Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Ask Norman: Quick success, discipline and Alves
Norman Hubbard is Soccernet'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.
With Spain's success in South Africa, it dawned on me that Sergio Busquets has already won every major honour there is to win with Barcelona and Spain (save the European Championships), all at the age of 21 and after only two years as a professional footballer. Has there been any other footballer that has achieved so much, so early in their career? asked Zhiming from Singapore.
If we define success by winning the World Cup and the Champions League, the simple answer is no. Busquets became a World Cup winner five days before his 22nd birthday, and won the Champions League in 2009. However, there is a case that, although 11-and-a-half months older, Busquets' team-mate Pedro Rodriguez has achieved it all in a shorter career: the forward has made eight appearances for Spain and 68 for Barcelona, for whom his six honours include two La Liga titles and the Champions League (he was an injury-time replacement in the final), whereas the midfielder has played 93 times for his club and 20 for his country. Pedro, by the way, was 22 years and 11 months when he won the World Cup.
There is a slender but distinguished group of others who have won the biggest prize in the club and international games at 22: in 1974, the Bayern Munich pair of Uli Hoeness and Paul Breitner helped defeat Holland 2-1 to add the World Cup to the European Cup, as it was then. Each also had three Bundesliga titles to his name by that point. However, both accomplished something that, as yet, Busquets has not: they were members of the West Germany team who beat the Soviet Union 3-0 to win the 1972 European Championships. As Hoeness, born in January 1952, is four months Breitner's junior, his triumphs came at a slightly younger age.
In addition, Pele never played for a European club, but there is a case for arguing he was more precocious than Busquets: although injured for most of the tournament, he won his second World Cup at 21. That year, 1962, he also won the Copa Libertadores for the first time.
Are there any players who have won the Champions League/European Cup and the World Cup in the same year? And if so, who? asked Bryson Runser.
There are indeed. Wesley Sneijder nearly did it this year, but the most recent example was in 2002 when Roberto Carlos helped Real Madrid defeat Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League final and then went on to become a member of the fifth Brazil side to win the World Cup. By the way, Ronaldo, who scored both goals in the final win against Germany, joined Real after the World Cup.
Another Real man, Christian Karembeu did a famous double in 1998 when he was part of the France team to triumph on home soil, against a Brazil side that included Roberto Carlos. But, once again, we have to go back to 1974 and the hugely successful Bayern Munich and West Germany teams. Six men - Sepp Maier, Paul Breitner, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and Uli Hoeness - started both finals. In addition, Jupp Kapellmann, who played in the Bavarians' 4-0 win over Atletico Madrid, was part of Helmut Schon's squad but unused in the World Cup final against Holland, is a seventh to contribute to both triumphs.
Muller is the only man to score in the finals of both competitions and win both in the same year, Beckenbauer the only man to captain his club and his country to the biggest prize in their respective fields within the space of a few weeks.
Has there ever been a player known for his good disciplinary record? For example, not getting a single yellow card or red card throughout his career. I remember an England player but I'm not very sure, asked Dinesvaren Krishnan.
There have been quite a few players of past generations who have ended without incurring the wrath of referees, partly because cautions and dismissals were rarer then. I suspect the man you are thinking of, however, is a comparatively recent player, the former England captain Gary Lineker. He played over 550 games for Leicester, Everton, Barcelona, Tottenham and Grampus Eight, as well as 80 for England, he was never shown a yellow card, let alone a red, before he retired in 1994. In an interview a couple of years ago, he said: "I almost got booked for grinning at a ref in Spain. He actually warned me, 'stop smiling' and started to go for his pocket."
Completing a wonderfully well-behaved forward line, his former Leicester strike partner Alan Smith was only booked once in his career, playing for Arsenal in the 1994-95 Cup Winners' Cup final.
As a big Malmo FF fan, I wondered what happened to Afonso Alves after his Middlesbrough period. I then remembered that he scored seven goals in one game, asked Oscar Stakhl from Sweden.
Alves did indeed score seven goals in a game although not, as Middlesbrough fans will realise, during his time on Teesside. He struck seven times for Heerenveen against Heracles in 2007 and averaged a goal a game for the Dutch side. After a rather less prolific spell in England ended in 2009, following Boro's relegation to the Championship, he was sold to Al-Sadd and then first loaned and then bought by Al-Sayyan, another Qatari club.
What is the function of the arc just in front of the 18-yard box? My friends can't tell and we think it's pretty useless, asked Ajibola from Nigeria.
The arc, or the 'D', as it is often described, is simply to ensure that, apart from the taker, all other players are 10 yards away from the ball when a penalty is taken.