England’s Lionesses Close To World Cup Glory

After their recent success against the Canadians, the ladies of British football are doing well. For the first time, this team have reached the Semi Finals of the Women’s World Cup. It would now appear that the team have their sights set on lifting the trophy. Manager, Mark Sampson, glowed with pride after his club’s win in Vancouver on Sunday. While, for a long time, women’s football has taken second place to men’s, the hint of success may change that. Now, people are paying attention to women’s football. If the ladies do well in the next two games, it could mean incredible things for them. After all, a World Cup win would change the way we see female footballers here in Britain.

So, what happened with the Canada v England game on Sunday? The truth of the matter is that many people expected England to fail at this stage. After all, Canada were on home turf; giving them an advantage over us Brits. Despite this fact, the ladies were victorious. Both Jodie Taylor and Lucy Bronze scored epic goals for the team, which lead them to victory. With a massive 54,000 fans watching the game in the stadium, the pressure was on the women’s team to show the world what they can do. Lucy Bronze is no doubt the star of the team. For a long time, she has built a career in the ladies’ teams, proving that she has what it takes to go far.

Football Trophies

England’s Lionesses Celebrate Their Victory Over Canada

Despite the fact that the girls are now in the Semi Finals, it is certain to be a tricky feat. On Wednesday, they have to play Japan. As it stands, the Japanese currently hold the world champion title, which means that they will be a formidable force. Nadeshiko Japan is world famous for their football skills. In the female leagues, they tend to dominate, which means that it will be hard for the British ladies. Many people have speculated about what will happen when the girls play their next match. After all, with success so close, it would seem such a shame for our team to lose out now. Still, most people think that Japan are the favourites to win this year’s tournament.

After winning the Women’s World Cup back in 2011, the Japanese team are high on their victory. Since then, they have had four years to perfect their game. Before their big win, they only ever made it to the group stages of the tournament, though, which may serve as some form of comfort. Wednesday’s match should be interesting to say the least. Especially, given that there has been a lot of coverage of each of the teams in the last few days.

The US beat Germany in the first Semi Final, meaning that only three teams remain.  There is no doubt about the fact that the US have a strong team. In America, women’s football has much more funding than it does here in the UK.  Who will win? Only time will tell.

5 Future Stars To Watch Out For At The 2015 UEFA Euro U21 Championship

Over the next few weeks, Europe’s finest young footballers will come together for the tournament of their lives. The UEFA European Under 21 Championship is a defining moment in any footballer’s career. It’s the stepping stone to greatness and the first place to make your impact as a player. Some of the biggest names in football became household names after proving themselves in this arena. The likes of Ronaldo and Luis Figo both had incredible games here in their early years. It’s the competition that sets players apart. It shows us the future world stars. As the competition draws closer, we’re looking at the players we expect to make an impact.

Johannes Geis (Germany)

Germany are a force to be reckoned with at the tournament, and are favourites to lift the trophy. Their squad is full of exciting talent, not least Matthias Ginter who helped Germany win the world cup in 2014. However, it’s Johannes Geis that we’re most excited about. The defensive midfielder is the beating heart of this young German squad. He is the playmaker with a creative flair and perfect passing record. We expect him to be influential in Germany’s campaign with plenty of goal assists.

Domenico Berardi (Italy)

Berardi is striker with immense potential and fantastic talent. He has already come up through the ranks in Italy. Starting out in Serie B, he took the entire league by storm as a standout player. He soon moved to Serie A, where he is now under the wing of Juventus. The promising striker has already put a hat trick past the legendary AC Milan team. With a resume like this, we expect big things at the UEFA tournament.

Football Trophies

Expect goals from Domenico Berardi

Pione Sisto (Denmark)

Sisto comes to the tournament with a handful of accolades to his name. Named Danish Superliga’s best player of 2014, he has already been linked to Juventus, Barcelona and Manchester City. The fierce bidding war will give him confidence going into the tournament and you can expect a flood of goals from the center forward. He can handle the pressure of big events too, sinking a hat trick on his international debut appearance.

Milos Jojic (Serbia)

After knocking the defending champions Spain out of the qualifying round, Serbia will be watched closely. Their spirited performance will be lead by Milos Jojic, a midfielder who isn’t scared to go forward. He’s already made his mark on German domestic football at Borussia Dortmund, with four quick goals after signing. The tournament is a chance to prove himself on the bigger stage.

Kurt Zouma (France)

France are in the enviable position of boasting three world class young defenders. Kurt Zouma is perhaps the most promising. But, he also has Benjamin Mendy and Aymeric Laporte by his side. Each of the are tall, powerful and commanding in central defence. It’s Zouma we’re highlighting for glory though. He has already helped the U20 France team take home the World Cup trophy. He understands the pressure of major tournaments. More importantly, he’s now at Chelsea under the guidance of defending expert Jose Mourinho.

