Seven strange football hoodoos: Harry Kane, James Milner, AC Milan…

Quick Reads

Tottenham’s Harry Kane worry, Liverpool’s good James Milner omen and AC Milan’s kit superstition are among football’s strangest hoodoos.

The old adage is that anyone can beat anyone over the course of 90 minutes, but in reality that isn’t the case. For some unexplained reason there are some teams who just hold an Indian sign over others.

But a good run of form against a particular opponent is nothing compared to this lot…

Harry Kane

Stats may suggest he’s just unlucky, but it’s nevertheless very strange that Harry Kane has now ended another August without scoring a Premier League goal.

Tottenham’s struggles at Wembley may be a worry, but Kane’s August profligacy is just downright weird.

This is a player who has scored 75 Premier League goals since 2014-15, winning back-to-back Golden Boot awards in the process, and his feat is even more impressive given he is always left playing catch up following a slow start to the season.

Thankfully any suggestions that the striker is a ‘one-season wonder’ are now well in the past, but an awkward August is definitely becoming A Thing.


AC Milan’s Champions League final kits

You might think a club would prefer to play a major final in their home colours, but in the case of AC Milan, they are more than happy to ditch their famous red and black stripes.

After being beaten by Real Madrid while wearing their home kit in 1958, their first appearance in a European Cup final, Milan triumphed five years later – when they beat Benfica in an all-white strip.

Milan then won in 1989, 1990 and 1994 while wearing an all-white kit, and in total have lost two of three finals playing in their home shirts compared to winning six of eight when donning their lucky charm.

Juventus, meanwhile, have lost six of the seven finals they have played in their famous black and white stripes.

READ: Fallen Giants: Lamenting the loss of Milan as a European heavyweight


Possibly the most famous ‘curse’ in world football. In 1962, Bela Guttman had just led Benfica to back-to-back European Cup triumphs but quit the club after the board refused to increase the manager’s wage.

Upon leaving the club, Guttman declared: “Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion.”

In the intervening 55 years, Benfica have reached eight European finals, but have been beaten by AC Milan (twice), Inter Milan, Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven in the European Cup and Anderlecht, Chelsea and Sevilla in the Europa League.

Before their most recent final, against Sevilla, coach Jorge Jesus insisted: “Most of the players don’t even know about these statistics. It’s folklore.”

After yet another defeat, captain Luisao admitted: “The players fought, but they lacked a bit of luck again. Once again, in a final, the ball just didn’t go in.”


Norway and Brazil

Brazil are considered the most prestigious of all international teams, but they have a curious record against Norway.

Despite having only qualified for three World Cups in their history – with their best finish coming in 1998 when they reached the round of 16 – Norway are the only team to have faced Brazil and never be defeated.

In 1988 a friendly resulted in a 1-1 draw, while Norway triumphed 4-2 nine years later. The Scandinavians then famously beat Brazil 2-1 at the 1998 World Cup, with their most recent meeting ending in another 1-1 draw back in 2006.

Coventry City

During their 34-year spell in the top flight between 1967 and 2001, the Sky Blues made an impressive, albeit risky habit of avoiding relegation on the final day of the season, doing so on 10 separate occasions.

Dancing with the devil eventually caught up with the club in 2001, since which a much more unfortunate statistic has ensured they are yet to return to England’s top flight.

Since 1970, Coventry have failed to finish in the top six of any division they have competed in, finishing above 10th only four times in 47 years.

Last season saw the club relegated to League Two, where they currently sit…10th.

READ: Remembering the final day of the 96-97 season and Coventry’s greatest escape

James Milner

In a career in which he has represented Leeds, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Liverpool, James Milner has never been a prolific scorer – his most productive Premier League campaign has produced seven goals – but his goals have been worth their weight in gold.

In the 47 Premier League games which Milner has scored in, his side has never been defeated, with the record currently standing at 37 wins and 10 draws.

Even more impressively, Andres Iniesta is also yet to taste defeat in a match he has scored, but that record extends to 54 club and 13 international goals.

Ryoichi Maeda

You would be forgiven for not recognising Ryoichi Maeda’s name, but the striker can strike fear in the hearts of supporters of Japanese clubs.

Between 2007 and 2012, whichever club Maeda opened his account for the season against were relegated to J League Division 2.

Ventforet Kofu were the first to fall, with Tokyo Verdy, Jef United Chiba, Kyoto Sanga, Motedio Yamagata and Gamba Osaka all suffering the same fate.

The final instance was particularly striking as Gamba Osaka had finished in the top three for the previous three campaigns.

West Ham almost signed the forward in 2012 only for a move to break down, much to the relief of 19 other Premier League sides.


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