The unpredictability of football is one of the reasons why the beautiful game is so popular unless the finances in football press hard to make a bit of a closed shop at the highest level. The last few years proves that it is still possible for minnows to rise and giants to fall.
According to George S. Patton who says “Success is measured by how high you bounce when you hit bottom” this statement simply depict the situations of some of the biggest football clubs in Europe who at one point tasted success in their respective leagues or the UEFA competitions. But now couldn’t bounce back to the top having hit the bottom.
No wonder why football is considered as one of unpredictable sport, which makes it possible for giants to fall and minnows to rise and punched above their weight.
For every ‘Halcyon Era’ of a football club, there is always a need to manage that era properly in terms of success achieved, to avoid a disastrous decline that could be very hard to correct.
Meet 8 of the European football clubs who have suffered the steepest decline.
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk – Ukraine
Isn’t it odd that a team that once played in the final of the 2015 UEFA Europa League, and a serial contender for the Ukraine league in 2009-10, 2015-16, 2016-17 campaign is currently playing in the Ukraine Amateur League?
Well, that is the kind of disastrous decline they’re currently facing now.
In May 2015, Dnipro punched above their weight by getting to the final of the UEFA Europa League but narrowly lost to Sevilla. Having scaled the hurdle of Saint Etienne, Olympiacos, Ajax Amsterdam, Club Brugge, and Napoli en route to the final in what was the finest achievement of the club’s history, and to some extent in the history of Ukrainian football.
The beginning of the end for Dnipro started with the changes in the format of the Ukrainian league for the 2016-17 campaign due to the military conflicts in Ukraine.
As such that coincided with their decline which was already looming, specifically with their controversial owner Ihor Kolomyskyi who was ready to pull out all funding and his support for the club.
The current situation at Dnipro is a very tough one which shouldn’t be associated with Dnipro considering what they’ve been able to achieve so far in Europe and specifically on the home front.
As it stands their decline is so worst that the Amateur League is now their place, having suffered multiple relegations in Ukraine’s tier leagues before the club announced in 2019 that they’re liquidated.
Monaco – France
The former Ligue 1 Champions, hit the ground running in the 2016-17 campaign, which got them a lot of praises from the media, fans, and the world at large. Specifically reaching the Champions League semifinals against Juventus, with the full support of their Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev who bought the club in 2011.
That Monaco side had a lot of decent players who were playing scintillating and swashbuckling football with players such as Fabinho, now with the current champion of the English Premier League Liverpool, Thomas Lemar now in Spain with Atletico Madrid, the duo of Benjamin Mandy and Bernardo Silva now with Manchester City, Tiemoue Bakayoko, and world cup winner Kylian Mbappe amongst others.
Following their exploits in the league and champions league, the core of the team was sold to bigger teams in top leagues across Europe. The aforementioned players moving to various teams respectively, cashing out on those players was a good business for Monaco which brought in more than £300m into the coffers of the team.
The money acquired from the transfer of the outgoing players were invested in new players with the hope that the new players would build on the success of their predecessors. Unfortunately, the majority of the players couldn’t build on it, as the money spent in the transfer ended up been a waste, and since they won the league and came second the following season.
Then the story of Monaco’s success has been more like the one on a decline, especially when they finished 17th in the league table in 2019, which was their worst performance since 2011.
Kaiserslauten – Germany
There are a lot of German clubs that have fallen from grace to grass, among them is one of the revered clubs in Germany from a city that has the lowest population, Die Roten Teufel won the Bundesliga in the 1997-98 season. A year after winning the Bundesliga 2, eight seasons later, Kaiserslautern finished the season in 16th position which led to them been relegated to the Bundesliga 2.
Surprisingly, following their relegation to the Bundesliga 2, they won the Bundesliga title in 2010, but unluckily they were relegated back having spent just two seasons in the top flight once again.
And as it stands the side from the Western part of Germany is currently playing in the 3rd division of German football following their relegation from Bundesliga 2 to the 3rd division in 2018.
