As 2017 draws to a close, a subtle realisation has sunk in. This has been one of the biggest years in football which has given fans moments to cherish and tales to tell their grandchildren. The year also brought many heart breaks and emotional farewells. These are the biggest football moments of 2017.
Legends retired in 2017
— Footy Analyst (@analyst_footy) October 21, 2017
World Cup winners Kaka, Francesco Totti and Andrea Pirlo hung up their boots after stellar careers that have been trophy laden. Totti, who has been a one-club man his whole life, received an emotional farewell which saw De Rossi and the entire crowd at Rome finding it hard to hold tears back. Pirlo and Kaka received the same love with good wishes and heartfelt messages pouring in from ex-players and fans alike. While the game will continue to be played with younger blood coming in, there is a sense of loss being felt in 2017. The elegance, the loyalty and the intelligence that these players brought will be missed.
Barcelona 6-1 Paris St. Germain
On a spirited night at Camp Nou, history was made in the 96th minute in the Champions League. As Barcelona erupted in celebrations at Sergi Roberto’s goal, a mini earthquake was recorded in the city. After going 4-0 down in the first leg against PSG, Barcelona made arguably the greatest comeback in the history of the game with a 6-1 win over PSG at home. These are the legendary tales that would be told to grandchildren even fifty years from now.
Neymar joined PSG for €222 million breaking transfer record
"People think that you die after leaving #Barcelona . But me, I feel alive more than anytime before."
— Footy Analyst (@analyst_footy) August 14, 2017
The hangover of one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League had still not faded for Barcelona fans when it was announced that Neymar, who was their best player on the historic night, had joined PSG. This was heartbreaking news not just for fans of the Catalan club, but also for Barcelona players, who had tried hard to convince Neymar to stay at Camp Nou. The club began their journey post the transfer with the acquisition of Dembele from Borussia Dortmund and are doing incredibly well in the league and in Europe, but a sense of betrayal still remains among fans.
Pep Guardiola turns Manchester City into an unbeatable monster
Ferdinand: “They’re a machine at the moment. It’s sublime, it’s just beautiful to watch and I’m saying this as someone on the red side of Manchester. Guardiola got City playing football you pay to watch” #Pep #MCFC #Guardiola #ManCity pic.twitter.com/tZIV1NR6ZE
— Footy Analyst (@analyst_footy) November 22, 2017
After being under immense scrutiny for not being able to defend or adapt to English football, Pep Guardiola has hit back at the pundits with just as much intensity. Manchester City, were not upto the task in the last season, losing 6 games in the season, a career low for Guardiola as a manager. They are now unbeaten in 21 games this season and Pep Guardiola has broken Arsene Wenger’s record of 15 wins in a row. Their confidence has been boosted with their performance in Europe as well where they finished top of the group. Guardiola was unfairly ridiculed in the first season when he took time to settle in the new surroundings and football system. He has now dominated English soil and with the performance that Manchester City are putting in, it looks likely that they will reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.
The world comes together for Bradley Lowery
— Footy Analyst (@analyst_footy) July 17, 2017
The story of a 6 year old football fan, Bradley Lowery, who suffered from a rare form of cancer has touched millions of life. Bradley was surrounded by family, friends and his idol Jermain Defoe when he passed away on July 7 this year. Heartfelt messages poured in from all corners of the world and from ex-players who called Bradley an inspiration and a fighter. A world that has been divided in their spuuort for Messi against Ronaldo, Real Madrid against Barcelona or even La Liga against English Premier League, was brought together by a 6 year old football fan from Hartlepool. When the world saw the game from the eyes of Bradley, they set their differences aside and realised that the game is more than just mindless rivalry.
The meteoric rise of Kylian Mbappe
— Footy Analyst (@analyst_footy) September 11, 2017
Kylian Mbappe became the second most expensive player in the history of football after his transfer from AS Monaco to PSG for €180 million. Mbappe is currently on loan with the transfer to be completed by the end of this season. The 19 year old, who came through the academy at Monaco, introduced himself to the world with outstanding performances for Monaco in the last season, winning Ligue 1 and finishing as a semi-finalist in the Champions League for Monaco. He was hailed as a “one season wonder” when PSG snapped him up for a record fee, but midway through this season, he has already established himself as a world class talent with consistent performance for PSG. Mbappe also finished 7th in the Ballon D’Or awards in 2017, making him the youngest footballer to finish in top 10 for the award.
Chapecoense play their first game after the 2016 crash
— Footy Analyst (@analyst_footy) November 28, 2017
The world of football was left horrified when Brazilian club Chapecoense lost their first team in a plane crash in 2016. The club received support and made a slow but inspiring comeback to football, when they turned the page and began a new chapter. Chapecoense played their first game since the tragic event against Palmeiras in a friendly in January 2017. Their fairytale run from the 4th tier of football to their first major final was cut short by the accident, but it has not deterred the club who, under new sporting director, look towards the future with more determination and positivity.
The world cried with Buffon after shock Italy exit
— Footy Analyst (@analyst_footy) November 14, 2017
Italy’s exit from the World Cup qualifying stage came as a shock to many around the world. But the exit hit Buffon the hardest, who broke down in tears during an interview after the last qualifying match. The interview (and the images) went viral on social media and support came flooding in for the legendary Juventus goalkeeper. Seeing a figure that is loved and respected throughout the world shed a tear, left even rival fans heart broken. Buffon finished 4th on the Ballon D’Or awards in 2017 for a splendid performance last season.
Cristiano Ronaldo 5-5 Lionel Messi
"The choice to decide the Ballon d'Or winner is always fair. Though we don't know the specifics which decide the winner. For me, it's very fair that Cristiano Ronaldo has won five Ballon d'Or trophies."
– Andrés Iniesta#Ronaldo #BallondOr pic.twitter.com/DQ4uKTT0Xl
— Footy Analyst (@analyst_footy) December 15, 2017
If Barcelona beating PSG was one of the biggest comebacks by a club, then Ronaldo equalling Messi’s Ballon D’Or awards was one of the biggest comebacks on an individual level. Ronaldo, who won the best player award in 2008, lost the award to Messi 4 years in a row from 2009 to 2012. After going 4-1 down on a personal awards tally, Ronaldo picked himself up and worked harder than ever to make it 5-5. He became the oldest player to win the award at 32 years and 10 months. There may be 50 shades of grey but there is only black or white for the fans of these 2 players who share a fierce rivalry that transcends the game itself. With Ronaldo winning his 5th Ballon D’Or by putting in world class performances in the past few years, the unending debate of who the best player in the world is has further been fuelled.
With 2017 coming to an end in a few hours, fans can’t help but look back on a glorious year of football. There were ups and downs and bumps along the road, but the spirit of football and the moments cherished by fans will be remembered for ages. Looking forward, one can only hope that 2018 has the same excitement in store that 2017 gave us.