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Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Americans abroad, penalty powers

Norman Hubbard

Norman Hubbard is ESPNsoccernet's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to and he'll try to answer as many as possible.

Hey, I just found your column and have a question for you. Which game featured the most American players in top-flight English football? The Everton/Fulham clash saw three and I wondered if there have been more, Zac Neubauer asked. Everton's win against Fulham was actually in the FA Cup, but featured three Americans - Tim Howard and Landon Donovan for the home side and Clint Dempsey for the visitors. Going back in Fulham's recent history, however, and there was a point when they had five Americans in their squad. In the 2007-08 season, the Cottagers had Kasey Keller, Carlos Bocanegra, Brian McBride, Eddie Johnson and Dempsey. All played in a 1-0 Premier League win against Everton, who had Howard in goal, making six Americans on the pitch, though not at the same time (Dempsey came on for McBride). In addition, Fulham also fielded the Canadian Paul Stalteri and the Houston-born Norway international Brede Hangeland. Fittingly, McBride, an American and a former Everton player, scored the only goal that day. Has any British footballer ever won the World Footballer of the Year award? Sunday in the Gambia asked. Not the FIFA World Player of the Year award, no. It was introduced in 1991, when Gary Lineker finished in third place behind the winner, Lothar Matthaus. Since then, Englishmen have three second-placed finishes, from David Beckham in 1999 and 2001 and then Frank Lampard in 2005. There is also an English woman who has come close: Kelly Smith was placed third in 2009. However, there is a complication, as there often is. Before FIFA's award began and way before it merged with the Ballon d'Or, the latter, originally the European Footballer of the Year award, was the highest individual award on offer on an annual basis. That has been won by Brits seven times, including the inaugural award, in 1956, which went to Stanley Matthews. Further victors were Denis Law in 1963 (the only Scot), Bobby Charlton in 1966 and, completing Manchester United's holy trinity, George Best in 1968 (the only Northern Irish winner). Then Kevin Keegan triumphed in back-to-back years, in 1978 and 1979, before another striker with Liverpool, Newcastle and England on his CV, Michael Owen, won in 2001. The closest a Welshman has come, by the way, is third place, where John Charles ended up in 1959. It is one of 16 other podium finishes achieved by British footballers. Billy Wright, Duncan Edwards, Johnny Haynes, Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Charlton (twice), Bobby Moore, Best, Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Lineker, Alan Shearer, Beckham, Lampard and Steven Gerrard were responsible for the others. Park Ji-Sung has scored in two games this season where Manchester United have destroyed the opposing teams, Arsenal (8-2) and Wigan (5-0). How many games in which he has scored have United won? Karan S from Singapore asked. Karan's question was actually sent in before Manchester United's defeat to Liverpool in the FA Cup, which proved a landmark, albeit an unwanted one, for the South Korean. He has scored 27 goals for United in 25 different games and the 2-1 setback at Anfield was the first time he struck in a losing cause. Indeed, not since a 1-1 draw at Chelsea in September 2008 had his goals come in anything other than a victory. United's record when Park scores now stands at 23 wins and one draw in 25 games. It is still outstanding, but no longer unbeaten. After watching Manchester United beat Stoke with two penalties, and having a third one not given to them, I was wondering what the most number of penalties awarded during a match was? Kelvin from Singapore asked. The most I am aware of in English football is a game of five penalties, but only three goals. Crystal Palace beat Brighton 2-1 in March 1989, taking the lead, in open play, with one of Ian Wright's favourite goals. Strike partner Mark Bright made it 2-0 from the penalty spot before both Bright and Wright missed penalties. Brighton brought it back to 2-1 with a penalty by Alan Curbishley before referee Kelvin Morton awarded his fifth, and Palace's fourth penalty. John Pemberton put it over the bar. I recalled there was a time in Copa America that Martin Palermo missed three penalties in a match. Was that the most penalties missed by a player in a game? Lim Lih Fong asked. It is, certainly in international football. Palermo was playing for Argentina against Colombia in the 1999 Copa America. He hit the bar with his first spot kick, put the second over it and had the third saved by Miguel Calero, the Colombian keeper.

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