Kaiserslautern’s relegation to the third division marked the first time in the history of the club since it was founded in 1901. The club will be playing in a league that is as low as the 3rd division, as it stands Die Roten Teufel is not likely to return to the highest level anytime soon with the situation they’re in now, with that the club can be considered to be a football club in deep decline.
AC Milan – Italy
Once upon a time, the Italian giant was a team studded with great champions and gladiators who were always ready to win, with great players such as the legendary Nesta, Paolo Maldini, Seedorf, among others.
The beginning of a disastrous era began for the Rossoneri in the 2013-14 season when they finished 8th in the Seria A, which was their worst league performance since 1998. To further lay claim to their decline, the following season they fell even further behind the pecking order in 10th position in the league.
The Rossoneri won the Seria A in 2010-11 season, finished second the following season, and third after that and since 2013, Milan have failed to finish in the top four in the league, plus their long time absence in the Champions League has really dealt the Italian giant a heavy blow and decreased their chances of winning a trophy anytime soon.
Albeit, Milan has been investing a lot of money in some decent players in the last couple of seasons with their former defender Maldini at the helm, yet some of the players have turned out to be mediocre who in the first place shouldn’t be playing for Milan.
While some have blended in perfectly, but then their performances aren’t still enough to push Milan back to their glory days. However, post-COVID-19, the Rossoneri have been enjoying a great form in the league, perhaps that form could ginger them back into the top four soon, but then only time would tell.
West Ham United – England
West Ham may not be the best team in the league this season, but then the 2003 relegated squad were arguably the best and most talented squad to drop out of the Premier League with players like Freddie Kanoute, Joe Cole, Jermaine Defoe, Glen Johnson, and Paolo Di Canio, all failed to keep the London side in the top flight.
Following their reign in the Championship, many of the big players in the team left for another team, leading to a transitional first season away from the top flight for the London side. However, some decent players brought into the team which did help the team in returning back to the top flight, the Premier League.
Unfortunately for West Ham, thunderstruck once again in 2011 when they slipped back out of the top flight after a controversial takeover, but they returned back immediately to the Premier League.
Since then, they’ve never been faced with the challenges of fighting to stay back in the top flight, but as it stands the London base side is more like a team on a decline as gradually flirt with a relegation position in the league.
Anderlecht – Belgium
The Belgian giant under club legend Vincent Kompany ain’t looking like a giant they use to be before, with no European football for the first time in 56 years and the unrest off the pitch.
Anderlecht hired the former Manchester City skipper as player-manager at the beginning of the 2019-20 season to bring them out of the mess they’re in, caused by the mismanagement of the owner Marc Coucke.
Some decent players were brought into the team to change the fortune of the Belgian side, such as Nacer Chadli, Samir Nasri, and Landry Dimata. Despite the great signings their form on the pitch didn’t change, and it even gets worse than their previous season in the league where they struggled behind league rivals Club Brugge, Gent, and Genk.
Although the Belgian league has been canceled due to COVID-19, if not for that perhaps they may have turned around their poor form in the league. Even if the Belgian FA decided to let the season continue, it doesn’t seem like the Belgian giant would make it to the playoff with their current poor form since the playoff was introduced over a decade ago.
With clubs like Genk, Gent, and Club Brugge dictating the pace in the Belgian league, the decline of Anderlecht keeps getting worse.
Espanyol – Spain
April 23, 1994, will always be a great day that Catalonia based side won’t forget in a hurry when their darling team led by Antonio Camacho sealed their promotion to the Spanish top flight. Since then, Espanyol has lasted in La Liga for over 27 years as one of the historic team in Spain with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, and the Mestalla based side Valencia.
Without a doubt, Espanyol’s 27 years in Spanish football has been filled with a lot of tales, and they’ve gone through a lot of pains and gains in their 27 years up there in the top tier. Lifting two trophies, reached finals, changed their home grounds from the Sarria Stadium in 1997, to the Olympic Stadium until 2009, before they now moved to where they’re currently based, the RCDE Stadium.
