It is that time of the year, where almost everyone loves to look back at moments they have been thankful for over the last year. If you were to ask football fans out there, it would be hard for them to pick just one, out of the many events that occurred over the course of 2021.
With the fans back in the stadium for the majority of the year, what football fans missed over almost 2 years, was made up for in terms of sheer entertainment, both on and off the pitch
In all 2021 was one rollercoaster of a year for fans and players around the globe. FootTheBall presents you, the 21 best moments of 2021.
21) Newcastle United takeover
Many Newcastle United fans cheered the announcement on October 7 that their club had finally been sold for £305 million. The sale, to a consortium headed up by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, adds to a long list of clubs bought by the mega-rich, including Manchester City – owned by Sheikh Mansour, Arsenal – Stan Kroenke and Chelsea – Roman Abramovich.
🤝 An investment group led by the Public Investment Fund, and also comprising PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media, has completed the acquisition of 100% of Newcastle United Limited and Newcastle United Football Club Limited from St. James Holdings Limited.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) October 7, 2021
20) EL Pistelero scores 500th
Luis Suarez scored his 500th goal in a LaLiga victory over Alaves. He joined some illustrious company alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are among the five who have over 500 career goals. After the Urugyuan striker reached his milestone, he sent an emotional message on his Instagram handle.
— Luis Suarez (@LuisSuarez9) March 22, 2021
19) The day Denmark stood still
This year at Euro 2020, Denmark’s Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch during a game against Finland, having suffered a cardiac arrest.
His heart had stopped beating and, according to the Denmark team doctor Morten Boesen, he “was gone”. This is the story about the heroes of Copenhagen and how Eriksen’s life was saved – and what it meant for the nation.
Christian Eriksen has been stabilised in hospital after collapsing on the pitch as Denmark's opening Euro 2020 match against Finland was suspended just before half-time.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 12, 2021
18) Zlatan doesn’t retire – the world retires from Zlatan
Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to defy the ageing process as the 39-year-old striker scored the 500th and 501st goals of his club career in AC Milan’s Serie A win over Crotone in February this year.
17) The boy from ‘The second city of UK’
Jude Bellingham became the youngest English player to ever start a Champions League knockout stage match when he lined up for Borussia Dortmund against Sevilla.
At 17 years and 233 days, he set the record when he started his side’s last-16 match at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in Seville.
17 – Aged 17 years and 233 days, Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham is the youngest ever English player to start a game in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. Represent. pic.twitter.com/NlB8ULdvTK
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 17, 2021
16) Liverpool humiliate the Red Devils
Rock bottom. That is what Manchester United’s embarrassing 5-0 hammering at home by longtime rivals Liverpool was. That result left manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under intense scrutiny about his future, who was eventually sacked a month later.
A hat-trick by Mohamed Salah, combined with the two goals by Naby Keita and Diogo Jota, resulted in a historic humiliation for the Red Devils.
5 – Manchester United have suffered their heaviest ever defeat at home to Liverpool, whilst it's the first time they have lost to-nil by 5+ goals at home since February 1955 (5-0 v Man City). Erosion. pic.twitter.com/ZeGo6Lm69M
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 24, 2021
15) The future G.O.A.T.
Already leading Barcelona 4-1 from the first-leg, the French wonderkid – who scored a hat-trick in that game – thumped home a penalty to give Paris Saint-Germain a 1-0 lead.
But in scoring, he broke Lionel Messi’s record for youngest player to hit the quarter-century mark for goals in Europe’s elite competition. Messi managed the feat aged 22 years and 286 days over 11 years ago.
But Mbappe beat him by the better part of a year, bringing up the magic 25-mark aged 22 years and 80 days.
30 – Kylian Mbappé scored his 30th Champions League goal, becoming the youngest player to reach this milestone in the competition's history (22 years and 352 days). Fast. #PSGCLU pic.twitter.com/nYsXycvS11
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) December 7, 2021
14) Kun be any better
Sergio Aguero signed off for Manchester City in style.
He started the final game of the league last season, against Everton, on the bench for Pep Guardiola’s side and came on in the 65th minute with City already 3-0 up.
Whilst the two goals weren’t enough to take him further up the all-time Premier League table, he is fourth overall, it did break Rooney’s record of most goals scored for one club.
The Derby County boss scored 183 goals for Manchester United and Aguero’s two takes him to 184 for City.
⭐️Sergio Aguero – the final PL summary:
184 goals in 275 PL apps for @ManCity
4th most PL goals overall
Most PL goals for a single club
A record 12 PL hat-tricks
Scored v 32 of 33 PL opponents
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) May 23, 2021
13) Red Devils run riot
Manchester United ran riot at Old Trafford in February 2021, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side inflicted yet another humiliating 9-0 defeat on Southampton.
This is the second successive season in which Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team have found themselves on the wrong end of nine goals, having suffered the same fate against Leicester City during the 2019-20 campaign.
Just 466 days separate the Saints’ two huge losses, which stand as joint-record heaviest Premier League defeats.
🎥 Sit back, relax and enjoy all the best bits from a memorable night at Old Trafford.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 3, 2021
12) G.O.A.T. player = G.O.A.T. contract
In February 2021, where Barcelona already were in shambles off the pitch, another blow was health – this time it was Messi’s Contract leak.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo claimed it had obtained a copy of Lionel Messi’s Barcelona contract, saying figures confirm the star player’s deal is the biggest in sports history. According to the report, Messi would receive a maximum of €555,237,619 (US$673,919,105) over four seasons.