Keep an eye out for these names as the tournament takes shape. We think there are stars just waiting to shine here.

South America’s Football Elite Come Together For Copa America 2015

It’s the chance to watch the best players on the planet fight it out in the ultimate competition. Yes, it’s that time again; the Copa America is upon us. It’s this tournament that we look forward to above all others. There’s a certain legacy and reputation attached to South American football. The continent has birthed some of the world’s all-time best players. Pele, Ronaldo, the other Ronaldo! But, this is not just a legacy of the past. The best players on the planet right now are South American. Nearly 75% of the top European strikers call South America home. There’s something magical about this tournament, and that’s why we love it.

The Copa America is the world’s oldest continental football tournament. It has now run for nearly a century, albeit, with a few hiccups along the way. Between the 1930s and the 1960s, the tournament was plagued by inconsistency. Since then, we’re back on track, with the competition taking place every two years. It’s a fantastic schedule, and it means we don’t have to wait four years like the world cup.

This year’s event takes place in Chile, although it was supposed to be in Brazil. The football body, CONMEBOL (their FIFA equivalent), traditionally choose host nations in alphabetical order. But, Brazil offered the hosting job to Chile after taking on responsibility for the Olympics and the World Cup.

Football Trophies

Uruguay lift the Copa America Trophy in 2011

Uruguay are the defending champions. They took home the trophy in host nation Argentina in 2011. They beat Paraguay 3-0 in the final to secure their 15th win. That result continued Uruguay’s legacy as the most prolific team in the competition. No-one has won more Copa America trophies than Uruguay. Twelve teams will fight it out in this year’s event. The Copa America is also intriguing because they invite two teams from outside the continent to compete. The USA are regularly asked and compete against the host nations. This year Mexico and Jamaica will complete the twelve team lineup. Japan and China were initially asked, but declined.

Not only is it the oldest continental tournament, it is also the most widely viewed. The entire Spanish-speaking world tunes in to watch the best players in the world. It is also unique in that it boasts two trophies. The first, the Copa America, is presented to the winners. The Copa Bolivia is given to the runners-up. Both were donated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

So, what exactly makes South American football so exciting? There’s a reason that most of Europe’s club strikers are from that continent! The likes of Messi, Neymar, Tevez, Suarez and Ronaldo dominate the Serie A and La Liga goal tally. In England, Diego Costa and Sanchez are regular goalscorers. Experts put it down to the tradition of street football in South America. The skill, precision, and sheer hunger is born on the streets of Brazil, Argentina and Chile. The best managers also point to a desire, drive, and passion that isn’t easily found in other players.

Whatever it is, we love it. The skill, the pace and the sheer goal scoring ability doesn’t exist anywhere else on the planet. The Copa America pulls that all together. Bring it on.

11 Things You Need To Know About The FIFA Womens World Cup

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is just around the corner, and we’re starting to get excited! The Women’s World Cup has grown in stature over the last decade. It’s now an integral part of the football calendar. For those of you with your eyes glued to the men’s game, let’s take a look at the women’s alternative. Today we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the FIFA Women’s World Cup. In fact, we’ve got exactly 11 nuggets of information for you.

Football Trophy

FIFA Womens World Cup

  1. It starts on the 6th June – And it runs for a full month, with the final taking place on the 5th July. Just like the men’s World Cup, we are treated to a full month’s worth of world class coverage.
  1. Canada are hosting – Yes, the cold, northern part of the world is playing host to this year’s event. They beat off competition from Zimbabwe for the rights. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe withdrew soon after starting the campaign. The world’s media are slowly heading to Montreal, Vancouver and the various other host cities.
  1. It is the 7th World Cup – The FIFA Women’s World Cup has run since 1991. China hosted the inaugural event, where USA won the first trophy.
  1. The Trophy is currently touring Canada – As has become tradition in the football world, the World Cup trophy is on tour. The trophy bearers are taking it from coast to coast across Canada. From the French territories in the east, over the rocky mountains and finishing in Vancouver.
  1. Japan are the current trophy holders – The previous event, in 2011, was won by Japan. They beat the USA on penalties after a 2-2 draw. It made them the first Asian team to win a FIFA World Cup trophy.
  1. Norway, Germany and USA are the other previous winners – Germany and the USA have both won the competition twice. Norway took victory in 1995 in their neighbouring country, Sweden.
  1. It’s bigger than ever before – This year, FIFA have opened the gates to 24 teams. It matches the current men’s World Cup and allows a much broader spectrum of football. The previous years have only had 16 teams competing.
  1. North Korea are banned – In a first-of-its-kind scenario, North Korea were banned from the event. Many players were found to have taken performance enhancing substances. The discovery was made during the 2011 tournament, and they have not been invited back!
  1. USA are favourites – According to bookmakers around the country, USA are odds-on favourites. Having said that, Germany are currently the top ranked team, according to FIFA statistics. Japan will be eager to repeat last tournament’s success while host nation Canada will have the crowd on their side.
  1. The top three teams qualify for the Olympics. – In a departure from the men’s tournament, the top three teams will automatically qualify for the Olympic Games. Except England, who are not an Olympic country and are therefore exempt.
  1. The official mascot is a great white owl.

