Rather then pretend we know anything about soccer, we asked Derek Keogh, Dublin-based television producer and Our Man In Ireland, to give his take on the year in footie:
Not since Greece won the 2004 Euros against their Portuguese hosts have Underdogs featured so prominently. This year saw the shoe on the other foot for Portugal. Discounted as a one-man team because of Cristiano Ronaldo and playing against the fancied hosts France — and bizarrely boasting their manager, Fernando Santos, who replaced the winning Greece manager Otto Rehhagel in 2010. Even losing Ronaldo after 25 minutes couldn’t deter the underdogs from defeating the French in a classic upset of International Football. Leicester City winning the EPL? They narrowly avoided relegation from the league in 2015 and disproved all the analysts with their "money buys the title" hypotheses. Ex-player Gary Lineker, who hosts BBC’s "Match of the Day", was so unmoved by their early season form he said he’d present the TV show in his underpants if they won it. After spending 140 days at the bottom of the table the previous season, they defied all the expert opinion and bookmaker odds, to take the title from the moneymen in Manchester. Story of the year? Dundalk. Population 37,000, halfway between Dublin and Belfast. Not known for much except Harp Lager and The Corrs. The imagination of a country was captured by the "against all odds" run in the Europa League. A draw with the Dutch masters AZ Alkmaar and victory at home to the Israeli champions Macabi Tel Aviv left them with a chance right up to the last game. But despite the sheer will of 37,000 men, women, and children, they failed to make the last 32. It was never really about the winning anyway, it was about the journey, the ride. It was about the mouse that roared with a funny Irish accent. And the highlight of 2016? Well, Gary Lineker interviewing Alan Shearer in his underpants, of course.
MVP: Cristiano Ronaldo
Runner Up: N'Golo KanteBack to top