2016 – A year littered with so many events that when recounting, it would inaccurate to ask ‘what happened in 2016?’. Instead, a more accurate question would be ‘what did not happen in 2016?’. And this is because across all sectors of life, everything happened! Britain voted to leave a union that they really didn’t want to leave, Americans elected a man that likes to grab women in an interesting region and sports witnessed the biggest upsets anyone can think of.
Zeroing on football, let’s do some retrospect and highlight some of the top 16 defining moments, shall? Oya, let’s go:
Leicester City winning the league:
With a manager that has never won a league title in his entire coaching career and a bunch of players that were hitherto factory workers and charger sellers somewhere around Ogba, Leicester City did the impossible. While Louis Van Gaal was ensuring that Manchester United’s display presented another cure for Isomnia, Chelsea were enduring a spectacular fall, Manchester City announced the sack of their coach mid-season and Arsenal, as usual, were doing PHCN with their form – someone had to win the league and Leicester City stepped forward. It was shocking, gob-smacking and every other big grammar you can think of.
Jose Mourinho losing his job at Chelsea
I mentioned Chelsea’s spectacular fall above, didn’t I? Well, it came at a price and a certain Portuguese paid it in full. Returned to the club as a hero, Mourinho led Chelsea to an instant league title but unfortunately, in the second season, he offended the powers that be (Step forward, Eva Carniero) and with just one visit to Baba somewhere in Abeokuta, they removed him from his seat. Again, for the second time, Abrahamovic pulled the trigger on the club’s most successful manager, and off he went to the city of Manchester.
Manchester City hiring Pep Guardiola
Staying in the city of Manchester, something really great took place in the months before summer. So great was the love the decision makers at Manchester City had for Pep Guardiola that they fired Manuel Pellegrinni right when he was in four competitions and hired Pep who was tired of winning the Bundesliga on Valentine’s day at Bayern Munich. It was a move many claimed would turn City to the next best thing since slice bread. Right now, they are still very much Agege bread and we are waiting for the transformation.
Paul Pogba joining Manchester United
Speaking of transformation, Paul Labile Pogba transformed from just an impressive kid turning hearts in Italy to the world’s most expensive player in a switch from Juventus to Manchester United. Life in Manchester is going on smooth for the lad who started out as an Instagram model but has recently now decided to actually play some football. Surely, this move was a defining moment in the year.
Zinedine Zidane winning the Champions League
England! England! England! I know you must be tired of events happening in England and quite honestly, I am also tired of writing about them. Let’s move on to some defining moments in other competitions, yeah? I will start from the manager who went from rookie to pro in a jiffy: Zinedine ‘bald head’ Zidane. He took over a disjointed team from Rafael Benitez and won the Champions League in his first try. In case you don’t know how great that feat is, ask Wenger. And please don’t look to me for his phone number, I don’t have it. But an informed guess says it should start with the number 4.
Portugal becoming the kings of Europe:
Many predicted Germany, others tipped hosts France. I am not even sure anyone looked the way of Portugal in the days leading to the commencement of the European Championship but guess what? A steady performance right from the group stage took them all the way. They broke the hearts of many French Citizen and a good number of Spaniards/Argentines as they were crowned champions of Europe.
Cristiano Ronaldo winning EVERYTHING
What didn’t happen in 2016, and what did CR7 not win? Okay, maybe the league title but beside that, the Portuguese won everything thanks a spectacular success recorded with club and country. He beat Messi to the Balon d’or, and conquered Europe with Madrid and Portugal.
Argentina’s continued final curse
A pity Ahmed Alasari is dead, if not one would have introduced the Argentina FA to him. In the space of two years, the Argentina National Team has lost three consecutive finals. Just when they were recovering from what Mario Gotze’s goal did to them in 2014, Chile denied them of another chance of clinching the Copa America title in 2016.
Neymar and Brazil winning the Olympics gold medal
What Pele and Delima Ronaldo could not do, Neymar did. Brazil are believed to be the special disciples of football and it is almost shocking that they do not have an Olympic gold medal in the sport. All of that became history this year as Neymar sealed one for the team. That boy is increasingly looking like one that can do everything except, of course, pay his tax. One cannot have it all, right?
Dream Team’s 30 days in Atlanta:
Since we are talking Olympics now, shall we revisit that unfortunate tour of Atlanta the Dream Team did earlier on this year? Thanks to poor logistics, Nigeria’s Olympic men team were stuck in ATL for several days and only had the benevolence of an airline to thank as they arrived the Olympics’ venue hours to their first game. With the Nigerian spirit and black man blood (As my good friend Okorodudu put it), they still manage to return with a Bronze medal.
The fallen stars:
Much as we had plenty fun watching football in 2016, we also had moments to sober and cry as the sport lost a good number of stars. Let’s start on the home front where we lost legends in Stephen Keshi, Shuaibu Amodu and Shooting Stars’ Izu Joseph. On the international front, the entire world was shaken by the loss of members of the Chapecoense football club in a plane crash while traveling to honor a game. May their souls rest in peace.
Falcons winning the Africa Women Cup of Nation
Number one in Africa! Our women national team did us proud by defeating Cameroon to become Champions of Africa for the 8th time. Even though the Sports ministry and the NFF ruined the celebration by ensuring that the ladies had to carry placards for their bonus and allowances on their return, we remain proud of their achievement.
Enugu Rangers winning the Nigerian local league
After 32 years of endless trips to the dibia, Enugu Rangers finally took it one step further by shocking everyone to emerge Champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League. Their victory came at a time when Kano Pillars and Enyimba have recreated the duopoly in the La Liga over here by exchanging the title every season and Rangers represented a breath of fresh air. I am so proud of them but not the trailer they did their title parade with.
The sack of Sunday Oliseh as Super Eagles’ coach
The Guardiola of Africa, instead of focusing on his job as the manager of the Nigeria National Team, decided to give Clarence Peters a run for his money by recording outstanding videos insulting the fans and his employees. In the end, he lost his job and Nigeria lost a place in the 2017 Nations Cup. NFF got themselves together and settled for Gernor Rohr who is presently on the brink of leading us to the World Cup. Ntoi, Oliseh!
The Chinese Revolution:
There is something going on in China that is reverberating across the major football leagues in Europe. Some billionaires who have plenty cash that they are not using again have decided to spend on the country’s football, attracting stars for a ridiculous fee. So far, they have been able to draw the likes of Oscar, Graziano Pelle, Demba Ba, Tim Cahill, Carlos Tevez and by the special grace of God, Ololade Olatunji (very soon). Or you think I don’t want to earn over half a million pounds every week too? I know some of you will want to beef me and say I can’t play football but if Marouane Fellaini can make it in this game, then I can too.