Triviela – Beyond Trivia
The Spanish Armada has completely overpowered the cream of World and European competitions. They currently own the European Cup, the World Cup (only the 3rd team ever to have this distinction after West Germany of ‘72 and ‘74 and France of ‘98 and ‘00), and in 2011, their youngsters have shown that the supply line is truly brilliant. The different Spanish age group sides have gone on to win the UEFA U21 European championship (3rd title) and the UEFA U19 Championship (5th title). Only a tiebreaker loss to eventual champions Brazil in the quarter finals of the FIFA U20 World Cup prevented a 3/3 scenario. The 4th global age group tournament – the FIFA U17 World Cup, did not have a Spanish team though.
The talking point of this article though, was the first age group tournament that took place – the U21 Championship. The squad included two players – star man Juan Mata and Captain Javi Martinez who were parts of the victorious Spanish team from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Both had also made identical 20 minute appearances in the group stages – Javi against Chile and Mata against Honduras.
It is not unique enough that a player wins an age group tournament along with a World Cup, it is the ordering of those wins which is slightly confounding to say the least. Incidentally the youngest member of 2010 Spanish World Cup team was Sergi Busquets at 21 but he was not part of the U21 team that won the Euros. This achievement is so rare, that in European age group football, Javi and Mata are the only two to have achieved it. It may be pointed out here that a host of victorious Italian members from the 2004 U21 Euros would also win the World Cup two years later but that was in the right order of progression.
Our research of South American U20 Championships hasn’t thrown anybody either who won that tournament after being in a victorious World Cup team. Since no other continent has won the World Cup, this sets Mata and Martinez as truly unique players, probably of all time
Talking Point: Javi Martinez is surely the world’s only player ever who has won three continental/world tournaments without ever winning anything for his club. Playing for a club like Bilbao has something to do with it though, and till now he has two runner-up medals from the 2008-09 Copa del Rey and the 2009 Supercopa de Espana. In contrast, he has the winning medals of UEFA U19 European championship in 2007 as well as the World Cup in 2010 and captaining the 2011 Spain U21 team to European glory. It might be a matter of time before this is rectified though, as a move to a bigger club may be in the offing.
Winning without Playing in National Colours
Our tryst with the Spanish players’ unique records continues and this one was pointed out first by Andrew Thomas (@twisted_blood) so a big thanks to him for initiating this research. We will not consider men who never appeared for their country and won laurels. Neither will we take wins made in lower divisions.
Victor Valdes has won all that can be won at club and country level. But he only made his 6th appearance in the Spanish colours in the loss to a young Italian at the San Nicola stadium in Bari. Valdes came in as a half time substitute for the man who has made 125 appearances since his debut as a 19 year old in 2000 – Iker Casillas. Valdes has won 5 La Ligas, 1 Spanish Cup, 3 Champions Leagues, 5 Spanish Super Cups, 2 UEFA Super Cups, 1 FIFA Club World Cup and 1 FIFA World Cup – 18 team trophies. With his 6 caps, we can give him a resultant total of 12 (18-6). We will try and find players whose tournament wins for club (in top division and continental tournaments) and country far outnumbers their individual appearances for their country.
For obvious reasons, it is goalkeepers who hold onto the topmost positions because more often than not, it is that position where if there is an established keeper, it is difficult to dislodge him, like it was for Valdes to take the place of Casillas.
|Helton (Brazil)||Goalkeeper||20 wins for Vasco, Porto & Brazil||3||17|
|Victor Valdes (Spain)||Goalkeeper||18 wins for Spain and Barcelona||6||12|
|Dejan Nemec (Slovenia)||Goalkeeper||13 wins for NK Domzale and Club Brugge||1||12|
|Lionel Charbonier (France)||Goalkeeper||12 wins for Auxerre, Rangers and France||1||11|
|Alan Kennedy (England)||Left back||13 wins with Liverpool||2||11|
|Mauro Tassotti (Italy)||Right back||17 wins with Milan||8||11|
|Albert Celades (Spain)||Defensive Midfielder||14 wins with Real Madrid and Barcelona||4||10|
|Chris Sutton (England)||Forward||9 wins with Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea and Celtic||1||8|
|Sylvinho (Brazil)||Left Back||14 wins for Corinthians, Arsenal and Barcelona||6||8|
|Jose Moreira||Goalkeeper||9 wins for Benfica and Portugal||1||8|
Talking Point: One current player, who can win a lot and whose national career has ‘ended’ is Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati. He already has 8 trophies with Milan and has chances to win more. His national cap count is 4 and is not expected to increase, considering he is 34 and not in Prandelli’s plans.