There you have it, folks! A complete guide to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Put it in your calendar and enjoy a month of quality football!

Steven Gerrard: A Story Of Incredible Loyalty

Liverpool icon, Steven Gerrard, has played his final game at Anfield. He leaves the club after nearly 28 years of loyal service. The 34 year old began his career at the age of seven, when Liverpool scouts enrolled him in the youth team. He went through the club’s development training and went on to become its defining player. Gerrard has spent his loyal years at Anfield, only now choosing to leave the club. The midfielder will leave Liverpool at the end of the season, and make the move to LA Galaxy.

Loyalty is a much-undervalued concept in today’s football. With transfer fees in their millions and the potential for bigger salaries, players are quick to move on. You need only look at Gerrard’s team-mate Raheem Sterling. At only 20 years of age, he is already keen to leave the club that found and developed him. With the prospect of bigger games, more trophies, and more money, there’s little to keep players loyal. That’s why Steven Gerrard’s story is so inspiring in the world of modern football.

Football Trophies

Steven Gerrard Says Farewell To Anfield

Gerrard certainly could have won more trophies had he made the move elsewhere. Although Liverpool have always been a dominant force in the Premier League, others have had more success. The Reds regularly find themselves fighting it out for fourth or fifth place. Battling against Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and now Manchester City, it’s a tough league. The medals keep getting further and further away. The opportunity to play in the elite Champion’s League is also crucial here. Liverpool qualifies for the competition far less than it would like.

Arguably, however, every victory is all the more sweet as a result. Gerrard was the commanding figure that took Liverpool to victory in the 2005 Champions League Final. They came from 3-0 down against AC Milan and stormed to victory on penalties. Gerrard was influential in this game and picked his team up to turn things around. It was undoubtedly the highlight of his career so far. It’s moments like this that reward loyalty and developed Gerrard’s relationship with the club.

The midfielder did have one wavering moment back in 2005. He told his manager he wanted to leave and turned down a contract worth £100,000 a week. After fans had begun burning shirts with his name on the back, he realised how much the club meant to him. Despite three subsequent attempts by Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho to sign him, his loyalty never wavered again.

Gerrard shouldered the pressure of leading his team, often single-handedly. Perhaps that’s one thing he loved most. He is often compared to Frank Lampard. Yet, many forget that Lampard had the solid backbone of Petr Cech, John Terry and a host of world-class strikers. Gerrard, on the other hand, proved himself time and time again all on his own. He carried Liverpool and stepped up in every important game.

The iconic player will now finish his career at LA Galaxy. He joins his old team-mate Robbie Keane, who has warned him this is not a holiday! Gerrard isn’t finished with the trophies just yet. Expect him to light up the west coast of America, just like he lit up Anfield.

Premier League Trophy Presentation

23 year old Chelsea fan Rachel Key has been given the honour of presenting the Premier League trophy to Chelsea captain John Terry after their final match against Sunderland on Sunday.  This is part of an initiative by Barclays and the Premier League, to recognise people who convey the true ‘Spirit of the Game’ for the work they do for the club and the community.

To prepare Rachel for Sunday’s presentation, she went with Marcel Desailly to present the Surrey Youth League’s Under 13 League Winners trophy, to the surprised members of Kingstonian Youth Eagles after their final match against Ashtead Colts.  Take a look at the footage of the presentation:

Challenge Trophies are proud to say that we supplied one of the cups that was presented, unfortunately it’s not the one that John Terry will lift on Sunday!!  Challenge Trophies did supply over 1500 trophies and medals for the League and Cup Winners across all the age groups of the Surrey Youth League and Surrey County Women & Girls League.  The company is proud of its ongoing association with these two progressive youth football leagues, that provide football for thousands of children across the County.


See Your Face On The Champions League Trophy

Mastercard have just launched their UEFA Champions League Trophy Booth.  What does this do?  It enables you to create and personalise your own Champions League Trophy photo!


See yourself on the UEFA Champions League Trophy

It’s very simple to use, particularly on your smartphone. Take a picture on your phone, and then edit it and position it, so that it’s shown on the surface of the cup.  Then it’s yours to share with your friends!

