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.
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
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.
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.
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.