10 Amazing Performances Which Give Champions League Hope To Tottenham Fans
Steven Gerrard holds the UEFA Champions League trophy aloft after his team produces a stunning comeback from three goals down to beat AC Milan on penalties in the Final on May 25 2005
Trailing by three goals at halftime and seemingly without hope of winning the greatest club trophy in the world, Liverpool rose from the ashes in Istanbul in the second half of the 2005 UEFA Champions League final to force extra time and claim a remarkable victory on penalties over AC Milan.
Last month, Tottenham produced an enthralling comeback of their own, albeit against lesser opposition on a smaller stage, to qualify to compete in the qualifying group of the Champions League for the first time in their illustrious history.
It was Peter Crouch's hat-trick and a real grass pitch which enabled Harry Redknapp's team to overcome minnows Young Boys Bern 6-3 on aggregate.
But, despite this impressive turnaround and all of the hard work which the coaching staff and players put into last season to edge out wealthier rivals Manchester City to the potentially lucrative fourth position in the Premier League, Tottenham will have to find another gear to escape from Group A.
FC Twente, Werder Bremen and holders Internazionale stand in their way of another historic achievement, with the first match on Tuesday seeing the team travel to Germany to take on veteran coach Thomas Schaaf's experienced Champions League campaigners.
With key players Michael Dawson, Heurelho Gomes, Jermain Defoe, and Luka Modric all sustaining injuries recently, it is a baptism of fire for a team which has failed to beat either West Bromwich Albion or Wigan Athletic in the last two rounds of the Premier League.
Nevertheless, I look at 10 incredible matches in this chronolgical slideshow which prove that absolutely anything can happen in the beautiful game of football, and give Spurs fans hope that their ultimate dream of watching their beloved team lift the Champions League trophy at Wembley on May 28, 2011 is not so far-fetched after all.
Sweden 8-1 Belgium (1924 Olympic Games)
The Olympics motto 'Citius, Altius, Fortius' was first used in the 1924 games in Paris.
While the talk of the tournament in the early stages largely revolved around the talent of the emerging Uruguayans, who dismantled Lithuania and the USA 9-0 and 3-0 respectively, the real shock result of the tournament came just days later as Sweden, inspired by a Sven Rydell hat-trick crushed reigning champions Belgium 8-1.
When they then brushed aside Egypt 5-0 in the quarter-finals, it seemed that they were taller, quicker, and stronger than anyone.
However, they came undone against Switzerland in the last four.
USA 1-0 England (1950 FIFA World Cup)
'The Miracle on Grass' is how USA's 1-0 World Cup group victory in 1950 over an England team containing legends Tom Finney and Alf Ramsey has come to be described.
Despite a strong start from the Three Lions which saw them hit the woodwork twice in the opening quarter, Haitian-born striker Joe Gaetjens scored what ultimately proved to be the winning goal (pictured) in the 38th minute of a remarkable game.
Subsequently, the victors were the subject of both a book and a film which chronicled their feat in a game still considered to represent their nation's finest football moment.
Hellas Verona Win Prestigious Scudetto, 1984-85
Although Verona's principal team is now Chievo, rival club Hellas, now playing in the third tier of Italian football, still lives in the memory of the triumphant 1984-85 season.
Despite losing three Copa Italia finals in the late 70s and early 80s, Hellas fans would have been content just to remain in Serie A at the start of the 1984-85 season.
Remarkably, a few months later jubilation abounded as the team, led by Antonio Di Gennaro and Giuseppi Galderisi, recorded 15 wins and 13 draws in 30 matches to win the prestigious title.
Scandalous rumours followed which suggested that the decision to randomly draw referees to each game rather than let a panel choose which officials managed which games helped Hellas's cause.
The following season, this was reversed and Juventus picked up another trophy.
Denmark Win Euro '92...Despite Failing To Qualify!
The war in Yugoslavia in 1992 caused despair and misery for millions of Eastern Europeans.
Indirectly, it created jubilation for millions of Danish football fans as their team, who only qualified for the tournament in lieu of the disqualified Yugoslavs, upset all odds to beat The Netherlands in the semi-final and Germany in the final of the tournament, after only qualifying from the group stages at the expense of France late on in the last match of the group between the two teams.
Although the wow factor of this achievement is lessened by the fact that only eight teams participated in the final, those teams which secured first and second place in each of the two groups went straight into a semi-final clash, it is nevertheless remarkable that a team containing no footballing stars went on to overcome the likes of footballing legends Dennis Bergkamp, Frank Riijkaard, Marco Van Basten, Jurgen Klinsmann, and Jurgen Kohler to win the tournament.
