2016 has been a rollercoaster ride on and off the football pitch. Leicester City won the Premier League in possibly the greatest underdog story in football ever, rivalling that of UEFA European Championship wins by Denmark in 1992 and Greece in 2004, while Cristiano Ronaldo secured his fourth Ballon d’Or and captured the ever-elusive international trophy with Portugal.
Off the pitch, football has brought us its perennial entertainment in abundance. From melodramatic changes in allegiance to love letters to Shakira, here’s the best quotes from 2016.
“I couldn’t care less about what Xavi says about me. He plays in Qatar or I don’t even know where. He’s won every collective trophy, including a World Cup and the European Championship, but he’s never won the Ballon d’Or” – Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo had some choice words for the former Barca man after he questioned the Portuguese superstar’s ‘intelligence’ on the pitch and claimed Lionel Messi was the superior player.
“I hope Puma doesn’t produce condoms!” – Xherdan Shaqiri
Some wardrobe malfunctions at Euro 2016 prompted the Swiss international to this light-hearted remark about his national team’s kit manufacturers, Puma.
“Lewandowski is the best striker in the world. I remember swapping shirts with him; he has an incredible six-pack.” – Alvaro Morata
The Real Madrid striker with some intriguing exposition on what it takes to be a great striker.
“After losing to Wales me and some players gathered in my room, talked until 9am and then concluded in unison: ‘We are shit!’” – Leonid Slutsky
Russia manager Leonid Slutsky came to the only possible conclusion after an underwhelming Euro 2016 showing.
“I will not be at PSG next season. I still have a month and a half left here. If they replace the Eiffel Tower with a statue of me (then I would stay).” – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
This list wouldn’t be complete without an addition from Manchester United’s star striker, who laid out some very reasonable demands that PSG might be regretting not meeting considering their current situation.
“The fighting between Russia fans with the English, that is a disgrace. I don’t know how 200 Russian fans could beat several thousand of the British.” – Vladimir Putin
Russian president Vladimir Putin offers his take on the brawls between Russia and England fans at Euro 2016.
“It all started when we were together in South Africa and I wrote to her. She (Shakira) was already there because she sang in the opening ceremony, and I asked her what the weather was like. It is the typical stupid question, and the normal answer is to tell me to bring a jacket. But she started telling me what the weather was like in every single moment and it got to the point where I told her we would have to get to the World Cup final to see her again.” – Gerard Pique
Pique touches on some extra motivation to help Spain progress to the World Cup Final back in 2010, which they would end up winning in a late 1-0 win over Holland.
“Some people say that to speak of betrayal is exaggerated, but I think the opposite because there is the full sense of betrayal in this choice because of the ingratitude shown.” – Aurelio De Laurentiis.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis shares a consensus held by Napoli fans over Gonzalo Higuaín’s decision to leave the club for Juventus in the summer.
“I don’t talk about traitors.” – Diego Maradona
Never too far away from the spotlight with his claims, the Argentine legend spares his breath on the Mauro Icardi-Wanda Nara-Maxi Lopez love triangle.
“Desire. It is a great word. I often use the word ‘horny’ for my players.” – Louis Van Gaal
The former Manchester United manager might have just spelled out for us where things went wrong in his spell at Old Trafford.