Category Archives: Iconic Moments

Iconic Moments: Friedel denied (February 2004)

Not many goalkeepers have had the honour of scoring goals in the Premier League. Brad Friedel is part of an exclusive club which consists of just four other shot-stoppers.

The American was playing for Blackburn Rovers when he scored his only goal in professional football, although there would be no overall celebration for Friedel. Blackburn were playing away at The Valley against Charlton Athletic and made a horrible start. Carlton Cole opened the scoring after 10 minutes and before half-time, Jason Euell had doubled the Addicks’ lead.

Graeme Souness made some tactical readjustments at half-time and brought on both Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke, who made a difference. Cole reduced the deficit 16 minutes from time when he intercepted a wayward backpass. Blackburn pushed forward for the equaliser and they got it in stoppage time from the most unlikely source. In a goalmouth scramble, Friedel’s left-footed shot ended up in the back of Charlton’s net. It looked like the visitors had snatched a draw but heartache would follow.

Happy with the draw, Blackburn suddenly backed off and Charlton were clinical. From 25-yards out, Claus Jensen’s delicate volley evaded Friedel’s grasp and left him devastated. Charlton’s three-game losing streak was over as they won 3-2. It was a personal milestone for Brad Friedel but he probably didn’t feel like celebrating about it too much afterwards.

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Iconic Moments: Enter Wayne Rooney (October 2002)

The opening day of the 2002-2003 season saw a young teenager make his debut for Everton by the name of Wayne Rooney. Considered “Once a blue, always a blue,” the young lad from the Croxteth area of Liverpool made an early impression against Tottenham Hotspur on his debut, setting up the club’s first goal of the campaign for Mark Pembridge. The game finished 2-2 and a star was born.

However, it was Tottenham’s north London rivals, Arsenal who would feel the firm punch of Rooney a couple of months later. The Gunners arrived at Goodison Park on a 30-match unbeaten run in the Premier League and it looked like that run would extend when Freddie Ljungberg put the visitors ahead inside eight minutes. This was a stronger Everton team though and they equalised midway through the first half through Tomasz Radzinski.

Rooney was brought on in the second half by manager David Moyes and entered the national conscience in stoppage time. He collected the ball from just past the halfway line and with Arsenal defenders backing off, fancied his chances. His shot flew past David Seaman, off the underside of his crossbar and into the net. ITV commentator Clive Tydlesey commented: “Oh a brilliant goal, a brilliant goal. Remember the name, Wayne Rooney!”

Arsene Wenger was quick to praise him afterwards too, saying: “Rooney is the biggest England talent I’ve seen since I arrived in England. There has certainly not been a player under 20 as good as him since I became a manager here.”

Rooney was crowned BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year in 2002, was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award and soon earned himself his first professional contract. He moved on to Manchester United in August 2004 and became the club’s all-time record goalscorer, surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton in the early weeks of 2017.

His career went full circle in 2017 when he returned to Everton on a free transfer and scored his 200th Premier League goal in a draw with Manchester City in August 2017.

It wasn’t just the Premier League that was introduced to Wayne Rooney in October 2002; it was the football world as a whole.

Iconic Moments: A sad goodbye for Cloughie (May 1993)

He was controversial, he was charismatic and he was cherished by all – apart from maybe those at Leeds United. Brian Clough was one of the best managers the game has ever produced. After scoring 251 goals in just 274 league appearances for Middlesbrough and Sunderland respectively, he went into management and achieved great success.

He turned Derby County from a run-of-the-mill Second Division side into the Champions of England and also guided them to the semi-finals of the European Cup. After his ill-fated 44-day spell as Leeds boss in 1974, Clough returned to the Midlands and held the helm at Nottingham Forest for 18 years. He made the club in a serial player in both the English and European game. Forest won the First Division title in 1978, four League Cups and back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980.

Sadly though, his career ended on a low note as Nottingham Forest slid through the Premier League trap door in the league’s first season. Key players like Des Walker and Teddy Sheringham had been sold and there was an increasing battle the manager was having with alcohol. On the week before the club’s final home match of the 1992-1993 season, Clough announced his retirement from football management so he could spend more time with his family.

