“What’s the highest position in a goalscoring chart a player from Oceania or Asia has finished in Europe?” asks Kenn Rushworth.
If we are talking about the top five leagues in Europe (Spain, Italy, England, France and Germany) the answer is second. New Zealand’s Wynton Rufer scored 17 goals for Werder Bremen in 1992-93 to lead them to the Bundesliga title by one point. The striker, who was named Oceania Player of the Century, was also joint-top scorer in the 1993-94 Champions League with eight goals alongside Barcelona’s Ronald Koeman.
Staying in Germany, South Korean striker Cha Bum-kun also scored 17 for Bayer Leverkusen in 1985-86, finishing fourth in the standings. In total, he scored 98 Bundesliga goals (only six foreigners have scored more) during a decade with Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt, and won the Uefa Cup with both clubs. A legend of the game.
Outside of those Big Five leagues, here are a few Australians, offered by Phil Hawkins, that have topped the scoring charts in their respective European divisions:
Scott McDonald (Celtic, Scotland) 2007-08
Clayton Zane (Lillestrøm, Norway) 2001
Mark Viduka (Celtic, Scotland) 1999-2000
Aurelio Vidmar (Standard Liège, Belgium) 1994-95
Frank Farina (Club Brugge, Belgium) 1989-90
Edward Krncevic (Anderlecht, Belgium) 1988-89
One other significant name to mention is Paulino Alcántara, who represented the country of his birth, the Philippines, just once but went on to become Barcelona’s all-time scorer – a record he held until a certain Lionel Messi turned up. Season-by-season scoring breakdowns of his time in Catalonia (1912-16, 1918-27) are hard to come by but, after scoring 395 goals in 399 games, it’s safe to say that he probably finished top of the scoring charts in some capacity, even if Barcelona played in an exclusively Catalan league at that time.
A knack for getting sacked
“Which manager has been sacked the most times?” ponders Adam Burns.
To have longevity in the game and get repeatedly sacked is a skill in itself. There’s some muddying of the waters by the semantics of “parting company by mutual consent” but we’ve done our best to delve into finding the true sackings.
Zdenek Zeman has notched up managerial posts at an incredible rate since taking over at Licata in 1983. Currently he is in charge at Pescara, his 22nd role as a head coach. Throughout his 43-year career, the former swimming coach has been handed his marching orders seven times, but mutual consent fans might argue otherwise. In one season at Cagliari he was sacked in December and returned to replace Gianfranco Zola in March.
Former Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura has had plenty of ups and downs during his time in management. For someone who has managed the Italian national team, he has few honours to his name, with the height being the 1994-95 Serie C title won at Lecce. Due to his lack of silverware, few will be surprised to learn he has had his bags forcibly packed on seven occasions. Radi Antic, Luton legend, was sacked three times by Atlético Madrid, but only another four times overall, leaving him also with seven dismissals to his name. As with with many top European managers, Antic decided to see out his management career in China. His final two dismissals were from Shandong Luneng Taishan and Hebei Zhongji.
Claudio Ranieri has an impressive CV, having managed across Europe, won the Premier League, and lost to the Faroe Islands during a four-game spell as Greece manager. Now 66, the Italian can boast 20 different spells as a manager, leading clubs such as Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus and Leicester. Ranieri has only been sacked on nine occasions, which isn’t bad, all things considered. In October, he agreed to take over at struggling Sampdoria. He has done OK so far but with the club in danger of slipping into the relegation zone again, the Italian is in danger of experiencing a 10th sacking somewhere down the line.
Goal-hungry teams of 10 men
“Just the other weekend, Mainz were leading 1-0 away at Hoffenheim when they had a player sent off. Mainz ended up scoring four more goals despite being a man down, winning the game 5-1. Has any team scored more goals despite having a numerical disadvantage?” tweeted @sunray_ravi.
They certainly have. “Last month, on 19 November, Gibraltar’s under-19s played Switzerland in European Championship qualifying” begins Brian Spurrell. “Switzerland were leading 5-0 on 35 minutes when their captain Noel Wetz was sent off. Gibraltar pulled a goal back, their first in 12 games, but Switzerland added a further 11 goals while down to 10 men (including six in the last 13 minutes) to win 16-1.”
“Manchester United have used three ‘Vans’ during the Premier League era: Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Robin Van Persie and Louis Van Gaal,” began Adam Morris in January 2015. “Has any other clubs had more Vans than this? Can anyone name all of the Vans that have played in the Premier League since it started?”
Manchester United have had four playing Vans in the Premier League era – the aforementioned Van Nistelrooy and Van Persie, but also Edwin van der Sar and Raimond van der Gouw – plus their current manager, making Old Trafford the undisputed king of the Vans. Tottenham, next in line to the throne, have had two – Pat van de Hauwe and Rafael van der Vaart – but no other team has had more than one.
We think this is a comprehensive list: Raimond van der Gouw (Man Utd); Pierre van Hooijdonk (Nottingham Forest); Andy van der Meyde (Everton); Ruud van Nistelrooy (Man Utd); Robin van Persie (Arsenal, Man Utd); Edwin van der Sar (Fulham, Man Utd); Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham); Daniel van Buyten (Man City); Jelle van Damme (Southampton, Wolves); Pat van den Hauwe (Tottenham), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Norwich), Dennis van Wijk (Norwich). Since first publication we can add Virgil van Dijk to that list, too.
Can you help?
“With the interim appointment of Freddie Ljungberg as Arsenal manager, the Gunners now have a former professional underwear model in charge,” begins Sam Rowe. “Are there any other managers who have once been models, past or present, excluding players modelling their team’s kit?”
“With Mauricio Pochettino and Unai Emery relieved of their duties within 10 days of each other, is this the quickest sacking of both managers on either side of a derby rivalry?” asks Sean DeLoughry.
Ben Scott muses: “What percentage of new managers win their first home game in charge? Does any manager have a 100% win record in their home games?”