Mastercard UEFA Champions League Photo Booth


Trophy Tours All The Rage

In recent years I’ve noticed a fairly new phenomenon, and that is the trophy tour. It seems that every major trophy spends it’s life between tournaments being dragged around schools, bars, hospitals, village halls and anywhere else they can think of taking it. Whilst it’s very commendable, letting the trophy engage with it’s public, it’s also slightly diluted by the practice of using ‘stunt doubles’. I had my picture taken with the Premier League trophy last may, but whether it’s the same one this years victors will get their hands on is hugely questionable.

So, the last week has seen the FIFA World Cup pitch up in Belfast for a film premiere, the Europa League Trophy is winging it’s way across Europe preparing for an official handover and the Stanley Cup in the US seems like it would attend the opening of an envelope!!

Cup Trophy

The FA Cup gets taken for a roller coaster ride at Alton Towers

So, what’s next? Being FA Cup Semi Final weekend, that esteemed old trophy couldn’t miss out on the action. The FA have allowed supporters of Arsenal and Reading to take it on a roller coaster ride at Alton Towers. Presumably the relevance is that the journey to the FA Cup Final is a roller coaster ride? Let’s hope the Semi Final isn’t a cliffhanger, because if it is we’ll be faced with the prospect of the Cup dangling over some cliff edge in Dover at the beginning of May!

United Set For Second Season Without A Trophy

Arsenal’s 2-1 win in the FA Cup Quarter Final at Old Trafford last night meant that Manchester United will endure a second season without getting their hands on a trophy.  For most teams that’s no big deal, and even Louis Van Gaal’s opposite number last night Arsene Wenger, has suffered a far longer and more painful barren spell of trophy-less years at Arsenal.  But for Manchester United and their army of fans this is an unusual situation.  In fact the last time they experienced two years without a title was in a 4 year spell stretching from season 1985-86 to 1988-89.  They will all be hoping that this one doesn’t last 4 years.

A lot was made of Louis Van Gaal’s record at previous clubs where he won a trophy in his first season at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, which given they’re the top clubs in their respective leagues probably wasn’t that remarkable.  However, he won’t achieve that with Manchester United and some interesting stats in the Daily Mail show us that he has won 19 trophies in 831 matches giving him a ‘trophy per match’ average of 43.73 matches for each trophy.  The guys at the Daily Mail gave us the stats for other high profile managers past and present which makes for fascinating reading.


Happier times for Louis Van Gaal lifting the Bundesliga trophy with Bayern

The full list is headed by Pep Guardiola with a hugely impressive 19 trophies achieved at an average of only 19.9 matches for each one.  Having said that, many of the other managers would have loved to have managed the Barcelona and Bayern Munich sides that he’s presided over.  Bob Paisley’s great era at Liverpool saw him amass 20 trophies in an average of 26.8 games.  Maybe more impressive is the late Jock Stein’s haul of 27 trophies at an average of 37.2 games.  Sir Alex Ferguson boasts the biggest number of trophies at 44, even though he needed over 48 games for each one.  The great Sir Bobby Robson has the worst record in the list, of only 13 trophies at an average of 111 games for each one.  However, if his England side in Italia 90 had lifted the World Cup, his legend as the greatest manager from these shores would have been secured!

Here’s the full list from the Daily Mail:

1)  Pep Guardiola – 378 matches, 21 trophies, 19.9 games per trophy

2)  Bob Paisley – 535 matches, 20 trophies, 26.8 games per trophy

3)  Jose Mourinho – 727 matches, 21 trophies, 34.6 games per trophy

4)  Walter Smith – 766 matches, 21 trophies, 36.5 games per trophy

5)  Jock Stein – 1005 matches,  27 trophies, 37.2 games per trophy

6)  Ottmar Hitzfeld – 1039 matches, 26 trophies, 40.0 games per trophy

7)  Louis Van Gaal – 831 matches, 19 trophies, 43.7 games per trophy

8)  Vincente Del Bosque – 472 matches, 10 trophies, 47.2 games per trophy

9)  Fabio Capello – 625 matches, 13 trophies, 48.1 games per trophy

10)  Roberto Mancini – 627 matches, 13 trophies, 48.2 games per trophy

11)  Sir Alex Ferguson – 2131 matches, 44 trophies, 48.4 games per trophy

12)  Marcello Lippi – 958 matches, 19 trophies, 50.4 games per trophy

13)  Carlo Ancelotti – 952 matches, 16 trophies, 59.5 games per trophy

14)  Rafael Benitez – 912 matches, 12 trophies, 76.0 games per trophy

15)  Arsene Wenger – 1487 matches, 17 trophies, 87.5 games per trophy

16)  Brian Clough – 1319 matches, 13 trophies, 101.5 games per trophy

17)  Bill Shankly – 1160 matches, 11 trophies, 105.5 games per trophy

18)  Sir Bobby Robson – 1446 matches, 13 trophies, 111.2 games per trophy