Zlatan Ibrahimovic captured the headlines for two major things during the just-ended year: first, for his transfer to Paris Saint-Germain and then, for his wonder bicycle kick for Sweden against England.
Also in 2012 was the London 2012 Olympics which saw the United States’ national women soccer team triumph along with Mexico's male team in the Soccer Tournament.
The year was also marked by the John Terry-Anton Ferdinand saga and Robin van Persie’s incredible switch from Arsenal to Manchester United. Here is Part 3 of our ‘2012 in review’ series.
July 17, 2012 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic brings goals and league titles to all of his clubs. He has played for plenty of traditional clubs in his career. He has not really ever been part of a ‘project’ as such.
However, this year, Zlatan decided to take part in one by signing for the current league leaders of France, PSG. This occurred as Milan needed to ease huge financial problems. Ibra has scored plenty of goals already, helping PSG step ever closer to the French Ligue 1 title already this season.
For any Swedish readers, your dictionary will have a new word soon. ‘Zlatanera’ is the word. A rough translation of the word to English would be ‘to dominate’. Zlatan has dominated the pages of newspapers along with the goal-scoring charts wherever he has been. He is truly a special player who is having yet another brilliant year in his career. His move to PSG is thus undoubtedly one of the highlights of the year.
November 14, 2012 – And of course, who can forget his daring bicycle kick in a friendly against England?
August 9, 2012 – In 2011, USA’s national women’s soccer team lost the Women’s World Cup to a Japan team stirred by their country’s Tsunami tragedy. A year later, the Americans reversed that outcome.
The United States left their mark at the London 2012 Olympics with a perfect record. They were led by key players Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and goalkeeper Hope Solo in an adventure they will forever remember.
In the semis, they overcame Canada in a seven-goal thriller marred by huge controversy before booking a date with eventual runners-up Japan. Carli Lloyd netted a brace in the final as the Americans won gold at the Wembley Stadium.
August 11, 2012 – In the Men’s Soccer Tournament, Brazil were stopped by Mexico in their quest for their first ever Olympic Gold. The champions qualified from their group without conceding a single goal. They were tested in the quarter-finals by Senegal in a match which ended 4-2 after extra-time.
The Mexicans dismantled hot favourites Japan 3-2 in the Last 4 and defeated a Brazilian team led by Hulk and Neymar in the final. A couple of goals by Oribe Peralta offered Mexico their first Olympic gold triumph.
Meanwhile, the competition was also marked by Spain’s miserable run which resulted in a group stage exit. The eyes of the world were on the Iberian nation to unleash their under-23 stars at the tournament. However, David de Gea, Juan Mata and company secured nothing more than a point from a possible nine. They finished bottom of their table behind Japan, Honduras and Morocco.
August 17, 2012 – An aging Dutchman had almost single handedly helped Arsenal up to a third-spot finish in the Premier League last season. Robin Van Persie has a bad temper and cannot exactly be labeled a true sportsman. However, there is no denying his talent. The attacker, for many years a patient of the Arsenal medical team, had somehow come through a season unscathed.
He lit the league up but then decided to turn his back on the club which helped him rise to fame and presented his talent to the world. Van Persie departed for greener pastures, revealing his lack of comfort over Arsenal’s policies and projects.
He left for Old Trafford in one of the biggest moves ever in the Premier League despite the relatively mediocre transfer fee. This deal caught the attention of the world in the summer as Van Persie signed off on a rather sour note to his Arsenal career. On the other hand, Sir Alex found a new scoring machine.
September 23, 2012 – The drama started when Terry and Anton Ferdinand argued in a match between Chelsea and QPR in the Premier League. Terry allegedly insulted Ferdinand using unsavory words. The words reportedly taunted his race or colour.
Ferdinand never really launched a public complaint against the former England captain but after weeks of investigating, the FA found Terry guilty of the charges. They however concluded that Terry is not a racist amid different views from the public.
John Terry’s entire career has included many controversies on and off the pitch. England’s national side already has a bad image to deal with. Terry would only make matters worse if he continued to captain the side.
His decision to hang up his boots, in September, is perhaps a positive one in light of the saga he was involved in. John Terry was an integral part of the England setup for almost a decade. Whether he will be missed though is a debate for another day.