Everyone loves an underdog story, whether it is in football or any other great underdog moment as seen in the history of the greatest underdogs that beat the odds, the plucky no-hopers who defy the odds and topple giants of the game, and football has many examples. So here’s our ultimate underdog eleven. If they could ever appear on the pitch together we think they’d be unbeatable.
1. Frank Borghi USA
Long before “soccer” took hold in America their national team caused one of the biggest international upsets of all time. In the 1950 World Cup USA took on a star-studded England team. Following a shock goal by Joe Gaetjens to put the Americans 1-0 up, keeper Frank Borghi valiantly kept out all English attempts to score – and sporting history was made.
2. Francois Oman-Biyik, Cameroon
The 1990 World Cup in Argentina was only the second time that Cameroon had qualified for the competition and expectations weren’t high. But thanks to a number of brave performances, particularly by Oman-Biyik, they beat both Romania and Columbia to top their group.
3. Kim Vilfort, Denmark
Denmark weren’t even meant to be in the 1992 Euros but, following the forced withdrawal of Yugoslavia due to a UN Security Council Resolution, they were included just 11 days before tournament’s start. Vilfort was the star of the team and even scored the winning goal in the final against Germany.
4. Marius Lacatus, Steaua Bucharest
Taking on Barcelona in Seville in the 1986 European Cup Final would have been a tough task for any team, let alone a little-known one from Romania. But they took them on and won in a penalty shootout in which Lacatus was the first person to score.
5. Martin O’Neill, Nottingham Forest
O’Neill was a leading member of Brian Clough’s legendary Nottingham Forest team that defied the odds not just to beat Liverpool into second place in the 1978 First Division Championship but which won the League Cup too.
6. Pak-Doo-ik, North Korea
Author of the Italian team’s most shameful moment, Pak-Doo-ik scored to knock the Azzurri out of the 1966 World Cup thus helping his team to advance all the way to the quarter finals.
7. Papa Bouba Diop, Senegal
France was the country similarly shamed in the 2002 World Cup when the goal scored by the Senegalese player ensured that they went home at the end of the group stage of the tournament.
8. Keith Houchen, Coventry City
When Coventry City took on Spurs in the 1986 FA Cup Final they’d never reached Wembley before while their opponents had seven cup final victories behind them. Houchen scored the 2-2 equaliser in the 62nd minute forcing play to go to extra time when a Gary Mabbutt own goal sealed victory for the Midlanders.
9. Kolbein Sigthórsson, Iceland
Of all the games that Iceland played in the 2016 Euros it may be the victory over England that caused the biggest waves. The scorer who sealed England’s fate in their eventual 2-1 defeat was Kolbein Sigthórsson.
10. Karol Poborsky, Czech Republic
The Czech Republic’s incredible run which saw them reach the final of the 1996 Euros was thanks in no small part to Poborsky. The highlight was probably his incredible lob to beat Portugal 1-0.
11. Jamie Vardy, Leicester City
Undoubtedly the outstanding player in Leicester City’s unbelievable 2015-16 season, Vardy scored 24 goals and went on to be named both the FWA Footballer of the Year and Barclays Premier League Player of the season.
So full respect to every single one of these players, all of whom didn’t just help their teams to victory. They’ve also won an ever-lasting place in the hearts of all of their clubs’ or countries’ fans.