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Although the exact date that soccer was created is not known and early versions date back to over 3,000 years old, England is credited with being the nation that gave birth to the game as we know it today by FIFA, football’s governing body, in 1863. This may come as a surprise, considering the game’s popularity, but there are actually a number of other interesting facts about soccer that even those that love the game don’t know. Lesser known facts about soccer will no doubt surprise even the biggest soccer fans!
The term "soccer" has British origins.
Although most people are aware that outside of the USA, many countries, including England, call soccer “football,” few are aware that the term soccer is derived from English and the very origins of football. According to legend, “soccer” was first played in Newgate Prison in London way back in the early 1800s, and developed by prisoners who had had their hands cut off. This game was later played under the title of “Association Football,” and was later changed to “soccer” in the US by the 1860s. It should be no surprise, then, that the history of football hooliganism in the UK is also notable.
More than half the world watched the 2018 World Cup.
With more than a billion people tuning in for the World Cup final from over 200 countries, and 3.572 billion people said to have watched at least some part of the 2018 World Cup, it’s fair to say that soccer can truly hold the title as the world’s most favorite sport. Interestingly enough, Asia accounted for a whopping 1.6 billion of all those who tuned in, and a full 18.4% of all those who viewed the World Cup in Russia were from China.
The most expensive soccer star costs more than half a billion dollars!
Of all the professional soccer players in the game, Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain from FC Barcelona in August 2017 was the most expensive move in the history of football, costing PSG $528 million and an annual salary of $53 million to Neymar. For the price on Neymar’s head, PSG could have bought three Boeing 737 passenger planes, 797 million Freddo chocolate bars, or enough spaghetti to cover Barcelona!
The soccer ball is more interesting than you think.
Did you know that a soccer ball has 32 panels and that each of these panels represent a country in Europe? How about the fact that you can make a soccer ball out of papier mâché? Did you know that soccer ball isn’t actually even round? They are actually slightly oval, and the spherical shape is an optical illusion created by the pattern on the balls. The material soccer balls are made from has also undergone drastic changes, as they used to be made out of the pigs’ bladders and are now mostly vulcanized rubber. However, the “fact” that until 1908 soccer balls were made in from the inflated stomach tissues of Irish prisoners who had been executed is a myth!
Lightning killed an entire team.
Heavy rain in the forecast for your next game? This tragic event killed an entire team from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when lightning struck the field, striking down 11 players aged between 20-35. However, the team that had been playing at home emerged entirely unscathed by the freak, natural event. At the time, Bena Tshadi had been tied 1-1 with the visitors Basanga when the horrible catastrophe unfolded.
The top goal scorer in history is… NOT Pele.
Whilst many assume Pele is the man with the most ever professional goals scored in history, the record books give this honor to another Brazilian with a lesser known name. The top scorer was known as Arthur Friedenreich, and he scored an astonishing 1,329 goals in a year, which spanned 26 years. As a black player, he faced widespread racism throughout his career, but his is a record that is unlikely to ever be beaten.
The record for the most cards goes to… Sergio Ramos.
The man who surely knew what he was doing when he tugged at the loveable Mo Salah’s arm in the 2018 Champions League final is widely known for being sent off. However, he doesn’t just get sent off, he is the game’s most carded player. He actually manages to rack up a card every 2.3 soccer games, and will no doubt add to his current total of 274 cards with another 20 so long as he continues playing soccer!
Most Guinness World Records held by a single soccer player is a household name.
The player who can only ever be described as mercurial, the wonderful, the majestic, the one and only, the greatest(?) Lionel Messi. This footballing magician is not only a serial Champions League and La Liga winner, but he also holds the record for most appearances on a video game cover, being the youngest player ever to score 50 Champions League goals, earning the most per year for a footballer, having played the most La Liga soccer matches for a non-Spaniard, scoring the most Copa America goals as a substitute (3), and scoring the most goals in a single Champions League match (5).
The oldest player to ever play at a World Cup was Egypt’s goalkeeper.
This recent record breaker became the oldest player to represent his country at a World Cup at the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia. At the ripe old age of 45 years, he overtook the previous oldest player by a full 2 years and more, who also happened to be a goalkeeper. In fact, the only player in the top five oldest World Cup players not to be a goalkeeper is Roger Milla, who played for Cameroon in the group stages at the 1994 United States World Cup.
The youngest player to ever play at a World Cup was… Pele!
The golden rule of interesting facts about soccer is that Pele must always make one of the categories, being one of the greatest players of all time, although Maradona, Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo certainly challenge him for the title. That said though, Pele remains the youngest ever World Cup goalscorer at just 17 years and 234 days old, and even scored one of the greatest World Cup goals of all time!