All in the Game: 2020 Moments of the Year Awards
From Warnock to Mourinho’s fried eggs and McClaren’s doves it’s been quite a year
Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock just wants to be abused from the stands again. Photo: Ian Horrocks/Getty Images
Sounds of lockdown
“When Boris said we were in isolation, my first fear was for Gary Neville’s wife. How is she gonna cope with him?” - Jamie Carragher sending thoughts and prayers to Mrs Neville at a difficult time.
“In a couple of months I expect to emerge looking like Michael Bolton.” - A barber-less Peter Crouch on his flowing locks.
“The sooner we get fans back the better. I’d like to get booed at least one more time before I retire.” - Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock pining for some abuse from the terraces.
“I’m the fried egg specialist.” - José Mourinho put lockdown to good use by adding a culinary skill to his repertoire.
“They come in time, which is important - too late to a session means you have to pay.” - Jurgen Klopp on the most 2020ish of things - his Liverpool players were fined if they were late to their Zoom sessions.
Quote of the Year
“In my room there is an image with the 12 Apostles and when I make love they applaud me.”- Colombian legend Faustino ‘Tino’ Asprilla very much enjoying his retirement.
Number of the Year
100,000,000: That’s how many South Korean won (€74,000) FC Seoul were fined for inadvertently filling their empty stadium with, eh, sex dolls. Like you do.
Anticipation-Dampening of the Year
“It’s not like we signed Pele or Maradona - we simply brought in a player with certain characteristics that can help us.” - Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso somewhat downplaying the abilities of €80 million signing Victor Osimhen.
Analogy of the Year
“It’s like going to Woburn Zoo and walking into the lion’s cage with a lorry-load of steaks. You’re going to get eaten alive, aren’t you? If you stay in your car you are going to be alright and that’s what it was.” - Paul Merson on Arsenal’s habit of always playing out from the back and being devoured by the opposition.
Most Honest Moment of the Year
Dutch midfielder Mohamed Rayhi who joined Saudi Arabian club Al-Batin from Sparta Rotterdam. Did he claim the move was about giving him a chance to experience another country’s culture, that class of thing? Nope. “Saudi Arabia for every player is simply financially attractive - I am not going to there to see the oil industry.” Hats off, Mohamed.
Unluckiest Punter of the Year
That would be Londoner Antony Johnson who was cruel enough to bet €3.30 at the start of the 2019-20 Premier League season on Jesse Lingard failing to register a single goal or assist. And then Lingard scored … eight minutes in to injury time of the final game of the season. How much would Antony have won? £135.30. “That’s about all Lingard is worth,” said one especially mean Tweeter.
Oddest Question Put To A Player In A Match Programme All Year
We’ll go with the one put to Newcastle’s Florian Lejeune before he went on loan to Alaves - how would he dispose of a body in one hour? Worryingly, Florian had an answer: “I would put it in the boot of my car, drive out to sea, put it on a boat and throw it into the sea with weights on it.” We note that he hasn’t received any red cards so far this season. It’d be a brave ref to give him one.
Best Comeback of the Year
We’ll go with this Twitter exchange. Carmody: “The last time Celtic won a match, people in Glasgow were still allowed to visit pubs.” JFayTheYY: “The last time Rangers won a trophy you could smoke in pubs.”
Least Impressed Moment of the Year
“I think Maguire goes home every day and tells his wife: ‘I screw up, but I earn so much! They really believe I’m good!’ He laughs at everyone!” - Former Dutch international Rafael van der Vaart being quite rude about Harry.
Least Smart Person of the Year
We’ll go with the Brazilian who engaged in a spot of identity theft to make a fraudulent application for the emergency social welfare payment of €105 that was brought in to help his compatriots who were unable to work during lockdown. His application, alas, was rejected because it “failed to meet the requirements”. Why? Because the identity he stole was that of, eh, Neymar. AFP reported that “with his contract at PSG and estimated earnings this year of €84 million, Neymar does not qualify for the payment”. Well, no.
Denial of Democracy Moment of the of the Year
No, not the US Presidential election, we’re talking about the poll carried out by League Two’s Forest Green Rovers after Innocent Smoothies bought the naming rights for their New Lawn stadium. Supporters were asked to suggest a new name for the ground but the club opted for the runner-up in the poll, ‘Innocent New Lawn’. Why did they reject the winner, which got 81 per cent of the vote? Because it was … ‘Kevin’. The Maracana, Wembley, the San Siro, Camp Nou ... Kevin. It belongs on that list.
“I lived in London for 13 years and only found one good chip shop.” - No wonder Danny Rose left Spurs for a loan spell at Newcastle. Sadly for him, he’s back in London, and still looking for a decent bag of chips.
What Was He On?
“It’s like holding a beautiful white dove in your hand and if you squeeze it too tight, you’ll kill it. And if you relax, the dove will fly away. You’ve just got to get the right amount of squeeze.” - Steve McClaren on getting the balance right while dealing with players - get it wrong and feathers will fly.
Warmest Tribute of the Year
The one Karim Benzema paid to fellow Frenchman Olivier Giroud when asked how he rated him. “This won’t take long,” he said. “You don’t confuse F1 with Go-karting. And I’m being kind. I know I’m F1.”