17 May is a date burned into the memory of football fans all over the globe from every walk of life.
That is, of course, for wildly varying reasons.
Hearts will skip a beat in the red parts of Madrid, for example, as it’s a date on which not one but two of Los Rojiblancos’ great modern successes took place. For Arsenal, it’s a day of mixed emotions, while for those with a vested interest in Manchester United’s gurning wonder Phil Jones, it’s either the greatest or worst day of your life.
Why’s that? Well, dear reader, take a seat…
1990 – Sir Alex Ferguson’s First Manchester United Trophy
30 years ago today
Sir Alex Ferguson won his first trophy at Manchester United after beating Palace in the Fa Cup Final.
The rest his history.?? pic.twitter.com/IcyrwpYw9r
— UTFR ?? (@ManUtd_HQ) May 17, 2020
Anyone remember when FA Cup finals had replays? Early 90s football was wild.
Sir Alex Ferguson was in desperate need of a trophy after an initially promising move to Manchester United had faded into mid-table mediocrity, and a 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace at Wembley – Mark Hughes cancelling out Ian Wright’s strike in extra-time – did little to ease the pressure on him.
Five days late, though – on 17 May 1990 – Lee Martin popped up with the only goal of the replay, that clinched Fergie his first ever trophy as a manager in England.
If you told him he’d go on to win 37 (thirty-seven) more, you’d have to imagine he’d be chuffed.
2006 – Henrik Larsson Conquers Arsenal on the Big Stage
? OTD in 2006:
Henrik Larsson entered the Champions League final with Barcelona 1-0 down in the 61st minute…
7️⃣6️⃣ mins: Assists Eto’o
8️⃣0️⃣ mins: Assists Belletti
— ?? Ja! Watch the Bundesliga live on BT Sport?? (@btsportfootball) May 17, 2020
Nowadays, Arsenal are a club synonymous with coming perilously close to success, but very rarely actually achieving it.
That wasn’t quite the case back in 2006 – they’d won four league titles in the preceding eight years – but in the Champions League final, we were treated to a fairly grim foreshadowing of what would follow.
The Gunners were within 30 minutes of European glory, but thanks to Henrik Larsson, they lost the game in normal time.
2013 – Atlético Stun Real Madrid to Clinch Copa Del Rey
Quite conversely, by the time 2013 rolled around, Atlético Madrid’s sole major honour in the 21st century was the 2002 Segunda Division title.
That would all change pretty rapidly, however. They faced off with their much-fancied city rivals in the final of the Copa Del Rey, and delivered the sort of shithousing masterclass that would become a signature of Diego Simeone’s management.
As he does, Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring, but Diego Costa soon took the tie to extra time – and that’s when Brazilian defender Miranda headed in one of his 13 Atléti goals, and sparked scenes of absolute delirium among Madrid’s Rojiblancos.
2014 – Diego Godin Heads Atléti to La Liga Glory
What a time to be alive. Atleti leave it to the last matchday, and who else but Diego Godin rises above the rest and heads it home for the rojiblancos. The duopoly was finally broken and Spain was in awe. 2014 may be a distant memory for some, but not for us. We remember. ?⚪ pic.twitter.com/7qiufu7DvE
— Bert (@saulismo_SN8) May 17, 2020
And that Copa Del Rey win, as it turned out, proved to be a catalyst for a previously unprecedented level of Atléti success.
Exactly 12 months on from overcoming one half of Spanish football’s duopoly, Simeone’s side meaningfully and symbolically smashed the Barca-Real stranglehold to bits, when Diego Godin’s headed equaliser against the Catalan giants secured their first La Liga title in 18 long years.
2014 – Gunners Break Tigers’ Hearts to Lift FA Cup
When James Chester struck within four minutes to give Hull City an unlikely lead in the FA Cup final – within four minutes – Steve Bruce and his men could hardly believe their luck.
When another four minutes passed, and Curtis Davies doubled that lead, they were well and truly in dreamland.
But then Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny and then Aaron Ramsey – in extra time – ruined the party, and won their side a major trophy in a fashion far more dramatic than it had any right to be.
It would only get worse for Hull, unfortunately, as their silver lining of European qualification evaporated with an away goals defeat to the illustrious Koninklijke Sporting Club Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen in the Europa League playoff round. Yikes.
2015 – Phil Jones Accomplishes Peak Phil Jones
Phil Jones deserves to start. Arsenal’s worst nightmare. Will put his neck on the line. MOTM performance from him can’t wait. Phil Jones FC pic.twitter.com/KHcoc3unNM
— ManUtdMindset (@ManUtdMindset) November 19, 2016
When Phil Jones emerged onto the scene at Blackburn in 2009, as one of the Premier League’s most promising young defenders, you would hardly have been surprised to hear he would go on to have a highly memorable career.
It’s been memorable alright; but not exactly for the right reasons. Instead, Jones has gone down in history as the defining football meme of the 2010s.
His facial expressions, unorthodox style and general unhinged behaviour have become truly iconic in the internet age, and all of that can be condensed into one glorious moment five years ago, when he flopped about like a Magikarp and tackled Olivier Giroud with his head.
For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!