Lionel Messi's Barcelona contract leaked. They really are trying their best to push him out of the club. https://t.co/5MXWuk6Jhr
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) January 31, 2021
11) Robert Lewan’GOAL’ski
Lewandowski scored his 43rd Bundesliga goal of 2021 on Matchday 17 – just his 34th game of the year – to break a record set by the late Gerd Müller in 1972.
10) The Bavarians make history
Pep Guardiola on Bayern Munich's sextuple: “I would like to say to Hansi that you are the 2nd team to win 6 titles in a row. Before it was another team, Barcelona. Maybe I can call Messi and company and we can play for the 7th title. Tell me when and where." pic.twitter.com/WYxIhCt9xK
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) February 12, 2021
9) La Pulga’s one last record with Blaugrana
Lionel Messi netted his 650th career goal for Barcelona with a first-half free-kick in a Copa del Rey 2-1 win over Athletic Club.
Messi netted 20 minutes into the match at Camp Nou with a stunning set-piece.
Messi reached the 650-goal milestone for Barca on the same day the club threatened to take legal action against El Mundo after the newspaper published the details of his €555 million (£491m/$674m) contract.
"How much is that worth? Priceless!" 🔥
— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) January 31, 2021
8) UCL winning Cobham class of 2021
Chelsea won its second Champions League title, delivered by a Kai Havertz goal in a thrilling, taut final marred by a head injury that forced City’s playmaker, Kevin De Bruyne, from the game in the second half.
Chelsea’s title is their second in the competition. The Blues previously won it in 2012.
The 2021 #UCLfinal is set! 🏆
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 5, 2021
7) Azzurri edge the Three Lions
Italy won the European Championship for the second time by beating England 3-2 on penalties on Sunday.
The match finished 1-1 after extra time at Wembley Stadium, which was filled mostly with English fans hoping to celebrate the team’s first international trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
It wasn't to be for England 💔
Italy are European champions after beating England on penalties.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 11, 2021
6) La Albiceleste get the better of Selecao
Argentina’s football team won their first major title in 28 years when an Angel Di Maria goal gave them a 1-0 win over Brazil and a record-equalling 15th Copa America.
Di Maria started for just the second time in the Copa and he justified his selection by scoring the opener midway through the first half.
🇦🇷 🏆 ARGENTINA'S TROPHY DROUGHT IS OVER! 🏆 🇦🇷
La Albiceleste win their first major title since 1993, and Lionel Messi has his first major title for his country after a 1-0 win over rival Brazil in the #CopaAmerica final pic.twitter.com/D8EMh5x7SN
— SI Soccer (@si_soccer) July 11, 2021
5) A sad day for the Catalan giants
Barcelona announced in August, that Lionel Messi will be leaving the club after “financial and structural obstacles” made it impossible to renew his contract. The forward, who has spent his whole career there, had been expected to re-sign after his deal expired in June.
4) CR7’s homecoming
Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Manchester United for a second time, after joining from Juventus. The deal is a two-year contract with the option to extend for a further year.
Earlier on transfer deadline day, the Serie A side outlined the financial details surrounding the deal – a maximum of €23 million, payable over five years. Ronaldo will be 41 by the time the final instalment from Manchester United is due.
🇵🇹🔴 𝗩𝗜𝗩𝗔 𝗥𝗢𝗡𝗔𝗟𝗗𝗢 🔴🇵🇹
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 31, 2021
3) ESL – A week of chaos and togetherness
It was ostensibly created to “save football” but was scrapped after the surrounding controversy threatened instead to tear it apart.
Plans for a European Super League comprising 12 soccer teams were ditched after massive pushback by everyone from grassroots fans to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The venture lasted barely two days after being announced when Europe’s top dozen soccer clubs said they would form a breakaway league with their own competitive structure, in a deal worth about $6.4 billion.
The Super League announced pic.twitter.com/nAooYowBZ3
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) April 18, 2021
2) Ronnie the record-breaking bulldozer
Cristiano Ronaldo broke Brazilian football great Pele’s record for most goals in official matches after his hat-trick against Cagliari helped Juventus win the Serie A match 3-1.
Cristiano Ronaldo also broke the all-time men’s international scoring record by netting Portugal’s opener in their World Cup qualifying clash with the Republic of Ireland.
Ronaldo showed off his fabled scoring instincts as he netted in the 89th minute to tie the score at 1-1 at Estadio Algarve, making history in the process. He would add a stoppage-time winner for good measure as Portugal defeated the visitors 2-1.
The 36-year-old has now scored 111 international goals, becoming the most prolific player to ever grace men’s international football.
THERE IT IS!👏
Ronaldo is now the all-time international scorer in men's football with 110 goals 🎯pic.twitter.com/lZSEBwGalq
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 1, 2021
While his place among the all-time football greats is already secure, Portugal and Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo reached another truly gigantic career milestone by scoring twice in a 3-2 win in the Premier League clash against Arsenal to take his career goal tally past 800.
1) La Pulga the ultimate G.O.A.T.
Lionel Messi won the men’s Ballon d’Or for a record seventh time. Messi, who left Barcelona as a free agent to sign for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, was presented with the award for best men’s footballer in the world on Monday night in Paris after another record-breaking 12 months for club and country.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 29, 2021