As 2012 draws to a close, FIFA.com looks over some of the year’s most eye-catching stats in the world of football.
Manchester United appearances was the landmark reached by Ryan Giggs in February, 7,666 days after his debut for the club in March 1991. The evergreen Welshman marked the occasion in style too, scoring a stoppage-time winner – the first time he has done so for the Red Devils – as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side clinched a 2-1 win at Norwich City.
consecutive Premier League appearances was the record sequence that came to an end for Brad Friedel in October. The 41-year-old’s uninterrupted run, the longest in the division’s history, had spanned almost eight years and spells at three different clubs, dating back to the end of the 2003/04 season.
goals was the incredible tally with which Lionel Messi signed off for the year on 22 December. The Barcelona No10 had earlier in the month surpassed Gerd Muller’s 1971 benchmark of 85 goals in a single calendar year, and back in March – while still just 24 – he became his club’s all-time leading goalscorer by eclipsing Cesar Rodriguez’s record of 232.
international clean sheets is the tally with which Iker Casillas has ended the year, having broken Edwin van der Sar’s previous record of 72 back in May. Later the same month, he claimed his 95th international victory, eclipsing Lilian Thuram’s existing benchmark.
years of OFC Nations Cup history had, until June, included just two winners: Australia and New Zealand. This duopoly, which had seen eight titles shared equally between the two, was finally broken when Tahiti, against all the odds, became the first Pacific Islands nations to win Oceania’s most coveted prize. Eddy Etaeta’s all-conquering side were worthy champions too, finishing the tournament with 20 goals - 14 more than deposed continental kings, New Zealand - and with three-quarters of that haul having come from the Tehau family: brothers Jonathan, Lorenzo and Alvin, and cousin Teaonui.
unanswered goals in a Romanian Cup clash handed CS Buftea the biggest defeat in their nation’s football history in September. Making matters even worse, the second division team, who gained promotion at the end of last season, were humbled by their former third-tier rivals ACS Berceni.
seconds were on the clock when Oribe Peralta opened the scoring in the Men’s Olympic Tournament final with the fastest goal ever seen in the final of a FIFA tournament. The Santos Laguna striker went on to score a second with 15 minutes of Mexico’s 2-1 win over Brazil remaining, and in the process became the eighth player to find the net twice in a gold medal match.
wins and 15 draws were the results that enabled Juventus to become the first team to survive an entire 20-team Serie A campaign without tasting defeat. Juve also set a new record for fewest goals conceded, with their meagre record of 20 leaving them four better off than Modena in 1946/47, Juventus in 2005/06 and Milan in 2010/11.
years and 98 days was the age at which Malaga’s Fabrice Olinga became the youngest goalscorer in La Liga history back in August. The Cameroonian youngster, a product of the Samuel Eto’o foundation, eclipsed the record of 16 years and 289 days set by Iker Muniain in 2009.
goals were scored by USA en route to winning the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, setting a new record for the female event. Canada’s Christine Sinclair also set a new goalscoring benchmark, with her six goals during London 2012 the highest tally to have been accrued by any individual player in the competition’s history. US captain Christie Rampone, meanwhile, won gold for the third time and became the first footballer of either gender to win four Olympic medals.
goals in as many Wembley appearances was the impressive record with which Didier Drogba left Chelsea after he became the first player to score in four different FA Cup finals. By finding the net in the 2-1 win over Liverpool, the Ivorian maintained his unblemished record of scoring for the Blues in each of his six appearances in domestic finals. The Londoners possessed another lucky mascot in Ashley Cole, who boosted his already-record tally of FA Cup winners’ medals to seven.
straight European wins was the sequence that came to an end in this month’s FIFA Club World Cup final. Corinthians’ 1-0 victory over Chelsea ended the Old Continent’s recent stranglehold and reclaimed the title O Timão first won 12 years ago in the tournament’s inaugural edition. It also ensured that the FIFA Club World Cup trophy returned to Brazil for the fourth time, strengthening its position as the most successful nation in the competition’s history.
goals: that was the seemingly insurmountable deficit Sweden recovered from in October to snatch a draw in Berlin and ensure Germany failed to win a match in which they led by four goals for the first time in their 108-year history.
unanswered goals against Italy in July gave Spain the biggest margin of victory ever recorded in a FIFA World Cup or EURO final. La Roja also became the first European team in history to win three major tournaments in succession, and the first to retain the continental crown. Midfield conductor Xavi was again hugely influential for Vicente del Bosque’s side, claiming three assists against the Italians - the highest number ever recorded in a EURO final.