They’ve also seen investors come and gone, and overall, over twenty-five managers have passed through Catalonia based side with different success tied to their names.
Without mincing words, it won’t be out of place to say a team that has won the Copa Del Rey twice in their 27 solid years up in the top tier, with a team that had the legendary Raul Tamudo, Ivan De La Pena, the tricky Albert Riera, Pablo Zabaleta, Dani Osvaldo, and Luis Garcia.
Werder Bremen – Germany
The former Bundesliga Champions Werder Bremen just avoided relegation from the German top-flight via away goals after a 2-2 draw against a second division side Heidenheim a few days ago. Seeing the former champions who at a point won the DFB Pokal six times, the DFL LigaPokal once, the DFL Supercup thrice, the European Cup winner’s Cup once, and the UEFA Cup finalist in 2008-09.
That gives credence to how fast the team is declining, and with the fact that they just played a match in the relegation playoff battles.
Bremen first leg promotion-relegation playoff ended in a stalemate, which gave them a lifeline going forward into the second leg, and fortunately for them in the second leg they took the lead twice with an early own goal from Heidenheim defender Norman Theuerkauf before the home side equalized through Tim Kleindienst in the 85th.
Augustinsson restored the visiting side’s lead with a 94th-minute strike, despite Kleindienst scoring a penalty eight minutes into stoppage time, which made Werder Bremen celebrated their stay in the Bundesliga.
Having fought well to stay up, we still can’t forget the fact that Werder Bremen is a team on a decline, perhaps that may change come next season if the management of the club invested in the squad to take them back where they belong.
The River Islanders still have some recognizable players in Nuri Sahin, Milot Rashica, and Davy Klaasen, Werder Bremen flaunts a strong midfielder most Bundesliga clubs would want.
Milot Rashica, Josh Sargent, and Leonardo Bittencourt are three youngsters who have bright futures.
7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players
When it comes to loyalty and commitment in the beautiful game, there are few football players who are able to pledge their allegiance and refused to be swayed by big offers. For every Ashley Cole, there’s also a Totti.
There are players who when they reach their potentials, will get easily swayed by money and the probable fame that will follow their transition to other clubs. While other players would simply remain at their current club because of the love they have for the club.
The first set of players who leave the club when bigger clubs come calling are always remembered for their exploits while at the club. But, the second type of football player who ignores the temptations of leaving their ‘most loved’ football club sides is regarded as heroes.
Meanwhile, there are some known players who have showcased utmost loyalty for their respective clubs. For instance, Francesco Totti waved off Real Madrid’s offer in 2006, stating AS Roma as his family and he’s never seen a situation where a child would leave his poor parents to go live with rich strangers.
But what about other unpopular loyal players like Francesco Totti, Stephen Gerrard or even Mark Noble?.
Here’s a list of 7 most loyal football players
- David Zibung (Goalkeeper) – FC Luzern (18 Years +)
The life of this Swiss goalkeeper has been all about his boyhood club, FC Luzern. The +37-year old was born in Hergiswil which is in the Nidwalden region in Switzerland.
He joined the youth team of FC Luzern in 1999 and was there till 2003. Zibung grew in leaps and bounds with the Luzern main team, ever since he broke into the first team, he’s never for once considered leaving the club.
Technically, Zibung would’ve spent eighteen years at Luzern by July 2021. But he’s definitely spent more than eighteen years given that he’s been at the club’s feeder team before 2003.
Zibung remains one of the oldest and longest-serving loyal goalkeepers of the Swiss League.
- Hidekazu Otani (Midfielder) – Kashiwa Reysol (18 Years)
Otani is a midfielder of note, who joined his one and only club in 2000 as a teenager. Now 36 years-old, Okami has been deployed in many parts of the midfield but his natural position is the defensive midfield where he plays comfortably well.
