Triviela – Beyond Trivia

The Trivela is a Portuguese term to denote the art of kicking the football with the outside of one’s foot. It is used to hide one’s weaker foot and also to suddenly fool the opposition with a wickedly swerving ball from a difficult angle. In Triviela, we will attempt to find some football feats/facts which would make you sit up and take note, like it happens when you see Ricardo Quaresma try these

Saarland Football: A short-lived romance

The Saarland is  currently one of Germany’s sixteen federal states. After World War II,  it came under French occupation as the Saar Protectorate. The Saarland had a national football team representing it between 1950 and 1956 during the French occupation. Following a plebiscite, The Saarland became a part of the Federal republic of Germany and its football association SFB ended its separate FIFA membership. In the period, they played 19 matches, starting with a 5-3 win  against Switzerland in 1950 and ending with a 2-3 loss to The Netherlands in 1955.

Gerhard Siedl, who played for both West Germany and The Saarland (besides having a successful career at FC Bayern Munich) was their most well-known player.  He played 16 matches for The Saarland and scored  four goals. Herbert Martin was the most capped player with 17 international matches for The Saarland team played and scored  six goals, a record he shares with Herbert Binkert.

Left: The Saarland National team in 1950. Right: Germany vs. The Saarland in 1953 in Stuttgart
Left: The Saarland National team in 1950. Right: Germany vs. The Saarland in 1953 in Stuttgart

 

However, The Saarland’s biggest moment of football glory was participating in the qualifying rounds of the 1954 World Cup, and narrowly  missing out on qualification. They were drawn in the same group as West Germany and Norway. In their first match, they beat Norway (away) 3-2 (with goals from Siedel, Herbert Binkert and Werner Otto) in Oslo. However, they lost their next match (away) 0-3 in Stuttgart and drew 0-0 with Norway (home) at Saarbrucken. In their last match where they played against West Germany at home, they needed to draw level with Germany in terms of points and then proceed to the playoffs. West Germany won 3-1, qualified, and went on to win the World Cup! As a football romantic, I am fascinated to think how different the world football history might have been had The Saarland won their last qualifying match. Who knows, the Mighty Magyars might have won the World Cup and Adidas might never have existed.

Triviela

The Trivela is a Portuguese term to denote the art of kicking the football with the outside of one’s foot. It is used to hide one’s weaker foot and also to suddenly fool the opposition with a wickedly swerving ball from a difficult angle. In Triviela, we will attempt to find some football feats/facts which would make you sit up and take note, like it happens when you see Ricardo Quaresma try these

This triviela is dedicated to the wonderful group of Spanish footballers and their achievement in winning three consecutive major trophies that they entered – the 2008 and 2012 European championship and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It is a unique achievement in the annals of football and most observers would place them in a group of ONE, to have achieved that unique feat. In this edition, we try and see which other teams came close to achieving what Spain has achieved and if any team had managed to do it before them….or maybe do better than them.

Spain with their third consecutive title

Now the simple fact is that, to win three major trophies, one has to win a World Cup in between, since most major trophies happen with a duration of four (sometimes two) years in between. Hence all nations, which haven’t won a World Cup, but may have monopolised their continental competition like Mexico – winners ’93, ’96, ’98 of CONCACAF Gold Cup or Iran – ’68, ’72, ’76 winners AFC Asian Cup or Egypt – ’06, ’08, ’10 winner of Africa Cup of Nations, would not feature in this discussion.

Close Misses

Brazil won the ’94 and ’02 World Cups but only finished runner-up in ’98.They had won the Copa America in both ’97 and ’99 and lost to Uruguay in penalties in the ’95 championship. So starting from the ’94 World Cup, Brazil reached the finals of every major championship till the ’99 Copa America. That’s a staggering five world and continental competitions. This sequence was broken when they lost shockingly to Honduras in the ’01 Copa. They then proceeded to win the next World Cup as well as the next two Copa Americas, but without a World Cup win in 2006, it again denied them the opportunity to grab a three-peat.

Germany, or West Germany as they were called, would also suffer the same fate – winning the ’72 European Cup and ’74 World Cup but missing out on the ’76 European Cup by losing to Czechoslovakia on penalties in the finals (when Antonin Panenka first showed his penalty skills baffling the great Sepp Maier). They would win the ’90 World Cup and ’96 European championship (beating the Czechs), but would miss out on the ’92 European Cup and ’94 World Cup to be denied this legacy.

South American Connection

Brazil’s two great South American rivals – Argentina and Uruguay though can claim something to this but in both cases, there was no World Cup being held and hence only the existing major championships can be taken into account. The World Cup was not held due to World War II between ’38 and ’50, but the Copa America was still going on. Argentina, led by players of the great River Plate team of the 40s won three consecutive Copa America – ’45, ’46, ’47. Add the runner-up in the ’42 and champion in the ’41 editions, and you again get a run of five consecutive finals with defeat in only the second one for a truly great Argentine side.