His final day at the City Ground was a highly-charged occasion but there would be no happy ending to this fairytale. Forest were beaten 2-0 by Sheffield United which consigned them to relegation. Afterwards, Clough revealed to Martin Tyler when asked why the club had gone down: “We’re not good enough, simple as that.”

After retirement, his battles with ill health and allegations of corruption dominated headlines but he still wrote an explosive monthly column for FourFourTwo magazine. He died from stomach cancer in September 2004, aged 69.

It was a sad goodbye and a sad way for one of the game’s great characters to bow out on.

Iconic Moments: Big Sam does it again (May 2016)

When Dick Advocaat decided to walk out on Sunderland in the early days of October 2015, things look grim again for the Black Cats. With yet another relegation scrap on the horizon, they turned to survival specialist Sam Allardyce to fill the managerial vacancy.

Initially, there wasn’t much of a bounce despite another Tyne & Wear derby victory over Newcastle United and Sunderland went into 2016 seven points adrift of safety. By early April, performances had steadily improved but results still weren’t coming. The Wearsiders’ still looked odds-on to be relegated.

They then beat relegation rivals Norwich City 3-0 at Carrow Road in mid-April, which turned out to be a decisive moment. It meant Allardyce now had managed to wrestle control in the battle to stay alive in the top-flight. It was a time when both Sunderland and Newcastle United were collecting points at a regular rate. It was still all to play for going into the final month of the season.

Sunderland had two games at home against Chelsea and Everton. Maximum points would be enough to see them beat relegation again for a fourth successive season where their long-term future looked risky. Jermain Defoe scored a crucial winner at home to Chelsea as Sunderland won 3-2. Newcastle’s failure to beat already relegated Aston Villa ensured a victory in the midweek fixture against Everton would secure safety.

What a time then for Lamine Kone to come up with his first two Sunderland goals. Patrick van Aanholt’s free-kick completed the scoring. Everton were very poor and the 3-0 final scoreline didn’t flatter Sunderland. This latest Everton performance cost Roberto Martinez his job a day later. For Sunderland, it kept them safe and this escape would earn Big Sam briefly at least the call to manage his country.

He had done it again and still has never been relegated from the top-flight with any club.

Iconic Moments: Vardy’s record (November 2015)

Strikers love scoring goals and they take more pleasure when they do it on both a regular and consecutive basis. In August 2003, Ruud van Nistelrooy broke his own mark when he scored for Manchester United on Tyneside against Newcastle United. The Dutchman’s run of finding the back of the net in 10 successive Premier League matches was a mark that would last for 12 years.

Jamie Vardy’s rise through the ranks from non-league footballer to England international has been a phenomenal one. His goals were a huge ingredient towards 5000-1 outsiders Leicester City shocking the sporting world in becoming Premier League champions. His run of scoring in 11 successive matches is a landmark that will be very difficult to beat.

Vardy’s run started with a late penalty in August to earn a 1-1 draw against AFC Bournemouth. Initially, the scoring mark wasn’t talked about as he continued to find the target. Aston Villa, Stoke City, Arsenal, Norwich City and Southampton couldn’t stop him and nor could Crystal Palace in October. Vardy’s winner not only was a goal to take him into strong company but it got people talking. Could he go all the way and break Van Nistelrooy’s mark?

As Leicester’s surge towards the top of the table continued, so did Vardy’s ability to find the back of the net. He scored winning goals away to West Bromwich Albion and at home to Watford. He shook off an injury scare to open the scoring at St James’ Park in a commanding 3-0 win against Newcastle United. That equalled Van Nistelrooy’s mark, ironically in the stadium when Ruud had achieved the current feat.

A week later, leaders Leicester faced third-placed Manchester United. Would Vardy put his name in the record books?  In the 24th minute, Christian Fuchs played an inch-perfect pass inside full-back Matteo Darmian. Vardy latched onto it and finished decisively past David de Gea. The King Power Stadium erupted in a crescendo of noise as Vardy took the acclaim from his overjoyed teammates.