The Japanese veteran midfielder has on numerous occasions been offered to leave his club but his love for the Sun King club has held him back so much so that he’s willing to retire at the club when the time comes.
While some quarters may believe that Hidekazu Okani had been at Kashiwa for eighteen years, the fans of the club see him as an integral part of the club’s history given that he’s won laurels with the club severally.
- Igor Akinfeev (Goalkeeper) – CSKA Moscow (18 Years)
Akinfeev is probably the most popular player we’re x-raying in this Exposé. Akinfeev, Russian, is the Russian National Team goalkeeper and captain, as well as his club side, CSKA Moscow.
History has it that the 34-year old shot-stopper has been at CSKA Moscow since the age of four. His father sent him to the Sports School of CSKA where he began his goalkeeping career and won the Russian Junior Championship in 2002 with the CSKA Moscow team.
Akinfeev would make his debut for CSKA Moscow at sixteen, precisely 2001 where he saved a penalty and also had a clean sheet. He has played over five hundred matches for CSKA Moscow, winning six Russian Cup titles, six Russian Premier League titles as well as the 2005 UEFA Cup with the club.
His incredible rise to stardom is down to his personality and ingenuity as a goalkeeper. He’s arguably the best goalkeeper the Russian nation has ever produced and has been on several international tournaments for the country since he joined the national team.
It may sound bizarre but Akinfeev has spent thirty years at the Red-blues. That is a huge commitment mixed with loyalty.
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- Ismed Sofyan (Defender) – Persita Jakarta (18 Years)
Talking about the most loyal player, Sofyan’s loyalty isn’t about his club alone, it’s for his country and his country’s elite league, The Indonesian Super League – Not that he’s an amateur.
Yes, he may have played for a couple of club sides in the Indonesian league, but his love and unwavering support for his country is immeasurable.
Sofyan currently plays for Persita Jakarta, a club he joined in 2002 that has made him become the longest-serving player in the club until now. The 41year-old right full-back is a free-kick specialist. He was only privileged to play for the Indonesian National Team for just 53 times.
- Dean Lewington (Defender) – Milton Keynes Dons FC (18 Years)
As of July 2020, Lewinton is the longest-serving player for a single club in English League having spent sixteen years with The Dons.
The English left-back joined MK Dons after a successful spell with Wimbledon in 2004. Lewington, 32, has made over seven hundred appearances with more than 250 different team-mates.
He’s witnessed two promotions and relegations as the club’s captain for the years he’s been at MK Dons and he’s grateful for the sort of longevity he’s had.
He told daily mail in 2016 ‘It’s not like the Premier League where you get five-year deals. It is one or two years. When we won promotion to the Championship in 2015, I was out of contract on the final day as we were celebrating.’
- Koji Homa (Goalkeeper) – Mito HollyHock (21 Years)
Undoubtedly a popular figure in the Japanese league, the 43-year-old goalkeeper currently plays for the above-named club in the second tier of the Japanese League, J2.
After graduating from high school, he joined the J1 League side Urawa Reds in 1996 but couldn’t play more often before crossing to Mito HollyHock in 1999 and never looked back.
He’s helped Mito HollyHock achieve some amazing feats since he joined in 1999 with the biggest of them being the promotion of the club to J2 in 2000.
In his twenty-one-year sojourn with the club, Koji Homma holds the record for the player with the highest number of matches played in J2.
- Lee Casciaro (Forward) – Lincoln Red Imps (22 Years)
The 38-year-old Gibraltar striker scored the only goal of the game when his Gibraltarian minnows club (Lincoln Red Imps) shocked Celtic and to a larger extent, the rest of Europe in their Champions League qualifier at the Victoria Stadium in 2016,
Cascario, 39, has been at the club since he was eight years old and has spent twenty-three years as a first-team member.
It should be agreed that Lincoln Red Imps was made for Cascario, given that two of his younger brothers have played for the club as well.
With three international goals, Lee Henry Cascario is currently Gibraltar’s all-time goalscorer since the 33,684 populated nation joined UEFA.
- Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao): 11 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Tarantini (Rio Ave): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Stefan Radu (Lazio): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Vincent Manceau (Angers SCO): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Anthony Lopes (Lyon): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Koke (Atletico Madrid): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Roberto Torres (Osasuna): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Gerard Pique (Barcelona): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow): 12 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Mario Gaspar Perez (Villarreal): 12 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Guilherme (Lokomotiv Moscow): 13 years, 1 month, 3 days
- Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur): 13 years, 1 month, 10 days
- Volodymyr Chesnakov (Vorskla Poltava): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Mahmut Tekdemir (Istanbul Basaksehir): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Sergio Busquets (Barcelona): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar Donetsk): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Anton Shunin (Dynamo Moscow): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Marcelo (Real Madrid): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Sammy Bossut (Zulte Waregem): 14 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid): 15 years, 4 days
- Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Francesco Magnanelli (Sassuolo): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Jessy Moulin (Saint-Etienne): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Oier (Osasuna): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Sergio Alvarez (Celta de Vigo): 16 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Mark Noble (West Ham United): 16 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Lionel Messi: (Barcelona): 16 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Denis Sinyayev(FC Avangard Kursk)18 years
- Ismaeil Matar (Al-Wahda): 19 years
- Petr Literak(Frýdek-Místek): 22 years
Erling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking Rise
Erling Haaland was always going to become the ultimate striker and probably the best number 9 on the planet. Also, there’s every possibility that one day, he may become a Ballon D’or winner. But, there’s still one mystery, how did he become the cyborg that he is today?
Haaland continues to be a goal machine, becoming the quickest player in history to reach 20 Champions League goals. His goal from the spot in the UCL round-16 second leg tie against Sevilla was his 20th goal in just 14 appearances in the competition, which broke Harry Kane’s previous record of 24 games.
“Of course he’s fast, powerful, good around the goal and he’s got real soccer sense. But it’s more of his energy, it’s his infectious personality that I think is like a magnet; it draws people to him, it makes people want to be around him.” Those are the words of Red Bull Salzburg manager, Jesse Marsch.
Grab a handful of popcorn and sit back as we unfold the story behind the rise of this Norwegian beast, goal machine, and keeper’s nightmare, Erling Braut Haaland.
Haaland’s Salzburg Breakthrough
As at when Jesse Marsch was appointed as Salzburg manager, Haaland had been at the club for about six months and had only played one game. And then he went to the U-20 World Cup where he scored nine goals in one game.
From his Salzburg debut, Haaland, who had already impressed at the Norwegian league with Bryne and Molde left observers with no doubt about the quality he possesses.
He would become one of the best strikers on the planet because the talent in him was very obvious. In a chat with oh-my-goal, Jesse Marsch revealed that Haaland’s personality was the first thing he fell in love with about Haaland.
“The first couple of days I worked with him, what impressed me more than anything else was his personality on the pitch. He was just relentless! He worked harder than anyone.”
But beyond his raw talent in Salzburg, Erling Haaland left his mark on the locker room with his personality. He had a smile on his face and got along incredibly well with his teammates. Therefore, it wasn’t just his talent, it was his overall energy.
Erling in person had a really positive influence on his teammates. Erling the player, was a selfish assassin who scored 29 goals in 27 appearances for the Austrian club.
Meanwhile, he also always talked about making his teammates happy. “The best memory I Had of him was when we were getting penalties in just about every game, and he was giving them to all the other attacking players.“
“And then, after a player missed a penalty, I said Ok, Erling has to take the penalties and I told him he would be taking the penalties”
“It’s incredible to have such a talented player who loves to score goals, be the one that is giving the penalty responsibilities to the others because he wants them to feel the power of success, the power of scoring goals, and the power of confidence. That says a lot to me about the character of Erling.” Marsch revealed.
At 19, when most people think about personal glory, Haaland was already a perfect teammate and a future leader which was unprecedented for a player as good as he was and in his age range.
