Under normal circumstances, the football season should be coming to a close about now. Unfortunately, there has been nothing normal about this campaign.
With the end still a fair while away, it’s time to take a look back at the kind of excitement we should be enjoying – Champions League finals, Premier League title wins and some historic retirements.
Let’s take a look at what has happened on 24 May in history.
1966 – Eric Cantona’s Birthday
Kicking things off with a birthday, Manchester United legend Eric Cantona was born on this day back in 1966.
During his five years with the Red Devils between 1992 and 1997, Cantona bagged 81 goals in 179 appearances, winning four Premier League titles and earning a reputation as one of the all-time greats.
1972 – Rangers’ First European Title
⚽️ GOAL OF THE DAY: Rangers v Dynamo Moscow | 1972 Cup Winners’ Cup Final
Enjoy all three goals from our famous European Cup Winners’ Cup final on this day in 1972 at the Nou Camp. pic.twitter.com/zGcoEMke4z
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) May 24, 2020
Despite not actually winning a cup during the 1970/71 campaign, Rangers landed a spot in the European Cup Winners’ Cup as Celtic were already in the European Cup. They went on to win the competition thanks to a 3-2 win over Dynamo Moscow.
It was a day of mixed emotions for Rangers, who were hit with a 12-month European ban after major fan unrest led to violent clashes with police shortly after the final whistle, so they were left unable to defend their title.
1989 – AC Milan Seal Iconic European Triumph
In 1989. Arrigo Sacchi’s iconic AC Milan side stormed to a 4-0 win over Steaua București to win their third European Cup, in what was one of the single greatest performances in competition history.
Doubles from Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten got the job done for the Rossoneri, and the team were so good that L’Équipe famously wrote: “After seeing this Milan, football will never be the same again.”
1992 – AC Milan Become Invincibles
Just three years later, Milan stormed to a 8-2 win over Foggia to ensure they finished the season unbeaten and lift the Serie A title in outstanding fashion.
This run was part of the famous 58-game unbeaten streak which lasted until 1993, and it made them the first team to go undefeated and win the title.
Somehow, Perugia went unbeaten during the 1978/79 season but failed to win the title, drawing 19 of their 30 games.
1995 – Youthful Ajax Stun Milan
24 – On this day in 1995, @AFCAjax won the Champions League by defeating cup holders AC Milan; the average age of their starting XI (24 years and 364 days) in that final is the youngest for an EC I/CL winning team ever. Signature. pic.twitter.com/jIAhfRQbAj
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) May 24, 2020
Milan were the defending champions heading into the 1995 Champions League final, but they came unstuck at the hands of Ajax, whose average age of 24 years and 364 days made them the youngest winners in competition history.
The game was decided by an 85th-minute winner from 18-year-old Patrick Kluivert, who also became the youngest player to ever score in a Champions League final.
2000 – The First Same-Nation Champions League Final
? OTD in 2000…
Steve McManaman’s Champions League final volley vs Valencia ?
A trophy he lifted twice for Real Madrid…✌️pic.twitter.com/beimFIeLxD
— ??Ja! Watch the Bundesliga live on BT Sport?? (@btsportfootball) May 24, 2020
The 2000 Champions League final was the first time that two teams from the same nation met to fight for the trophy, and the honour was shared by Real Madrid and Valencia.
The game itself wasn’t much of a contest as Real ran riot en route to a 3-0 win, but hey, it’s all about making history.
2008 – Dean Windass Fires Hull to the Premier League
Just five seasons after being stuck in the Football League’s lowest tier, Hull City fired their way to the Premier League thanks to a stunning volley from hometown hero Dean Windass.
The Tigers had been down in the Championship relegation zone when Phil Brown arrived in December 2006, but he led them to the top flight for the first time in the club’s history.
2014 – Real Madrid Win La Décima
Real’s win over Valencia in 2000 was their eighth Champions League victory, but it took them another 14 years to make it to La Décima.
Their tenth triumph came against Atlético Madrid, who came within seconds of winning the trophy themselves. An injury-time equaliser from Sergio Ramos sent the game to extra time, in which Real bagged another three to seal one of their greatest achievements of all time.
2014 – ZAMORA!
Queens Park Rangers had limped to the 2013/14 playoff final and looked to be dead on their feet against Derby County. The Rams were dominant throughout, and things looked to get even worse for QPR after they went down to ten men.
Fortunately, Bobby Zamora wasn’t going down without a fight.
With seconds left on the clock, Zamora fired home to send the crowd wild and lead QPR back to the top flight.
2015 – Stoke Spoil Steven Gerrard’s Goodbye
For Liverpool, the end-of-season meeting with Stoke City was supposed to be one of those ‘the score doesn’t matter’ occasions as it was Steven Gerrard’s final game for the Reds.
However, losing 6-1 was definitely not in the script.
Stoke were 5-0 up by half-time, after which Gerrard did manage to get himself on the scoresheet, but the damage was well and truly done. Fans mainly cared about the occasion, but it’s hard to ignore getting thumped 6-1 by Stoke.
2015 – Didier Drogba & Petr Čech Leave Chelsea
Didier Drogba left Chelsea for the second time in 2015, and he was joined by goalkeeper Petr Čech, who both walked away from Stamford Bridge after lifting the Premier League title on this day in 2015.
The pair’s final game was a 3-1 win over Sunderland, with Diego Costa and a Loïc Rémy double ensuring the day was one to remember for the Blues.
2017 – Manchester United Complete the Treble (Kind of)
Having already won the Community Shield and League Cup, Manchester United made it three by lifting the Europa League in 2017, completing the most underwhelming treble of all time.
After a comfortable 2-0 win over Ajax, José Mourinho instructed his players to hold three fingers up and rub their accomplishment in everyone else’s face, but it had the opposite impact as most rivals spent the trophy ceremony laughing.
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