Although we have been able to witness the climax of England’s top two divisions and the play-offs for Leagues One and Two, most folk have been deprived of active involvement in the beautiful game for the last four months.
Sport may pale into insignificance when reading daily statistics of Covid related deaths and the heroic efforts of our NHS, it is nice to look back on the memories football has given us in more ‘normal times’ to try and remember what life used to be like.
Ten years ago, despite exaggerated outbreaks of Swine Flu among others in recent times, the complete halt to our normalised existence was inconceivable.
Close your eyes. You’re playing Angry Birds on your iPhone 3, Justin Bieber is playing on the radio and you still can’t figure out if it’s a female voice you hear, but you’re just glad that something other than the sting of the vuvuzela isn’t ringing in your ear.
It’s 2010 again.
England’s 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa was dismal and Rob Green’s inexplicable mistake in the opening game with the USA set the tone.
Green wore his namesake colour on that night in Rustenburg, and whilst it was immortalised by the image of the ball trickling under the desperate goalkeeper’s midriff, the kit itself is a thing of beauty.
The ‘Tailored by Umbro’ line produced some stylish and simple kits that were one of the first in years to incorporate a design that mirrored the shirts of the 1960’s.
The dark green goalkeeper kit released by Umbro ahead of the World Cup is a true throwback to a simpler time when those between the sticks would rarely deviate from the same two or three colours.
England barely squeezed past what was one of the most straight forward World Cup groups ever and were unsurprisingly humiliated by the Germans in the second round.
Still, 2010 was a glorious year for England shirts so that’s a victory, right?
Simon Mignolet - Sint Truidense to Sunderland
Sunderland endured a pretty tumultuous decade, but have had a steady stream of goalkeepers, who more often than not, helped keep them in the topflight until back-to-back relegations at the end of the decade.
Simon Mignolet joined as competition for Craig Gordon in the summer of 2010 for £2 million, but injury problems to the former soon had the Belgian nailing down the number one spot at the Stadium of Light.
Having only played in Belgium’s second-tier, not many knew a great deal about Mignolet, but sterling performances in a first half of the season which saw Sunderland 6th at the mid-way stage in the Premier League, soon had many touting his nation’s ‘golden-generation’ of goalkeepers, with Thibaut Courtois emerging for Genk in the same season.
Mignolet was fantastic in his three seasons on Wearside, which caught the attention of Liverpool who signed him ahead of the 2013/14 season for more than four times the amount Steve Bruce shelled out to bring him to Sunderland.
Julio Cesar, Barcelona v INTER MILAN
2010 saw the epoch of Jose Mourinho’s career, with his dogged Inter Milan side epitomising what the ‘Special One’s’ teams are all about in the latter round of their phenomenal Champions League campaign.
The Barca side they faced in the semi-final that season were at the peak of their powers under Pep Guardiola and one of the greatest club sides of all time.
The Italians shocked the overwhelming favourites with a 3-1 victory in the first leg and typically faced an onslaught at the Nou Camp as Messi and Co attempted to overturn.
With Thiago Motta sent off less than thirty minutes, Julio Cesar faced shot after shot against one of the most potent attacking forces on the planet.
Notably a curler from 20 yards by Lionel Messi, which seemed destined for the top corner, was superbly tipped over the bar by the Brazilian.
The majority of the game was played in Inter’s defensive third, but Cesar and his resolute defence were fantastic for the night and well and truly earned the place in the final.
Barca got one back six minutes from time, but Mourinho’s men held out to book their place in Madrid.
In other News… End of an era
A poignant year for ‘keepers of the national side, 2010 saw David James play his final game for England after earning 53 caps for his country since 1997.
Sadly, this was the 4-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup knockouts, where his centre halves parted like the Red Sea with any hideously predictable ball over the top.
England used James and Green across four matches in South Africa, which epitomised the struggle Fabio Capello and the likes had in finding a suitable successor to David Seaman in the some seven years that passed.
James was England’s first choice at Euro 2004, but made way for Paul Robinson for the next tournament, who like the aforementioned Robert Green, fell foul to a high-profile error against Croatia in 2006.
2010 also saw James play his last Premier League game and after amassing 572 games, the fifth highest in Premier League history, signed for Bristol City.