Without a doubt, Haaland’s personality was great enthusiastic and it did really have a big effect on a lot of people at Salzburg.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Influence
Erling Haaland may owe his incredible rise to his immense talent and his positive leadership qualities. But that’s not all, Cristiano Ronaldo also played a huge role in Haaland’s evolution.
People often say that Erling Haaland is the next Cristiano Ronaldo but is the CR7 comparison justified?
Certainly, Erling is more of a pure striker than Cristiano but from a power football perspective, his ability in the transition to affect games like the Portuguese ace makes the comparison justifiable.
Haaland himself admitted that Cristiano Ronaldo was his role model but if like Cristiano, Erling broke all the goalscoring records, it’s not really the part of football that CR7 has influenced.
Haaland is following in Cristiano Ronaldo’s footsteps in terms of leadership and he even is now a role model to many players just like Ronaldo was to him.
Cristiano Ronaldo has had positive effects on his teammates and in every team, he’s played in which really helped him overtime right from his days at Manchester United and Real Madrid. But for Erling, one could really see that right from his young age that it’s a natural quality he has.
It will be up to Haaland to continue to modify that aspect of himself and mold that in a way that he can become a really strong leader within his teams as he continues to grow older.
Above all, Haaland took inspiration from Cristiano Ronaldo in one essential area, work ethic. Like CR7, he’s always hungry to improve. “He really worked hard a lot. After training, he would stick around to finish, to hit some crosses, to work on his heading.” – Jesse Marsch, RB Salzburg Coach.
Like CR7, Erling Haaland thinks every little detail counts. He would wear special glasses because he felt like when you look at your computer all day long or your cell phone, that your eyes would start to fade and so he had that special glasses he always wears.
And while he has his own personality, Erling is directly inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo especially when it comes to nutrition and work ethic by picking the most hardworking professional football player in history as his role model.
Perfect With BVB
Borussia Dortmund activated his €20 million (£17m/$22m) release clause, beating United and Leipzig to his signature after all three clubs held meetings with the player, his father, and agent Mino Raiola.
Borussia Dortmund already had forward Paco Alcacer on the books, but saw Haaland as such a generational talent, that they were willing to offload the Spain international to give the Norwegian teen an even better chance of success.
CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke says that they had been looking for someone with Haaland’s particular skill set for a long time and could not pass up the opportunity to sign him.
“We always wanted to have a center-forward who has a different way of playing football,” Watzke told Goal and DAZN. “But this guy also had to come onto the market first.
There are not many who are 1.94 meters (6 ft 4 in) tall and that fast. Actually, nobody else comes to mind. It was just an opportunity that you don’t get very often. – Goal.com
Dortmund offered the striker the best chance of regular game time as they promised to make him their first-choice striker, something Alf-Inge Haaland admits is crucial to his development.
Haaland’s Dortmund story got off to the perfect start with the most incredible debut against Augsburg. Trailing 3-1, Lucien Favre sent on the teenager from the bench and was rewarded with a 22-minute hat-trick to help secure a 5-3 win.
Having revealed all the secrets that make Haaland an outstanding striker, in all honesty, the Norwegian striker has no limit because he keeps getting better at Dortmund.
He was incredible at Salzburg. “We were obviously so sad to lose him so quickly because we had a lot of fun and success with him, but we’re also very proud of him and we’re really excited to see him continue to push himself and move forward and show everybody in the world how good he is.”
And today, he’s showing just how good he is in Germany. He used to only be seen as a superpowered and superfast goalscorer. But at Dortmund? He’s also shown his technical advances and his in-game intelligence and influence.
He’s more and more capable of keeping the ball, playing in different positions, taking part in the game, in short, he’s become the ultimate striker.
Giving his unique skill-set and amazing personality, he will definitely sign for a bigger club in years to come. Yes, he may experience some difficulties, but his quality will help him manage whatever challenge that comes his way and in-turn become the best number 9 of not only his generation but in football history.