The past ten years saw three European trebles, a UCL and a UEL hat-trick and the remarkable rise of Women’s football.
Giants have fallen and new ones have risen. The old guards have had their say and the young guns have taken their mantle. Women have shown just as bright as the men and transfer records have been broken. Blood, sweat and tears have been shed on the pitch – Football truly has grown in this decade.
Fans of the beautiful game around the world have been treated to some of the most profound and memorable experiences and players in the last decade, one that is sure to live long in the memories of all those who were lucky enough to witness it.
Here are the top five reasons why 2010-2019 was just the decade that football needed.
5. The rise of Women’s football
Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Marta. These are not names that would have been on the lips of every fan of the game, even a few years ago. However, in recent years, these icons of the game have risen to global recognition for their antics both on and off the pitch.
The fact that women in the game are able to stand up and demand equal pay as their male counterparts should serve as an inspiration to every young girl who dreams of having a future in the game.
Rapinoe, in particular, has taken it upon herself to spread the message of equality in the game to the world, irrespective of an individual’s gender, beliefs or sexual orientation, further driving home the fact that football in its essence, is a sport that transcends boundaries of all sorts.
4. Unexpected records were broken
The decade gone by was anything but ordinary. Records that were in place for decades were broken by the most unexpected of teams. Some clubs maintained their traditions while some created new ones.
One such record of note was the hattrick of Champion’s League titles that Real Madrid won in the period from 2016-2018, becoming the first club to do so. Manchester United carried on their proud tradition of nurturing their youth, completing 4000 senior games with an academy player in their matchday squads, a record that stretches back 81 years.
Manchester City rose through the echelons of football through the decade and Pep Guardiola’s side became the first side to score 169 goals in all competitions in a season. The list goes on but not one of these records will be forgotten.
Football in this Decade: Oh, almost forgot, the 91 goals in a calendar year by Lionel Messi.
3. The Ballon d’Or hegemony
The golden ball or the Ballon d’Or has long been one of the most coveted individual prizes in the footballing world. A player could scarcely imagine winning it once. Enter Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The two near superhuman footballers have dominated the sport and the award for all but one of the last ten years. Ronaldo ends the decade with five Ballon d’Ors to his name and Messi with six.
The only break in this dominance was when Luka Modric was awarded the golden ball in 2018. Before this and indeed after it, several have come close but none have succeeded. One has to stand back and admire the immense talent of these two individuals.
2. The decade of the underdogs
We all love a classic story of the little team that beats the big boys in a dramatic feat of spirit and hard work. A large majority of us are also resigned to the fact that this fairy tale is just meant for the movies. Well, not this decade.
From Atletico Madrid’s run to the La Liga title, to Leicester City’s miraculous victory of the Premier League in 2015, it has been ten years to remember for the football romantic and I do not think anyone of us would have had it any other way.
1. The World United against Racism
Racism in football has existed long before 2010. It has been the vile thorn in the side of what is a beautiful, inclusive and welcoming sport for many. However, the rise of social media and a general increase in awareness amongst the youth and the footballing fraternity as a whole has meant that the number of reports of these heinous acts finds their way to the surface of mainstream media.
The problem is far from solved. It will not be solved by brute force. Rather, the education that has already begun, needs to continue in the decades to come. It does not matter if it is a group of kids from England or an Italian with his arms spread wide in protest, we are all a part of the sport for the same reason. It gives us a home and a means of expression that does not and never should discriminate.