Bastian Schweinsteiger did equalise to earn a point for the Red Devils but the day fully belonged to Jamie Vardy. His place in Premier League history was signed and sealed.

Iconic Moments: Temuri’s Mad Celebration (January 1998)

Nowadays, Georgian Temuri Ketsbaia is a manager who has guided Anorthosis to two Cypriot titles and also had spells in charge of AEK Athens and APOEL Nicosia. In his playing days, he is remembered for one thing and one thing only – that mad celebration after scoring for Newcastle United in a Premier League match in January 1998.

Ketsbaia arrived at Newcastle United in the summer of 1997. Already an established international footballer for his country, he ran down his contract with AEK to earn his move to Tyneside. The early signs were good. He scored the goal against Croatia Zagreb in the qualifiers to earn Newcastle their maiden adventure into the UEFA Champions League group stages for the 1997-1998 campaign.

Considered as a cult hero by many of the club’s supporters, Ketsbaia’s early career didn’t quite take off. So he decided rather than requesting a transfer or arguing with the manager Kenny Dalglish, he would become memorable for something completely unique. Newcastle were playing Bolton Wanderers at St James’ Park and the score was level at 1-1.

In the last minute, the ball bobbled around in the Bolton penalty area after a knockdown from the returning Alan Shearer. The defenders couldn’t clear the danger and Ketsbaia ran onto the rebound and smashed the ball home to win the match for Newcastle. Afterwards, he ripped his shirt off and started kicking the living daylights out of an advertising hoarding! Teammate Alessandro Pistone tried to restrain him but there was no stopping Ketsbaia. He would not stop in getting his point across. The main reason for this was his sheer frustration at not being selected regularly in the team.

Ketsbaia spent three seasons at the club and when he was manager of Georgia, revealed his fondness for British football. He added: “I had a fantastic time. My time in British football was my best time as a football player. The atmosphere, the pitches, everything is at a high level – that’s the reason that everybody wants to go and play in England. I have many good things to remember, not only kicking the boards!”

Iconic Moments: A post is crowned Man of the Match! (December 2016)

West Ham United were struggling to settle into their new home of the London Stadium. Although they did win their first match at the ground against AFC Bournemouth, the Hammers’ had only followed that up with nervy wins over Sunderland and Burnley. In December 2016, struggling Hull City were the latest visitors’ to the stadium in Stratford.

Hull outplayed their opponents throughout and only the goal frame denied them taking the lead on three separate occasions. Mark Noble headed an effort against his own crossbar, whilst Andrew Robertson and Dieumerci Mbokani saw efforts also hit the post. Hull had 16 shots on-goal but somehow failed to score. They ultimately lost the game too. A controversial penalty awarded for a challenge on Michail Antonio was converted by the reliable Noble. West Ham won 1-0 but the fans were unimpressed with the performance.

On Twitter, the club asked fans to vote for their Man of the Match. The winner was ‘The Post,’ taking the award with 57 per cent of the vote. They had made their feelings clear.

West Ham’s home form never really improved, although they did enjoy a 1-0 victory over title-chasing Tottenham Hotspur in May 2017. They will be hoping for better in 2017-2018 and no more victories for the ‘The Post’ when it comes to their Man of the Match award.

Iconic Moments: A Fratton thriller (September 2007)

On the face of it, Portsmouth vs. Reading in September 2007 didn’t sound like a very exciting game to the neutral. However, these sides put on a real thriller at Fratton Park. They still hold the record for the most goals scored in a Premier League match of 11.

There were nine different scorers in the match. The exception was Benjani. Portsmouth’s forward, who couldn’t find the back of the net in his early period with the club, hit the jackpot. The Zimbabwean scored a hat-trick although the goalkeeping from Marcus Hahnemann was not the best on the day.

For the record, the other scorers were Stephen Hunt, Dave Kitson, Hermann Hreidarsson, Niko Kranjcar, Shane Long, Sulley Muntari from the penalty spot and two own goals by Ivar Ingimarsson and Sol Campbell. Portsmouth won the game 7-4 and David James saved a penalty from Nicky Shorey.

