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Umea IK: The Rise & Fall Of Europe’s Women Darling Team

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Umea IK: The Rise & Fall Of Europe's Women Darling Team

Years ago Umea IK, were the darling stars of Sweden Damallsvenskan, the Northland outfit had the best players in the world, played the most beautiful football and had the biggest crowds, and regularly competing in the Women’s Champions League against some of the finest women football team in the world, not seeing them grace the Champions League again for a long, speaks a lot about how much the darling team of the Northland, and Europe had fallen from the top to the bottom.

The fans of Umea IK were always overjoyed and proud for having a team from the Northland who always represent them well in competitions, and as a matter of fact, the team had players who played with guile and flair which brought huge success to the club, as such the fans are always excited to see them play anytime they filled out on the pitch.

The Northland outfit Umea IK was so much than just a team from a cold region up in the north, it was a team that ruled the Swedish Damallsvenskan and Europe, in 1985 Umea IK started its reign in the Swedish fourth division and won it the following year, at the time women’s football was nowhere near as professional, popular and accepted as today.

Prior to the 1991 season, the club manager, Roland Arnqvist wanted a drastic change in the team, and he immediately set the ground running by contracting the great players to the clubs, which ushered in an era of new professionalism and exciting football into the club, a drastic change of what Arnqvist wanted in the team, as a result of that the team got 35 Swedish Kroner for each game they played.

Umea IK: The Rise & Fall Of Europe's Women Darling Team

As things progress at Umea IK, the innovative Arnqvist started preparing and training his players more frequently compared to other teams in the league, the manager had a vision of making Umea IK the best team in Europe and as such he began to understand what it would take to get his players to the top, so with Arnqvist still in charge of the Northland outfit, they started doing things differently and its led to incredible success for them in Europe and in the Damallsvenskan.

Fast forward to 1995, success started knocking on the door of Umea IK by reaching the top tier of the women’s football in Sweden for the first time, four years later the club finished second, before eventually becoming Damallsvensken best women’s team in 2000, and during this time the innovative Arnqvist had quit as the manager and took up the responsibility of the club’s sporting director, without doubt, the vision he had for the club started reflecting on the pitch with Richard Holmlund managing UIK to achieved success.

READ ALSO: Beauties: Top 10 Sexiest Female Referees In Africa

Success finally entered the home of Umea IK between 2000 and 2008 by winning 7 Damallsvensken league titles, specifically in the 2006 campaign they won the league with 21 point margin and didn’t lose a single game, surprisingly all of the players that played in the league were predominantly local players, such as Frida Ostberg who marshal the defense line, in the middle of the park was Malin Mostrom, and in the front line was the goalscoring machine Hanna Ljungberg.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup final between Sweden and Germany in 2003, was a testament to how good Umea IK was, with five players of the Swedish national paraded in that match, no wonder why they’re the darling team of Northland and Europe, especially with the kind of players the team paraded, which were included in the 2003 world cup final loss to Germany.

The following season the UIK wanted to make their superiority grow beyond the four walls of the Damallsvensken, as such they started recruiting top players from abroad, and among the top players that were brought in was the legendary Brazilian ‘Pele In Skirt’ Marta, who arrived in Umea IK at the age of 18, followed by her compatriot Elaine Moura, Chinese star Ma Xiaoxu, Swiss wonder kid Ramona Bachmann, and Finland’s all-time leading goalscorer Laura Osterberg Kalmari all joined the Northland outfit and went on to achieved success with the team.

All of the players signed by Umea IK settled in perfectly with the club, and as time progresses the team was the envy and talk of the town in the whole of Sweden, due to how they play which made their fans elated, as every game played by Umea IK draw huge attention, as the flair and excitement they often bring to the table when they file out to play opponent is out of this world.

Umea IK: The Rise & Fall Of Europe's Women Darling Team

After the 2004 UEFA Cup victory in Frankfurt, Malin Moström lifts the trophy up

In 2008, in a match between Linkoping and Umea IK, away from home over 9,413 people came out to see the team from the north dazzled on the pitch with great football stars on the pitch, during this time the Northland outfit also won two titles in the Women’s Cup, currently known as Women’s Champions League, they could have won the first historic final in the Women’s Champions League, but sadly they lost to a German side Frankfurt led by legendary Birgit Prinz.

Having lost the first historic final of the Women’s Champions League to Frankfurt, Umea IK got their revenge on the German side the following season, having done their assignment pretty well before locking horns with the German giant, and a semi-final triumph over Frankfurt saw the Northland outfit reached the final for the second season in a row which they eventually won.

READ ALSO: Marta: The Brazilian Female Pele Who Revolutionized Women’s Soccer

Without mincing words, with all of the success Umea IK had in the Damallsvensken and Europe, we can categorically say the vision and dream of Arnqvist had been accomplished, but the saddest part of Umea IK stories was the fact that they couldn’t maintain that success for long, as their ultimate glory days became a sour moment, for a team who had once paraded the best players, played the most beautiful football and had the biggest fans, the question is what really happened to the Northland outfit?

Umea Ik Decline

In the 2007-08 season, Umea IK dominance and success started falling apart, for the second season in a row they lost the Women’s Cup final which ushered in their fall from top to the bottom, this time against their German rivals Frankfurt, who as a result surpassed the Northland outfit as the team with the most European titles won, and couple with the exit of the innovative Arnqvist which left a big hole in the heart of the club after 25 years of his service with Umea IK.

Following the exit of Arnqvist, the following season big players in the team started leaving, Marta, Lisa Dahlkvist, and Bachmann all left the club, without doubt from the sporting angle the players that left really affected the team on the pitch, while the team also suffered a financial blow.

Umea IK: The Rise & Fall Of Europe's Women Darling Team

He is synonymous with large parts of Umeå IK’s success story. Now Roland Arnqvist directs harsh criticism at how the club is run and the lack of goals. – I would never go in as a sponsor in Umeå IK now, he says.

In 2011, Umea IK was able to avoid bankruptcy, having forced to restructure the organization of the club which resulted in the team been a more independent club, rather than how the club was before, and with the addition of ‘FF’ to their name, after that, they end up finishing 7th, 5th, 6th, and 8th respectively with a jaded squad which has lost its magic touch.

Sometimes sustaining success could be very difficult, truly Umea IK ruled the Damallsvensken and Europe at some point, after many years of dining with some of the finest team in women’s football and 12 years after beating Frankfurt in the Women’s Champions League final and becoming the best team in Europe.

UIK was no longer the best in Sweden and Europe, albeit they’re still playing in the Damallsvensken having returned back from relegation. Would they be the powerhouse of women’s football in Europe again? maybe, maybe not only time would tell.

 

 

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Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality

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Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality

The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League

President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.

“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.

“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”

The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:

“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”

“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”

READ ALSO: FIFA Congress To Decide Future Host Of Women’s World Cup

“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.

With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”

 

 

 

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Europe

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

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3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.

The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.

Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues

  • Paulinho

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.

Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.

They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.

He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.

The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.

In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.

Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.

Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”

  • Iago Aspas

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.

After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.

At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.

In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.

READ ALSO: 10 Premier League Players With Most Own Goals

  • Diego Forlan

3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere

Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.

Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.

Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.

In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.

The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.

With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.

Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.

Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.

 

Conclusion

There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.

These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.

 

 

 

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