These peculiar events in football attract a lot of interesting conversations.

Football is a game of many emotions. It can be exhilarating, pleasurable, frustrating and can induce sentiment. There are times when a team, a player or a manager are not able to overcome some obstacles, despite numerous attempts. There was a time when Lionel Messi’s inability to win an international trophy was seen as a jinx. He broke that by winning the Copa America with Argentina eventually.

However, not all jinxes have been broken in football. These peculiar events or facts are a constant reminder that not everything goes according to plan no matter how hard someone tries. Having said that, a lot of effort goes every year into breaking these jinxes in football.

Here is a look at ten famous football jinxes that have stood the test of time in football:

10. The No. 9 shirt at Chelsea FC

Five famous football jinxes that have stood through time
Romelu Lukaku scored just 8 goals in the Premier League last term. (Courtesy – Footy Headlines)

Chelsea FC has been unlucky with signings in one particular position, the centre-forward. In particular, the strikers that have worn the number 9 shirt at the club. A trend which started way back with the arrival of Andriy Shevchenko seems to be happening today as well. The forward joined the Blues from AC Milan and was arguably the most lethal striker in Europe in 2006. 

He went from scoring 28 goals for AC Milan in his last season with them to scoring only 14 and eight for the blues in the next two seasons respectively. In years to come, players like Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain and Romelu Lukaku fell to similar fate. Perhaps Kai Havertz could be the one to break this curse. 

9. Manchester United’s No. 7 jersey

During Manchester United’s glory days and domination of the Premier League, the club always had iconic players don the No. 7 jersey. Players like Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo achieved incredible success while wearing it.  However, after the departure of the Portuguese in 2009, world-class players struggled to live up to the expectations of the jersey’s past. 

Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia, Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay and Alexis Sanchez all had poor performances while wearing the number. Edinson Cavani undid some of the curse’s effects before giving the jersey back to Cristiano Ronaldo who made a sensational return to the club last term. It remains to be seen if the successor to this number finally removes the curse. 

8. Birmingham City and the Romani Gypsies

A peculiar curse lasted for a hundred years at Birmingham City football club. The land where their stadium St. Andrew’s was built was used by Romani Gypsies and the club was cursed for 100 years in 1906. The next season saw the club go down due to relegation. Stadium’s main stand was burned during World War II, and the club never won a major trophy. 

Former managers Ron Saunders and Barry Fry set up crucifixes on the floodlights and urinated on all corners of the stadium respectively to lift the curse. The final year of the curse in 2006 saw Birmingham City relegate again but after five years they won their first major trophy by upsetting Arsenal in the League Cup final.

7. Australia and the World Cup curse

Australia had to beat Zimbabwe (back then known as Rhodesia) to make it to the 1970 FIFA World Cup. The players took the help of a witch doctor who buried bones near the goalposts to curse the opponents. Interestingly, the doctor reversed the curse on the Australians after unpaid dues. As a result, Australia lost the following playoff to Israel and failed to qualify. Despite making it into the World Cup in 1974, the Socceroos did not score a single goal. 

The country did not reach the World Cup in 1994, 1998 and 2002 either until John Safran lifted the curse in 2004. He took the help of a witch doctor to reverse the curse in Mozambique where the original was placed. 

6. England failing to win an international trophy

England
England lost the 2020 Euro final against Italy on penalties at the start of this term. (Courtesy – Football365)

The English men’s national team has always been full of superstars from the Premier League and other elite leagues across Europe. Despite having incredible individuals, the team somehow fails to win a major international trophy. The Three Lions last won an international trophy in 1966, winning the FIFA World Cup.

Since then, constant failure at the international level has ailed England. They almost broke the jinx at UEFA Euro 2020 but lost in the final to Italy on penalties. It remains to be seen for how long will this jinx keeps its hold on England and if it gets broken any time soon.

5. Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City’s UCL woes

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City may play in different leagues and dominate them too, but they share a common jinx. Both outfits are unable to win the UEFA Champions League despite breaking transfer records in recent years. For both outfits, trophies and world-class players became common after the arrival of wealthy owners.

However, PSG and Man City have both failed to win any UCL titles since the arrival of the new ownership from Arab countries. Both clubs have never won the competition and this is one of the longest-running jinxes in modern football. The Parisians finished as runners-up in 2019-20 and the Cityzens came second during the 2020-21 campaign but neither has won it yet.

4. Near misses by Bayer Leverkusen 

Bayer Leverkusen was called ‘Neverkusen’ once upon a time due to their inability to finish tournaments strongly. The outfit took second place in the league in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002. They also repeated the second-place finish in 2011. The 1999-20 season was particularly nasty for the fans to digest. 

Bayer Leverkusen lost two out of the last three games and let a five-point lead slip to Borussia Dortmund. Then, the club lost the final of the DFB Pokal and the UEFA Champions League. A potential treble led to nothing. Will the club ever lift this curse and eventually win the German Bundesliga?

3. The FIFA World Cup curse

Top 10 famous football curses that have stood through time
Germany finished dead bottom of their group at the 2018 World Cup. (Courtesy – Bundesliga)

Winning the FIFA World Cup is the top achievement for any country. Simply qualifying for the main tournament and taking part is considered a huge feat. However, for the past few editions, a worrying trend took a hold of the team that became world champions. Post Italy’s win in 2006, the Azzurri could not make it out of the group stage in 2010.

When Spain won the World Cup in 2010, they could not make it out of their group in the 2014 edition. Keeping up with the tradition, Germany, the 2014 FIFA World Cup winners finished bottom of their group in 2018. France are the current holders of the World Cup and will hope to break this jinx in 2022.  

2. Curse of the dead cats at Racing Club

Racing Club is one of the most decorated clubs in Argentina. But, the club went through a dry period and people attribute it to a bizarre curse. The 1967 Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup winners had their ground broken into by fans of rival club Independiente. They buried seven dead black cats on the premises and a long period of misfortune followed the outfit. 

They went without a trophy in the 1970s and also faced relegation in 1983. Over the years, six cats were found but not the seventh. A priest performed an exorcism and the seventh cat was found in 2001, after which the club won the Apertura, the first title since 1966.

1. Benfica’s European curse

The Portuguese giants Benfica suffer from a curse which prevents them from winning any European trophy. Legend has it that their former manager Bela Guttmann cast a spell suggesting that the club would not win another European trophy in a hundred years. This was after he left rivals, FC Porto, to join Benfica in 1959. He won back-to-back Portuguese titles and the European Cup in 1961 and 1962. 

However, the manager was denied a raise by the board which led to the tactician cursing the club. Following his departure, the club lost the final in 1963, 1965 and 1968. The club also lost the UEFA Europa League finals in 1983, 2013 and 2014. 

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