for the likes Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers, yet he has a role at the start of the 1997 Luc Besson film. 

Frank Leboeuf plays a doctor in The Theory of Everything, while we're at it. 

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Ryan Giggs

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86. Ryan Giggs was never sent off for Manchester United

That's 963 appearances over 24 years. He was sent off once for Wales, however. 

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FA Cup

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87. Queen's Park, a team from Glasgow, have played in two FA Cup finals

Scottish clubs used to compete in the tournament’s early days, until 1887, when the Scottish Football Association banned its members from taking any further part in the FA Cup. 

Renton, Hearts, Rangers and Partick Thistle have all entered the competition in the past, while Gretna, who are situated in Scotland but near the border, played in the competition until they joined the Scottish Football League in 2002.

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Shinji Kagawa

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88. Every player who played in Shinji Kagawa's first international game for Japan against Ivory Coast in 2008, was still playing professional football 10 years later

Incredibly, Shinji Kagawa is still only 31 years old. 

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Asmir Begovic

(Image credit: PA)

89. The first 50 Premier League goals scored by Bosnians all came from Edin Dzeko. The 51st came from Asmir Begovic

The 2014 strike against Southampton was in the Guinness World Records book as the longest goal scored in football at 91.9 meters. Begovic linked up with the goalkeeper he scored against in that game, when he signed for Bournemouth and took Artur Boruc’s No.1 shirt.

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Mario Gotze

(Image credit: PA)

90. The first two players born in a re-unified Germany combined for the World Cup-winning goal

Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle were both substituted onto the field against Sweden in 2010, to become the first two players born since the Germany reunified to represent the nation. In 2014, it was Schurrle who assisted Gotze for the extra-time winner against Argentina in the World Cup final.

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Alfredo di Stefano

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91. Alfredo Di Stefano was offered on loan to Manchester United, but the move was blocked by the FA

In the wake of the Munich Air Disaster, Di Stefano - the most exciting player in the world at that time - was all set to go to Manchester on a short-term loan, with Real Madrid’s grace. All parties agreed to the deal - except the FA, who didn’t allow the transfer to go through as it would halt the progress of a British player. Spoilsports. 

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Libya

(Image credit: PA)

92. Libya have played in the opening game in every African Cup of Nations that they have participated in

In 1982, the northern African nation played in the competition for the first time, as hosts. They reached the final but wouldn’t qualify again until 2006. They were drawn against hosts Egypt that time, for the first game of the competition, and in their only other AFCON appearance in 2012, they were again drawn against the hosts in the opening game, this time against Equatorial Guinea.

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Paolo Maldini

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93. Paolo Maldini captained AC Milan to a Champions League final win in England exactly 40 years after his father did the same

Cesare Maldini led Milan to a 2-1 win in the 1963 European Cup final at Wembley Stadium over Benfica. Four decades later, the 2003 Champions League title was won by Milan on penalties as skipper Paolo won the Man of the Match. 

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Roy Hodgson

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94. Roy Hodgson used to be a teacher

Before becoming a manager, Roy taught both English and PE at Monks Hill High School, now The Quest Academy, in Selsdon. Former pupil, Ramzi Musallam said in 2012 that he had memories of the now-Crystal Palace manager taking English lessons while wearing his tracksuit. 

“When I tell people that Roy Hodgson was my teacher, people think I'm making it up,” Musallam said. “It's amazing to see how far he's come since he coached the school's football team.”

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Dejan Stankovic

(Image credit: PA)

95. Dejan Stankovic has played for three different national teams at World Cups

The former Inter Milan man represented Yugoslavia at their last tournament in 1998, before playing for Serbia and Montenegro in 2006 and an independent Serbia side in 2010.

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Patrice Evra

(Image credit: PA)

96. There are only two players who have played in three European Cup finals for three different clubs

Clarence Seedorf won the tournament with Ajax in 1995, Real Madrid in 2000 and AC Milan in 2003 and 2007 - but Patrice Evra was not so lucky. 

The left-back was a runner-up with Monaco in 2004 before being a member of Manchester United’s two silver medal-winning teams in 2009 and 2011, losing to Barcelona both times. In 2015, he lost to Barcelona again, this time for Juventus. 

He did at least win the trophy with United in 2008, though.

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USA

(Image credit: PA)

97. In the 1950 World Cup, England were beaten 1-0 by the USA - and the goalscorer wasn’t even a US citizen

Joe Gaetjens was a Haitain working as a dishwasher in New York City. He was never given citizenship for the States - even represented Haiti internationally - and still delivered the sucker punch against the Three Lions in Brazil.

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AC Milan

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98. AC Milan won the 1993/94 Serie A by only scoring 36 goals

For context, fellow black-and-red-striped side Bournemouth scored 40 when they were relegated to the Championship in 2019/20. 

AC Milan conceded just 15 in that season though and spanked Barcelona 4-0 in the Champions League final. 

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Lucas Radebe

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99. Leeds United legend Lucas Radebe was only signed to keep another signing happy

Philemon Masinga was joining the Yorkshire outfit and requested that the club bought a South African teammate with him. Leeds United chose Radebe, who turned out to be the much better investment. In fact, Leeds-based indie band Kaiser Chiefs take their name from the club Leeds bought Radebe from. 

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Thomas Muller

(Image credit: Getty)

100. Thomas Muller has never scored in the European Championship

The self-styled raumdeuter is a machine in World Cup format, having netted 10 goals in tournaments since 2010. Having played at Euro 2008 and Euro 2016 though, Muller hasn’t scored in 11. 

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