Norman Hubbard is ESPNsoccernet's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to email@example.com and he'll try to answer as many as possible.
I am wondering if one player has ever scored more goals than the rest of his team-mates. Robin van Persie certainly has a shot at it, Alex Brennan asked
In Premier League history, three men have outscored the rest of the squad over the course of a whole season. The first was Matt Le Tissier, who scored 25 of Southampton's 49 goals in the 1993-94 season (and probably created the majority of the others). He was followed by a former team-mate at The Dell: Alan Shearer got 31 of Blackburn's 61 goals in the 1995-96 campaign. Then, completing a hat-trick of men who started their careers at Southampton, came Kevin Phillips, who scored 30 of Sunderland's 57 goals. It won him the European Golden Boot and, with 52.6% of his team's goals, made him statistically the most important scorer any side has had in Premier League history.
If Van Persie is to join that elite group, either he will have to end the season in even more prolific form or his colleagues must stop scoring altogether, or both. At the moment, the Dutchman has 26 of their 61 league goals (43%). If Arsenal, averaging just over two goals a game, were to carry on at the same rate and end the season with 77, Van Persie would need 39 himself to end with the majority - or, to put it another way, he would have to score 13 of their last 16 goals in the next eight games. However, the Arsenal forward line next season may boast one player who outscored his team-mates in the 2011-12 campaign. Lukas Podolski currently has 16 of Cologne's 33 goals in the Bundesliga and is closer than Van Persie to the 50%.
Athletic Bilbao pursue a Basque-only player policy. I want to know if there is another club side that pursue a similar policy and if a foreigner has ever played for Bilbao, Fadumo, Kehinde Oluseyi from Abuja asked
Bilbao actually have a foreigner in their ranks at the moment: defender Fernando Amorebieta plays for Venezuela but has Basque parents and was raised in the Basque country so still meets Athletic's stringent criteria. Bixente Lizarazu, a World Cup winner with France in 1998, spent a season at the San Mames - as a French Basque, he also qualified.
Their local rivals Real Sociedad also had a Basque-only policy for years; now they employ foreigners, but not players from the rest of Spain, so they could have players from Milan and Buenos Aires, but not Madrid or Barcelona. The former Liverpool striker John Aldridge was their first foreigner in 1989.
There are plenty of other examples of teams comprised of locals - Celtic won the European Cup in 1967 with a side all born within 30 miles of Glasgow - but none I am aware of where a policy is set in stone quite like at Bilbao. The closest is Chivas Guadalajara, who only pick Mexicans or players of Mexican heritage.
In the past, plenty of teams could not field foreigners, but that was because various leagues banned them - as Serie A did from 1966 to 1980, for instance - or other restrictions, rather than club policy.
I would like to know if Ronaldo de Lima has a World Cup winners' medal from the 1994 World Cup in USA? Was he a member of the squad that graced and won the competition? Perry Adams asked
He does. Ronaldo de Lima is more commonly known simply as Ronaldo, though Brazil has produced plenty of Ronaldos. The highest goalscorer in World Cup history and top scorer in the 2002 tournament went to four World Cups, but he did not get on the pitch in the 1994 tournament. But as a member of the squad, he got a medal and is thus a double World Cup winner. In 2002, of course, he scored both goals in the final against Germany.
Has there even been a manager (not counting player-managers) that has fielded a player older than them? I know that Andre Villas-Boas was only a couple of years older than most of his players, but not sure if he had anyone older than him in the squad, Anil Shah from Milwaukee asked
He did. Villas-Boas is two years younger than Hilario, the back-up goalkeeper in the Chelsea squad. There is also a Premier League manager who is younger than one of his players. Roberto Martinez is 17 months younger than another experienced goalkeeper, Mike Pollitt.
Meanwhile, when Eddie Howe was appointed Burnley manager last season, he inherited a player six years his senior. Graham Alexander, then 39, went on to play under Howe. Not that it was a new experience for Howe: at his previous club, Bournemouth, he usually selected Steve Fletcher, who is five years older than him and, after ten months as assistant manager under Lee Bradbury, has now reverting to playing for a younger manager again. Elsewhere in the Football League, Dietmar Hamann (born 1973) played under Karl Robinson (born 1980) at MK Dons last season.
A full list of players older than their managers would be incredibly long, so I will limit this to a few more examples. When Kenny Dalglish first became Liverpool manager, his team included Phil Neal, who was several weeks his senior. At Derby, Brian Clough signed Dave Mackay, who was a few months older than him. Mathias Sammer managed Jurgen Kohler, two years his senior, at Borussia Dortmund. Chris Coleman picked Mark Crossley, Andy Melville and John Collins, all older than him, for Fulham.
It is worth remembering that many successful managers were first appointed at a young age; indeed, plenty began in their early 30s, while among those who started in their 20s are Graham Taylor, Arrigo Sacchi, Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Herbert Chapman. I suspect all managed players who were older than them.