Reading boss Steve Coppell tried to put a positive spin on events afterwards, commenting: “It’s difficult to analyse a match like that and if you try you will be there a very long time…we scored four goals away from home and had a chance for another with a penalty. We played a full part in the game – I don’t think many teams will come here this season and score four.” 

Portsmouth would record their best Premier League finish of eighth and won the FA Cup at the end of the season. Reading were relegated on the final day of the campaign.

Whilst the defending by both teams was horrendous, this still goes down as an unforgettable contest in the Premier League archives.

Iconic Moments: Saints thrash Black Cats (October 2014)

Sunderland arrived on the south coast in October 2014 boosted from their first Premier League win of the season a fortnight earlier at home to Stoke City. What happened next went down as one of their worst days in Premier League history. They left humiliated, shell-shocked and embarrassed as Southampton routed the Black Cats 8-0.

The writing was on the wall from an early stage. Saints took the lead through a nightmare for Santiago Vergini. The hapless full-back managed to smash the ball into his own net from 20-yards out. The reaction from his fellow defenders afterwards spoke volumes.

Sunderland were 3-0 down by the interval as the home side’s attackers had a field day. Graziano Pelle scored twice, there were two further own goals and midfielders Dusan Tadic, Jack Cork and Victor Wanyama all managed to get on the scoresheet too. Southampton had 11 shots on target in the game and eight of them found the back of the net.

It was Sunderland’s biggest defeat in 32 years. Manager Gus Poyet was understandably fuming afterwards, admitting: “It is the most embarrassing game I have ever been involved in.”

Things didn’t improve much at the Stadium of Light as the season progressed. Poyet was axed in March after a 4-0 loss at home to Aston Villa and Dick Advocaat somehow managed to galvanize the players to beat the Premier League drop again.

However, some of the Sunderland players who featured on this day have had to deal with being on the end of one of the Premier League’s most one-sided games in the last quarter of a century.

Iconic Moments: The craziest deadline day (January 2011)

Transfer deadline day has become a nationwide event for football fans since the introduction of the August and January transfer windows from the 2002-2003 season onwards. There have been some intriguing days like Arsenal’s signing of Mesut Ozil in August 2013 and Dimitar Berbatov’s last-gasp switch to Manchester United five seasons earlier.

But there were fewer mad days in the transfer market than the one that played out on Monday, 31 January 2011. Over £100 million was spent on three strikers, with Liverpool FC, Chelsea and Newcastle United playing the leading roles.

There was a big departure from Anfield. Star striker of the past three and a half years, Fernando Torres decided to leave the club. Days earlier, the Spaniard had handed in a transfer request which was initially rejected. Eventually, a deal was agreed that saw Torres move to Chelsea for a British transfer record fee at the time of £50 million. A lot of LFC fans were very upset by Torres’ comments in the aftermath of the deal going through. Shirts were burned outside the ground as their former idol had moved on, saying “This is the target for every footballer – to try to play for one of the top clubs in the world.” 

Although he did go on to win the silverware he craved such as the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League in 2012, Torres never fully settled at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool fans never really forgave him until an appearance at Steven Gerrard’s testimonial three seasons later. He is now back in Spain playing for his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid.

That wasn’t the only business conducted at Chelsea. Brazilian defender David Luiz arrived from Benfica for £26.5 million and not the end of the drama either at Liverpool. As El Nino checked out of Merseyside, the Reds were busy pulling off their own double striker swoop.

£22.8 million was paid to Ajax for the controversial but exceptionally talented Luis Suarez and £35 million was exchanged with Newcastle for Andy Carroll – a club record fee. Like Torres, the transfer fee seemed to weigh too much on Carroll. His 18-month spell was an unhappy one and he eventually moved onto West Ham United in August 2012. On the other hand, Suarez lit up Anfield with many spectacular performances. Despite racism and biting controversies which led to suspensions totalling 19 matches, his spectacular goals nearly guided the club to a Premier League title in 2014 before departing for Barcelona in a £75 million transfer.