Uruguay was the earliest footballing South American giant. They won the ’24 and ’28 Olympics gold – at that point with no World Cup, the Olympics were the pinnacle of global football championship. Uruguay also won the ’23 and ’24 Copa America, thus recording the earliest sequence of three major championship wins.

Argentina and Uruguay thus won three in a row, but didn’t win the World Cup and that was not due to their fault. The World Cup was simply not conceived or was not being held when they won their championship.

Parting Shot Uno

There is one more instance of a team winning three consecutive major championships, which included the World Cup. And that team is Italy. They were the first European team to win the FIFA World Cup in ’34. They were also the first team to retain their World Cup crown (that no European team has ever done) in 1938. In between, they also won the ’36 Olympic Gold at Berlin. The first great Italian team of Vittorio Pozzo, thus won everything that they entered between ’34 and ’38.

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Parting Shot Deux

Is every team that won that threesome a latin one? Well not quite. But you have to turn from the men to the ladies to find probably the most dominating team of all in history. Germany (or West Germany) has won seven of the last eight European competitions for ladies. This has included a frankly unbelievable five consecutive wins in the UEFA European Women’s Championship from ’95 to ’09. They also won two FIFA Women’s World Cup in ’03 and ’07. They had lost in the quarter-final stages of both the ’99 and ’11 World Cups. So if we look at a stretch – they won all the major championships that they entered in the first decade of the millennium – three European championships and two World Cups for an unprecedented 5 trophies and one decade long reign.

Surely the Spanish now know, they still have some way to go.

Triviela – Beyond Trivia

The Trivela is a Portuguese term to denote the art of kicking the football with the outside of one’s foot. It is used to hide one’s weaker foot and also to suddenly fool the opposition with a wickedly swerving ball from a difficult angle. In Triviela, we will attempt to find some football feats/facts which would make you sit up and take note, like it happens when you see Ricardo Quaresma try these

Of Lions and Lambs

What is the connection between a martyred third century child saint and football?

St. Mammes of Caesarea with his lamb, seated atop a lion

Legend has it that Mammes was captured and thrown to the lions. He supposedly made the animals docile by preaching to them. So much so that one of the lions remained with him as a companion. The most famous images of him are astride a lion, holding a lamb on his left arm while his right hand holds a shepherd’s stick. Although held captive by soldiers for evading tax, he had escaped them to save this lamb from being attacked by the lion. This show of valour earned him exemption from taxation. He was eventually executed though, by being struck in the stomach by a trident. Stories of him spread to various countries like Cyprus, Lebanon, Greece, Italy and Spain. It is believed that parts of his body were brought back to Spain by pilgrims to Compostela, as relics. These relics are presently located in Bilbao and Zaragoza which later became convents.Let us first learn about this martyr. St. Mammes of Caesarea was born in prison to parents who were incarcerated for being Christian, which was considered to be a crime in the Roman Empire at the time. Caesarea is presently known as Kaysari and is located in central Anatolia in Turkey. His parents were executed and he was brought up by a widow named Ammia who died when he was 15. Mammes endured innumerable trials and tribulations, but his undaunted faith in Christianity was unwavering. He was tortured by the Roman governor of Caesarea and then sent before Aurelian, the emperor of Rome. He was further tortured but is believed to have been liberated by an angel who showed him the way to a nearby mountain cave, where he hid.

Now coming to its connection with the beautiful game called football – the stadium of Athletic Bilbao is named San Mames after the Saint Mammes cathedral which is located next to the ground. This ground is nicknamed “the football cathedral” and not the nou camp or bernabeu, which would be the first choice for most football fans in Spain. The Athletic team is also nicknamed ‘Los Leones’ or the lions, as a tribute to the lions which refused to kill Saint Mammes.

Estadio San Mames

Parting Shot

Athletic Bilbao was originally founded by migrant British port workers in Bilbao and children of Basque noble families who went to England for education. The club had to change its name in 1941 to Athletico Bilbao to adhere to Francisco Franco’s policy of banning non-Castillian Spanish languages. Franco had decreed that Castillian was the official Spanish language and all other languages like Basque and Catalan were banned in the country. Even the names of newborn babies in those periods were changed to placate the dictator. A lot of children who were named Jordi after the patron saint of Catalunya changed to Jorge because of this rule. The change of name was bitterly opposed by the supporters and the general public of Bilbao as it was perceived as a direct threat to their heritage and culture. The policy was relaxed much later in late 1960’s when the club went back to its old name.

They are one of the four professional clubs in Spain – others being Real Madrid, Barcelona and Osasuna in that it is not a sports corporation but is run and owned by associates making it a professional club.

Triviela – Beyond Trivia

The Trivela is a Portuguese term to denote the art of kicking the football with the outside of one’s foot. It is used to hide one’s weaker foot and also to suddenly fool the opposition with a wickedly swerving ball from a difficult angle. In Triviela, we will attempt to find some football feats/facts which would make you sit up and take note, like it happens when you see Ricardo Quaresma try these.
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Winning Young

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.

Player

Position

Honours/Wins

Caps

Difference

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
[*In case you have a name who fits this bill, do let us know. We’ll include it with your name]

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.