There abide many shockers in football. Beneath all the glamor in football is a subtle status quo that has been for ages. The status quo is that the ‘bigger’ teams are meant to make a meal of the so-called smaller teams. Even the fans of the ‘small’ teams do know and reckon some teams stronger than their own beloved team. The status quo also dictates that the ‘bigger teams are the ones better placed to win trophies because of their considerably superior squad quality.
It is on this foundation that many shockers occur across different tournaments in the beautiful game. In this piece, we’ll be looking down in history to see how minnows and black horses pulled off the most surprising trophy winning campaigns in football. Are you ready?
#1. Deportivo La Coruna dominate Spanish football
It is quite difficult to imagine a La Liga season without Real Madrid or Barcelona emerging as champions. Atletico Madrid and Valencia have upset the norm in recent years but a certain Deportivo side achieved the feat before them 20 years ago. Deportivo narrowly lost out on the title but they were soon back to win the title six years later. With Javier Irureta as manager, Djalminha in the midfield and Roy Makaay up top, they won the league by five points.
#2. The Otto Rehagel masterclass
Talk about the king of shockers. It is believed in some quarters that no European championship has seen more quality players than the Euro 2004. There was Nedved and Baros in Czech, the Dutch team then was star-studded and Luis Figo was still very much around for Portugal. How Otto Rehagel led Basinas and co. to the trophy was beyond outstanding. They beat host nation Portugal in the opening game of the tournament before beating them again at the final in Lisbon. They played an all-defensive style of football eliminating the big guns and returned to Greece with the trophy.
#3. Leicester City disrupted the norm
Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City are common names you will see on the list of Premier League champions since the year 2000. However, Leicester City would cause a major disruption by breaking into the so-called top four winning the league in 2015/2016. It was their second season in promotion but impressive displays by Kante, Mahrez, and Vardy saw the 5000/1 outsiders win the Premier League against all odds.
#4. Zambia slay the Elephants
It was a no-brainer that Ivory Coast’s golden generation were the undisputed favorites to win the 2012 AFCON. They had the best team with Nigeria, Cameroon, Egypt and other big names failing to qualify. They did manage to win the final but could not beat the Chipolopolo of Zambia in normal time. The extra time also ended in a stalemate and a game of luck began in the shootout. Zambia produced one of the biggest shockers of African football by defeating Didier Drogba and co.
#5. The rise of Montpellier
A current norm in football is that to be successful a team has to spend and spend big. PSG were taken over by Qatar Sports Investment group in 2011 and wasted no time signing splashing the cash on top players. They also brought in a top-class manager in Carlo Ancelotti. Montpellier had in their ranks the likes of Olivier Giroud, John Utaka and Younes Belhanda. Against the odds they won the league with Giroud contributing 21 goals and 9 assists. That is 30 goals of Montepellier 68 in the league that season. PSG have gone on to dominate Ligue 1 since then.
#6. Nottingham Forest winning two European Cups
Nottingham Forest’s current state beguiles their history in Europe. Sitting in the EFL Championship table is a team that won two European Cups. And what’s good? They won the two consecutively. Brian Clough took the helms when they were still a division two team in 1974. By the end of the 1978/1979 season, they had won their first European Cup defeating German champions Cologne. The following season, they dismissed Kevin Keegan’s Hamburg 1-0 in the final to book their place among European Champions.
#7. Iraq are Asian champions!
Iraq went into the 2007 Asian Cup a divided nation. The nation had been torn apart by war and insurgency. No one would have blamed their national football team if they had performed badly but that was not the case. They knocked out big guns in Australia and South Korea before making it to the finals. Younis Mahmoud 71st minute strike was enough to see off Saudi Arabia in the final and unite the divided nation for a short time.
#8. Alex Ferguson’s fairytale story with Aberdeen
Sir Alex Ferguson is a legend of the game. He is the most successful manager in the history of English football with multiple Premier League titles to his name. However, he began his career in his native Scotland and pulled off one of the greatest shockers in the history of the Scottish League. The tournament had been dominated by the two Old Firm teams (Celtic and Rangers) for 30 years but Ferguson turned the tide leading Aberdeen to the title in 1984 before defending in in 1985. He also led them to success in Europe.
CONCLUSION ON THE BIGGEST TROPHY WINNING SHOCKERS.
There are countless cases like the ones above. Wigan’s FA Cup victory over Manchester City, Mechelen’s exploits in Europe, Porto’s 2004 Champions League triumph, Uruguay’s World-Cup winning performance at the Maracana and so on. What are your favorite trophy winning upsets?