Other moves saw Birmingham sign Obafemi Martins on-loan, Bolton add Daniel Sturridge to their ranks from Chelsea, Tuncay depart Stoke City for the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg and Blackpool add four players to their relegation scrap. Charlie Adam stayed put despite a late bid from Tottenham Hotspur.

In total, Premier League clubs spent over £200 million in the 2011 January window and deadline day in this window remains the craziest and probably best window of this era of transactions in football.

Iconic Moments: Wenger marks two decades (October 2016)

In September 1996, Arsenal confirmed the appointment of the relatively unknown Frenchman Arsene Wenger as their new manager. Wenger had guided AS Monaco to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in 1994 but had most recently spent time coaching in the Japanese J-League.

It is fair to say there were plenty of sceptics about the appointment but he is still going strong two decades on. Possibly slightly less fresh-faced when he took the dugout for the first time at Ewood Park on 12 October 1996 but Wenger’s legacy at Arsenal and the Premier League should not be tarnished.

He revolutionised the Gunners. Training methods improved, stricter and better diet regimes were brought in under his guidance and the way football was played by the club even changed. Gone was the ‘1-0 to the Arsenal tag.’ In his first full season with the club (1997-1998), they won the league and cup double. In the process, Wenger became the first foreign manager to lift the Premier League prize.

Another double followed four seasons later when Arsenal scored in every single Premier League game and went through the entire campaign undefeated away from Highbury. Even better came in 2003-2004 when they went through the whole season unbeaten. ‘The Invincibles’ of 2004 has to be considered as one of the greatest teams to have played the English game.

Trophies have dried out since and criticism is often aimed in Wenger’s direction over his reluctance to sign players in the transfer market but he also oversaw the club’s move to the Emirates Stadium. Before finishing fifth in 2016-2017, he managed to get the Londoners into the top four for the previous 20 seasons. It was a remarkable achievement in a period where Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool FC all had spells outside the top six, let alone top four.

In October 2016, Wenger celebrated 20 years as Arsenal manager with a scrappy 1-0 away win at Burnley, courtesy of a stoppage-time goal from Laurent Koscielny. He left Turf Moor with a huge smile on his face and at the end of the season, ended with a record seventh FA Cup victory, defeating champions Chelsea in the final. Four days later, it was confirmed that he has signed a two-year contract extension to remain Arsenal manager after a season where supporters’ loyalty towards the Frenchman was definitely split.

Supporters of the club have to step back and think where they would be if Arsene Wenger hadn’t taken over. His time will eventually end at some point but we will never see the likes of this unflappable Frenchman again – nor his longevity in the game.

Iconic Moments: The Sky Sports sexism scandal (January 2011)

The Premier League and Sky Sports has been united together over the past quarter of a century but the main live broadcaster was thrown into the limelight for the wrong reasons in January 2011. Off-air recordings and leaked videos of inappropriate comments about a number of females in football meant the end of the line for long-standing presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray.

It began on a normal Saturday lunchtime with Liverpool FC recording a comfortable 3-0 away victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers. It was the first victory in the second reign of management at the club for Kenny Dalglish. Fernando Torres scored his final two goals for the club and there was a cracking strike from Raul Meireles. Just over 36 hours later, the press got hold of a much bigger story.

A tape recording was leaked to the national media which had Keys and Gray make derogatory comments about women not understanding the offside rule and sexism in football. These were aimed at female line assistant Sian Massey-Ellis and West Ham United board member Karen Brady. The pair were suspended from covering a Monday Night Football game whilst an investigation was launched.

Further damming video revelations were leaked in the days afterwards. They included more offensive comments made to Sky female presenter Charlotte Jackson and pundit Jamie Redknapp. The videos were embarrassing for all concerned.

Sky sacked Andy Gray and Keys resigned 24 hours later. Radio station talkSPORT would hire the pair to host a new radio talk show just three weeks later. They’ve now moved to the Middle East to cover action with beIN Sports. The outspoken Keys has insisted constantly since that “it was just banter” and that “dark forces were at play.”

Either way, it was a dramatic fall from grace for the pair having anchored the Premier League on Sky Sports for its first 19 seasons.