Newly Promoted Kaiserslautern Win The 1998 Bundesliga Title
In 1996, FC Kaiserslautern's appearance in the League Cup Final was overshadowed by confirmation of their first-ever relegation from the Bundesliga in the previous week.
Two years later, experienced coach Otto Rehhagel, who presided over Switzerland's World Cup defeat of Spain this summer, led 'Die roten Teufel' (The Red Devils) to the title in astonishing fashion.
After starting the season in scintillating fashion with a 1-0 win at giants Bayern Munich, a team including a young Michael Ballack, the influential midfielder Marian Hristov and Olaf Marschall, who scored 21 goals in 24 appearances upfront, proved that anything was possible if you dared to believe.
Not only did the team achieve the double over Bayern, but they also wrapped up the title in style on the penultimate weekend of the season with a 4-0 win over Wolfsburg.
Happy-Go-Lucky Calais Shock Bordeaux, Reach Final Of 2000 French Cup
So unlikely was it that Calais cold hold off a team three divisions above them in France's footballing echelons in extra-time in the 2000 French Cup semi-final that some newspapers decided to prematurely report Bordeaux's progression to the final.
However, goals in the last eight minutes from Mathieu Milien and Mickael Gerard saw the industrial and industrious team from the Northern shores beat their illustrious southern opponents 3-1 in what Calais coach Ladislas Lozano described as 'one of the most beautiful pages in French footballing history.'
Unfortunately, the team would lose to Nantes in the showdown, but neutrals were still astounded that a team with similar capabilities and resources to an English club such as Bournemouth could cause such a national stir.
Greece Win Euro 2004...No Really!
Despite beating Portugal and drawing with Spain in their group matches, nobody gave Greece a chance of progressing much further in Euro 2004, an opinion which seemed to be backed up by their 2-1 defeat to Russia in the last game.
However, after 1-0 victories over France and Czech Republic (after extra-time), the team found themselves in the final of the competition against hosts and huge favourites Portugal, who would be desperate to exact revenge for their earlier defeat in front of their own fans to lift the trophy at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon.
The Greeks had other ideas, and thanks to Angelos Charisteas's 58th minute header, they recorded the greatest shock in the history of the championships.
Liverpool Rise From The Dead To Defeat Ac Milan On A Famous Night In Istanbul
Andriy Shevchenko had two golden chances to seal the Champions League title in the dying seconds of the 2005 final in Istanbul.
Jezey Dudek had other ideas. The Polish goalkeeper, who would also save penalties from Shevchenko and Pirlo, pulled off an extraordinary save from the Ukrainian's close-range header and follow-up from two yards, to cap a perfect performance and crown his career with a moment to saviour.
Earlier in the match, The Reds had looked dead and buried after Hernan Crespo had doubled then trebled the lead given to Milan when Liverpool's defenders had failed to pick up Paolo Maldini in the box from a free-kick just seconds into the game.
0-3 at half-time.
But Steven Gerrard leapt to head the ball into the top corner of the net 10 minutes after half-time and Vladimir Smicer skidded a long-range shot past Duda into the bottom corner to give the English supporters hope.
Which turned into delirium when Xabi Alonso converted the rebound of his poorly-struck penalty. Three goals in seven memorable minutes.
AC Milan, deflated, lost their nerve from the spot to hand Liverpool a stunning success.
Alcorcon (Who?) 4-0 Real Madrid (What?), 2008
Tottenham's new star signing Rafael Van Der Vaart suffered the humiliation of being involved in Real Madrid most shameful ever defeat, to third division Alcorcon...by FOUR goals to NIL.
Yes, Madrid were without Alonso, Casillas, Kaka and Ronaldo...but Albiol, Benzema, Guti and Raul all started the cup match.
What made this match even more embarrassing was that this was a club which had just spent more than €250 million ($325 million) on transfer fees in the summer. The Galacticos were, it seems, starstruck!
Italy 1-1 New Zealand (The Football Team), 2010 FIFA World Cup
Shane Smeltz hit the headlines this summer when he was in the right place at the right time to divert a flick-on from Winston Reid, a £5 million ($7 million) summer signing for West Ham United, past goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon from four yards to give New Zealand, a 1,000-1 outsider, a deserved eighth-minute lead over holders Italy, World Cup winners on four occasions.
A Vicenzo Iaquinta penalty 20 minutes later would see Italy recover to draw the match.
'There will be tremendous excitement about this at home', said ecstatic All Whites coach Riki Herbert after the game.
Unfortunately New Zealand, despite achieving an unbeaten record of three draws from three matches, exited the group stage to rapturous applause from their fans and praise fans and pundits worldwide.