In the never-ending, constantly refreshing soap opera that is football we can reasonably expect an entire decade to have thrown up all manner of controversies and memorable moments and sure enough these past ten years haven’t disappointed. In fact, when reminiscing through approximately 3800 Premier League matches – not to mention an untold number of off-the-pitch incidents – it’s difficult to know what to leave out.
In recent times we’ve been treated to our very own Cantona-esque rumpus when Luis Suarez got peckish and mistook Branislav Ivanovic for a shoulder of lamb. We’ve cringed at a manager meltdown not nearly as iconic as Kevin Keegan’s ‘love it’ rant but just as hilarious, such as when Nigel Pearson claimed he could impersonate an ostrich.
Elsewhere there has been a cornucopia of sensational giant-killings and extravagant goals and Mario Balotelli.
The five incidents below however have been chosen because they fit a key criteria. There we were just plodding through life when, from out of nowhere, we are transported to a land of unifying, stupefied wonder. Or Twitter. Usually it was Twitter.
You just know we’re in for a tremendous decade when it begins with what The Guardian called a ‘sex caper’ that involves two England internationals and recent club team-mates.
In January 2010 Chelsea’s John Terry’s submission for a gagging order was refused in court and suddenly the word was publicly out that he had allegedly enjoyed an affair with Vanessa Perroncel, the long-term girlfriend of Wayne Bridge, a player who regarded his captain at the Bridge to be his ‘best friend’.
Understandably this startling development led to the British media having a field day while a nation recoiled in shock that the previously upstanding and angelic Terry could do such a thing, but if the bare facts were salacious enough football then intervened to spice the situation up further.
Having departed Chelsea a year earlier, Bridge’s Manchester City travelled to the capital soon after the scandal broke leaving everyone on tenterhooks as to whether the two would shake hands prior to the game. Terry for his part gingerly extended out an arm only to be brilliantly rebuffed. A nation – no longer shocked – cheered to the rafters.
It is impossible to split these two truly seismic events because despite their considerable differences both entailed winning the league in exceptional circumstances. Both still catch the breath even now.
The Foxes were famously 5000-1 to win the Premier League at the beginning of 2015/16, the same return for Elvis being found alive or Barack Obama playing cricket for England on leaving the White House.
The season earlier Leicester had pulled off a ‘great escape’ from relegation’s clutches before appointing Claudio Ranieri, the ‘wrong man’ according to many.
What came next still doesn’t make sense. It defies all logic. It scoffs at reason and a lifetime of empirical knowledge. Yup, Gary Lineker presented Match of the Day in just his pants.
As for Manchester City’s late, late miracle, it was a title-deciding goal that wobbled the planet briefly off its axis. We will never see anything like this ever again. We drank it in.
“This does not slip,” Liverpool’s captain, leader and all-round legend Stevie Gerrard urged to a huddle of team-mates following a victory at Norwich that put Liverpool in pole position to win their first ever Premier League crown.
One week later Chelsea came to town with arch party pooper Jose Mourinho in tow and in first half stoppage time the ball is played across to Gerrard sitting deep as the last man. We all know what happened next. The mis-touch. The panicked clamour to re-address balance. We all know because it has subsequently been memed to kingdom come. We all know too what it ultimately meant.
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If a Hollywood script-writer had penned the fate and fortune of Stevie G throughout the spring of 2014 they would have been laughed out of every studio. It was all too apt; too perfectly cruel for even a screen villain to endure, never mind a legend.
We’ve all had bad days at the office but only the very rare few can admit to dropping a clanger so mind-boggling it leads to a social media meltdown and accusations of racism.
When Marriner mistakenly sent off Kieren Gibbs for the offence of being in the same team as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as Arsenal meekly surrendered to Chelsea, he surpassed Graham Poll’s three bookings dished out to Josip Simunic in 2006 and claimed the unwanted prize for the worst reffing blunder in recent times.
At least we think it was Marriner. It may have been Clattenburg. All officials look the same to us.
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Jose Mourinho prowled the touchline during the two previous bombshells, no doubt smirking in that smirky manner that passes for a smile. Here though – on the opening day of 2015/16 – he very much took centre stage as Chelsea medic Eva Carneiro raced onto the pitch to treat an injured Eden Hazard.
With the Blues already a man down and protecting a draw against an up-for-it Swansea the sight of an eager club employee keeping a further player out of action for a short spell visibly incensed the Portuguese boss, so much so that he unleashed an unsavoury tirade in Carneiro’s direction on her return to the dug-out.
It was a public rebuking that drew widespread criticism at the time especially as Carnerio was simply doing her job and it only got worse during a consequent tribunal hearing. There it was revealed that Mourinho had called the medic a ‘daughter of a w****’. And they say the age of chivalry is dead.